Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

December 08, 2021 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The boobs : balls ratio

There are several tests to quantify how well

a narrative treats characters who are women.
The most famous is probably the Bechdel test
for women’s representation — two women must
have a conversation about a topic other than
a man in the film for it to pass. When Alison
Bechdel first created the test in 1985, most films
were not able to pass, but, in recent years, over
50% do.

Obviously, the Bechdel test only scratches

the surface when it comes to a woman’s role in
a story. Other tests have since been created. The
sexy lamp test, for example, tries to determine
how important a woman is in the story — if
you can replace her character with a sexy lamp
without the story falling apart, then it isn’t good

These tests are flawed in many ways, but

they are designed to get us thinking about what
we’re seeing on screen when it comes to repre-
sentation. In high school, as I started to watch
more TV from around the world, I started to
think about the discrepancies between the
ways women and men are portrayed onscreen,
especially when it comes to nudity.

Seeing naked women on screen is fairly stan-

dard in film and television, but male nudity isn’t
as common. One 2018 analysis of over 1,000
popular films found that around 25% of women
in these films had nude scenes, compared to 9%
of men. I started noticing this disparity after
watching the first season of “Babylon Berlin,”
which featured the first televised male nude
scene that I had ever seen. Male bodies were
presented in sex scenes and in nonsexual set-
tings, like skinny dipping and nude body search-
es. It made me realize that the only bodies I had
ever seen naked onscreen were of cis women,
whose bodies are almost always displayed gra-

After finishing “Babylon Berlin,” I started to

become aware of the boobs-to-balls ratio in the
shows and movies that I watched. My experi-
ence as a viewer aligns with the analysis’s find-
ings: Most media that features nudity skews
towards showing naked women. Few shows
have one-to-one ratios and none that I’ve seen
solely show men naked.

One reason for this might be because of who

is behind the camera. Women are subjected to
being viewed through a patriarchal lens that
focuses extensively on how attractive they are
to heterosexual men, a phenomenon known as
the male gaze. Their characters don’t inherently
need to be nude to be interesting, well-rounded
people, but society’s obsession with women’s
sexuality devalues them if they are not catering
to a patriarchal sex fantasy.

A recent analysis by the Geena Davis Insti-

tute on Gender and Media found that women
movie leads were four times more likely to be
shown naked than their male counterparts.
Powerful women in film and television are
often characterized by their naked bodies in
ways that men are not. And the sexy, powerful
woman trope can be seen everywhere — from
TV to video games and even to the way women
leaders in history, like Cleopatra, are seen as sex

Topless women are featured in a few of Netf-

lix’s episodes of “The Witcher,” and lead actress
Anya Chalhotra, who plays Yennefer, appears
naked twice. Her nakedness is tied to her access
to power — she undresses in these scenes to
perform rituals that would make her a more
powerful sorceress; there is also a disturbing
and misogynistic undertone to these scenes. It
seems that a woman’s power is directly tied to
her body and her sex appeal.

Henry Cavill, the male lead who plays the

titular character, does not appear naked in the
same capacity that Chalhotra does. Cavill is
shown naked in a bathtub, but only his torso
is visible. It makes sense that he doesn’t wear
clothes while bathing, but Chalhotra doesn’t
necessarily need to be shown naked to perform
a spell and establish that she is powerful.

The expectation for women to appear nude

onscreen can also have detrimental effects on
actors. Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys on
“Game of Thrones,” revealed that the early nude
scenes “terrified” her. As a new actress, she did
not have the knowledge or power to argue with
showrunners who asked her to appear com-
pletely naked in front of the cast and crew. In
later seasons, when Clarke refused to be naked
on screen, showrunners guilted her for disap-
pointing “Game of Thrones” fans, as if they
were only watching her for her naked body — a
dismissive view of both Clarke’s boundaries and
her performance.

Strikingly, there are few depictions of full-

frontal male nudity on “Game of Thrones,” com-
pared to the many instances of women’s nudity.
When male nudity is presented, it is rarely pre-
sented sexually. Instead, they are presented in
regular contexts, such as pulling out a penis to

Thankfully, in the years since Clarke’s first

nude scene in “Game of Thrones,” there have
been movements in the film and television
industry to change the exploitative nature of
intimate scenes. Many shows now hire intima-
cy coordinators, who work to make sex scenes
more comfortable for actors while making sure
that everything occurring on screen is con-
sented to by everyone involved. The necessity to
hire intimacy coordinators is especially evident
after the #MeToo movement, but it can’t repair
the implicit attitudes of sexualization that exist
in the media’s presentation of women’s bodies.

Even movies that center around sex shy

away from depicting full-frontal male nudity.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has plenty of nude scenes
of Dakota Johnson, who plays the female lead,
but does not have a single comparable shot of

Jamie Dornan’s penis. It’s strange that a movie
targeted towards heterosexual women chooses
to solely display the heroine naked. Similarly,
“Call Me By Your Name,” another popular film
with plenty of sex scenes, doesn’t feature any
male full-frontal but does curiously include
boob shots — a confounding decision in a movie
about gay men’s intimacy.

Women’s bodies are often shown in both

sexual and casual settings, like when they’re
lounging at home, but when men are put in
similar positions, the camera shies away. Film-
makers are only comfortable placing women
in these vulnerable positions. Women are typi-
cally represented as more delicate and therefore
more defenseless than men, and nudity may
be a literal way to characterize femininity. It is
unfortunate, though, that femininity is defined
by men in film through a naked and conven-
tionally attractive cis-gendered body as if that
is all women have to offer to the screen. There
is an inherent sense of dehumanization because
women’s bodies are represented as the most
important part of their being.

Recently, there have been efforts to close the

gap and make the boobs-to-balls ratio more
even. HBO’s “Euphoria” shows 71 penises in
its eight episodes, with one scene alone having
almost 30. Although there are still scenes of
naked women on the show, the sheer amount of
male nudity is shocking because viewers aren’t
accustomed to seeing it. In “Euphoria,” male
nudity is presented in a way that’s similar to the
historical ways naked women are shown on
screen. While the nude reversal of gender that
“Euphoria” employs is interesting, it does call
into question how necessary these scenes are,
especially given that the characters depicted in
them are mostly minors.

Movies are also selective in the type of bod-

ies that are shown on screen. The naked women
we usually see on screen are conventionally
attractive (skinny and white), as most of the
women in the film industry are. Transgender
characters are rarely seen in films from major
studios. Bodies that exist outside of the gender
binary also deserve to be well-represented but
are unfortunately dismissed from most main-
stream media.

Actors have also recognized the boobs-to-

balls disparity and have called on each other to
close it. In 2015, Kevin Bacon noted the gender
disparities of nudity and started #Freethe-
Bacon, wherein he encourages male actors to
free “your weiner, your balls and your butt.”
Mark Duplass, who appeared nude on HBO’s
“Togetherness,” said that he believes in what he
calls balls equality, and the need to show naked
men on TV not as sex symbols but just as regular

“If boobs or a vagina come out, a penis or a set

of testicles should go along with it,” Duplass said
in a 2016 interview. “It should be 50/50 in this

While Duplass championing for balls equal-

ity is commendable in closing the gap, it won’t
change the gratuitous and harmful always in
which nude women are represented. It might
be impossible to divorce the framing of these
nude scenes from patriarchal gazes — “Fifty
Shades of Grey,” the mainstream erotica that
doesn’t have a single penis in it, was directed
by a woman. Even a female director portrays
women characters as objects of desire and sexu-
ality for men, further complicating ideas about
representation. These issues of objectification
are deeply entrenched in social norms and the
film industry in general, and more conversa-
tions must be held for progress to be made.

Nudity in film and television is a complicated

topic that needs to be understood from multiple
angles — from how gratuitous it is to how much
power an actor has in the scene. And persisting
media trends — who is shown naked, how much
and when — often point towards objectification
of women’s characters. Evening the ratio isn’t
just about showing men naked, it’s about reduc-
ing the gratuitous depictions of nude women,

Women, though, are more than just their

bodies. When filmmakers decide to highlight
only women in vulnerable or sexual positions,
they reinforce gendered stereotypes of what
women can be. And even if the boobs-to-balls
ratio approaches a perfect one-to-one, we must
still contend with how women are written and
how much agency they have in the stories we’re

The only piece of media that I have seen

with a one-to-one boobs-to-balls ratio is the
third season of Netflix’s “Castlevania,” which
also features well-written women. In the show,
nudity is presented sexually and non-sexually
but fits well within the narrative. In one scene,
a prisoner is shown naked and the camera
shows his entire shivering body, including his
genitals. And while seeing a flaccid penis in a
cartoon is a little unsettling, it adds dimension
to his condition and highlights how depress-
ing his imprisonment is. What “Castlevania”
doesn’t include is gratuitous depictions of
naked women. Boob shots only appear in sex
scenes alongside bodies of naked men.

What makes season three of “Castlevania”

so compelling isn’t just its even ratio, it is also
the depth of the women characters, includ-
ing lesbians and women of color, who all have
distinct personalities and aren’t relegated to
simply being sexy. There are plenty of shows
with amazing women characters, including
“The Witcher” and “Game of Thrones,” but the
misogynistic ways in which these shows por-
tray women by hyper-focusing on their bodies
prevent them from being truly great examples
of representation. “Castlevania’s” director
even refused to show one of the most powerful
women in the show topless, moving away from
the ever-present sexy powerful lady trope.


MiC Columnist

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

“Ujima,” meaning collective work and

responsibility in Kiswahili, is a concept that
defines the importance of unified action to
create change. The term often materializes
by way of strikes, sit-ins and other forms of
protest. Integral to Black activism at the
University of Michigan, Ujima has inspired
visible change, including the formation
of alliances between student groups, the
establishment of an academic department
for Black students and uplifting spaces for
minority students on campus. To capture
the practice and impact of the concept, the
Department of Afroamerican and Afri-
can Studies‘ Program Manager Elizabeth
James, LSA senior Solomon Lucy and U-M
alums Kai Dotson and Justin Williams from
the Black Student Union curated an exhibit
using its name — “UJIMA: Collective activ-
ism at the University of Michigan.”

Located at the south end of Haven Hall,

the exhibit includes descriptions, posters
and photographs from as early as 1853 and
as recent as 2017. It presents multiple cam-
paigns and activist groups that aimed to
address discrimination against Black stu-
dents through community organization and

Those unable to visit UJIMA in person

can still engage with the exhibit by visiting
the virtual gallery, which provides just as
illuminating of an experience. Administra-
tive Coordinator at DAAS Arielle Chen, who
managed the creation of the virtual gallery,
noted that she and her colleagues aimed to
make the gallery accessible to a wide array
of people, including neurodivergent indi-
viduals and people with visual and audi-
tory impairments. When speaking about
her motives behind creating the virtual

gallery, Chen stated that “art tends to be for
the elite,” but by making the exhibit public
and accessible, students and other members
of the Ann Arbor community could actu-
ally benefit from it. With access, viewers can
learn about the several Black student-led
movements that have shaped the University
for the better.

Among these student-led movements

was a sit-in following the assassination of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., held on the day
of his burial, April 9, 1968. On the same day,
members of the then-newly established BSU
locked themselves inside the Administra-
tion Building and demanded an increase in
funding and Black representation amongst
faculty. The sit-in pressured the University
to establish the Center for Afroamerican
and African Studies — now called DAAS —
which serves as an academic department
devoted to Black studies. However, the num-
ber of Black faculty had barely increased by
1970, sparking a wave of protests known as
the first Black Action Movement. This time
around, not only did the BSU play a critical
role, but other Black student organizations
— such as the Black Law Student Alliance,
Black Medical Students, Association of
Black Social Work Students, Black Psycholo-
gist Organization and Black Educational
Caucus — did as well. And, in 1970, after

tions for months, then-University President
Robben Fleming agreed to meet with the
aforementioned groups. Collectively, the
organizations issued a list of demands to the

1. 10% Black enrollment by fall 1973.
2. 900 new Black students by fall 1971 –

450 freshmen, 150 transfers, 300 graduate

3. An adequate supportive services pro-

gram, including financial aid to finance
Black students’ education.

4. Graduate and undergraduate recruit-

ers (9) to recruit Black students.

5. A referendum to the March Student

Government Council ballot to have students
vote on assessing themselves $3.00 for one
year for the Martin Luther King Scholarship

6. Tuition waivers for minority group

students who are also residents of the state
of Michigan.

7. The establishment of a community-

located Black Student Center.

8. All work of a permanent nature on the

Black studies program is to be halted until
an effective input is fully developed by a
community-university forum.

9. The creation of a university-wide

appeal board to rule on the adequacy of
financial aid grants to students.

10. A revamping of the Parent’s Confiden-

tial Statement.

11. There should be one recruit for Chica-

no students to ensure 50 Chicano students
are admitted by fall 1970.

12. Black students are to be referred to as

Black, not Negro or anything else.

More than half a century since the pro-

tests erupted, the University has not satis-
fied these demands. Despite the University’s
inaction, BAM demonstrated the strength
of collective action, successfully advocat-
ing for the establishment of the first minor-
ity institutions on campus. Black students
demanded the establishment of a commu-
nity-located Black Student Center, which
led to the foundation of the Trotter House
and Ambatana Lounge — the first spaces
dedicated to minority students on campus.
Today, a newly-renovated Trotter Multicul-
tural Center exists in these buildings’ places
after Black students campaigned for a more
accessible institution in early 2014.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — 7
Michigan in Color
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

by A n d y N a k a m u r a

Scan this
QR code to
see your full

UJIMA: Collective work and responsibility

at the University of Michigan


MiC Columnist

While in quarantine during the sum-

mer of 2020, I turned to binge-watching
as my central form of escapism. Many
mornings began with laying on my couch
and watching at least a few hours of tele-
vision. I indulged in all of my favorite sit-
coms, from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
to “Everybody Hates Chris.” The humor of
these shows was a perfect distraction from
the uncertain realities of a peak-pandemic

My absolute favorite sitcom to watch is

“Living Single,” which depicts the lives of
six friends exploring their 20s in Brooklyn,
N.Y. What I really love about this show is
how multi-faceted each character is. While
they’re all pursuing their own careers in the
professional world, none of the characters
fall into the “token Black character” trope
as they still have their own faults and areas
for growth and there are no central white
characters in the show that their narratives

revolve around, making them very fleshed-
out characters. For a 30-minute sitcom, each
of the central characters had a fully round-
ed-out story arc and the show had plenty of
drama, making it the perfect series to binge
all through my summer. While watching
these shows, I couldn’t help but wonder as to
why current Black TV lacked the same sort
of effortless authenticity as some of my favor-
ite shows from the late 90s and early 2000s.
There seems to be a disconnect between
older and more recent depictions of the
Black American lifestyle; Many of the more
recently produced Black TV shows, specifi-
cally ones created in the past several years,
seem to be more directed towards white

In considering contemporary Black TV

shows with questionable levels of authen-
ticity, shows like “BlackAF” or “Black-ish”
come to mind. While I do enjoy shows like
“Black-ish” to an extent, many of these
shows seem to be greatly catered towards
white audiences, as they take time to explain
aspects of the Black American experience
that would otherwise be implied in a show

that was simply just for Black people in
America. Most episodes of “Black-ish” begin
with the main character and patriarch of the
Johnson family, Andre Johnson (Anthony
Anderson), explaining some aspect of the
“typical” Black American lifestyle. The audi-
ence for these monologues is seemingly non-
Black, and more specifically white, viewers.
This speaks to the larger commercial suc-
cess that is seen when Black narratives are
watered down to be made palatable to white
audiences. However, this comes at the cost
of sacrificing more elaborate depictions of
Blackness. Wider audiences outside of the
Black community may not understand the
implied facets of Black American lifestyle
and its niche cultural references, so these
typically have to be spelled out for the sake
of more widespread comprehension. While
these may seem like insignificant sacrifices
to make, this ultimately diminishes a piece
of the tasteful charm of Black TV and some-
what reduces the standards to which Black
stories can be told on television.

The Catch-22 of Black TV


MiC Columnist

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

With Mars moving into Sagit-

tarius and your seventh house of part-
nerships, now is a great time to socialize,

which is one of your favorite activities

anyway. The seventh house rules over all
kinds of relationships, not just romantic

ones. Even if you’re not searching for
love, you can still gain a lot from a new
platonic or work relationship, and you
may develop a bond with someone you

hadn’t expected to get along with.

When Mercury enters fiery

Sagittarius and your eighth house

of rebirth, your passions may become
reignited. If you’ve been wanting to
start a new project, now is a great
time. Be realistic with your expecta-

tions; otherwise, you may be too

discouraged to continue if
your plans don’t blossom

into fruition.

This week’s celestial

events perfectly align to favor
academic success for your sign

with the end of the semester
quickly approaching. Now is
a great time to dedicate your
relentless drive to your studies

so you can learn all that

you can.

With Mercury in Cap-

ricorn and your seventh house
of partnerships, you may feel
more willing to form new con-
nections, especially in regard
to work relationships. Now is a
great time to get to know your
coworkers on a deeper level.

Mars shifts into fel-

low fire sign Sagittarius and
your ruling house, the house of
creativity. Now is the time to

pursue your wildest ideas. Don’t
be afraid to let your imagination

sway you into new directions
with your artistic process; you
may unexpectedly create some-

thing extraordinary.

Mars enters Sagittarius

and your fourth house of home
and family, spurring you to turn

your attention to your home.
Now is a good time to initiate a
renovation plan or reach out to
a family member. Now is also
a great opportunity to start

working on projects you’ve been

planning for a long time.

This week, Mars enters

your sign and your first house
of the self. At this time, you may
feel more invigorated to pursue

anything you’re passionate
about. Especially with a new

semester starting soon, if you’ve
been wanting to take a class out-
side of your major or join a new

organization, this is a great

opportunity to do so.

When Mars enters

Sagittarius and your second

house of love and finances, you
may develop more confidence in
speaking candidly to others about

both romantic and monetary
matters. Scorpios can often be
very guarded, but now is the

time to let down your walls and
express your honest thoughts.

Since Mercury rules over

intellectual pursuits, this is a good
opportunity to ask your instructors
any final questions and form a study
group before finals. When Mercury
enters Capricorn and your fourth

house of home and family, you
should talk with your family and
reach out to childhood friends.

When Mars enters Sagittarius
and your twelfth house of the

subconscious, you may enter a state
of great optimism. This is a wonderful
time to work on creative projects. And
not to bring down your mood, but you

should also be sure to manage your
expectations since it is easy to be too

optimistic and somewhat careless
at this time. This is a great time to
connect with new people or deepen

your existing bonds.

Mars enters Sagittarius
and your ruling house, the
eleventh house of group

dynamics. This could bring a
sudden surge of energy in your
social life, as well as ease any

possible anxieties you may have

when talking to people. Now
is a great time to confidently

introduce yourself to

new people.

When Mars enters

Sagittarius and your tenth

house of career ambitions, you’re
potentially taking a new course
of action to achieve your career
goals. Pursuing a field of study
or extracurricular activity un-
related to your career goals may
provide you with an important
transferable skill you may other-

wise not have developed.

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan