A place where the writers call themselves “free thinkers”


Missing the point. Damion Reinhardt at Skeptic Ink.

Freezing Peaches at AACON

If you were to Google for “removing the objectionable paintings” as a phrase, it will lead you to (as of this printing) exactly one place on the World Wide Web,  a place where the writers call themselves “free thinkers” and are presently discussing removing three paintings from an art show because said paintings depict women in various states of undress:

AACON-sneak-peek

Not just missing the point but also distorting – “discussing removing three paintings” sounds as if the terrible people in question were discussing doing the removing themselves, which was not the case.

But the missed point is the more important aspect, because it’s so typical (of the genre as well as of Reinhardt’s friends and colleagues). No it wasn’t “because said paintings depict women in various states of undress.” If they had been for instance paintings of people in various states of undress, there would have been no issue. To be minimally fair and accurate, he should have phrased that as “because said paintings depict anonymous women in various states of undress along with famous men as thoroughly dressed as it’s possible to be apart from gloves and hat.”

But that would have ruined the sneer.

You can see all three paintings in this Storify. The images are not safe for work, unless you work in an art gallery and can therefore be expected to view nudes routinely without turning into a slavering misogynist sex beast.

I would love to write a brilliant post about why censoring these paintings is a bad idea, even in this narrow context, but Russell Blackford anticipated this issue almost exactly a year before the events of this weekend:

Within wide limits, we should all be free to talk about sex, or even joke about it. Book stalls should be free to sell books whose covers have arguably sexual or erotic images, art displays or poster shops should be free to include art with erotic content, etc.

It does seem that in every generation new rationalisations are invented to try to restrict sexual expression and openness. And in every generation, we have to fight this.

Please go read his entire post, and think seriously about whether we atheists want to follow the leads of mullahs and the priests in demonizing human sexuality in general and covering up of artistic representations of the female form in particular.

If you care to support the artist, prints of smiling David Silverman are still available from his website.

The paintings are not about “human sexuality”; they are about male sexuality, and women as objects of same. There’s a context here, for fuck’s sake. This wasn’t a set of pictures of naked people, and it wasn’t erotica; it was paintings exclusively of naked unknown women mixed in with fully clothed famous intellectual men. That does not simply translate to Human Sexuality.

Also, it was at the American Atheist Convention. Women were there as well as men: attending and also speaking. Women were participating. But what were these paintings? Famous fully clothed atheist men, and naked women. Where were the famous fully clothed atheist women? Nowhere. What does that look like to the casual (and even attentive) viewer? That men do atheism and women do being naked. Does Reinhardt really see no problem with that at an atheist Convention?

Update: Ahahaha Damion is such a wit. So is “I has gelato” of Twitter. (That’s a title. You know, like Princess Henrietta of Monaco.)

View image on Twitter

Geddit? I want to put burqas on all the women. Yup.

Comments

  1. opposablethumbs says

    The level of dishonesty is, sadly, pretty much exactly what one might have expected. Of course, make believe it’s all about prudishness and being repressive and “demonising human sexuality”! Of course, deliberately ignore and omit all the context! Make sure you don’t mention the other paintings, or the nature of the occasion!

    Yup, dishonesty as usual.

  2. Forbidden Snowflake says

    No Freeze Peach is complete without a misuse of the term “censorship”!
    So why isn’t this dumbass in an uproar about the lack of naked dude images in the exhibition? Clearly, human sexual expression is being suppressed!

  3. says

    Has anybody asked Russell Blackford whether he agrees with his words being used in this way? I find it incredibly easy to agree with the sentiment quoted, and yet find it completely inapplicable to what is actually happening in this situation.

    I wanted to tag him while posting about this on Facebook, but realized I couldn’t.

  4. says

    Well, to be fair, it may simply be that Reinhardt and Blackford think that heterosexual male sexuality as constrained by commercialized images is all there is to human sexuality. Otherwise, no, there’s no excuse for conflating the two in your writing.

  5. Stacy says

    Is it dishonesty or is it rank stupidity? It’s so hard to tell with that crowd.

    There’s the argument Ophelia articulated, and there’s Damion’s (typical) strawman version. Either:

    1) He can’t comprehend the true objection, or

    2) All he cares about is promoting his own argument, such as it is, and he’s willing to misrepresent ours in order to do that.

    Which is it, Damion?

    .

    * Sex good (we agree), FtB bad, feminists prudes. Have I missed any nuance?

  6. Ryan Hart says

    This article is overflowing with emotion.

    How do you square the circle of calling something “male sexuality” when women are known to have the most fluid sexuality in western culture, while ignoring the existence of lesbians?

    Where there no lesbians in attendance?
    Did they find it particularly distasteful?
    Do you have any facts and figures to back any of these claims up?
    (Demanding evidence is so radical I know!)

    Maybe the seller did their research and found naked paintings of men would not sell well? Did you inquire about that before making the article?

    I’m so done with this simplistic guilty by association culture going around. We can’t have gun because some idiot might shoot up a school. We can’t watch porn because some idiot might think women actually like being treated this way. We should educate, not stagnate culture or sexuality. Education not stagnation.

    The lack of female atheist represented in the paintings is the real crux of the article. To that I ask if the art sellers are under any compunction to do so in the convention rules? If they aren’t, why not? Any evidence at all besides just flying off at the handle when you boobs. I swear, you can go so far left, you actually go right again.

    Wave the banner of feminism all you like, this is just a poor attempt at authoritarianism. There is an alarming trend of leftist being ok with authoritarianism as long as it’s a leftist person pushing it. We gotta fight this.

  7. rq says

    I would like to submit a painting of a nude Neil deGrasse Tyson from the neck down. Where do I apply?

  8. njuhgnya says

    haha “neopuritanicals demonizing human sexuality” what a bunch of sociopathic assholes. we can’t censor sexual objectification, such a thing has never been proven in history!

  9. says

    I read that and facepalmed, Damion followed me on Twitter and reminded me he existed so I thought I’d check out what he was saying as I’d not looked in ages. Was going to comment on it that Stephanie Zvan had said if there had been Dawkins, Hitchens etc nudes then it’s less of an issue, context is everything. But juxtaposed to male atheists as thinking superheroes it was a bit jarring. All the men dressed and thinky, all the women naked and props to a “greater point”.

    But then I saw him/others using the term “neo-puritan” and that level of Hoggle-channelling was enough to put me off and do something more productive. Like pick my nose.

  10. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Has anybody asked Russell Blackford whether he agrees with his words being used in this way?

    Last time anyone paid any attention to him he didn’t seem to have a problem aligning himself with the slymers – but that’s a while ago now.

  11. HappyNat says

    I would just like to point out that Ryan Hart’s comment at #7 is overflowing with emotion.

  12. says

    Where there no lesbians in attendance?

    What makes you assume there were no lesbians or bisexual women engaged in the analysis of the art hung at this show? In my piece on the topic, I quoted at least two, both of whom suggested that the piece I asked about referred to the commercialization of feminism–women made sexy in order to make feminism more palatable. If you’d like to make a case that the standard in making women sexy for commercial purposes is aimed at lesbians and bisexual women, go right ahead. At a minimum, you’ll need to demonstrate knowledge of how women are depicted in porn aimed at women who are attracted to women.

    We’ll wait.

  13. says

    Oh, I missed this:

    We can’t watch porn because some idiot might think women actually like being treated this way.

    In using the general term “porn”, Ryan, I assume you’re saying you’re not allowed to watch porn aimed at you (men) because of how it depicts generally men treating women, yes?

    I don’t think it’s us forgetting that media can be aimed at women who are attracted to women.

  14. says

    Where [sic] there no lesbians in attendance?

    Hello, O clueless one.

    Lesbians may appreciate some fine ol’ objectification of the female form. That doesn’t make them utterly deaf to the impropriety of showing off the female forms of anonymous young women in contrast with fully-clothed busts of famous (apparently at least a few decades older) men. In other words, it doesn’t make them agree that the end-all and be-all is “What gives me a (lady) boner,” the feelings of all others be damned.

  15. says

    …at Skeptic Ink.

    That still exists? Huh.

    ***

    think seriously about whether we atheists want to follow the leads of mullahs and the priests in demonizing human sexuality in general and covering up of artistic representations of the female form in particular.

    What we should reject is the tradition of men, for centuries, determining if, where, when, and how the “female form” is to be displayed or concealed. “The paintings are not about ‘human sexuality'; they are about male sexuality, and women as objects of same.” Yes, male sexuality as sadly warped by a twisted patriarchal culture.

  16. says

    Meanwhile the painter of these male atheist thinkers wearing clothes and female naked body-havers, Adam Brown, DMd me on Facebook this afternoon. He’s cross with me. He says atheist women don’t sell, and he does this to feed his family. I told him he was welcome to reply here, but he said he’ll “have a friendly blogger respond.” So that will be something to look forward to.

  17. HappyNat says

    Then I’ll assume, following the model of hyerskeptics, that Adam has proof that he had paintings of (clothed) atheist women and they didn’t sell as well. Why there wouldn’t be as many noticeable female atheists or why they would sell as well, is of course at the heart of the matter. Probably best explained as “it’s more of a guy thing”.

  18. says

    The lack of female atheist represented in […] paintings is the real crux […]

    Then sharpen your pencil and do something to fill this void!
    Or I’ll do and it will be all your fault! ;-)

    Ah, hell, why not?

  19. says

    I wasn’t going to comment on this at all, but this is getting silly…

    I understand the optics of this, when you zoom in. I understand the possible message that could be interpreted from having clothed men and nude women.

    I also understand that:

    1. This was an art show, not a statement. Adam set up 2 paintings at the front to show the diversity of what he had to sell. He had many paintings on display. These 2 represented his latest in 2 different styles and that’s what you DO when you’re trying to sell things. You put up examples that draw people in to the rest of what you have.

    2. This display was set up hastily and it was CHANGED as soon as Ophelia blogged. It also would have been changed if someone had merely mentioned the perceived problem, rather than blogging it. The fact that we’re still blogging about something that was immediately changed speaks volumes about how some people in our movement simply can’t work together. It literally took one comment to change this, no drama required.

    3. Naked women, despite Ophelia’s statement here are not just for “male” sexuality. That seems incredibly myopic…considering the number of women who actually enjoyed the paintings. I’m pretty sure that at least *some* women like looking at naked women. Don’t they? Am I not married to one? Isn’t Adam?

    4. Adam’s sales pamphlet has 4 portraits on it. 2 men. 2 women. All clothed. I believe the portraits are of Ayan Hirsi Ali, Madalyn, Dennett and either Dawkins or Harris. Doesn’t that, alone, suggest that Adam is the kind of person who is likely to listen when things like this are raised? Clearly he is, as he changed the display.

    My wife had Jewelry in this art show. Some of it included flowers that looked like vaginas…she forgot to put in a flower that looked like a penis (clothed or unclothed). Maybe that’s complaint worthy?

    Meanwhile, it’s just a little dishonest to pull this ‘clothed’/’unclothed’ comparison when we’re talking about one set of paintings being portraits that show a face and *maybe* a collar, while the other is a completely different style. Oh, it’s true that one is clothed and one isn’t, but the *focus* of the portraits is the portrayal of a face, not clothing, not body, not style.

    When I say that I understand the possible message this can send. I’m not kidding. Adam spoke to me as soon as it happened (I was actually there, and able to view the entire display, in context). I explained to him that I understood the objection and was glad that he re-arranged the display. I pointed out that viewing just those 2 paintings, without any other context, it’s understandable that someone might assume a bit more and see a message that was never intended.

    I also pointed out, if I recall, that the message, whether intended or not, is problematic enough that we should probably take steps to avoid it – and that’s why I was glad he rearranged it.

    That said, as someone who was there, as someone who knows Adam and the broader context. This was a non-issue. This was an *auction* where people were trying to sell their goods. You market things in a way that sells.

    Now, a good person who has done a lot for this movement is being portrayed (is he clothed?) as just another example of rampant sexism…despite the portraits he’s done of prominent women in the movement, despite the inclusive, kind-hearted work he’s done for the movement.

    Why? Well, because he dared to put two paintings, representing his two styles, on the same front-facing stand.

    Now, you’re welcome to dislike his art all you want, but the guy posted his work and immediately responded to an objection. It seems to me, he’s gone above and beyond.

    Meanwhile, when the objections are that naked women aren’t human sexuality, they’re male sexuality…I think we’ve gone off the deep end.

  20. Sili says

    I’m somewhat shocked he can make a living of this. I guess among the other faults of mainstream atheists is a severe lack of good taste.

  21. says

    That said, as someone who was there, as someone who knows Adam and the broader context. This was a non-issue. This was an *auction* where people were trying to sell their goods. You market things in a way that sells.

    You market men as famous faces in black and white with clothes on. You market women as colorful, naked unknowns. That’s just what sells. Is this really the argument you want to use to say there is no reason to discuss this, Matt?

    For the record, you’re the first person to bring Adam’s name into this, as far as I know. Why? Because this isn’t about what you know if you know Adam. It’s great that you do, so you have a filter through which to interpret this work. Most of the people who walked into that art show didn’t have that filter. Some of them complained.

    That makes this only a non-issue if those are non-people.

    As for you comments about male sexuality, I’ve already gone over that once in the comments. Have the grace to reply to that rather than just repeating the person I was responding to.

  22. says

    Matt

    As far as I understand, the arrangement was changed or being changed before Ophelia and others blogged on it because it was pointed out by some attendees. But no one is allowed to bring this up for discussion publicly, or what?

    The fact that the paintings were arranged as they had been speaks volumes about our culture. I don’t care what the leading reason was that the artist (apparently, from your comment) arranged them as he did. That’s just another example of acting without considering broader implications that so many of us do so well. That so many of us are unconscious of our biases and unfair behaviors.

    I haven’t seen a single original article, and very few comments, that pointed fingers or even named the artist, or even suggested he had done the arranging. And on the artist’s side: You want to do public things, expect public criticism. Hey, it’s great that he immediately responded to an objection by making a rearrangement. Whining about it afterward, though, just says he responded to potential market pressure but thinks nothing was actually problematic. (Again, I only know what I’m responding to here from your own comment.)

  23. says

    I love that the opposite of unnecessary nudity is a burqa, rather than, say, photoshopping in a t-shirt and jorts or some shit. Or maybe the same sorts of clothing that Tyson and Silverman were wearing in the other paintings.

    Way to skeptic, Damion. Nice false dichotomy. So intellect. Wow.

  24. amyroth says

    Matt, you know for a fact that some people were bothered by Adam’s juxtaposition of his chosen human forms. And he knows that people were upset because he discussed it with PZ. Lots of conversations were had about this. And Beth’s vaginal flower pieces were subtle and lovely. Which also shows that art that depicts nudity can be done in a way that is not offensive or crass. If you think that the women in this movement, are treated equally and that we are at a point in our history where having all nude showgirl type women next to fully clothed older men doesn’t send a negative message to women such as myself, then you simply aren’t taking the time to fully consider that art is powerful and sends a message or you are closing yourself off to the struggle some of us have faced over the last 3 years within moment atheism and skepticism. And I consider you a friend, and I don’t think you would do that. In this particular case and at this particular show, Adam sent the message (whether he intended or not) that women with clothes on are less valuable, and he literally says this in his own words repeatedly to multiple people over the course of the weekend, he says that women with clothes don’t sell and that’s why he doesn’t paint or draw them as much. And that says that in the eyes of many men that women can’t can’t hold their own fully clothed, next to the men and garner the same respect. Women are more valuable, specifically as young, fully shaved, standards of white sexualized beauty. That’s a message that I hope over time, we can work together to change. So let’s drop the, some women like to look at other naked women BS, because that’s not relevant once you understand the issue at a deeper level. Many feminists are sex positive and we can like sex and like looking at naked people while also working towards equality.

  25. karmacat says

    It’s not even good art. Good art is supposed to tell an interesting story. This is just a painting with religious symbols on fire with a naked woman. And she is not really a women, just another symbol. Look at Manet’s Olympia. It shows a naked women who is comfortable with her sexuality. The painting implies that she is a courtesan/prostitute but she looks at the viewer essentially without any shame. Mapplethorpe’s pictures of nude men was more than just about nude men. Or look at Matisse’s paintings of nude women. His drawings of nude women are erotic and sensual. If the artist wanted painted a naked woman then he should of painted a naked woman without all that crap around her. She would then look like a person instead of a symbol

  26. karmacat says

    Ugh. I just looked at the painting “what glass ceiling.” That one is just trivializing the issues women have to struggle with. The idea with the glass ceiling is that women are still not taken seriously in the work place. The nude woman in the picture just reinforces that idea.

  27. Hj Hornbeck says

    Matt Dillahunty @21:

    Meanwhile, when the objections are that naked women aren’t human sexuality, they’re male sexuality…I think we’ve gone off the deep end.

    I’ve been fairly quiet on this subject, but I’ve gotta step in here.

    Yes, Dillahunty, it’s about male sexuality.. The artist himself admits to it:

    Benson @18:

    He says atheist women don’t sell, and he does this to feed his family.

    Right there, he says he’s using images of women’s bodies to sell his wares. You too admit to this:

    You market things in a way that sells.

    Sex sells, because sexual attraction can drive people to buy things. And who’s sexually attracted to nude women, more than any other group? Men.

    This shouldn’t be news, either, Immanual Kant discussed objectification in 1797, and the earliest mention I can see in Second-wave feminism comes in 1979 from Iris Marion Young and has been the subject of multiple scientific papers. The use of women’s bodies to attract men is so common we become oblivious to it and assume it isn’t happening.

    Please check your assumptions.

  28. says

    I notice on the Skeptic Ink site that I am suddenly charged with ordering the removal of the paintings…I guess the better to make it fit their bizarre narrative of neo-puritans censoring sexuality. This is not true. I talked with the artist, explained what many people would find objectionable about them (that weird dichotomy of seeing men and women treated in extremely different ways as subjects of art), and he volunteered that he’d be removing them…although ultimately I guess he just rearranged them, instead.

    I did not tell him to do anything. I didn’t even make mild recommendations. He was asking me what the problem was.

    Like Matt said, he’s trying to make a living at this, and his work is pretty good. It’s just that as an exhibit, the conglomeration of two radically different styles and subjects was incoherent and off-putting, and unfortunately, made it look like he had one way of portraying men in atheism, and a different way of portraying women that emphasized their sexuality.

  29. aweraw says

    The message and tone of this article, juxtaposed against the advertising that is routinely displayed on this site (not limited to only this blog) is one of the richest veins of comedy gold I’ve come across on the internet in recent months. Cheers.

  30. Tessa says

    Ryan Hart #7

    We can’t watch porn because some idiot might think women actually like being treated this way.

    For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume you mean porn targeted for men.
    So you recognize women don’t like being treated “this way”.
    Porn doesn’t require women be treated “this way”. Not even porn aimed at men.
    So why is it that you’re OK with the vast majority of porn showing women being treated in ways you know they don’t want to be treated? Why not have encourage porn that’s less objectifying?

    Matt Dillahunty #21

    1. This was an art show, not a statement. Adam set up 2 paintings at the front to show the diversity of what he had to sell. He had many paintings on display. These 2 represented his latest in 2 different styles and that’s what you DO when you’re trying to sell things. You put up examples that draw people in to the rest of what you have.

    It was an American Atheist art show wasn’t it? Wouldn’t the pieces reflect that?

    2. This display was set up hastily and it was CHANGED as soon as Ophelia blogged. It also would have been changed if someone had merely mentioned the perceived problem, rather than blogging it. The fact that we’re still blogging about something that was immediately changed speaks volumes about how some people in our movement simply can’t work together. It literally took one comment to change this, no drama required.

    You do know this post is a response to someone else’s blog post right? Now, I’m sure you went and posted a similar comment on Damion Reinhardt’s blog since he was the one who brought this back up, so is the one “still blogging about something that was immediately changed”. Oh wait, you didn’t. At least I didn’t see one. I’ll just assume you are an intellectually honest person and did respond disdainfully on Damion’s blog as well, just under a different username.

  31. leni says

    I would just like to point out that Ryan Hart’s comment at #7 is overflowing with emotion.

    Yes, but it’s male emotion and therefore legitimate, reasonable, understandable and poignant.

    /sarcasm

  32. says

    aweraw, you do know that most advertising is targeted at viewers based on their browsing habits across the web, right? I mean, if you’re tickled that you can get those ads to load here, then fine, but you should understand what you’re saying.

  33. aweraw says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I understand how internet advertising works. Here’s the thing: you guys have control over what gets displayed – you can opt out of what imagery gets displayed at FTB. Images you your self would deem problematic seem to just pour out of this site – you’re either not reviewing what you’re displaying and making choices that reflect the belieifs you espouse in your writting here, or you have a double standard with regard to doing “what sells”.

    That fact that they’re targeted at me is of little consequence when you’re ultimately the carrier. Now that’re you’re aware that these problematic images are piggy backing on your writting to reach people who you would deem to have problematic browsing habits, are you going to do something about it, or will you continue employing your selective outrage as it suits your adgenda?

  34. says

    You know you can report ads to the bloggers to have them removed, right? Just right-click on them, copy the link, and email one of us. That’s the information we need to point out problem ads to our service. We’ve had plenty of ads removed, but we can’t take action on what we can’t see.

  35. says

    Just in case I’m being less than perfectly clear here: We rely on complaints as part of the system that makes us better. We don’t complain about them being unfair because we meant well.

  36. aweraw says

    Why is it my job to police your ad feeds? Personally, I’m not particularly troubled by the images myself. You on the other hand, and I suspect many of your readers, would find these images run afoul of your moral standards.

    If you can seriously tell me you don’t hold your self to the same standards as those you criticize, and have no trouble making money off fat-shaming/porn promoting/scam peddling advertisments, then I suppose I can grant that at least you’re being honest.

  37. says

    Right now I see SkyMall ads all over FtB because someone linked to something I wasn’t going to believe until I saw it with my own eyes. A lot of the time, I see Amazon ads because I’m looking into books related to my weekly SF feature or for the radio show. Sometimes it’s Mod Cloth, because friends post pictures of themselves in gorgeous clothes and I have to go back and remind myself they have nothing built for my body type. Political ads dominate for about six months every two years.

    It’s a fairly tame life, but somebody’s got to live it.

  38. aweraw says

    Cool, so I guess we can chalk one up for “Moral consistency be damned, I don’t give a shit when it’s money in my pocket”?

    I mostly see a lot of ads for cloud hosting services, but there’s always that one or 2 that appear and give me pause. As in “I don’t think they really know what they’re serving – either that or they’re hypocrits who don’t care”. Lord knows why I see weight loss products or links to obvious scams; I can account for the pron links though, because I do look at lurid videos once or twice a month when my girlfriend’s female biology kicks in, and I need to take care of my own business.

  39. Hj Hornbeck says

    HappyNat @13:

    I would just like to point out that Ryan Hart’s comment at #7 is overflowing with emotion.

    I’d like to add that it assumes emotions are bad and nullifying. Does a sunset become less sweet because I’m happy to see it? Does my argument that something is done in poor taste or without an understanding of context become invalid because I use swear words?

  40. Hj Hornbeck says

    aweraw @42:

    Cool, so I guess we can chalk one up for “Moral consistency be damned, I don’t give a shit when it’s money in my pocket”?

    Except you could install an ad blocker and see this page with zero ads. They’re free, you know.

    For my part, I see a phone ad, one for a secular organization, and what looks like a credit check website. Oh, and apparently it’s time to upgrade my mortgage. [starts calling the bank’s number]

  41. says

    Cool, so I guess we can chalk one up for “Moral consistency be damned, I don’t give a shit when it’s money in my pocket”?

    Because you choose to withhold the information that would make it possible to change things? Whose moral consistency is it that you’re worried about?

  42. Hj Hornbeck says

    aweraw @42:

    More to the point, I just don’t see your point. Do you expect Benson to police where you browse online? Should FtB switch to non-targeted ads, and tightly control which ones are displayed? Whatever the case, you’re free to complain if you see something you don’t like, and you’ve done so.

    The same applies to that art auction. People complained, and from the sounds of it (PZM @30, Dillahunty @21) the artist was apologetic and at least partly accommodating. Would you rather have us silenced? Would you prefer the artist to be ignorant about how people were viewing their work?

  43. Jenora Feuer says

    aweraw @42:
    And I think someone here is missing the point, even with everybody else mentioning what ads they see.

    As Stephanie noted in #34, people see advertising based on their own browsing history.

    If you’re seeing ads that you expect other people to consider afoul of their moral standards, that says far more about your browsing habits than it does about this site.

  44. aweraw says

    you could install an ad blocker and see this page with zero ads

    Leaving aside the fact that I’m morally opposed to using ad blockers while browsing sites that don’t ask me for money, you’re missing the point.

    FTB routinely serves ads that if seen anywhere else on the web, or indeed meat space, would drive a couple of bloggers and their commentariat here into an frothing masses of moral posturing and denunciation.

    I am personally not bothered by them. My first comment in this thread was to point out that I found this fact quite amusing, with all the grandstanding people having been doing in the comments of this article, about a guy who had the audacity to place his paintings in an arrangment he thought would best allow him to sell his art work to the market segment he’s found to be most lucrative for the location. What a terrible person. Strategically arranging his wares in such a way as to maximise his sales. For shame.

    … then you have people like Mrs Zvan who try to frame their display of these images as being related your own browsing habits, conviniently leaving out the fact they they directly profit (maybe that’s too strong a word to use here; sponge?) from the strategic display of problematic images and the clicks on them.

  45. chasstewart says

    I do so wish Damion would get the point already. He seems wilfully obtuse in this regard. I also wish he were able to respond personally on a post that is centered around his opinions.

  46. Hj Hornbeck says

    Aweraw @48:

    FTB routinely serves ads that if seen anywhere else on the web, or indeed meat space, would drive a couple of bloggers and their commentariat here into an frothing masses of moral posturing and denunciation.

    And yet not a single person, including you, has been able to find a single example. You’d made claims about the types of ads displayed, true, but nonetheless have yet to provide a specific example.

    At the same time, you’ve completely ignored the fact that here, ads are targeted according to your browsing history. How can Benson be held liable for ad content that you have more influence over than she does?

    I am personally not bothered by them.

    So wait, you’re complaining about ads that you have no evidence exist on behalf of people you have no evidence exist? You’re not here to argue honestly, you’re just here to stir up shit.

  47. aweraw says

    Stephanie:

    It’s not up to me to decide how and when you display ads on your site. As I’ve said a few times now, I don’t find the images that troubling – they’re not great for society, but I think I’ll manage to get through the rest of the day without a trembling bottom lip. All I’ve said is, that given the tone and content of this article, and the ads FTB are serving to me based on my browsing history, that I think the situation is funny.

    I personally find you to be a rather unpleasant person, so I’m not exactly jumping out of my seat to help you make your corner of the web a nicer place; that said, I find it increasingly funny that you now know these ads are being served on the back of your own writting, and you’ve not said you’re going to do shit about it. You’re just blaming me, a person commenting, for the ads that I’m seeing on a site you are a content creator for. Removing them as they appear means that they were still served in the first place, and that’s a problem, right? They still count as page views, which eventually drive up the price people are willing to pay to advertise with you. You ultimately make money from them. But this Adam guy with the paintings? That son of a bitch has got to be publically shamed, right?

  48. chasstewart says

    Maybe Adam just likes painting naked ladies. Given a choice, I would paint women and not men as well. And maybe he brought conventional pictures of famous atheist men because AACon seemed like a place full of patrons who might like to hang these in their dens.

    I understand the poor optics this created but why were you so relieved when the objectionable art was going to be removed and dismayed when the art was rearranged instead if your main problem was the arrangement of clothed thinky next to pretty, naked women? Wouldn’t the rearrangement fix your qualms?

  49. pneumo says

    I’m taking Mr Dillahunty’s advice to heart and vow to never blog about perceived problems that I can merely mention.

    I will mention them on my blog of course, but I will never again blog about them.

  50. says

    Stephanie:

    “You market men as famous faces in black and white with clothes on. You market women as colorful, naked unknowns.”

    That’s so inaccurate that I can’t even charitably call it an oversimplification. This wasn’t about marketing ‘men’ or ‘women’, it was about marketing his art and when you blatantly ignore the images that contradict your objection, that’s hardly fair.

    Did you miss the part about portraits of Madalyn and Ayan? Were they marketed naked? He marketed those famous faces in exactly the same fashion as the men.

    He does different styles of art…he had his abstract art there, as well.

    Meanwhile, some people seem hung up on the idea that this was at the “American Atheist” convention and seem to be assuming that this was “atheist-themed” art. It wasn’t. It was “atheist-created” art, some of which was atheist-themed, some wasn’t.

    As far as your supposed answer to this issue about sexuality – sorry, I’m not buying it. You can think that you’ve addressed the point satisfactorily, but I disagree. Lots of PEOPLE, men and women, appreciate that sort of art. Some don’t. Linking it to ‘male sexuality’ is as inaccurate as your quoted statement above.

    Some people would object to that art, anytime, anyplace. Others wouldn’t.
    Some people would object to it in that particular context and configuration. Others wouldn’t.

    What’s really sad is that he acknowledged the concern, adjusted the display to appease those who objected…and instead of acknowledging his correction, some folks continue to harp on this using inaccurate portrayals of what was actually displayed.

    Given the response, I’d actually lean toward recommending that he shouldn’t bother making any such adjustments in the future, I don’t see that it’s done any good.

  51. aweraw says

    Here’s the ads that loaded on my last request. Who even uses frikkin pop-unders anymore? Let alone filled with this kind of shit, all while they complain about some guy posing his paintings in a manner degrading to women.

    Yer…

  52. opposablethumbs says

    aweraw @#32

    I can account for the pron links though, because I do look at lurid videos once or twice a month when my girlfriend’s female biology kicks in, and I need to take care of my own business.

    So, when it was made clear to aweraw that if he sees dodgy ads here, only he can see them and nobody else has any way of even knowing what dodgy ads he sees (unless he thoughtfully tells us all about it), he at once felt the need to spell out explicitly just how often he watches porn, and give a justification for doing so. He has a girlfriend, and she has female biology.
    Made me chuckle.
    .
    It’s a pity Damion Reinhardt is dragging this out. Because as far as I read, back when the art display was actually on, the artist had the problematic juxtaposition mentioned to him and immediately responded by saying he was glad to be made aware of it and didn’t want that juxtaposition himself, and decided to make some changes (removing the naked-woman pictures from this display, to display and sell them elsewhere I believe). And several people here commented on his response (I mean, you’re involved in something problematic that you hadn’t intended; you have it drawn to your attention; you remedy it. Great! What’s not to appreciate?). But now Reinhardt is making a different deal out of it, and waling away at strawpeople … oy.

  53. opposablethumbs says

    What’s really sad is that he acknowledged the concern, adjusted the display to appease those who objected…and instead of acknowledging his correction, some folks continue to harp on this using inaccurate portrayals of what was actually displayed.

    Actually, that’s quite misleading. Several people here at least did acknowledge his response, and specifically said they appreciated it.
    The person “harping on” is Reinhardt; this post is a response to him. Are you telling Reinhardt to stop “harping on”?

  54. says

    @aweraw, glad you find amusement in your porn browsing habits leading to you seeing porn adverts on this post. I personally see one for some bible secret, a secular org, norton antivirus and an electoral commission advert. So your contention that FTB is festooned with porn is rather unproven.

    In a great bit of irony your lacklustre performance since the drive by “comedy” comment has been comedy gold to me. Especially your inability to provide even the smallest shred of proof that the adverts are what you say they are, skepticism who needs it! Please keep it up as seeing impotent trolls squashed is one of the reasons I read this blog :-)

  55. says

    OK so aweraw did link to some adverts, finally, now I am confused as their intimation that nekkid women were all over FTB seems to be bollocks. Getting popcorn ready to see how they justify this tho!

  56. says

    Agreed with opposablethumbs above. The artist dealt with this sensibly, once it was raised, and his response was given due credit.

    Two entirely separate issues are being confused by Damion, in my view – and these are, firstly, whether certain con policies are correct or not (which is the topic of Blackford’s post); and second, this particular case, which occurs in a context of existing policies, and existing well-documented sensitivities around the issues those policies set out to address.

    So, it’s entirely possible, in a hypothetical sense, that we might want to respond differently to painting such as these (to be clear, I’m not saying this is the case). But to disparage existing concerns, using this particular case
    as a vehicle for caricaturing those concerns, seems to my mind indicative of bad faith.

  57. Dunc says

    Who even uses frikkin pop-unders anymore?

    The sort of malware you might pick up at dodgier porn sites, mostly.

  58. Emily Vicendese says

    Hi Matt,

    Have you heard of a group of feminists called Guerilla Girls? Basically, their schtik is to point out the sexism in art. Unfortunately, historically and today, a nude painting is far far more likely to depict a woman, and it is far far more likely to have been painted by a man. Add this in to the current context of advertising and marketing where again, it’s women’s bodies that are used as some kind of sales-generating object. It’s no wonder people are sensitive about these issues: it’s perfectly reasonable.

    I’m glad the artist had the grace to understand and rearrange, but when you say “I’m going to tell him not to bother next time” it makes me think YOU don’t really understand. It’s one thing to think everyone is over-reacting, but another to think that they’re reacting to nothing. It seems you fall into the latter, which I hope, after what I’ve said, you now see is uncharitable.

  59. says

    aweraw: Those are the ads you think we ought to police more? Wow.

    There are two issues here: one is your bias that everyone here can’t stand nudity, so we’re somehow hypocritical if we allow ads with pictures of women in bikinis to appear. You’re wrong. So is Damion. This is not about naked people, but about objectification. So an ad about a diet plan that shows women before and after their magic supplement isn’t sexually demeaning…it’s just stupid. If it were about our horrible neo-Puritan attitudes, don’t you think we would have been screaming about Maryam’s nude protest? Everyone on FtB, as far as I know, supports Maryam’s cause.

    The other issue is control of the ads you took a snapshot of. Those are not “pop under” ads — apparently you don’t know what the phrase means. Those are actually the same standard stupid clickbait ads google throws online everywhere. Right now, the price of doing ad-supported business on the web is that we’re required to make a space for middlemen who decide what garbage goes up to draw the most traffic. It would be nice to live in a world where we could be pickier about which ads go up…but we don’t live there. We live in a world where we need to pay the bills.

  60. says

    #54, Matt:

    I agree in part. The choice of what paintings to bring in was marketing: he’s got to make a living selling this stuff, and some people want hero-worshipping iconography of famous atheists, and some people want sexy naked people. He was showing what sells.

    But I think, as a friend of Adam, you’re taking it personally. No one is after the guy. It’s more about what the paintings said about us.

    I walked into the art show, and my first reaction on seeing a few of the paintings was to think they were very professionally done. My second reaction, though, on stepping back and looking at the whole exhibit, was…whoa. It was a sea of famous people faces, all done in a muted gray scale, and then a couple of bright splashes of color. The faces were almost all men (there were a few exceptions, but they weren’t prominently placed), and the colorful bits were all naked women. He was showcasing two very different styles, and strangely, those two styles were almost entirely segregated by the sex of their subject.

    It was freaking bizarre. You can make a case that he’s just painting what sells, but that doesn’t change the fact the mirror he’s holding up to reflect the public taste exposes says something unpleasant about the market. It was the inescapable juxtaposition of “here’s how I paint women” and “here’s how I paint men” that was jarring.

    There is a legitimate concern about con policies that would prohibit artistic nudes — I think they ought to be permissible. This was a situation that could not be handled by con policies, though. Imagine an artist who came in with a set of paintings: half of them showed women engaged in the drudgery of housework, the other half showed men flying jet aircraft and building skyscrapers and carrying out open heart surgery. We’d have the same reaction to that that we did to this exhibit — even if there was nothing objectionable in any way to the individual paintings*, the whole show would be sending a clear message.

    And it would be absurd to complain if people who viewed the show got that message, and then objected to the artist and in general came away with negative feelings about the work, even if individual pieces were quite well done. We saw a story told loud and clear in that set of paintings, we complained in person and on blogs, as we should, and even Adam recognized that the big picture story didn’t fit with his values. I think it’s both appropriate and necessary that everyone does that consciousness-raising thing we atheists have said is so important, and that’s what people are doing with this show.

    *I did find the “glass ceiling” painting in Adam’s collection objectionable. That was a very strange message in that one picture.

  61. says

    Did you miss the part about portraits of Madalyn and Ayan? Were they marketed naked? He marketed those famous faces in exactly the same fashion as the men.

    No, Matt. I didn’t.

    We have two situations here:

    1. An arrangement of famous, clothed, black and white men with colorful, naked, unknown women.

    2. The same arrangement with one less colorful, naked, unknown woman and one additional famous, clothed, black and white woman.

    The point at which you say everything was optimally arranged for selling was situation 1. Situation 2 happened later, not because the artist thought the additional picture of a famous, clothed, black and white woman would sell, but because people like Ophelia and the person who took these photos had objected to the optics of situation 1. When you’re defending arranging things to sell, you’re defending situation 1.

    Situation 1 is also the point in time that this post is concerned with, because they were not hanging at the time that Ophelia raised an objection in the post to which Reinhardt is objecting. You’ve had more than one person point this out to you. Go reread the post and see for yourself.

    The only person I see objecting to situation 2 is the artist, who complained to Ophelia that famous, clothed, black and white women don’t sell. PZ pointed out that he had originally decided to do something other than situation 2, then changed his mind, but that’s as close to a complaint against situation 2 as you can get.

    So stop conflating peoples complaints about situation 1 with complaints about situation 2.

    As for your complaints about “male sexuality”, they don’t amount to anything other than taking a statement about the general or typical case and treating it as a statement about the universal. That some women appreciate those paintings doesn’t invalidate the fact that they’re a representative part of a collective set of images of women created by men to sell sex to men. That some women, particularly women who have grown up in a culture rife with these images, find them attractive has no impact on whether other people should understand and interpret those images in the context of that larger collective of images.

  62. Kevin Kehres says

    Funny, my ads are for toilets.

    No kidding. I was searching for a replacement toilet a couple of days ago, and now every ad that pops up is for the latest and greatest low-flow toilet.

    Hmm. I wonder how they knew I was looking for toilets?

    Fucking internet, how does it work?

  63. says

    Fucking discussions of taste and appropriateness of content in public places, how does it even work?

    This wasn’t about marketing ‘men’ or ‘women’…

    As PZ already explained, yes, it was: famous men were shown as clothed, anonymous women were shown naked, and looking available for sex.

    …it was about marketing his art…

    Saying it’s “about marketing” doesn’t justify it — 90% of the ridiculous dishonest simpleminded crap we see on TV is “justified” the same way. Are you actually saying this artist was justified because he only did it to sell more stuff?

    …and when you blatantly ignore the images that contradict your objection, that’s hardly fair.

    Why is it unfair not to talk about the images we’re NOT objecting to?

    Meanwhile, some people seem hung up on the idea that this was at the “American Atheist” convention…

    Yeah — the lying wanker who started this conversation by falsely accusing atheists of “censorship” and “suppression of sexuality.” You should be taking your dispute to him, not to us.

    Lots of PEOPLE, men and women, appreciate that sort of art.

    So what? “Lots of people” like all kinds of dishonest, disgusting, misleading crap. That’s not a valid response to any specific objections to the content or placement of any particular work of art; it only shows you don’t want to deal with the issue. I like seeing pictures of naked women too, but that doesn’t mean they’re appropriate for any and all art exhibits everywhere.

    Seriously, Matt, you need to dial down the defensiveness and try to be more coherent.

  64. Kevin Kehres says

    As to the main question, as an art lover and semi-educated art junkie, I’ll say:

    1. Adam — sorry, bub. You’re not Picasso. If you’re making a living doing this, okay, good on ya. Nothing I’d hang on my walls, though.

    2. There are really two types of art being presented there. Art that conveys an image of a known person (ie, a portrait); and art that conveys a theme (a message of some sort). AFAIK, there were three and only three “theme” paintings; and all three used naked women to convey that theme. If you can’t see that’s a problem, then you’ve got a problem. Not as an atheist, nor as an atheist presenting art at an atheist convention, but as an artist. Naked women =/= the only way to draw attention to a theme.

    3. And if your only use of non-famous models is of naked women in positions where they are clearly being objectified — well, again, you’re not Picasso. You might want to re-think that strategy.

  65. says

    Ah. I said yesterday @ 18 that “I told him [meaning Adam] he was welcome to reply here, but he said he’ll “have a friendly blogger respond.” So that will be something to look forward to.” So the friendly blogger turns out to be Matt. (Unless Adam meant a different friendly blogger, in which case we still have something to look forward to.) Hi Matt!

  66. says

    I see ads for Netflix, Veeam and SugarCRM. I’m appalled by this too — I have a Netflix account, I Googled some info on Veeam because I already am in charge of three licenses of the product and am unlikely to use more; and I am not even in the market for CRMs at the moment. What wasted space!

    Matt, if you’re the friend Adam decided to sic on Ophelia et al, why did he not sic you on Damion, who actually dragged this out by saying we’re censoring something nobody ever argued against? And why are you not arguing up to your usual standards, but instead need to equivocate on what’s being complained about by whom?

    Additionally, someone else pointed out that you’ve a tendency of mixing first and last names when speaking about figures — you may want to pick one or the other, lest someone decide your referring to “Ayaan”, “Madalyn”, “Dennett” and “Silverman” is telling of some prejudice you surely don’t actually have.

  67. screechymonkey says

    I’m getting dizzy trying to follow all of Matt Dillahunty’s inconsistencies in this discussion.

    He claims that he understood the objection and was glad that the artist rearranged the display. But now he wishes the artist hadn’t, because … uh, because Matt is mad and wants to punish people? Because they didn’t stop talking about the issue at the exact instant he thinks the discussion should be over? And so in the future, Matt hopes the artist will put up displays that Matt acknowledges are problematic because that’ll show all of you! “Sorry, future convention attendee, I realize that’s a sexist display that is making you feel unwelcome at this convention, but Ophelia Benson is a meanie drama blogger so you’ll just have to deal with it!”

    I also look forward to Matt, when he’s done taking Damion Reinhardt to task for continuing to blog about a discussion once Matt has deemed it concluded, showing up to chastise the Freedom from Religion Foundation every time they issue an open letter to a public school that violated the Establishment Clause, because, c’mon, you could have just had a private chat with them! You’re just creating drama!

  68. says

    Ophelia,

    Actually, the friendly blogger isn’t me. I guess you’ll still have something to look forward to.

    While Adam and I know each other, I haven’t taken this personally (as PZ suggested), I’m not even angry, just frustrated and my frustration has nothing to do with Adam or knowing him. I’m assessing the situation (and the continuing situation).

    Adam didn’t know I was posting here until after I’d already done it. I just object to bad arguments, whether they come from friends, allies, strangers or enemies…and I object to us eating our own.

    When the situation is painted in one of the least charitable ways, that’s the sort of spin and propaganda I see directed at us from those outside the movement. Why would we do it to ourselves?

  69. says

    Several people have reiterated the point I made at the end of the post – see in particular Amy’s comment @ 27 which got stuck in moderation overnight for some reason – about where this art show was. It wasn’t a freestanding art show, it was an art show at the American Atheists Convention. So I’ll repeat that paragraph:

    Also, it was at the American Atheist Convention. Women were there as well as men: attending and also speaking. Women were participating. But what were these paintings? Famous fully clothed atheist men, and naked women. Where were the famous fully clothed atheist women? Nowhere. What does that look like to the casual (and even attentive) viewer? That men do atheism and women do being naked. Does Reinhardt really see no problem with that at an atheist Convention?

  70. shari says

    Hi Matt – I am one of the artists who initially commented on the images – first with snark because I have a short span of patience for sexism, and then I looked, and thought, and looked some more and couldn’t find much else to say – based on the fact that compositionally, the models breasts are central or significant to all three images. That doesn’t make them bad, I have different reasons I think they are bad paintings. I did think it was insulting to feature the sexy unknown women among the more prestigious-looking portraits of famous men. Intent isn’t magic, but the message looked pretty clearly like ‘men are for thinking, women are for the bedroom.” I am not the only one who got that message and the artwork just looked wrong for the venue. I am not against paintings of naked women, I’ve painted them myself – this isn’t just prudery.

    Ophelia has three blog posts with comments, prior to this one where the art and juxtoposition were discussed at length. Stephanie Zvan had a pretty in-depth initial response on her blog, including another huge comments section. I hope you can take the time to read through it (although it was a big discussion, that could take a while!!) and understand where the criticism has come from.

  71. amyroth says

    “What’s really sad is that he acknowledged the concern, adjusted the display to appease those who objected…and instead of acknowledging his correction, some folks continue to harp on this using inaccurate portrayals of what was actually displayed.”

    I was there, in the same room all day, everyday. Adam moved one piece. Just the one with the religious symbols to the side and replaced it with a portrait of a woman. The other two fully nude pieces, including the “Glass Ceiling” piece, never moved.

    Just wanted to clear that up for everyone.

    And to be super clear, I don’t think Adam should have had to move or take down his pieces. I did find them insulting in the particular context they were displayed, had they been in a lowbrow type exhibition, they would have been completely acceptable and unoffensive. It’s Adam’s art and he has a right to send whatever message he wants, in any style he sees fit and his work was accepted into the show and he had every right to display it. I just want him and everyone else to realize that art can be powerful and ultimately, each living artist is responsible for the messages they send. (After an artist dies you can have conversations of artwork alone- but artists in the current social media driven world are solidly connected to their work and society for the most part)

    I’m hoping this isn’t considered an attack but instead a learning experience that will make Adam an even better and more politically aware artist down the road.

  72. says

    “Additionally, someone else pointed out that you’ve a tendency”

    A tendency. Really? So there’s evidence of an actual trend?

    “of mixing first and last names when speaking about figures — you may want to pick one or the other, lest someone decide your referring to “Ayaan”, “Madalyn”, “Dennett” and “Silverman” is telling of some prejudice you surely don’t actually have.”

    So, in my first post, I used Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s full name along with Madalyn, Dennett, Dawkins and Harris (Silverman was never mentioned. Sorry, Dave!). I use the name that is most common. If there’s some implicit sexism in that, that’s a separate issue that may or may not be *my* problem.

    When you say “Madalyn” in this movement, you know who it is.
    When you say “PZ”, you know.
    The same is true for Ophelia, Greta, Sikuvu, JT, etc.

    When you say “Daniel” or “Richard”, you don’t necessarily know.
    And at the AA convention, when you said “Silverman”, you didn’t know…and when you said “David Silverman”, you still didn’t. We had to go to middle initials for that one.

    I prefer first names, unless the first name isn’t sufficiently clear or unless they’re better known by their last name, a nickname or some other label. The exception here, was Ayaan Hirsi Ali…which I typed out in full because I don’t normally hear her referred to as merely ‘Ayaan’ or as ‘Ali’ or ‘Hirsi Ali’.

    Curious how a simple preference for clarity amounts to a sexist ‘tendency’.

  73. deepak shetty says

    So much focus on the nudity as if thats the objection- if you change the women to be cooking and cleaning and looking pretty while the men show thinker face portraits you’d have the same problem and the same objection.

  74. says

    Curious how a simple preference for clarity amounts to a sexist ‘tendency’.

    Exactly why I warned you that you might be misunderstood to have exactly that sort of sexist tendency, because such a tendency does in fact exist. Look at how many people refer to “Steffy / Stefunny” and “Ophie”. It’s diminutive. In a lot of cases, it’s intentional. And in some cases, it’s entirely unintentional, but still gives the exact same impression. Since this entire fight is about gender perception, I’m saying, be more careful in your messaging. You’re better than carelessness, and in this case, your personal proclivity toward “clarity” is subjective and potentially damaging.

  75. says

    Additionally, yes, there’s evidence that you tend to mix first name and last name in speaking about people. I don’t know why you disputed that, demanding evidence, and in the same breath declared that you did it, except unnecessary defensiveness or perception that I’m attacking you.

  76. says

    No, I didn’t think you were attacking me. It was worth clarifying, just a little odd that I’d need to – but whatever helps.

    On a side note: Adam and I are not good friends, for those thinking I’m taking it personally and defending a friend. We see each other at conferences. We’ve probably spent may 30 or 40 minutes speaking over the past few years. A few minutes about magic, a few about apologetics and a few about his art. We may be good friends some day and I hope that’s the direction our relationship is going…but I can’t say.

    I’d definitely count him as a friend, in the same sense that I count many of the people here – some of whom I’ve never met, but Adam and I aren’t particularly close and I think I have a pretty good record of calling out problems that I see whether they come from people I’m close to, or not.

    And, for the record, the Glass Ceiling painting was one that I agree was easily viewed as sexist.

    The initial display, not so much – and certainly not “Oh look, famous clothed men, anonymous naked women…what does that say about atheism”….because there was no statement about atheism. This wasn’t an exhibit about atheism, it was an exhibit BY an atheist.

    Meanwhile, the clothed man in the initial display (Neil Degrasse Tyson) flatly refuses to identify as an atheist, further weakening the perceived statement about atheism. Unless the message was “Here’s a clothed person who won’t identify as an atheist and a naked one who may or may not.”

  77. says

    So, Matt, you’ve stopped objecting to us ignoring the O’Hair painting the artist added later and moved on to objecting to having other things pointed out. Does this mean you now understand that we’ve been discussing the pre-change situation and understand that your objection doesn’t apply to this discussion. If so, it would be good for you to acknowledge that explicitly.

  78. says

    Matt @ 73 – well I’m not convinced that the argument is bad, but anyway I’m glad it’s not personal!

    The point about “eating our own” – I get that a lot, in different versions – infighting, tearing apart our movement, etc etc. Here’s the thing: atheism isn’t the only cause or movement or idea I’m committed to, so I don’t see disagreeing with an atheist about something as a matter of “eating our own.” There’s a lot of sexism and, sadly, even misogyny in the atheist movement, and the result is that I just don’t have the kind of ardent loyalty to that movement that is easier for people who are not regularly treated with contempt by it. Do you see what I mean? Atheists don’t feel like automatically “our own” to me any more. They just don’t. I can’t help that.

  79. opposablethumbs says

    When the situation is painted in one of the least charitable ways, that’s the sort of spin and propaganda I see directed at us from those outside the movement. Why would we do it to ourselves?

    Yes, and it’s a great pity that Damion Reinhardt did this. Why oh why would he claim that the initial concerns were a matter of prudishness and censorship and “rationalisations [being] invented to try to restrict sexual expression and openness” when simply reading what people’s objections actually were would have shown him that this was just not true? Why on earth would Reinhardt set out to paint a situation as uncharitably as possible?

  80. says

    “Atheists don’t feel like automatically “our own” to me any more. They just don’t. I can’t help that.”

    Understood. It’s easier for some than others. I haven’t dealt with what you’ve dealt with.

    Which is why you called me a dreamer with regard to someone being reachable…and when I kept talking to that person in private, they ultimately responded with:

    “The whole idea of stepping back, and disconnecting from the internet when things get negative, is my own advice I probably should have taken”…and they continue to make progress on understanding the issue and where they went wrong.

    Will they get there? I have no idea.

  81. says

    I have to second what Ophelia said about “eating our own”. While I’m definitely an atheist, I am an intersectional one, which means I do not automatically count someone as part of my in-group just because they’re an atheist. Being intersectionally-minded means I consider all the axes on which I can agree or disagree with someone without counting them part of the tribe and excusing poor behaviour in one respect because they’re solid in another.

    While I’m glad Adam claims to be a feminist and has done work for feminist causes, and I’m glad he reacted appropriately to the objections that were raised in person, I’m not sold on the way he actually tried to address those objections, and I’m further irritated that we’re now having to defend our objections on perception of women in the movement, and having to repeatedly clarify (to people like D4M10N, and now you, Matt) that it’s not about mere nudity or prudery. I thought the practice of steel-manning someone else’s argument was fundamental to being part of this community, and I dislike when arguments are intentionally misconstrued, especially when they’re entirely arguments about perception. Giving a misperception about an argument about perception hurts us all, intersectional atheists or not.

  82. thetalkingstove says

    When the situation is painted in one of the least charitable ways, that’s the sort of spin and propaganda I see directed at us from those outside the movement. Why would we do it to ourselves?

    I trust you’re saying the same to Reinhardt who has misrepresented the argument being made against the paintings in the least charitable way?

    Honestly, I’m tired of people appealing to the ‘movement’ whenever we’re discussing an issue of sexism. The ‘movement’ is full of arseholes.

  83. says

    “So, Matt, you’ve stopped objecting to us ignoring the O’Hair painting the artist added later ”

    Actually, that painting, along with one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was part of the larger art display the whole time…it just wasn’t one of the two paintings facing the front table on the display that only holds two paintings. When you sell apples and oranges, you don’t just put apples in the window.

    “and moved on to objecting to having other things pointed out.”

    The fact that a discussion, with many people, moves around, does not mean that I’ve ‘moved on’. Your statement: “You market men as famous faces in black and white with clothes on. You market women as colorful, naked unknowns.” is just as much of a factually inaccurate, oversimplified framing as it was when you made it.

    “Does this mean you now understand that we’ve been discussing the pre-change situation and understand that your objection doesn’t apply to this discussion.”

    I don’t know how much more clear I can be. I didn’t agree with the pre-change objection, but I understood it and so did Adam. One of the reasons I understood it, was because it was clear that this was done from a ‘zoomed in’ perspective on two paintings that were part of a larger display. When you zoom out, and understand that this art by atheists and not about atheists; that this was an artist showing the variety of the other items in his ‘shop’…I don’t think the initial objection had much merit.

    And despite that, I was happy to talk to Adam about it and happy to see that he changed it…because sometimes you need to take EXTRA steps, even if you feel they’re unjustified, in order to help make things better, overall.

    For the record, given the way this has been discussed, I not only understand why some people had a problem with those 2 paintings displayed together, I also understand why others might see this as an attempt at censorship…and I think they’re just as wrong to think that.

    There’s apparently enough wrong to spread around to everyone. (Which is not a ‘truth lies in the middle’ argument.)

    “If so, it would be good for you to acknowledge that explicitly.”

    Hopefully that’s clear enough.

  84. says

    Matt @ 85 – oh that’s right! That jokey “dreamer” comment was just the other day, too.

    This issue of women suddenly not feeling at home in movements they had thought they were part of is not new. It happened with the Civil Rights movement and, much more so, with the New Left.

  85. says

    I don’t think there’s much merit in taking aim at an artist’s skill and I think it takes away from the actual discussion. It wouldn’t matter if this were the work of a genius and master of the craft, or someone with only the most rudimentary skill. Too often, people want to conflate someone’s level of skill with their ethics.

    So whatever I think of this artist’s painting skills is irrelevant, what I will say is that the photos I’ve seen, on their own, with minimal context say, in short: “Women have a place in our group and they should know it.”

    That is, this group is first and foremost for cis straight men and we are willing to let the rest of you in but you are not one of us. I doubt anyone involved actually feels this way. This is the problem with the sort of subconscious biases that make people picture a man when you talk about a doctor or a motorcycle rider or basketball coach, but think of a woman when you talk about a stay at home parent, or a nurse or a quilter. You don’t have to feel those roles or interests are strictly for a particular gender to have an assumption about the gender of the person doing them.

    I think this is a case where we can look at this display and say, hey, this is totally normal in our society and this may even be marketable and profitable, but none of that makes it the best we can expect from ourselves. We can only be better once we identify something as a problem, and I think this is an opportunity to do just that.

  86. says

    Ophelia @ 89 – “This issue of women suddenly not feeling at home in movements they had thought they were part of is not new.”

    Yea, and while I can’t actually feel what it’s like to be in your/their shoes, I can empathize and do my best to become more aware and try to ‘fix’ things (to whatever extent they can be fixed).

    While I haven’t experienced it to the same extent, I have to a lesser extent with respect to my feeling at ‘home’ in the skeptic movement (and, I suppose, some parts of the atheist movement). Not equating or comparing, just noting that I’m far from oblivious (not that you suggested otherwise).

    My gosh, so many qualifiers and caveats…someday it’d be nice to just talk.

  87. amyroth says

    There were three nude women paintings. Matt said two, just wanted to be clear.

    And I don’t even understand how you could display art at an American Atheist art show and then try to say that it’s not relevant to atheism. Yes, it was art created by us atheists, but the act of displaying it at an event created for and by atheists with the hope of attracting other atheists and media attention, has legitimate meaning. The art didn’t need to be overtly atheist in nature but context certainly matters as does the space that art was displayed in.

    And you know what? Adam should be proud. His art has had an effect. It’s caused a reaction in the community it was directed at. In many art critique views, that alone constitutes a success. Now, the question he needs to ask himself, is, is THIS the message he wants his work to send in the future? And if it is indeed all about money to him, then maybe that answer is yes and it is up to other artists to step forward and respond in their own way.

  88. says

    What Amy said.

    I wasn’t at the event this year but I was last year, and the art show is ABSOLUTELY part of the event. It’s not an independent art show that just happens to be in the vicinity of the atheist convention, it’s part of the atheist convention. As an experience, it is. It’s embedded in the atheist event; there are atheist-related tables and displays all around.

  89. Kevin Kehres says

    Well…I now have to say I’m confused.

    Since it’s apparent we’re talking about one artist here, I went over to his web site.

    And it’s clear to me that the nudes he was displaying at the convention are by far his worst work. His abstracts are pretty good; some more derivative than others, but actually something I would be interested in. His portrait work is competent-to-very-nice, landscapes not great (to my eye) but probably commercial. Better than schlock, in any event.

    He’s even got another female nude painting (back only, no “naughty bits”) that I don’t think anyone would find objectionable in any setting. There are a couple of other works that are a bit too Georgia O’Keeffe for me, if you know what I mean — but certainly nothing objectionable about them.

    It’s those three pieces. They’re just awful, especially compared to his other stuff. Why would you bring your worst work to an art show?

    Even forgetting context of where they were being displayed and everything else. They’re just not good pieces.

  90. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @Ryan Hart
    “We can’t watch porn because some idiot might think women actually like being treated this way. ”

    Which way? Can you elaborate?

    I had no problem with the art by itself. I used to major in photography…you see a lot of nudes, it’s no big deal. Mostly female, but…make of that what you want.

    Context. It’s not that hard people.

    Sam Harris did a great Ted talk that addressed this issue:

    ” Now, this brings us to the sorts of moves that people are apt to make in the moral sphere. Consider the great problem of women’s bodies: What to do about them? Well this is one thing you can do about them: You can cover them up. Now, it is the position, generally speaking, of our intellectual community that while we may not like this, we might think of this as “wrong” in Boston or Palo Alto, who are we to say that the proud denizens of an ancient culture are wrong to force their wives and daughters to live in cloth bags?….”

    [Images of scantily clad women on magazine covers in the background]
    “…. this is what it’s like to go to a newsstand almost anywhere in the civilized world.
    Now, granted, for many men it may require a degree in philosophy to see something wrong with these images. (Laughter) But if we are in a reflective mood, we can ask, “Is this the perfect expression of psychological balance with respect to variables like youth and beauty and women’s bodies?” I mean, is this the optimal environment in which to raise our children? Probably not. OK, so perhaps there’s some place on the spectrum between these two extremes that represents a place of better balance. (Applause) Perhaps there are many such places — Sam Harris

    http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right/transcript

  91. Hj Hornbeck says

    Dillahunty @81:

    The initial display, not so much – and certainly not “Oh look, famous clothed men, anonymous naked women…what does that say about atheism”….because there was no statement about atheism. This wasn’t an exhibit about atheism, it was an exhibit BY an atheist.

    And the fact that a few people within the atheist community are quick to defend the sharply different portrayal of women and men suggests that they view women and men as qualitatively different. As several others have pointed out, the message being presented was that women exist to be gazed upon, while the men are to be worshipped for their accomplishments.

    To the artist’s credit, they recognized this and compromised on the display, bringing in a portrait of a woman being worshipped for their accomplishment. That satisfied most of us. So why is it being resurrected as an issue, first by Reinhardt and now by you? For someone worried about divisions within the atheist movement, you seem to be doing a fair bit to encourage them. I hope that’s accidental.

    Dillahunty @88:

    There’s apparently enough wrong to spread around to everyone. (Which is not a ‘truth lies in the middle’ argument.)

    Fair enough, but I’m having difficulty finding what’s wrong with Zvan, Benson, or Myers’ views. Even you concede one of the paintings was sexist. Should we shut up over things we find objectionable? Several people have pointed out the paintings do make a statement about the atheist movement, and send a message that we found objectional; are we wrong to think that?

  92. Nick Brownrigg says

    If you know the site displays offensive images should you not change the way the site runs to avoid it in the future? I was looking at Disney cruises and now I see an add for discounted cruises with a woman’s bikini clad body as the hook. It’s not the sort of thing I complain about normally but due to the nature of this site I would expect the people to run it not to have such a flippant attitude towards complaints. It’s not up to me to monitor my browsing habits to make sure that there is no chance that I will subjected to offensive images here and it’s not my responsibility to monitor your site for you… I’ll just leave and not come back.

    I’m in the process of dealing with a human rights complaint through the Canadian Human Rights Commission against a major bank. I mention that because I’ve spent the last year reading through policy and law in relation to harassment and discrimination and it recommends that the service providers should proactively search out and eliminate possible sources of offensive material or policies. Considering the objectives of your site I’m surprised you haven’t done something about the problem and I’m surprised to see you hold a dismissive attitude towards the issue.

  93. says

    amyroth @ 92 – “And I don’t even understand how you could display art at an American Atheist art show and then try to say that it’s not relevant to atheism.”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t relevant to atheism.

    But, I could have painted a picture of ANYTHING and posted it at that auction. A mountain, a fence, a puzzle box, a rabbit in a hat… the art itself wasn’t required to ‘represent atheism’. The *auction* as a whole represented who atheisTs are, but not atheisM.

    There’s a difference between:
    – Here’s some art that is atheist-themed
    – Here’s some art BY atheists that isn’t necessarily atheist-themed

    The purpose of this art auction, as I understand it, was to show that the community includes artistic, talented people who create beautiful things. That’s relevant to ‘atheism’ (the community) in the sense of it’s who we are…but the art itself was under no obligation to represent atheism, or portray messages about atheism.

    No single piece necessarily had any tie to ‘atheism’ beyond being created by an atheist.

    (Also, when I wrote: “was because it was clear that this was done from a ‘zoomed in’ perspective on two paintings that were part of a larger display.” that was not a statement that there were only two nudes, it was about the two paintings on the front stand…NDT and the nude).

  94. amyroth says

    Ok, yeah, anyone could have painted anything, sure, but the one piece that was placed in the forefront under NDT had religious symbols and was placed in one of the very best spots in his display so I’m assuming he felt it was a strong and relevant piece. Are we going to assume that Adam didn’t intend that to be a commentary on women’s relationship to religion or atheism? Because if that’s the case, he is sending even stronger mixed messages (other than just including pieces that didn’t sell from another show or this is his version of feminism) and we may really need a code book to decifer them.

    So again, art has meaning. And the artist’s intent, while relevant in this case, is not the only messages that the art has sent.

  95. says

    Okay, Matt. I start to see your problem. You haven’t taken the time to understand the original objections. No, when we talk about context, we are not talking about just the “Light My Fire” painting and the “Cosmos” painting hanging together. I have several photos of that exhibit pre-change which show three colorful paintings of naked, unknown women amid seven black-and-white paintings of famous men. These are also the pictures Ophelia has. Two people who were there have also commented in this thread to say that this is what they took away from the arrangement of paintings.

    From those photos, it is possible that if one chose to interact with this artist’s display, one would have reached an angle where the O’Hair and AHA paintings were visible, but we have at least three people who were there who didn’t see them in the display. What they did see did not entice them to interact with the art to the extent that they saw anything but this problematic context. This is the setup you’re describing as marketing this work to sell. It is what I have previously described.

    You have two choices now that you understand this. You can acknowledge this context and tell us we shouldn’t object to it because that is just how one markets art to sell. Alternately, you can acknowledge this context and agree that this context was something worth objecting to even if it were entirely unintentional. Then you can acknowledge that this context is what Reinhardt was saying Ophelia should not object to.

  96. says

    “Are we going to assume that Adam didn’t intend that to be a commentary on women’s relationship to religion or atheism?”

    I did not see that particular painting as any sort of message about ‘women’ in relationship to religion or atheism.

    The Glass Ceiling painting, though, I did.

    “So again, art has meaning. And the artist’s intent, while relevant in this case, is not the only messages that the art has sent.”

    So, I’ll agree with the thematic point here – art can be viewed in different ways, and people can take away different messages after viewing the same piece. That’s obviously true.

    I have a problem with the phrasing (“art has meaning”, “art has sent”), but I don’t think that’s pertinent here. :)

  97. amyroth says

    The glass ceiling was about feminism. The one with religious symbols did not read as a religious statement. Ok. But you are saying that you took meaning from the image, you interpreted it in your own way, so yeah.

    Honest question: were this canvas prints? They didn’t look painted. Just wondering.

  98. says

    “Okay, Matt. I start to see your problem. ”

    I’m not convinced that you do…or that it’s “my” problem.

    “You have two choices now that you understand this.”

    Oh, I’m pretty sure I have more choices than that. For instance…

    “I have several photos of that exhibit pre-change which show three colorful paintings of naked, unknown women amid seven black-and-white paintings of famous men.”

    Then you need better photos. Perhaps if you’d been there, instead of relying on photos, you might describe this more accurately… Because there were 3 colorful paintings of naked, unknown women, amid several abstract pieces as well as several black-and-white paintings of both famous men and women. Yes, there were more men than women.

    “Two people who were there have also commented in this thread to say that this is what they took away from the arrangement of paintings.”

    In addition to selection bias and statistically insignificant sample size, you’ve neglected that there’s at least one person who was also there who disagrees.

    “we have at least three people who were there who didn’t see them in the display. What they did see did not entice them to interact with the art to the extent that they saw anything but this problematic context. This is the setup you’re describing as marketing this work to sell. It is what I have previously described.”

    So, what? Is this the way we determine whether or not a marketing strategy works? Would those people have bid on the other paintings, if they’d have seen them? What about the people who did bid? What about the people who did look at the entire display?

    Should we just continue to cherry pick and portray the information in a way that makes your case and then state that I have “two choices” about how to respond…when those choices are not representative of a true dichotomy?

    “You can acknowledge this context and tell us we shouldn’t object to it because that is just how one markets art to sell.”

    1. I acknowledged that context.
    2. I wasn’t telling you what you shouldn’t object to
    3. That is how one markets art to sell.

    So, your first option is already fallaciously combining facets of the topic.

    ” Alternately, you can acknowledge this context and agree that this context was something worth objecting to even if it were entirely unintentional. ”

    1. Again.
    2. I specifically said that I understood, but did not agree with the objection because I think it was based on misunderstandings and inaccurate information
    3. You failed to include a 3 here. Doh.

    So, this second one is pretty much what I’ve done from the beginning…it just doesn’t fit your preferred cookie-cutter misrepresentation of the subject.

    And again, here at the end.

  99. says

    amyroth –

    I think the black-and-whites were original paintings, and the nudes were photo-on-canvas with some painting on top…maybe? His website has categories for portraits, photography and misc. – but I don’t see the image in question.

  100. Hj Hornbeck says

    I hate to barge in between Dillahunty and Zvan, but I’ve got an objection to one of the shared premesis in your disagreement:

    Zvan @102:

    No, when we talk about context, we are not talking about just the “Light My Fire” painting and the “Cosmos” painting hanging together. I have several photos of that exhibit pre-change which show three colorful paintings of naked, unknown women amid seven black-and-white paintings of famous men. These are also the pictures Ophelia has. Two people who were there have also commented in this thread to say that this is what they took away from the arrangement of paintings.

    Dillahunty @106:

    Perhaps if you’d been there, instead of relying on photos, you might describe this more accurately… Because there were 3 colorful paintings of naked, unknown women, amid several abstract pieces as well as several black-and-white paintings of both famous men and women.

    My assessment of those paintings does not come from the context of the surrounding artwork; more than likely they were intended as individual and separate works of art, to be evaluated without that context. No, the primary context I use in my assessment is the culture they fit within. This includes our the secular culture shared by all, where women’s bodies are routinely used to sell products and ideas by pandering to heterosexual men’s sexual desires, as well as the atheist culture of our community, where sexism and exclusion have become important topics over the last five years, and to a lesser extent my personal culture as defined by past history.

    The focus on the surrounding paintings is misguided, in my view, and I think it was only brought up originally as a proxy for secular and atheist culture. If you both agree, you might want to take a step back and recalibrate.

  101. says

    In addition to selection bias and statistically insignificant sample size, you’ve neglected that there’s at least one person who was also there who disagrees.

    No. My argument doesn’t rely on unanimity. Arguments saying that the term “interfaith” is an issue because it causes people to see faith as the default don’t fail because not everyone sees the term as making faith the default. We don’t accept people trying to dismiss it by saying, “Well, it’s not a problem for me.” It is only not an issue if those people are not worth thinking about, or as I put it in my original response to you, “non-people”. Selection bias and statistical significance are red herrings and beyond you. I expect better.

    2. I wasn’t telling you what you shouldn’t object to

    What else does showing up to tell us this is a non-issue mean? What else are you doing besides telling us it is not worth our time to talk about when you call this a non-issue? What does it mean when you’re countering “I have a problem with this” with “I don’t have a problem with this”? Tell us what you wanted out of commenting here aside from getting us to stop objecting to the problem with “the optics” that you said you agreed with?

    3. That is how one markets art to sell.

    I think that would be news to at least one artist who sold all the paintings she brought to the show. There are plenty of ways to market art. Artists make choices about how they market their art.

    2. I specifically said that I understood, but did not agree with the objection because I think it was based on misunderstandings and inaccurate information

    Help me parse this one, Matt. According to your original comment, you understand the optics of the artist’s deliberate marketing choice and agree that they were a problem, but objecting based on the optics of the situation is wrong because…why? What obligation do people have when being repulsed by an arrangement of art that you say was a deliberate marketing choice to continue to interact with this art before they can legitimately decide they were repulsed by that deliberate marketing choice? When has PZ done his due diligence on art so he can say that this deliberate marketing arrangement is objectionable?

    The additional choices you present here are incoherent and contradict your previous statements, Matt. Forgive me for excluding them from consideration when I said you had only two options.

  102. says

    Hj, I don’t agree. Those three paintings fail for me for a number of reasons, some of which do have to do with the surrounding culture. However, there are people I know and respect who are anything but insensitive to the surrounding culture–including specifically the culture of this movement–for whom the intended meanings of these paintings (feminist in at least two cases) did come across when the paintings were not in this specific context.

    If these paintings were in a context that I could select out of with little or no consequences, such as the artist’s online gallery, I’d shrug and move on. Most of the art created in this world doesn’t resonate with me. I’d rather spend my time on the art that does.

    If it were even just this failed (for me) art hanging in the art show of one of the movement’s premier gatherings, I would probably roll my eyes and move on. I’ve seen a good bit of the art that hung in that show. More than just these three paintings don’t work for me. I go to F&SF cons. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at art that doesn’t work for me. Other people still buy it because they get something from it I don’t. I would (as I did in this case) suggest that people be made aware that there are nudes in the art show so they can decide whether they want to engage with them, particularly because of the context within the movement, but that’s about it.

    This very specific context, where people walked into the art show of one of the movement’s premier gatherings and saw a few colorful, naked, unknown women surrounded by black-and-white, clothed, famous men? Yeah, I’ve got to say something about this, because it needs to not happen again, and it will if the people making decisions are too busy to see what others are seeing. That would be true if it were the work of two separate artists hung side by side too. That juxtaposition directly reinforces a specific harmful message we’ve been trying to fight–and I include American Atheists as part of the group that’s been fighting it.

  103. says

    Nick, it seems a bit…strange to complain about the existence of an ad using a picture when you’ve already been told what needs to be done in order for us to be able to have it removed.

  104. says

    @Matt Dillahunty

    If there’s one thing I’ve been learning from FtB, Skepchick and other atheist and skeptic groups with a focus on inclusiveness, it’s that when a members of a marginalized group say something contributes to their feeling marginalized, it’s good for those of us who aren’t in that group to listen instead of explaining why their feelings aren’t valid.

    I think PZ Myers’ points that this isn’t about objecting to nudity as a whole, is an important one. This isn’t an issue of event policy or barring the naked form in art. This is about calling out everyday sexism, even unintentional, because we all value making this community more inclusive.

    So many interesting points have been brought up about art and nudity and I actually think these are really great topics and hope that people will run with them. These are topics that I haven’t seen explored, specifically, before this happened and I really value having this opportunity to explore that subject.

    In the same way Anita Sarkeesian talks about how we can appreciate a piece of work, a creator, and a medium and still point out its problems in a hope that it can be even better, we should be able to do the same with other creative forms in our own community.

    I am actually struggling a bit to completely understand the point you are trying to get across, because both you and the artist have mentioned that some of what was on display could be construed as sexist, so ultimately, I don’t feel either of you are tone deaf to the concerns some men and women are expressing here. I suspect Stephanie Zvan is expressing a similar sentiment, above. It might help if you could clarify a bit.

  105. noxiousnan says

    I am very late to the game and have been reading and responding to comments all afternoon, only to delete them unposted because someone already covered my points better than I would have. But, having just read Nick Brownrigg @99 and knowing it will have been adeptly addressed already, I still have to stop reading long enough to nominate comment 99 as the dumbest thing written on the internets today.

  106. says

    Then you need better photos. Perhaps if you’d been there, instead of relying on photos, you might describe this more accurately…

    Other commenters have added to our picture by describing what they saw at the event, Matt, right here on this very thread, and you’ve completely ignored their input. So it’s pretty damn dishonest of you to bash anyone else for “inaccuracy.”

    No single piece necessarily had any tie to ‘atheism’ beyond being created by an atheist.

    And being displayed at an atheist convention, where they would, almost inevitably, be seen as connected to, or representative of, the atheist movement, whether or not anyone intended or predicted it to be so. Just as art by Pagans displayed at a Pagan convention would, inevitably, be seen as at least a little bit “representative” of Paganism and the Pagans attending that event.

  107. says

    3. That is how one markets art to sell.

    What, there’s only one way for “one” to market art? Is that really true, or is someone here totally lacking in backbone or imagination?

  108. Jackie the wacky says

    “No single piece necessarily had any tie to ‘atheism’ beyond being created by an atheist.”

    Really? The series “God Men of Atheism” had nothing at all to do with atheism when it was shown at the American Atheist convention?

    You guuuuys it totes isn’t sexist to portray women as nameless and nekkid next to fully dressed famous “God Men”. It’s just marketing! “People” like to see women’s bodies and women’s bodies are good for selling things. Don’t we appreciate that he has to depict women this way to make money? It’s fine to use women in demeaning ways for profit. That’s why I’m told that comic books, video games, car ads, burger ads etc objectify women. It’s marketing! Who cares about the message it sends to men and women about women’s value? This dude needs some money and everyone knows it is never OK to be critical of art. C’mon, we know atheism is more of a “man thing”anyway, so why shouldn’t the art AA has at their convention show that?

    /s

  109. Blanche Quizno says

    “I personally find you to be a rather unpleasant person, so I’m not exactly jumping out of my seat to help you make your corner of the web a nicer place” – aweraw @52

    …which makes me wonder why you came to this rather unpleasant person’s corner of the web in the first place, aweraw. Glutton for punishment or something? Do you routinely smack yourself in the head with a hammer, so that you can then draw attention to it by saying you personally find it to be a rather unpleasant experience? Don’t you have some pron you could be pleasuring yourself to instead*?

    * I can account for the pron links though, because I do look at lurid videos once or twice a month when my girlfriend’s female biology kicks in, and I need to take care of my own business. – aweraw @43

    Somehow, I never get pron links. I wonder why that is…

    Oh, and totes unrelated trivia: I heard once that the most-depicted character in Scooby Doo is…Daphne. Because cartoonists like to draw pretty, shapely girls. Oh yeah…

  110. Blanche Quizno says

    Oh, and just for the record, in that row between the OP and the comments, I have:

    1) A stack of $100 bills with “Little Known Way to Pay Off Mortgage”

    2) A sassy looking, casually dressed black guy in front of a private plane with “How Penny Stocks Create Millionaires Every Day”

    3) A woman about 40-is, with light gray, straight hair in a kicky bob, that is captured mid-swing with “74-Year-Old Outsmarts Doctors. Saves on Facelift.”

    4) A closeup of what looks like a small jellyfish on part of someone’s hand with “Testosterone Booster Takes GNC By Storm”

    5) A sepia-tone old-timey photo of a young teen girl with sausage-roll ringlets and a bow in her hair with “Find Out if Any of Your Ancestors Were Famous – or Infamous”

    Quick! Call the police!!

  111. Blanche Quizno says

    Ugh. I just did it myself.

    Proper detail disclosure: The woman in ad #3 was white. The girl in #5 was white.

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  112. says

    On the main topic, I don’t think I understand Matt’s point here either. It seemed to be mostly a complaint that the sexist-seeming art show is still being discussed when it wasn’t such a big deal and thus seems to denigrate the artist excessively.
    But the context is that this is a response to Damion making a blog post about it not being a big deal. Rather than Ophelia dragging it out just to rant some more. Even the long comment thread is continuing because there’s objections to discussing it…

    Separately, regarding the ads, I’d like to throw in a few cents there too. The objections from aweraw and Nick Brownrigg appear to be nothing more than shallow attempts at playing ‘gotcha’. Myself, I don’t see any ads at all (most of the time). The site does have a way to avoid the ads: pay for a subscription. Beyond that, the ‘complaints’, using the term loosely, appear to be ignoring the explanations of how ads work and assuming more control of the site than they have said they actually have. That FTB will try to have specific ads removed when reported, and they provided an ad-free option, seems better than a lot of equivalent sites.

  113. says

    “But the context is that this is a response to Damion making a blog post about it not being a big deal.”

    Actually, I did think it was sort of a big deal that someone was bragging about “removing the objectionable paintings” from an art show.

  114. says

    Separately, regarding the ads, I’d like to throw in a few cents there too. The objections from aweraw and Nick Brownrigg appear to be nothing more than shallow attempts at playing ‘gotcha’.

    Yeah, and the “gotcha” backfires spectacularly, because the ad content each of us sees is largely determined by his/her own previous browsing activity. Sometimes it’s fun to watch morons biting themselves in the ass.

  115. says

    Damion – and you consistently misrepresented that, as PZ “removing the objectionable paintings,” when that’s not what he said. You truncated what he said in such a way as to distort it; not good.

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