Because “fun ‘n’ edgy” and “pornification of slavery” are so easily confused.

Hot on the heels of the murdered-gaunt-women-are-sexxxay spread from Top Model comes this “fashion spread”. Racist and sexist objectification all rolled into one odious airbrushed slavery-porn package. See it and froth.

Categories: gender & feminism, social justice

Tags: , , ,

23 replies

  1. [ObGeekGripe: Aiieee, the Flashfuckedness of that site! Ze goggles, zey do nozzing!]
    Bloody hell. “Retro-60s” “fashions” set in a fucking harem. How does that even begin to in any way compute?

  2. How does that even begin to in any way compute?

    It does not! They FAIL at the intertubez.
    (Geekgripe heartily agreed with – this is why I copied so many images over here.)

  3. Do you know the name of the “white” model? Or perhaps what country this was done in?

  4. Thanks for the answers. The link did not tell me much.

  5. The fashion house is Israeli. I’m sorry, I don’t know who the women are.

  6. *boggles* There are no words. That fact that a spread like this exists just… GAH.

  7. One piece of art can be read in several ways, often these ways represent the viewer more than that of the creator.
    While it is obvious that the photographer is trying to capture the Egyptian ‘charm’. I do not see a Harem, through the definition of the word I do not believe these images can be descibed as taking place in a Harem. This image is not porn as far as I am concerned (through the definition of the word) no ‘private’ parts are viewable, secondly in ancient Egypt female slaves were often topless. Personaly I think you are reading too far into the socio-political aims behind the art – most artists don’t have such aims and are simply trying to create a beautiful work of art. The aims of the photographer were probably to show how one would feel like an Egyptian princess in these garments, not to be a ‘racist and sexist objectification all rolled into one odious airbrushed slavery-porn package’. I hate to break it to you but egyptians often used those of other races as slaves (like all other slave using peoples), perhaps this is why the photographer used those of different race. But personally I don’t think it was deliberate – why would it be in such a society that scrutinises everything so harshly.
    People need to enjoy art for its beauty as the artist intended – if some wish to read it differently, then fine, but I do not think the artist should be blamed for your interpretation – unless you are one hundred percent certain behind their motives – which knowone could ever be.

  8. And what race, pray tell, were the Egyptians? Last time I checked Ancient Egypt was very much a multiracial society at all levels. That is, unless you’re retconning them like Dutch painters did with their strawberry blond, blue-eyed Jesuses.

  9. It is possible that it is a coincidence, and the women were casted from a selection. Would you have a problem if the same women were in different roles?
    For the sexist objectification issue would you have a problem if the servants were mostly naked men?

    I think you may be reading too much into a few pictures, and looking for slights where none were intended.

  10. I can’t believe people are defending that horrid photo spread. The title of the post is very apt. Seems that some people really can’t tell the difference.

  11. Absolutely, DonnaDiva. If indeed the artist “didn’t intend” to portray a fetishising of race-based slavery, that’s not a free pass. Subconscious racism needs examining and criticising just as much as conscious racism, BECAUSE the person hasn’t even noticed that there is a racist subtext to their art. Same goes with casting the women “from a selection” in a way that just happens to end up reinforcing race-based slavery stereotypes, and would be subject to exactly the samecriticism if the models acting as servants were darker skinned men rather than women.

  12. I’m not defending these pictures as I know nothing of their background, it could of been a conscious slur for all I know. My point was that all the people attacking them know nothing of their background either.
    You saw 3 darker skinned women tending a fairer skinned woman and thought “slavery”. The photos do not tell you the women are slaves, that’s your conclusion.
    I think it would be amazing if the artist didn’t even notice a racial subtext, as it proves they’re thinking with true equality.
    tigtog you seem to infer that you would not have an issue if they were all of the same skin tone, is that correct?

  13. I think it would be amazing if the artist didn’t even notice a racial subtext, as it proves they’re thinking with true equality.

    I think you’re confusing denial with equality here. “People who see race are racists!” is a common-as-dirt concern troll tactic. Embedded as we are within a deeply racist world, pretending to be a postracial special snowflake is not helpful, and is not something to be lauded.
    Stephen Colbert hits the nail on the head with his “Are you black? Because I don’t see race.” schtick. Maybe people will be color-blind in a post-racism society (whatever that might look like), but meanwhile the only people who claim they are color-blind are people who are sticking their fingers in their ears singing “LA LA LA NOT LISTENING”.
    Does anyone have a link to a good 101 on this?

  14. My point was that all the people attacking them know nothing of their background either.

    Why do I need to know anything of their background or intent to notice and comment on the fact that the image as it stands has strong echoes of race-based slavery?
    What Lauredhel said re the comment about how it would be amazing (I’m presuming you mean amazing in a good way here) if the artist didn’t notice any racial subtext: no, it wouldn’t. It would be fucking insensitive to larger implications of a creative work, that’s what it would be.

    tigtog you seem to infer that you would not have an issue if they were all of the same skin tone, is that correct?

    I wouldn’t have exactly the same issues, no: because the servant/mistress relationship portrayed in such a case would not echo historical African slavery by Europeans. I could well still find issues in the fetishisation of servitude as a class issue.

  15. Why this conviction that it’s intent that determines whether something is racist or not? If the image is racist, then the image is racist, and then there are a few options:
    1) the photographer is an unapologetic, proudly racist asshole, and should hear about how offensive their work is;
    2) the photographer saw nothing wrong with their tableau, would be horrified to learn that it is racist, and should hear about how offensive their work is in order that they don’t do it again, or
    3) the photographer believes some tripe about racism being over, art trumping anyone’s legitimate hurt, their right to produce their special snowflake vision being more important than the pain of oppressed people, or, that they didn’t intend to be racist therefore this is not a racist image, in which case they should hear about how offensive their work is, over and over, in hopes that they may eventually get it.
    Intent does not determine outcome. Seriously. How many people do you think get behind their wheels and intend to crash their car?
    Jet’s last blog post..There are no free passes today. You’re still an asshole.

  16. kay, stripe, jet: these photographs are explicit visual references to the Odalisques that were popular in the nineteenth century. Those paintings were understood as depicting slave/concubines.
    If the photographer was trained at all in art, we can infer intent.

  17. I’m not pretending to be color-blind, but I would like to think that such a person will exist. However I believe that by consciously sanitizing our output we our lengthening the time before such a person can exist. If Jet’s three points hold true that day will never come. (But I’ve always been impatient and an idealist).
    On balance though these pictures are in very poor taste, and a bad choice by me to try to make a point with. Hopefully next century…

  18. It’s true, Liam, that we *can* infer intent. My question would be, why does intent define what the image means? Or more pointedly, why do we so often turn to intent to decide the guilt or innocent of something? In general, it’s in an attempt to claim the innocnce of the… er… intender. And in general, that’s an attempt to play down the claim that someone is, in fact, racist, or sexist etc etc.
    On the one hand, Stripe, consciously santising can simply conceal racism or sexism (think the use of ‘he or she’ where it used to just be ‘he’ without thinking about how including ‘she’ actually changes what’s being talked about; i.e. not interrogating the false universal of ‘he’); but on the other, images like this play a role in the perpetuation of a particular kind of cultural logic, one which eroticises and exoticises WOC, and a particular kind of power dynamic. Calling people out on that seems important. In other words, no one here is straight-forwardly saying these images shouldn’t exist, but is pointing out the significance of the fact that they do. And we need to be able to do that, even, or especially, if you think a utopia is possible…

  19. Well technically the Odalisques generally eroticised white women, and Oriental men.
    But, yes, I think on your last two paragraphs, wildlyparenthetical, I heartily agree.

  20. Stripe, you seem to be arguing that being “colour blind” is something to strive for. If I’ve misinterpreted you, my apologies.
    However. To be ‘colour blind’ is to just not see race – is that how you are using the term? If so, I strongly disagree that this is something to aspire to. I know that as white progressives we are often taught that it’s a noble thing to be, but by refusing to see race, you (generic you) are erasing a person’s history, and often painful history at that. You’re not seeing who that person is and where they’ve come from – you can’t. And by not seeing and acknowledging the difference in cultures and lived experiences, you end by assuming that the person is just like you. Which is, you know, pretty racist in the end.
    When people say “colour blind”, I think what they want to say is that they wish everyone could be equal. But we’re a long way away from that, and we’re not getting any closer while we close our eyes and pretend centuries of hurt can disappear without hard work on our part. To me, we move forward when we do see race, and we talk about it, and we get smacked in the face by our own racism over and over until we start to get it. It’s painful, and it should be, because unpicking your own privilege is never going to be easy.
    Disclaimer: white woman talking, taking her own first baby steps in Recognising Her Own Racism 101.


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