[Probably NSFW, because nude photos are nude. - C]
This is a guest post by Laurie and Debbie. Debbie Notkin is a body image activist, a feminist science fiction advocate, and a publishing professional. She is chair of the motherboard of the Tiptree Award and will be one of the two guests of honor at the next WisCon in May 2012. Laurie is a photographer whose photos make up the books Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes (edited and text by Debbie Notkin) and Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes (edited by Debbie Notkin, text by Debbie Notkin and Richard F. Dutcher). Her photographs have been exhibited in many cities, including New York, Tokyo, Kyoto, Toronto, Boston, London, Shanghai and San Francisco. Her solo exhibition “Meditations on the Body” at the National Museum of Art in Osaka featured 100 photographs. Her most recent project is Women of Japan, clothed portraits of women from many cultures and backgrounds. Laurie and Debbie blog together at Body Impolitic, talking about body image, photography, art and related issues. This post originally appeared on Body Impolitic.
Laurie and Debbie say:
The Nude Revolutionary Calendar is a project undertaken in support of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a young Egyptian woman who posted nude portraits of herself on Twitter last November, tagged #NudePhotoRevolutionary. Here’s a nude portrait of Elmahdy.
According to writer Saskia Vogel, Elmahdy and her boyfriend were criminally charged with “violating morals, inciting indecency and insulting Islam.” It does not appear that Elmahdy is in jail at this time–if anyone has better information than we’ve found, please share it with us.
In response to the Egyptian government’s criminalizing of Elmahdy, Iranian activist and blogger Maryam Namazie created the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar (.pdf here and purchase information here). The calendar features a diverse group of women. The calendar photographs were all taken by different photographers, mostly men. We have to wonder how different it would look with more women photographers.
Namazie also created this very brief video featuring Iranian women, naked from the waist up, talking about why they support the project:
Namazie says: “Showing her body, particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt are securing power, is the ultimate act of rebellion. Don’t forget Islamists despise nothing more than a woman’s body. To them, women are the source of corruption and chaos and must be covered up at all times and not seen and not heard.”
“What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women’s bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.”
Let us first appreciate the courage of Elmahdy and other women living under extreme religious law and culture, whether it is Islamic or not.
Particularly when the war against women is spreading across the United States and Europe, it’s very important to remember that, while many Islamic women are currently at more risk than women in most other cultures, this phenomenon is not confined to Islam. Fear of women’s bodies, and the resultant attempt to make us disappear, is rampant in all patriarchal cultures. Fear of men’s bodies is certainly a factor in America and Europe, although none of the commentators in English that we’ve looked at seem especially concerned about the full frontal male nudity on Elmahdy’s Twitter feed.
Photographer Mallorie Nasrallah, whose self-portrait is in the calendar, says: “When a tool of oppression can be turned in to an assertion of power, it is a beautiful thing. Nudity when celebrated harms no one, and when made shameful and barbaric harms everyone.”