A special U.S. Flag Day post!
During the summer, women are permitted (expected, even) to don skimpy bikinis and prance around the local watering hole in front of leering men. Our society doesn't make it hard - in fact, I imagine a lot of women resent the pressure they feel to participate in this little preening ritual. (Personally, I think it sounds hot). Still, there are alternatives if a woman wants to wear something a little more conservative. Men, however, are restricted to the conservative option, and don't have the same freedom of choice.
As far as a man's choices go, stores in this country rarely stock alternatives to the utterly ridiculous "board short" style - which feels a lot like wrapping a picnic blanket around your waist to go swimming (the one I'm wearing in this picture contains more fabric than some full dresses I own and wear, and it was a size small!). And pools and water parks sometimes even ban Speedos, in an act of clear sexual discrimination (since bikinis are unanimously kosher). Ask the average American what they think of this Olympic-approved swimsuit, and you will likely get a reaction of fear, disgust, or humor.
What's scary, disgusting, or funny about men's bodies? If it's true that we place less importance on average men being physically attractive, it's our own fault - and how is that fair, considering all the pressure we place on women to look attractive? Still, if a man takes care of himself - even works out - he should have the choice of showing off his body like women do. Or is it our culturally-ingrained homophobia (which ignores the preferences of women) that makes us uncomfortable looking at men's bodies, because secretly we might think that maybe they're a little bit - kind of - sort of hot?
Or is it the nudity taboo? Too tight a swimsuit on a man could reveal the outline of a penis, and we're all much too immature to endure such a horrible - or hilarious - sight. And yet, again, women are prancing around with very nearly their whole bodies on display, because the [straight] male gaze of the patriarchy demands it. Well I demand equality - in the form of more sexual objectification of men, and equal opportunities for male exhibitionists. If ever there was a feminist issue I could get behind, it's this: the U.S. needs to bring back Speedos.