(Due to the nature of this discussion it might be considered R-rated, if you do not like to discuss genitals or sexual organs then please do not read this post)
So on The Mary Sue there was an interesting discussion about one of the actresses from The Game of Thrones refusing to due any more nude scenes. Even in the books The Game of Thrones is very R-rated. They discuss people having sex with each other, brothels, etc, but the show definitely takes it to another level. Now when nudity is done right and has an actual purpose it is not a bad thing. There are definitely times on the show that nudity feels in-character and makes sense for the situation that they are in.
Then there are the times where it feels like the fourth wall is broken and you have these nudity or sex scenes that are just there to smack you in the face and remind you that you are watching HBO. Now HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and all of those premium channels do not have to follow any rules, except for the ones the companies set themselves. At the same time if this is the case then why is it that we get the full frontal female, but we can never show the possibility of a penis?
So part of it is probably based on just where they have been. As far back as I can remember there has not been full male nudity unless you are watching a porn, at least I assume. I mean it was not really that long ago when no nudity was shown. Married couples slept in separate beds because of the implication they would be having sex. I do not know the history or where it began, but female nudity has always been a bit more accepted.
Now obviously we still regulate nudity on public channels and other places, but the rules are becoming much more lax. HBO does not have to abide by these rules though, so they can do anything they want. Would showing full male frontal nudity in a show meant for adults, but that is not specifically about porn or sex, cause such an uproar if it was warranted?
Another part that is important to consider about this is the recent discussion of actresses being taken less seriously if they choose to do nude scenes. Considering that the same does not seem to apply for men and usually if they are shown it is the butt, we do not get the turn around and seeing them just walking towards us with it all hanging out. Yet, we are constantly seeing women stripping down to nothing and we view them from the front, back and all which ways. Most of the time the nudity feels gratuitous and not necessary.
This in my opinion is the big problem. There are times that a story can have a purpose for nudity, but in general it is often not really necessary. Yet, we have begun to almost think nothing of seeing a naked woman on the screen. We could explore further the idea of the hypersexualization of women in general, but that has been discussed in a lot of different places. I think what can be really telling is the difference in how we treat nudity for men and women. As always though, HBO cannot help but to remind us that we are watching HBO by showing nudity and sex.