sexual perspectives

Posted in Debate by Adele Todd on November 16, 2007

Looking around the web recently, I came across an anonymous image of a black woman in gynecological pose with text underneath it, written by the website’s owner, stating that he was looking for images that he planned to use as a book. I found the whole thing pretty unsavory. I felt that I should have been warned before coming across so much flesh. I was so affronted that I did not stick around on the site. It however led to questions about personal content and freedom of expression.
As a sign in the Londons’ ‘red light’ district once stated, “If easily offended, don’t come!”
I have always agreed with that, but what of casually surfing and finding things that you are not prepared for?
There are many Artists who would say that it is precisely the works that cause such reaction that make art worth doing? If you cannot shock, shame or annoy, you have not really reached people.
But is this really true?
I look at works of the past to help with this argument. The famous nude paintings of, say, François Boucher, his Recumbent Female Nude (1742-43) when painted, it reflected the sensual life of (horror) a regular woman. Today, to modern tastes, it may just look like your average stocky classic painting. Indeed, all things change, but really, things are a cycle. I remember when I read about Josephine Baker’s dances and then when I actually saw that she did indeed dance nearly completely naked, I was shocked. The question is, are you shocked because the person is naked? Or are you shocked because in your comfortable environment the person is naked? Now that is the rub.


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