Gibsonburg, Ohio. -- Women want to see more naked men in the movies. On the screen, not in the seat next to them.
Recently, Glamour magazine polled 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 44, asking if they felt exploited by excessive female nudity in the movies. Two-thirds of them said yes. Eighty-six percent voted to turn the tables and undress the men. Payback time, I guess.
But wait a minute. Are we sure this is the way we want it? I decided to take my own survey. "Are you in favor of gratuitous male nudity in the movies?" was the question. Without exception, the first response of the five interviewees was laughter. Not giggles. Guffaws. Not a nervous titter. An uproarious howl. Two laughed so hard they cried and one had an asthma attack.
Susie sells vegetables at a little market just outside town. "Hell, I go to the movies so I don't have to look at Irv sittin' around in his underwear. Why would I want to pay money to look at somebody else's husband doin' the same thing?"
Marge is a housewife. She makes a raspberry jam to die for. "Look at what? Why?" was her terse reply. "I got stuff cookin'. Can't waste my time thinking about some nekkid fool."
Equality of the sexes on the silver screen doesn't seem to be much of an issue in our village.
"Darn fool women have nothing better to do than daydream about naked men," Patty mutters as she folds laundry. "Let 'em help me with these kids for a day or two. That'll sure take their mind off men -- with or without clothes."
Ella is a retired army nurse. She lives happily with her dogs in a cabin outside town. "I wouldn't give you two bits for all the bare behinds in Hollywood. I guess I've shot too many of them with penicillin."
My survey isn't working. Maybe a different approach is needed. Angie, a 42-year old teacher, is my last hope.
"How do you feel about naked men in the movies?" I ask.
"Never seen any but I've thought about it some," she laughs.
Now we're getting somewhere. "So, what did you decide?"
"Well, it's like this. Who's the sexiest actor you can think of?" she asks.
That's easy. "Robert Redford."
"When you think of Redford, how do you picture him?"
Another easy question. "Remember him in his navy uniform in 'The Way We Were'?" She nods. "That's how I think about him. I see him standing in front of the fire, jacket unbuttoned, hands in his pockets, tie loosened. And those gorgeous blue eyes intently focused on Streisand."
"See what I'm saying?" Angie interrupts.
"I'm not finished." I have to hurry to add, "I love the way that lock of sun-bleached hair is always falling down on his forehead."
She stops me. It's pretty obvious I'm getting carried away.
"Now, run this scene through your mind again -- only this time, Redford's naked." I try, but it won't work. Now I'm the one with the giggles.
"It's like this," Angie says as her eyes scroll upward and that far-away dreamy look smears itself all over her face. "Picture Richard Gere in 'Pretty Woman' without that gorgeous pinstripe suit."
I try, but the scene just won't play.
"Are you telling me that clothes make the man?" I ask.
"Not exactly," Angie muses. "But they sure do help keep the mystery alive."
I agree. End of survey.
Elizabeth Schuett is a writer and teacher.