Reactions To Orlando Bloom’s Naked Photo Would Be Very Different If It Were A Woman’s Exposed Body

On Thursday, pictures of Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom on vacation took over the internet and all anyone could talk about was Orlando Bloom’s penis. Because Bloom is buck naked, paddling a boat, with his whole package on display. While I’m not morally opposed to seeing dick, Bloom’s penis circulating the internet bothered me for a few reasons.

The internet reacted like a bunch of second graders, collectively pointing and squealing, via tweets, about the fact that Orlando Bloom has a penis. Let me just get this out of the way: I am not one of those straight women who merely “tolerates” cock. I appreciate, accept, and find penises to be pretty necessary for my stress levels, and I will admit that I gave the images a thoughtful nod. Of course, the conversation surrounding the pictures focused on the size of Bloom’s package from self-deprecating (or too proud) men and approving (or disgusted) women. That’s because there is an element of shock and awe about seeing a man’s naked body on full display.

Unless you watch porn or have one on-call that you enjoy looking at, a man’s entirely exposed body is not something anyone in America sees very often. This is why we laugh and giggle and point at naked men, I think. There is something inherently prudish about penises, even though they pretty much run the world. A penis is usually a punchline, when it’s not a threat or coming straight at you to get busy. Every time there’s a glimpse of a cock — Bloom’s, Bieber’s,  or even Jon Hamm’s and Idris Elba’s “bulge” — everyone reverts to their pre-sex ed selves. The fact that the pictures trend, and then lead to tweet roundups, bothers me for two reasons.

First, there’s the fact that if Perry were standing up on that same boat, in all of her glory, everyone would have a very different reaction. There would be the crusaders, on sites like this one probably, talking about how it’s wrong, just wrong wrong wrong wrong to pass around a woman’s body on social media. Remember: we just ripped Khloe Kardashian for posting a picture of a random girl’s anus on Twitter.

If it were Perry’s and not Bloom’s nakedness, everyone, like myself, would talk about the objectification of a female body and then, in turn, the reclaiming of the female body. Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski can’t even take a topless nude selfie in the name of empowerment without “hot takes” spinning all around Google about whether it’s appropriate or not for a woman to be naked, or even near naked, in the public sphere. So, she would also be attacked for having been naked in the first place.

Women like Kadashian, Ratajkowski, Chelsea Handler, and Miley Cyrus have been trying to #FreeTheNipple ever since Instagram started banning them. Shit, new mothers can’t even feed their infants without facing the wrath and disgust of people who can’t believe a woman has a boob. Actually, aside from the prudes, I happen to believe that most men are enraged about a woman breastfeeding because they don’t like looking at the mechanics of something they normally jerk off to. It all boils down to a penis at the end of the day.

Stick with me here. Bloom and Perry are probably laughing at the hype, because they seem like cool people. But seriously — what about having naked pictures of anyone being passed around the internet is OK? We (and by we, I mean most females) would run, spring, knock over old ladies crossing the street, to protect a woman, even a celeb, if her nakedness became a Twitter trend.

Let’s assume that since Bloom is a human, he’s probably a tad embarrassed. Having crazy amounts of money and a seemingly great life probably balances out the shame, but still. He’s a human being. I love my body and flaunt it (the more crop tops, the better), but I don’t think I would be thrilled if it was being passed around like Bloom’s penis is today, simply because our culture sucks hard at handling nudity.

Bloom is probably also going to survive because his penis is pretty average, because our culture judges penises, mistakenly, on size. Much like we judge women by their curves and body mass. What if Orlando Bloom had a tiny penis? Would that change your mind about retweeting something?

Of course, in a post about a trending penis, we have to talk about The Patriarchy. Men have thrown women’s bodies to the proverbial wolves since forever — using them, loving them, and mocking them — but have always had enough power to protect their own bodies. We see boobs and female butts all the times, but men have always clutched their pearls when it comes to exposing the parts they want to keep private.

Toned abs or even a glorified beer belly are OK, but men have done a stellar job at hiding the cellulite (yes, guys, you have it too) or the random pimples on their asses women might raise an eyebrow at. This is why seeing Bloom’s penis flap around in the wind is so interesting, joke-worthy, tantalizing, or whatever. It’s a novelty.

There’s not a good answer to passing around naked pictures of people — celeb or not — because it always goes both ways. And Americans’ misogynistic roots aren’t going away anytime soon. It will take Shonda Rhimes, probably, with the help of the FCC, to give us a glimpse of a man’s pubic hair or ass cheek escaping his towel on primetime, just like we see side boob and sneaky female butt cheeks. I’m not holding my breath for that though.