As a heterosexual, Caucasian man, born into a middle-class Canadian family, I’m well aware of my privilege: it is of course impossible for me to comprehend the daily prejudice experienced by women, people of color, LGBTQ people, those who are disabled, those in the lower-class, and the list goes on. All of that being said, however, I can say with all certainty that when I take my shirt off in public, I am experiencing exactly what it was like to be bra-burning second-wave feminist of the 60s and 70s.
It would be a stretch to say I’m fat. I’m not, by any means, really. Chubby is probably more accurate, though as it’s often used liberally by those who are for all intents and purposes “fat,” it would perhaps be misleading for me to classify myself as such. Without question, however, I’m “overweight,” in some sort of a medical sense, which really, is the most important kind of sense. Other than sight, I guess. And with sight, you can definitely see my moobs. My pale, delicate man-breasts. I do my best not to remove my shirt in public, and really, if I could screw with a t-shirt on, I probably would. (Full disclosure: I sometimes do. The key is to feign some form of rushed, spontaneous passion, so that the removal of the shirt is rendered an afterthought.). It is this rarity that has made the act of public disrobement so painstaking, and yet, liberating.
Much like two gay men kissing at a pride parade, a woman baring her breasts on a beach, or even Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus, when I force men and women in public to stare at my hairy nipples, my haphazardly placed lower back fat, and that weird part where my lower belly dips in sharply to prepare for the expulsion of my penis, I’m also forcing them to confront their preconceived notions, check their privilege, and redefine their worldview. It is an act that for me is not only a celebration of the male cheeseburger-and-beer-loving-form, nor only a big “fuck you” to all my haters out there, but a political statement: this is my apathetic, entirely unsexy body, and it’s here to stay!
Similarly, whenever a good-looking in-shape macho stud reveals his toned and tanned body in public, he’s an anti-Semitic, white supremacist, neo-Nazi fascist scumbag. Fuck him.
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