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October 07 2006

Mercedes McNab goes commando: Harmony gets the cover of the November Playboy. See Mercedes getting her kit off , very tastefully! (link goes to the Playboy site so Not Safe For Work).

All Gooners out there might know she is the daughter of Gunners 1970's star Bob McNab.

Also very photoshopped and not in a good way. Is anyone else creeped out by her eyes in some shots. Yes guys she does have eyes.

And all things being equal, why aren't there magazines like Playboy (Playgirl doesn't count) and Maxim for the women who would like to see the hot bods of some of the verse guys as well. I'm sure at least Tony Head would be up for it.

[ edited by RavenU on 2006-10-07 16:09 ]
I changed your link to the Playboy site so people can see the cover. I am aware that Mercedes' pics have turned up on dodgy soft porn sites and lesser fan sites so please don't link to them in the comments section. And from what I remember from the Charisma pics, Playboy take a very dim view of their pics being hosted elsewhere.
Thanks Simon was not sure linking to Playboy was allow here.

I wonder if she ever played football and is she any good?

[ edited by demon magnet on 2006-10-07 16:25 ]
Ravenu, I agree they're overly photoshopped, but the poses are quite tasteful, the settings and colors elegant, and Mercedes is lovely, including her eyes. I don't know enough about Playgirl to understand why it doesn't count, but I suspect if someone thought there was enough money to be made, there would be such magazines. Perhaps the ladies of the fandom could form a consortium and publish Slaygirl, the mag with men so hot they're to die for, or even Firefly, the mag with men so hot their flys catch afire.
Well, being a loyal follower of all things Whedon related I felt it was my duty to check the pics out. Obviously I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't been a Buffy and Angel fan... honest! ;)

Joking aside, the pics are really nicely done and, although I'm sure that RavenU is correct and there is at least a little photoshop involved there (isn't there always?), Mercedes looks incredible, as she always does.

Thinking back to the early years of Buffy I never imagined that Harmony would be a contender for one of the top three sexiest women of the Buffyverse but I'd definately reconsider that now. Lovely lady!
The beauty of the location really focuses your eye away from her...I don't think that should be the point in naked female pictorials. But she is a very pretty young woman, no doubt.
Erm, a little photoshop GrungerPunk ? ;)

Still, airbrushing aside she looks great, toned and healthy (assuming the airbrushing didn't go so far as to actually change her body shape - as with Kate Winslet a while back). As I said in the shortlived non-legit link's comments yesterday, I hope this has positive consequences for her, irrespective of the politics of her choice.

Re: women's version, I guess there's stuff like "Men's Health" you could look at though i'm not sure if they have celebrities in there. I think there's no 'Maxim' or 'FHM' equivalent for women because, frankly, the cultural prejudice is that women are not as base as men and so there's no market for those sorts of magazines. Or rather than a suspicion of sophistication maybe it's the old Victorian denial of female sexuality ?

Either way, kick up enough interest and make the right people take notice and i'm sure they'd start to pop up in their hundreds. If there's money to be made someone'll do it.

(BTW, despite the obvious pun I find "Test-drive the curvy Mercedes McNab" a bit offensive. I'm very far from being excessively PC, in fact I can't normally stand that sort of linguistic over-sensitivity, but the connotations of being controlled, being an inanimate object and basically being 'ridden' are a bit beyond the pale, IMO)
I don't know enough about Playgirl to understand why it doesn't count, but I suspect if someone thought there was enough money to be made, there would be such magazines. Perhaps the ladies of the fandom could form a consortium and publish Slaygirl, the mag with men so hot they're to die for, or even Firefly, the mag with men so hot their flys catch afire.


I haven't looked at Playgirl since the mid-90s when I quit working at a newsstand, but at that time, the pictures in it were mainly, IMO, targeted at gay men, who were also the ones who bought it. The men in them were shaved all over, oily, and posed, as in the gay mags. The conventional wisdom is that women don't like pictures as much as men. I have to agree with that, to an extent, because I've observed men liking pictures to an near psychotic degree. When they started talking to the porn mags, you had to kick them out. I had to 86 one guy who wasn't even in the porn, he was kissing the covers in the women's mag section.

The conventional wisdom is that women's porn is all in words, and you can verify the love of porn in words on any Buffy fanfic site, jvl. But everybody loves a beautiful picture. RavenU, you're a brilliant photographer. If anybody could start something like Slaygirl, it would be you.

And Saje, you confirm my refusal to look at Playboy and similar. I'm sure the pictures are nice but the copy makes my blood pressure spike.
And all things being equal, why aren't there magazines like Playboy (Playgirl doesn't count) and Maxim for the women who would like to see the hot bods of some of the verse guys as well. I'm sure at least Tony Head would be up for it.


Pretty simple: Money and marketing. To oversimplify: Men buy visual porn. Straight men buy porn featuring women, gay men buy porn freaturing other men. Depending on whose numbers you listen to, gay men make up 1/9th to 1/49th of the size of the 'straight men' demographic. If you assume that women don't play a significant role (e.g., the number of straight women who buy playgirl are essentially a wash with any lesbians who buy playboy), then erotic magazines featuring men are very to extremely behind the demographic curve. It would take several favorable factors (e.g., less competition in the erotic pictures of men market segment, greater purchasing of porn by gay men compared to their straight counterparts) for it to be profitable, since there are significant fixed costs to producing a magazine.

Of course, these same arguments apply to essentially any niche erotica. Since the Internet can attract paying customers worldwide and deliver content more cheaply than mail or newsstand, it's another nail in the coffin of print niche erotica: what erotic pictures of men you CAN buy, are increasingly likely to be offered online only.
Hot Damn! I love Harmony. <3
Yikes, did anyone see the picture of her behind the shower curtain? she should sue her surgeon for that.
Mercedes does not look like she's enjoying herself. Charisma looked like she was having a great time posing nude, and Mercedes generally seems to enjoy posing for photos, but she has the big grin on only when she's wearing something. If she ain't enjoying herself, I ain't enjoying myself. Beautiful woman, though, but women are more beautiful when they're happy.
I think it's more likely that the photographer said something like, "Give me a pout, Mercedes."
Yeah, I suspect they're aiming for a more 'arty' look with these what with the stately home setting, composition etc.

And art is serious, there's no smiling in art, just ask anyone ;).
I really like the whole scope of the last picture with her outside. These definitely had more of theme than Charisma's, which was just, "Windy and naked...occasionally on a rug."
Oh come on, does no one see the left nipple? I feel like the only sane person on this post.
Personally, I don't find being called insane offensive, but some of the other members might object. You might want to edit that comment?
And I can't say I know what you mean, no.
That's not a playful, play-acting pout. In some she looks grim. I prefer the theme of Happy Actress Naked in the Wind to that of Actress Having a Bad Time Surrounded by Expensive Stuff.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-07 19:48 ]
Pointy, I have the same preference, but I don't think she looks grim. I think the editor/photographer probably thought happy face wouldn't be appropriate in such a fancy setting. They take hundreds of photos in these shoots, and the human face is capable of over 10,000 different expressions. I'm sure they had their pick of expressions, plus I imagine the photoshopping influences facial expressions also.
My mind's eye is ruin forever. Now, what's this about Mercedes McNab?
I hope you are right, jaynelovesvera -- and I remember Mercedes looking happier posing with Adam Baldwin -- but I've got to go with the Pointy intuition.
She looks great on the cover, but where are you guys seeing the other pictures?
There's this search engine named something like "Go-Ogle"
Pointy, although I respect your Pointy intuition all the way to its apex, I only see one way to settle this--she's just going to have to pose naked again with Adam Baldwin. And we both need to be there to look at (only)her face in person.
I don't know what's more disturbing, this thread or the new BBC drama Robin Hood*. Both are going to take me a long time to recover from.

*Nearly as bad as Hex. Hilariously there's an actor from Hex whose one of the leads.
...Adam Baldwin. And we both need to be there to look at (only)her face in person.

Yeah, no need to look at Adam's face, we can probably guess at the expression (and it sure ain't grim).

Ah wait, I think I see what you mean ...

(oh bugger, missed it Simon. Still, if it's really that bad sounds like I may have dodged a bullet)
Searching BBC "Robin Hood". Oh my gosh!!
Simon, hope this thread isn't quite that bad. BTW, weren't we talking about bombshells?
Albeit blondes are not my thing, Mercedes had a very nice spread in this month's issue (it just came today)!
dreamlogic: "I'm sure the pictures are nice but the copy makes my blood pressure spike."

Lovely, dl, and for me, the copy is the dead giveaway, regardless of the attempts to be tasteful.

I wasn't gonna post in this thread, as I did all my stuff when this shoot was announced. Didn't want to further dignify or bore or discuss ad nauseum the difference between puritanism and my (ever-hopeful) desire for both sexes to achieve equal human dignity in presentation and cultural value. If that's what I mean.

I'll just say that I had fully intended to satirically merge/blend/photoshop (!!!) some photos of male Whedon'verse actors with the Harmony series and couldn't bring myself to humiliate a fellow human being in that way. Dunno what that says, but it says something and that something is meaningful.

Mercedes is certifiably lovely, and I'm sure as a capable actress she produced gazillions of expressions in what I'm sure was an extensive shoot. Many, many people were involved in choosing (and re-touching) these photos and the fact that these particular (mostly) vulnerable-looking expressions were picked was completely intentional. They mostly convey (to me) a sort of wistful desire to be elsewhere, but I may be projecting.

WHEDONesque, god love us, from the sublime to the ridiculous in a few days. It is indeed a thin line that separates the two.

I'm off to buy a mudflap with Alexis' silhouette posed on it...

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then." -- Don Weiser

"Because of our social circumstances, male and female are really two cultures and their life experiences are utterly different." -- Kate Millett

“I don’t know what immutable differences exist between men and women apart from differences in their genitals; perhaps there are some other unchangeable differences; probably there are a number of irrelevant differences. But it is clear that until social expectations for men and women are equal, until we provide equal respect for both men and women, our answers to this question will simply reflect our prejudices.” -- Naomi Weisstein

(Oh, and god bless Pointy and Saje for their sensitivity...)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-07 21:58 ]
Quite frankly, I don't understand what the badge of honor has ever been in posing for Playboy unless it's like what, a personal quest to overcome inhibitions or prove something to yourself. I like sensuality a lot in non-leering form but there's something about magazines that squicks me. I like Charisma and Mercedes but I have to say, just don't get it. The only centerfold that ever made me smile was the famous one Burt Reynolds did years ago in Cosmo. That had a sense of humor it did.
she's just going to have to pose naked again with Adam Baldwin. And we both need to be there to look at (only)her face in person.

Upon the condition that she truly finds it fulfilling and joyful to do so. But (a very big) if so . . .

Idea: Actresses who decide to pose nude should hire their own photographers and arrange their own shoots, so they have total control over how they are presented and can stick to doing only what they feel best about (at every level--emotional, moral, societal). They may have to take a cut in their posing fee to gain control, but I think the main financial reward is publicity anyway, and I can't see Playboy saying, no, we won't publish naked pictures of Mercedes McNab unless she does them with our photographers. Because their photographers tend not to capture the inner woman, who is the real woman, and the only woman I want to see naked.
But she didn't *have* to pose for Playboy. And if she was really uncomfortable, I'm sure they would have accomodated her.

I get what you're saying, Pointy, but it's not really possible to judge by a few photos where they were obviously going for a certain look, feel, theme, style, whatever, and so asked her to look a certain way, if she had moral or emotional objections to what she was doing.

And certainly none of the photos were lewd or hardcore-esque. They were very tasteful. If a bit too touched up.
1. No one's saying she had to.
2. I've read interviews with women who have posed for Playboy who said the photographers couldn't care less whether they felt comfortable.
3. If you can't judge by a few photos whether she found this photo shoot joyful and fulfilling, then you can't judge from a few photos whether her facial expression is the result of "going for a certain look, feel, theme, style, whatever."

But I do know my personal response to the pictures. Charisma obviously enjoyed herself. Looking at her pictures, I felt glad for her. Mercedes, obviously (to me at least), didn't enjoy herself. I thought, "Poor Mercedes. She usually enjoys photo shoots. Not this one." So the pictures of her make me sad.

My Pointy is rule, women don't have to take off their clothes for me unless they really want to and find doing so fulfilling and joyful. If they're just doing it as a career move, no thank you. I will appreciate their other gifts.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-07 22:54 ]
pat32082: "...it's not really possible to judge by a few photos where they were obviously going for a certain look, feel, theme, style, whatever..."

Of course it is. That's the whole premise of a photographic essay. I could convey all that in 5 or so photos, and they had (at least) sixteen.

And unless you have a gun at your head, or somesuch, you don't "have" to pose nude, in the strictest sense, but we've talked at length before about the difference pressures/expectations, etc. facing an actress as opposed to an actor, a woman as opposed to a man, etc.

And I also believe that many of these pressures are not overt, or stated, or, in such cases, even conscious, just as it is possible that her reactions and inclinations and possible inclinations may not have been either.

Obviously, no one can say how she felt, or what the art directors were overtly intending, beyond the obvious, etc. This shoot is like a million others in presentation, "taste" and thematic statement(s) -- she's nude, she's vulnerable, isn't she lovely, you can have her posed on a desk or up against a wall, or pull her clothes partially off (I would point out that a bra pulled down like that is usually uncomfortable) or just wearing heels like many and many a hackneyed fantasy...

"Very tasteful" is in the eyes of the beholder. But certainly you can convey a mood, a statement, theme, feel, style, etc. in considerably less photos -- I do so as a graphic artist all the time. And, by the way, occasionally subtly & intentionally subverting the mood, and get away with it, if so moved, inclined or offended by the material. It's one of the underground joys of being a commercial artist working occasionally in fields peopled somewhat by the exploitive.
Hey guys, chill out.

She looks great.

All photos for magazines or any other medium are photoshopped.

If you don't like it, don't look.
Wow, Ginny, thanks for clearing up all feminist issues of female objectification with "chill out" and "if you don't like it, don't look." Sorry, but that's going straight to the surface of the matter...

ETA: this.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-07 23:15 ]
Attractive young lass, even though she's photoshopped to hell.

Not a lot of frontal nudity this time around. It doesn't take a breain surgeon to figure out why. ;) Still, she's gorgeous, despite the nipular imperfection.
This may unleash a torrent of more biting sarcasm from QuoterGal, but...I agree with Ginny!
Um, QG, that part of my comment you quoted was actually supposed to tie in with the rest of the sentence, so what you had me saying, I really wasn't.

I wasn't saying you couldn't tell by the photos what the theme was they were going for, I was saying that given that they were going for a particular theme, and were asking Mercedes to look a certain way to fit with that, that you couldn't tell by the photos what she was truly feeling when they were taken, as Pointy seemed to be inferring.

That's all.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-10-07 23:32 ]

[ edited by pat32082 on 2006-10-07 23:32 ]
Since this site is devoted to a feminist writer, I think a discussion of feminist issues surrounding nudity is pretty appropriate. But anybody who doesn't like my opinion does have the option of not looking at it. :)

ETA If Mercedes is merely portraying a woman who's not enjoying herself, rather than being one, I'm still not going to enjoy the pictorial. It matters, from a feminist as well as a personal perspective, whether women take their clothes because they find it a fulfilling form of self-expression or because they find it necessary for their careers. It matters a lot. Much more than whether she's gorgeous, which she is, and about which there is no debate.

ETA As far as being quoted correctly, I didn't say Mercedes had "moral or emotional objections to what she was doing." I assume she has no moral objection to what she's doing and I don't know what an emotional objection is. I'm talking about artistic nudity that reflects "what they [the actresses] feel best about (at every level--emotional, moral, societal)."

Regarding the theme of the pictorial: What is it? Why would it be inappropriate for the woman in the picture to look happy? What aesthetic value is served by having her face show no joy, no pleasure, no happiness?

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 00:13 to make a little more sense. And then to add some more comments.]

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 00:16 ]

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 00:18 ]
Sorry, pat32082, that I misunderstood what you were saying, and quoted you out of context. I will, however, say further that despite your point, I agree with He-Who-Is-Pointy and I believe that a sensitive person can sometimes see beyond what the editors, art directors, advertisers, and photographers are consciously or unconsciously attempting to convey (beyond the need for a paycheck) and pick up some actual human emotion expressed by the posed human being inside of the dressed-and-posed image.

I will also say that the perceiver (me) will certainly also filter through their preconceptions and project their own emotions onto the model -- so the fact that Mercedes, to me, looks like she'd like to cut-and-run may says more about me than anything else, and simply be a Fig Newton of my (overly-empathetic-and-story-writing) imagination... But it also might be the subversion of some people involved in the magazine's graphic production. I've done it plenty.

TheJackal:"This may unleash a torrent of more biting sarcasm from QuoterGal, but...I agree with Ginny!"

Nah, I'm done. Seriously, can't convey to you how weary I can feel midway during one these kinds of discussions -- I love you all to bits, but it's been too many years, and too many roads, and too many sexist-but-unconscious-men (& women), and too many discussion groups, post-movie arguments, years spent arguing with art directors, too much photoshopping & strategic air-brushing and cropping, too many, too often, too much.

I'm fifty-one, and there are days that make me feel like little has changed in this respect and this may be one of them.

And yet obviously, I care passionately ("why are you so intense", "take it easy, it's just a magazine/book/story/movie/TV show/joke/relationship/flyer/brochure, etc.") -- hence the bitingness of the sarcasm.

But I think I may be done with this topic for today.

Playboy's Mercedes McNab Commando Spread was neither. Discuss amongst yourselves.
I'm glad QG linked the other thread, cause otherwise I'd just have to retype my trepedations about this kind of cheerleading for pornography.
Well at the end of the day, it's masturbatory fodder. It's not intended to be art or anything else so high minded. It's wank material. Let's be honest here.

It's a proud moment for our so-called feminist fandom, I'm thrilled. If people are comfortable with fans getting hot and steamy looking at Mercedes' pics and then associating them with her next time they see Harmony on the telly then that's fine with me.

And

Hey guys, chill out.


I get to say that.
Ginny wrote:
All photos for magazines or any other medium are photoshopped.

If you don't like it, don't look.


It's not a matter of looking or not and yes we know all photos are photoshopped. The point is the line of where it becomes blatently noticible. In this case who ever worked on hers eyes just crossed that line by a few miles, in the overall the photos are not the best given the person they are shooting is as lovely as Mercedes. They do her an injustice by photoshopping her as much as they did. She has done better photo shoots where they did not touch up her appearance as much.

Personally I prefer the other shots like FHM, Maxim, and Stuff because they seem to use all of their 1,000 words, where as these shots don't seem to use 100 most of the time.

Of them there is only 3 that I find interesting, one is the distant shot of her on the couch with the fur, the one where she is crouching on the floor, and the one where she is laying on the floor with her feet on the archway. Those seem to speak to me the most and have the most to say, only problem is they tend to speak to me of lonliness and a bit of sadness. When I look at them those photos make me ache and want to cry, I do not think that was their intention but it is my perception of them.

[ edited by RavenU on 2006-10-08 01:16 ]
"It's a proud moment for our so-called feminist fandom, I'm thrilled. If people are comfortable with fans getting hot and steamy looking at Mercedes' pics and then associating them with her next time they see Harmony on the telly then that's fine with me."

Well, lets say I grant what QG and Simon have so eloguently maintained, then who is to blame and what should we do? Should we say that Mercedes is somehow to blame? Or is the fault of Playboy? Or is it the fault of the consumer?

I think alot of the debate does center around what Simon said (I chuckled when I typed that) that truly this is masturbatory fodder, and its even more so when you consider what Pointy and QG have said about the theme and appearance of the photos. But more than that, I think this is truly a debate on where we draw the line between freedom of expression and speech and what a free and democratic society cannot allow. So my question to QG, if she would be so kind as to answer, is it worth drawing the line where you would want to if that means that we have less freedom for an issue that we seem, as a race, to be getting better?

To me, there are always trade-offs, and though I dont think that these photos represent the sexism spoken of here, if I grant that it does, is it worth it to draw the line where we do?

I heard a great quote once: "Mr. President, if our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isnt that too high a price to pay for free speech?"

"No, although I do think five dollars is too much to pay for pornography."
"Well, lets say I grant what QG and Simon have so eloguently maintained, then who is to blame and what should we do? Should we say that Mercedes is somehow to blame? Or is the fault of Playboy? Or is it the fault of the consumer?"

Why do you need to blame someone in this situation? The real question is, if we can identify so much problematic with pornography, why should we celebrate it?
Thank you, Simon, you get added to my Teeny tiny list of god bless 'ems as do ajay42, and Tonya J, and Pointy, I would formally ask for your hand in marriage if I weren't already partnered with an equally wonderful, non-sexist, thoughtful & intelligent partner.

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute." -- Rebecca West, "Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice," 1913

ETA: jerryst3161: "So my question to QG, if she would be so kind as to answer, is it worth drawing the line where you would want to if that means that we have less freedom for an issue that we seem, as a race, to be getting better? "

I'm not espousing any less freedom -- I absolutely do not believe in censorship. I do not want to forcibly stop what I see as sexist representation or participation, I want to raise the questions about it. Nothing I've ever said on here can be construed as to mean that. This is not at all about restricting freedom -- it's about seeing deeper into what we see.

(And that quote was from Pres. Bartlet on Sorkin's West Wing.)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-08 09:12 ]
Representations of the erotic are very important, and as someone pointed out, this is a site for appreciation of a feminist writer whose own depictions of sexuality have appealed to both men and women. This one apparently doesn't, and we're talking about why that is. I guess I'm going to have to break my own rule and look at Playboy to really join it.
dl, I've just e'd you a link to the photos...
LOL, that quote was from The West Wing good one QG, and if you havent seen Sorkin's new show, check it out. Studio 60 is great television.

"I'm not espousing any less freedom -- I absolutely do not believe in censorship. I do not want to forcibly stop what I see as sexist representation or participation, I want to raise the questions about it. Nothing I've ever said on here can be construed as to mean that. This is not at all about restricting freedom -- it's about seeing deeper into what we see."

But if you determine that these pictures objectify women and hurt the cause of feminism, then why shouldnt a moral person such as yourself try to put a stop to it? In other words, is simply raising the question enough when you claim that amount of damage is done? I think that when we claim that something does an incredible amount of damage, the argument cannot be that we simply need to raise awareness, we either need to go the way of censorship (which, like you, I am wholly against) or we need to teach, we need to celebrate (yes, celebrate), and we need to show how we can get to a point where we do NOT objectify women. In other words, I think we need more things like Playboy, such that we can then show how women are not objects and that through a liberal feminist approach we can garner a truly righteous and equal society.

Because in the end, wouldnt it be great if we could have playboys all over the place and not worry that someone is objectifing the women who grace its pages?

ETA: Honestly, I think we should hold this playboy up and revel in its greatness. We shouldnt shy away from it because someone objectifies the woman, we should marvel at the beauty of the female form, we should look at these pictures and love the beauty that is Mercedes Mcnab (and really any female or male), and by example show that our views on women are consistent with both what is right and what it means to be free. Its certainly an idealistic approach, but then im idealistic when it comes to these things.

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-10-08 02:12 ]
I was trying to think of how they could have used the same set and costume in a way that would have been more positive.

For instance, if the theme was Alanis Morrisette's "I recommend walking around naked in your living room," then it could have shown her feeling some kind of freedom to be herself when no one is around(except the photographer, of course, but she is an actress and could pretend to be alone).

Also, it looks like the kind of place Harmony would like living in, so a Harm-at-Home pictorial might have been clever.

The only theme I got from the pictorial they did was, "Here is a room full of beautiful objects. One of the objects is feeling either nothing or bad. But that doesn't matter, she's just there for you to look at." Which is depressing. And one of the reasons I shun Playboy.

Mercedes is really funny. "Harm's Way" was one of my favorite eps of Angel Season Five. And she's sexy as can be in her usual photo shoots. But in order to be sexy, you have to be a person, and I don't think this pictorial gave her the room to be more than a body. A perfect body, as far as I can tell, but it was like she was playing one of the 'verse's sex robots programmed by someone who didn't even care if she feigned happiness. Yuck.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 02:52 ]
I'm all for celebrating the beauty of the human body if the human in the body is in a celebrating mood. Otherwise, not really a party.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 04:07 ]
jerryst3161: "But if you determine that these pictures objectify women and hurt the cause of feminism, then why shouldnt a moral person such as yourself try to put a stop to it?"

jerry, you're not seriously saying that because I think it's important to raise the issue of and speak out against images that I feel degrade & objectify women, that I therefore & logically have some moral obligation either to support censorship -- which I find equally heinous -- or espouse & do some other activity which you define as "celebratory," which may or may not include advocating for more Playboy-like publications until their impact is blunted? Or some other activity that you would deem enough more than raising awareness?

For one thing, this thread alone backs up my assertion that consciousness in this area, in my opinion, still needs raising. (If in fact, that assertion needed proof.) And I believe that changing consciousness, and conveying it, is what most profoundly changes the world. Prohibition doesn't work (see US 1920 - 1933) and force doesn't work (see Wars: almost any country, almost any year in recorded history.)

Almost equally importantly, these moral issues are, for me, not a question of either/or -- as in, "if you believe in what you are saying, than you can either do one of two things" or "if you really believe in what you are saying, then you are morally obligated to" -- to what? I am morally obligated to do what I determine I must to think, live and feel like an integrated, whole being, whose expression, behavior and activities are as much in tune as possible with what I believe. As I do. This balance cannot be understood or known or judged by any other person than the "moral person" involved, i.e., me.

(And BTW, I don't think it hurts the "cause of feminism" -- I think it degrades humanity, more than half of which are female. I have no particular feminist agenda other than wanting to see all oppressed human beings able to enjoy the same freedoms and rights as those that are privileged by virtue of something they were merely born with or into. An unachievable and lofty ambition indeed...)

ETA: Pointy: "For instance, if the theme was Alanis Morrisette's 'I recommend walking around naked in your living room,' then it could have shown her feeling some kind of freedom to be herself when no one is around (except the photographer, of course, but she is an actress and could pretend to be alone)."

Love that song, and that is the photo spread I'd like to see -- produced by Mercedes and with a few other provisos I'd have, including "no smarmy copy." I'd celebrate that.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-08 02:54 ]
Thank you, QuoterGal! I knew I had untapped potential as a pornographer.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-08 04:31 ]
"jerry, you're not seriously saying that because I think it's important to raise the issue of and speak out against images that I feel degrade & objectify women, that I therefore & logically have some moral obligation either to support censorship -- which I find equally heinous -- or espouse & do some other activity which you define as "celebratory," which may or may not include advocating for more Playboy-like publications until their impact is blunted? Or some other activity that you would deem enough more than raising awareness?"

Of course not. My only point is this: if you see something bad its your moral obligation to change it or fight against it, which you are doing by raising awarness. I disagree that that is the way to go in this situation, but I claim no moral objectivity in the matter, it is simply my opinion backed up by arguments meant to make them more than plausible. In my estimation, raising awareness is something that we should do, but its is also my estimation that raising awareness does not do enough to change that objectification for reasons Ive outlined above. Doesnt mean that I am right, for in a world of true moral relativism the best I could claim is that I am relatively correct. But isnt it ok to question the tools we employ for social change even if those tools are personal? Even if Im just arguing against the argument you presented? For me, thats how I change, thats how I know that I am hardly, if ever, completely correct...the opposing views of those willing to debate. Thats what I am attempting here...

I am sorry if it came off in any way offensive, I certainly meant nothing more than to debate.
I don't think you're offensive exactly, jerry, and I get that you're debating & questioning, and good on you. Question away.

But your approach is simply very different than mine -- I can't imagine saying to someone, "well, if you this, than you must that." It's (to me) a somewhat limited perspective and and a bit black and white about the whole thing.

And it seems to have a touch of the old "how can you say you're a vegetarian when you wear leather." For instance, in my building, I first got our office to recycle, and then induced our floor to do the same.

The fact that I cannot for the life of me get my whole building to participate doesn't invalidate what I see as an achievement simply because it doesn't do it all. Nor does it make it the "wrong" approach because it's just one thread in the whole warp-and-woof of the, "we're running out of resources and we're drowning in garbage." One does what one can, or what one's good at -- as Harriet Vane used to say, "one's proper job."

So, yes, there are certainly many aspects of the "sexism in nudity depiction as it exists today in my society" that are not addressed by my pointing it out or raising objections or attempting to affect consciousness about what many people accept as "given" or "the way things are naturally."

For instance, people that are raising children -- both male and female children -- need to raise them equally and to celebrate their bodies joyfully. That is not my job, as I chose not to have children. I appreciate that some are doing that, my choice doesn't invalidate theirs, and to each their own way. Hopefully, these different paths work together.

And I don't believe ignoring what I find offensive about the Playboy spread, turning a blind eye to its essential emptiness, and just focusing on, "Wow, she's got a marvelous female form" works hand-in-hand with my consciousness-raising goals. To me, that's completely counter-intuitive, and a bit self-servingly disingenuous.

That's more than enough about that. But I really don't have to embrace and celebrate the depiction of the beautiful Mercedes' beautiful female form in a manner that I find sad, depleted, and objectifying, nor do I really believe that your approach is "idealistic" -- I think it's anything but. I don't "revel in its greatness" -- I feel bad that we still need to do this in this way.

(ET: fix one out of, I'm sure, a gazillion typos.)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-08 03:52 ]
Opposing censorship isn't moral relativism, it's asserting a positive moral value of freedom of thought and speech.
I don't think there is any thing wrong with men and women enjoying looking at sexy pictures. I have no problem admitting to the fact I have bought possibly illegal dailies in order to get an up close and personal view of JM.

Imo, the human body is very beautiful, and sex is a wonderful thing. I myself have enjoyed some very hot and steamy fanfic involving Buffy and Spike. I've had lust in my heart after looking at erotic manips of DB and JM.

My problem with Playboy and other pubs like it is the airbrushed, sanitised view of sexuality they offer. Any "imperfections" of a woman's body are edited out. The women are reduced to Barbie dolls.

In contrast are the photo shoots Amy Acker and Alison Hannigan both did several years ago and the pictures of JM in the In Shape mag and of DB in the bathtub (sorry, I can't remember the mag). They all looked sexy and real.

In this Playboy spread MM looks like a generic blonde. Imho.
Yup, Reddygirl, I agree -- and I believe the sanitization (?) and Barbie-fication (!!) are part of the objectification process. "Generic blonde" is a product, "Beautiful and sexy Merecedes going about what she might actually do or in line with her actual personality unairbrushed-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life" might actually be a gorgeous, sexy, real person. Which, imo, gets in the way of the objectification (wank) process for many people.

Overall, I love the gorgeous unused shots of Summer Glau from the Serenity poster shoot -- she looks (mostly) real, idiosyncratic, individual, and slightly deranged-and-dangerous. Highly posed, of course, and certainly playing a role, and cleaned up, of course, so "unreal" in many ways-- but like an entity with depth as well as beauty. Like a being. Unbelievably hot.

I'm sorry, but Mercedes almost looks like a plastic mannequin, and one of the photos is so touched-up she looks unbelievably scary, and as if her head was photoshopped onto another body -- which I'm sure wasn't the case.

God help us all. It makes me want to move to a mountaintop in Tibet or something.
"But your approach is simply very different than mine -- I can't imagine saying to someone, "well, if you this, than you must that." It's (to me) a somewhat limited perspective and and a bit black and white about the whole thing."

Though I embrace a relative look at life itself, including morality, It really is a difference between our styles because I think there are times when a valid form of inference is "if you this, then you must that". For instance, if you are a christian, then you must believe in Jesus Christ. Its not always true mind you, but it is at times. In this case, our disagreement is over whether the conditional I presented earlier is logically valid, and thats where the debate rears itself. It could be because I am a logician and a mathematician (and I like sci-fi, thats right I am that nerd...uh cool) as well, but I do think thats a valid form of logical interpretation and debate. Not everything is relative.

"And I don't believe ignoring what I find offensive about the Playboy spread, turning a blind eye to its essential emptiness, and just focusing on, "Wow, she's got a marvelous female form" works hand-in-hand with my consciousness-raising goals. To me, that's completely counter-intuitive, and a bit self-servingly disingenuous."

And no where did I argue that we should ignore the problem, I simply disagree as to the very nature of the sexism in question and the manner in which we should deal with said sexism. I understand that some people will objectify the woman in question, but I also understand that men will be objectified as well. What that doesnt imply to me is that these pictures are in any way a "bad" thing or that we need to raise awareness about the people who actively objectify the subject of these pictorials. What I think it does imply is that finding these pictures degrading does more harm than it does good and focuses on the aspects of the pictorial that should not be focused on, but more than that, it allows the mysoginist and chauvanist to run HOW you view these pictures because your condemnation revolves around the idea that some people will objectify the women within them. I dont want to ignore the problem, I want to go about defeating it differently than you, and I want to appreciate art for what it is and not for what OTHERS think of it.

Symbols have no meaning unless we give them meaning. Instead of allowing the chauvenist and mysoginst to dictate meaning, I think we should garner our own. I know we disagree and thats cool. Cheers.
"Plastic mannequin" is a perfect description. CC managed to avert appearing that way somehow and her photoshoot was erotic and sensual in the best sense of the word. But for Playboy that's a rarity.

Mr R has a subscription to Esquire and their "centerfolds" of famous women almost always make them look smart, interesting, individualistic. Never generic. Same goes for their photos of the men.
"What I think it does imply is that finding these pictures degrading does more harm than it does good and focuses on the aspects of the pictorial that should not be focused on, but more than that, it allows the mysoginist and chauvanist to run HOW you view these pictures because your condemnation revolves around the idea that some people will objectify the women within them."

What you're failing to address, jerry, is that I find the manner of the shoot degrading, and not the fact of it -- that I'm saying it's impossible for me to simply "revel in it" because that would entail ignoring the presentation -- i.e., wilfully pretending to not know or believe what I do, and ignoring the very objectifying I believe I am pointing out. You disagree that there's a problem with the shoot. Groovy. But that's my point, and, in fact, you beautifully illustrate it. I disagree that these aspects "should not be focused on" and I claim that trying not to see them is wilfull ignorance.

I think that your approach is the one that does more "harm than good" as it ignores and invalidates the reactions of women (& men) who see this as offensive in its objectification and its almost peverse vapidity, but, then again, I believe that consciousness needs to be changed about the very nature of these photo shoots and you don't, so naturally there's impasse on this notion...

"I dont want to ignore the problem, I want to go about defeating it differently than you, and I want to appreciate art for what it is and not for what OTHERS think of it."

You've demonstrably indicated that, in your opinion, the nature of this photo spread does not represent inherent sexism, so it's kinda (again) disingenuous to refer to it as a "problem" and imply you'd "wish to defeat it" when you don't see it that way.

And are you maintaining that this is art? Really?

"...because I think there are times when a valid form of inference is'"if you this, then you must that'.

Well, you made quite the logical leap from me saying "I find the nature of the spread degrading to women" to your "you have one of two choices if you feel that way, and one of them's censorship" -- so your "valid inferences" there seemed fairly limited to only two possibilities that you thought served your argument best, and ignored a whole host of other possibilities that I find equally inferrable.

"Symbols have no meaning unless we give them meaning."

The nature of agreed-shared-reality (culture) necessitates that we will also have shared symbols -- we individually assign them meaning, but we do so also as races, cultures, nations and all the other groups we belong to. This shoot has shared symbolic meanings in addition to whatever meaning you or I individually assign to it. It is those I am attempting to affect/address.

How 'bout this, jerry, instead of me twisting 'round my perceptions not to see this as sexist (as most women have been asked to do against the advice of their brains and hearts for most of their lives) we just start doing the shoots differently? May I ask how that would that be a problem for you?
"...because I think there are times when a valid form of inference is'"if you this, then you must that'.


Premises in logic are assumed to be true or false for purposes of determining validity. They're never "you" structured. And you left steps out of the formula for valid inference. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Awesome post, QuoterGal
This will go next to my Carpenter and Swanson issues, which are, oddly, still unopened.
"Premises in logic are assumed to be true or false for purposes of determining validity. They're never "you" structured. And you left steps out of the formula for valid inference. Correct me if I'm wrong."

If we study logic through variables then they are not you structured, but the sentence If you this, then must that is a conditional that can be generalized as If A, then B. We can question whether that implication is valid (whether the antecedent implies the consequent), we can go further and attempt modus ponens or modus tollens, when faced with other conditionals we can perform categorical or hypothetical syllogisms on these conditionals, and together these arguments become either valid or invalid and sound or unsound. It also depends on whether we embrace predicate or sentential logic, two different systems of logic meant to generalize philosphical arguments such that they can be seen within variable form.

"What you're failing to address, jerry, is that I find the manner of the shoot degrading, and not the fact of it -- that I'm saying it's impossible for me to simply "revel in it" because that would entail ignoring the presentation -- i.e., wilfully pretending to not know or believe what I do, and ignoring the very objectifying I believe I am pointing out. You disagree that there's a problem with the shoot. Groovy. But that's my point, and, in fact, you beautifully illustrate it. I disagree that these aspects "should not be focused on" and I claim that trying not to see them is wilfull ignorance."

So this argument isnt an argument about social norms or what other people believe, its an argument about what you believe? You arent trying to affect social change, you arent saying that OTHER people objectify women, you simply maintain that you find it degrading to you, but the inherent problem in that is that you arent the one doing the objectifying. However you believe it happens, you believe that these women are objectified, but its also clear that you arent the one objectifing them. If thats the case, then you dont dislike the photos because its all about you, you dislike it because other people react the way they do to it. And I maintain that my last post answers that query...

"You've demonstrably indicated that, in your opinion, the nature of this photo spread does not represent inherent sexism, so it's kinda (again) disingenuous to refer to it as a "problem" and imply you'd "wish to defeat it" when you don't see it that way."

That would be why, in my original post, I granted that it was a problem, I wanted to argue within the sphere that you were operating within. I dont believe there is that problem, but thats not what we were arguing, I tried to present the consequences and what I saw as incorrect notions about the problem in general such that when we got down to it you would come around to my side. Logically speaking, I assumed your side and tried to prove it wrong. If I assumed it was a problem to reveal the logical nature of my position, then it isnt disingenuous at all. Maybe I should have explained that better...

"How 'bout this, jerry, instead of me twisting 'round my perceptions not to see this as sexist (as most women have been asked to do against the advice of their brains and hearts for most of their lives) we just start doing the shoots differently? May I ask how that would that be a problem for you?"

It would be a problem because I subscribe to the notion that we shouldnt fix, what isnt broken. You know its funny, I once got into an argument with a member of the local chapter of NOW that I was apart of, and one of the things she told me was that as a man I am unable to argue feminism. At least without seeming sexist. That is sorta what it sounds like you are saying QG, Im just another man who is asking a woman to ignore what she knows to be correct because my penis disqualifies me from making true arguments about liberal feminism. I am not trying to twist around your perceptions of what you see nor do I think that I should, I am arguing against the argument you presented. And yes, I assumed your position and tried to show the inherent inconsistency in it, but what Amanda from NOW came to realize was that the only thing im interested in is equality. I think you are wrong that these pictorials objectify women, and I think that when you claim they do, you do so because other people do in fact objectify women (symbols gain meaning from people, society, or culture--and when you claim that these pictures objectify women, the pictures themselves arent what objectify them, its the men who employ them as masturbatory fodder or such as that). Im not denying that this happens, hell ive been guilty of it before, but in the end, its not the pictures that are bad, its our reactions to them and THATS why we should revel in them. Because you arent going to affect social change by inherently changing the process or the picture, you are going to do so by changing the heart of those who objectify women.

And yes, I believe playboy is art. But thats for another day.

ETA: I gotta tell you, its lucky that im latino in America because the simple fact that my mothers grandmother was born in Mexico meant that I got a scholarship to any Texas Public School. Of course, I look like any other caucasion American, so really I get dumped on by pretty much everyone for what my ancestors mistakenly held as true beliefs. Im not interested in that, thanks. Im not interested in getting ahead because Im latino and im not interested in getting dumped on because im a white male, what I am interested in is establishing the equality that is due every single person in the world and that includes myself. I dont believe that there is some inherent sexism in a playboy pictorial, and I dont think that that even if there was any that you solve the problem by changing the way the pictures are taken, by not allowing it to happen, or maintaining that the pictures are degrading to the woman in question. I believe you have to change the way we look at playboy (hence, we arent changing playboy because thats a violation of our inherent freedom--and a woman's choice to do these pictures), we have to change the way that those who degrade these women see women in general, and in so doing, we then do not gain the way we look at these pictorials through the perspective of those who look at them incorrectly. But more importantly, we then change the hearts of those who degrade women to the point where we can show them a playboy and objectification wont happen. Where they see women as the beautiful and equal creatures that we all are, and in that sense, thats what im searching for. I hope that thats what comes across when you read my argument.

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-10-08 07:13 ]
If we study logic through variables then they are not you structured, but the sentence If you this, then must that is a conditional that can be generalized as If A, then B.


You obviously studied logic longer than I did, Jerry. But no, the variables can't be so generalized, because you inserted a mystery operator that called the premises into question. I'm talking about basics here. If you're introducing "you" there has to be a symbol for that, that is fully interoperable with the other ones.
One way of changing people's hearts is through art. Art can humanize, art can demonize. We may not agree on which examples of art produce which effect, but I think most people recognize that Triumph of the Will brought out the worst in its viewers and The Diary of Ann Frank appealed to the better angels of our nature.

I think a few people on this thread (me for one) have distinguished between a pictorial that was humanizing (Charisma's expressed her personality, her self-confidence, her delight in delighting others with her beauty, all positive, loving things) and one that was objectifying (Mercedes', which employed her body like an inanimate object).

Actresses controlling the way they are portrayed nude, and consumers discriminating between portrayals that help and portrayals that hurt, can help change people's hearts for the better.

To paraphrase JW, I don't need to revel, I need something to revel about.

And to paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, good night.
"You obviously studied logic longer than I did, Jerry. But no, the variables can't be so generalized, because you inserted a mystery operator that called the premises into question. I'm talking about basics here. If you're introducing "you" there has to be a symbol for that, that is fully interoperable with the other ones."

Actually, I dont think you do. For instance, If you go to the store, then you must have legs can be logically generalized like this If A then B, where A is you going to the store and B is you must have legs. Thats a perfectly legitamate symbolization of the sentence. There are times when one employs predicate logic that force us to use operators such as "All" or "Some" and also force us to be very specific with key that we employ, but from a semantic and sentential logic perspective, its a perfectly fair and valid manner to act. For the rest, I am entirely too tired to continue tonight. Cheers everyone.
jerry, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but you have tired the hell out of me on this subject that I passionately care about. You seem to think this is about "winning" or "logically defeating" or somesuch, when for me, it was mainly an attempt to wade through the various levels of your discussion to communicate. With you.

Truly, are you sure that you convinced the woman from NOW that you are only interested in equality? Or did you just tire her out with the kind of arguments that convinced me that my Philosophy Major was a dead end to actual wisdom, and switched me to English and Drama, where I vastly preferred their brand of "sound and fury signifying nothing."

You keep trying to set the terms in what I can only call logico-philoso-speak that seem to miss entirely the gist and heart and soul of what I'm saying, and you use phrases that seem utterly irrelevant to the way I perceive the world, such as "incorrect notions" and "logical nature of my position." And you seem to think that it's possible to "prove me wrong" -- which bypasses trying to understand what I'm saying about, among other things, feelings and perceptions, and also prevents your truly sharing something that obviously matters to you. At least, you haven't effectively shared it with me.

And I'd lay odds and put up cashy-money that what you are saying is completely anti-convincing to anyone reading this exchange.

Jerry, this was, for me, a discussion that combines how I react to the shoot, with my notions about what it may convey or how it may effect other people, combined with a kind of holistic world view that simply cannot be broken down into only the simple, separated logical strands that form the basis of your arguments.

And frankly, Jerry, I don't believe that your "we can go further and attempt modus ponens or modus tollens" is an actual attempt to communicate with me. I think it's an example of the kinds of things you've said here that prevent actual and full exchange between us. If you're really serious about attempting to persuade or convince people of something, empathy, sympathy and communication skills go a lot farther than waves of unadulterated self-styled logical verbiage. I sincerely doubt that you thought those terms would convey anything meaningful to me.

I don't think that your being a man and having a penis prevents you from making "true arguments about liberal feminism" (though, again, this is not how I would describe either my concerns, position or intent.) Without getting too personal, I would point out that pointy qualifies as a "man," as so do many others on this thread, and I would never presume to disqualify or invalidate anyone's position or perspective on those grounds.

I do think it's broke, I do think it needs fixing, and the evidence of the masculine/feminine inbalance in this world lays about strewn in smoking ruins around us. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and I think great injustices can stem -- do stem -- from these smaller imbalances and injustices and inequalities. And I think these smaller discrepancies also represent hologrammatically greater disparities.

I said I was "so done" with this a long time ago, and then I so obviously wasn't. I persisted with what I find in general so repetitive and wearying and downright distressing because it matters to me, and I'm happy to communicate about and discuss topics I think are so important.

I don't argue within someone's "sphere" for the sake or argument -- I say as clearly and concisely what I think and feel about stuff that matters to me. Period. But not on these terms -- to me, they are truly alien and meaningless. If anyone wants to continue this discussion, feel free to email me at the address in my profile -- but not if they think it's about proving me to have some logical fallacy in my position or something -- I truly could not care less. If it's about presenting a point of view that I may not have considered, then fine, have at it. But it needs to be their actual point of view and not something assumed for the sake of some theoretical position. To me, that's truly "masturbatory fodder."
If you go to the store, then you must have legs can be logically generalized like this If A then B, where A is you going to the store and B is you must have legs. Thats a perfectly legitamate symbolization of the sentence.


That's not even remotely your argument. It's more like If A (I have legs), and B (I want to go to a store), then C, I must want to go to the Hustler store, because everybody with legs would want to do that.

I wasn't actually trying to argue that "you" could be a logical operator, I was trying to talk you out of it.
Oh, brother. Can this get thread get ANY more stupidly serious?

Mercedes is a beautiful young woman capable (one would think) of making decisions for herself. She's not an object or an icon for the ages. I highly doubt she wants to be either one.

It's a playboy spread. She looks great. Big whoop. Get over yourselves. *eye roll*
Get over yourselves. *eye roll*


Play nice. An intellectual discussion about Mercedes' photoshoot makes a refreshing and pleasant change from the moronic "she's got nice tits" posts that happen elsewhere.
jerry - I never studied logic but two of your examples immediately make me doubt your arguments about sexism/objectification. Try telling certain 20 century quakers
"if you are a christian, then you must believe in Jesus Christ."
Alternatively,and in a context where it's easier to see the truth of the matter - I'm sure my friend on a wheelchair would disagree with the idea that:
If you go to the store, then you must have legs

Surely logic must flow from an agreed/true starting point and without that we'll just be going around in cricles. As it is I'm left wondering whether you are saying that porn (or at least playboy) does not objectify women, that objectification is a good thing, or something else entirely.

also
and when you claim that these pictures objectify women, the pictures themselves arent what objectify them, its the men who employ them as masturbatory fodder or such as that). Im not denying that this happens, hell ive been guilty of it before, but in the end, its not the pictures that are bad, its our reactions to them and THATS why we should revel in them.

I can't overlook the fact that the pictures seem to me to be 'designed' to appeal to those who, to use your phrase, "look at them incorrectly". I gain that impression from what I 'read' as the intent of the photograher/editor especially when combined with the 'test drive' wording. Don't you see this as of any relevance at all to the role of the pictures themselves - ie their role in context?

added on preview: I got called to the phone when about to post this so sorry if it seems out of sync. It was a response to Jerry at 06:47 and 07:49.
Just a quick look-in before sleep to say I just watched Joss's "Equality Now" award speech again and I feel everso much more hopeful -- it's remarkable how his light touch and quicksilver combination of humour and simplicity and gravitas is at once reassuring and uplifting.

So, good-night and, um, god bless us, every one.

(Also, dreamlogic and purplehazel, I like your brains...)
Jerry said: It really is a difference between our styles because I think there are times when a valid form of inference is "if you this, then you must that"

dreamlogic said: It's more like If A (I have legs), and B (I want to go to a store), then C, I must want to go to the Hustler store, because everybody with legs would want to do that.

I'd imagine you're kidding here dreamlogic because that's clearly not what Jerry's saying (despite his poor choice of example re: store/legs as purplehazel points out, the idea that some things logically follow from others is a foundation of all our reality). His initial remark was in relation to the fact that he thinks that from QuoterGal's position against the objectification of women must also logically follow a tangible attempt to stop magazines like 'Playboy' being published (since they're partly guilty of the objectifying). Logically his statment could be stated along the lines of "If you are adding 1 to 1, you must end up with 2" i.e. the fact that the word 'you' is in there may make it seem less abstract but it doesn't need to.

Which seems to me to miss the idea that QuoterGal believes raising awareness is a way of stopping the objectification of women (i'd say it is) and that raising awareness would also probably a) lead to diminishing sales for publications that objectify women and then b) either those publications change or go out of business, therefore, there's less objectification in the world (swap women for men as appropriate, BTW, we're all objects now ;).

Must say, I know you guys are probably tired (and probably tired of arguing) but a bit of ad hominem (ad huminem ? ;) seemed to creep into the discussion on both sides (in the usual hyper-civilised Whedonesque fashion ;) and i'm also not a big fan of the idea that feelings somehow trump reason. They do for the individual concerned but then in that case all of our bletherings are totally irrelevant since there is only one person concerned whose feelings matter and that's Mercedes McNab.

If she felt exploited or degraded then she was, us feeling it on her behalf (or not) is irrelevant. Pointy for instance doesn't like her expressions - and I can see why - but that is his/our feeling on the matter, we cannot possibly know hers without further information. Similarly, Charisma seemed much happier in her photos but she is an actress so it would seem at least plausible that she could pretend to be happy while dying a little inside, again we don't know and so whatever we read into either woman's appearance is down to our own subjective take.

That said, it's exactly my privileging of objective reality over my own internal state which makes me question jerry's central point (as I see it) that we can continue to publish objectifying photos and yet somehow just change ourselves so that objectification no longer takes place. The external world informs our inner one (unless we're bonkers. Or politicians ;) and so it seems to me that one way to change our inner temptation to objectify is to change outer representations of women which objectify. Given the link between the outer and inner world, i'd say that stands to reason.

(to take an extreme example jerry, if the photos showed Ms McNab dressed, posed and made up to look like a doll - Barbie or whatever - could you still say, "Well, the photos don't objectify, we do" ? I'd say not. The fact that the extensive air-brushing, offensive accompanying text and facial expression don't objectify her by your standards doesn't mean she's not being objectified)

Finally (cue relief all round ;), i'd like to say semi-seriously that I resent the implication that using photos (or mental images) of your gender of choice to masterbate is in someway inherently degrading to that chosen gender. Like, huh ? People have used external or internal images of naked people to arouse themselves (and others) for like, ever. Only if you see the chosen gender as solely being there for that purpose and not as human beings, actual and whole, (which you can choose to do no matter how well taken the photos or de-objectified the subject) does it become demeaning or objectifying. In short, we're all a bunch of wankers (or have been) and I don't see much wrong with that and if being a feminist means not enjoying images of naked women full stop then you can include me out.
Nah, look & wank away with bells on, Feminist Dude, that was never my point.

From the previous objectification discussion thread: "Context is all."

As is sleep, which knits up the raveled sleeve of something-or-other.

ETA: re "feelings trumping reason" -- also not my point or premise, that would be as bereft as reason trumping feelings. Which I suspect is where jerry was trying to come from -- but his feelings about the subject kept creeping in and blowing his argument. In my opinion, and as they are wont to do, when overtly or on the surface, left out of the equation.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-08 12:19 ]
Ah, well to me reason does trump feelings but feelings are extremely important and often drive reason.

E.g. when I watch two men kiss in a sexual way, I feel disgust but I can then use reason to 'explain to myself' that this is just because of societal norms, upbringing and basically my own prejudice and that, objectively, there's nothing wrong with it.

(likewise, when I see a steak I feel hungry and want to eat it but reason tells me that, philosophically at least, meat-eating is a bit difficult to defend. I still do eat it though, i'm just a hypocrite in the process - I guess sometimes feelings do trump reason after all ;)

I agree though that it's difficult to completely erase your feelings from any discussion and that, no matter how careful you are, your own feelings on a subject usually come through. Better just to get 'em out there I reckon.

(I also agree you should go to bed, what is it like 4 am over there ? ;)
Saje, word (or in this case many words). You are a wise human, let no human tell you differently. And no, it isn't just because I agree with all your points this time out, but it helps.

Anyone have publishing connections? The collected musings in this thread could make a nice coffee-table book. Toss in a few pictures from the ouvre of the talented Ravenu--non-nude please, or we'll never stop discussing long enough to get the darn thing to the printer, and we're there. Did I spell "ouvre" right? I have enough problems with English words.
Saje: "I agree though that it's difficult to completely erase your feelings from any discussion and that, no matter how careful you are, your own feelings on a subject usually come through."

I don't know how to say this just right, because I am tired, and prolly running out of the words I usually have access to, but I must say, unless I'm talking about a purely mechanical or somesuch process ("well, the lever is pulled here and then the gear moves there") I would never attempt to erase my feelings from a discussion -- that concept is seems (please forgive me, I just don't know any other way to describe it) so masculine to me, and so inadequate. So working with just one side of the brain.

I don't mean "masculine" as in "you are a man" but as in the concepts of masculine and feminine principles, and in our culture, the feminine-associated idea of "feelings" tends to be regarded as lesser or subordinate to the masculine-associated idea of "reason." Why view erasing one side of this combo as favourable or a goal? I don't, and I don't take it as read, a given, a fact, or a goal.

I want reason & feeling hand-in-hand and working together. I know that sounds completely soppy, but, as I said, I'm tired and can't put it any other way.

"Because equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it.

We need equality. Kinda now."

-- Joss Whedon, "Equality Now" speech, May 15, 2006

“Writing allows mediocre people who are patient
and industrious to revise their stupidity,
to edit themselves into intelligence.”

—Kurt Vonnegut


I reckon I might qualify as 'writer' on here jaynelovesvera which might skew the results but thanks man ;).

I know what you mean QuoterGal but I just feel ( ;) that i'm steered wrong less often by reasoning things through than I am by listening to my feelings (as with the gay kissing example above). That is, if I had to pick just one, i'd pick reason but i'm very glad we have both (as I say, feelings help you pick the things to reason about, drive the impulse to think in the first place and generally make life worth living).

In truth though, I am probably quite 'masculinised' (if i'm understanding that term correctly) in that i'm in a technical profession, put a lot of store in abstractions and probably less in people than I should and generally distrust subjective experience as necessarily being a reliable indication of the state of the world (a religious friend once asked me if i'd believe in God if 'he' appeared before me and I replied that i'd assume my own insanity first and require external confirmation of his appearance - I wasn't being entirely serious but I wasn't entirely joking either ;).

That said, I think a lot of 'feelings' are just intuitive reasoning in disguise and i'm all for intuition. It strikes me as a very handy short-cut to correct conclusions quite a lot of the time (kind of like some part of you must be calculating trajectories every time you catch a ball, but somehow we 'just know' how to do it).

(and I was partly just talking about the personal bias which strong feelings can engender, as above where I don't agree with jerry's position but also think it's very important with emotive subjects to take extra care not to mis-represent other people's arguments - or even just to appear to)
I'm so sorry I stepped into this thread :(
I'll jump in here, because why not? Everyone else has.

It seems to me that the problem with thinking about this issue through a reason/feeling dichotomy (which is what this discussion has turned into) is that the subject matter itself is about feelings. The subject at hand is not whether a given picture of a given woman compels people logically to think of women as objects (whatever that might mean); it's whether such pictures (in the aggregate, although we are looking at specific examples) make people feel like (or feel like it's okay to feel like) women are objects.

Trying to erase feeling from the conversation renders the point of the conversation moot.

Similarly, trying to argue only from a personal-feeling-centric point of view ("this is how these pictures make ME feel") also ignores the main point of the discussion (the effect of such pictures on the whole).

Can one revel in the human form? Of course. Should one? Of course. Can one revel in de-humanized, objectified depictions of the human form? Of course. Should one? Maybe not, but we all do so all of the time, and it's probably a basic part of human nature. (This is not to say that it's okay nor is it to say that we shouldn't try to avoid it, and it is certainly not to say that we should ignore the way that certain groups of people get reduced to objects much more often than others.)

[ edited by Septimus on 2006-10-08 16:19 ]
The reason/feeling dichotomy is interesting because the classic definition of the differences between art and pornography has always been "I know it when I see it", indicating each beholder has his own standards of what is offensive and what is simply art or the celebration of humann sexuality.

Imo, CC's spread was beautiful but MM looks posed like an inflatable doll.
I'd imagine you're kidding here dreamlogic because that's clearly not what Jerry's saying (despite his poor choice of example re: store/legs


Yes, I was kidding there, but I wasn't entirely kidding about the logic stuff. Jerry claimed to be a logician. Logic is an attempt to reduce (reduce as a technical term, not pejoritive) reason to a formal system, like mathematics. All statements and arguments can be expressed in symbols. Premises must be either true or false, and introducing "you", or "self" is problematic. How can that be properly symbolized?

Logic isn't very useful outside of the theory of computer science, and it's of absolutely no practical use in working with computers. There's a reason why only total dweebs, such as me, study it.
Was gonna post, then Septimus did, so I need not. (Others also very helpful, but some posts are too long to be followed even by a very sharp stick).

Best,
Counselor Troy
(This is why) I fail to understand why people have such a problem with sexuality. Come on, it's a way of our life. To deem reproduction as dirty is just plain silly. It's necessary. I trust I don't need to go into details of that matter.

The topic in hand, Meredes decides to show off her birthday suit. So? I see no problem with it. She's a grown woman and if she has no problem exposing it, I have no problem staring. I'm a mature male afterall.

Which beings us to the main topic. Censorship. Yes, boys and girls, it's a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line? I feel that's different for each of us, but should that information be denied from you? How does that make you feel? Enough, stepping off the box.

BTW, Mercedes is looking nice. Grrrr....
Pointy, I always find your schtick sharp enough to follow any post.
MadHatter, I'm not sure I agree with either of your two assessments of the "topic at hand."

First of all, this isn't about having a "problem with sexuality." I don't think anyone has suggested that it is, or that sexuality, nakedness, sex, etc. are dirty or bad. The argument debate going on here is about exploitation and objectification, which are different from sexuality (one hopes), or about NOT finding the photo spread particularly aesthetically/sexually satisfying.

Secondly, the "main topic" is not censorship. Again, no-one has advocated censorship, even those who find the spread distasteful or offensive or ugly or whatever. So, while there is a "slippery slope" that could lead to censorship, I'm fairly confident that rational discussion and criticism of things that one finds socially troubling need not be a step down that slope.
She's got nice tits.

(I'm joking. Although they are compellingly bumpy).

Anyway, as Simon said, it's wank bait. People pay money to get pretty pictures of MM in Playboy. I wouldn't say it's anybodies fault - supply and demand. Personally, I'm not interested.
Aw, jlv, give us a big manly hug! And, go Septimus! Cuz my fingers hurt.

But not for the reason gossi thinks!
Yeesh. I step away for a few days, I come back, and I immediately wind up in my sophomore Intro to Philosophy class! Did I time travel?

I'll be honest and say I don't really see the big deal here. Certainly whatever may be offensive/questionable to some about these pictures can't be worth spilling this much ink over...
Accepted. Welcome, Septimus.
I'm interested, but disappointed. I'm a long time Playboy reader and I've spent the last few years or so mourning the loss of their playfulness and "girl next door" focus. It seems to me that they're fighting the easy available of nudity online with models that are photoshopped to be impossibly lovely, impossibly perfect, more or less interchangeable, and (to me) impossibly boring.

The problem with this photo spread is not that Mercedes is naked. Yay for that, I'm a big fan of the unclad female (or male) form. The problem is that the photos do not in any manner say "Mercedes" to me. No personality, no whimsy, no sensuality beyond what was plainly dictated by the photographer. There was nothing to distinguish this from any other of a thousand similar shoots in these pages, and I think she deserves more than that.
What Willowy said.
By now I think this thread has more strands than the threads Mercedes usually wears.
heh... I, for one, enjoyed this thread more than the spread that started it all!
That will make two of us.
Oh, brother. Can this get thread get ANY more stupidly serious?

Mercedes is a beautiful young woman capable (one would think) of making decisions for herself. She's not an object or an icon for the ages. I highly doubt she wants to be either one.

It's a playboy spread. She looks great. Big whoop. Get over yourselves. *eye roll*


Thank you Willowy for typing what I'm thinking! Saves me the button pressing effort. *hugs for everyone*
(100 comments was such a nice number to leave this thread at, but no can do, got a few last notes...)

What I was discussing in this thread

The depiction of women in Playboy and other venues in popular culture as objectifying, dehumanizing and commodifying & its significance in a number of respects, sexism, and later, how we can find a common language and communicate, masculine and feminine principles, and a few other tributories that led off these main streams.

What I was not discussing

Censorship, sexual repression, Mercedes' ability & right to make decisions, whether naked pictures of women & men should be created & enjoyed, whether pornography should be created & enjoyed, feelings as trumping reason, sexuality as degrading to females, the definition of true feminism, the "question" of Mercedes' obvious loveliness and whether it's somehow wrong to wank off looking at nude or sexual photos. I also wasn't talking about a host of other subjects that were somehow extrapolated from my comments.

Posters' reactions seem to vary from finding the subject stupidly & overly-serious to edifying and stimulating. All that's groovy, too. As someone who has frequently sought to understand the deeper meanings of the expressions of popular culture, being exhorted to "Chill out" and "Stop taking this so seriously" are not unfamiliar reactions, though a little surprising to find on WHEDONesque. We are fans, after all, of, among other productions, a TV show that has spawned a veritable slew of academic explorations of its popular culture icons, and which was created by a feminist writer/producer. I imagine one's reaction to this discussion reflects one's opinion of this subject as valid or worthy of discussion, for whatever reasons.

Do I spend this much juice daily on Playboy and on the all-to-frequent and non-naked dehumanizing depictions of women in popular culture? No, of course not. I live in the world, as do you all, and could not possibly spend all my days feeling this much, expressing this much, and trying to communicate this much about phenomena that occur with such regularity. Nor would I walk into someone's house and remotely feel called upon to comment upon their possession of Playboy, wank mags, pornography, or almost anything else. I went into this subject with you all because, for the most part, I respect the intelligence, creativity, communication abilities, and all-around aura of good faith expression that usually prevails around here. I don't do this often, and rarely with this amount of people. It matters too much to me to frequently and indiscriminately expose myself this publicly about some principles I believe so profoundly and subjects about which I feel so strongly.

But do I feel that this thread is somehow a over-spending of "ink"? No, what else should I be doing? This exercise sharpens wits, improves writing & communication skills, forces the examination of one's beliefs, exchanges ideas and shares emotions, spurs creativity, and contributes to having an examined life. This, to me, is a pretty damn good use of my time.

Do I want to do this all the time on WHEDONesque? No, of course not, how emotionally and intellectually impossible, and, not incidentally, what a bore.

But it was interesting to see what y'all thought about this subject, and how y'all communicate. I enjoyed it.

ET: fix grammar...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-09 02:55 ]
The depiction of women in Playboy and other venues in popular culture as objectifying, dehumanizing and commodifying & its significance in a number of respects, sexism,...


Why did you email Dreamlogic a link to the pictures as surely you are then cobtributing to that process
An intellectual discussion about Mercedes' photoshoot makes a refreshing and pleasant change from the moronic "she's got nice tits" posts that happen elsewhere.

Quite so, Simon.

I've gotta say, I tend to stay out of conversations like this--they get a bit too long and too heated for me--but I do skim them, and love this site for having this sort of thing happen.


And on a side note: I've seen Charisma's photos, I've looked at Mercedes's, and as a male who has seen and enjoyed the occasional picture of naked women (shhh, don't tell anyone, I'm repressed) I just don't find them appealing at all. Too posed, too lacking in life--which, when you think about it, is kinda vital to anything sexual. Neither of the too is among my favorite Whedonverse actresses, and I honestly think that if one of my favorites ever did a shoot like this, I'd prefer not to see it. I would, out of sheer curiosity, just like now, but I'm pretty sure I'd regret it.
This thread got me thinking quite a bit and helped me develop an opinion about art and beautiful naked people -- so thank you!
Like Telltale (whose statement I strongly agree with, especially about posing=no life=not sexy), I've been afraid to step in to this thread because of the strong feelings and opinions being stated. I have lots of praise for the people who have used their passion to state their viewpoints, even those with whom I haven't agreed. I don't think it's fair to tell people to "deal with it" or "chill" when they are stating something so important to them, so I'm glad that people continued writing even when others were trying to shut them down a bit. Personally, I agree most closely with QuoterGal, and Saje, Pointy, Telltale and others have also made points that really rang true for me, but, again, props to everyone who stated their opinions without resorting to insulting those who disagreed.

As I had said in our previous thread about this, human form great, enjoying human form (even wanking about it) great, turning someone into only an object for wanking, not so great. Making a person into a blemish-less, airbrushed, ideally shaped, lifeless or "lively-less" sex toy lessens our appreciation of their natural beauty, and continues to "teach" that only perfection is sexy, which lessens not only those of us who are "flawed" (which, stop me if I'm wrong, would be all of us) but also lessens the beholder, who otherwise would easily and constantly realize that beautiful is all around us, and consists of more than creamy skin, idealized proportions and strong limbs.

A nice heart and a nice mind are really, really sexy, too, but I realize those don't photograph as well as unclothed bodies, so let the photographing of our unique human forms continue. It's totally great for those of us who want to do so to express our sexuality with nakedness or near-nakedness, but I wish we didn't have to be airbrushed into pouting perfection before we are "pretty enough" for others to notice and say, "Hey, nice tits" (or "Hey, nice package" for those of you inclined toward appreciatin' the menfolk).

My consciousness-raising goal is to bring sexy back -- to individuality, to personality, to uniqueness, instead of just celebrating the niceness of tits or packages. ;-)

[ edited by billz on 2006-10-09 03:55 ]
Mods, please forgive me for posting off-topic. I sincerely hope the deletion of the recently posted link regarding Terry Pratchett's new book, "Tiffany Aching", about a young, Buffy-esque, female witch and her adventures with the Wee Free Men, was not done to suppress the reviewer's comparison of Pratchett's work to that of my good friend Robert Frost, the poet.

While I admire Mr. Pratchett's work immensely, it saddens me to report the character of Tiffany Aching appears not to be his own creation. The mention of Robert Frost in the linked item recalled to me a package I received in the post from Mr. Frost shortly after his death. He left the question of publishing the poem below up to me. Frankly, I had no intent to let it see the light of day, as I do not think it is a very strong work. In fact, I feared its release might harm my good friend's reputation, but in light of this new development I feel I have no choice. To wit:


Tiffany Aching

by Robert Frost

Oh, Tiffany Aching
I do hear you waking
And roaming around the house.

I follow you slowly
So you'll hear me no'. See,
I'm quiet as a mouse.

I'm doubly suspicious
Cause you washed the dishes
Last night from your bedroom.

I think you was witchin'
To clean up the kitchen
And I found your Jet Blue broom.

Now what's that you're making?
What could you be baking ?
It smells like me favorite she hen!

"Who's there ?" you do cry,
As the pan I espy,
Why, you're baking your Wee Free Men!

"They drove me to anger,
making fun of Pink Ranger
Like you and your stupid Star Wars".

It's not stupid I said!
"Shut up or you're dead!
And I"ll wish your corpse off to Mars!"

"Boy, I'm gettin' the urge
To witch you an' Yoda to merge!".

Oh! don't do it!, I cried
As I ran off to hide

I'd rather see two roads diverge!


edited due to idiocy, part 2

[ edited by jaynelovesvera on 2006-10-09 10:31 ]
gards39: "Why did you email Dreamlogic a link to the pictures as surely you are then cobtributing to that process"

Oh, dear lord, sweet garda39, one can't discuss something visual if they haven't seen it. (I almost wasn't gonna post a response to you, but then it occurred to me you might be serious and I should.)

I also read articles by neo-cons, with whom I don't tend to agree, because I want to know what they are saying. I don't just read or look at the things I like or agree with -- how limiting and pathetic that would be. And I want/need to stay as informed as possible.

It's true that, believing what I believe, I wouldn't lay out cashy-money to support the publication, but I make it a point to find some way to inform myself about many topics of importance, especially topics posted on WHEDONesque, and a website is a great way to do that. And I passed it on to dl because she expressed a wish to have a better understanding of what we were discussing. What do I care if they rack up another whole hit on their site? It doesn't contribute to the process of dehumanizing depictions of women in popular culture. It's a web hit, and basically meaningless.

If you want to find inconsistencies or holes in my positions, there are truly much better examples in what I've written.

And I have been a vegetarian who wears leather. It's fun!

(Again, I am a soppy sap and I heart pointy, billz, Telltale, and many others who participated in good faith, which is really the best part of WHEDONesque.)
Back on topic: billz, well said ,young man!
As I'm thinking about this (and am finally brave enough to post about), and as jlv had pointed out for me when we were debating this question a few weeks ago, if we are going to talk about the impossible idealization/objectification of female beauty, let's talk about idealized/objectified male beauty, too.

Here’s how ridiculous the idealization of pretty is, even for men: I remember an interview with Nathan Fillion after Serenity came out where he said that when he saw himself on the big screen, he thought his nose looked big. Look, maybe this was mostly a statement of humility on Mr. Fillion’s part, and for that I respect him tremendously, but, ffs, if the standards of beauty are so high that that guy doesn’t think he’s pretty enough, where the f*** does that leave the rest of us?!?

Please, for the love of all that's holy, society, can't we all just love our unique IMperfections?

BTW, feelin' the love right back for QG and jlv. Aw, you guys! ;-)

And, because I can't believe no one's said it yet (or has someone?):

It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think. -- Joss Whedon, "Objects in Space", Firefly

Oh, dear lord, sweet garda39, one can't discuss something visual if they haven't seen it.


Unless you were looking for another "discussion partner" ,apart from the ones already in the thread at that point , I still don't see how providing a link to Dreamlogic is not contributing to the process you were speaking out against.

After all it's not your problem if Dreamlogic couldn't find the pictures online and therefore had to refrain from further comment
billz, you're not supposed to remember what I posted a few weeks back. If you do you'll discover I recycle my comments every 18 days, adjusted as needed for holidays. I almost copped to it upthread when QuoterGal posted about her nobler recycling efforts. Your plea for accepting our own IMperfections and reference to my past post puts my conscience over the top, hence I cop.

ETA: billz, before enacting your laudable plan to have all persons embrace their IMperfections, it occurs to me we should first devise a comprehensive economic plan to offset the financial losses when people no longer purchase makeup, hair dye, teeth whiteners, acne creams, and the much-maligned PhotoShop. Oh, and we musn't forget razors. Gonna be a lot of hirsute females out there.

[ edited by jaynelovesvera on 2006-10-09 05:16 ]
I dont know, I think any intellectual discussion is a good thing, and though im done for now, Ill just say that on another site, there are 50 or 60 comments which are debating whether she had a boob job. I would give you the link, but we cant link to that site, but like Simon im glad that didnt happen here. Other than that, rock on guys...

"Please, for the love of all that's holy, society, can't we all just love our unique IMperfections?"

LOL, absolutely not. Besides, if we are all unique then we arent unique because we have one thing common...
if we are all unique then we arent unique because we have one thing common...

But, jerrynumbers, I want to be different just like all the other kids! ;-)

it occurs to me we should first devise a comprehensive economic plan to offset the financial losses

Good point, jlv (and I apologize, truly, for actually paying attention to what you say and, like, remembering some of it, lol). But you gotta remember that if people aren't spending their money on makeup, hair dye, teeth whiteners, acne creams and razors (for boys too, y'know), then they'll have so much more money in the bank that they will then be able to spend more on truly important things, like Mac laptops, tricked-out vans, plasma TVs, iPods, DVDs, Xbox, *coughmywishlistcough*, etc., so all the displaced teeth whitener makers and makeup workers (and, bonus, no more animal testing!) can go to work making items that people will be able to splurge on now that they don't have to spend it all on cosmetics. Not to mention, save the rain forest. I don't know how that fits in economically, I just wanted to say it. Peace, out. ;-)

ETA: I forgot to say that we still need PhotoShop, or else The Daily Show would turn into a radio show. And my friends wouldn't have anything to spam humorously e-mail me.

[ edited by billz on 2006-10-09 06:24 ]
jerry, I agree with your first sentence to an extent. If there is true sharing and learning involved, as opposed to blathering on ad nauseum, and being in love with the sound of one's own keyboard, then that's a goody. But the other is just incredibly boring - to me. I'd wager that a few are passionate about the topic (take your pick: porn, objectification, offense vs. ennui, etc...), but that some are just cupping their left elbow in their right palm, looking skyward through slitted eyes, and yapping.

I mean, would you really talk like some of these mile-long posts? Your friends would tune out your monologue after the first 45 seconds of constant jawing, their eyes aglaze.

Don't reeeally think that an item about Mercedes doing a nude spread is muy intellectual, however it gets bent. Plus, this discussion got beat to death when CC posed.
Willowy, I admit the slitted skyward eyes and general yappiness, but I'll have you know I cup my right elbow in my left palm, never the other way around. That's just wrong.
I'm not sure what the problem people are finding with the pictures themselves. I think they are pretty, not raunchy, not as erotic I don't think as Charisma's.

This is a topic that always makes me feel like a giant hypocrite. I railed for years against exploitation, especially films that showed female nudity gratuitously, non-plot related just to sell a few extra teenaged boy tickets. I found it not only sad but angering.

Then along came naked Spike. I no longer have the right to say anything. I have enjoyed Season six, including the infamous dailies and although I feel kinda bad about it, I still watch.

Told you, hypocrite. I am ashamed. Or just human and less judgemental than I used to be. Whatever.
Ah...gotta love wildly powerful discussions over Big Issue topics! Probably should thank Joss Whedon for this, cuz without him and his works (and beliefs)...cuz without him, this discussion would be a lot different;)

Let me state upfront some major facts about moi so you can understand my background in a rough sense and possibly judge for it (as a sentient being in this day and age does;D):

1) I am a Canadian WASP in my early 20's

2) According to Western standards, I am reasonably well-educated (mighty damn close to finishing an Honours degree in History from a prestigious university in the Great White North)

3) I am a big, stinking hypocrite who wishes he could be 1/100th the pro-female kind of guy that Joss Whedon is.

The above, like I stated previously, is to assist my fellows acolytes of Whedon in being able to efficiently respond to any comments I post here;)

That being said...I personally feel that this situation represents the rock-hard place dichotomy that has really come to the forefront over the last half-century (though the issue itself is almost as old as our species). Solutions like prohibition or the complete relaxation of social standards seem great in their all-or-nothing stance....but they are inflexible. Education and thought-provoking discussion would seem the next logical option; only problem is that how one is educated is biased by oneself, the individual teaching the material and those who decided on the curriculum/researched the data/compiled the data/published the data/decided it should be taught in the first place. Attempting consensus for the goal of having an encompassing way to help future generations become better people would be beautiful in my mind...but it's not gonna happen. Joss especially empahsizes this point with works like "Firefly/Serenity" and "Fray, in that "civilized society" (in general, because individuals like Atherton Wing tend to muck with the generalization a tad) sees Inara and her job as something (& someone) important while Mal (representing "frontier society") view Companions as glorified whores. I would lay down nice shiny coin that had "Firefly" been given a chance to run as long as "Angel" or "Buffy," I doubt the topic of gender objectification would have been neatly dealt with and shelved. Doesn't mean that Joss wouldn't have smacked that trick pony at every chance he and the writers got (though I don't suggest Joss & the geniuses at ME are into animal cruelty...regularly;D) in order to really sell home this exact point.

As a free-thinking individual who is influenced by my environment, I am sadly stuck in a limbo-like state of being about topics of this nature. The educated, less-naive-then previously portion of me is willing, able and capable of seeing publications like "Playboy" for what they do: objectify women. However, the emotional and less socially-formatted part of me just likes to stare at the centerfolds. Even when educated on the issues, I still have thoughts/feelings/beliefs that contradict the lessons learned. Why? Cuz it's a long hard road to properly edumacating someone in this age of readily-accessible information and imagery;D

Honestly, any lack of focus this post possesses comes from both the time at which I write this and from the fact that humans have objectified each other since Day 1 (religiously or scientifically speaking). I personally thinking magazines like Playboy help no one but a small percentage of the population who isn't quite high-functioning enough to interact with other people effectively...and even then, you still got the pervs who get stiumlated by such things and commit atrocious acts. Still look at the pictorials though. Why? Cuz I wanna understand what the big deal is. I wanna know what the social "norm" (using that word mighty loosely) so I can think on whether I agree wholehearted, agree with conditions out the yin-yang or disagree.

If you ask me, the only way for people to truly avoid objectification of their fellow humans is to solely conduct interactions through text-based mediums. Would be great too! Everyone would be judged not on their looks or how closely they match an "accepted" definition of attractive or worthy, but on who they were on the inside. But then again...Joss would be out of a job in a lot of ways:P
Xane, don't feel bad. Everyone I've ever known has been hypocritical to a degree about something or other, from time to time. At least you have the wisdom to realize it. I've been hypocritical my whole life. I find them inherently inferior to rhinos, and what do they need so much water for, anyway?
Naked pictures of MM sure did stir up some chatter!

*wades through pomp*

She's very pretty, naked or not. Hope she made some decent dosh, those paying for the privilege got a good wank & Playboy lined their coffers satisfactorily. Ain't capitalism grand? ;)
The mention of Robert Burns in the linked item recalled to me a package I received in the post from Mr. Burns shortly after his death

Dude, forget George Harrison court cases, that is old. Like, nearly older than the USA ;). And funny too.

Willowy said: I mean, would you really talk like some of these mile-long posts? Your friends would tune out your monologue after the first 45 seconds of constant jawing, their eyes aglaze.

Erm, normally we see pretty close to eye to eye I reckon but that strikes me as a little bit disingenuous Willowy. Clearly, in a conversation you don't have to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours for a response so the entire structure is different, especially with global time differences thrown into the mix (e.g. QuoterGal responds to some points I wandered off onto 13 hours after I made them - dunno about you but i've never had a conversation about a single topic that lasted that long, even in my - more ;) - navel gazing student days).

That said, it's true that I guess we sometimes indulge ourselves a bit on here (I know I do) but I think it usually makes for interesting discussions (on anything from Oscar nominations - 400+ comments, to Spike's arc - at least as many over several threads, to religion, the objectification of women etc.) and, obviously, there's an element of arrogant self-indulgence about any post or written statement (no-matter how short) since the writer/poster is assuming other people will read it. Which they don't have to (hint hint ;-).

Interesting thread everyone, made me think about a few things more closely/in a different light.
Was gonna leave it at one post, but I do love playing devil's advocate:

The term "the objectification of the female form" exists to make men feel guilty about a natural appreciation of nekkid women. Discuss.

And because we can all use a laugh after all this (even if it's a bit of a sad laugh), let me quote a response to the pictures from another website. One that has certainly quoted us often enough without linking.
YEH NE1 HU DUZNT LIKE HERE IZ A SMELLY GAY ! ! ! SHE GIVE ME A BONER LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saje, it was supposed to be Robert Frost. (Two roads diverge/Southland Tales graphic novel mentioned here recently). I guess the sometimes heated discussion here led me to substitute a hot name for cold?

There really was a headline posted to the Pratchett book review. For some reason I felt poetical. Imagine my chagrin when I came back 15 minutes later to post my little faux Frost, only to discover the link removed. Seeing as I hate to waste things, and recycling this bit seemed untenable, I went ahead and posted it. Probably not a good idea, but I only wax poetic once a decade or so, so I posted even if it is just so-so.
Ah, that makes more sense on pretty much every level jlv ;). Feel free to wax-on whenever, your wax-fu is strong (whether you wax-off is entirely up to you, appropriately enough for this thread ;).

(BTW, did you hear about the unknown Frost poem that a student found hand-written inside a book cover a while back ? Think it's being published this week - or may already have been, not sure)

And Telltale, *wry grin*. Truly, the intarweb empowers the, err, common man ;).
No, I didn't hear that, Saje. Pretty Cool. No, my only inspiration re: Frost was that the linked Pratchett review compared the dialogue (I think, it could have been something else) to Robert Frost. It contained only a slight Buffy mention which I suppose is why it was deleted.

As to Telltale's quote, I hope that person was putting people on, but likely not.
Oh, brother. Can this get thread get ANY more stupidly serious?

Mercedes is a beautiful young woman capable (one would think) of making decisions for herself. She's not an object or an icon for the ages. I highly doubt she wants to be either one.

It's a playboy spread. She looks great. Big whoop. Get over yourselves. *eye roll* (By Willowy)

Thank you Willowy for typing what I'm thinking! Saves me the button pressing effort. *hugs for everyone* (By Alan)


*I sit next to those that were upset/didn't like what I'd said*

I say this very softly and gently. I'm so sorry for the way it might have sounded. I was not saying in some misogynistic way "Just shut up bit*h!"

I only meant that the thread had started to get a little heated and a bit personal.

It is very hard to communicate clearly on forums and over IM. We loose body language, pace and inflections of speech. This is something Joss has found out recently with all the drama his post mentioning a Serenity sequel created.

The problem was that no one stated what was going to be discussed. So it exploded into discussing all of feminism, and society interactions within the constraining labels of male and female.

Now I must stress, that is not a bad thing at all. But some people thought they were discussing Mercedes modelling. Others then created other strands by picking up topics mentioned in peoples response to the main topic of the thread. Hence the thread spooled away in all directions. Again, not a bad thing.

But without structure, discussing such a complex topic as this can become impossible. Where so many other ideas are brought in while discussing this, they in themselves might need to be discussed, challenged etc.

Another example would be me starting a thread to talk about the Cosmos, (the cosmos is everything there ever was or ever will be) but only giving a link to a web page that had a few pictures of the Cosmos. With the thread description being, Here are a few pictures of the Cosmos.

No one would know what to talk about. The Cosmos contains feminism, quantum gravity, my ability to burp the alphabet. People would start their discussion based on what they felt. The beauty of the Cosmos or a creationist about their irrational anger they feel about science saying the Universe is billions of years old. And please no one else mention creationism in this thread, it just plunges me into despair.

Bringing structure to the way one has a discussion and tempering our feelings during it are not some masculine, dehumanising protocol. I am also not saying emotions are negative either. A little structure helps us discuss complex things. Understand our opinions and also find where we are mistaken, correct ourselves and improve our minds and understanding of the Universe.

Males and females are the same species, our minds are organised the exact same way. There are no male or female ways of thinking, only human ways. I will just make this point though I know I'm starting to move off topic here. I do not say that differences between males and females have no influence on our minds and each other. Just that they are not as clear cut as some make them out to be.

Logic, rationality and the scientific method are the most beautiful things in all of existence. With them we can shake off the constants and irrationality of authority and question, change and understand the reasons why we have emotions about certain things. It can, if we choose, free us from being slaves. Be it being slaves to racism, religious repression, stereotypes, or sexism.

The true power of Buffy we discover, in the final ep, was not her ability to punch through concrete. Though I do not discount that, I know its important. But what makes her beyond beautiful in my eyes was her mind. Her tapping into the accumulated knowledge of every Slayer before her. This reservoir of learning. Taking not just weapon and tactical skills. But more importantly, knowledge and truth from every Slayer that was used and abused, burnt at a stake, stood up to and questioned authority.

She questioned an absolute that she had to be the only one. The body is not as important as her mind. What she did with it and how she changed it is the beautiful thing.

She questioned, discussed and communicated. That's how and why she changed the world.

So let us all try and be Buffy, question, discuss, communicate, and change the world.

Communication at its best is understanding, and understanding at its best is love.

(Also Joss! *pokes him with his big stick* This geek boy needs his season 8 Buffy comics! Stop having a life and spending time with your beautiful wife and children!) Obviously I'm joking. I'd use a brick instead. Ah yes, having someone understand me is love. ;)

[ edited by Alan on 2006-10-09 14:08 ]
jaynelovesvera, time to start writing that book! Your larfs multiply promiscuously.

ETA There's nothing wrong with long posts, there were just one or two I couldn't follow after repeated readings. I don't want to cramp anyone's personal style.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-09 14:33 ]
Hey, this site is known for its intellectual discussions of things that might not normally be debated with such care in the general pop. (See Telltale's quote above for the alternative. Ridiculous and great fun when posted here, but on its home site, I have no doubt it would depress the hell out of me on the days it wasn't sucking my soul.) We're here because we like to think we sometimes have something of substance to say. Typically, this a good thing, and enjoyed by all. Yay, us. But it's also just as true that this group has a hair-trigger for for any sort of discourse that smacks of self-importance, or rattling on to prove how smart one is, or the worst sin... swearing innocently that one is only interested in learning from fair and enlightened debate, when the words on the page suggest otherwise, or lay out a clear ambition to WIN. "Take that!" is rarely appreciated. (Unless we're teasing gossi. ;D) Ya just can't get one past this group, and I'm glad for it. Even when (especially when?) I'm the one getting called out for one of the infractions above.

Clearly, the folks heavily engaged in this discussion and those contributing the mighty posts were enjoying having it, and that's why this place thrives. Passionate positions are cool and the flexing of brains is sexy. Go you. On the flip side, I'd simply offer that those who reacted negatively to the direction this thread began to sled were likely responding to the same antennae-vibrating that some of us lurking were experiencing from the sidelines. That maybe the "intellectual" leanings of the discussion were becoming a bit onanistic in their own right, and the genuine earnest learning from those with opposing views that so often makes this site such a joy, was getting lost in the, er... wanking.

No harm done, I'm sure. Just recognizing a bit of the self-policing that has reigned me in in the past, and suggesting that sometimes, this group smells the toast burning before the alarm goes off.
I'm sorry that we disagree here, Saje (really not liking that). I don't see though, how I'm being disingenuous, which to me means lacking in frankness, or being insincere.

Hmm. No one's ever told me that I need to be franker. ;)
As Saje said,
Interesting thread everyone, made me think about a few things more closely/in a different light.


I'm not at all surprised at the tangent this thread has taken towards some murky, slippery slopes, but I am pretty shocked that some posters feel the need to dismiss the debate so lightly. Obviously there are plenty of other places to discuss the relative merits of tits (see Telltale's funny yet depressing quote). Plenty of places for intelligent and civilized discussion? Erh, not so much.
I think the dismissal, for the most part, is more about the disrespectful or self-important tone some of the posts have taken on. Let's please remember to be respectful of one another; remember there is a human being (or several hundred) on the receiving end of what gets typed on your keyboad (ain't technology grand?). We're here because we can get intelligent discussion and maybe learn a little about ourselves, our world, and one another in the process. Talking down to people and textual masturbation aren't a productive means to that end. I was tempted to post several times during this, but the tone of some of the posts so put me off that I stayed out of it.

Is it odd numbered days where posing nude is empowering or was that on even numbered days? If so, which days is it exploitative and objectifying? If you need additional tutoring, WHEDONesque has some very helpful TAs, apparently ;)

That second paragraph is the lead by snarky example method of saying the same thing as in the first paragraph (the irony of this crushed a small Eastern European country - won't you please think of the children?!). State your opinion, back it up with facts if you have 'em, if not that's cool, too, but remember its off-putting to see someone blow a three thousand word wad on explaining to you what you meant when you posted. Its condescending, its self-important, and its rarely (if ever) appreciated. Even if you're right.

P.S. - sorry about this post, violent videogames and porn drove me to post it. Or some guy named Josh Wheldon.
Hey zeitgeist.. would you mind if I admired/objectified you for a moment? Great ass! (Sure, it's an even-numbered day, but I've never been one for the rules.)
Heh heh. You two kill me. :D
Perhaps nudity and sexuality are objectifying and exploitive if the subject in question feels objectified and exploited.

One can assume Mercedes, having volunteered for the job, is okay with it.

Having said that, I feel extra lousy about myself since I know James felt that way toward the end and I still not only enjoyed seeing him but a small, evil part of me was thinking "oh suck it up and get your clothes off!"

And this about a person who I admire, and who is a kind, open, generous person to his fans in general, and me specifically recently.

I am scum. So its not necessarily a male/female thing when it comes to exploitation. That was the point I was trying to make with my TMI little post.

[ edited by Xane on 2006-10-09 20:59 ]
So I guess the main thrust of the thread (sorry!) is now: is it okay to objectify someone for just long enough to finish up and then respect them for their intellect and talent? :D Kidding, but not entirely. I don't think one can with any legitimacy claim someone is being objectified/used/degraded from the outside. No one but MM and the photog (and the lighting crew, and the gaffer, and the three PAs and the props department, and the wardrobe people, and the makeup people and the kid who's Aunt/Uncle got them an internship and...) know what happened at the shoot. No one can tell from the photographs what happened, they can only take their impression of the mood or vibe they get (and if people have different reactions, is it art?). Is appreciating someone aesthetically inherently degrading? Why, then, isn't appreciating someone only mentally inherently degrading? Figured I'd throw that firewood out there since I was here anyway.
Xane, it's a great point, and well-stated. And that thing there is the rub, er... upsetting dichotomy for so many of us who like to think of ourselves as enlightened. As better informed, more evolved. For, I know the scum of which you speak. I am one-such scum. *performs secret sign of recognition* The up-side, I hope, is that it helps us take ourselves a bit less seriously, down here, along-side that silly pedestal made of fool's gold.
No one but MM and the photog (and the lighting crew, and the gaffer, and the three PAs and the props department, and the wardrobe people, and the makeup people and the kid who's Aunt/Uncle got them an internship and...) know what happened at the shoot.


Everyone reads facial expressions, consciously or not. And I think, objectively speaking, Mercedes' face expresses no pleasure, joy, happiness, desire, or even will. It's possible, as I mentioned above, that she is merely performing the role of a woman feeling nothing good, or perhaps the role of a woman feeling nothing at all. I find that the opposite of sexy (viewing this for a moment purely as wank material).

I am by no means as learned in the history of sexism as the purple one, but from what I understand, women have found it harmful to be treated only as bodies without regard for their feelings, desires, personalities or wills, and this is called objectification.

Photography can show you a person, or it can show you a body. By way of easy and now familiar comparison, Charisma's pictorial showed us her personality, showed her enjoying revealing how beautiful she is -- or at least portraying a woman who was enjoying herself. Mercedes' pictorial shows us someone not enjoying anything. One pictorial shows us a woman in a happy relationship with her sexuality and body, the other shows us just a woman's bare body.

I conclude: The former appears to be happy, healthy erotica (or a portrayal of happy, healthy erotica, but from what I've read about how thrilled Charisma was after giving birth to get in shape enough to want to pose naked, I think she liked it.) The latter appears to be objectification. If Mercedes was not enjoying herself, or merely portraying a woman who was not enjoying herself, I cannot enjoy looking at her like that.

We need not discuss things we cannot know with certainty -- how another person feels -- to discuss whether a work of art treats, portrays, envisions a woman as a complete person with desires, feelings, and personality or as just a beautiful object.
Its absolutely open for interpretation, and that's what I'm saying. We don't know, we can only guess from some images captured on film. No idea what Mercedes or Charisma were thinking or what the story of the shoot was. We can only look on and guess. I would quibble and say that photography can only show you bodies and the impression of a personality, but you can't necessarily know whats real and whats not. You see what the photographer (and the set dresser and the lighting crew and...) want you to see, all filtered through the lens of your own perspective (if we're going to be post-modern, lets go all the way). I certainly agree with your assessment of sad/empty as not defining sexy, but perhaps its thought provoking. Maybe the whole thing was a study in whether it was objectifying. A self-referential photoshoot that questions its own validity - how very post-modern. Indeed.

On a sidenote, it seems sort of a weird/fake/unnatural/creepy thing to ask that all porn/nude pics/art involving naked folk depict them as happy. Kinda limits the possibile direction you can go with nudes as an artform, too. Not happy looking != (does not equal) objectification by default, nor the inverse. "Well, they all look happy, so they obviously aren't being objectified, my work is done here." Not that you were necessarily suggesting that, just thinking "aloud" as it were.
I think it best that art, both erotic and the other kind, express the many and contradictory feelings people have about sex. I put in my two cents about this as wank material because, funnily enough, that's one of the strands.

Photography does show you an image, not necessarily the reality, but you can analyze what the image portrays, I think, just as you can with movies.

I'd like to read what people think the theme of Mercedes' pictorial is, what it's saying about her or the woman she's portraying. Culture doesn't argue linearly (think that's a word), but implies through association, and it's worth looking at what associations the image makes.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-09 21:56 ]
Pointy - nice, and good points, all. From your previous posts I suspected what you said in this one. Cheers :)
Slainte, zeitgeist, and I have long enjoyed your insightful and witty cyber-repartee. Repartae. Re-par-tay!
'Kay, you finally made me do it. I finally plugged "mercedes mcnab playboy photos" into Google to see what the fuss was about. After slogging through this thread, I expected to see something disturbing like the Anthropologie holiday catalog from a few years back that showed models appearing almost corpse-like in their poses/facial expressions, or last year's couture model trend of "for-chrissake-i'd rather-be-anywhere-but-here." When I took the plunge, (future SPAM be damned) I was surprised to find lovely images of Mercedes, some sultry, others bordering on coy. But nothing as alarmingly lifeless or unhappy as has been suggested above.

So, another quick dig for Charisma's shots for comparison, and I turned up the same thing --lovely photos, albeit, a bit more sexual. Is there a chance that the inferred obvious-to-everyone-but-me differences between the actresses' states of mind in the two shoots have been exaggerated to make a related point about objectification and sexism? Because I'm just not seeing it. From where I sit, Charisma's images are more FHM-suggestive-bikini-model, and Mercedes' are more Playboy trying to be arty and referential, like they were trying to create a story like "Mistress of the Chateau awaits the return of the Viscount". I'm not the target, so it's hard to say which is more appealing, but if you describe the concepts as I have above, I would think Charisma's would, by it's nature, have more commercial appeal these days.

Could it simply be that Charisma just connects better with the camera in a way that makes you comfortable? That the "approachable sexiness" she is known for is the very thing that makes any pictures of her come to life? Could it be that you've read quotes like this from Charisma... "posing in Playboy is about finding joy, liberation and warmth," and with this admission, she has the get-out-of-being-objectified-for-free card that makes you more comfortable with her decision?

I'd submit that alot of this ruckus pertaining to one set of photos being less objectifying than the other has more to do with the "success" of the actress posing in conveying a type of approachable-sexy that makes the viewer feel like it's okay to look. Nothing more...

(Edited to correct a couple of typos)

[ edited by barest_smidgen on 2006-10-09 22:18 ]
Not sure if those questions are directed to me, barest smidgen, but . . . I'm in the habit of asking whether the people I'm directing my attention toward are happy. I asked Joss about that a few threads back, and it turned he was not entirely, and I've never even seen him naked ("Except that one time . . . ")

I care whether the women who pose naked are doing it because they enjoy it or because they feel they have to advance their careers. I also care whether they are portrayed in the culture as people whose feelings, desires, will, etc. matter or just as things. I assume it's okay with Mercedes that I look, I'm just not enjoying looking, because she does not appear to be enjoying showing. With Charisma, I think the camera captures her enjoyment, and I enjoy that. It matters in a general way to me whether women who pose naked are enjoying themselves or just doing something unpleasant to make a living.

ETA: I think Charisma may be all about "joy, liberation and warmth," but I doubt Playboy is. I think it's entirely possible that many of Playboy's readers felt the pictures of her gave them permission to look at her just as an assortment of fine body parts rather than as a person -- in other words, the publication lends itself to objectifying women, even if the photos of Charisma do not. Just to make everything a little more complex. ;-)

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-09 22:32 ]
I was dealing myself out of this round -- mainly 'cause I just can't post much today for a bunch of reasons, and I imagine to the utter relief of many -- and Pointy (mainly) is saying anything I might want to say, and better, too. Briefly checked in on this thread and wanted to make just a few small points. (Good thing this thread will soon be off the front...)

I know people are (mostly) kidding when they describe themselves as "scum" or feeling ashamed for enjoying what they seem to be describing as photos similar to the Mercedes shoot (can't really tell what kind of depictions they are talking about), and therein may lay some of the problem in folks being willing to consider another perspective on this kind of spread.

If they are willing to consider that such depictions -- and again, I do not mean naked or sexual photos, I mean the airbrushed, plastic, soulless, sanitized and personality-wiped nude photos that I think comprises Mercedes' shoot -- could be considered dehumanizing, and they enjoy it or similar stuff, then maybe they think (or think I am saying) that they are "bad" or flawed, and that they should feel guilty, etc.

I'm not -- sorry, it's not how I operate. Couldn't care less about provoking guilt, and my aim in life is to operate with as little judgment of fellow-humans as possible. So maybe if people understand that, for me, this is not about labeling or judging human reactions, and also let up on themselves a little, they would be more willing to look at what I'm talking about...

And one can only decide for oneself what to get serious about, and when to get serious about it. Not only is it about "choosing your battles" -- it is about accepting your feelings and reactions when you have them, and honouring them by their expression, when possible and appropriate -- if that's the word I mean. A light touch is a wonderful thing & all, but there is also such a thing as always being breezy and funny and using humour so frequently as to mask or repress emotion or pain. I know a little something about this, myself...

Some folks have proffered ideas how they think discussions "like this" could be better structured (and in some cases many different kinds of discussions -- online in blogs & comments, online in real-time, IMing, by mail, in person, by phone, etc. -- have been referred to kinda smooshed up together, and they are mostly very different from each other, with their own advantages and pitfalls.)

I think in this BLOG, the thread structure has worked out just fine, with mods/admins checking in periodically to help keep it civil -- so not sure what the structure-agitation is about. I like to see where things go, and as long as discussion sufficiently relates to the post -- in our structure, mods/admins evaluate this -- don't see need for greater definition & structure of threads like these.

Pointy: "We need not discuss things we cannot know with certainty -- how another person feels -- to discuss whether a work of art treats, portrays, envisions a woman as a complete person with desires, feelings, and personality or as just a beautiful object."

Oh, yeah, that's the stuff. Right there.

billz: "Please, for the love of all that's holy, society, can't we all just love our unique IMperfections?"

Yup, that would be holy, indeed.
barest 'SPAM be damned' smidgen: Your pluck and grit know no bounds! Ever ready to fight the good fight no matter what the personal cost. As ever, an inspiration. ;)

And I'm gonna wade in here near the end (and see if I can get the last word - sneaky!)
I don't think that the only way to measure objectification is how MM feels, or the opinion of the crew who worked on the shoot, or even our individual responses to it.

It's also the context that the shoot takes place in - it's women as sex objects in our society. Of course, this shoot alone or Playboy alone is not not the author of that context.

To quote the big J:
"The misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it."

I believe that Playboy perpetuates that misogyny. So, regardless of how happy she is/looks or how much she gets paid, it's another little cog in a very big, destructive wheel.
To the group, really, Pointy. But I hear you. I'd hope that most thinking, feeling people would agree that they'd prefer women make the choice to pose nude willingly, and that they enjoy the experience. I just think it's inferring an awful lot to suggest that Mercedes' shoot might be an unpleasant career move because the pictures don't telegraph playfulness or fun. Couldn't it be that it's just a different brand of sexy that you just aren't buying? Your response to the images is clear, and it is fair. I guess I'm just saying, to borrow from the great Inigo Montoya, "I dunno think that means what you think it means."

And just in case it needs to be said, dear Pointy... the site tagline "Joss The Way We Like It" should not be seen as a sign that your friends here wish to see any commando photos you may have of "that one time..." ;D
OT: Is anybody else finding the Headline "Mercedes McNab goes commando" a least bit funny. I don't know why but every time I look at it, the Xander/Harmony fight plays in my head.

Ok and now back to regular programming and postulating. :)
One of the finest uses of slo-mo in the history of television, RavenU. Thanks for the memory... :D
I'm sorry that we disagree here, Saje (really not liking that). I don't see though, how I'm being disingenuous, which to me means lacking in frankness, or being insincere.

Hmm. No one's ever told me that I need to be franker. ;)


We had to disagree sooner or later Willowy ;). It was more the 'pretended unawareness' meaning I was going for but actually saying that out loud (well, out loud in my head ;) it sounds a bit harsh. The gist was that you, not being daft, obviously know that the 'rules' about posts/threads and the 'rules' about conversations are completely different so to compare the two is to compare apples to oranges (or in other words, none of we windbags would normally sit and talk in long monologues to anyone but since we're usually responding to multiple posts on here and with long gaps in between during which others are also posting, comments tend to expand and so it's not really a very valid criticism).

Like I say though, I think in retrospect (i.e. after ingesting more caffeine ;) the way I said it was maybe a bit too personal. Sorry ;).

We don't know, we can only guess from some images captured on film. No idea what Mercedes or Charisma were thinking...

Yeah, zeitgeist that was kinda what I was trying to say above (only possibly in a long-winded onanistic fashion, looking back at some of my posts they do have rather a lot of 'I' and 'me' in them, not usually a good sign ;). We can't really know how they feel so we have to try and find some objective metric for objectification or we're left with just personal opinions (if Mercedes came online right now and swore up and down that she loved it and was just playing a role, would that suddenly make it non-objectifying ?).

Or maybe there isn't an objective metric and that's also interesting (to me anyway ;) to look at. Is it bad enough that Pointy (as a for instance) is offended by her expressions, even if Mercedes herself isn't bothered ?

(some folk making similar points while I ran downstairs for an hour to watch 'Spooks'. It's got spies you know ;)
Holy crap. Is this still going on? Well at least we've reached a consensus that these images do not work in a modern world and are came about as a result of a outmoded patriarchical 20th Century Western society. And that we as a whole should strive to counter the damaging effects of an oversexualised media which degrades men, women and children.

And I still have achy feet. I hate breaking in new shoes.
Not offended by anyone's facial expressions. And the distinction between the model's feelings and the art's effect is valid: a Betty Page could find certain kinds of modeling fulfilling personally, and the pictures that result could still encourage people to look at women as objects rather than as people. (Haven't actually looked at enough Betty Page pictures to even hazard opinion.) I care both about whether Mercedes enjoyed what she was doing and whether the pictures that result encourage people to look at women as objects or as people.
S'okay Saje ;), I see your complaint now, and also see where my analogy went awry. Supremely irritated was I at the time and it came out awkward. zeitgeist said it better and clearer than me. You're still tops in my book! ;)

And Simon, I sympathize. I hostess at a jazz club a couple nights a week, and the toes do take a pounding. Dr. Scholl's gel insoles get my vote. You'll be gellin' like Magellan in no time! :)
Couldn't it be that it's just a different brand of sexy that you just aren't buying?


I'd really appreciate hearing what brand of sexy it is.
(if Mercedes came online right now and swore up and down that she loved it and was just playing a role, would that suddenly make it non-objectifying ?).

Well -- yeah. If Mercedes came along and said, "Yeah, I really enjoyed this photo shoot, and this was my idea to play the role of being disinterested, serious, and slightly unhappy, and then I asked them to airbrush the pictures so they would have a kind of idealized look," I might have a different opinion. But then I would ask Mercedes, "Well, why do you think slightly unhappy and airbrushed is sexy? I'm really glad you enjoyed the shoot, but, if I may say so, I think you were damn sexy on Buffy when you looked all perky, happy, and natural/unairbrushed." That would be an interesting discussion to have, 'cause, like Pointy, I agree that even if a model is having fun, the result might still be pictures that can be taken in a weird way (Betty Page is a great example).

BTW, question to the group, esp. zeitgeist and barest_smidgen (good to see y'all join in with some excellent points): If we are being onanistic about something that has an intention of being onanistic, is that "meta-onanism"? ;-)

Best wishes to Simon's feet. If ever there was a place where feet are valued, it is the Whedonverse. ;-)

ETA: OK, up there at the top where I typed, "well -- yeah." OK, what I meant was, "yeah, that would make a different discussion," but the answer to the question of would that make it non-objectifying is actually "well, NO." I didn't realize that till I read QuoterGal's quote which had some of the same ideas I had, but stated them in a way which was eloquent, heartfelt and made sense. D'oh for me, yay for QG! ;-)

[ edited by billz on 2006-10-10 01:17 ]
Saje: '(if Mercedes came online right now and swore up and down that she loved it and was just playing a role, would that suddenly make it non-objectifying ?)."

Nope, I don't think so, not necessarily. It would be good to know, and I would be happy that she enjoyed the experience, because I wish her well. I take no joy in the thought that she might have disliked the experience, simply because it might underscore some point I've made, and because the tone of the shoot seems so joyless -- so I would be relieved and delighted to hear that it was a positive experience for her.

But people can happily participate in something I believe has a soul-deadening effect on the culture, and their enjoyment doesn't necessarily mitigate its impact on the culture to any great effect, and that impact which is mainly what I've been talking about.

It wouldn't change what I think Playboy and many other commercial enterprises do to this world with the images of woman, men and children that they promulgate.

ET: to add men & children, after being reminded by reading Simon's post, as I was being gynco-centric (sp?) -- though, in fairness, I think women bear the brunt of this kind of depiction.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-10 00:52 ]
If we are being onanistic about something that has an intention of being onanistic, is that "meta-onanism"? ;-)

And billz, if you'd kept that to yourself would that have been meta-meta-onanism ? ;-)

OK, would "Is it bad enough that Pointy (as a for instance) is offended by the objectification which he sees as partly a result of her expressions, even if Mercedes herself isn't bothered ?" be more accurate Pointy ?

The point i'm trying to make (apparently so badly that i'm about to give up for the night ;) is how do we tell the art's effect outside of personal opinion and if there's no way to do that, why is an opinion that the art objectifies any more valid than one that it doesn't (maybe especially if that opinion is held by the subject) ?

No offence to anyone here but if it basically comes down to what we (in this instance I include myself) decide objectifies women then aren't we just setting ourselves up as arbitrary moral watchdogs ? Cos I hope there's a better way than that.

Anyway, to bed, night all, good thread (ta Willowy ;).
Are there support groups for people whose lives get swallowed up by Internet porn discussions?
There are halfway houses -- there's a waiting list & I'm already on it.

They have hot-and-cold running wireless connection, and they don't allow you to use it. And a great porn collection, which you have to watch.

It's murder.
But people can happily participate in something I believe has a soul-deadening effect on the culture, and their enjoyment doesn't necessarily mitigate its impact on the culture to any great effect, and that impact which is mainly what I've been talking about.

Yep, what QuoterGal said. See my ETA above. Also, to expand on what QG said, people happily participate in all kinds of things that are just destructive to society at large (crime, violence, hate-speech, etc.), but in this case we're just meta-onanistically discussing nude photos designed for possibly suitable for wanking.

*submits name to porn discussion halfway house waiting list* ;-)
Having now seen the pics, I have to agree with barest and others. Seems the pics are trying for elegant, French chateau, whatev and the pics made me think Mercedes was trying to go for sexy and sultry and just not selling it as well as Charisma. Same thing I think is evident in public appearance shots of the both of them. Charisma just connects better. So thats the kind of sexy it is. My feeling is that they aren't dead or lifeless or anything like that. They aren't the hottest things ever, but I think people (as we all do) are over-selling their perspective on it to make a point (as we all do).


ET: to add men & children, after being reminded by reading Simon's post, as I was being gynco-centric (sp?) -- though, in fairness, I think women bear the brunt of this kind of depiction.


Well, children don't choose to be involved (and legally can't) and don't get paid tens of thousands of dollars for it. Which isn't to say there aren't men and (especially) women forced into this sort of thing, but...

In closing, I'm with Saje on the subjectivity of all of our opinions and wary of any self appointed moral watchdog, 'cause they're always the ones who are up to something. I also don't believe that porn or video games or movies or music drive anyone to anything they aren't itching to do.

Now, as was famously said in another thread, can I get anyone a drink? :)
zeitgeist: "I also don't believe that porn or video games or movies or music drive anyone to anything they aren't itching to do."

I'm talking about long-term socialization, not some kind of uncomplicated cause-and-effect.

"And the molding or remolding of human motives is something that takes place not only in childhood and youth, but also throughout adult life and under the impact of fundamental economic institutions and cultural media that weightily influence mind and character." -- Corliss Lamont
QG - wasn't referring to what you had said, someone upstream referred to folk being pushed over the edge or worked up until they do something horrible. As far as long term socialization/cause and effect - when people blame porn, video games, music, tv, movies they never claim its short term, they claim that its a long-term process of socialization and the latest game/movie/whatever (whose makers they are suing and have a vested interest in implicating) was the straw that broke the camel's back. So I wasn't referring to short term either, though I would also say that a cause/effect relationship doesn't make something automatically uncomplicated any more than being a long term process makes something inherently more complicated. Regardless, taking personal responsibility for one's actions seems to be becoming a lost art form.
OK, I've now read every word to this thread. An hour later, yep, I'd still do it.
Oh, thank you, Harmalicious. (I think.)

Gentle readers, at long last, I have unearthed the literary antecedent for one of the more humorous moments in "Buffy vs. Dracula."

In Chapter XVI of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens relates the actions of an associate of the Artful Dodger, one Charles Bates:

With this irrepressible ebullition of mirth, Master Bates laid himself flat on the floor: and kicked convulsively for five minutes in an ecstasy of facetious joy.


Two pages later . . .

Master Bates, who was blessed with a lively sense of the ludicrous, fell into another ecstasy, more boisterous than the first.


Quite the little Dickens, indeed!

(And good morning, Saje!)

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-10 06:49 for additional literary value]

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-10 07:38 ]
Harmalicious, never cared for women who knew their place, but I respect a woman who knows her mind. But you might check what they pay first, and do you get dental? And above all, smile profusely, kick up your heels, and enjoy yourself. And then check in and tell us if you felt exploited, liberated, icky or overly photoshopped.


ETA: Pointy, now do you see why I've been trying to get that pornographer Dickens banned from the public school system for the past four years? Next they'll be havin' our little ones reading Harold Robbins!

[ edited by jaynelovesvera on 2006-10-10 08:06 ]
I never got QG's email. I went on Playboy's website, but rejected their requirements for going further. I did notice that the picture on their front page that was supposedly of Mercedes McNab didn't look anything like her.
To stop children from reading Dickens, jaynelovesvera, just show them how long the books are!

And don't mess with dreamlogic in a logic fight, anybody, she's allied with a "mystery operator," i.e. the Big Bad in the Serenity sequel.

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-10 14:55 ]
Just in case its not clear, suggesting that by enjoying these photos that someone is a bad person or contributing to the repression/subjugation of women/children/llamas is not cool. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the pics and one can certainly do so (and I daresay with no wanking involved). Its not criminal to appreciate them and the implication that there is something wrong with anyone who does enjoy them is not appreciated here. I looked at them and enjoyed them and have yet to subjugate anyone today (except jaynelovesvera, sorry about that...;))
Quite all right, zeitgeist. Point well made. For years I painted nude portaits of women at their request, and never once did I ejaculate on the model.
:) That's definitely a Line of the Day contender.
I second the notion of censoring, banning & burning the books of that That Foul Pornographer Charles Dickens (underlining mine):

" 'I am very sorry, sir, I am sure,' said Tom, standing, cap in hand, before his patron in the passage; 'and I know it must have a very rude appearance—'

'It HAS a very rude appearance, Mr Pinch.'

'Yes, I feel that, sir; but the truth is, I was so surprised to see them, and knew you would be too, that I ran home very fast indeed, and really hadn't enough command over myself to know what I was doing very well. I was in the church just now, sir, touching the organ for my own amusement..."


...

"When she spoke, Tom held his breath, so eagerly he listened; when she sang, he sat like one entranced. She touched his organ, and from that bright epoch even it, the old companion of his happiest hours, incapable as he had thought of elevation, began a new and deified existence."

(from Martin Chuzzlewit)
...

I'd never heard of his stuff before, but now that I read a bit, Uug, what a pig, I'm appalled.
Okay, after taking two days to actually read this entire thread, I hate to disagree with a mod.

But Zeitgeist, one of the major themes that have been argued is that looking at these pictures of Ms. McNabb or appreciating them are per se contributing to the objectification of women. I personally haven't seen the pictures yet, but there are clearly very different opinions of what they depict (other than her skin) - with luck the postal service is back to work today and I'll get my copy. Yup, a subscriber, so shoot me if that makes me a part of the side of evil.

To be honest one of my long term objections to Playboy's artistic choices is its tendency to airbrush/photoshop their pictures, as well as their penchant for surgically augmented or stylized human forms. Some of the models are so so overdone or unrealistic, or the settings so obviously uncomfortable, that they have the opposite effect than what seems to have been intended. Of course, the magazine's competition tends further to those extremes, if not to pure sleaze. If QuoterGal were making most of her points about the latter group of magazines or hard-core pron, I'd be nodding my head along with her.

So there you have one person's opinion. I'm not going to wrap it in intellectual jargon, not that there's anything wrong with that. To me Ms. McNabb probably made her decision based on a couple of factors, from the money that is paid (and I understand it is a decent amount), to the career boost it can give a young actress, to the occasionally expressed desire to empower ones self by doing so (or to do it while they can). Whatever her reasons, I hope that she didn't hate the process and that it does give her a major career boost. I can't help thinking that Charisma's decision to pose helped jump start her career again - which isn't always easy for a 30-something actress in Hollywood. I know that Mercedes is much younger, but it is still a tough industry.
Kyrax - I understand that it was being argued. My point was that people who visit here, nice people that you see post every day, who donate time and money to promoting Equality Now and things like that, might also appreciate the female form, and its not nice to make them feel bad about themselves because of someone's conjecture/subjective opinion. Just because they like to look at women doesn't mean they are friendless chronic masturbators or rapists or bad people. It seems that I am posting a lot about not making other posters feel bad lately.
(Sorry, couldn't leave it at that...)

zeitgeist, I'm sorry, but I believe your summation does not accurately reflect what this thread was discussing -- or at least my portion of it, which was considerable.

And I disagree with what I think is your implication -- that negative opinions about the photo spread should not have been expressed, or expressed in the way(s) that they were, because nice, worthy, charitable people who visit here may have felt bad reading some of the opinions.

What, then, in your view, should have been done differently? What should have happened? How could it have gone that would have been okay for you? I would like to understand your objections, and I disagree with how you are describing the discussion. For instance:

zeitgeist: "Just because they like to look at women doesn't mean they are friendless chronic masturbators or rapists or bad people.'

I can't see where you're getting this from. Can you clarify? (Did you get this implication from someone in the discussion here?) I think it incorrectly describes this discussion. What I was suggesting was that people may have been socialized to accept as "business as usual" images that I think are dehumanizing depictions of (predominantly) women in popular culture. And that I couldn't "get happy" about them because I thought that they & such have a negative impact on the equality and dignity of humans -- in this case women, representing all.

That it was ever about people "who like to look at women" or "people who appreciate the female form" skips over the entire gist of my (and others) points that it is a certain kind of depiction that we believe is objectifying, and certainly skips over my point -- which I maintain and will reiterate here if necessary -- that no judgment whatsoever is implied or necessary.

I was saying that these kinds of photos are part of a chain of sexist socialization. If someone likes the photos, that no more makes them a "bad" person in my eyes than people who eat what I may maintain are unhealthy french fries. Nor, BTW & obviously, does my saying so make it unhealthy -- I am stating my opinion that it is, that is all.

(This analogy is, I realize, muddied by the fact that there is factual evidence about the healthiness/unhealthiness of foods, and the effects of what I describe as commodifying human depictions are harder to quantify. But there is a similarity in folks' potential reactions to such discussions of either...)

And if some folks in a discussion hear me say that I think french fries are unhealthy, and they enjoy eating them, and therefore they are "made" to feel bad, I have to say that I believe that's unfortunate, but an occasionally necessary by-product of people discussing and disagreeing.

If my (& other's) negative interpretations of such spreads "makes" anyone feel bad about liking them, dunno what to say. If people feel bad (because of assertions that they don't agree with?), they supply that emotion on their own. I don't believe that it means that the discussion shouldn't happen on here, or in the way that it did, if that's what you're saying. It was apropos, to say the least, to discuss sexism & objectification of the female form in a whedonesque thread about a Playboy spread by a Buffy/Angel actress.

What I was asking was that people try hearing me, try taking a look at and consider rejecting the current way we frequently depict females, and consider advocating for different kinds of depictions that might make numbers of other people feel empowered, and not "bad" their own selves. That folks consider that this may be a type of photo that in my opinion negatively impacts the culture. But if folks are comfortable with themselves and these types of images, their enjoyment thereof and their impact on the culture, and think my (and others) points are invalid, I would imagine they are able to handle, and do not need to be protected from, such a discussion.

I specifically said -- and meant -- that no judgment was implied. I'll go further now and say that I think that kind of guilt blocks understanding and potential resolution of the issue, and that kind of guilt is something they're bringing to the party, and it's a mind-killer.

I am hearing you say, zeitgeist -- and I may be wrong about this -- that because the discussion was an emotional issue for some, and because their/my opinions were strong and expressed, or maybe even because this was discussed at all in terms of sexism, or that negative stuff was expressed about the nature of Mercedes' photo shoot, you think discussion should have been shut down, or tempered somehow (not clear how) or not continued in these terms, or some other alternative that I'm not understanding.

I'd be interested to hear specifically what your objections are to specific remarks. The several most recent comments you've written do not make it are clear to me which comments you feel created the effect you are describing. Overall, what I interpret you as saying is that this discussion -- or remarks therein -- was/were not "cool" and hurt people & you seem to be basing that on a premise that I disagree with -- that this was about sexy photos of naked people, and that there was judgment expressed about either enjoying them, or the smaller subset of photos I was actually talking about.

I am happy to continue this discussion further and off the BLOG...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2006-10-12 05:17 ]
"...and she comes out swingin'! - Faith.

I think that's excessive, QG. I believe z spoke for several of us in that thread with this bent. Your post borders on 'really hostile' toward a benevolent member and mod.

Not judgy, just observy...
"Excessive" is your opinion, Willowy, and you are, of course, entitled to it. "Excessive" could be described as an "observation" -- but in this instance, I think it's subjective, and I think it's your judgment.

I don't think my post is hostile, though it is long, as I am wont to be. I'm striving to be thorough so as to be well understood. If zeitgeist feels that it is hostile, I'm sure he will tell me.

My post doesn't mean I'm unaware that he's benevolent. I think he mistakenly described the objections to the photos, and I said so, and I asked for some clarification of his statements. That's all.

Feel free to email me about this if you care to continue this discussion off the BLOG.
I don't know how a moderator could have made this discussion go better.

But I think some of the moderator comments toward the end unintentionally made the discussion more heated. Example: "Just because they like to look at women doesn't mean they are friendless chronic masturbators or rapists or bad people." Bunches of posters, including me, allowed as how we like looking at women. No one called us friendless chronic masturbators, rapists or bad people. No one implied we are any of these things. This comment, however, implied that people were making such inflammatory accusations. That's not going to calm people down.

And I think it would have been even-handed to add the italicized words to this sentence: "Its not criminal to appreciate them or not appreciate them and the implication that there is something wrong with anyone who does enjoy them or does not enjoy them is not appreciated here."

[ edited by Pointy on 2006-10-12 09:09 ]
zeitgeist, I'm sorry, but I believe your summation does not accurately reflect what this thread was discussing -- or at least my portion of it, which was considerable.


QG - not everything I said was a response to something that you said. You have spent quite a bit of time in this thread explaining to people what they meant and what you meant and it comes off as argumentative and condescending in some instances. You also provided a lot of food for thought and made some good points, so there are two sides to that coin.

And I disagree with what I think is your implication -- that negative opinions about the photo spread should not have been expressed, or expressed in the way(s) that they were, because nice, worthy, charitable people who visit here may have felt bad reading some of the opinions.


You could not be more wrong about what I said here. Say whatever you want about the spread itself. My problem is that what a lot of people ended up taking away from some (not all, but some) of the comments is: the photos are wrong and soul deading and exploitative and if you enjoy them you support the subjugation of women and there is something wrong with you (also that the only reason someone would enjoy these pics is to masturbate to them). Not saying anyone came out and said 'if you look at these you are a filthy pervert rapist', but some of the expression of views on these was over the top enough that it upset some people who then emailed me.

I can't see where you're getting this from. Can you clarify? (Did you get this implication from someone in the discussion here?) I think it incorrectly describes this discussion. What I was suggesting was that people may have been socialized to accept as "business as usual" images that I think are dehumanizing depictions of (predominantly) women in popular culture. And that I couldn't "get happy" about them because I thought that they & such have a negative impact on the equality and dignity of humans -- in this case women, representing all.


Go back and try to read the thread from the perspective of someone who enjoys these images of Mercedes rather than someone who funds them dehumanizing and you'll quickly see where people are coming from with this. Again, you are welcome to think them soul deadining, dehumanizing, etc., but understand that some people don't and that's okay, too. That these photos have a negative impact on the equality of humans is also an opinion. Just because people disagree with you doesn't mean that they don't understand what you are saying.

That it was ever about people "who like to look at women" or "people who appreciate the female form" skips over the entire gist of my (and others) points that it is a certain kind of depiction that we believe is objectifying, and certainly skips over my point -- which I maintain and will reiterate here if necessary -- that no judgment whatsoever is implied or necessary.


A lot of people took away the point that the photos are wrong/dehumanizing/objectifying and when they didn't agree with your assessment, certain conclusions naturally follow. And here we get to the point that you say you were making that a lot of people didn't take away from your posts and others - that no judgment is implied or necessary. Perhaps there was a micommunication, perhaps people didn't communicate as effectively as they could in this thread; this happens when people care so passionately about things. People felt judged and they felt that judgment was a personal swipe.

I was saying that these kinds of photos are part of a chain of sexist socialization. If someone likes the photos, that no more makes them a "bad" person in my eyes than people who eat what I may maintain are unhealthy french fries. Nor, BTW & obviously, does my saying so make it unhealthy -- I am stating my opinion that it is, that is all.


Right, and the assertion that exposure to these photos is socialization of a sexist nature is also an opinion. And what people weren't always getting when they read your posts is that it is only your opinion, which is really all any of our posts are, thus the hubbub. What do you have against the French? ;)

And if some folks in a discussion hear me say that I think french fries are unhealthy, and they enjoy eating them, and therefore they are "made" to feel bad, I have to say that I believe that's unfortunate, but an occasionally necessary by-product of people discussing and disagreeing.


Absolutely so, just want you to understand that and keep it in mind. Using made in quotes is a bit of a toss here as they wouldn't just spontaneously feel bad, they were/are responding to what you typed, perhaps again the fact that these posts lack the verbal and body language cues that we so often rely on to judge intent/meaning. The way we post and how we come off affects how people react to what we are saying and what people read into that. As you will rightly say, we only have so much control over those perceptions, but its important to be mindful that they will play a part. If people feel as if they are being lectured/talked down to, they will be disinclined to give you the benefit of the doubt.

If my (& other's) negative interpretations of such spreads "makes" anyone feel bad about liking them, dunno what to say. If people feel bad (because of assertions that they don't agree with?), they supply that emotion on their own. I don't believe that it means that the discussion shouldn't happen on here, or in the way that it did, if that's what you're saying.


Its not your negative interpretations, its the way they were expressed. When people disagreed with them you told them they didn't understand what you were saying and then explained to them what they were really trying to say (which will never score anyone any points ever). I didn't say the discussion shouldn't happen, I just said that we need to be mindful of how we say things and that there are real live people reading what we say who may have a different opinion. If you've kept that in mind and still they are hurt, then you've done your due dilligence and you've nothing to worry about.

What I was asking was that people try hearing me, try taking a look at and consider rejecting the current way we frequently depict females, and consider advocating for different kinds of depictions that might make numbers of other people feel empowered, and not "bad" their own selves. That folks consider that this may be a type of photo that in my opinion negatively impacts the culture. But if folks are comfortable with themselves and these types of images, their enjoyment thereof and their impact on the culture, and think my (and others) points are invalid, I would imagine they are able to handle, and do not need to be protected from, such a discussion.


This relies on the assumption that these images are disempowering or making those involved feel bad, but it was said upthread that it doesn't matter whether Mercedes was having fun/didn't feel objectified, that the images themselves were dehumanizing whether or not Mercedes felt that way. Its certainly worth discussing and thinking about and analyzing, but it seems to many that these pics are being twisted to fit the facts in a case that people were already arguing. Some of us look at these pics and don't think they are objectifying or dehumanizing or that Merceddes looks dead-eyed or anything of the kind and so there is an extra "huh?" when people make that argument. I'm not asking that people be protected from the argument and, quite frankly, that particular throwaway gets brought up way too often whenever any moderation occurs.

I specifically said -- and meant -- that no judgment was implied. I'll go further now and say that I think that kind of guilt blocks understanding and potential resolution of the issue, and that kind of guilt is something they're bringing to the party, and it's a mind-killer.


While its possible that there is some guilt on their side and they are bringing it to the party, I don't think that it is likely true for everyone who felt that way, so I think (again my opinion) that those stating the opposite opinion don't get a free pass here. Its far more likely that the bad feelings came from things said than that everyone who has a variance of opinion is harboring a secret guilt that prevents them from understanding you.

I am hearing you say, zeitgeist -- and I may be wrong about this -- that because the discussion was an emotional issue for some, and because their/my opinions were strong and expressed, or maybe even because this was discussed at all in terms of sexism, or that negative stuff was expressed about the nature of Mercedes' photo shoot, you think discussion should have been shut down, or tempered somehow (not clear how) or not continued in these terms, or some other alternative that I'm not understanding.


Again discuss away, just understand that not everyone will agree with you and that people are taking away from this that the mere existence of these photos is evil/bad/wrong and so if they enjoy them, what is the logical conclusion? That you think that they are bad, too. Then when they argue they are patted on the head and told they don't understand. I can absolutely see why people were upset. Does that mean we shouldn't have the discussion? Absolutely not, but when we make arguments, there are logical conclusions to be drawn from them and whether we state them or not, people will pick up on them and make them. So if the conclusions were not our intent (and bravo to you for stating that these conclusions that they've come to were not your intent), we need to be prepared/proactive in saying so if it looks like things are headed that way.

I'd be interested to hear specifically what your objections are to specific remarks. The several most recent comments you've written do not make it are clear to me which comments you feel created the effect you are describing.


I honestly don't have time to dissect a 200 post thread right now, I'll try to make it clearer as they come up in future. I wasn't proactive enough in this thread early on as I had a lot going on, will be more on it in future. Also my terse replies before used some shortcuts that were perhaps more provactive than intended - sometimes brevity doesn't do the job in moderation, but it gets attention. Apologies for stirring the pot, if thats what they did, but I didn't see arguments erupt after/because of my postings.

Overall, what I interpret you as saying is that this discussion -- or remarks therein -- was/were not "cool" and hurt people & you seem to be basing that on a premise that I disagree with -- that this was about sexy photos of naked people, and that there was judgment expressed about either enjoying them, or the smaller subset of photos I was actually talking about.


A lot of people felt there was judgment, both outright and implied and the people who limited discussion to the photos of Mercedes was a very small number, indeed.

I am happy to continue this discussion further and off the BLOG...


Drop me a line if you want :) I mean no offense by any of this, sometimes passionate feelings and discussions lead to disagreement and misunderstandings. So be it, and we celebrate these differences around here.

Pointy -
No one called us friendless chronic masturbators, rapists or bad people. No one implied we are any of these things. This comment, however, implied that people were making such inflammatory accusations. That's not going to calm people down.


That's funny as I received emails that said they felt that the implication was that they were bad for enjoying them and obviously the only purpose for these photos was wank material. Feel free to discuss your suggested even handed italicization with me by email, but in this case I didn't bother adding that because I thought it was already made clear that it was fine to not appreciate them (by the hundred and some posts by people who didn't appreciate them, for example :)). I brought up the one side and not the other as no one emailed me saying they felt like they weren't being allowed to say they didn't like 'em.
I'm not sure that much can be added after the recent posts by Quotergirl and zeitgeist. But I said that I'd say something after actually seeing the pictorial, so here it is.

In my opinion, and it is only one person's opinion, Mercedes looks lovely. I see a sexy, playful, attractive and vibrant young woman. I don't see a soulless, dehumanized person being victimized by this magazine, which seemed to be the opinions that others have expressed here. I also don't see Mercedes portraying the young bubble-headed character of "Harmony" that so many of us know her as. For that matter, when Charisma Carpenter chose to pose for Playboy, the pictures showed a person different from the ones I'd seen her portray on TV. To be honest, I'd have preferred to see more of Mercedes' smile (and yes, to me a smile is much, more attractive and sexy than extra exposed skin). But the editors and photographer, and for all we know Mercedes herself, chose to go with these pictures instead.

So that's my take, and obviously others disagree. As I said before, I hope that this exposure, pun intended, helps Ms. McNab's career and gives her more choices in her future. I was struck when I saw comments from her about how young she was when she began appearing on BtVS - which to me was one of the strengths of that show, teens portraying teens (for the most part). So it is natural that as the actors segue towards more adult roles they have to make decisions about how to best do that. For young actresses, appearing in this kind of magazine or the more clothed but just as salacious "men's magazines" like Maxim and FHM are one way to do that. The pressure on male actors is different, which can arguable be said to be another example of our sexist and sexualized society. But having seen more than I care to of Brad Pitt and Colin Farrell, they're obviously under some pressure to show off their bodies too.
hello?...everybody gone?............guess I'll turn the lights out, then.
jlv, I'm never gone, I'm just resting up. *grin*

Before you hit the lights, can you grab me a beer? And a sammitch?

Oh, and maybe let the cats in...
NO, NOT THE CATS!!!! /RUN
Oh, dear, maybe that wasn't the best idea.

They seem to be everywhere.

Hell, grab all the beers, while you're at it...

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