Women posing nude are now a PRO-Feminist thing?????

On this March 8, I wish a happy International Women’s Day to all women AND MEN. Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am a gay man who is 100% pro-feminist, pro-choice, you-name-it.

But a recent development has confused me to the point where I do not know whether I should shit or wind my watch.

For the past 40 years, I have been told that pretty much all pornography, nudity or erotica involving women was sexist and oppressive. Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, it made no difference. They were all examples of men demeaning women. The fact that the women in these magazines were consenting adults who did this voluntarily for pay made no difference.

For some reason, the same logic did not apply to gay erotica. Perhaps it was because the actors were all male, or because feminists, who tend to be liberal/leftist, did not want to hassle an already-oppressed minority. At any rate, male gay porn always got a free pass in this debate.

But now, suddenly, what appears to be a group of revolutionary Iranian women have just yesterday launched an “empowering” calendar in which they appear naked to strike a blow for feminism.

Some Iranian women have released a video on YouTube pledging their support to the Nude Revolutionary Calendar. The hashtag for the project, #nudephotorevolutionary, is already trending on Twitter.

Here is the YouTube link. - YouTube

I note that the Youtube video, which was just posted yesterday, has already generated several pages of comments, with Muslims and westerners shouting insults at one another.

Apparently, this is being done in support of 20-year-old Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, who triggered a controversy in the Arab world in November when she published a series of naked pictures of herself on her blog under her real name in a protest against Islamic extremism. Aliaa, a student of Media and Communication at the American university in Cairo, originally published the pictures to complain against the ban on nude models on Egyptian universities and books.

Here is an article about this calendar from the International Business Times. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/310411/20120307/nude-photo-revolutionary-calendar-aliaa-magda-elmahdy.htm

So, what about it? Have pictures of naked women now become a pro-feminist thing?

Me is confused!:confused:

You said you’re gay, right? doublechecks Right. Are you queer? Are you Queer?

These women are trying to reclaim their sexuality in a show of power. When The Man says you have to cover yourself “modestly”, and you take your clothes off instead, then yes, it’s a pro-feminist thing. Women who are told to take their clothes off by men and for men are still not a pro-feminist thing.

I think pornography has always had a love/hate relationship with feminism. Female pornographers seem to consider themselves feminists, I have no particular reason to doubt them. I think the male oppression thing has been kind of silly with respect to pornography. Just another way to ensure women aren’t supposed to have fun, enjoy sex, be anything but pregnant in the kitchen, dutifully respecting their men.

I don’t think they’ve ever really rejected pornography as such but claimed it was made primarily by men for men.

Where have you been the past 50 years? This certainly isn’t a recent development; there was always a schism in the feminist camp over this issue.

It’s pretty simple, really:

Playboy/Hustler/Penthouse - expressly only about the sensibilities of men, despite involving women, thus objectifying women who are not seen as anything other than receptacles for male sexual desire. Especially bad: fakey “lesbian” porn which involves lesbians-for-money doing things most lesbians wouldn’t find erotic because they are things that many men find erotic.

Gay erotica - expressly targeted towards the sensibilities of all the people involved, therefore not automatically objectifying.

Nude protest calendar - targeted towards the sensibilities of the people involved, therefore not automatically objectifying.

Bonus categories:

Modern “feminist”/alt-porn - often takes into account the sensibilities of all participants, therefore not automatically objectifying

Slash fiction written by women about men - expressly only about the sensibilities of women, despite involving men, roughly the same level of derision from feminists as Playboy gets.

What it boils down to, really, is “who is being objectified” and “who is the audience, and how do they relate to the subject”.

Simply for the record, I hate the term “objectify” and think it’s diluted the discussion in many respects. Treating someone as a non-human thing is objectification, but only caring about one facet of a person’s being is not objectification. Only being interested in the sexual dimensions of a woman is no more objectification than only being interested in how my mailman delivers my parcels. Seeking out a doctor because you’ve got a cough but not giving a damn about his opinions on fine art is no more objectification than seeking out a woman/man because you want sex and not giving a damn about their opinions on modern music.

Personally, I never understood the anti-porn argument at all. If the women were being coerced, absolutely it would be bad. But it seems weird to me to say that women should have more freedom, but at the same time, it seems that part of the penalty of having that greater amount of choice is that choosing a more traditional lifestyle or being a sexual object gets scorn for not exercising it. It seems like very much the same sort of conservative argument that celebrity marriages or gay marriages somehow damages their marriages, that somehow the choices of some women to pose for pornography or be stay at home wives or whatever somehow affects the women who have different ambitions. And, frankly, it’s demeaning to men in general to believe that men aren’t capable of compartmentalizing their sexual desires in one aspect and then when actually interacting with women, treating them like human beings.
That said, I do think the example of Iranian women in the OP is fundamentally different. Yes, it involves nudity, but that’s where the similarity with pornography ends. They’re not doing it for the sexual gratification of others, they’re doing it as a form of self expression. So, in a world where the female body is typically covered up and women’s sexuality is more or less ignored, it does make sense that nude photographs of women would be a way of expressing freedom.

I do not use the term “queer” but I do not disapprove of it. In fact, it might be a useful term to use to describe all sexual minorities together. Personally, I am getting a bit tired of the alphabet soup that has evolved with acronyms like LGBTTTC (lesbian, gay transexual, transgendered, etc, etc, etc.)

The problem with your comment, " Women who are told to take their clothes off by men and for men are still not a pro-feminist thing." is that it is very generalized and open to question.

First, the women who pose nude are free, responsible adults who are doing so voluntarily in return for payment. “Told to take off their clothes” makes it sound as if they are being forced to pose nude. Of course I would oppose any form of compulsion. But as a feminist, should I deny these adult women the right to make their own decisions on how they pose?

“By men”? I believe Playboy is or was run by Hugh Heffner’s daughter. Does that make a difference?

What about the men posing nude on my gay calendar? I enjoy looking at all 12 of them. Are they being demeaned?

What if a young woman IN AMERICA who had been raised in a very strict, puritanical and patriarchal religion decided to express her liberation and empowerment by leaving home and posing nude in Playboy of Penthouse? Would you support her?

What if President Santorum proposed a law to prevent all nude pix? Would you support him ?

What if a group of attractive American women decided to get together and produce a nudie calendar JUST TO MAKE MONEY? And the operation is 100% female. Would you oppose them? What if one of the photographers is male? Does that make their operation oppressive?

It’s complicated.

Thank God it’s not complicated. Now I would love to see the draft of a law that could be effectively enforced in support of those principles. I think the Supreme Court judges would want to hang themselves!

It’s also a problem that (some-but-not-all) feminists argue that women are to be considered competent, rational actors able to do what they want with their bodies and make and enter into contracts of their own free will… and then declare that women are entering into the ‘wrong’ kind of contracts and doing the ‘wrong’ types of things with their own bodies.

Either a woman can choose who to have sex with or she cannot. And either a woman can choose what work to engage in or she cannot. So if the answer to both is yes, then she can choose work that has to do with her sexuality.

I don’t think that’s a problem, per se. It’s clear that some women in the sex industry are being exploited (whether because of drug addiction, daddy issues, or whatever).

It’s clear in some cases, such as the Egyptian woman discussed in the OP, that there isn’t any exploitation going on; after all, she published the pictures on her own blog.

Eh… I still don’t buy it.
I don’t see why someone who works in porn because of any of the above issue is any more being “exploited” than someone who has to work cleaning the grease traps at McDonalds. If we accept that women are autonomous beings able to use their sexuality as they see fit and enter into contracts, then sex work is no more a “feminist issue” than McDonalds work.

It’s only the vestigial assumption that female sexuality is somehow unique/sacrosanct that causes that particular economic transaction to be viewed differently.


"An Iranian female activist has condemned the Nude Revolutionary Calendar released on International Women’s Day, likening it to The Sun and other tabloid newspapers.

Azar Majedi, of the Organisation of Women’s Liberation in Iran, has attacked the initiative, saying that it uses women’s nudity to increase profit just like the tabloids.

She also called the video of Iranian women supporting the calendar as “absurd caricatures” of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Egyptian blogger who triggered a controversy in the Arab world by posting nude pictures of herself online."

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/311155/20120308/nude-photo-revolutionary-calendar-international-women-s.htm#ixzz1oYAa3DXU

Okay, so:

Calendar = bad :confused:

Nude youtube by Iranian women = bad :confused:

But apparently, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Egyptian blogger posting nude pictures of herself online = good. :confused:

Or is the “Organisation of Women’s Liberation in Iran” just a quisling stooge established by the Iranian regime?

One involves sex, and one doesn’t. Presumably, if men were the historically powerless sex, masculist activists would complain about men being exploited by gay strip clubs and female-oriented nudie mags and so on.

I’m shocked that people disagree about stuff.

The possible exploitation of some women in the erotica industry tells us we should act against exploitation.
There is exploitation (RIGHT IN AMERICA, CANADA and EUROPE) of immigrant women and children in the garment industry. In some cases, illegal immigrants are kept in a *de facto * state of slavery.

Does this mean we should ban the garment industry, or ban exploitation?

Not everything that’s simple can be easily legislated.

There’s a subtle difference here, I think, in that it’s not typically the case that you imagine your doctor to be a medicine-dispensing robot with no human qualities–there’s a difference between “Only caring about one facet of a person” and “Disavowing all other aspects of their personhood”. Some (not nearly all) pornography crosses that line in a meaningful way, IMHO.

Further, I can respect someone’s free choice to be a porn starlet in Hustler or a Mormon preacher, while being against the societal effects of those choices (contribution to the objectification of women, and stuff like Prop 8, respectively). Put another way, feminists don’t necessarily oppose pornography because the ACTRESSES are being exploited–they tend (in my experience) to oppose it because of the message that typical male-gaze-centric porn can often send (“hurt me with your massive meat rod!” “drown me in cum!” “use me how you like!”)

And if they did, angry male sex workers and porn stars would refuse to accept your argument that because men were the historically powerless sex, they cannot in this day and age freely consent to appear in erotic films that please straight women and gay men.

They would tell you that they went into the erotica industry of their own free will, that in many cases they are making good money, and who gave you the right to decide their careers for them?

And I would support them as much as I support the female porn stars and sex industry workers in our modern world who are increasingly telling the “new puritans” to fuck off!

The best expression of feminism is young, fit, nude women.

As others have said, this isn’t a new issue.

I think there’s a valid argument that telling a woman she shouldn’t work as a stripper or a porn actress is no different than telling a woman she shouldn’t work as a doctor or lawyer. Real feminism is letting women make their own choices.