Portfolio of Hope

In an article published in The Guardian last month about Helmut Newton, a German photographer famous for his ‘erotically charged’ portrayal of women in the nude, Author Katy Hessel writes of Newton’s images that they are ‘derogatory towards women’, and says that his images ‘negatively enforce gender roles’ and ‘perpetuate heteronormativity.’

Now, personally, I have to disagree with Hessel on this. Personally, I don’t think that Newton’s art is ‘derogatory’, but rather, quite the opposite. Newton’s work is empowering towards women, I would argue. And, as for his images ‘reinforcing gender roles’ and ‘perpetuating heteronormativity’, several of his most famous pieces see women dressed in the traditionally masculine attire of a suit, as well as women being, what I can only describe as, ‘intimate’ with each other, and so, I question the plausibility of Newton having ‘reinforced gender roles’ and, ‘perpetuated heteronormativity’, as Hessel writes in The Guardians, ‘The great women’s art bulletin.’

By all means, you can dislike the photos, and you can express your dislike for them, (of course, that’s freedom of speech) but, don’t disguise your personal grievances towards them, perhaps because they make you feel uncomfortable due to your own preconceived ideas of ‘womanhood’, as there being a wider issue going on…

If the women being photographed were doing so of their own accord, as a source of empowerment for them too, perhaps, then I don’t see the problem. The problem arises when women are not doing something because they want to be doing it, but because they feel, essentially, ‘forced’ to be doing it…

And so, ultimately, what it boils down to, is autonomy.

It’s all about bodily autonomy.

And, the same is true of sex work, a very stigmatised industry, but, why? We don’t owe anyone an explanation as to what we choose to do with our bodies. They’re OUR bodies. Whether it’s something smaller like getting a tattoo, or something much bigger like having an abortion or, in the case of the Guardian article I mentioned, being photographed naked, at the end of the day, it is OUR choice.

Unless someone is being forced into it, is the victim of human trafficking, or is a child, I genuinely see absolutely no difference between sex work, and any other job. It’s literally just that- a job– and, a very resourceful one, I’d have to say, at that. Using what you’ve got to get more. Smart, if you ask me (no one did but, you’re reading my blog, so what do you expect) 😆

When a woman gets into a position of power, they’re praised but, only where that power comes from a so called ‘respectable’ position; A single mum turned business woman, a female prime minister, a female doctor. Sex work though, which I would argue is THE most powerful position that a woman could possibly be in, is heavily stigmatised. Not being viewed as being a ‘respectable’ woman, but as a ‘tyrant’, as a ‘menace’ to society, as ‘trouble.’ Maybe it’s because it makes people feel uncomfortable. Because it makes them realise that the relationship they have with their own body is not as free as it could be, and that they are, ultimately, having their lives constrained by the rules that society imposes on us all, as women, regarding what is, and is not, acceptable (for which, sex work definitely falls under the ‘not acceptable’ category in our society)…

Again, whilst I appreciate that everyone will have an opinion, and that’s great- freedom of speech and all that- I do think that if you are ‘for’ some women’s rights, such as abortion, for example, but are against other women’s rights, such as sex work- the right to use one’s body however one wants to, then that does make you a bit of a hypocrite. Personally, the reason why I am in favour of abortion is because of this bodily autonomy I write of. In my mind, the idea that women can be told what they can and can’t do with their own bodies is just so wrong, and that extends to everything.

I am hopeful that we will get to a place in the future where we are more open minded about the things that I have discussed in relation to bodily autonomy. As we have seen LGBTQ+ rights become more widespread and celebrated, something which was unimaginable as little as 50 years ago when it was a crime to be gay, and you could be sent to prison for it, I am hopeful that we will see similar changes taking place in society surrounding things like sex work. As long as it’s not hurting anyone, we need to get to a place where we can all do whatever we want to do with our own bodies, and have this celebrated, not negatively perceived.

Just consider only fans, for example. The empowerment that women now feel towards their bodies because they know that they have control over them, it’s seen millions of people flocking to the platform. And, most aren’t doing this in private, most have the link to their only fans in their Instagram bios. If we were told this, say, ten years ago, we wouldn’t have believed it. Even then it was still seen as ‘taboo’ for a woman to embrace her sexuality privately, let alone ‘in public.’

To Conclude…

The real empowerment of women comes when we are able to do with our bodies/when we are able to do with our lives, whatever the hell we want to do with them, without fearing constant outside judgement because of it, even for things that society deems ‘wrong’ or ‘shocking.’ Posting nude photos on social media. Becoming a prostitute. Having an abortion. Whatever it is, and whether it’s perceived to be right, or wrong (as long as we’re not talking something that hurts other people, I’m not promoting murder here, just to be clear), then we should be able to do as we please. Because, this is OUR life which is being lived in OUR body. Not anyone else’s. No one else other than you should get a say on what you do with either your body or your life. If your family don’t approve, then that’s on them. Maybe there’s a part of them that is jealous of your freedom. Your ability to overlook outside judgement and do whatever YOU want to do. In fact, not ‘maybe’, I’d say that’s definitely the case. The old cliched, ‘it’s not you, it’s them’ (and, it really is them, NOT you. It, most likely, never was)…

So, just keep on doing you 

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