Further to my last post about the real world vs. the world of life modelling:
I recently posted a drawing of me on Facebook from one of the classes I posed for, and one of my guy friends immediately left the comment, “I can see your butt.”
So, just to recap:
1) I decided to become a life model, and aggressively pursued work in that field.
2) I decided to take photos of some of my favourite drawings people did of me.
3) I decided to post one of those drawings for others to see.
4) …And my friend commented “I can see your butt” like he caught me at something. Like he has dirt on me and he’s gloating about it.
This is exactly why that fucking Seth McFarlane “We Saw Your Boobs” debacle rubbed me the wrong way*, too. That gleeful “your private areas, I saw them!” attitude stems from a foundation of patriarchy, objectification and slut-shaming.
“We saw your boobs/I can see your butt” presupposes that men and women are locked in a battle where men want (and are entitled!) to see women naked and women are (bitchily, unreasonably) acting as gatekeepers – so if a guy does see a woman naked, it means he won the battle and got what was rightfully his. Everyone loves to see someone in a position of power get taken down a peg, and many men see a woman’s basic human right to bodily autonomy as “power,” so yeah.
There is no room in this paradigm for female agency, by the way. Women don’t ever choose to show their bodies. Women’s bodies are simply seen sometimes, despite their objections. Women are passive and men are active.
“We saw your boobs/I can see your butt” also presumes that women’s bodies are much more obscene than men’s bodies; you never hear someone triumphantly proclaiming “I saw Brad Pitt’s butt in the movie Twelve Monkeys! I totally saw it! Ha ha ha ha!” because a man’s body is not seen as that big a deal. Women are viewed as sex objects; a naked man is just a naked man, but a naked woman is porn. A naked woman is signalling, by her nakedness, that she wants to have sex with you – or at least that’s what most of society seems to believe. So if a woman chooses to be naked – even in a nonsexual context like a shower scene in a movie or posing for an art class – then she’s a great big slutty slut. Which is titillating, and leads to that same gleeful “I saw you” tone.
I’m sure some of you reading this are gonna think I’m reading too much into my friend’s comment, but ask yourself this: if he was going to make a comment about the drawing, why not “I can see your back” or “This is a drawing of you” or “You are sitting on your right hip and propping yourself up on your arms”? The answer, dear reader, is that he was trying to be funny, and those comments aren’t funny – they’re just stating the obvious. “I can see your butt” is also a statement of the obvious, but it would be funny to some people – because of the cultural associations I’ve listed above.
Anyway. My friend is not a bad guy, and I didn’t want to get into a huge discussion of feminism with him. So I just wrote back “Indeed.”
*Google it if you don’t know what I’m referring to. I’m not giving it airspace here.