Occasionally, I hear people making the insane claim that the male body (in contrast to the female) is quotidian and ugly. Just for fun, here are 10 things I find beautiful about male bodies.
1. Hair. Long, shiny hair is beautiful on men. I like it even better on men with more "masculine" features than my usual type; if anyone has a theory as to why this might be, I'd be intrigued to hear it.
2. Hair. In addition to head hair, armpit hair, and pubic hair, men grow in more surprising places. They grow woolly hair on their chests. They grow scratchy hair on their faces. This makes them interesting to touch. Texturally, men's bodies are like good hikes: they contain many different landscapes that can be gazed on and explored in the course of an afternoon, a day, or a weekend. And they bear coming back to.
3. Shoulders. Men's shoulders are broad compared to their waists. They draw the eye, hand, and mouth.
4. Arms. Whoever says that men don't have curves hasn't been looking very hard. I love the curve of biceps, brachialis, triceps, and carpi under skin. One of my earliest sexual memories is of watching a boy I knew play guitar, and being fascinated by the way his muscles flowed.
5. Voices. I cannot decide which I like better: poems recited in a deep, textured baritone, love songs sung in a sweet, clear tenor, or ghost stories read in a bass that shakes me to my bones.
6. Legs. I love the way men in different sports have different-shaped legs. Runners have the most beautiful calves, I think, but bicyclists have the most beautiful thighs.
7. Cocks. Who says the cock is an ugly body part? It's perfect and sui generis. Unlike any other body part, it starts soft and hardens quickly to the touch, or stirs suddenly for no reason at all. It would make a good metaphor for poetic inspiration. Besides, it smells nice.
8. Tongues. My partner sticks out his tongue when he's concentrating. It makes me think of all the things he could be doing with it. Kant says it's not beauty if it excites the passions, but Kant is surely wrong.
9. Stomachs. I used to think I loved men's stomachs because they were harder and more muscular than my own. Now that my partner has a bit of a paunch, I realize I was wrong. I still like his stomach: now it's round and soft and rubs nicely against my thighs. Maybe beauty is a sort of family resemblance concept for stomachs, as it is for everything else: each beautiful stomach resembles some other beautiful stomach in some respect, but there's nothing they all have in common.
10. Nipples. On men, nipples have no function but to generate pleasure. Deus sive natura is cruel in many ways (most of us could complain about the betrayals of our bodies for longer than any of us would care to listen) but at least it's given us a few organs devoted solely to pleasure.