Whether it appears on a movie screen, in a magazine, or on a porn site, the naked female body is almost always meant to be titillating. So how come naked dudes are so often meant to be funny?
In a post embarrassingly rife with genital metaphors, PopWatch notes that male full frontal has become a joke du jour. The apparently dick-filled Hangover Part II is the most recent example. But even before Ed Helms was getting Mike Tyson's tattoo on his face, the male body was already something of a punchline. See for instance the Vanity Fair spoof photo of Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, and Jonah Hill, reclining "sexily" in nude bodysuits. Or Zach Galifinakis's bathtub and swimsuit pics. Or (as PopWatch also notes) every movie Will Ferrell is in. Even beefcake photos that are supposed to be sexy and not funny (Scott Brown's Cosmo centerfold comes to mind) often spark snickering.
Sometimes the joke hinges on a dude who's not conventionally attractive posing in a sexual way. But let's be real — I know I'm not alone in finding both Galifinakis and Rogen pretty hot, and not "in spite" of their non-Hollywood bodies either. And images of scantily clad dudes often elicit laughs whether the model in question has a belly or a six-pack. Part of this may be that women are so used to being the objects of visual lust and scrutiny that turning these on men seems bizarre. Part of it, too, may be the stereotype, memorably set forth on Seinfeld, that women's bodies are beautiful while men's are "utilitarian."
This stereotype is a bummer for men, many of whom enjoy the chance to be admired. But it's also sad for heterosexual women, reinforcing the notion that they don't really desire men, that they're only interested in guys' fame or money or desire to get married, and not in, say, their butts. This doesn't square with the very real lusts of many women I know — and while many women I know, including myself on occasion, still giggle at sexualized pictures of men, we may just be doing so because the sight is so unusual. We're always told that we're supposed to be the sexy ones, but this can be a heavy burden, and I think plenty of dudes would be only to happy to share the weight. So while dick jokes can certainly be funny, let's remember that plenty of women also like actual dicks.