Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ethical nudity (contains nudity... duh!)

Copyranter picked up the latest protest by FEMEN, the Ukrainian feminist group the internet can't get enough of.

Why? I'll give you two reasons:

Zuckerberg sees no boobies, hears no boobies, speaks no boobies.
FEMEN are notorious for their topless protests, even in the middle of winter, against what they see as a culture of sexism in Ukraine — and the world.

Originally focussing their anger on sex tourism in the Ukraine — either through prostitution or "mail-order-bride" scams — they have branched out to attack such issues as living conditions in Kiev, the safety of women on the subway, throwing panties at the Italian embassy on Valentine's Day as a protest against Burlusconi's sex scandals.

Now, they're protesting their groups ban from Facebook on grounds of nudity. FEMEN founder Anna Hutsol replied, referring to both the Facebook ban and an earlier ban from YouTube:

"The administration of Facebook, as well as the administration of Google, have demonstrated a wooden approach to filtering hosted photo and video, to equate protest FEMEN and trivial erotica "
And this, to me, is the question we will have to start asking ourselves about sexual nudity in advertising, protest, art and general communication. And I'm sure your first question to me will be "aren't you being kind of hypocritical, supporting FEMEN and trashing PETA and American Apparel?"

Maybe I am. But it's the "trivial erotica" comment by Hutsol that sums it up for me. American Apparel, as a fashion brand, is the very definition of trivial. And their ads, in my opinion, trivialize sexuality by making it a commodity like a t-shirt.

From the AA catalogue
PETA has a heartfelt message about animal cruelty. And they do occasionally try to show the connection between humans and animals in their protests, however naively.

But much of the time, they just use sex to get attention. Which is also trivializing.

But they can do what they want with their bodies, right? Sure. I'm just arguing that FEMEN is something different entirely.

In exposing themselves in an aggressive, sometimes even violent way, the FEMENistas are using sex and nudity in a completely different way. Their message is, "You want to objectify women? Well objectify THIS, you assholes!"

Their sexuality is not coy, or yielding. It is an assault on the conventions of what they see as an oppressive society. They are uncompromising extremists, who live communally in an all-female movement. And they regularly get arrested for their daring statements.

So yes, of course Facebook banned them. FB admins can't stand the sight of breasts, even if they are doing something as innocent and human as feeding a baby. They make some exceptions for art, but inconsistently. And nudity as political protest? Right out.

And I think that's unfortunate. Because there are all kinds of nudity in the world. Some kinds exploit people, some trivialize them, and some objectify them. Other times, it's beautiful, artistic or meaningful. Too bad America's black-and-white morality can't judge the difference.

UPDATE: FEMEN are having another go at Facebook. (See below)

1 comment:

  1. The NEW Femen fan-page is here