There has been another blog war, earlier this month.
The subject on this occasion was whether it is OK for a person who cares about women to post comments on a supposedly woman-safe space that link (the way comments do) to the commenter’s blog, said commenter’s blog containing an erotic-query-pornographic image as part of its logo. The issue being, that this kind of image is potentially triggering for the women who usually frequent feminist / woman-safe blogs.
For the record, I see both points of view: and I think that the original point was made respectfully and the commenter responded appropriately by de-linking whilst commenting on the blog in question. It all went wrong after that, somehow.
But never mind all that. I have learned a thing. See, my special interest in this particular blog war is that I got cited. Little me!
The point was made that it is unfair to complain about “pro-porn”* blogs including erotic query pornographic / potentially triggering images without warning whilst NOT complaining about anti-porn blogs which include similar imagery, again without warning.
[* I use inverted commas for a reason. I think "pro-porn" is a loaded phrase. Feminists commonly described by people who disagree with them as "pro-porn" are often, if not always, only "pro" a certain type of woman-positive porn and certainly oppose exploitation and coercion in pornography-making.]
[* Er, warning. RE is "pro-porn" and is the one with the image in dispute as her logo.]
The post in question is this one: Boobalicious. [Er, warning. Post contains full frontal breast images.]
In all of my 405 posts so far, I think I have posted once using any photograph that could remotely be described as portraying nudity. This is the one.
So what is the issue with this picture? Let’s see.
It is not pornographic. It is not even erotic query pornographic. It is not even erotic. I mean, much as one may argue about what “pornographic” actually means*, I can’t see any basis on which you could honestly claim that two pictures of breasts, that are in no way sexualised, posed, or intended to be in any way erotic, can be described as pornography. Pornography it aint.
[* According to Merriam-Webster, it means "1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. 2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement. 3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction ". ]
Nor can I imagine any way in which this picture could be described as triggering or potentially triggering. They’re just two people with uncovered breasts. There is no motion, no action, no suggestion in the picture, no posing, no anything that, to me, could honestly be described as triggering. Or, if it is, then the human body, the female body is inherently triggering to the person upset by these images.
Did the women whose breasts these are consent to their images being on my blog?
Well, no. Hands up. Their images were taken from a medical website advertising breast surgery. (I’ve tried really hard to find the site again but I can’t. Damn. Shoulda kept a link.)
I think it is fair to assume that they consented to having their pictures published on the original website but I accept that (1) they didn’t consent to me posting their pictures on my blog and (2) given the potential for exploitation that is inherent in the cosmetic-surgeon-to-“patient” relationship, it is probably also questionable whether the original consent was itself free of exploitation. If I don’t use images of potentially exploited porn models, similar thinking should probably apply to images of potentially exploited surgery patients.
And another thing that I was directly called on was the fact that these are disembodied, headless breast pictures. Well the post was about breasts, about bras and about breast reduction surgery. And it is in the nature of the beast that before/after shots culled from cosmetic surgery websites are going to be headless, disembodied breasts.
The problem is that by reducing those two women to their constituent body parts, in this case their breasts, am I not objectifying them and dehumanising them in exactly the same way that pornography objectifies and dehumanises women? The method is different, the purpose is different, but the result – for those two women – identical. And the objectification of all women, the reduction of all women to their constituent body parts – how does posting disembodied breasts further our freedom from that particular problem?
In fact, it never occurred to me to wonder how these women would feel to stumble upon their disembodied breasts on my blog. If it were me? Weird and upset, is how I would feel.
My bad. Again.
The lesson I have learned is this. Next time, before I post a similar kind of image again, I will think really hard about (1) whether the woman depicted has truly and freely consented to being published any old where on the internet and (2) whether the depiction of that woman’s body or body parts objectifies or dehumanises her in a way that I would dislike if somebody did it to me.
Anti-Porn Blogger Gains Insight From “Pro-Porn” Feminists.