'What is a boy exactly? Generally speaking, a boy is a male person who is no longer a child, but not yet a man.' Germaine Greer
In this South Bank Show Special Germaine Greer argues against the conventional notion that the female body has always been used to represent the primary object of visual pleasure in Western art.
In Greer's view, it is traditionally the figure of the young male, or 'The Boy' who represents the ultimate in human beauty.
Greer traces the origins of art's obsession with the boy from Ancient Greece to the present day.
Her journey takes her to galleries in Paris, Florence and Rome to discuss works by artists such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Titian and Van Dyck.
Greer opposes the common assumption that male artists painted boys to express their own sexual preferences and to appeal to the homo-eroticism of other men.
She argues that women too have always looked at boys for pleasure and should be encouraged to do so.
Applying her argument to modern times, Greer talks to boy band Westlife about their millions of adoring female fans, and looks back through history at the appeal of other famous young males.
She visits a life-drawing class to observe female students reacting to a naked male model and attends a photoshoot for Cosmopolitan magazine, whose pictures of scantily clad sexy young men are used to lure women to buy the magazine.
Additional contributors include Louis Walsh, manager of Westlife, and Lorraine Candy, Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Written and Presented by Germaine Greer
Produced and Directed by Matt Cain and Edited by Melvyn Bragg