Rachael Steineckert’s letter arguing against nude art of women [“We Are Not Objects,” Letters, Sept. 9, City Weekly] demands a counterpoint.
First of all, visual representations necessarily objectify their subjects by emphasizing the physical aspect above all else. Ending the objectification of women would necessitate never photographing or painting them in any way.
Second, Steineckert complains that the type of women portrayed in visual arts are “always thin and beautiful” and this simply solidifies “our culture’s absurd obsession with the thin, submissive, pleasing woman.” Yet, the models for the nudes in the painting shown with the article are not thin, but curvy. Curvy women with voluptuous buttocks and breasts are treated as the aesthetic ideal.
But, it is worth asking if a culture’s obsession with the obese, domineering, and abrasive woman would really be less “absurd” than the one she decries. As soon as she defines the single, right way for a woman to look, she will become subject to her own criticism. Which goes back to my original observation, I suppose—in Steineckert’s view the only good art is no art all. That isn’t social consciousness. That’s nihilism.