O, there has been much throwing about of brains

January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Like when I’m among men and I see a woman take her clothes off in the name of art, im reminded that im primarily a sexual object. and maybe that makes me feel sexy sometimes. but when im with women only, seeing a naked woman just reminds me of the physical realities of my body. that im not pretty, that im aging, that i have a yeast infection i got from a uti that I got from sex.

Maybe I’m thinking so heteronormatively in part because I don’t think any woman could be attracted to my body. because I am a woman and I am my harshest critic. so I assume other women think the same about not only themselves but also me.

If men were at this performance, it would have gone over much better, I’m sure. They’re easy to please. They would have made excuses for me why my nudity was necessary in the context of the piece. They would have stood up for me and agreed it was my right to get naked if I wanted to. I would be happy to have them as allies, still fully understanding their true intentions behind their support, that they’re just happy to get a glimpse any way they can.

There would be of course men who would turn their noses down at me for my nudity but it would be because they’re scared their horniness will outweigh their intellectualism and they don’t want to seem like a caveman or something.

Maybe you feel my presentation of this piece isn’t artful or subtle enough. Maybe you think I should think less about myself and the way I am perceived.

You’ll go home and tell your roommates I sucked and im a terrible artist who makes self indulgent work with no craft or skill. or maybe at least a part of this will resonate with you and you’ll come up to me after and we can talk about how I stayed just above the line of being disgustingly self aware in a way that made you become more self aware about your own prejudices.

Ok I’m going to get dressed now because I want to end this performance. I don’t want to be naked when it ends.  read more

SIGN & PHOTOGRAPH: Tim Etchells

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I know men are supposed to be visual creatures but it’s the music I can’t stand

December 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I’ve tried to bite my lip on the No More Page Three campaign…

I find Page 3, with its large picture of boobs taken with the woman’s consent, actually somewhat better than all of the other pages of longlensings and body-shaming and gleeful rubbing over celebrities and their mental health, and so forth. That’s not even including the frequent bouts of overt racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism that pepper its foul pages. The whole publication is absolutely fucking vile, and participates actively daily in outright harassment of women who have the misfortune of being famous, or poor, or brown, or whatever other excuse they can conjure to invade their privacy and pretend this is somehow in the public interest…

Now, one could say this campaign is a transitional demand in ending the objectification of women. However, that’s ignoring the fact that objectification is itself a symptom; the problem of objectification did not magically spring from nowhere… that’s assuming that No More Page Three is actually about objectification, which many of its supporters argue it is. I’ve read the text of the No More Page Three petition. I read it before deciding–with all of these criticisms already in mind–not to sign it. And it is just about boobs.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: [unattributed]

then were mightily surprised that he should have aspired to a burlesque kingship which killed him

November 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

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How to see naked men
Seeing naked or near-naked men in the Renaissance does not seem to have been very difficult. I should point out that looking at naked people is not, necessarily, erotic. Indeed, the word for naked, nudo, in Italian had pejorative connotations, as suggested by the definition of “nudo” in John Florio’s 1611 English/Italian dictionary: nude, naked, bare, discovered; also poore, beggarly, and deprived of.

Near nakedness in Italian renaissance cities was rather more common than you might suppose. Poor people sometimes couldn’t afford many clothes, and the clothes they had were worn and tattered. This could pose a problem of accidental genital display. In fact, several Italian states passed sumptuary laws specifically disallowing the public display of genitals. Thus in Lucca, in 1342, it is forbidden for people over 14 to be seen publicly naked. Similarly, in 1375 in Aquila, short doublets are banned because they allow the genitals to remain uncovered.

Some occupations also  required workers to be near-naked. Sometimes for comfort – labourers may have stripped to their underwear in the hot Italian summers, and swimming and fishing were also activities that were done naked or near-naked…

Other jobs, such as dying and curing leather, involved some workers standing naked in vats of urine as part of the process.

Certainly in northern europe, these workers would walk near naked to and from work – in an age where clothing was relatively expensive, and washing was time-consuming, it would be foolish to risk dowsing a set of clothes in wet and smelly substances.

So although male genitals were certainly taboo, it seems they were sometimes seen – and near-naked men dressed in just their underwear was likely to have been a relatively common sight in the renaissance city.

How to see naked women
Female public nakedness or near-nakedness was much more unusual, and much more connected to transgression and public shame. There is some evidence in some cities that prostitutes, for example, would bear their breasts publicly. According to Michele Savonarola, in Ferrara, prostitutes were allowed to keep their breasts partially or totally uncovered in order to tempt men from the greater sin of sodomy.  The Ponte delle Tette in Venice also seems to have been a location where prostitutes would show off their breasts to passing trade.

There were also races in Ferrara and Rome where prostitutes would run through the city naked. This would take place at carnival time in Rome and on the Palio di San Giorgio in April in Ferrara and be closely related to marking the marginal positions of these groups. There was also  a ritual humiliation of adulterous women in Ferrara called the scopa where they were made to run naked through the city; in 1356 in Florence legislation was passed to punish female servants who broke sumptuary laws with being flogged naked through the city.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Martha Rosler

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