Pharyngula

As I’m sure many of you are aware, one of the more superficially off-putting elements of the Catholic church is to walk into one of their buildings and see it decorated with images of writhing, tortured men in loin cloths — it’s like stepping into a S&M fantasy, and I’m really not into that (not that there’s anything wrong with it, of course, if that’s your thing…). If the walls were draped with these, though, my reflexive rejection of the whole idea of church attendance might be softened.

i-0ac5693c7268ec361b45bf70971b09ce-welch.jpeg

I still wouldn’t pay any attention to the liturgy or the sermon or the hymns, though.

Somehow, I was also able to watch the whole movie that young lady was in without once grumbling about the banality of the plot or the ludicrous absurdity of mixing dinosaurs and cavemen, so she has proven powers in generating a willing suspension of disbelief, so I’m sure she’d be a perfect symbol for a religion.

Comments

  1. #1 Kobra
    April 16, 2009

    Time to crank out Adobe Photoshop and do an X-Ray of the image. :D

  2. #2 Jorge
    April 16, 2009

    My brother says that the Catholic Church has stock in the GI Joe Doll Company. When he sees one of these he says it reminds him of the GI Joe Doll “with the Kung Fu Grip”. After all, the guy has to have a hell of a grip to hang on that cross for 2 thousand years (so the mythology goes).

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 16, 2009

    I knew Raquel Welch was divine, just not how divine.

  4. #4 Pierce R. Butler
    April 16, 2009

    Raquel writhed for our sins!

  5. #5 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    Wish it worked on me. That movie was awful.

  6. #6 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 16, 2009

    @#1 Kobra…plz post link to pic when finished.

  7. #7 PZ Myers
    April 16, 2009

    I know! It was a terrible movie! Yet, somehow, I managed to sit through it all. Part of it was trying to puzzle out what was holding up those tiny scraps of leather, I think.

    Afterwards, I wasn’t able to read without moving my lips and I lost the ability to tie my own shoes, but it was a small price to pay.

  8. #8 Ouchimoo
    April 16, 2009

    I was watching an episode of some show called “What would you do”. Basically, it puts out actors doing questionable things that happen in real life behind closed doors and puts them out into the public for all to see. Then they videotape the reactions of people seeing these things. One was frat boy abuse and torture and public humiliation. The general public crowd flipped out and immediately intervened when college age boys were doing that to college age boys, however, when they did college age girls doing that to college age girls, people would go up and take pictures and video of it, laughed, some joined in and then walked off. So honestly, I don’t like this idea. I don’t need people objectifying women any more than what they already do.

  9. #9 MrFire
    April 16, 2009

    OT and a day late, but:

    Ever notice how Easter and Tax Season coincide? I would like to submit that Jesus fakes his death every year to avoid getting audited.

  10. #10 Marcus J. Ranum
    April 16, 2009

    I don’t need people objectifying women any more than what they already do.

    (boggles) does biology have morals?

  11. #11 Holbach
    April 16, 2009

    Poor Raquel, symbolized on the cross of religion that has mostly denigrated her sex. It’s a wonder religion even has a female in the dogma at all. Yet try to impose a female figure as a god and the freaking males go bonkers at the mere thought of being usurped as the power symbol.

  12. #12 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 16, 2009

    @8…

    The description of this picture is:

    “Raquel Welch, called by Playboy Magazine the “Most Desired Woman” of the ’70s, is captured being crucified while wearing nothing but a loin-cloth on the set of the 1970 film, “Myra Breckenridge.” The photo was devised for the poster of “One Million Years BC” and reflected O’Neill’s view that the Sixties were a decade that “crucified” the ideal of womanhood because it valued women only for their sexuality.”

  13. #13 Glen Davidson
    April 16, 2009

    I…I see the truth of the cross like never before.

    Truly it is a miracle. I shall forever be transfixed before the cross, longing for the consummation of her bodily sacrifice.

    If that figure doesn’t prove that there is a god, then nothing does.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  14. #14 Patricia, OM
    April 16, 2009

    The one thing that has stuck in my mind about this movie is the jet trails in the sky.

  15. #15 Dahan
    April 16, 2009

    Is there something wrong with me for thinking of the phrase “Take, eat, this is my body.” upon seeing this image?

  16. #16 Strangest brew
    April 16, 2009

    Seems religion is just far to ‘gay’…what with S&M without moustaches and the studded leather and loincloths abundant Sexually deprived men only advocates.. preaching the pink agenda of love jeebus cos he is a hotty!

    This would be a a religion with a plenty of ‘bitches in boots’ and a Pope wearing…not much at all…stockings and suspender belts along with very short cassocks….there would be no atheists left…unless they were gay!

  17. #17 MrFire
    April 16, 2009

    @13:

    “If that figure doesn’t prove that there is a god, then nothing does.”

    – I’d say Salma Hayek would be the ultimate test. Personally.

  18. #18 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 16, 2009

    @14:

    Don’t you mean PZ Myers?

  19. #19 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 16, 2009

    #18 should read:

    @17:

    Don’t you mean P.Z. Myers?

  20. #20 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    “I don’t need people objectifying women any more than what they already do.”

    I’m not sure this image fits so neatly into that idea though. It’s pretty challening in a sort of classic 70’s era feminist, Christ as rockstar, beginnings of kitsch kind of way.

  21. #21 Susan
    April 16, 2009

    It does symbolize the Church’s attitude towards women quite well but, for me, it would be even more of a reason to never go near the place. I see plenty of images of tortured women without seeking them out as it is. [See: Yesterday's news.]

  22. #22 Richard Harris
    April 16, 2009

    “I don’t need people objectifying women any more than what they already do.”

    I recall hearing part of a news story on the radio about some research recently on male reaction to the sight of attractive young women. Their response was the same as their response to objects. I presume that brain imaging was involved.

    Does anyone here know anything about this? It sounds plausible to me, & this admission doesn’t mean that I treat females as objects rather than as people.

  23. #23 Ouchimoo
    April 16, 2009

    #12 & #20

    I donno, Hanging that up on their walls and expecting them to get it, seems to me like we are giving them WAAAY too much credit. As I remember, church was chock full of nasty old men who liked to accidentally ‘miss’ on the handshake to feel up a young girls boob. I don’t think they would mind a wall hanging of a loin cloth girl tied up S&M style.

  24. #24 Don
    April 16, 2009

    Dave Allen on his introduction to iconography and catholic education.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxo81Ok9Urk

  25. #25 Rorschach
    April 16, 2009

    I dont think even Racquel Welch can fix the basic fuckedupness of catholic iconography.

  26. #26 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    “I recall hearing part of a news story on the radio about some research recently on male reaction to the sight of attractive young women”

    I wonder what the reaction to unattractive women was, then also to males. But really objectification, in terms of visual art, is more active than simply males responding to attractive females. It has more to do with who controls the female body, how it gets used, and how it is presented to men and also to women. Some of the most offensive ads I have seen are marketed to women, not to men. Anyway, my point is that it’s deeper than what men are attracted to.

  27. #27 Ouchimoo
    April 16, 2009

    @ #22 Richard Harris
    First of all ~ :3

    Second, I read that article. And the report wasn’t just “attractive young women” it was attractive young women being displayed sexually on calendars, magazines etc. When the men were viewing women that way their brains responded as if they were looking at or using tools and objects. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/16/sex-object-photograph

  28. #28 Qwerty
    April 16, 2009

    I once told my strait-laced evangelical sister that I would love to open a chain of chicken shacks and call it Cathedral Chicken (“look for the flying buttresses”) and served “chick-on-a-stick” cause it’s “crucifried.”

    She was not amused.

  29. #29 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    “I dont think even Racquel Welch can fix the basic fuckedupness of catholic iconography.”

    Has anyone ever seen old iconography depicting the “mystic wound” of Christ? Here is a not-so-great image. Guess you have to have a book to see the really interesting ones, but for a while Jesus’s stab wound was portrayed in surprisingly feminine ways.

  30. #30 Zar
    April 16, 2009

    I think Christianity should have a woman on the cross. It would sum up its m.o. pretty well.

  31. #31 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    The thing that makes this more challenging to me is that in Christian iconography the crucifiction was a path to realizing godhood. So the thing about this is that it is also blasphemous in that it suggests a mortal female usurping the power of Christ. They may like torturing women, but that sure as hell shouldn’t lead to resurrection.

  32. #32 octopod42
    April 16, 2009

    blueelm, your link’s bad.

  33. #33 sarahzee
    April 16, 2009

    Went to church on Sunday for Easter with fellow atheist husband and our 5-year-old. Husband’s mom usually cries because we don’t go to church, so thought we would go just to avoid it. Not only did she still cry even though we went, we had to watch a horrible and disturbing video depicting the cruci-fiction. I tried distracting the 5-year-old with an Easter coloring book. Nice!

  34. #34 Mark S
    April 16, 2009

    PZ refers to Catholic churches being full of “images of writhing, tortured men in loin cloths”.

    Just a thought.. Jesus, if he ever existed, was very likey crucified naked. The whole loin cloth thing is just Christian prudery in action – or perhaps an aversion to having a prominent reminder that Jesus was Jewish,

  35. #35 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    Thanks, I will try again.

  36. #36 Ouchimoo
    April 16, 2009

    @ Sarahzee

    Ick.
    One of my earliest memories when I was very young was I was very distraught from something I was hearing over the loud speaker. My grandparents and my mother was there, and I was whining to get their attention which they just ignored me. What was playing over the loudspeaker was crucifixion story. Specifically how they pounded nails into the guys hand. Hurray for disturbing memories. At least your kid has a mom to distract rather than ignoring!

  37. #37 Matt Heath
    April 16, 2009

    Mark S. Giving the “loin cloth” thing the most charitable interpretation I can come up with, I guess it is because It Is Written in the Noah part of Genesis that looking at someone naked is disrespectful to them.

    Also, they probably wanted to avoid extensive theological debates on the dimensions of Christ’s cock.

  38. #38 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 16, 2009

    Not sure what you are doing with your link blueelm but

    [a href="http://www.mylink.com"]my link[/a]

    Replace the brackets with the greaterthan/lessthan

  39. #39 Matt Heath
    April 16, 2009

    blueelm: no. Still dead.

  40. #40 Blake Stacey
    April 16, 2009

    When the men were viewing women that way their brains responded as if they were looking at or using tools and objects.

    If it’s in the mass media and it’s about the brain, it’s probably wrong.

    The Guardian report in question was based on unpublished research which had just been presented at a conference and which was shot through with overinflated claims.

  41. #41 CJO
    April 16, 2009

    If it’s in the mass media and it’s about the brain, it’s probably wrong.

    As everybody knows, we only use 10% of the mass media.

  42. #42 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 16, 2009

    As everybody knows, we only use 10% of the mass media.

    And everyone knows that 90% of statistics are made up 50% of the time.

  43. #43 LightningRose
    April 16, 2009

    It’s reminiscent of Australian artist Norman Lindsay’s, “The Crucified Venus”, a central theme in the 1994 film, “Sirens”.

    http://www.bpib.com/illustrat/lindsay.htm
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111201/

  44. #44 nothing's sacred
    April 16, 2009

    I don’t need people objectifying women any more than what they already do.

    I suppose there is a sense in which replacing a statue of an imagined man — an actual object — with a real woman “objectifies” her.

    Personally, I’m concerned with the oppression of women. While male sexual attraction towards women can play a role in that, it isn’t oppressive per se.

  45. #45 Drosera
    April 16, 2009

    “Were you hanging out with that Jesus again?”

  46. #46 blueelm
    April 16, 2009

    yeah… I’m making my link exactly like that. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem to work. Oh well.

  47. #47 Blondin
    April 16, 2009

    She also has experience in religious roles. She played “Lust” in the original (Pete & Dud) version of The Seven Deadly Sins.

  48. #48 Menyambal
    April 16, 2009

    Rowr for Raquel in anything.

    Some of the comments remind me of a time I heard the phrase “exploiting women’s bodies”. I was out with my dear one–a sweet little lady–and we were wandering around the mall, just happy to be together and indoors on a wintry Sunday afternoon. We sauntered around a corner, and before us was a sale of hardware, tools, saws and such. Prominently displayed was a larger-than-life poster of a larger-than-life young woman wearing not much more than a tool belt and two wrenches. Bam! My eyes locked, my breath caught, my palms sweated and my … um, well, I was 22 at the time, and had had a rather sheltered upbringing. So had my dear lady, and there was no way she’d ever wear an outfit like that, or look like that, and why was I hanging around with a dog like her, anyhow? So there I was, with hormones hammering, ready to buy everything in the sale just to have an excuse to look at the poster some more. Which is when my lady looked at the poster and sniffed, “Hmmph, exploiting women’s bodies.”

  49. #49 natural cynic
    April 16, 2009
  50. #50 heliobates
    April 16, 2009

    I’d say Salma Hayek would be the ultimate test. Personally.

    Sorry, no. It’s Rachel Weisz. Or maybe Monica Bellucci.

    Or Rachel Weisz AND Monica Bellucci.

    I’ll be in my bunk.

  51. #51 Paul
    April 16, 2009

    “..decorated with images of writhing, tortured men in loin cloths ? it’s like stepping into a S&M fantasy”

    You might think you are joking, but as somebody who _is_ into that, I can anecdotally theorize the Catholic Church might be the largest single institution responsible for raising entire generations of kinky people.

    On so many levels, religions iconography and fetish imagery have much more in common than many people realize.

  52. #52 TheNewAtheist
    April 16, 2009

    I’d listen to her quote the bible for hours..

    http://www.TheNewAtheist.com

  53. #53 mothwentbad
    April 16, 2009

    No, heliobates. There must be THREE.

  54. #54 hje
    April 16, 2009

    I’m still fond of Buddy Christ from Dogma. George Carlin, you are missed.

  55. #55 SKM
    April 16, 2009

    The image of Welch crucified has some interesting subversive subtexts that other comments have hinted at–putting a woman in a divine role, a reflection of the Church’s treatment of women, etc. The image could make for an interesting post. This, however, is not that post.

    And no, nobody here said that “male sexual attraction is oppressive per se”, as nothing’s sacred put it, but when male desire becomes so tied (ha!) to domination that men look at a gray, contorted, crucified woman and think only “wowza–I’d hit that!” something in society’s gone seriously off the rails.

  56. #56 Fiisi
    April 16, 2009

    The “Let Jesus fuck you” line from The Exorcist takes on a whole new perspective.

  57. #57 heliobates
    April 16, 2009

    No, heliobates. There must be THREE.

    Number Three is my beer volcano.

    Weisz, Bellucci and a beer volcano beat the juice of 72 raisins any day.

  58. #58 atomjack
    April 16, 2009

    People who talk about objectification of women remind me of a conversation I had elsewhere on the net about men’s fascination with fire. Disclaimer- I am not an arsonist. Arsonists should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    It’s a completely visual thing, and I’m a visual guy. I’m a physicist, and I can recognize beauty in the following things: logical solutions to mathematical or physical problems, the curvaceous appearance and motion of a woman, curvaceousness in automobiles, and fire. If I look at the motion of the flames in a fire, I think of a woman dancing with her arms over her head…the similarity is striking. It took me a while to figure out the emotional connection. It’s the way I’m wired, and I make no apology for it. I treat my wife like a human being, by the way. I’d never put her on a cross. Now, a pedestal…well, Venus…never mind. ;^)

  59. #59 Menyambal
    April 16, 2009

    The whole cross business has always bothered me.

    At least a million people were crucified at one time or another, two of them right there with Jesus, according to the Bible. So how do we know we are replicating the correct cross?

    Only one of all the people crucified came back from the dead and rolled away the stone from his tomb. Why isn’t the Christian symbol a rolled-away stone? Okay, that’d be hard to symbolize clearly, but it’d be cheap.

    Or how about an empty tomb? Granted, that would be hard to get on a chain around one’s neck, or put up on a steeple, but Christians really aren’t supposed to be advertising, are they?

    The empty tomb would be a bit more feminine, too. A cross is fairly phallic, and with a near-naked dead guy on it, it is just too outré for words.

  60. #60 RobertDW
    April 17, 2009

    Menyambal @59, that one is easy to answer, at least.

    The whole point of the magic Jesus juice is that Jesus died, in suffering and anguish, for your sins*, and it is that suffering and anguish that the Christians venerate with the Cross.

    The Resurrection is meant to prove that Jesus was the son of God, but without the ordeal to redeem the sins, he isn’t Christ the Redeemer – so Christians idolise the cross as a symbol of that suffering, not just of Jesus.

    Of course, WHY it was necessary for an omnipotent, omniscient diety to indulge in self sadism-masochism is questionable.

    * well, maybe your sins. Maybe not. I know it wasn’t for mine; I like my sins and keep them close by where I can keep an eye on them – they haven’t been washed away.

  61. #61 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    Thanks, RobertDW, that’s a good explanation. For clear theological reasoning, ask an atheist. Hmmm.

    Redemption, huh? Well, as I have said elsewhere, it wasn’t much of an ordeal, once divided up amongst the human race. I mean, I’m going to spend eternity in Hell to pay for one weekend in New Orleans, and this guy cleans everyone’s slate in less time than I’ve spent passing kidney stones?

    Somebody has an over-developed sense of vengeance.

  62. #62 ZK
    April 17, 2009

    Rachel Welch?
    Fur bikini?
    Yummy!

    I didn’t even notice the cross at first :-)

  63. #63 TheLady
    April 17, 2009

    Oh noes, religion is so nasty! It’s all about suffering and pain and really kinky iconography and we don’t agree with it alls!

    Lets make it much better by replacing the kinky iconography with pukchurs of suffering and pain that we can wank to!

    Oh yes.

    Not that objectification of women seeps into every facet of culture to the point where someone who calls himself a rationalist can joke about POUNDING NAILS THROUGH A WOMAN’S BODY as if it’s some kind of improvement on the state of the world as it currently is.

  64. #64 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    TheLady, no-one joked about “POUNDING NAILS THROUGH A WOMAN’S BODY”. Nor does the picture show such.
    Wherefore your claim of affront?

  65. #65 TheLady
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales, do you claim to divorce images of crucifixion from the violent means of being crucified, then?

    The reason that Christian iconography is effective – be it Jesus on the cross or St. Sebastian pierced by arrows – is because it depicts scenes of physical and emotional suffering that people can identify with and reach catharsys through (or so goes the theory, at least – of course the reality of religiosity is far shallower and more hypocritical than that). Freudean interpretations aside, Christian iconography is rarely overtly sexual.

    What PZ jokingly proposes is not only replacing images of suffering and pain endured by men by those of equal suffering and pain endured by women (implying that women’s pain is easier and less disturbing for him to spectate), but adding an overtly and deliberately objectifying and demeaning facet to this exposure by making sure the women in question confirm to the desires of the male gaze.

    Now, PZ’s post as such is probably not much worse than thoughtless, filppant and in keeping with the prevailing paradygm. The comments are what is truly astonishing – the fact that multiple people, over a preiod of several hours, working as it were collaboratively in a discoursive manner, can endorse, elaborate on, and improve upon his suggestion without even a glimmer of self awareness.

    Not much better is the fact that the quite correct remark about displaying mostly naked women’s bodies for the delectation of the male gaze is objectifying was met with rebuttals no more introspective than “no it isn’t because I treat my lady nice”.

    This community is supposed to be a rational one, bent on analysis and careful examination rather than blind faith and self-interested assertion. But it has a big, big blind spot when it comes to women – both in terms of what religion does to them and just generally in regards to their right to be considered fellow human beings (a point of view nominally endorsed, but as in this caes, de facto neglected).

    This disappoints me. Time and time again, I am let down by the extent of critical thinking the Pharyngula tribe demonstrates on this topic. And I call it out, in provocative and strident tones (it’s hard to be heard otherwise among the hundreds of comments being posted to each thread), not so much in order to make people think as to remind them that they ought to be thinking – that, in fact, they do not deserve their mantle of smug superiority over religious nuts and creationist idiots if they give themselves a free pass from thinking.

  66. #66 Peter B.
    April 17, 2009

    With a significant proportion of the world’s population worshiping an image of a man being tortured to death on a crude wooden execution device, no wonder the world is in such a mess.

    There is no way I could be convinced of any value in being reminded of the inhumanity of our species in this fashion every Sunday, while simultaneously being threatened with eternal torment for not toeing the line.

    Likewise, seeing Raquel mounted on a cross is about as attractive as the thought of being sent on an Iraqi holiday in a George W. Bush suit.

    If there was any icon which might somehow magically turn everyone into good people, maybe it might better be in the same vein as this idea for washbasin design. Just as this masterpiece would certainly improve public hygiene, I’m sure religion would better serve believers with something like this topless virgin, rather than a crucifix.

  67. #67 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    TheLady, does that look to you like an image of suffering and pain, or rather like a cynical exploitation of that Christian iconography to which you refer for the sake of advertising?

    This community is supposed to be a rational one, bent on analysis and careful examination rather than blind faith and self-interested assertion.

    We’re a mixed bag.
    Still, most would recognise the image for what it is, and it ain’t one of “suffering and pain endured”.

    This disappoints me. Time and time again, I am let down by the extent of critical thinking the Pharyngula tribe demonstrates on this topic.

    It may just means you’re an outlier in your opinions, if they’re regularly contrary to the consensus.

    I appreciate the response, though. Thanks.

  68. #68 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    TheLady @ 65

    Have you read all the comments? Mine @ 11 ?

  69. #69 John Morales
    April 17, 2009

    Actually, Holbach, I was thinking you’re as touchy about religion as TheLady appears to be about sexism.

  70. #70 Holbach
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales @ 69

    No dispute there.

  71. #71 TheLady
    April 17, 2009

    John Morales, again I must ask – how can you separate crucifix from crucifiction? Yes, it is an image redolent with pain and suffering. That’s what a crucifix is. The fact that Raquel Welch is not herself in pain is largely immaterial, in the “no actual animals were hurt in the making of this movie” kind of way; if the movie is a violent one, the actual bodycount is not an ethical cover for the visible one.

    The fact that this is, as you say, a cynical attempt to subvert a recognisable symbol, the fact that the model heself represents the desires of the male gaze, that she herself is famous and in some way a recognisable symbol, that this was done for advertizing and is in that sense not a straightforward image but a signifier of other desires – all these things complicate the contemplation of the image.

    They don’t however have much bearing on the current discussion, which is limited to how we as a community see the image. And the response from the community has been, if anything, hypo-complicated: it’s a sexy broad. Bring it on, oh yeah, oh momma. No wait, we should do the same thing with someone younger. No, two of them. No, three. It was seriously not a deep philosophical debate about cynical advertising execs…

    Anyway. As for being an outlier, yes, I am (at least here – believe me when I tell you that there are other online communities in which I am the retrograde conservative!). But that doesn’t make me wrong – just differently aware. =)

  72. #72 TheLady
    April 17, 2009

    Holbach @68: yes, I read your comment and agreed with it fully, however it was addressing the image itself (or more exactly, Raquel Welch herself) and not PZ’s post and the suggestion it contained, so I didn’t feel that calling it out was relevant to my argument. It was not intended as a slight.

  73. #73 Delalyra
    April 17, 2009

    I’m with TheLady on this one. The image is misogynist, and so are far too many of the comments. It reminds me that, as we have been, women are still the sex class.

    It is extremely dissapointing to see this attitude from Pharyngula. May I suggest some light reading? http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

  74. #74 Keenacat
    April 17, 2009

    What exactly is misogynistic about sex or the appreciation of some nice curves?
    Please tell me, I really want to know. What is it about the human (and especially the female) body that should exclude it from being admired if somebody shows it off voluntarily?
    I for one do enjoy the ocassional compliment about my outer features as much as those about my inner features. And yes, sometimes I actually dress up nicely and show off the outer features I am proud of.
    So do even my male friends and the boyfriend, too. This is no girls-only-business. Men are subjected to female gaze as well.
    Admiration is nice and people enjoy it, even if it is inspired by sexual arousal. There is absolutely nothing bad about it, as long as it involves consenting adults – I think we can safely declare Mrs. Welsh consentig as well as adult.

    When it comes to arguments drawn from symbolism… Well, we’ve certainly seen some different approaches here. But would TheLady please explain hers? Maybe due to my lack of language skills, I simply perceived a pointless rant.

  75. #75 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    TheLady, take a breath.

    In the article, PZ wrote, “…S&M fantasy, and I’m really not into that….”, which seems to make it clear that he is not getting off on the implied torture aspects of the picture. He further says, “…my reflexive rejection of the whole idea of church attendance might be softened…” which certainly doesn’t imply that he’d start going to church just to leer. He is *not* in any way getting off on suffering or the implication thereof–he is illustrating that the Church *is* the pervert.

    The image itself is not torture. The woman is not nailed, writhing, bloody or dying. To say that every man looking at it is mentally filling in the spikes and pain is over-generalizing, projecting or prejudice. My own personal fantasy when looking at the picture is that she’s been tied there to be eaten by a dragon, and I am going to save her, get married, live happily ever after and respect her as a person. Actually, that’s not true … I have no fantasy at all when looking at the photo–I just see that it’s an ironic reference to crucifixes, not at all erotic, and I think about Jesus.

    Or I think about the movie where Ms Welch wore the fur bikini, and I think about how outrageously hot she was in it. But I do not find this photo hot, or her being on a cross arousing, nor do I for one second imagine anything more painful or sadistic than is in the image. Nor, I dare say, does the average commenter here.

    You are the person imagining cruelty, you are the person with fantasies, you are the person with gender issues. Take a breath, and explain exactly how a woman posing against a cross is clearly misogyny most foul, while a man nailed to a cross is somehow not misandry at all, without yourself saying that women are the sexual gender.

  76. #76 nic nicholson
    April 17, 2009

    I just wanted to point out that it would be extremely inappropriate for anyone to suggest that this cross should be upside down. Don’t do it.

  77. #77 Susan
    April 17, 2009

    @Keenacat

    What exactly is misogynistic about sex or the appreciation of some nice curves?
    Please tell me, I really want to know. What is it about the human (and especially the female) body that should exclude it from being admired if somebody shows it off voluntarily?

    If you truly are interested, and not just wanking, read this classic Twisty post on regaining your lost empathy. It’s hardly Patriarchy 101 stuff, but perhaps you’re ready for it.

  78. #78 E.V.
    April 17, 2009

    Dear old Twisty writes from a singularly specific perspective, I can agree with her up to a point and only to a point because she writes only from a woman vs patriarchy/lesbian versus Patriarchy perspective. All men no matter how empathetic and sympathetic are unwelcome if they so much as utter an “I”. I don’t think she hates men, it’s just that she has no empathy for them beyond her own feminist ideology and personal grudges. For Twisty, men can never truly be feminists. I am unwilling to apologize for being born a male. Other than that, she’s a smart writer and an epicurean.
    I wish her the best, (I have been very concerned about her battle with cancer) but sheesh, she is as polemic and unwielding as those she despises. So here’s a grain of salt to go with that twist.
    The human form can be beautiful and sexy. I find no beauty in violent/humiliation forms of porn, but some porn is grand. C’est la vie.

    Howls of “asshole!” “Misogynist!” “Patriarchist!” in 3-2-1…

  79. #79 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    I also went and read the Twisty post. I agree with her about half. Porn has distorted many folk’s perception, but so has advertising, religion and education.

    I see her attitude as similar to many other people’s. She is closed down and angry, and not seeing other’s points of view. Yes, there are some real asshole men out there, but to pretend that no woman can be a snarling asshole is just silly. I’m not saying that Twisty is all wrong, I’m just tired of people (not just women) saying that they are completely right and everyone else is wrong.

    Women, in my experience, are just as human as men, good and bad. The sad fact that men as a gender are larger, more forceful and more sexually predatory does not make all men rapists. Nor is all porn symbolic rape.

    I once went into a man’s workshop, and saw that the walls were covered with pictures of partially-clad women. I knew that some of my female friends would have recoiled in horror, screamed and condemned the man. But, after a moment’s contemplation (yes, I looked at the pictures) I noticed that every woman was smiling, happy, healthy, outdoors and having fun. Was that porn? Was that rape? I don’t think so, and I know my own emotions and my own thoughts better than anyone else does.

    A woman telling me, a man, what I think and feel is just as weird as a fundamentalist Christian telling me, an atheist, what I think and feel. My motivations are not yours to maul about. If we can communicate about them, fine. But do not expect me to think that you are the source of all knowledge in the universe. You are not, I am not. We, together, might be.

  80. #80 SKM
    April 17, 2009

    Howls of “asshole!” “Misogynist!” “Patriarchist!” in 3-2-1…

    Wow–defensive much?

    but to pretend that no woman can be a snarling asshole is just silly.

    Nobody, either here or at Twisty’s blog, has said that.

    Please try to remain reasonable, gentlemen–you’re getting emotional.

  81. #81 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    This all somehow reminds me . . .

    I watched the movie _The_Color_Purple_ as the only man in a room full of militant feminists, some of them truly man-hating lesbian abuse victims. They all thought that Whoopi Goldberg and “Sugar” had sex, and thought the scene not showing it was beautifully done, applauding that scene as it ended. I agreed, and not out of fear for my life. Nobody else that I’ve ever asked about that movie agreed that sex actually occurred between the two women.

  82. #82 E.V.
    April 17, 2009

    Howls of “asshole!” “Misogynist!” “Patriarchist!” in 3-2-1…
    Wow–defensive much?

    No, just used to reactionary ideologues and smugly snarky people like you.; )

    Nobody, either here or at Twisty’s blog, has said that.

    Said what exactly?
    I have collected a few comment sections from pastPatriarchy columns for a few ideas on a future project, so my impression of Twisty’s particular bias is well documented but Pharyngula is not the forum for that.

    You needn’t concern yourself with me SKM, I like Twisty.

  83. #83 Menyambal
    April 17, 2009

    Emotional? Yes, fairness is an emotional subject for me.

    I didn’t say that anyone was saying that women cannot be snarling. What I was trying to slide across is that Twisty, for all her skills, bears many of the hallmarks of close-minded jerk-hood. If she were a Christian preacher-man writing the same way about the evils of porn, we’d all be hooting. Which makes her no less of a person, of course.

    Oh, the hell with this. My wife is on her way home. I want to meet her at the door, tell her about our daughter’s day, hear about her day, share the preparing of the popcorn and cheese we’ve had every Friday night since we’ve been together, and, later, rub her feet as I do every night.

  84. #84 SKM
    April 17, 2009

    No, just used to reactionary ideologues and smugly snarky people like you.; )

    I think you have me confused with somebody else.

    And menyambal, we agree–there’s nothing like a good foot-rub.

  85. #85 E.V.
    April 17, 2009

    I think you have me confused with somebody else.

    That’s funny, from the implied sardonic ad hominem ruse, I pretty much have you pegged.

  86. #86 E.V.
    April 17, 2009

    You’ll pardon me while I go prepare dinner for the wife and kids.

  87. #87 Keenacat
    April 17, 2009

    Err, wait…
    If I get the Twisty post right, it’s about sadistic fantasies in women/dominance/submission/porn…
    When did we switch from “sex or the appreciation of some nice curves” to “BDSM and porn”?
    But whatever:
    That covers not nearly all of human sexual interaction, nor does it explain the interesting phenomenon of men totally into submission and women totally into dominance.
    As an outsider on this issue (I’m not even into mild bondage stuff) I leave this field to somebody better prepared for this discussion.

    Coming to porn, I do discuss porn with kids aged 12 to 16 on a regular basis since I do a sex-ed-project at schools and the issue does come up a lot. And compared to their often woefully humble knowledge of contraception and their own anatomy we are generally content with their stance on porn. Most kids, even the young ones, do get the difference between porn and reality as well as the difference between a movie and reality. There is always the need of reassurance, as with every issue regarding bodily functions and sexual desires, but they do handle it pretty well.
    The less uptight a society in general and the childs social environment in particular is about issues of sex etc., the better they get along.

    On a side note, the idea that porn is somehow a “grapic representation of rape”, which surely does not account for all of it, and is somehow more objecifying of women than of men always struck me as beyong logic. It resides in the same realm as the notion that consenting sex is somehow impossible, since, y’know, the man is INSERTING something and therefore agressive, no matter how consenting the woman might be…

    The blog post was pretty revealing. I see, there is a twisted kind of logic hidden somewhere, but there is absolutely no POINT being made. And, to be upfront, I won’t take the accusation of having lost my empathy. Actually, I can safely say this is not the case, since my empathy is in daily use. Still, I enjoy being around my boyfriend and my friends, I enjoy having sex and also think sex is not only fun, but can be the most intimate and delightful moment in a partnership, including all mutual respect people could possibly have for each other.
    I do think that rape can be distinguished from consenting sex and I think the kicker is either incapacitation of the victim (due to drugs, for example) or force (that includes psychological pressure). I do not think that you can miss out on being raped, not even due to “porn-poisoning”.
    (Yes, I do include this opinion into the sex-ed-thing.)

    After having spent nearly two hours on this issue, I came to the following conclusion:
    I regard the special brand of feminism revealed in this blog post as neither close to reality nor enlightening or even helpful. But thanks for playing, anyway.

  88. #88 heliobates
    April 17, 2009

    . And the response from the community has been, if anything, hypo-complicated: it’s a sexy broad. Bring it on, oh yeah, oh momma. No wait, we should do the same thing with someone younger. No, two of them. No, three. It was seriously not a deep philosophical debate about cynical advertising execs…

    In going for the laugh, I grabbed the cheapest tool around. TheLady was right to call me on my sexist behaviour.

    I gratefully accept the rebuke and apologize for my doodliness.

  89. #89 TheLady
    April 18, 2009

    @74:

    What is it about the human (and especially the female) body that should exclude it from being admired if somebody shows it off voluntarily? [...] I for one do enjoy the ocassional compliment about my outer features as much as those about my inner features.

    How many compliments to Raquel Welch’s “inner features” do you see on this thread, Keenacat? How many are there on her Wiki page? On a Google search? There’s no use pretending that women in general are highly valued for their moral, intellectual and political contribution to the world, with occasional light relief in the form of erotic appreciation.

    If you fail to see the point of calling out prejudice wherever it rears its head, then I guess for you my post was a “pointless rant”. If you think that moral vigilance about sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc. should be quarantined to specialized corners of the ‘net and not allowed to interfere with your perusal of misogynist images, then I can see how you would find my contribution here out of place. I however believe that a high standard of intellectual honesty and moral acuity is a good asset to bring to any forum, especially a rationalist one.

    Everybody else: do, please just read the FAQ. I’m not here to waste time educating you about Feminism 101. If your ignorance is getting in the way of understanding my objections, that is not in itself a sufficient rebuttal of my arguments.

    PS Keenacat: A whole two hours, eh? Wow.

  90. #90 TheLady
    April 18, 2009

    heliobates @88: working on the assumption that you aren’t just being sarcastic, I’m pretty wowed by your comment. Thanks. And, unironically: big of you.

  91. #91 Keenacat
    April 18, 2009

    Two hours contemplating one single blog entry is pretty much. I’m not retarded, y’know, and I usually do not spend that much time on one text that short.

    >>How many compliments to Raquel Welch’s “inner features” do you see on this thread, Keenacat?

    I’m not suggesting there are. I’m saying that compliments on outer features are not necessarily worse than those on inner features, especially if the person in question provides mainly her physical appearance, for example through a photo. And you still haven’t provided reasoning why they should be considered worse.

    Neither have I suggested you should take your rants anywhere else. I just voiced my personal opininon of how pointless they are and, as far as I can see, was pretty busy commenting on the blog post I was submitted. That my conclusion on certain topics is different than yours and I do not appreciate your take on these topics does not mean I restrict your right to voice your own opinion here in any way.

    Maybe better reading comprehension might be helpful. Or less out-of-hand-interpretation of what I wrote.

  92. #92 Delalyra
    April 18, 2009

    Keenacat: I agree, there is rarely anything inherently misogynistic in expressing a genuine compliment about a person’s physical features. It’s about the attitude and context of the compliment that makes it misogynistic.

    I take issue with a few things in particular:

    1. The attitude taken by PZ in the above post, and by a whole ton of the commenters, ie: “hur hur hur, religion would be so much better if there were more half-naked women associated with it!”

    This makes women into an accessory, something that can be used to improve something else. Worse, it’s not even women themselves that would make religion more interesting, just their sexy, sexy bodies. This is objectification, and it is, in a word, not cool.

    You’re right in that “compliments on outer features are not necessarily worse than those on inner features.” But how often are women complimented on inner features as opposed to outer features? TheLady is right, women in this world are valued (and are influenced to enjoy being valued) for their physical appearance. See also: high heels, breast enhancement, the makeup aisle.

    Lastly, and not entirely related to this train of thought, but: I find the description of the photo on the page linked in the OP to be sadly ironic. The photo “reflect[s] O’Neill’s view that the Sixties were a decade that “crucified” the ideal of womanhood because it valued women only for their sexuality.”

    They must have missed the memo– women are still metaphorically crucified for having a sexuality. Maybe not as widely as in the 60s, but it still happens. Women who healthily enjoy sex are branded as “sluts” and are shamed because of it, while men are encouraged, indeed are required, to display sexual prowess. That’s a sexist double standard.

  93. #94 SKM
    April 19, 2009

    Delalyra @92: Very well put.

    I would add that it’s not only that women are less-often complimented on or valued for personality or actions than for appearance. The kicker is that women get the message that appearance is their primary value, more important that anything else they may be or accomplish. So while women may indeed be admired for their skills and characters, references to their appearance can be used at any time to remind them of their “rightful” place.

    This idea may seem vanishingly subtle to men who have not been its target on a regular basis, but it is actually quite common. No, the men in this thread may not interrupt a woman who is making a point in front of men she respects to tell her that she’s “cute”, but some people do. See also, “you’re cute when you’re angry” and the obverse: “you’re not pretty when you frown like that”. These examples are blatant; most IRL are more subtle.

    So no, when you consistently introduce your friends as “the brilliant Mr. X” and “the lovely Ms. Z” it’s certainly not an insult, but bear in mind the context–that appearance judgments are often used to trivialize us– and the fact that this stuff compounds over a lifetime.

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