Of Nudity & Art

The fetishising of the female body by male artists or photographers is so toxic. For them women subjects seem to exist solely as objects for their own desires or that of other male viewers. This isn’t art. I can’t see how it is.

Artwork: Rohan Rane
Artwork: Rohan Rane

This particular fetish isn’t to achieve anything other than do these three harmful things:

1. Serve as a prop for men to gaze at (understandably, since a lot of these photographers go on to shoot for brands who target men; the economically dominant gender).

2. Tell men that this is the sort of body (aided by the ‘Come here’ or similar provocative poses these models are asked to adapt) that they have the right of access to.

3. (Thus) also promoting toxic body image issues among women.

I wonder how all men would react if we exclusively started making a brand out of naked images of men, gyrating, sticking their crotch out, posing seductively. Nearly naked. All naked. Just one hand, barely covering their penises. Cupping their balls. Staring into the lens with deer-in-headlights, while we shamelessly stare at their genitals.

I wonder how all men would feel like if Instagram or the feed of every single person who puts the word ‘photographer’ in their bios was populated with this kind of nudity. Uncomfortable? Most likely.

I wonder what music videos would look like, with men in the background, wearing sheer underwear and dancing in the shower, so the outline of their organs begin to show; then have the cameras zoom in to examine the details of their ‘manhood’.

I wonder how it would feel like to have your bodies served on a plate for consumption by the opposite genders.

A note then, to the photographers to probably read and most importantly realise:

If you think your ‘art’ would only make sense with naked women in it, you’re only a terrible, repulsive rip-off who wants to appropriate the label of a photographer. You’re looking to grab eyeballs by offering breasts. But, of course, if someone were to ask you, you’d say “you’re against rape”, “against the objectification of women”, “you’re only doing this for art*”, wouldn’t you?

There’s nothing wrong with studying the human body for art, or having women as your muse. But there’s everything wrong with objectifying women and mind you, there’s a very, very fine line between the two.

So, where IS the line?

Gauge your art, what are you making your subject do? Pose to seduce/tempt? Pucker her lips? Put her hand inside her pink, lace panty? Cover her breasts as she lies across the floor, naked? Or giggle naked?

If you were to photograph a man, would your photos show his 5’clock stubble, his brooding eyes or his side profile as he gazes off into infinity? Truth remains, he would be afforded the respect your female ‘muses’ are never going to.

Art can exist in beauty, to make a statement, to be political, to make a point. And while art can also exist to seduce, this bread-and-butter variety of nudity isn’t doing anything productive, really!

And if you’re on Instagram and other photo sharing websites solely for that, you should probably examine yourself and come to terms with the fact that you’re simply aiding objectification and thereby – rape culture.