By Jonathan Dantley
For years upon years, women have been depicted and glorified in great and historical works of art. You have Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, the Virgin Mary, the Statue of Liberty, and even the Female Propaganda posters of World War II with the women flexing her triceps saying, “We Can Do It.” Undoubtedly, these works of art have made their way to the forefront of mainstream and commercial success; but all of the works mentioned were also created, funded, and marketed by men.
Chloe A. Hilliard of Vibe Magazine wrote an article about Erykah Badu, her recent album, and her latest video “Window Seat” in which Badu strips down to nothing in a public park to make a statement. Hilliard and especially Badu’s take on the issue is what really intrigued me, initially: “Society has a problem with Female nudity when it is not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. Then it just becomes confusing,” said Badu. This really got me to thinking. Have we, the general public, become so numb and desensitized to nudity and sexuality in the media that when it is not used for entertainment purposes, we don’t understand it? Has the human body been demoted to only a sexual and pleasurable object instead of a complex creation? I sure hope not. Because if that is the case, then art is losing it’s provocative power and TV, movies, music, and the overall media truly has shunned what was once so beloved and sacred.
Not all is lost, though. There are a few indicators that could prove Badu’s theory wrong. One would be Kanye West’s blog at HYPERLINK “http://www.kanyewest.com” http://www.kanyewest.com where West posts hundreds of portraits and photographs of, but not excluded to, naked women for an artistic purpose. Sure, these women are sexually appealing but the initial attraction is not where it stops. In my opinion, these posts celebrate the female body as art instead of just entertainment. At first glance, sure, the photographs are somewhat shocking; but if you go on and delve deeper into his blog, you don’t seem to notice as much and begin to take in the portraits for what they are: Pieces, not Pornography.