Modern Art Notes’ Tyler Green posted an article about artists transposing men’s bodies on women. Michelangelo did this frequently.
“Believing (with most of his contemporaries) that the male was superior to the female,” Goffen writes, “Michelangelo intended to honor Mary by making her male… In images, the Renaissance norm remained the feminine ideal embodied by such Madonnas as Leonardo’s. But Michelangelo abandoned this tradition, masculinizing Mary in part to exempt her from his own society’s oppression of women and to shield her from dangerous and inappropriate female sexuality.”
Green writes: “Compare that to today: None of the discussion about Michelle Obama’s guns is about her build personifying an idealized male body, but is instead about her having an idealized female body. The first lady is proud of the body she’s built and she shows it off in sleeveless dresses and tops at every opportunity. While Michelangelo’s Mary is a woman masculinized to separate her from the way women were viewed in the 16thC, Michelle Obama’s presentation of herself explicitly associates herself with modernity.”