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


Hunter needs a “Rielle-ity” check

(photos not working right now so please use your imagination picturing Rielle, Jessica, and Miley)

Does Rielle Hunter have a mom? Or dad?

Didn’t anyone ever tell her that if you’re with another person, and you take off your pants, and get on a bed, nothing “appropriate” is likely happen?

She “trusted” the photographer?

She is “repulsed” by the photos?

Hunter’s reaction to the sexy photographs of her in GQ is so nonsensical, she desperately needs “Rielle-ity check” –a term that should apply to any celebrity, or wannabe pseudo-celebrity, who sets out to get media attention, but when the public has a bad reaction to said attention, she falsely accuses the media of exploiting her.

Rielle Hunter knew exactly what she was doing when she put on a string of pearls, took off her clothing, and hopped on a bed to pose for a GQ photographer. Her problem now is that the public doesn’t like the pictures, or the interview, so Rielle is trying to shake the responsibility for the whole skanky event.

Maybe Rielle Hunter’s latest lies are getting to me because the Edwards-Hunter story has been so gross and duplicitous all along. I keep thinking, along with a lot of people: what if Edwards had been elected VP and then his affair and “love child” were revealed? The scandal would’ve destabilized the country.

Another Rielle-ity check is needed for the whole Jessica Simpson/ John Mayer fiasco around Mayer’s infamous Playboy interview where he called Jessica “sexual napalm.”

Mayer has acted like jerk in so many interviews, like the one when he worked so hard to make clear he dumped Jennifer Aniston, not the other way around. Or when he was trying to be funny, I guess, and said of reality star Kristen Cavallari, “I have never high-fived Kristin Cavallari with my penis…My Milli has never slam danced with her Vanilli.” The guy makes me cringe.

But referring to Jessica as “sexual napalm” is not derogatory. Supposedly, Jessica was flattered when she first heard it, and why wouldn’t she be? She’s worked very hard to convince America sexual napalm is exactly what she is.

It’s very different than what Mayer said in the same interview about Jennifer Aniston, cattily implying that Jennifer would be jealous he was talking about Jessica, and also making Jennifer seem about 1000 years old, saying she was stuck in 1998, back when she was “successful” and that now she can’t even Twitter.

Still, the tabloids and talk shows were up in arms about Mayer’s statements about Jessica, reporting those were the offensive ones. Then Jessica, and her dad of course, came out to give interviews about how hurt she was. Oprah invited Jessica on her show to complain about the interview that “almost destroyed her.”

Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus needed a Rielle-ity check after the public had a bad reaction to teenage Miley’s disturbingly erotic poses in Vanty Fair. Miley was a kid; it wasn’t her fault. But Billy Ray, after being with Miley for most of the shoot (and posing in a weirdly intimate way with her) decided to leave her alone with the photographer, and blamed Annie Leibovitz for everything. Note to dads: if your underage daughter poses for Vanity Fair, stick around until the shoot is over.

Champ or Vamp?

Are women athletes celebrated more for what they can do or for how they look? Here’s a photo of Winter Olympics 2010 silver medal winner in Ladies Super Combined, Julia Mancuso. Have women athletes made any progress winning endorsements, acclaim, recognition, and money for their skill rather than their appearance? Here’s something I wrote about Summer Olympics 2000 and the state of female athletes that was reprinted in a bunch of papers. Tell me what you think about how we’re doing now.

SAN FRANCISCO — In the photo she’s wearing a tight two-piece suit. Legs parted, head thrown back, eyes closed, she smiles.

The woman is not a Playmate of the Month but Olympic high jumper Amy Acuff in Esquire magazine’s cover story/pictorial entitled “America’s Ten Sexiest Athletes.” But on closer examination, Amy is not lying down; she is jumping.

A perusal of recent issues of men’s magazines reveals the latest sex symbol is the female athlete.

Sports Illustrated features Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson topless with her hands covering her breasts. And Gear has a photo of the Australian women’s soccer team, all players completely naked with their arms and legs placed strategically.

It’s no coincidence that this fascination with women athletes as soft-core porn stars comes right as women are making enormous strides in achieving parity with men in the Olympics. One step forward, two long jumps back.

At the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, more women will compete in more sports with more media coverage than ever before. With 4,400 participants, women will represent a record 42 percent of the competitors. Most exciting, women will be competing in what were once exclusively male domains. New categories for women include weightlifting, pole vaulting, water polo, tae kwon do and the triathlon.

But the slew of wet T-shirt pictorials reveals a powerful cultural bias. The American public is still uncomfortable seeing women as successful athletes and celebrating them for embodying the qualities that athletes possess. Magazines like Maxim are undermining hard-won progress by reducing all female competition to just another beauty contest.

Athletes are valued for what their bodies can do, not how they look.

Athletes are competitive, ambitious and they know how to win, but those attributes just aren’t ladylike. Photographing sports superstars in lace panties and sheer camisoles keeps them safely inside the parameters of womanhood.

While girls learn early on they will be judged for their looks, boys learn that athleticism equals attractiveness. Ever since high school, the jocks were the big men on campus, a guy’s skill made him hot and the best player sealed his status by getting the prettiest girl.

The grown-up world isn’t much better. Male athletes are worshipped for their achievements. Joe DiMaggio won Marilyn Monroe, and that wasn’t because he looked good in his uniform.

For women, athletic skill doesn’t equal desirability. In a capitalist world, the girl with the most money wins. Blond and buxom tennis star Anna Kournikova makes $11 million to $15 million in endorsements, though she has never won a professional tournament. Her earnings equal those of Martina Hingis, who has earned her money by winning 26 career titles, and are much more than 43-time winner Monica Seles’ $7.5 million or defending U.S. Open champ Serena Williams’ $6 million.

Even a pretty female player isn’t valued like a male player. Tiger Woods gets $47 million; Michael Jordan, $40 million, and 70-year-old Arnold Palmer makes $19 million.

The excuse is that men make big money because their sports make more money from television contracts, but it’s all a vicious circle. When women aren’t valued for their skills, aren’t trained properly and aren’t celebrated the way male athletes are, they’re at a severe disadvantage.

While many call this just bad luck, the law calls it illegal. More than 20 years ago, Title IX, which demanded gender equity in sports funding, began to be enforced. A generation of women growing up under it is a major reason why female athletes have been able to make the advances they have.

Even with this law, females make up only one third of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletes.

Summer 2000’s gold medal favorite, Stacy Dragila, was once told women don’t have the upper body strength to pole vault. Today, pole vaulting is the most popular new women’s event, with Dragila holding the world record.

For reaching that record last summer, Dragila got only half the $60,000 prize money that men get for the same competition. But, she was able to generate more income and media coverage for her sport by posing with other track and field women for a sexy calendar.

Athletics should be the one place where there truly is a meritocracy, where women are rewarded for how high they can jump, how fast they can run or how much they can lift. But once again, the rules are different for women.

This summer, along with their shotputs and discuses, female Olympic competitors will need lipstick, good lighting and lingerie if they want to get the gold.