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Clenched tentacle salute to the bold revolutionaries of the Nude Photo calendar!

Go read the interview with Maryam Namazie about the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar. This is an important effort to raise awareness of the oppression of women, and it’s going to be an honor to share the stage with her next month at the Imagine No Religion conference.

In addition to raising awareness, though, they hope to raise money for women’s causes. The calendar is very close to breaking even on their printing costs, so you should buy one, or two or three — further purchases will benefit women directly, in addition to raising consciousness. Also, by the way, pissing off the conservatives: read the comments on the interview to see what I’m talking about.

Comments

  1. flatlander100 says

    No, thanks, PZ. I’ll pass on this one I think. I’m a little hard put to see how publishing a calendar of naked women, somehow, is a statement in opposition to the exploitation of women in general, and the sexual exploitation of women in particular.

    The plight of women in Islamic countries in particular is a serious matter, deserving serious treatment. The calendar seems more likely to trivialize the issue than promote serious discussion and support for their liberation from paternalistic religious oppression.

  2. David Marjanović says

    I’m a little hard put to see how publishing a calendar of naked women, somehow, is a statement in opposition to the exploitation of women in general, and the sexual exploitation of women in particular.

    It’s simply a protest against and mockery of the fundies who want to have all women wrapped up: “look, we don’t do what you want, and the world still hasn’t ended, nary an earthquake in sight”.

    In other words, it’s the “point and laugh” approach.

  3. Blattafrax says

    Oh Mr Flatlander, do you hear the whistling sound of the point going straight over your head?

    What women and all of us do with our bodies is our business. What Iranian, Egyptian, any-country-you-care-to-mention-except-Sweeden religious authority does is try to control that. They very often succeed and that’s wrong.

    What do you think we should do about that? By mocking the laws and the religious controllers, we support women’s (and therefore all of our) rights to do what they want with their own bodies. So yes, I salute these women too.

  4. Gregory in Seattle says

    @flatlander100 – Sometimes, the best way to fight oppression is to stand up and do the opposite of what the oppressors want. When they see women as shameful things to be kept out of sight, it is legitimate for women to fight by shamelessly standing forth in all their glory.

    I don’t see this as trivializing the treatment of women: I see it as a bold and courageous statement against it.

  5. baal says

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been meaning to chip in. As to mr.flatlander, go read Maryam Namazie’s blog. She explains in detail how this is an effective protest.

  6. says

    To be perfectly honest, I agree with Flatlander. And with Twisty Faster.

    It’s one thing for Aliaa Al-Mahdy to have posed naked. She lives in a country where a naked woman is a provocation to the status quo. Women in the West, however? Our bodies are used to sell everything and anything. Even “imperfect bodies” such as those in the calendar, in everyday poses, even accompanied by an infant, get sexualized, because in a patriarchal society all women are members of the sex class.

    Really no different from Boobquake. The opposite of a burqa is not nudity, at least not in the West. The opposite of a burqa is women dressed with as few “modesty” restrictions as are put on men, as casually or as formally as they like, going out of the house and working and studying and socializing and agitating and doing everything else that a full human being (read: a man) is entitled to do.

    Yes, of course, women are entitled to do as we please with our bodies. However, Western women who pose for a nude calendar as a means of fighting oppression are certainly not entitled to freedom from critique of how effective their actions are.

    And, finally, yes, I did read the interview with Maryam, as well as other posts on hers on the subject. I think she is sincere, as are the other women in the calendar, but I disagree with their conclusions.

  7. flatlander100 says

    PZ at 7:

    Ah, PZ, one of your least appealing occasional qualities: assuming people who disagree with you must necessarily be morons by right of the fact that they’ve disagreed with you. A quality [happily only an occasional one in your case] you share with Mr. Bill Donohue and a myriad of right-wing knuckle-dragging on-line posters at virtually any daily newspaper website in the land for whom the quality is, sadly, not at all only occasional.

    I read the interview. And it seemed to me, and seems still, that the means chosen are ill-suited to achieve the ends desired.

  8. says

    I also wanted to state very clearly that there is nothing wrong with nudity. What’s problematic is the commodification and objectification of women’s bodies and not nudity in and of itself. Nudity, in the way that Aliaa portrayed it or is portrayed in the calendar, is deeply humanizing.

    I would say: quite so.

    Two points:

    First: little could more directly say ‘They’re our bodies and we’ll dress or undress them as we damned well please’ than actually doing so.

    Second: the fact that Western and Westernized nations use images of nude and near-nude women to sell everything from power tools to soft drinks, while I suppose it might shift the context of this thing for some, for me, all it does is underscore it.

    For if Ms. Namazie’s example is typical, the very contrast with those images gives this power, in casting it in sharp relief. For these aren’t images saying ‘desire me, objectify me, reduce me to a mere object of desire and fantasize’, these aren’t images saying ‘get aroused and buy this (crappy) beer’…

    These are images that say simply: ‘This is me; this is my body; I will do with it as I damned well please. And yes, I can stand here, like this, declare so bluntly that I am a woman, and still fully possess my dignity. I dare you to imagine for a second that what I am in any reduces me below you or anyone else, whatever my genitalia, whether they are concealed by clothing or no.’

    And given that our society is so saturated with the former–images that so commodify–and judging from the reactions it’s been getting so far–I think Ms. Namazie’s work here may be just as badly needed in the west as in any middle eastern or western Asian theocracy.

    Our problem with it just has a different flavour. There, sure, their problem is with seeing it anywhere in public–underscored by the notion that if a man desires a woman, however he behaves, it’s her fault, for so ‘inflaming’ him.

    Here: it is more seeing both the body of the woman–and the fact that she is fully a person–and a proud one–at the same time. Seems to make us squirm, a mite. And if it does, I think it’s clear enough: it will do us good to squirm, if we can move ourselves to think a little on just why we do.

  9. says

    A.J. Milne, I think what would be really revolutionary would be a calendar of naked men, of all levels of conventional “attractiveness,” in all sorts of poses, perhaps even some that our society genders feminine.

    Have you ever heard other men complain about being “subjected to” male nudity, such as in the movie Watchmen? Oh, noes, they might have to look upon some other guy’s fuzzy butt or twig and berries! It might make them… gay!!

    Sure, men also see male nudity in heterosexual porn, but the men are often quite unattractive by mainstream standards, both so that the viewer can imagine himself as a stand-in and so he won’t feel any uncomfortable attraction to the actor.

    If you point out to the whiners about how women’s nude and scantily clad bodies adorn every movie screen, TV screen, billboard, etc., they bawl, “But that’s different!!

    Know what it’s “different”? In a society that presumes a het [and usually cis] male gaze, while women are relentlessly sexualized, there is massive resistance to sexualization of men. This resistance is underlain by the same fear that underlies homophobia: of being treated like women, of being “made into women.”

  10. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform @ 8;

    It’s one thing for Aliaa Al-Mahdy to have posed naked. She lives in a country where a naked woman is a provocation to the status quo. Women in the West, however? Our bodies are used to sell everything and anything. Even “imperfect bodies” such as those in the calendar, in everyday poses, even accompanied by an infant, get sexualized, because in a patriarchal society all women are members of the sex class.

    Really no different from Boobquake. The opposite of a burqa is not nudity, at least not in the West. The opposite of a burqa is women dressed with as few “modesty” restrictions as are put on men, as casually or as formally as they like, going out of the house and working and studying and socializing and agitating and doing everything else that a full human being (read: a man) is entitled to do.

    Having read the interview, I get the impression that Maryam Namazie is of the opinion that religious, sex negative attitudes toward female nudity on the one hand, and the exploitative commercialisation and commodification of female nudity on the other may both be a part of the same social phenomenon – the idea that female nudity must always be viewed through the prism of the male gaze. That a woman’s body is never simply her own, but is always subject to the control or judgemental attitudes of broader, patriarchal society.

    As Maryam says in the interview;

    I also wanted to state very clearly that there is nothing wrong with nudity. What’s problematic is the commodification and objectification of women’s bodies and not nudity in and of itself.

    I think it is problematic to say that nudity cannot be humanising or political in any positive sense, because it has been irrevocably ‘tainted’ by its crass commercialisation, by the creeping seepage of a pornographic view of womanhood into the mainstream. To do that seems to be to sacrifice nudity itself – the reality of the bodies of women, and all the self-image and self-esteem issues that surround that – to those who either want to use women’s bodies to their own advantage, or those who see women as being inherently corrupting ‘Delilahs’ whose bodies are so vile that they must be perpetually covered up ‘for the greater good’ and to avoid ‘inflaming’ (apparently completely self-control free and bestial, at least in the minds of the idiots who promote such tripe) men.

    Perhaps what is needed is a concerted effort to ‘take back’ nudity, and in particular female nudity, from such people. To say clearly and unambiguously that women’s bodies belong neither to the fanatics nor the pornographers, but to those women themselves and no one else.

  11. says

    A.J. Milne, I think what would be really revolutionary would be a calendar of naked men, of all levels of conventional “attractiveness,” in all sorts of poses, perhaps even some that our society genders feminine.

    And I think three things:

    1) Yes, it would be revolutionary.

    2) With the caveat that I think your backhanded ‘really‘ there is a mite unfair, and I really can’t sign onto that end of the implication. This looks to much to me like one of those ‘I could soooo go one better’ things. To which I generally will happily respond: ‘Fine. Then go do.’

    (I seem to recall also that Namazie and co. did moot putting some men in… And sure, it is a bit disappointing that didn’t happen… would probably have added an interesting tenor.)

    3) It would do and say something important and interesting, but it also wouldn’t say quite the same thing.

    … clarifying: I do agree absolutely that this assumption that everything has to be about the (hetero) male gaze, male desire, that this is just the assumption, this is part of the problem.

    But one way of addressing that is simply saying: y’know what, men? We don’t, actually, particularly care how you react. Desire or don’t, be repulsed or don’t, whatever the hell your reaction, you are so completely beside the point, here. This isn’t, actually, so much about you…

    (… and it’s funny, to me, a mite, if quite predictable, how many of the men writing in to the comment threads insist upon supplying that exact info… Ooo, yer so ugly, ooo, that’s so hot… Seriously, dude, whatever. Did I ask? Do I look like I care? What in hell possessed you to imagine anyone might? What but the fact that every damned holy book ever written–not to mention an alarming percentage of all the advertising campaigns ever drafted–seems to be fixated on the subject of your reactions, of course…)

    And that, I’d say, is one of the things that does very much need to be said. This endless fixation on what men will think, how men will react… we have to get the hell over that. It shouldn’t be anyone’s problem but that given man’s. Your calendar, yes, would say ‘hey, y’know… there are other eyes out there, and other bodies’, which, sure, would have value.

    But that former message: that’s part of what Namazie’s calendar says to me. And that, too, is absolutely a good thing.

  12. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform @ 12;

    I think what would be really revolutionary would be a calendar of naked men, of all levels of conventional “attractiveness,” in all sorts of poses, perhaps even some that our society genders feminine.

    That would be a huge step forward, and something that our society most definitely needs more of, but I think that there is still room alongside that for women who so wish to say that their bodies are their own, and they will not conform to a theistic model of ‘good girl’ chastity and obedience that is nothing more than a cudgel to beat them and all women with for the ‘crime’ of having ‘icky’ female bodies.

    Have you ever heard other men complain about being “subjected to” male nudity, such as in the movie Watchmen? Oh, noes, they might have to look upon some other guy’s fuzzy butt or twig and berries! It might make them… gay!!…In a society that presumes a het [and usually cis] male gaze, while women are relentlessly sexualized, there is massive resistance to sexualization of men. This resistance is underlain by the same fear that underlies homophobia: of being treated like women, of being “made into women.”

    Homophobia and misogyny always seem to be linked to one another, don’t they? Each is a reflection of male sexual insecurities and patriarchal power dynamics.

  13. says

    A.J.:

    (… and it’s funny, to me, a mite, if quite predictable, how many of the men writing in to the comment threads insist upon supplying that exact info… Ooo, yer so ugly, ooo, that’s so hot… Seriously, dude, whatever.

    That’s my point.

    Again, women are entitled to do as we like with our individual bodies without being slut-shamed or prude-shamed. But if nudity is used to send a political message, we have to consider the context in which that message goes out.

    Gregory:

    Having read the interview, I get the impression that Maryam Namazie is of the opinion that religious, sex negative attitudes toward female nudity on the one hand, and the exploitative commercialisation and commodification of female nudity on the other may both be a part of the same social phenomenon – the idea that female nudity must always be viewed through the prism of the male gaze. That a woman’s body is never simply her own, but is always subject to the control or judgemental attitudes of broader, patriarchal society.

    I agree, but so long as the male gaze reigns, nude photography of women isn’t going to upset it. Which is why I’m not optimistic about any effort to “take back nudity,” though I agree it is not inherently a bad or objectifying thing.

    Maybe normalization of nudity for all genders and all types of bodies? Of course, there are countries where nudity isn’t as fiercely shamed as it is here in the U.S. or in Egypt but which still are patriarchal to a greater or lesser degree.

  14. Anri says

    flatlander100 says:

    Ah, PZ, one of your least appealing occasional qualities: assuming people who disagree with you must necessarily be morons by right of the fact that they’ve disagreed with you. A quality [happily only an occasional one in your case] you share with Mr. Bill Donohue and a myriad of right-wing knuckle-dragging on-line posters at virtually any daily newspaper website in the land for whom the quality is, sadly, not at all only occasional.

    I read the interview. And it seemed to me, and seems still, that the means chosen are ill-suited to achieve the ends desired.

    “Silly women! I wish they’d figure out they’re not sensible enough to understand what effects their unclad bodies have on society! If only they’d thought to ask me instead!”

  15. says

    Re:

    That’s my point.

    Yeah, but y’know…

    If the rule is we should veto any message we might make on the basis that there will exist lunkheads on the net who may not get it*, our entire species would have no further use for keyboards, nor networks, nor pens, nor tongues.

    (*/Or, more charitably, don’t entirely get it, or don’t get it initially.)

  16. says

    So a calendar of nude women is just part of the ongoing commodification of the female body, while a calendar of nude men isn’t? I don’t get that at all: I get lots of, errm, interesting spam email, and I can tell you that I get pictures of naked men far more often than I do naked women, and they’re all being used to sell sex and porn and sexual aids.

    This calendar is produced by activist women for women’s causes; it does not have a prurient purpose at all, and the women posing aren’t doing so to cater to male desires in any way.

    If you object, don’t take off your clothes in public and don’t buy the calendar. That’s fine. But to object to how these women choose to fight the prudery and oppression we fight in patriarchal societies is just not right, especially if you’re going to say it would be OK for men to do it by disrobing.

    I’d be willing to participate (reluctantly and with many fearful reservations) in such a calendar for the cause…and I can guarantee you that such a photo would have absolutely no prurient qualities at all.

  17. unclefrogy says

    I started to say the West then I thought the middle east then I thought maybe it is those cultures that had their roots in the Abrahamic religions but I do not know if that is exclusively true. Regardless there is a lot of sexual obsession in society a lot of objectification of human sexuality. It distorts all of our interactions.
    I read the interview and some of the comments The one that caught me was “Maryam you are ridiculous ” abso-fuckin-utely, that is the point. our whole discussion is just a little bit nuts.
    We on all sides get all wound up when human nudity comes up. We impart all kinds of meanings and significance to it.
    That is what is going on no clearer way to point that out than to do it. The thinking living person standing there goes away to be replaced by a naked one. In side all of our clothing is the same thing an ape with little hair, under all that mostly hairless skin is a person who experiences this same mystery of being alive as everything else that lives. That there is such a reaction on all sides is the point of the exercise. It would be a very different world if the reaction would be a ho hum a naked calender but it is not it is a “revolutionary act” or a provocation or obscene.
    now continue with what you were doing
    uncle frogy

  18. Sal Bro says

    Tossing in another voice of support for the women who posed for this calendar. It’s a sad state of affairs when simply showing our bodies = being provocative. It isn’t just full-frontal nudity that provokes–we can’t even post head shots without being criticized for being overtly sexual.

    This isn’t the only way to speak out against repression, and it may not be the “best” way (whatever that is), but it’s an important contribution to the fight to regain women’s bodies for ourselves. As with all other fights for basic human rights, it’s important to support a diversity of approaches.

  19. Johann says

    Sal Bro:

    we can’t even post head shots without being criticized for being overtly sexual.

    Unfortunately, the crazy doesn’t stop at head shots. All the more respect to Maryam for challenging this crap.

  20. Blattafrax says

    I seem to be able to see the context of this clearer than the actual images. The calendar is part of a fight against a patriarchal authority deciding what they think is best for women. It is a clear message, this is my body, I do what I want with it even if it offends you or is uncomfortable for me. Sorry, but if you’re offended then you’re part of the problem.

    So Greta Christina et al joined in and PZ kindly offered, although they don’t have anyone telling them how much skin they should show. So what? It is support of an honest cause.

    Separate to the calendar issue is the abuse of women perpetrated by Western media. This is what I am talking about. “XYZ loses a few pounds for a sizzling bikini figure!” “ABC squeezes into a blah blah dress.” “123 looks breathtaking at her film premier.” Accompanied of course by a picture of cleavage surrounded by the person they are objectifying.

    The calendar is a million miles from this. If you can’t see that, you’re blind.

  21. says

    PZ Thanks for blogging about this. To those who don’t see the point of the Nude Revolutionary Calendar, it may be good to read my response to an opponent of the calendar here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2012/03/26/dim-witted-idiocy-or-revolutionary-in-defence-of-nude-protest/.

    It goes into more detail than the interview. Briefly though, nudity is not just a protest against Islamism and religious misogyny. It is fundamentally a protest against discrimination, the commodification of women, and the religious and chauvinistic culture built upon it – which is why it is on the increase and has been a part of the women’s liberation movement for some time.

    And it doesn’t only matter in a place like Egypt, where threats are real, and male chauvinism deeply-rooted since one does not have to live in the Middle East and North Africa to face Islamist threats and male-chauvinism and the commodification of women is deeply-rooted everywhere. Even in a majority of western countries, women still cannot appear topless in beaches or parks as can men. Breastfeeding in many public places is considered taboo. This gives the nude protests universal significant. And threats or no threats, in Egypt or the west, isn’t the point of international solidarity to bring people closer despite any differences?

  22. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    I don’t have a whole lot of money at the moment, but what money I do have has been donated by kind friends and family, and this is one extremely worthy cause. So I purchased a calendar. Thanks, Maryam, for putting this together.

  23. says

    What’s striking to me is how non-sexualized the images are. There’s nothing coy or come-hither or any of the poses you see in commercialized female nudity.

    I was initially skeptical because, yes, the use of the female body to *sell* a cause is nothing new. But non-sexualized, non-exploited women using their own bodies to *announce* a cause? That’s… actually really patriarchy-threatening.

  24. fly44d says

    I bought one and told them to pass the calendar to someone and save the shipping. Then I downloaded for myself. Awesome courage and message from all these women! Bravo!

  25. says

    The “white people refusing to sit at the back of the bus” calendar is really helping fight against racism, too.

    Western women face pressure to be sexually pleasing to men all the fucking time. Giving into said pressure isn’t feminism, jesus christ. Maybe next they could have breast enhancement surgery calendars, you know, to support women whose breasts have been ironed in other countries! Or labiplasty calendars for FGM victims, perhaps? This shit makes *no sense*.

  26. says

    Skeptifem are you claiming that any nude woman is, ipso facto, always being sexually pleasing to men? There is no neutral nudity possible? Or purely aesthetic nudity? That’s really your position?

  27. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    She doesn’t seem to be claiming anything more than what Ms. Daisy Cutter said at #8.

  28. Catnip, Shameless & Impudent says

    That’s a reductionist non sequitur. A calendar about white people not sitting at the back of the bus is ineffective. White people sitting at the back of the bus with non whites is a useful show of support. Similarly, a willingness to remove ones clothes to show solidarity with women forced to cover up is appropriate.

    No one is asking you to do so. Just as the women in the calendar have the choice to disrobe, so you have the right to remain clothed.

  29. John Morales says

    Alethea, defiant nudity, in this case.

    skeptifem, does anyone doubt any participant was less than well-informed or willing?

    (Or brave, for that matter?)

  30. says

    I’ve seen the calendar. It’s ludicrous to describe it in these terms:

    Western women face pressure to be sexually pleasing to men all the fucking time. Giving into said pressure isn’t feminism, jesus christ.

    A nude image = giving into pressure to be sexually pleasing to men?
    Skeptifem seems to be asserting one of either a) that this calendar is not an instance of feminist nudity, or b) that there is no such thing as feminist nudity at all.

    Personally, I think that non-compliant female nudity is a feminist statement in itself. And in this specific case, it’s a huge “Fuck you!” to the mullahs.

  31. Anri says

    Western women face pressure to be sexually pleasing to men all the fucking time. Giving into said pressure isn’t feminism, jesus christ. Maybe next they could have breast enhancement surgery calendars, you know, to support women whose breasts have been ironed in other countries! Or labiplasty calendars for FGM victims, perhaps? This shit makes *no sense*.

    And, of course, we can’t even begin to make the crazy assumption that these women did this to please themselves, and were willing to let men be pleased/displeased/outraged/do an acrobatic fucking pirouette off the building regardless.
    Presumably, if a woman is doing anything, she’s doing it to make a man have a reaction. Because, let’s face it, that’s all that really matters in the world – what men are thinking.

    Right?

  32. says

    Awful big coincidence that so many things “women do for themselves” just happen to resemble things we do to please men, Anri.

    Oh, and you can stop with the other strawfeminist, too, about how silly wimminz don’t know how their message will be received. Guess what? Feminists disagree on certain tactics and are entirely within their rights to criticize other feminists on same. “Solidarity” doesn’t mean freedom from critique.

  33. Just_A_Lurker says

    Awful big coincidence that so many things “women do for themselves” just happen to resemble things we do to please men, Anri.

    Do you hold the same position on make-up/mini-skirts etc?

  34. Happiestsadist says

    Just_A_Lurkr @ #38: I can’t speak for Ms. Daisy Cutter, but I think feminist women can and do make non-feminist decisions. Trying to spin absolutely everything as a totally empowering feminist act, regardless of larger context, simply makes things meaningless. You do what you have to to get by in a patriarchal, misogynist world. But it sure is a coincidence that all of these choices, made of course in a total vacuum, look exactly like the ads I see for everything from beer to condos and that this: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/mind-soul/story/2012-03-27/Naked-face-project-Women-try-no-makeup-experiment/53810002/1 is considered newsworthy.

    Posing nude in a place where the female body is hidden, loathed and forbidden is one thing, and is an act of actual rebellion. A bunch of largely conventionally attractive Western women posing in ways identical to the usual, ubiquitous male-gaze pinup/ad material is about as rebellious as tying on an apron, and making teh menz some sandwiches. Not to mention, I’m sick to my teeth of naked women being used by so-called progressives in exactly the same way as the standard misogynist “sex sells” BS. We should do better.

  35. Just_A_Lurker says

    A bunch of largely conventionally attractive Western women posing in ways identical to the usual, ubiquitous male-gaze pinup/ad material is about as rebellious as tying on an apron, and making teh menz some sandwiches. Not to mention, I’m sick to my teeth of naked women being used by so-called progressives in exactly the same way as the standard misogynist “sex sells” BS. We should do better.

    I actually don’t see the poses that way at all and several women in there wouldn’t be conventionally attractive.

    Food for thought. Thank you.

  36. Happiestsadist says

    I gotta say I find it funny as shit that I have makeup, fashion and nail polish blogs open in literally every other tab, and am having to point out that my current peach eye makeup obsession just might have to do with the rest of the culture I am immersed in. I am a feminist. I am a femme (though not a woman). My fondness for short skirts on occasion and flawless liquid eyeliner much of the time as not a feminist act. Neither is my fondness for soba noodles. The personal is political, but not every single act a person does is an act of righteous revolution, and it diminishes the value of acts of protest to claim otherwise.

    Just_A_Lurker: I’d still say the majority are conventionally attractive, and are pretty much all posed conventionally.

  37. Just_A_Lurker says

    Just_A_Lurker: I’d still say the majority are conventionally attractive, and are pretty much all posed conventionally.

    Er, what I said came out the wrong way, let me clarify. I meant by society’s messed up standards they would be seen as too fat/hairy/ugly etc. I’d expect to see a bunch of comments along those lines about the pictures from Americans.

    And I would not call those conventionally pin-up poses. I’ve seen plenty of those and I don’t see it in this calendar.

    But that’s all IMO.

  38. Happiestsadist says

    PZ, you generally know better than this. The calendar is about as “revolutionary” as all of PETA’s “naked chicks for animal rights!!1!” stunts. Yeah, awesome, way to fight religious misogyny…with your standard male-gaze pinups! How very daring. I see what was being aimed for, but it mostly comes off as heavy-handed back-patting.

  39. Just_A_Lurker says

    The personal is political, but not every single act a person does is an act of righteous revolution, and it diminishes the value of acts of protest to claim otherwise.

    That is not what I was getting at when I asked about make-up. I don’t wear make-up because its expensive and a pain in the ass. I don’t wear skirts because I do not feel comfortable. That doesn’t make me more feminist than people who do wear make-up etc.

    You won’t get your “feminist cred” pulled if you wear a mini or lipstick, but self-beautification is not a feminist act. Deal.

    This answered my train of thought. I was wondering if it was looked down upon to wear make up etc, that it would make you not a feminist.

  40. Happiestsadist says

    Ahh, gotcha. I don’t look down on those who wear makeup/skirts/do the femme thing as not real feminists(tm), because well, I sure as shit would be disqualified.

  41. Just_A_Lurker says

    The calendar is about as “revolutionary” as all of PETA’s “naked chicks for animal rights!!1!” stunts.

    I think this comparisson fails however. PETA’s ads have been mysogisnts before and this specific ad is clearly naked women sell stuff. Its using naked women like car ads. Naked women have nothing to do with their “animal rights”. Not to mention its all celebrities and brush ups so its not even realistic.

    This calendar is naked women strictly for women’s rights. They are tastefully done and they aren’t spread eagle to camera like playboy. These women aren’t air brushed away.

  42. Just_A_Lurker says

    Thank you for the discussion. We’ll just have to disagree on this one. Nothing wrong with that. I understand your point and where you are coming from, I just don’t personally see it that way.

  43. Catnip, Shameless & Impudent says

    I see PETAs use of naked women as equivalent to tobacco, car companies, etc using women’s bodies to sell. I see the comparison with this calendar to be as appropriate as the white folks-back-of-the-bus calendar comment. Both are non sequiturs as in both cases, there is no links between the intended protest and the action taken.

    This calendar is quite different as it is clear that using nudity to protest about women being forced to cover up, about having their bodily autonomy taken away, is linked. More so, given that the intended target of the protest are Islamic mullahs who would indeed be outraged, not titillated, by the action.

    Don’t imagine this is the watershed moment in the battle to improve human rights in middle eastern theocracies. It is not. There will be no one action or activity that will bring about change, but change is not brought about by one event. Change is brought about by groundswell and constant pressure.

    The fact that there are many in Western countries also decrying the validity of the calendar indicates to me (if I needed more evidence) at there is still a long way to go in the west also.

  44. AL says

    What is so wrong with us doing things to please men? Can’t I do something to please myself, and also please men? And why shouldn’t pleasing men please me? I like to be desired, and if you say that you don’t, I honestly think that you are a liar. Our sexuality is power, and we can wield that power in any way we choose.

    Skeptifem: Are you saying you don’t ever do things to please men? ‘Cause that must make for a terrible sex life.

    As for the calendar, I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is anything less than an appropriate reaction to the type of oppression women face in Muslim communities. If our nudity is offensive, then we damn well ought to get naked. Offense is just an attempt at “righteous” censorship, and we should strive to offend those who love to claim offense.

  45. Catnip, Shameless & Impudent says

    It’s possible that skeptifem doesn’t ever do anything to please men, if for example she is lesbian (I know that I’m assuming a lot by that statement, but it’s a hypothetical), and that would be a valid position. However, otherwise your point is spot on, and indeed pleasing others is among the most enjoyable activities that one can engage in, as long as it is within ones own personal preferences.

    In fact though, it is orthogonal to the aim of the calendar. Which I think might be part of your point anyway?

  46. Gregory Greenwood says

    AL @ 52;

    What is so wrong with us doing things to please men? Can’t I do something to please myself, and also please men? And why shouldn’t pleasing men please me? I like to be desired, and if you say that you don’t, I honestly think that you are a liar. Our sexuality is power, and we can wield that power in any way we choose… Skeptifem: Are you saying you don’t ever do things to please men? ‘Cause that must make for a terrible sex life.

    To be fair, there are people who may have no wish to be desired, such as asexuals, and there are also women who have no wish to be desired specifically by men, for a range of completely legitimate reasons. Indeed, women don’t need to explain themselves at all – whether or not a woman wishes to be desired is their own concern, and ‘prude-shaming’ can be every bit as toxic (and can also play into the patriarchal discourse of ‘acceptable womanhood’ every bit as readily) as ‘slut-shaming’. It all contributes to the poisonous social atmosphere where women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t – always either too ‘wanton’ or too ‘frigid’ to conform to a deliberately unattainable ideal of what a woman ‘should’ be.

    It is essential to avoid cis-privileged and heteronormative assumptions, especially in a discussion such as this.

    As for the calendar, I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is anything less than an appropriate reaction to the type of oppression women face in Muslim communities. If our nudity is offensive, then we damn well ought to get naked. Offense is just an attempt at “righteous” censorship, and we should strive to offend those who love to claim offense.

    I agree with you here – women must have bodily autonomy, including the right to employ politicised nudity to push back against the flavour of misogyny that treats women’s bodies as vile sources of ‘moral corruption’. I don’t believe that such activism is incomptaible with simultaneously, and equally vigorously, tackling the strain of misogyny that seeks to render down women into nothing more than living sexual commodities. Both extremes must be fought, and neither can be allowed to define the parameters of what a woman is ‘allowed’ to do with her own body.

  47. says

    AL:

    Are you saying you don’t ever do things to please men? ‘Cause that must make for a terrible sex life.

    So everyone in your little universe is standard cis hetro, eh? Interesting.

  48. AL says

    Okay, I get it, lesbians and various other sexual orientations exist. But the basic point still applies, we’re sexual creatures, and we like to be desired. Is it somehow more feminist to want to be desirable to women rather than men?
    Just replace men with (desired sexual partner), and my point remains.

    What I’m trying to ask is this: what is the aim of feminism as you see it? If it’s equality under the law, and the freedom to do anything a man can do, what does any of this discussion of beautifying and sexuality and such matter?

  49. Gregory Greenwood says

    AL @ 56;

    Okay, I get it, lesbians and various other sexual orientations exist. But the basic point still applies, we’re sexual creatures, and we like to be desired. Is it somehow more feminist to want to be desirable to women rather than men?
    Just replace men with (desired sexual partner), and my point remains.

    Not wishing to belabour the point here, but there are also asexuals, and those individuals do not have any ‘desired sexual partner’.

    Also, I do not think that anyone is trying to suggest that it is somehow more feminist to wish to be desired by women rather than men – the point at issue here is that the pervasive commodification of female sexuality, nudity and general concepts of feminine ‘desireability’ within our society are almost always undertaken through the prism of what is known as the male gaze.

    In popular culture and mainstream society, womanhood and many expressions of hetero-normalised feminity are usually constructed as being a commodity; something to be consumed by men, that is aimed at and created to appeal to men. The effect is so overwhelmingly pervasive that male-centric, patrirachal culture comes to define ‘acceptable womanhood’ very narrowly, and can severely ‘punish’ women who ‘fail’ to conform or who reject the enitire idea that their femininity should exist as something to be remotely weighed and judged by a still male-dominated media culture.

    What it notionally ‘means to be a woman’ in such an environmnet is twisted onto a yard stick by which to judge individuals that holds up an ideal that is quite literally impossible to achieve; whether it is a heavily airbrushed physique or a conflicting definition of what a woman ‘should’ be – simulatneously independent enough to be applauded as ‘strong’, yet submissive enough not be reviled as a ‘ball-buster’ (if you will forgive the crudity of the term). ‘Sexy’ enough not be dismissed as a ‘prude’, yet ‘demure’ enough not to be denounced as a ‘slut’ (when the goalposts of ‘sluttery’ and ‘prudery’ are ever in motion and never clearly defined, such that any woman can be tarred with one brush or the other should it suit misogynists).

    My interpretation (which may of course be utterly wrong) of the point being made by Skeptifem and others is that the calender in question, while attempting to defy the sex negative and misogynist mentality of the Mullahs who see women’s bodies as repugnant and corrupting, inadvertantly plays into the equally toxic and dehumanising idea in certain quarters of Western society that a woman’s body is a commodity to be enjoyed by men and nothing more – that the calender is in essence ‘functional porn’ even though that was expressly not the intent of its creators. It has been suggested that some of the models and some of the poses also play into tropes of conventional attractiveness, thus further marginalising and devaluing those women whose bodies do not conform to such arbitrary standards, and that also the ultimate decision not to include any men in the calender undermines its revolutionary potential by contributig to the heterosexual ‘male gaze’ qualities of the publication.

    What I’m trying to ask is this: what is the aim of feminism as you see it? If it’s equality under the law, and the freedom to do anything a man can do, what does any of this discussion of beautifying and sexuality and such matter?

    Concepts of mainstream and ‘acceptable’ female beauty and sexuality are constructed by a media culture that is often judgemental toward women and helps to entrench and reinforce existing power gradients that favour men over women by devaluing less conventionally attractive women while simultaneously shunting those women who do conform to a sufficiently high degree into a box marked ‘sex object’ and away from any possibility of being taken seriously as anything more. In this sense, it can be argued that playing up to such tropes of media constructed and endorsed ‘beauty’ and ‘desireability’ may have the effect of further entrenching a mechanism that functions primarily to disempower and dehumanise women by treating their physical appearance as the only attribute that matters. While still of course accepting that how an individual women chooses to appear is her own concern, when women en masse are required by society to conform to a narrow and often unachieveaable standerd of notional ‘beauty’ to be treated as if possessing value, then the hand of misogynists and the oppressive patriarchal power structures of our culture is strengthened.

    This is my best stab at explaining what is going on here, but there are other regulars on Pharyngula far more qualified to discuss these issues, and it must be remembered that as a heterosexual, cis-prvileged man, I am swimming in all types of socially mandated privilege that I may not be fully aware of that may colour my perception of this issue and undermine my objectivity.

  50. Anri says

    Awful big coincidence that so many things “women do for themselves” just happen to resemble things we do to please men, Anri.

    So, if a woman enjoys something that men enjoy her doing she should… what? Keep doing it, as it makes her happy? Stop doing it, due to the risk that it might make a man happy?

    Or do it anyway and not give a shit if the men like it or not? Because, as I tried to suggest – oh, no, wait, as I outright stated – the alternative is to assume that what the men are thinking is the most important aspect here.

    As beauty is often equated with health, there isn’t a great deal of mystery behind why many kinds of pleasing yourself might please onlookers.
    With regards to things that are actually harmful done to please onlookers… well, we can teach girls to do thise kinds of things to please others, or to avoid those things to avoid pleasing others, or we could teach them that what they think is most important.
    I dunno, what do you think?

    Oh, and you can stop with the other strawfeminist, too, about how silly wimminz don’t know how their message will be received. Guess what? Feminists disagree on certain tactics and are entirely within their rights to criticize other feminists on same. “Solidarity” doesn’t mean freedom from critique.

    Ok, so, I’m sorry – are you saying these women do know what they are doing, and shouldn’t defer to your opinion, or that they don’t and should defer to your opinion?

    Or are you just saying that you can be critical, but shouldn’t recieve criticism?

    I guess I’d be willing to assume these women know their situation better than I know it, and might know better how to react to it.
    Thank goodness they have you to let them know how wrong they are.

  51. Anri says

    Ms Daisy Cutter –

    In re-reading the second section of what I posted, it was unnecessarily snarky and nasty, and (more importantly) largely missed your point.

    Of course, you need nobody’s permission, least of all mine, to be critical of any given action of any people, feminist or otherwise. Regardless of my agreement with your critique, you obviously meant it in good faith and had thought and intelligence behind it. I should have given flatlander100 the benefit of the doubt, too. I apologize for not doing so.

  52. says

    AL:

    Okay, I get it, lesbians and various other sexual orientations exist.

    Oh, how incredibly nice of you to deign to notice! You’re so soaked in privilege, you’re a pruny mess. Not one worth my time.

  53. says

    I think the whole makeup and personal vs. political and whatever discussion is a bit of a red-herring, here. Now, I’d certainly argue that it’s important to critique the typical “empowerful” sort of thing, where women’s sexuality is exploited to sell even a worthy cause. That’s when progressivism turns inappropriately regressive, and should be called out.

    But… that’s not what’s happening here. This calender is non-sexual. They’re not in come-hither poses, they’re not overly retouched, there’s something of a range of body types. It’s the female form, naked, WITHOUT being sexualized, and THAT really IS revolutionary

  54. AL says

    Gregory Greenwood @ 57:
    Thanks man, yours has been the most reasonable and understandable comment I’ve seen here. It gave me a much clearer idea of the point several people are trying to make in this thread.

    However, I still disagree with the message.

    I think the calendar is a brave opposition to a despicable belief system that truly objectifies women, in that it literally treats women as objects to be owned, bought, sold, stolen or thrown away by men. I think that this belief system, and any governments based on and bound by it, oppress women.

    When your government and the laws thereof make it illegal or practically impossible for you to go about your life with the same rights and opportunities as a man in the same situation, you are being oppressed.

    However, when you can’t stop people from looking at you in ways you don’t like, speaking to or about you in ways you don’t like, or thinking about you in ways you don’t like, you are not being oppressed, you are living in a free society. All you can do is whatever you’d like to, because you can. No matter what anyone else says or thinks about what you like to do, you can do it whether you are a man or a woman.

    We have freedom, we have equality. We should use it to help those who don’t yet. We should stand up and do what we can to help the women truly being oppressed, not complain that someone who is trying to do so is somehow hurting feminism for those of us it has already worked for.

    Feminism has worked in most of the western world, we’re good. We’re free. We’re equal. Let’s use it to help other women become free and equal, not to make ourselves more equal than men.