Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Collegiate Privilege and Censorship

Plymouth student photographer's nude shots challenge gender stereotypes

This is an interesting idea, and I actually think it's really well-done (although I'd like to see it developed in more depth). Of course, I've been challenging gender stereotypes in my photography for years, and I have yet to be the subject of even an internet news article (which, admittedly, doesn't carry much weight). This girl gets recognition because she's a college student? Her work is part of an accepted tradition of art study, and I'm just an independent loner? Undoubtedly, my work challenges a lot more than gender stereotypes - enough that most normal people would be intimidated by it, but you could certainly select a cross-section of my photography that shows the gender aspects without getting too freaky on the sex end of the spectrum.

The other comment I have about this article is the censorship of the images. I think it's terrible. Censorship is not healthy to anyone - by catering to gymnophobic sentimentalities, we're actually encouraging people's mental illness (gymnophobia), while robbing everyone else of the healthy opportunity to see a person's nude body in a non-fetishized manner (the censor bars fetishize specific parts of the body). But the absolute bottom line is that, even if it were justified to censor the images to preserve certain people's sensibilities, you should provide a link to the uncensored images for the benefit of non-neurotic readers.

The only semi-justifiable use of censorship is to keep people from inadvertently stumbling onto something they'd prefer not to see (indeed, that's the reasoning behind safety filters). That would explain using the censored image(s) in the article proper. It's by not providing an alternate source for the uncensored images that you've gone beyond merely protecting people's sensibilities, and have risen to the level of actually deleting information from an artist's work, and preventing the public from accessing certain kinds of information because you've decided what someone else is or isn't allowed to see. And that's the worst aspect of censorship - one that can't simply be explained away by claiming, "oh, we just don't want to offend anyone".

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