In the comments thread for More sex, please. We're American. by Jim Emerson, a discussion has started over the relative quantity of female vs. male nudity in cinema.
Following a comment bringing up the old chestnut that women are substantially naked substantially more often, I replied, "I've come to the rule of thumb that with no shirt on women are about 50% naked and men are maybe 25% naked. Because of the weird skew right there, the algebra to creating something reasonably interpretable as equality requires a complex algebra that's unlikely to ever get dealt with.
"As it goes, I've got to agree with Dane, seeing women's genitalia is virtually unheard of in mainstream cinema... and practically so even in arthouse movies. The general region shows up on rare occasion, although certainly not any more often than the male region, and as such, the actual male genitalia make an appearance.
"I'd say the concern over this would best be alleviated with more 100% naked people of both genders, but until then, I think the supposed double standard is overblown."
The other commenter, Liz, replied, "It's true that, due to the nature of our anatomy you rarely see women's genitalia. But you can argue semantics, anatomy and genitalia shots all you want, but if you count shots of topless women, full frontal nudity and shots from the rear (or rather, of the rear), male or female, women are still naked in movies a lot more than men."
My reply was and is that if you are considering the whole of cinema's over hundred year history, this is likely true, but that it isn't true in particular in the last twenty years.
Again, the complexity of female vs. male anatomy makes a reasonable assessment more difficult than people like to imagine. Topless women are considered more naked than topless men, although I'm unwilling to concede topless men as not adding in there anywhere. I'm also unwilling to concede that it's ever been substantially more common to see full frontal female nudity than full frontal male nudity in mainstream cinema, and that the amount of full frontal female nudity has decreased by a much larger percentage than full frontal male nudity in recent decades.
And, as I say, because of the nature of our anatomy, the average view of full frontal male nudity is a significantly more intimate view than the average viewing of full frontal female nudity.
There could be a remaining discrepancy. I'm not entirely ruling that out. I merely think the extent of it as a trend is greatly exaggerated and much more complicated to assess than people give it credit for at first glance.
Either way, I do think the solution is to have way more nudity from both genders, so we'll all be too distracted to be counting and adding up body parts and their respective "point value" to assess whose prurient needs are being better served by cinema.