Clothed men, naked women: a retropsective

I have an idea for a themed art show that could travel the museums of the world: “Clothed men, naked women: a retrospective.” How many galleries and halls do you think would overflow?

I just posted about repetitive gender imagery in “riding bitch,” where the female is shown behind the male on a bike, animal, imaginary creature etc. This sexism is persistent in depicting a fantasy world marketed to children. Amazing how the imaginary world is just as sexist as the real one, huh? Wonder how that happens…

Lynley Stace linked to one of my posts, and that’s when I saw Nick Cave’s new CD cover on her blog.


Stace writes:

As one woman commented on Facebook, this image is problematic because it depicts a naked woman opposite a fully-clothed man (in a suit, no less). The woman looks upset or humiliated because her face is covered and Nick Cave looks as if he’s ordering her to go to her room (i.e. he is treating her like a child).

What I would add to that comment is that the woman, judging by her youthful body, is much younger than Nick Cave. Nick Cave is currently 55 years old. That female body looks under 30. So the power is with Nick Cave in every possible respect.


Also, check this out. The image is getting as much traction as Cave can get out of it. Stace writes: “Also, the album cover isn’t JUST the album cover. Turns out this image is being used for general promotional advertising.”


I used to be a fan of Cave. No more. What really gets me is when you look at this image, you can feel how radical and cool Cave thinks he is.

Hey, Nick, it’s been done. Throughout history, again and again. Here’s a version from Manet:




Vanity Fair:


I could fill my entire blog with these images. Cave, you’ve lost your originality and you’re showing your 55 years. You’ve become a copy cat, a cliche, and no more an avante-garde artist than Larry Flynt was a proponent for free speech.


and if you agree,

Please Tweet: Nick Cave’s Push Away the Sky been there, seen that and #NotBuyingIt


37 thoughts on “Clothed men, naked women: a retropsective

  1. I know many women for whom the notion of naked female and clothed male, usually in a suit, is a major fetishist turn on. You may fear it is ‘sexism’ but it offers an undeniable buzz for many women. It even has its own term, CMNF – and yes CFNM, clothed female-naked male, is also popular, though, as far as I can see, more with males than females.

  2. you are such a stupid feminist! judge a music album from complicated artist like Cave by it’s cover. you also judge books by its cover, don’t you? it’s brilliant piece of music beyond your dumb understanding.feminism fucked your little brain and you saw every thing from its narrow perspective. Muslims are perfect for women like you. they force you to have Hijab and stay all day in kitchen cooking for men 😀 that’s perfect for you.

    • As a major fan of Nick Cave, I am ashamed that a fellow fan would post a response this insulting. It seems an apt expression of your own personal insecurities. Compose yourself. First off, I am a man. Second, I am a feminist, just as every human being should be. Take what you will from this album cover, but I see it better fit not to judge a musicians entire work based from one piece of cover art. Example; I love Ray Charles, however, he does includes some sexist slights in his music that does bother me. I am not going to discredit this mans incredible ability to express and compose music while overcoming his bourdon of blindness. Also, it is worth noting that Manet was not portraying the picture you are implying. He painted this work as a commentary on the modern Parisian and his afffiliation with prostitutes. At the time, and estimated 70% of Parisian men were visiting prostitutes, and this was a way of forcing them to confront their behavior in a stark and grotesque light. Look up The 16 century master, Titian’s “Pastoral Concert” to see the inspiration for Manets work and that will give you an understanding as where he is basing his work from. Nonetheless, I do appreciate the author’s perspective for writing this article

      • you better be ashamed of yourself as a whatever you are. yeah this is very cool to interpret an art cover and tell people to buy this or that! based on her narrow feminazi view of art. if you find just one thing in his entire work of art (novels, lyrics, scripts) that show any sign of this kind of bullshit that writer of this lousy article try to attribute to Cave I will accept your comparison to Ray Charles or other. if you can’t, then please have this in mind as a blind feminist that this picture can have another interpretation (or no intention to lower women’s position to men). writhing like this article are pretty dangerous to arts because propagate a very narrow and superficial view of art. without any thinking or searching for anything else to backup her big claim, she simply order her follower to buy what because she with her little mind think this or that. who the fuck think she is? big mouth little shit.

      • “dont buy”! yeah please! it would be great if you simple minded preak never saw or hear anything from him or the band. I actually very doubtful if you ever being a “fan”. so just shut the fuck up and let us listen to some real music, away from your judgmental superficial view who seraching for hidden meaning in everything. as if he does not has the gut to express his view!

  3. I love this piece of art. It’s erotic, sexy and modern. I only scanned the comments, but I find that women opposed to these types of images likely have very dull sex lives.

    I have a similar photo on a huge canvas in my bedroom. I bought it for my boyfriend. It’s a man in a suit sitting at a table, while the female is laying on a table naked. I find this piece of art very inspiring sexually, as I prefer to be more submissive when it comes to sex and my boyfriend is quite dominant. This piece of art encapsulates our sexual relationship and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    By being more open-minded about sex, it will keep that part of your relationship health, active and HOT. My boyfriend tends to not go out with the boys, as he would rather stay home with me and do ~other things…

    • Hi open-minded woman,

      It’s the dominance of this image that’s the problem. For some people, in some situations, it may be enjoyable but its everywhere. It’s not “open-minded” to echo something ubiquitous.


  4. Judging from the obsessive tone of most of the women commenting here, it’s a wonder any of you have any sex lives at all. Erotica comes in many forms, but fantasy is just that: fantasy.

  5. I agree that it’s a very problematic image, but I’d be curious to hear more about it. The one video I’ve seen from this upcoming album is about prostitutes and how mistreated they are by the men who hire them, so I do wonder if this image is an extension of that, and Nick Cave might be playing a character of an unscrupulous man. He has a very long history of singing the songs of unsavory characters and taking on their character as a way to humanize situations.

    I definitely think it’s a big issue that your average Joe won’t know that backstory, and this image will look exactly as you see it. But I do think it’s most likely that Cave is creating a dramatic situation where the man is the villain, corrupted by all the power you rightly see him being given in this photograph.

    In any case, thanks for the interesting discussion!
    best wishes, Scott

  6. I think if the man were naked in any of the pictures, it would become pornographic-looking. Naked man with clothed woman could be interesting if there is a clear consent vibe, but could come off looking predatory.
    Both man and woman clothed and treated as equally worthy of respect? That’s too much to ask for 🙁

  7. It happens to be a photo of him and his wife in their own bedroom and he is opening a shutter to illuminate her beautiful body.

  8. You claim to be a Nick Cave fan, and this is the one image that threw you over the edge and altered that claim? Interesting.

      • I’m not trying to be a nudge, but Margot, you did say in your post, “I used to be a fan of Cave.” I am (or maybe was?) a fan of Nick Cave, though when I saw this image, I was also freaked out by it. One detail that particularly freaks me out is how the woman is walking as if on stiletto heels, but with bare feet. She has naked Barbie feet, essentially. Further destabilizing her posture, of course, which I assume was very intentional. (For the record, I totally agree with the assessment that this photo is playing into a horrible trope of naked women/suited men, and I am also disappointed in Nick Cave. I wonder what he has to say, if anything, to defend this choice? He’s always been provocative in some way or other, which didn’t bother me until now. Now I have to figure out whether I’m “still a fan” or not.) Has Cave spoken out about the image? Now I must go google. Thanks for the dialogue!

      • Obviously not. Take a deeper listen to some Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (and Grinderman for that matter) and you’ll probably find that an image with himself and a naked woman is probably the least offensive thing from his repertoire.

          • Interesting issue. I have listened somewhat deeply (I think) to some of his albums, and the thing that has always seemed most edgy about his songs is his relationship to Christianity. Which I find fascinating. But that’s another topic. But of course now I have to go listen for misogyny, overt and covert. Thanks, sincerely, for the dialogue!

  9. Thanks heaps for sharing that post, depressing as it is. I love your blog. Only discovered it recently and it seems our interests overlap. You should totally manage themed art shows. I’d go.

    On the Nick Cave thing, until I saw that album cover I was listening to his tunes on high rotation, but I haven’t listened to a single one of his songs since then. Safe to say he’s ruined for me.

    I have to admit I’m slow. I mean, he has a long-term reputation among Australian feminists that I never knew about, mainly because I never really ‘listened’ to his lyrics. And now I’m in this horrible position of listening to *all” the lyrics of my favorite music and I ain’t impressed much. Turns out I love the rhythms and tunes of some pretty dodgy stuff. What I need is Pink and PJ Harvey lyrics set to Nick Cave and Kings of Leon instrumentation.

    I’ll accept suggestions.

  10. Before you start curating themed art shows, perhaps you should finish that chapter book you were working on.

    You should have plenty of time to do so since you were dumped from SF Gate.

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