peripheral vision

photography by Kate Wilhelm

peripheral vision blog

because making photographs exposes as much about the photographer as the subject

in case you thought sexism was dead

Or, if you needed any further evidence that I’ve become a humourless feminist…

This morning I noticed A Photo Editor’s Daily Edit featured a sexualized woman on all fours to illustrate an article entitled, “Crazy In Love” in Men’s Health magazine. At first I was taken aback because love is generally experienced between two people, not by looking at a sexualized woman. Then I read the intro paragraph and discovered it was actually about (male) jealousy and how “whether it leads to ruin or redemption, scientists say, depends on [the man experiencing jealousy] and the woman he loves.” (Um, HOW, pray tell, can jealousy lead to redemption???)

The Daily Edit copy

Quite apart from the quality of the article and the fact that it is just replaying the old Women Bring on Men’s Violence Trope (aka Rape Culture) but with so-called scientific backing, I decided to reply to the fact that a picture of a sexualized woman on all fours with a decidedly come hither look on her face was illustrating an article about (men’s) jealousy. Given that A Photo Editor is clearly capable of critical thinking, I thought it was just one of those oversights that needed some consciousness-raising.

I’ve had blind spots pointed out to me recently, and afterwards it was like I had new eyes. For example, just the other day someone pointed out to me how fat is often used in children’s books as code for lazy, stupid, and/or generally unpleasant. Even my beloved Harry Potter series does this. And how could I have missed it???

Similarly, Katherine Don’s series Bringing Up Baby on Bitch Magazine has shown me the light about how birth, parenting and mothers are represented on tv. Again or still, I’ve been wondering, How did I not notice this before??? Now I can’t stop noticing…

So it was with this sort of spirit that I commented. And pretty quickly, men leapt to defend the work.

The Daily Edit – comment 2copy
First up, the old You’re Just Not Getting It Because You’re Not Part of Our Inner (magazine-publishing and reading) Circle Defence.

The Daily Edit comment1 copy
Next, Infantalizing The Complainer, a variation on the You’re Just Not Getting It Defence, by mentioning Teen Beat. Because clearly my objections are juvenile. If I were just a little more grown-up, I’d get it.

The Daily Edit – comment3copy
Oh look! It’s the You’re Just A Humourless Man-Hating Feminist Defence! I honestly think the last time I heard this I was in high school. Clearly I live in a magical bubble full of wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent men who are not threatened by having sexism pointed out to them. And I don’t even mean only my husband and close relations – I mean acquaintances, both real-life and online. Thank you A Photo Editor for showing me how awesome the men in my life are. (Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen lots of it online, it’s just been a long time since I’ve experienced it personally.)

You know what? I don’t read print magazines, men’s or otherwise. Probably for this very reason.

The Daily Edit –comment4 copy
Ooh – the If A Woman Was Involved In The Decision-Making It Can’t Be Sexist Defence, along with a slightly more poisonous variation of the Humourless Man-Hating Feminist Defence. If this kind of comment is a cliche, it’s for the same reason that feminist texts from 30 and 40 years ago are still shockingly contemporary. Because women and men are equally socialized by the patriarchal system and both internalize its bullshit. Because nothing is changing.

I know it’s juvenile for me to retreat to my own safe(ish) space to rehash this. But there’s no point in my commenting further over there. It won’t achieve anything or change anyone’s mind. I’m truly shocked that a smart man can have such a horrid view of women. Especially since A Photo Editor has a self-identified feminist man contributing to it.

3 Responses to “in case you thought sexism was dead”

  1. Nan | wrathofmom.blogspot.com Says:

    Good for you for calling them out! And I agree with your perspective.

  2. NotSoSage Says:

    You know what I find so interesting about the If A Woman Was Involved In The Decision-Making It Can’t Be Sexist Defence? It exposes the lie to the whole thing. He was referring, of course, to the woman who chose the photo. However, one could reasonably make the same argument about the model: the model is a woman, she chose to participate in the shoot, wear the clothes, look at the camera that way. But he doesn’t use the model’s participation as the defense. And that shows that she is, in this scenario, merely an object for the male gaze. The woman who made the selection, whom we never see, is the one with the brain which, apparently, is immune to all the systemic sexist bullshit our culture raised us in (good for her). The model is…well, she’s just there.

  3. Reza A Tabibazar.» Blog Archive » Masculinity, femininity, LGBT and the shared experience … Says:

    [...] friend Kate posted on entry on her blog Peripheral vision, which led to my response on APhotoEditor seeing all the responses by men, an old wound of mine [...]

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