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15 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Casually hanging around, as ornaments?

Images like this (and the 37 likes it got) make me think that I should be more actively feminist.

I've been stewing about this picture since I first saw it.

Full disclosure: I am responsible for one of the 37 "likes." My mouse hovered over the button for probably a good minute before I decided, for reasons that are likely relevant only to me, to click "like." I now (and have, almost since the moment I did it) regret doing so, but it feels dishonest to change that, so it stands.

Two general points. First, I'm not very interested in "agency" here. I don't care who actively posed and who was photoshopped in, I don't care whose idea the pic was, or even why individuals chose to be involved. The people in this pic are mostly people I like and respect, and I'm not interested in trying to pin them down as individuals for their decisions. I'm not trying to "call out" anyone here. And for that reason, I also don't care about how many "real people" were involved: had this picture been composed using four female alts of Orwar, the meanings it produces would be the same.

My second point -- and this is in response to a post Orwar has since made in another thread -- is that this isn't about the state of undress of the women in this pic. I have no problems with pics featuring outright nudity, and I'm going to guess that Maddy feels the same. To be honest, I'd probably find a picture of the five people in this picture engaging in sex together a lot less problematic and objectionable than I do this one. The issue is the way in which that semi-nudity has been contextualized within this composition, and the fact that only the women are in a state of undress. This isn't about prudery: the issue is how the use of undress in this particular setting and context signifies.

So, let's talk instead about the composition. It features a single man, dressed elegantly in an expensive-looking "power suit," sitting on a chair that is large and grand enough that it might almost be a throne. And around him, clad in sexy lingerie, are four women. None of them are afforded the privilege of a chair: indeed, two are seated on the ground, at his feet. Their state of semi-nudity strongly contrasts with the man's elaborate and nearly over-dressed state. The focus of the picture is squarely on the man: he is at the centre of the pic, and the arrangement of the women, who float on the margins (literally and metaphorically) draws the eye to him.

The man looks powerful, and the more so, of course, because of his obvious position of dominance over the women who appear, as Maddy says, as "ornaments" -- like his dress, and the very grand chair upon which he is seated, they are important mainly as testimony to his power. The fact that the women are in sexy lingerie (no granny panties here!) attests to their sexual availability to the man: he can choose whichever he wants, like someone delving into a box of chocolates. The women are also, for this reason, interchangeable cyphers: all are beautiful, all are in a position of subservience, and all are at his beck and call, sexually. There is only really one "person" in this picture, and that is the man: the women are props. This pic is, despite the semi-clad state of the women, not about sex. It's about power.

The pic, in short, might have been plucked from the pages of Playboy Magazine, ca. 1965. And like the ethos of Playboy, the overwhelming signification is that the sexual revolution, which is supposed to be about the sexual liberation of women, is really most valuable to men because it has increased the number of potential sexual partners. Men needn't be threatened by women's sexuality: it can instead be exploited, and reframed in a way that actually enhances masculine dominance and superiority.

Nobody is going to seriously argue, I hope, that this isn't about the dominant position of the man in the picture?

Now, to be clear: I am not imputing any of this reading to a conscious decision the part of any of the participants in this picture. I don't for a moment believe that the women pictured here set out to create an image that would embody a desperately out-of-date conception of male power. I certainly do not assume that the meanings embodied here reflect the actual relationship existing between any of the participants. It's a carefully posed photo, a work of photographic "art," and not a signifier of an actual state of being.

I also want to make it clear that this isn't about "kink shaming." I couldn't care less if the four women (well, two or three in practice? I don't know who "Rita" is) are enjoying a menage-a-cinque with Orwar. That's totally their own business, and I'm completely fine with it.

But this picture is a very public one, and it's not merely documentation of what may or may not be happening behind the scenes: it's a communication of a particular set of ideas. That it is as carefully posed and setup as it clearly was demonstrates that: I don't see any way of reading it that doesn't, in the essentials, conform with what I've described above. What we do in privacy is entirely up us, and I'm not going to judge it. But when you make a carefully composed picture embodying a certain set of ideas public, then you've waived your right to escape judgment. If you are publicly expressing certain ideas, then you can, and should, expect that those ideas will be challenged.

All that said . . . this is clearly a "fun" picture. It's not, I take it, a "manifesto" or a deliberate statement about gender roles in RL. But even a "fun" picture produces meanings, and if you're going to publish those meanings, then they are fair game to comment.

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This is my current avatar. She's an Usagi Child ^.^  

i was wondering around a SIM one day, and some dude private messaged me tellin' me he loved my look... he was very polite and kind, asked me to stop running and turn my AO off for him, so i did... the

I find it very entertaining to switch my looks according to my mood. I woke up one day and decided to change my shape into a more petite and "model" look.   Before (with Genesis Lab bento head):

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14 hours ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Neat reversal. The women around you are clothed, while you're in your undies!

I like.

I wouldn't really call this a "reversal", as he's posing with statues, that are probably of Ancient Crete/Babylonia likenesses.   He's not posing with fully clad female avatars. Also, he posts a lot of pics in his undies,so it's not like this is that different from his normal shots.  I like the pic's coloring, and the contrast between ancient statues and laser lights, but I wouldn't say it's a "neat reversal". 

 

15 hours ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

Casually hanging around, as ornaments?

Images like this (and the 37 likes it got) make me think that I should be more actively feminist.

You know, we did a similar shot 2 years ago, and it was very organically put together, with two of the three women (Zeta and myself) pushing for the lingerie shoot.  Pretty sure we posted it in here, and no one talked about becoming "more actively feminist".  While I wasn't involved in this one,  I'm going to go on a limb and say Zeta was behind this shot. lol    It's actually kind of sad that women can't take these kinds of pics without someone thinking they are "ornaments" and not "strong women."  You are clearly reading what you want into this. 

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3 minutes ago, Catrie said:

I wouldn't really call this a "reversal", as he's posing with statues, that are probably of Ancient Crete/Babylonia likenesses.   He's not posing with fully clad female avatars. Also, he posts a lot of pics in his undies,so it's not like this is that different from his normal shots.  I like the pic's coloring, and the contrast between ancient statues and laser lights, but I wouldn't say it's a "neat reversal".

Mostly, I was being facetious about that. I'm pretty sure that Matt wasn't consciously commenting on Zeta's pic. It was just an interesting coincidence.

5 minutes ago, Catrie said:

It's actually kind of sad that women can't take these kinds of pics without someone thinking they are "ornaments" and not "strong women." 

I wouldn't say that they are ornaments or "weak." I would say that the picture imagines them as such, whatever the reality.

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2 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

I wouldn't say that they are ornaments or "weak." I would say that the picture imagines them as such, whatever the reality.

does it though?  I don't see it that way.  I don't see the picture imagining them as weak.   Even in Playboy,  the women,outside of Marilyn Monroe, have willingly posed for those pictures.  I've always seen it more as  empowerment for women.  Yes, they are sex symbols, but they know it and revel in it.  They are secure in their bodies and don't care who knows it.   Nothing in this pic screams "these women are weak" to me, not their expressions, not the positions, nothing.  They are exactly where they want to be, when they want to be.  I'd be more concerned if it were 4 women fully clad, surrounding a man, where they looked tired, dejected and resigned to their "place" like they are stuck with no way out. 

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25 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

So, let's talk instead about the composition. It features a single man, dressed elegantly in an expensive-looking "power suit," sitting on a chair that is large and grand enough that it might almost be a throne. And around him, clad in sexy lingerie, are four women. None of them are afforded the privilege of a chair: indeed, two are seated on the ground, at his feet. Their state of semi-nudity strongly contrasts with the man's elaborate and nearly over-dressed state. The focus of the picture is squarely on the man: he is at the centre of the pic, and the arrangement of the women, who float on the margins (literally and metaphorically) draws the eye to him

Well this is exactly what we had in mind when composing the shot. So I guess we did a good job here :) Not because we are submissive or weak women, or because Orwar is such a womanizing dominant guy (hes actually very cuddly), but  just because we wanted to do a remake of an earlier picture we did two years ago..

And that's about all you should read in to it. Its a picture, composed in a certain way, posted in a very insignificant place on the internet where we post pictures of digital people. And in general the majority of the pictures posted are more sexy/sexualized than they would ever post of real life pictures. Its not to make political statements, insult people, or anything other than fun and maybe a bit of creative expression. Let's not make it anything more than.

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2 minutes ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

hes actually very cuddly), but  just because we wanted to do a remake of an earlier picture we did two years ago..

from first hand experience, I can say he is very cuddly.   I'm a little sad I wasn't invited to the remake, Zeta. lol 

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40 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Rant

   I take it you wouldn't like to join us when we re-shoot this in 2 years then?

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7 minutes ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Well this is exactly what we had in mind when composing the shot. So I guess we did a good job here :)

Well, yes. And this is really all I was saying . . . except that I'd want to add that choosing to compose a shot that communicates those things is "political," whether that was your intention or not. I get, again, that this isn't meant to be taken too seriously: it's a "fun" pic. And I don't want you to think that I'm responding to it as though you were making a conscious political statement (as, for instance, that women are naturally subservient, etc.). But it is still true, whatever the intentions -- which are not embedded in, or evident from, the picture itself -- this is a pic that does communicate that idea.

10 minutes ago, Zeta Vandyke said:

Not because we are submissive or weak women, or because Orwar is such a womanizing dominant guy (hes actually very cuddly)

I don't for a moment believe any of those things about you. As I said in my post, I like and respect everyone in this picture. (Except for Rita because . . . who is Rita?)

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3 minutes ago, Orwar said:

   I take it you wouldn't like to join us when we re-shoot this in 2 years then?

That would be a pretty safe assumption, yes. But then I'm pretty sure you knew that before you read my "rant" (sic).

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5 minutes ago, Orwar said:

   I take it you wouldn't like to join us when we re-shoot this in 2 years then?

Orwar, let me ask you . . . if I wanted to do a pic that reversed the gender roles in this one, and I asked you to pose, with three other men, mostly naked at my feet, as I sat resplendent on a throne above you . . . would you feel entirely comfortable doing that?

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I believe context if everything. If that picture was posted somewhere not here, it could have had more meaning or a political load. But in this topic, not so much. Only the response to it makes it "politcal" imo.

But enough about this picture. Next time ill get Orwar to sit in his undies instead ;)

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49 minutes ago, Catrie said:

does it though?  I don't see it that way.  I don't see the picture imagining them as weak.   Even in Playboy,  the women,outside of Marilyn Monroe, have willingly posed for those pictures.  I've always seen it more as  empowerment for women.  Yes, they are sex symbols, but they know it and revel in it.  They are secure in their bodies and don't care who knows it.   Nothing in this pic screams "these women are weak" to me, not their expressions, not the positions, nothing.  They are exactly where they want to be, when they want to be.  I'd be more concerned if it were 4 women fully clad, surrounding a man, where they looked tired, dejected and resigned to their "place" like they are stuck with no way out. 

When Marilyn Monroe and others of that ilk were featured in pics, it was generally, if not always, with them front-and-centre. They are not hovering on the margins, or sitting at the feet of a fully clothed and dominating man.

And frankly, a lot of the pics of that era were sexist.

Again, this is not about nudity or near nudity. It's not about sex or sexuality. It's about power.

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I think it's sad that feminism is being used to shame the women that posed for this picture. Because that's pretty much what I've seen from this.   The women were called "ornaments".  When one said she willingly posed for this,  the reply was something about being on the same level as an accessory to hijacking.  It's also been said that the picture inferred that the women were "weak" and shames them for the appearance of being "sexually available" to the man in the picture.  Zeta was the one that posted it in here, not Orwar.   Zeta was one of those behind the making of this picture.  Basically, those talking about "feminism" are saying that  the women didn't know what they were doing, didn't know how it would be portrayed and just overall aren't able to make their own choices, simply because a gasp man is shown in the proverbial seat of power.  When it could be said that he is only there because they want him to be there and he could easily be replaced by them.  In that event, who is/are really the one/s in power?

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21 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Orwar, let me ask you . . . if I wanted to do a pic that reversed the gender roles in this one, and I asked you to pose, with three other men, mostly naked at my feet, as I sat resplendent on a throne above you . . . would you feel entirely comfortable doing that?

   I don't see why not, honestly. Except if you did it I might figure you're up to something fishy.

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2 minutes ago, Orwar said:

   I don't see why not, honestly. Except if you did it I might figure you're up to something fishy.

Ok, you're on. Let's do it. It'll take me a bit to find three other male models, but I have a male alt, so that's a start. I'll give you a shout.

And yes, I am most definitely up to something "fishy."

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27 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Orwar, let me ask you . . . if I wanted to do a pic that reversed the gender roles in this one, and I asked you to pose, with three other men, mostly naked at my feet, as I sat resplendent on a throne above you . . . would you feel entirely comfortable doing that?

/me hears roars of thuds by dropping male subs all over the grid quivering foam from their mouth as they pass out while this paragraph is read to them. 

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3 minutes ago, TDD123 said:

 

/me hears roars of thuds by dropping male subs all over the grid quivering foam from their mouth as they pass out while this paragraph is read to them. 

So, you think I won't have problems finding volunteers?

There's a male house elf who's been trying to get my attention for months now . . .

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1 hour ago, Catrie said:

...he's posing with statues, that are probably of Ancient Crete/Babylonia likenesses.  

Greek, actually.  They are copies of the famous caryatids at the Erechtheion in Athens.

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Just now, Rhun DeCuir said:

Greek, actually.  They are copies of the famous caryatids at the Erechtheion in Athens.

Thanks.  I thought they looked familiar.  😀

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Catrie said:

You are clearly reading what you want into this. 

 

1 hour ago, Catrie said:
1 hour ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

I wouldn't say that they are ornaments or "weak." I would say that the picture imagines them as such, whatever the reality.

I don't see it that way.

Are you seeing what you want to see?

I find that argument facile and tiresome.

I was raised in a highly egalitarian environment. I absolutely see the world differently than you, and many others. That hardly makes me unique, nor does it mean I "want" to see the world as I do. Scylla has captured most of my thinking about what I see represented in the image.

There is however, an extra dimension to my interpretation. The apparent male in power has, on this forum, expressed a penchant for "pushing people's buttons" as a way to gauge whether they are "worth his time". From where I sit, the behavior hinted at in the photograpy has been demonstrated here in the forum. Why would I "want" to see that?

Edited by Madelaine McMasters
Spelling, dammit!
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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

So, you think I won't have problems finding volunteers?

One might be a problem. I don' t judge him THAT much of a sport .. :D

No, it' s not Hugh Hefner.

 

Edited by TDD123
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