The Male Body in Digital Culture explores different ways that the male body has been represented by, constructed in, and experienced through digital media during the age of austerity. It argues that the male body has become a key site in contemporary culture where neoliberalism’s hegemony has been both secured and contested since 2008. It does this by looking at three different case studies: the celebrity male nude leak; the rise of young men sharing images of their muscular bodies on social networking sites; and the rise of chemsex. It finds that on the one hand digital media has enabled men to transform their bodies into tools of value-creation in an economic context when their traditional bread-winning capacities have been diminished. On the other it has also allowed them to use their bodies to form intimate collective bonds during a moment when competitive individualism continues to be insisted on as the privileged mode of being in the world. It therefore offers a unique contribution not only to the field of digital cultural studies but also to the growing cultural studies literature attempting to map the historical contradictions of the austerity moment.
1. Introduction / 2. The Male Body in Digital Culture / 3. The Celebrity Male Nude Leak / 4. The Spornosexual / 5. The Rise of Chemsex / 6. Conclusion
Jamie Hakim is a Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of East Anglia and a Teaching Fellow in Digital Humanities at King’s College, London. His research interests include popular culture, digital culture, affect, the body, gender, sexuality and practices of intimacy. Prior to his academic career he held different editorial positions at Europe’s leading gay culture magazine Attitude from 2003-2014.
Jamie Hakim’s Work that Body: Male Bodies in Digital Culture is destined to become required reading for students of masculinities, sexuality and digital media cultures in the 21st century.
The book challenges commonsensical thinking about what the sexualized male body means and through thoughtful, detailed and perceptive analysis provides a corrective to the unquestioning application of theory derived from critical masculinity studies. It’s rare to read a book where an author genuinely does make a distinctive and novel intervention that so timely as well as relevant across disciplines and fields of study but this is just such an example.
Engrossing, original and very smart, this book zooms in on the production of male bodies under neoliberalism without shying away from the affective ambiguities, elusive pleasures and resistant moments that this entails. Moving from celebrity male nude leaks to spornosexuals, to RuPaul’s Drag Race and to chemsex, Work that Body represents contemporary cultural studies at its best.
Firmly rooted in interesting and contemporary cases, Hakim takes us on a sophisticated tour of how neoliberalism’s successes and failures explicitly and implicitly transform us all into digital and/or sexualized bodies for consumption and compensation for the global elite. Using the nuanced methodology of conjectural analysis, Hakim eloquently traces the historical trajectory of our cultural subjectivities and leaves us with policy implications and hope for the future in the face of stark global atrocities.
Work that Body: Male Bodies in Digital Culture will be attractive to a variety of multidisciplinary scholars interested in gender, masculinities, sexuality, embodiment, digitality, leisure, and cultural studies.