Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

pornographic photos of women directly linked in FPPs
June 23, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Re: pornographic photos of women directly linked in FPPs.

There isn't a hard-and-fast no-linking-to-porn rule on MetaFilter AFAIK - and I don't think there should be, and I'm not calling for one (to be very clear). I absolutely think every post should be judged individually on its merits. The post in question has a disclaimer of "sexy" and "nudity" as well so this isn't a matter of insufficient NSFW warning.

I very much understand the appeal in a website of curated vintage photos. However, I don't see the necessity in directly linking to pornographic photos of women on the front page of MeFi if they have no other context or point of discussion, and there is really nothing more to these particular pornographic pictures except that they are on a website of generally interesting old photos.

My personal take is that this instance crosses a line since there's no other context to it. I would say that the post probably did not need to be framed with a direct link to the pornographic content on the site, and I question the use of "very sexy" in the framing as well. MeFi is definitely a place to share neat & interesting things you find online, but does neat & interesting extend to hey, let me share with you some 'very sexy' pictures of ladies with or without their vintage undergarments on?

I did flag the post & I discussed it with the mod on duty through the contact form. I did not post this last night when the post in question went up because when I asked if it was okay to take it to MeTa, I was told it would be better if I held off until the morning. I am bringing this to MetaTalk specifically for the membership discussion on the matter.
posted by flex to MetaFilter-Related at 7:24 AM (450 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

does neat & interesting extend to hey, let me share with you some 'very sexy' pictures of ladies with or without their vintage undergarments on?

I think it's fine as a once-in-a-while thing, especially given the broader context of the rest of the photos linked.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Seems like it was sufficiently noted, and it's not like it was a single link to those photos. There has been far more offensive images as FPP material.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Christ, what a lot of assholes?
posted by phaedon at 7:34 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't recall those pictures being pornographic. The word you're looking for, perhaps, is erotic. There's a pretty big difference.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "My personal take is that this instance crosses a line since there's no other context to it. " I had a FPP that was photos of bugs. There was "no other context" to that, either. It sounds like what you're objecting to is the erotic nature of the pictures.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 7:35 AM on June 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


I thought the general post was to theseamericans.com which has a bunch of photos racy and non-racy [but definitely some front page NSFW] and gman pulled out his favorites one of which was a bunch of vintage nudes. I saw nothing problematic at all about the post. If the post was just "Hey here are some naked ladies!" I would agree with you. This was not that post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 AM on June 23, 2012 [37 favorites]


Pornography is of particular interest for people with an interest in vintage photography because pornographers are pretty uniformly early adopters of technology.

Vintage pornography is also of interest to people interested in the changes in body ideals, this was noted in the thread itself, and contrasts well with the other content directly linked.

I think that the pornography linked to has its own merits beyond just tittilation, especially when contrasted with the other material that was directly linked. I'd agree with you if this was just a single "ho, olde style t and a", but within the framework of the overall post it passes the sniff test for me at least.
posted by Jilder at 7:39 AM on June 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Personally, if I was putting together that FPP, I would have balanced a link to the sexy women with one of the many male photosets on that site, simply because there are about as many people here who like to look at dudes as there are who like photos of women, so why not make an FPP that appeals to as many people as possible?

I think a surprise smutty link isn't ideal, but the moderators have repeatedly emphasized that NSFW labels are not required and that the entire site should be considered NSFW. And in this case, the labeling was direct and explicit.

So I'm saying that I have no problem with links to NSFW photos, videos, and other material, though I do appreciate when they are explicitly labeled. There are many, many FPPs that I don't click on because they don't interest me, will make me angry or sad, or for other reasons, and I know that NSFW content falls into those categories for some people.
posted by Forktine at 7:39 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those photos are so tame, they're more of a sociological study than actually pornography.
posted by crunchland at 7:40 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, I went back and looked, and I suppose some of the pictures are in a gray area between pornographic and just erotic...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2012


Add to this that the photos were well-marked before the fact so that users who didn't want to click through and look at the last set which was purely nudie shots didn't have to. Folks are certainly welcome to their own opinions, what we ask generally is that people be clear so that if there are things behind links that people might find problematic they can choose to avoid them. This post did that. It also received no flags besides yours including in the comments [which somewhat indicates that people weren't all off HURF DURFING about naked women] and so it's basically a textbook example of a good MetaFilter post.

I'm not disagreeing with your feelings on the matter flex, you feel what you feel, just saying that what you desire out of MetaFilter may not be something that MetaFilter is able to offer in this regard.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:43 AM on June 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Can we talk about 'an historic' too? What's the rule on that?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:45 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Only one out of the four favorites he linked to was of "very sexy" women, and there was ample warning that they were nude. I don't think there was anything wrong at all
posted by Fig at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Can we talk about 'an historic' too? What's the rule on that?

If you're a Brit, you write it that way; if you're a Yank you don't. I don't know about our Canadian brothers and sisters and will wait for their input on the matter.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps nudity could be added to the tags?
posted by annsunny at 8:04 AM on June 23, 2012


The post in question is not the post I thought was going to be on the other end of flex' link. Literature and Porn Stars was the one I thought was being referenced. Also a good post. Though it was weirdly labeled with 'NSFW' such that when I saw it on the top of the front page I thought MeFi had adopted a new policy of NSFW notification for the whole site.
posted by carsonb at 8:05 AM on June 23, 2012


Norwegians and Danes write 'æn historic', but only because we need to use the æ button on our keyboards occasionally.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:05 AM on June 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Perhaps nudity could be added to the tags?

I added it to the tags. It's in the wording of the post as well which should be sufficient. There are some times [mobile users] that people read the post without the tags. There are fewer if any times that people view the links without reading the post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 AM on June 23, 2012


Can we talk about 'an historic' too?

I have this impression that every time someone uses that construction in an American English context, it's with this implicit nod to the jarring misfit carryover nature of it, as if to say, "yes, I am aware that it violates the vowel-vs-consonant an/a agreement rules of English phonetics because we Americans (et al) aspirate the leading 'h' in 'historic', but this is a thing you do, because it's a thing you do, and I'm in the know".

It'd make more sense to just say "a historic" and let the old tradition die out, but then all sorts of things would make more sense if everybody just decided their top priority was to have language always make sense. We'd be out a lot of weird/fun/interesting/maddening idioms, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I see flex's point. The links to the other photo sets pretty much have history-tinged descriptors as their titles that key us into how the post sees their primary interest to us, but the photo of nudes provides the additional descriptor lacking in the title of "very sexy," which seems to provide a similar role in framing its interest to us: and these are gems because they are very sexy.

I think the issue flex has is not how worthwhile such a link might be to a post or how much warning is provided, all of which is conceded above as not an issue, but how this link seems to be included because it is very sexy, and not for all its interesting facets mentioned in the comments and here.

I see how "very sexy" is an unnecessary and problematic framing for links on this community website.
posted by dougmoon at 8:11 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are some times [mobile users] that people read the post without the tags.

Minor derail here, but could the mobile site maybe add the tags under the post, on a single line?
posted by Etrigan at 8:20 AM on June 23, 2012


The meaning of the word "pornography" is itself a question of perception.
I was at first surprised to find it in this post, because these pictures are for me kitschy quaint nudes: cute oldies, charming and harmless.
Some of them have even an iconic aura, making them as important cultural artifacts as Venus statues or classical paintings.
But then I realized that at least some of these nudes where once considered offensive, and bore at the time of their publication a strong sexual charge.
So this post could be an instance of William Gibson's famous quote: "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." Or, if not time related, just another cultural divide.
posted by bru at 8:23 AM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


could the mobile site maybe add the tags under the post, on a single line?

That really needs to be in another MeTa or contact form email because it's more of a pb/mathowie thing and I don't remember why they don't do that but I think it's because for a post with 40 tags or so, it can really quickly become unworkable and I know there's talk of an ipad app. The mobile site involves a lot of compromises.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:30 AM on June 23, 2012


...could the mobile site maybe add the tags under the post, on a single line?

The mobile site is a constant balancing act and we can't include everything there that we have at the standard site. Having tags on the mobile site wouldn't have helped in this case—the links being discussed were already clearly marked. You can switch your view over to the standard site at any time, and the tags and all other features will be there. The standard site is pretty readable on a small screen.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


there is really nothing more to these particular pornographic pictures except that they are on a website of generally interesting old photos

Which, I believe, makes for an interesting post. I loved the female nude shots because that's what I shoot. I love looking at other work that people have done. I admire it, I copy it to see if I'm capable of producing the same results, and sometimes I learn things. I also like looking at females in the nude because I'm a female, so there's a natural curiosity inside of me to see what other bodies look like.

I don't believe that porn/nudity is a bad thing. I know that I'm pretty consistently told that it's dirty, naughty, wrong, bad, denigrating to the models... but I disagree most of the time. I do think it can be wielded inappropriately, but I don't think that linking to vintage nude shots of women from the 60s is cause for alarm. If it were a collection of gaping orifices and girls who look young enough to still be in high school, that'd be a large coffee-can of nightcrawlers for sure.
posted by heyho at 8:38 AM on June 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Clearly, the remedy here is for gman to come to this thread and link to porn that caters to all possible genders and orientations. No Flash sites either--HTML5 or gtfo.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh my, a call-out by someone I know in real life! Seriously? Anyway, no other flags but yours, and unless those are bookmarks, a bunch of people liked the post as it is. I don't think there's a comment in there that mentions the issues you outlined in this MeTa, but I haven't really scanned them since last night. I explicitly labelled the post with "warnings", and honestly, I can't call those photos pornography. I mean, what year are we living in? Anyway, it's supposed to be an historically hot weekend here, so I may not be around too much longer in this thread.
posted by gman at 8:47 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


but the photo of nudes provides the additional descriptor

Since "Tallyho" could have been anything, I thought adding some description there was a helpful tip to suss out that of the direct links in the post, this one was probably going to be NSFW. The other links were self-descriptive, but not "Tallyho." I might have instead said something like "Tallyho (vintage erotica)" if it were my post, but people often use "sexy" to describe things of a sexual nature, and not just to say "this is hot to me." (At least my parents do, and I'm not yet completely positive that gman is not one of my parents. Mostly sure though.)

omg cortex. I say "an historic"! Knife fight in the mods' lounge at high noon. No excuses.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:52 AM on June 23, 2012


You sexy motherfucker.

-Prince
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2012


taz, people do often use the word sexy to describe something as being of a sexual nature, but no one uses "very sexy" to do that. No one says, open your anatomy books, but be prepared for some visuals of a very sexy nature to middle schoolers.

People use very sexy to describe the degree to which we find something sexy, in this case very, which I think is the issue flex has with the framing--not the content or its many possible merits--but the merit the post uses isn't "best of the web" but just most of the web, which sells on very sexy and not usually so much here.
posted by dougmoon at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like that's reading an awful lot into, and hanging a lot on, the use of a stray intensifier. Sometimes people do just actually think something's very sexy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:02 AM on June 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


No one says, open your anatomy books, but be prepared for some visuals of a very sexy nature

You obviously have never seen my anatomy books.
posted by neroli at 9:05 AM on June 23, 2012


My life is a book about my anatomy.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 AM on June 23, 2012


Holy fuck, there's a 40 page pdf by a Canadian, entitled - An historic(al) usage trend: a historic(al) usage trend.
posted by gman at 9:08 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah if the issue is that gman said "very sexy" and not "sexy" and not specifically about whether what he linked to is or is not okay for MeFi I think we're a little in the weeds here. There's a conversation to be had about whether nudie pics are or are not okay for MeFi posts but I think we're headed to subjectivetown if the word "very" is the only indication that the post isn't strictly kosher.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I wanted to hang a lot on a stray modifier I would say that in much the same way that so many comments delineate a personally appraised space of pornography by virtue of its subsequent years of intensification (oh, how tame now! I see a neolithic venus in those quaint cherubs of yore!), I guess you could also say that the intensifier "very" skews it a little pornographically similarly!

Just kidding. But I was just saying I can see how in this case "very sexy" can certainly give pause in front of a link, regardless of howsoever everyone wants to project their own interests or merits in the linked content beyond that. I just think that's just how the words inadvertently as they may be stack up in this case.
posted by dougmoon at 9:09 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe a regular on the internet would call those shots pornographic. They are vintage softcore erotica and there isn't a single reason why the poster shouldn't link to them, as the post is about vintage photography.

This MeTa seems to be hyper focusing on one clearly labeled link out of the five. I don't understand why anyone would be doing that or why that specific link shouldn't be ok on Metafilter. It sounds like a personal preference that one wishes to impose on the site.

Personally, if I was putting together that FPP, I would have balanced a link to the sexy women with one of the many male photosets on that site, simply because there are about as many people here who like to look at dudes as there are who like photos of women, so why not make an FPP that appeals to as many people as possible?

People regularly point out their personal favorites in photo essays with descriptors, so I don't see a problem there, since it wasn't creepy leering or misogyny.

It's a mistake to claim that the FPP doesn't appeal to as many people as possible. One doesn't have to be sexually attracted to women or men to be able to note that a group of photos are sexy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


But I was just saying I can see how in this case "very sexy" can certainly give pause in front of a link...

I think that might have been the OP's intent, actually. I took the "very sexy" descriptor as a "non-nannying warning" of sorts to those who might find photographs of people without clothing bad/naughty/uninteresting/offensive/whatever.
posted by heyho at 9:20 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It'd be nice to be able to see tags on the mobile site without switching to standard. Hey, PB - if you don't want to take up any extra real estate, what if you used the swipe to favorite functionality, so that if mobile users swiped the main post to the left, the tags would pop up?
posted by zamboni at 9:22 AM on June 23, 2012


It crossed a line for me and I explained why. It has no further context besides being vintage pictures, and it's presented to us as a "sexy" link. (Yes, the framing specifically directs us to the female nudes, not the males, as a point of interest.) I knew I was the only one who flagged it as of last night, because I asked restless_nomad through the contact link.

I didn't bring it to MeTa because I want Something To Be Done about it, I brought it to MeTa because I wanted the community temperature on the issue. I think this is a valid discussion and it is not about being outraged, telling anyone they're wrong, or hashing out whether porn is dirty, naughty, bad, whatever. I am not outraged by nudity. I had no problem with the porn stars/literature link because it had context for the links.

I realize many people think vintage softcore is okay. My issue is not that "is vintage softcore okay", it's "is vintage softcore (or any other pornographic content) in and of itself with no further context okay, as a direct link on MeFi". I am uncomfortable with that precedent. I realize my particular issue is subtle.
posted by flex at 9:23 AM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I realize many people think vintage softcore is okay. My issue is not that "is vintage softcore okay", it's "is vintage softcore (or any other pornographic content) in and of itself with no further context okay, as a direct link on MeFi".

It was one of four vintage photo links, in a photo about vintage photographs.

Serious question, what more context do you think that link needs?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on June 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


> Can we talk about 'an historic' too? What's the rule on that?

If you're a Brit, you write it that way.


No. We write, and say "a historic". That's the norm.
posted by Decani at 9:25 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It either has a sufficient NSFW warning, or doesn't have enough context. It can't be both.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:31 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question, what more context do you think that link needs?

That's sort of my question, too. The context, as I see it, is: old photos. I don't really feel the need to know if that photo was in Playboy in 1962, or shot in California. And I don't want to know the model's name, or where she is now. I sort of don't get this at all. Did you feel similarly about the Klan photos? Or the race riot photos? Or the set of vintage cars? (Honest, non-shit-stirring question.)
posted by heyho at 9:34 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"An historic" sounds right to me. "A historic" doesn't roll off the tongue as easily. And that's pretty much always my standard: if it's easier and more natural sounding to say, that's the way I'm likely to say it.

For example, saying "wanna" or "gonna" as opposed to pristinely enunciating "want to" or "going to". Granted, not in every case, but very often gonna and wanna just work better.

There are plenty of other examples, I'm sure, but I'm a little too sleepy now to go into 'em*.

*Oh, there's another one
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:35 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're a Brit, you write it that way.
No. We write, and say "a historic". That's the norm.
site:bbc.co.uk "an historic": ~32,000.
site:bbc.co.uk "a historic: ~10,900.

Someone should let them know.
posted by zamboni at 9:35 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think part of the issue here, flex, is that you're talking about a direct link with no context, but that isn't really what that post was. It was. It simply a single link to racy photos, which is what direct link with no context means to me. What it was was one link among many as part of a larger post. The context was there in the post, the link was clearly labeled. Seems fine to me.
posted by OmieWise at 9:36 AM on June 23, 2012


My issue is not that "is vintage softcore okay", it's "is vintage softcore (or any other pornographic content) in and of itself with no further context okay, as a direct link on MeFi". I am uncomfortable with that precedent. I realize my particular issue is subtle.

Have you taken a look at posts tagged with nsfw? There are plenty of examples of context-free NSFW content, far more context-free than the link in this FPP. Whatever precedent is in question is not being set by this post.

"A historic" sounds to me like "ahistoric," which is a word in its own right.
posted by Forktine at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2012


Metathesis Filter
posted by spitbull at 9:41 AM on June 23, 2012


I am uncomfortable with that precedent. I realize my particular issue is subtle.

I don't think it's a precedent, is I think the thing. I totally get the "Hey a single link post to nudie pix might be a bad rationale for a post" angle, but this isn't that. This is having a concern about one link in a multi-link post that was clearly marked and warned.

Again, you feel what you feel and there's nothing wrong with not feeling okay about the post for whatever reason you want. I do feel, however, that you are seeing something in in terms of how that link relates to previous similar posts on MetaFilter and possibly not contextualizing it accurately. Check Forktine's link and see what you think.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:45 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it would be a big loss to Metafilter if links like that were no longer acceptable.

Those nudes are fascinating; for almost every one I had a flash of a pin-up or an advertisement, and there's a sadness in seeing real people strip everything away and discover only a pale imitation underneath it all.

Sex in the age of sexual imagery is showing a tendency to become almost as conventionalized as clothing.
posted by jamjam at 9:47 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the framing, we are being directed to look at one particular set of female nudes among many sets of other things, with no further context of why we should be looking at it other than it's labelled "very sexy". I don't think because it's vintage that excuses basically providing titillating photos of women to the front page with no other reason for doing so. If there were context to the framing, such as we should be interested in this because they are photos by some famous person, or they are photos that show us differences in body types, or whatever - that is fine. But this is straight-up "look at some sexy ladies". You can look at "sexy ladies" anywhere on the internet; my idea of MeFi is that presenting it here includes a "why".
posted by flex at 9:48 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no issue with the disclaimer and I said so. The disclaimer has nothing to do with this. I have a concern that of all the photo sets to present MeFi with, one of the few selected is "sexy" naked women, with no further reason why that one, of any of them.
posted by flex at 9:50 AM on June 23, 2012


jessamyn, I certainly wasn't chiming in to redirect this absurdly into the territory of watch our intensifiers, people, but just to ferret out maybe the mechanics of why I think this is worthwhile discussion.

Sometimes people do just actually think something's very sexy.

I understand that, but I think a post that goes Here's some photo Americana: here, here, and some very sexy ones here is discussion to have here redirects me specifically toward titillation. If it's one of gman's favorites among the set, great, but that's not a justification in and of itself for why or how things get posted to MetaFilter. No one wants to burn anyone in dark forest prude rituals for being regulars on the internet.

On preview, my intended conclusion is as flex says above.
posted by dougmoon at 9:50 AM on June 23, 2012


*is a discussion to have because it redirects
posted by dougmoon at 9:51 AM on June 23, 2012


It'd make more sense to just say "a historic" and let the old tradition die out,

Two problems: "ahistoric" is a word that means the opposite of "historic", so there's room for confusion there. Second, the rule as I remember it is that the (n) is used to break up the conjunction of vowel sounds, not the writing of letters. So "an historic" is a function of the fact that some people (depending on region) pronounce the phrase as "an istoric" and the consonant is needed to differentiate clearly between the article and the word.

Also, I'm a little sad this callout isn't about Allison Brie's heaving jif.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:53 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You keep mentioning the link being on the front page. Would you feel more comfortable had it been part of a more inside?
posted by Sailormom at 9:53 AM on June 23, 2012


Why does everyone assume anyone is uncomfortable with these tame old nudes? Flex is saying no one recommends MetaFilter by saying, hey check out my favorite website where someone just posted some very sexy photos because that is what the post says about what our interest is and where it can be directed in this case.
posted by dougmoon at 9:55 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's one of gman's favorites among the set, great, but that's not a justification in and of itself for why or how things get posted to MetaFilter.

If it's a "here's a large collection/archive, and here's some selections from it that I personally thought were great" type of post, that's pretty much exactly how such things get posted on Metafilter, on a regular and recurring basis. Which, like Jess has said, that may be something where different folks will have different opinions about the quality of or appropriateness of any given selection in that mix, but that goes for most things that get posted here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:56 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love that we're having a simultaneous discussion on pornography and gramar usage.

(I thought the post was adequately labelled to avoid issues).
posted by arcticseal at 9:56 AM on June 23, 2012


Also, I can't type this morning.
posted by arcticseal at 9:57 AM on June 23, 2012


I don't think because it's vintage that excuses basically providing titillating photos of women to the front page with no other reason for doing so.

On the contrary, I think "check out these vintage titillating photos" would, on its own, be a fine FPP, though not the most interesting one of all time. Again, check out past FPPs tagged with NSFW (which is going to be only a subset of all FPPs with NSFW content, obviously) -- there is a long, long precedent for both context-free and context-heavy nsfw posts, some for titillation value, some for LULZ, and others for rather unclear reasons.

I am glad that MeFi's front page isn't a long list of "hey guys, check out the latest photo set from pornorama.cum, they are HAWT." But I am also glad that NSFW FPPs are part of the mix, and that they are not NSFW in the same way -- some are gay, some are straight, some are disturbing, a few are sexy, and so on.
posted by Forktine at 9:57 AM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have a concern that of all the photo sets to present MeFi with, one of the few selected is "sexy" naked women, with no further reason why that one, of any of them.

There are four links to individual sets on the site, I still don't understand why you focusing on the last one mentioned, especially since you said you had no problem with the "very sexy" label. Is it your wish that no "pornographic photos be in photos on the site or just "pornographic" photos of women, or what?

I don't mean to come off an badgering, but I truly do not understand what the problem is here or what you would like to be done to fix it.

Flex is saying no one recommends MetaFilter by saying, hey check out my favorite website where someone just posted some very sexy photos because that is what the post says about what our interest is and where it can be directed in this case.

I've this statement several times and don't understand what its point is. The post wasn't about those specific images, so...what are you trying to say?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2012


I think this is your question:

"My issue is not that "is vintage softcore okay", it's "is vintage softcore (or any other pornographic content) in and of itself with no further context okay, as a direct link on MeFi".

And this is my answer:

Yes.

I think it is o.k. in that the reason why it would be interesting as a post doesn't need to be stated. There are a zillion posts with the reason why it's interesting not being stated in the post, rather you have to click on the link to see the 'why'.

And if the 'why' sucks, mefites will flag and move on. Just like any other sucky post.
posted by Vaike at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2012


I favor: an historically absurd call out.
posted by found missing at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not that I thought the post was sucky...
posted by Vaike at 10:12 AM on June 23, 2012


flex: I brought it to MeTa because I wanted the community temperature on the issue.

The "temperature" should have been glaringly obvious by the number of flags restless_nomad told you the post had received.

Because that photo site is absolutely massive, I decided to point out four of the albums that I enjoyed. That's it. No other motive.
posted by gman at 10:15 AM on June 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


We've had titillating posts before, including a recent one that I suspect (though it was an excellent post in and of itself) to be a deliberate attempt to test if pornography posts would get deleted in the wake of a metatalk argument.

If the front page started being disproportionately 'hai everybody, check out these naked ladies' that would be unfortunate. But one every now and then is okay, because the site is a mix of things that people find interesting, and most people find naked folk interesting.

But this post wasn't even all about the naked ladies. It was just a part of the post, and as such less focused on the titillating aspects. gman framing it as 'very sexy' could be read as both a warning and an invitation.

So I do see the concern, but I think that accepting some posts will contain material that is pornographic or otherwise offensive is part of the ball game. Mind, this statement does not preclude my dislike, flagging, or otherwise actioning other posts that may occur in the future, depending on the nature of those posts and the atmosphere of the site at the time.
posted by winna at 10:15 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand the mods' POV on the matter - restless_nomad explained it very well last night and it makes sense to me that they would have that stance. Previous encounters with the mods have shown me that the mods generally operate as reactive to the community - lots of flags, delete; no flags, don't delete - and again this is not a Something Should Be Done, I Call This Out sort of post. I brought a concern to the community to have a discussion with the membership, about site standards, expectations of MeFi, where the line is, etc.

I do feel it sets a precedent, jessamyn, because I did dig through posts in MeFi and MeTa to see where this has happened before as sort of a ruler, and the only similar stuff I found (not much, since it doesn't happen often from what I can see) was deleted. I have a feeling the "tameness" and "vintageness" of this particular photo set, and the fact that the post was not single-link, is obscuring the point I'm trying to convey.
posted by flex at 10:18 AM on June 23, 2012


If it's one of gman's favorites among the set, great, but that's not a justification in and of itself for why or how things get posted to MetaFilter.

No? I thought that was the raison d'être of this place from day 1...
posted by Chuckles at 10:27 AM on June 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


You keep seeming to suggest that there was no context here, and that this was somehow a single link to nudie shots. Neither of those two things are true, and they make it hard to take your position seriously. That fact that this wasn't single link doesn't obscure your point so much as obviate, and you haven't really explained why, given the context and all the other links, we should be concerned about this particular part of the post. It seems, frankly, like what you think is that no nudity should be linked to from Metafilter, which is a much harder sell.
posted by OmieWise at 10:39 AM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


flex brought up that it's about being without context, but since it's a web site of vintage photos, what we see are four disparate choices gman found interesting; the context was A)vintage photos and B)a subset of the photos gman particularly liked. What more context should there be? As stated elsewhere, I'm not sure why or how one would need or want more context about the TallyHo shots than the internment camps (far more distressing). Perhaps if your issue is specificity (Alcatraz, internment camps) vs. generality, then in what way are you seeing context in the photobooth shots that you aren't in the nude shots?

Philosopher Dirtbike's insect example is apt. flex, do you think we need more "context" for the nude human form than the nude insect form? And, for all you modifier-concerned folks, can you explain the difference been describing nudes as "very sexy" and the equally explanatory, if not more helpful for my own circumstances, a "very icky" disclaimer would have been if the shots have been of insects. (Because I'd avoid clicking on "very icky" without knowing what the photo was about; I'd only avoid clicking on "very sexy" if there were someone of a sensitive nature within eye-shot of my screen, which is rarely the case.)

(FWIW, I'm a woman, and I don't find these shots remotely pornographic.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:47 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling the "tameness" and "vintageness" of this particular photo set, and the fact that the post was not single-link, is obscuring the point I'm trying to convey.

Am I right in thinking that your point is something to do with how you believe that a link that justifies the male gaze at women's bodies, for no other reason other than someone finds them aesthetically appealing (sexy, hot, whatever) should have no place on Metafilter? Even if that link is just a single link among several to the same collection of subjects? Because I suspect pretty well most things we regard as 'the best of the web' are determined by their subjective appeal to the poster?

I suppose that that's not an unreasonable position to take, but it doesn't appear to be one that's widely shared if the comments in this thread are a reliable indicator.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:59 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I did not intend to suggest this isn't where favorite things go, but that so many metas are about how favorite things need to come here more carefully.

very sexy link

is not so carefully framing a link in an otherwise good post. I would call the use of very sexy not so good.

If it functions as a warning, which I think is to recommend a pretty against the grain appropriation of the phrase, I can only see that as a kind of byproduct of functioning first as an enticement. Maybe WARNING: VERY SEXY. Or if someone said to me sternly as I tried the door knob, very sexy, I might be forewarned. But it says check out how much sex is in this sex.

I don't think the two very small words were mal intentioned, but at best lazy and flimsy and unsustainable for a community blog for which the burden for posting is, great links, but make sure they are the best most interesting.

It is a pretty innocuous case, sure. No one is saying, slow down, we have gotten too sexy!

But I can see how as a precedent it says, here are some things and in the same category a very sexy one of those things for you is OK to do. I guess if someone is posting very sexy links, here I would assume they would be posting them with more engaging reasons than that. Some posts need a lot of framing to be really amenable to a community, and some posts just fit the community well without much work.

very sexy, for me, does the wrong kind of work to recommend it as part of a post on MetaFilter

I guess I don't come here for very sexy links, so when I saw very sexy as part of a link in the pst I thought, surely, there are blogs to post what's very sexy, why note this? So it was a bad sell of a link to me as a member of the community to be sold on the basis of very sexy, even if it's just a little dose of cheesecake.

Flex was curious about the community temperature, and I am glad there was that curiosity because it provided a forum for mine. It's not even a low grade fever, so I didn't flag the post, but I think it's unfair to name that a populous driven prerequisite lest everyone eagerly dismiss this out of hand despite the fact there was no call to action, no outrage, no torches, but a discussion prompted by hey I have some thoughts about how this works in a community I'm invested in because of how it uses language carefully to interesting ends.
posted by dougmoon at 10:59 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the framing, we are being directed to look at one particular set of female nudes among many sets of other things, with no further context of why we should be looking at it other than it's labelled "very sexy".

I have no real opinion, but it's worth pointing out that the explicit promise of nudity seems to have made the same content slightly more popular this time around.
posted by Lorin at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure that last post was right after Hurricane Irene and people were not paying as much attention. Surprised a little that no one flagged it as a double though. And the old link is dead.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:07 AM on June 23, 2012


If you don't like it, use "My Mefi". Filter out tags like "nsfw" and "nudity".

Problem solved. If something's been up for a while, it probably means the mods are OK with it.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:09 AM on June 23, 2012


Lorin: I have no real opinion, but it's worth pointing out that the explicit promise of nudity seems to have made the same content slightly more popular this time around.

Huh, a double it is. Now that would've been a reason to flag. Damn .org vs .com. As for the promise of nudity making the post more popular this time around, ummmmm... maybe? I'd say the exposure this MetaTalk thread gave my FPP, is what added to the count. Or it could be any number of factors, like August 30, 2011 being a Tuesday. Or perhaps it was a full moon? I have no idea.
posted by gman at 11:09 AM on June 23, 2012


Holy fuck, there's a 40 page pdf by a Canadian, entitled - An historic(al) usage trend: a historic(al) usage trend.

"Very sexy!" - Strunk and White
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Can we talk about 'an historic' too? What's the rule on that?"

AN HARMONICA, as Hawkeye once said.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2012


True. I should have just pointed out that it was a doule and left it at that! Speaking personally though, if someone points to nudity in a post, I'll click on it.
posted by Lorin at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2012


Look I'm going to have to see more examples of this so called pornography before I can make a distinction.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did not intend to suggest this isn't where favorite things go, but that so many metas are about how favorite things need to come here more carefully.

For what it's worth, my feeling on this is that proportionately very few of the posts that actually come to metatalk are of the "this is one of my favorite things" sort. Most of them are about, in one way or another, posts highlighting bad or distressing or deeply controversial things. Charged subjects going badly, the question of why one allowed to stand despite or why something wasn't.

"Hey, here's a neat thing I liked on the web" stuff doesn't tend to generate that sort of response with any sort of similar frequency, so the comparison feels off the mark.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:15 AM on June 23, 2012


You'll know it when you see it.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 11:15 AM on June 23, 2012


If the photos in question were more explicit I probably agree. As it is I've seen worse on display at flea markets and there were children present.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:15 AM on June 23, 2012


Peter McDermott: yes. I don't think it's unreasonable, I am aware I am probably an outlier and I don't expect that people should agree or that MeFi should change to suit me; but I made a very reasonable post with explicit detail on what it was about and what it was not about, asking to discuss this, and I am a little frustrated it's being treated more like an outrage post, or like this is about my feelings re: porn or whatever.
posted by flex at 11:36 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


and I am a little frustrated it's being treated more like an outrage post, or like this is about my feelings re: porn or whatever.

It very much feels like an outrage post. You seem to be completely ignoring questions and other viewpoints and just doubling down on your own point of view.

How would you prefer to see this post continue? Is there an aspect to the original post that we haven't covered you feel needs to covered or is that you feel was misunderstood in this MeTa?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:43 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the nice things about ostensibly "sexy" content linked from Metafilter is that, no matter what the general merits of said content, it's unlikely to be especially crass, hateful, demeaning, tasteless, or otherwise skeevy in the way that content linked from other sites that sometimes point to ostensibly "sexy" material can be.

That said, I think the use of the word pornographic in this call-out doesn't necessarily jibe with reasonable Mefites' experience of these pictures, and that's probably why some of the responses here seem a little strong.

I don't think it sets a precedent, either, but maybe I generally click on the dirty stuff, I don't know.
posted by Joey Bagels at 11:45 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm tired or stupid, but I still don't understand what the problem is here.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2012


I am aware I am probably an outlier and I don't expect that people should agree or that MeFi should change to suit me; but I made a very reasonable post with explicit detail on what it was about and what it was not about, asking to discuss this, and I am a little frustrated it's being treated more like an outrage post, or like this is about my feelings re: porn or whatever.

Flex, the problem (I think) is that you're asking to discuss your question as posed, but a lot of people are rejecting the very basis of your question. I am with any number of other people in not considering these images at all pornographic.

does neat & interesting extend to hey, let me share with you some 'very sexy' pictures of ladies with or without their vintage undergarments on?

Occasionally, yes. People have posted vintage porn to MeFi before and generally people find it sort of endearing because it is so tame relative to today's standard. The idea that particular images are what passed for porn in the 1950s, or in the Victorian era, or whenever, is neat and interesting to some of us.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:05 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, if I was putting together that FPP, I would have balanced a link to the sexy women with one of the many male photosets on that site, simply because there are about as many people here who like to look at dudes as there are who like photos of women, so why not make an FPP that appeals to as many people as possible?

The problem is exactly how you put it, Brandon Blatcher. From how you assess it, it's "a link to the sexy women" for "people here who like to look." That's also how I read "very sexy" working in that sentence. No one is ashamed that that has happened. I just don't see how that's best of the web. I agree that a little set of passe nudes isn't an outrageous scourge on the rest of the best of the web in the post and on the site, sure, but let's not pretend that "very sexy link" isn't framed only as sparsely as that as part of its inclusion: the sexy women.
posted by dougmoon at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I made a very reasonable post with explicit detail on what it was about and what it was not about, asking to discuss this, and I am a little frustrated it's being treated more like an outrage post, or like this is about my feelings re: porn or whatever.

It seems to me you made it an outrage post by choosing the word "pornographic" to describe the photos. If you had used nudity or some other more. The same level of nudity is shown in museums around the world and I don't hear anyone wanting to shut down the Louvre for being a den of pornography because of a few breasts and buttocks.
posted by birdherder at 12:08 PM on June 23, 2012


It seems to me you made it an outrage post by choosing the word "pornographic" to describe the photos. If you had used nudity or some other more.

You know, it wouldn't be too difficult to give people some charity in assembling how they are using words perhaps differently but no less unacceptable in how we may personally have come to understand them. Pornography certainly has a negative connotation, but here it's pretty obviously intended especially in follow up comments by flex that it's only a perhaps not as precise as it needs to be categorical umbrella. Since you've suggested an alternate term, birdherder, a more accurate one, would it be all too difficult to offer a small and obvious concession in this manner. Oh hey, I would get what you're saying, but this word causes problems.

The same level of nudity is shown in museums around the world and I don't hear anyone wanting to shut down the Louvre for being a den of pornography because of a few breasts and buttocks.

But you'd rather just label it outrage and rage back with some more ridiculous dismissals that flex is only trying to reinstate Victorian decencies! So much for a discussion in good faith.
posted by dougmoon at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I look forward to the day when objectification of women is considered so objectionable that no one posts any such things, whether it's under the guise of "historic", or "artistic", or whatever. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime, though.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:20 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem is exactly how you put it, Brandon Blatcher.

I did not write the comment you're quoting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:21 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My mistake! Incautious ctrl F search for a name on my part.
posted by dougmoon at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2012


Regardless, I was still addressing you with that illustration, not intending to call you out for it. That is how I see the problem on my end, to answer your question in this thread.
posted by dougmoon at 12:27 PM on June 23, 2012


> My issue is not that "is vintage softcore okay", it's "is vintage softcore (or any other pornographic content) in and of itself with no further context okay, as a direct link on MeFi".

If that's what you're sounding community opinion about, I agree with the seeming consensus that yes, it's perfectly OK.

> It very much feels like an outrage post. You seem to be completely ignoring questions and other viewpoints and just doubling down on your own point of view.

I agree with BB. You keep insisting you weren't outraged and you just wanted to have a little talk, but you sound pretty dogged about your point of view.
posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on June 23, 2012


languagehat, dogged isn't outraged
posted by dougmoon at 12:33 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought this is what MetaTalk was for - to discuss community issues with each other; to discuss the standards, expectations, etc. on the site.

Should I not have responded to what people were asking me? I have a POV, I have a concern, I'm interested in talking about it with the community.
posted by flex at 12:35 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Personally, I look forward to the day when objectification of women is considered so objectionable that no one posts any such things, whether it's under the guise of "historic", or "artistic", or whatever. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime, though.

meanwhile, I'm rooting for the day when objectification of men is considered so awesomely life-affirming that everyone does it all the time. Happy Pride, SFers!
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:36 PM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Personally, I look forward to the day when objectification of women is considered so objectionable that no one posts any such things, whether it's under the guise of "historic", or "artistic", or whatever. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime, though.

I'm trying to get my head around this whole discussion, and I fear I'm failing. MexicanYenta, I get that you're talking about MeFi (since you specifically mention posts), but I'm curious to know if this same feeling applies to art housed in museums. Do you feel that images of nude women in paintings, photos, sculptures, etc., objectify women? Or is it maybe just a magazine-photography thing?

I guess I might be trying to find where the line is that separates the objectified from the acceptable stuff where nude forms are concerned.
posted by heyho at 12:36 PM on June 23, 2012


I very much understand the appeal in a website of curated vintage photos. However, I don't see the necessity in directly linking to pornographic photos of women on the front page of MeFi if they have no other context or point of discussion, and there is really nothing more to these particular pornographic pictures except that they are on a website of generally interesting old photos.

The context/point of discussion for the nude pictures is the same as the other three albums gman linked to: they are interesting old photos. (At least, it seems I am not alone in this opinion.) Interesting old photos was the point of the post.

gman said: Because that photo site is absolutely massive, I decided to point out four of the albums that I enjoyed. That's it. No other motive.

Again, the post is about interesting old photos. Full stop.

MeFi is definitely a place to share neat & interesting things you find online, but does neat & interesting extend to hey, let me share with you some 'very sexy' pictures of ladies with or without their vintage undergarments on?

You wanted the community to discuss this; I think the result of the discussion is: the answer to your question is YES.
posted by Specklet at 12:40 PM on June 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I did not write the comment you're quoting.

That was me, for the record.

I just don't see how that's best of the web.

Almost nothing on the front page is ever "best of the web." Fortunately for all of us, the standard is much lower. From the guidelines page:
A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.
Flex: I made a very reasonable post with explicit detail on what it was about and what it was not about, asking to discuss this, and I am a little frustrated it's being treated more like an outrage post, or like this is about my feelings re: porn or whatever.

Going back to the original post, I'm reading your central point as "I don't see the necessity in directly linking to pornographic photos of women on the front page of MeFi if they have no other context or point of discussion, and there is really nothing more to these particular pornographic pictures except that they are on a website of generally interesting old photos."

I'd agree that it's not a "necessity," but it's also well within the accepted bounds of FPP posting. You don't have to go far back through the NSFW-tagged posts to find examples of less context for racier content, and the FAQ is explicit about how nsfw content does not need to be labeled.
posted by Forktine at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There should be, like, an exception as with the selflink to cat pictures thing on ask. Nude pictures of original posters, doing anything from laundry to screwing, are 100% fine as FPPs sans additional context. I would gladly start this trend except for too much IRL info about self on here.

Flex, I'm making light, but NOT of your concern. I, too, would say ewww and be annoyed if (hey look tits) or (hey look boner) became a regular aside in unrelated FPPs. That said, however, I don't think this post is even close to the problematic border. Hell, blasdelb's FPP about a blog showing blackboards, teachers, etc. in porn was a lot pornier, a lot funnier, AND, though I loved it, a lot weaker as a FPP, and it didn't even have any bare tit. Aside from the eyes-closed-in-rapture shots, of which I pray I will never encounter the like, I've seen my own mother in the Tally-Ho attire 100 times, and I come from a modest family.
posted by skbw at 12:44 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, I look forward to the day when objectification of women is considered so objectionable that no one posts any such things, whether it's under the guise of "historic", or "artistic", or whatever. I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime, though.

But surely these old as fuck photos are no longer exploitative? Of course they were way back then, but now...and if it's not historic, then what is it? Do people use these photos as models for their image of contemporary women? Also, I don't think anyone labels them "artistic", but I could be wrong.

I like to think that modern women have a bit more control over who is actually profiting from their bodies (not saying the situation is rainbows and unicorns, of course). Am I anti-feminist because I enjoy looking at photos of naked women?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:45 PM on June 23, 2012


You wanted the community to discuss this; I think the result of the discussion is: the answer to your question is YES.

So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy

and also I guess if you really want to discuss something beyond the very sexy frame I only took care to provide, sure, do that too I guess
posted by dougmoon at 12:56 PM on June 23, 2012


Should I not have responded to what people were asking me? I have a POV, I have a concern, I'm interested in talking about it with the community.

You keep not quite responding to people, though. You've chosen a particular framing for this that is purely hypothetical, but you keep insisting that you're talking about a particular post. (Almost) everyone else disagrees with how you have chosen to characterize that post, but you have not demonstrated any understanding that that is what's getting in the way of having the discussion you want to have.
posted by OmieWise at 12:58 PM on June 23, 2012


So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be

How can the mods confirm what your takeaway is?
posted by OmieWise at 1:00 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


birdherder, a more accurate one, would it be all too difficult to offer a small and obvious concession in this manner.

The OP asked why their question seemed to be misconstrued as being outrage filter. My response was intended to say that it was the hyperbolic framing that ran it off the rails. If I were to post OMG CHILD ABUSE on the front page! and it is about a parents who let their kids have Pepsi for breakfast I'd expect the same response. That I invoked outrage filter and framed it as trying to have a civil discussion. I could have been just as concerned and wondering if posts to poor parenting were the best of the web.

The Supreme Court's definition of obscenity includes a bit about being subject to community standards and that's a good place to start "pornography" links at Metafilter. The Metafilter community does not seem to deem the offending photos to be pornograpic and most of the commenters don't seem to have a problem with the post. Personally, I didn't even read the post until I saw a link here saying there's porn on Metafilter and not believing that would fly here (it doesn't). Turns out it was of the same hardcore porn my grandpa has in his trunk from WWII.

So I feel that choosing that word was showing outrage. Yes, perhaps that wasn't the intent but I haven't seen flex back down from seeing pornography on the front page of Metafilter. If those photos are pornography to flex, the god help him/her if they mistype something in the address bar of there browser. Because there's some nasty terribly pornographic stuff out there (and no, that stuff does not meet the Metafilter community standard).

But you'd rather just label it outrage and rage back with some more ridiculous dismissals that flex is only trying to reinstate Victorian decencies! So much for a discussion in good faith.

My point was I don't think flex was trying to be in complete good faith but the choice of words. Setting aside the choice of framing, I don't think that the post in question was beyond the norm in terms of content here. I'd only have a problem with it if there weren't warnings of nudity or nsfw content (and that's less for me than to the inevitable complaints from people who read this site at work and get busted for vintage photos of nude women on their computer at the office).

If there were posts of nude dudes, I'd be ok with that as well. Admiring the human form isn't sin to me and it is miles away from what I'd consider pornography. I'm an equal opportunity objectifier. It seems that my standards for Metafilter are not that much different than those of many of the other commenters here.

I just don't see how that's best of the web.

If I had a time machine, after I'd gone back and killed Hitler, I'd go to Matt and convince him not to use that in the tagline in the logo on the site's header way back in the day. I'd show him how people continue to hold a site -- that started with a bunch of scanned photos of cats -- to such an impossibly high standard. I'd show the comments on my iPad and blown his pre-tablet/smartphone mind.

We should aim for higher quality than the Reddit or Fark front page, but not keep trotting out the whole "best of the web" bullshit. If I curated the best of the web on Metafilter about 95% of the front page wouldn't make it and MetaTalk would be full of people asking if the posts that I liked were actually best of the web.
posted by birdherder at 1:00 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just don't see how that's best of the web.

Which is fine, and there are people who will agree with you and people who will disagree with you on that front. To the extent that we all want our own certain something out of our Metafilter experience, some posts are gonna hit the mark and some aren't, and that's pretty much life on the front page when a large, heterogeneous group collaborates informally to create a mix of content.

The thing is that that internal "best of the web" sensibility is highly subjective; for just about any sort of thing, you'll find folks who like and folks who don't, folks who think it's not what Mefi is for and folks who think it's exactly what Mefi is for. There's zero expectation that people will agree on what the best posts on the site are, or what order ten given posts should be ranked in.

So having that sense that something isn't what you see as ideal Mefi material is fine, and noting that here is fine too, but it's important to keep in mind that that subjective preference doesn't by itself make for a general argument that something shouldn't be on the front page. There's lots of stuff that gets posted that I think doesn't make for very good Metafilter, but despite my epic superpowers it's something that I've had to make peace with too. Variety, spice of life, etc.

So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy

I feel like you've wandered into sort of (intentionally?)-incoherent-out-of-frustration territory here. I don't even know how to answer this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


forktine & birdherder, we don't have to call the standard best of the web if that's off the mark according to the faq, sure, but "haha what are you talking about this for our standards are down here" doesn't really change the fact that metatalk is also about how the community works or could work, which I think suggests a fairly high standard of a community dedicated to improving itself.

Or if that's not the case, close this thread?

So I feel that choosing that word was showing outrage.

I'm sorry you feel that way, and continue to insist to feel that way regardless of what else is said.
posted by dougmoon at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2012


So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy.

Wow. That's your takeaway? How binary. An occasional glimpse of T&A once in a blue moon in a post means that tomorrow we'll be like Hustler.com? And you accuse me of not trying to have a discussion in good faith!

You seem to fly over the fact the post was bout vintage photos and included some that happened have have ladies not fully clothed. It was't "look at these naked chicks
posted by birdherder at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy


This is not a problem. It's not a problem we have. As a community. People are not throwing together posts of galleries from youporn.com and xtube.com and promoting rampant hardcore pornography as an agenda. I am not a mod, but I would guess they would agree that they don't spend a significant amount of their time policing posts of this variety.

If you want to make it a problem by inventing it here in this thread for purposes of discussion then I think you should go grow a vegetable garden or fly a kite. I thought the photos present herein where terrific, and I expected from the context what I would be getting when I clicked on the link.
posted by kbanas at 1:09 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


surely, there are blogs to post what's very sexy, why note this?

There are blogs for 'look at the stupid thing Fox News did' too, but that post stayed too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:14 PM on June 23, 2012


I'm sorry you feel that way, and continue to insist to feel that way regardless of what else is said.

So this isn't a discussion because I'm clearly wrong and you're right. I'm sorry you feel that way.
posted by birdherder at 1:15 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


forktine & birdherder, we don't have to call the standard best of the web if that's off the mark according to the faq, sure, but "haha what are you talking about this for our standards are down here" doesn't really change the fact that metatalk is also about how the community works or could work, which I think suggests a fairly high standard of a community dedicated to improving itself.

I don't see anyone doing a "haha" routine. I do see a discussion about community standards in which the moderators and most participants are saying that nsfw content, including of "sexy" men and women, has been and continues to be acceptable FPP content. I understand that that is not the community outcome you are hoping for, but it appears to be basically be the one you are getting.

So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy

I can almost guarantee that an FPP linking to a page of generic porn (male, female, or whatever) with no context and no framing is going to get axed. But an FPP with NSFW content that meets the FPP guidelines quoted above -- and vintage smut has been used for that before -- will probably survive.
posted by Forktine at 1:15 PM on June 23, 2012


Hey, it's an honest mistake.
posted by spitbull at 1:15 PM on June 23, 2012


I am not a mod, but I would guess they would agree that they don't spend a significant amount of their time policing posts of this variety.

We don't see a ton of stuff that could be classified as porn at all, and I can't recall, in the year+ I've been working, having to deal with something that was porn without any sort of additional level of interest (whether artistry, or in the context of a post about an unusual kink, or whatnot.) I am not anti-porn and I think the current level is a good one - not too much by any means, but it's also not expressly forbidden.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:17 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. I absolutely made this post in good faith and have made my comments in good faith, I have tried to answer what I can but I honestly feel like people are reading this how they want to read it no matter how many details I give and when I try to clarify further that means I'm "outraged" because I'm "dogged".

I used the word "pornographic" because they were in fact images created expressly to titillate, so that is porn, you can call it erotica, I really don't care, but you know what I am talking about and I certainly didn't come in like OMG THE NSFW IT BURNS or anything. I am rather dismayed, though I guess not surprised, at the combativeness, or the assumptions. I am also a little thrown that, you know, I did everything I was supposed to do when you have a concern: I flagged, I discussed it politely over the contact form, I asked if I could bring it to MeTa, I even waited until a better time when more mods were around to post it, I framed it with a lot of details about what I was concerned about and what I was looking for in posting it here - which is discussion, not even an outcome, not even "delete the post", just let's discuss this, I think it's important, do you? This is disenheartening, frankly.

I think some of the comments made so far are very relevant here: that nudity compels people to click, that it is perceivable there could be justifying the male gaze, that objectification is an issue. I don't feel "vintage" and "softcore" excuses objectifying content with no other context. I think that is a valuable discussion to have, and I am fine with disagreement. On the other hand, I think some people come to MeTa expecting outrage and are thinking "this is relatively tame, end of discussion" and are pushing back against what they think they see, rather than the underlying issue it raises. I have repeatedly said I don't have a problem with porn linked for a reason - I don't see "here's some photos, look they are vintage" is really enough reason.
posted by flex at 1:28 PM on June 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


I framed it with a lot of details about what I was concerned about and what I was looking for in posting it here - which is discussion, not even an outcome, not even "delete the post", just let's discuss this, I think it's important, do you? This is disenheartening, frankly.

You presented it with details and framing that other people do not agree are actually present in the post. You appear to be outraged to me primarily because you keep eliding the fact that the post you pointed to is not actually doing the thing that you claim it is doing. It is linking to nude pictures, the rest is not as you claim it to be. Why do you keep skipping the fact that people fundamentally disagree with this in your replies? How can we have the kind of discussion you want to have if you do not acknowledge people responding in good faith who disagree with your framing?
posted by OmieWise at 1:35 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


So can mods confirm that my own takeaway from this discussion should be that metafilter is a destination to also share very sexy pictures of ladies to look at because no one here objects to a little very sexy anyway at least not a little very old very sexy

I'm with cortex in not really understanding this, but that yes, occasionally, "very sexy" photos as a small part of a larger post are in fact not just okay but some people actually enjoy them. Others do not, so you're in a YMMV situation, definitely. It's in the very wide chasm between "never okay" and "always okay" as we can talk about where that line is for people if that's useful.

I don't see "here's some photos, look they are vintage" is really enough reason.

I get that. I think people disagree with you. I also think that you seem to be missing that this was a smaller part of a larger post and yet the question you seem to want people to think about and answer is "Is it okay to make a post that is just about titillating photos of women?" I think the answer to that second question is closer to "Not usually" but I think many people are saying "But that's not what this post was, so maybe it's not a great example"

And yeah, the term pornography is a bit fraught and while I get where you're coming from I think it's useful to understand that to other people, this isn't porn. We have to find middle ground to meet to discuss these issues. You're not wrong but neither are they. I'm sorry you're having a difficult time here; I really see a fairly clear disconnect between what I think is the topic you want to talk about and what your post and especially your follow-ups seem to be directing the conversation towards.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:36 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's clear that a lot of people didnt understand you when you decided to call it porn. "This is what MetaTalk is for" is kind of a cop out, as we're not trying to solve a real problem here. If I was a mod I'd be banging my head on the desk right now.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:37 PM on June 23, 2012


So, in other words, your post here boils down to "Is it ever ok to post a link to nude pictures on MetaFilter, regardless of copious context and warnings?" Many people have answered the question "Yes!," but it is not an answer to the same question that you think you are asking. And, the question that people are responding to, the actual question you seem to be asking since the context is there in the front page post, is a significantly less nuanced question than the one you kind of insist you are asking. That lack of nuance, and your failure to acknowledge it, makes your responses here read to me as slightly disingenuous, which in turn makes you seem more outraged. Because if you aren't outraged, why do you keep mis-framing the post under discussion?
posted by OmieWise at 1:41 PM on June 23, 2012


I'm sorry, I was unclear. People are answering "Yes!" to a question you are not asking, which is: "Is it ok to post a link to pictures of nude women if it is well-contextualized and fully wrapped in warnings?"
posted by OmieWise at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2012


Jessamyn, your breakdown is that it was part of a multi-link post, therefore it was okay. I understand your POV. My breakdown is that it was a direct link on the front page, and it was not only unnecessary to further understanding the post, but it had no other context than "sexy". It is not a post just about titillating photos of women, and I never said it was, but it includes them for no good reason, as a direct link on the front page, and that was my concern, and I thought I stated that pretty clearly from the top.

OmieWise, that is not at all what my post boils down to, since I say in the post itself it is perfectly okay in my books to post porn to MeFi and that this porn was sufficiently disclaimed. I do not see how I am misframing the link in question: it is vintage smut, it has no other context than "interesting old photos & let me direct you to the vintage smut". I want to answer your questions but I am finding it difficult to discuss this with you - you may think I am being disingenuous - and I tell you I am not - but I think you are being unnecessarily combative and probably misreading me, though I can't tell if it's deliberate or not.
posted by flex at 1:49 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the record, Flex, not only do I still reject your premise that these photos meet the standard for porn in 2012, I also reject your premise that there was no context to the OP: "historical photo narrative" is a clear context.

I sort of feel like you are thinking people are just being mean to you because Metafilter maybe doesn't excel at gender stuff and and sort of has some issues with women, but I think you might consider if people genuinely just point for point do not agree with you. (And I say this as a woman who thinks Metafilter is meh for women, despite the community frequently congratulating itself on how much better it is for women. )
posted by DarlingBri at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is not a post just about titillating photos of women, and I never said it was, but it includes them for no good reason, as a direct link on the front page, and that was my concern, and I thought I stated that pretty clearly from the top.

The disagreement here is largely on the "for no good reason" part. "Because the poster thought they were one of several interesting examples from the archive he was linking" is, in fact, a good enough reason, insofar as people here regularly use that kind and degree of reasoning to pull out examples of stuff they like when makes posts about large collections.

I get that you may feel that it's for "not enough of a reason" if you feel like there should be a much higher bar for nudity/erotica/sexy content than for most stuff, but (a) that's not the same as "for no good reason" and (b) you feeling that way doesn't make it so. And it's totally fine to broach it here, but it feels like folks are pretty overwhelmingly saying that they disagree with your take on it, which is also okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm not trying to be combative, I'm really trying to understand what you're talking about. When you say it has no other context than "interesting old photos & let me direct you to the vintage smut" I think you're misrepresenting the post. The post is more, "Here are some interesting old photos. Here are some examples of those interesting photos. Some of these examples are smut." From reading your posts I think you want it to be as you characterized it, and I think that's a very different conversation than the one we are having here based on the actual post. For what it's worth, I think your original post here doesn't read as outraged at all, it reads as perfectly reasonable, except insofar as we disagree with your characterization of the MetaFilter post. I'm not sure how to read your ongoing (what I take to be) mischaracterization, except to feel like it begs the question about appropriateness and therefore suggests outrage. That you've represented that reading now makes me even more confused about your motives. (Seriously, I'm not trying to be coy. At this point I can't figure out what it is that you want.)
posted by OmieWise at 1:59 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


cortex, jessamyn, everyone: I got noisy and confusing and have begun to preclude a conversation I hope to continue with you. I believe gman has good reasons for posting things he posts.

However, I think the label "very sexy" draws attention expressly to titillate, and so it is very different than something that was upon review for other exigent reasons, very sexy.

Saying this link ahead is very sexy says to me, reader, this link will titillate. So my problem begins at that point: the titillation is only nude women. The language for me says, I'm showing you these nude women because they are very sexy.

I think it would be different if the link just said nudes, for instance, because I can look at nudes with a blank slate, and I'd think about them in the greater context of the post--as a historical photo narrative of Americana perhaps. If the post does something with the nudes asking me to think about something further or more specifically while I'm looking at them even better. This thread suggested so many things! But how the post used very sexy does say to me, hey, look this way first.

So here no one is really hurt, and that's good. And yes, I have hinged a lot on two words, but only because "very sexy" to me is not innocuous even if we can all agree the content provided was. I think "very sexy" can be perfectly innocuous, but not so much as a prescriptive way of looking here.

I'm sorry, but I find the photos very sexy or whether they themselves belong is really beside my point. But the set to me is constructed around looking at nude women for the very sexy. Thinking of it in this way makes me wish we used "very sexy" as a label at least as cautiously as this thread is urging for the word pornography.

Thanks for your patience while I worked out my thoughts.
posted by dougmoon at 2:09 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


*I'm sorry, but saying I find the photos...
posted by dougmoon at 2:11 PM on June 23, 2012


Very sexy was a pretty good description, since it connoted a bit of irony given the historical context. I wouldn't change a thing.
posted by found missing at 2:13 PM on June 23, 2012


flex, I'm wondering where you come down on the FPP-ability of this vintage smut.
posted by R. Schlock at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


OmieWise, I assumed asking the absurd question would yield some rhetorical and illustrative power, but this works better when to the chorus, or not at all, obviously. I've gone with not at all because I am being genuine.
posted by dougmoon at 2:15 PM on June 23, 2012


I used the word "pornographic" because they were in fact images created expressly to titillate, so that is porn, you can call it erotica, I really don't care, but you know what I am talking about and I certainly didn't come in like OMG THE NSFW IT BURNS or anything.

Yes those photos may have been considered pornographic 60 years ago. Back then a married couple sleeping in the same bed was too titillating to show. Hell, cave paintings of objectified cave women were probably to titillate and those appear in textbooks children read.

When I read the word pornography I think of the contemporary setting. I don't think I was alone in this. To me this made me think you were outraged by the filth on the front page. Using your definition the Hooters ad on the bus stop across the street is porn.

My whole point was your word choice is what I think sent the discussion off the rails. Other than that you did everything right to get a discussion going about the appropriateness of links to naked ladies on the site. I fall down on side of it being ok with the present frequency and framing. This would be an incredibly boring website if there wasn't the diversity of opinion we have. But it works because we share a lot of common likes and values. And Metatalk is around to discuss when there might be differences. However an outcome of the discussions is not everyone will agree with you.
posted by birdherder at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2012


to other people, this isn't porn

Actually, that may be less true than it appears here. Metafilter is so overwhelmingly in favor of objectifying women under the guise of being "sex positive", that a lot of us keep out of these discussions because it's a no-win situation. We will be called prudes and worse if we dare to object to naked bodies being paraded around like so many lolcats, as if women's sole purpose on the planet is to create a pleasant visual diversion for those who enjoy it. It's gotten so twisted that some women convince themselves that's it's "empowering" to let themselves be objectified. Their insecurities about their own desirability make them believe that having random strangers lust after them means they must have worth as a human being after all. Personally, I'm extremely dissapointed that MeFites (whom I consider to be among the best and the brightest, for the most part), still buy into this fallacy.

And never underestimate the power of people to defend their position when they know deep in their heart that what they're doing is wrong. "It can't be objectification, because that would mean I'm guilty of exploiting someone for my own gratification!"
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


On the subject of porn, one benchmark people may have for porn is whether it promises sexual interest or even arousal upon viewing.

For instance, if someone said, hey I want you to watch this movie for reasons, but so you know before we start, it contains nudity if you're a prude or anything, I wouldn't think we were watching porn.

But if someone said, hey watch this very sexy movie. I would think, hey are we watching some porn? What?

So it's cool that some don't consider it pornography. I consider it historically pornography, but if someone said here is some pornography and showed me that photo set, I might balk at that assessment of porn, too.

What I see is phrasing expressly steering it in the direction of anticipated sexual arousal though. It's not some abstract notion of very sexy when appended to photos of nude women that objectified in historical pornography.
posted by dougmoon at 2:30 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


flex, you know I love you, but I think you're misreading the temperature of the responses in this MeTa thread. This is not MetaTalk handing some n00B a comeuppance for daring to post here. People are disagreeing with you, but for the most part, they're doing it pretty civilly and other than the stupid 'an historic' digression, they're staying on point. This just isn't what MeTa threads look like when people are outraged at your outrage.

FWIW, I'd be slightly weirded out if that was a single link post to that gallery, but I've made probably a half dozen "There's this art site, with tons of shit on it that I love, here's a handful of my favorite things" posts over the years, and that's all this seems like to me. The context for those pics is built into the post itself, it's a cool site, with lots of things, and that was one of the things the author of the post likes.

If we're questioning gman's feminist credentials because he likes vintage naked girls, then that seems like a better use for MeMail directly to him. If we're questioning MetaFilter's feminist credentials for allowing it, well, that ship sailed some years ago.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:31 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


jaquilynne is right; this is not what a dogpile of outrage looks like. The disagreement with your position, flex, is virtually unanimous but that isn't the same thing. It is clearly respectful disagreement.
posted by Justinian at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2012


Metafilter is so overwhelmingly in favor of objectifying women...

MexicanYenta, I can't help feeling that rather incendiary characterisation of the site and its diversity of members bears only tangential relation to the post in question. Also, I think opining on what other people (women) do but especially why they do it when it refers to a huge group with a gallimaufry of motivations is particularly fruitless.

Flex, I feel like maybe you don't think people can understand your points, but still disagree - both in the description of what actually went down in Gman's post, and your broader point about the use of the words "very sexy" and the appropriateness of 'pornography' on Metafilter.

Honestly, I think people are just disagreeing with you. By trying to embed chauvinism or sexism/objectifying etc as part of your premise and then saying, "But you don't agree with chauvinism, do you?", I feel like you are begging the question.
posted by smoke at 3:14 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah flex, I feel like you are having trouble believing that you are virtually the only person here who has a problem with gman's post. You wanted to discuss the issue, and you were expecting that there would be people chiming in on both sides of the OK/Not-OK divide. It turns out that pretty much everybody but you is on the OK side, which doesn't mean you're stupid or bad or even wrong, just that your opinion on the matter goes against the overwhelming community consensus which seems to be that gman's post was totally fine.

I think the disconnect here is that you don't think that there was any good reason for gman to link that particular set of photos in the post. His reason was that he thought they were interesting and that other people here would find them interesting too. To most of us here that's an excellent, totally textbook, ISO-standard reason for linking something on the front page.
posted by Scientist at 3:22 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is so overwhelmingly in favor of objectifying women under the guise of being "sex positive", that a lot of us keep out of these discussions because it's a no-win situation.

We must be reading two very different Metafilters.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


So if women who sell themselves think they have self worth, they're really just full of shit? What's the difference between thinking you have self worth and actually having it?
posted by Brocktoon at 3:25 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oof! I'm totally sympathetic with your feeling of getting dogpiled, flex, especially when people start sort of talking about your motives and stuff. That sucks.

I do think I also have to disagree with you though. Here's how I see it:

- gman liked the site as a whole
- he picked out 4 specific galleries as favorites and posted those as examples
- one of those galleries he liked at least in part because he thought it was "very sexy"

This all - honestly - seems like how an almost ideal MeFi post gets put together, to me.

I also think I may (may!) have a feel for your position though? Like the last link and the "very sexy" description sort of poisoned the post for you because you looked at it and went "great, women as objects once again"? If I've characterized your reaction correctly I definitely get how that would feel shitty.

I really do think that the overall framing of the post puts it more on the "ok" side of things for me, though. I do get where you're coming from, I think! But I find myself on the other side of the fence on this one.
We must be reading two very different Metafilters.
This is true of almost all humans in regards to most experiences, in fact.
posted by kavasa at 3:47 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sure, but would you agree with the poster that

Metafilter is so overwhelmingly in favor of objectifying women under the guise of being "sex positive"?

Because that seems like a bizarre claim to me, a claim supported by nothing.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:53 PM on June 23, 2012


My frustration is not caused by disagreement - which I have stated more than once I expect and does not bother me, also I have stated I know I am an outlier - it stems from when people read what they want to read into what I am saying, or answer the questions they want to think I am asking, or defend against a fight they think I am picking - instead of what I have very carefully and repeatedly actually said. Or that when I am attempting to clarify further, this is "dogged" and "doubling down" and looks like "outrage". That is frustrating because I only want to be sure I am understood and that I am addressing relevant queries.

I will make it 100% clear: people can understand my points and still disagree. I do, in fact, appreciate any and all comments that have been made in this thread that come from anyone that obviously took the time to understand my points whether they disagree with me or agree. I am not a person for whom "discussion" is a euphemism for "but at the end, I want you all to be convinced to my point of view".

If anyone's particular hang-up on the entire thing is that I used the word "porn" when to their minds it is "erotica" or "cheesecake" or "nudes" or I don't know what, please feel free to substitute word-of-your-choosing. If I had realized that would be an issue, I would have reconsidered the framing. Let me say it without the word "porn": I do not think objectifying sexual content (and yes, it was 'sexy' women, not men, and that matters, and the weight of considering women, porn, sexual objects, male gaze, etc. can be applied) should be posted to the front page simply because it's something someone likes with no further reason behind it; I find that uncomfortable, it bothers me because everything in parentheses above. Lots of people like porn, or erotica, or word-of-your-choice; lots of people will like to click on porn, or erotica, or word-of-your-choice. People disagree. I think this is a line that my ideal MeFi would not cross. My ideal MeFi is not Actual MeFi. People disagree, as they will. All I care about is that they disagree with what I've actually said. Frankly what's thrown me most in the thread is the mod response, not the membership response, which I have to say I kind of expected.
posted by flex at 4:02 PM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think that anybody minds the vintage NSFW photos, but calling them 'very sexy' makes the MetaFilter front page seem male gaze-y. It made me as though I was being flashed by a lecherous older man who had been pretending to ask for directions to the Louvre. I doubt that there would be much backlash if the photo set had been introduced differently. The collections were nice overall.
posted by 200burritos at 4:05 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Stick the image on a business card and hand it out to random people.
posted by spitbull at 4:15 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


makes the MetaFilter front page seem male gaze-y. -- Luckily, it was counterbalanced by the 7-kitten-cam.
posted by crunchland at 4:25 PM on June 23, 2012


I was more outraged by the friendship bracelet FPP.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:55 PM on June 23, 2012


flex, I find your purposes here really opaque because you said you opened this post specifically for the membership discussion, and now you say you got the membership response you expected, and yet you're at the same time going on about being frustrated! I suspect there is some disconnect here for you that no amount of attempts at clarifying or typing will repair. Sometimes it's time to just decide, hey, I've said my piece and it's time to go read a book or watch a kitten webcam.
posted by chinston at 5:15 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is starting to get weird and I don't like it. It's as if it is being transmitted via a game of Telephone, or perhaps as if it is being surreptitiously machine-translated into Dutch and back. Maybe I'm just out of it due to lack of sleep and am unsure what's going on, but there definitely seem to be some puzzling communication barriers forming.
posted by Scientist at 5:29 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the post was entirely acceptable and I also think that it's accurate to call the photos pornographic. I think the parsing of pornographic versus erotic as some deeply qualitative categorical distinction and not a kind of stylistic distinction that varies across time and place is the kind of thing someone does when they have a deeper agenda. To wit, claiming that sexy image A is okay and image B is not because there's something intrinsically wrong with B that's not wrong with A.

I don't know if flex intended pornographic to have that connotation — it's somewhat fair to assume that's the case, given that the post questions the acceptability of the photos (as subjects of a post to the blue). But I think it's revealing that anyone would take offense at his choice of words as if he were saying some sexy photos were wrong when of course right-thinking people know they're not wrong and thus strongly affirming a distinction between erotic and pornographic that is extremely questionable and doing so in a way that begs the question in the case against flex's complaint.

In a way, the test on MeFi is and should be pretty much the same as how SCOTUS saw it (which, yeah, attempted to strictly define pornography; but then, law often tilts at linguistic windmills). Links to sexy material are acceptable if the material is interesting in some way that rises above being merely sexy and also probably only if the material doesn't violate some strong local taboo. (And they should include a NSFW warning, which is a separate consideration.)

These photos satisfy both conditions. That's not so difficult.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:37 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think that anybody minds the vintage NSFW photos, but calling them 'very sexy' makes the MetaFilter front page seem male gaze-y.

Maybe I'm visiting the wrong iterwebs but a majority of the time I see a link described as "very sexy" it usually sarcasm and the actual link is something very unsexy. Then you have to wait for Justin Timberlake to bring sexy back.

In the case of gman's post, I found the descriptor refreshingly not sarcastic but far from "let's objectify these fifties era women" that some people are seeing.
posted by birdherder at 5:41 PM on June 23, 2012

I do not think objectifying sexual content (and yes, it was 'sexy' women, not men, and that matters, and the weight of considering women, porn, sexual objects, male gaze, etc. can be applied) should be posted to the front page simply because it's something someone likes with no further reason behind it
I think that I would in general agree with this. I also don't think it's what happened.

Although it was definitely "here are sexy ladies," with everything that implies, it was not just that. It was in the context of "here's this whole site with photo collections of a specific sort and here are 4 of my favorite galleries on the site and one of those galleries is sexy ladies."
posted by kavasa at 5:43 PM on June 23, 2012


I will make it 100% clear: people can understand my points and still disagree.

Cool.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 PM on June 23, 2012


> I'm an equal opportunity objectifier.

Same here, possibly, which makes me infinitely more offended by the use of the word 'ladies' to qualify these particular nudes. They're women.
posted by de at 6:32 PM on June 23, 2012


It strongly identifies me as a feminist of a certain age in that I viscerally despise the use of girls and ladies to refer to females who are not children or members of the aristocracy, respectively.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:41 PM on June 23, 2012


gallimaufry

Yowza.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:06 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like erotica, you like pornography, they like smut.
posted by Justinian at 7:19 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


the MetaFilter front page seem male gaze-y.

No idea how one link from one post makes a page of 50 posts on various posts seem male gaze-y.

I do not think objectifying sexual content (and yes, it was 'sexy' women, not men, and that matters, and the weight of considering women, porn, sexual objects, male gaze, etc. can be applied) should be posted to the front page simply because it's something someone likes with no further reason behind it;

For the nth time, they were vintage photos in a post about vintage images. It was not a single link with the poster saying "check out these boobs!" Not sure why you insist on seeming them in a singular and negative vantage point. Seriously, you just seem to repeating the idea that these photos are bad and don't belong on Metafilter and there doesn't seem to be room for any other view in your opinion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


i didn't love the "very sexy" modifier, but i did like that post, and i do favor all sorts of topics on the blue, including nsfw/sexuality content. i do think people bend themselves over backwards to not use "pornography" as a label (due probably to the fluidity of porn laws and the fight about art vs porn) - personally, i think nudes/porn/erotica/smut is all part of a continuum and i don't really get hung up on the differences between them.

part of what i like about metafilter is while it can be very high brow and big discussions and one of the smarter places to discuss things on the internet, it's also filled with lolcats and nsfw and cursing and raucous music and sports and fandoms.
posted by nadawi at 7:31 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


and the occasional bare breast
posted by spitbull at 7:36 PM on June 23, 2012


and the occasional rare beast
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the framing, we are being directed to look at one particular set of female nudes among many sets of other things, with no further context of why we should be looking at it other than it's labelled "very sexy".

I’m sensing from your tone that this is supposed to be a bad thing. Some pictures are very sad, or very funny, or very thought provoking. I like to see all those things. That’s life.
posted by bongo_x at 8:25 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


and the occasional brat erase.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:44 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually thought the "very sexy" descriptor was tongue in cheek, since those images are just... not sexy. They are interesting because they used to be titillating, in the same way a display of ankle was at one time prurient, but they fall very far short of that standard these days.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:18 PM on June 23, 2012


On a total side note, I see comments every once in a while that make me wonder; Everyone knows they were making straight up Porny-Porn back then, and since the invention of cameras, right? I feel like sometimes people (understandably) take their vision of history from the public face that was put forth. The public image and what things were really like are two completely different things. As in these pictures were never shocking or anything like it.
posted by bongo_x at 9:23 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As in these pictures were never shocking or anything like it.

I don't think that's true at all. I mean, on the one hand, yes, there were Tijuana bibles and stag films and all the rest, those were real things that existed at this time. But, were they universal? Were they something everyone was familiar with? That's much tougher. No internet, and as you say this stuff wasn't talked about. Probably any guy who'd been in the service, and that was the vast majority of men in the 50s, would have seen some porn at some point. But women? Doubt it. If you lived in a big enough city, there were places you could go --- but they were shady as hell. And lots of people didn't live in a big enough city. So yeah, I think therefore this type of stuff was a lot more shocking, in general, than it is to us now.
posted by Diablevert at 9:33 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


it had no other context than "sexy".... for no good reason

I know you are trying hard to fight against the idea that you are totally against porn or sex or whatever, but really sex and sexiness are worthwhile for its own sake, and while people generally do NOT post porn or sexy sex-stuff here unless there's some particularly unique angle (I think I made a post about zombie-themed dildos once), there is generally nothing wrong with that being the main "thrust" of a post, as it were.
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


flex, I think the reason some people are perceiving your responses as "dogged" is because of the repeated exchange that's gone (in simplified form) like this:
flex: This was pornographic photos of women posted with no context.

Multiple other MeFites, over multiple comments: It was posted with context — "here are galleries of vintage photos, and here's one of very sexy photos". "Pornographic" seems like an excessive and inaccurate term.

flex: This was pornographic photos of women posted with no context.
Go through a couple of iterations of that, and it starts to seem as though you're defending your position without being willing to listen to anything anybody says in response. That comes off as dogged.

FWIW, I openly and proudly identify as a feminist (grew up reading "Stories for Free Children" in the back of Ms. magazine since I could read), graduated from a women's college, and tend to go off on rants about how tired I am of the ever-present objectification of women — and I didn't have a problem with the post or the link.
posted by Lexica at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


For people who aren't a fan of the use of the word "ladies" to refer to women who are not actual Ladies in the aristocratic sense, I have a question. Well, questions.

When I am working at the cigar store and a group of women enter, I usually greet them with "Hello, ladies! What can I do for you today?" or something like that. Is that cool? If not, what should I say instead? "Hello, women!" sounds... worse. "Hey guys!" doesn't really work, and "Hey gals!" sounds pretty stupid to me too. I use "Hey folks!" if there's a mixed-gender group.

Also, what should I use for just one woman? I use "Hello, sir!" or "Hey, man!" for a single man, but I don't know what to do for a single woman. "Hello miss!" is obviously no good, "Hello ma'am!" works sometimes but only because I'm in the South and it's risky even then (definitely would offend many younger women). "Hello, Ms." sounds incredibly awkward, just as "Mister" would for a male customer. So I end up just saying "Hello, what can I do for you today?" which obviously is fine and I should stop overthinking it ("Hi, I'm on Metafilter...") but I would love to have some other salutation that I could use, especially if I wanted to convey respect in the way that "Hello, sir!" conveys respect toward a man. Is there such a thing?

Help me out, ladies! Er...women, uh...females, um, well, help me out! Please!
posted by Scientist at 10:40 PM on June 23, 2012


According to Miss Manners, when addressing a person or persons:So for greeting a group of women, "good morning, Ladies"; for a group of men, "please come in, Gentlemen". Getting into more advanced combinations, for a group of multiple women and one man it would be "Ladies and Sir", not "Ladies and Gentleman" (ugh, no); a group of multiple men and one woman would be "Gentlemen and Madam" (never "Lady and Gentlemen"). (One man and one woman is "Sir and Madam".)

Never use "Lady" to address an individual woman unless it's her title. It makes you sound like Jerry Lewis.
posted by Lexica at 11:11 PM on June 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Hi folks!" is find for two or more people of any gender or in any combination. "Hey guys" is not gender-specific these days. You can also say things like "How can I help you good people today?" "Hello, ma'am" or "Hello, madam" is the equivalent form of address to "sir." How useful you find that depends on how confident you are saying it. I know of no women who object to it, though.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:13 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It strongly identifies me as a feminist of a certain age in that I viscerally despise the use of girls and ladies to refer to females who are not children or members of the aristocracy, respectively.


I'm not a woman or a lady, but I am something of a ladyologist. I think it's important to remember that "lady" is basically its own sort of gender construct, not just a class construct. A lady might not be an actual member of the aristocracy, but she can self-apply some of its signifiers to create a sense of grandeur or propriety around herself, especially if she's really not conventionally attractive in her raw form.

It's basically one of the historic attributes of glamour, deflecting attention from the true self underneath, being allowed to indulge in forms of play or flights of fancy that a "serious" person might not attempt.

As a colloquial descriptor or part of a greeting, it's actually steeped in respect. It implies, "I'm prepared to act deferentially toward you and/or give you the benefit of the doubt w/r/t the respectable image of yourself that you are currently projecting." I can see how this might rub some people the wrong way, but most of the ladies I know don't seem to mind at all. FWIW, there are plenty of women I know who I don't think of as ladies, but the more feminist-minded women tend to be the ones who I wind up bonding with the most over my lady-meeting work.
posted by hermitosis at 11:14 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I definitely agree with Lexica (and Miss Manners, apparently). But if I referred to someone as a lady (collectively or otherwise) and they protested, I'd totally respect their objection.
posted by hermitosis at 11:17 PM on June 23, 2012


Huh. Well, I just don't include any of those words You know: "Hello! What can I do for you today?"

Working in customer service, I used "sir" and "ma'am" and I never had it offend anyone who you young. This includes in Texas...maybe in the deeper South there are young women who care about the distinction and consequent connotation?

But, you know, I'm not a good model if your primary consideration is not offending anyone. Under that criteria, then you obviously should endeavor to always know how each person prefers to be addressed and address them that way. If you don't know, choose something entirely inoffensive or phrase it in such a way that you avoid the issue entirely.

In my case, though, avoiding offense is my secondary consideration. My primary is not participating in and thus helping to perpetuate injustice.

As I said, though, the girls/ladies thing is not as hot-button as it used to be and my impression is that many or most feminists under 30, especially, think it unimportant. I still think it's important. But I'm old. Ladies, though, honestly isn't really that big of a deal but I think that girls is.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:21 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately it's a pretty safe gamble as a server. Call the right batch of middle-aged women "girls" and you have just added an extra 5% to your tip. Call the wrong batch "girls" and you might get corrected, but they probably won't dock your pay.
posted by hermitosis at 11:24 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? "Ladies" is a no-go? You viscerally despise it? C'mon now!
posted by Brocktoon at 11:25 PM on June 23, 2012


You'll give your iPad a rash if you keep doing that to it.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:50 PM on June 23, 2012


Flex, I think I see where you're coming from on the context issue, even if I don't feel the same way. The context, as I see it, comes from the fact that it's not just "here are sexy photos of women"; it's "here are sexy photos of women in a very specific style that is particular to a certain era." The context comes from what is included and excluded from the gallery.

To illustrate this, you can browse some of the other galleries in the "Sex" section to see groups of photos that vary wildly from the "Tally Ho" gallery. There's a gallery for photos in the style of 1960s-era Playboy, one for covers of pulp fiction novels, one for shots of 1980s male strippers in banana hammocks. Each of those is a clear bucket, and any photo from any of these galleries would look quite out-of-place in the "Tally Ho" gallery.

I think that any of these contexts is hearty enough promote good discussion — even discussion that goes beyond "women had more curves back then and that was awesome" or "oh, god, isn't that clothing ridiculous."

And I'm quite certain I've seen FPPs that were nothing but (e.g.) "here are 30 photos of 1890s-era now-defunct luxury hotels in Texas" or "here are 24 photos of marquees in downtown America in the 1940s." (That's my take on similar non-sexual contexts to what I described above; you may disagree.)

By comparison, the first link in the FPP, the "Photobooth" collection, has far less context (in my opinion) because it's got a far broader theme and seems to take its photographs from a far greater timespan.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:03 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


These pictures are fine, and this is a frustrating read. It's frustrating in part because a lot of the comments here are meta-argument over things that can be worth discussing in the post itself. We're not idiots here, generally — we can talk about how femininity, "sexiness" and pornography were culturally constructed in the context of those photos. And we can do that in a way that ties in the greater contexts of both the time they were shot and the broader These Americans project.

The question over whether or not this is OK is silly — it clearly is and has been before. The new precedent is the same as the old precedent. So from there, what? Should they be OK for MetaFilter?

Even if it was just them, I'd say sure. You'd probably have to use some exposition for the dullards otherwise there'd be a lot of, "What are we supposed to see here?" that sometimes crops up when people want to pretend that they've made an effort beyond the first snark they can raise.

People can acknowledge problematic components to art they enjoy and still enjoy the art.
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Unfortunately it's a pretty safe gamble as a server. Call the right batch of middle-aged women 'girls' and you have just added an extra 5% to your tip. Call the wrong batch 'girls' and you might get corrected, but they probably won't dock your pay."

I waited tables for years and didn't do this, nor was as comically manipulative. But then I didn't stereotype my customers nor make fun of them behind their backs, so I'm probably not representative. But I worked in fine-dining and I was very, very good at my job and I made a lot of money. Without calling grown women girls.

"Really? "Ladies" is a no-go? You viscerally despise it? C'mon now!"

Yes. Sorry to blow your mind.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:59 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I right in thinking that your point is something to do with how you believe that a link that justifies the male gaze at women's bodies, for no other reason other than someone finds them aesthetically appealing (sexy, hot, whatever) should have no place on Metafilter?

This was how I felt when I first saw the FPP-- definitely not outrage, but a small twinge of, "well, this is a straight man posting for straight men," which isn't problematic in itself, but as it's such a strong trend on the internet (and in reality), it does give me a moment's pause/slight outsider feeling. The thing is that behavior much worse than this usually gets taken care of around here, which is why I (and I assume flex) didn't get anywhere near outrage.

People talking about throwing all the breasts and butts out of the Lourvre really are missing the point. I mean, if someone told me I should check out the Lourvre, they've got some very sexy ladies in there! ... I would feel weird about that person. And it undoubtedly is a thing that in critical discourse, female nudes vs. male nudes in visual art is a fraught issue, so that doesn't really help either.

Anyway, I don't think it was wrong to post the photographs-- I like them, and I don't think it degrades the atmosphere around here to present tasteful nude photos. I do think that linking specifically to the women in a way that focuses the male gaze was slightly unpleasant. So, there you go. Is it okay for Metafilter? I mean, clearly yes, but the defensiveness in this thread is much more uncomfortable for me in terms of atmosphere than the wording of the FPP, to be honest.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:18 AM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I do think it's rude to insist that flex is anti-nudes on the Blue (how mellifluous). That doesn't seem to be the issue at all.

Also for the record, though the male gaze is a part of this, I would feel weird about a "here are some cool photos-- including some very sexy vintage beefcakes" FPP, too. I think this comes down to the fact that it's slightly odd to frame something for only roughly half of the audience's sexuality just as a matter of taste, but in general, (straight) men feel more emboldened to do this in public forums. Because it's very normalized to think of the female body = sex.

It would have been surprising to see a direct link to photos of naked men framed as "very sexy," simply because we don't equate the male body with sex as frequently as the female body, and women are expected to accept their sex appeal being defined by culture in a way that men are not. I personally find this intrusive and did so slightly when I clicked through the FPP. The men in this context were also somewhat sexualized, but men are in general much more free to exist as bodies without being constricted by the bounds of sex appeal.

I think in this case, the sense of difficulty for me was watching a framing issue in the FPP become a discussion that centers around which female body types are the sexiest (because yes, there is an implicit judgement of leaner women, and women with plastic surgery in that thread). It's perfectly fine to have sexual preferences, and to discuss the healthiness of beauty standards, but the discussion had a heavy tilt toward remarking on the superiority of certain female bodies in a sexual context. (... While also denigrating pornography/erotica that features female genitals as somehow less tasteful, while in the same breath claiming that accepting this vintage erotica as "sexier" is body- and sex-positive. This actually seems somewhat ironically prudish and body-shaming to me. But the adjective "sexy" applied to women is precisely so difficult because it often both implies the male gaze and a certain kind of female body-acceptance which are conflated in the word so often as to make sex-positivity a minefield-- rejecting the male gaze and a dominant male discourse about female bodies is seen as a rejection of sexuality.)

Again, I have no problem with the photos-- or even with comments that might discuss their eroticism-- but the way it was presented ("sexy") assumes that we are going to be viewing female bodies through a certain lens, and as a straight girl, I sometimes want to move beyond that kind of blunt, crass address of the female body. A more nuanced frame. Which I don't expect to be policed here, but that is how I feel.

tl;dr, I'm grateful for this MeTa, even though I also don't think anything Needs To Be Done. (I would like it to change, but I would also like an ice cream sundae right now, and I'm not particularly indignant about not getting my way about either.)
posted by stoneandstar at 1:51 AM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


(also, sorry for the autocorrect ugliness on Lourvre)
posted by stoneandstar at 1:52 AM on June 24, 2012


I do think that linking specifically to the women in a way that focuses the male gaze was slightly unpleasant.

It's not how I'd have done it, because -- well, a 'very sexy' label seems somewhat indistinguishable to me from 'I'd hit it', and I know that that's no longer considered acceptable on Metafilter.

So while I might bust out an 'I'd hit it' with friends (of both sexes), it's been made pretty clear to me that sharing my erotic preferences with the world isn't acceptable here. And why would it be?

On the other hand, I personally don't care too much one way or the other. I feel a bit like Jay Smooth does about Gwyneth Paltrow's use of the 'N' word.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:59 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> This was how I felt when I first saw the FPP-- definitely not outrage, but a small twinge of, "well, this is a straight man posting for straight men"

The male gaze aspect is actually an easy sell for me, far easier than the "no context" angle. And, though I also think that nothing Needs To Be Done, I feel like straight guys like me deserve occasional reminders like these, or else we'll just stupidly bumble through life not really considering the world through the eyes of other genders or orientations.

(In an ideal world, I'd love to have a browser extension that would give a subtle highlight to all the dumb shit I read that is steeped in male gaze. And then perhaps an occasional squiggle underneath words I type — as if to say, "dude, might want to rephrase that.")

> It's not how I'd have done it, because -- well, a 'very sexy' label seems somewhat indistinguishable to me from 'I'd hit it'

I find this interesting, because to me "very sexy" is miles away from "I'd hit it," even if I were to assume that everyone shares my erotic preferences. For one thing, it turns the broad gradient of attraction into a simple binary.

But more to the point: I would like to think that there is a way we can have conversations about what-is-sexy and what-is-not-sexy and remain far from the two extremes of sharing everything or nothing about our sexualities. I'm prepared to agree that lots of things can be called "sexy," even things that don't particularly float my boat. It seems like we constantly argue about other matters of taste around here without having to avoid certain adjectives and adverbs or consider everything from a neutral point of view.

There's no right answer to any of this, of course, or at least no answer that will please everyone. But recognizing the breadth of opinion is healthy, for the same reason that it's healthy to recognize the breadth of what the world finds sexy — far more than is dreamt of in my philosophy.
posted by savetheclocktower at 3:23 AM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think this comes down to the fact that it's slightly odd to frame something for only roughly half of the audience's sexuality just as a matter of taste...

Every post has limited appeal. A post about movies from the 30s is only going to appeal to some people, same for a post about politics or the exciting and interesting events in space exploration. So I see no reason why a link has to encompass all or most of the audience's perceived sexuality.

It's also a mistake to assume that all and only hetersexual males would find the link appealing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:29 AM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Gratuitous!
Sorry, just my tourette's kicking in.
posted by de at 3:33 AM on June 24, 2012


I find this interesting, because to me "very sexy" is miles away from "I'd hit it," even if I were to assume that everyone shares my erotic preferences. For one thing, it turns the broad gradient of attraction into a simple binary.

You don't have to assume anything. Labelling something 'very sexy' is surely an indicator that you personally find it erotically stimulating -- what else could it mean? The 'very sexy' label can only be a comment about the author's response to the material.

You might want to qualify your degree of stimulation with more granularity -- ie, 'would not hit but would accept blow job', 'would hit it, but only once', 'would not hit it but would use the images as second tier masturbation fodder', etc. but the label is surely a signal of erotic interest, or you'd use a different label? The nudity label tag be sufficient as an objective attempt to describe the content.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:10 AM on June 24, 2012


Re: pornographic photos of women directly linked in FPPs. and
I don't see the necessity in directly linking to pornographic photos of women on the front page
I think you need to recalibrate your understanding of the word pornography.
I know it is sometimes difficult for some americans, and the sight of a briefly exposed nipple can send them into garrulous paroxysms of froth and bile. But really, that link...pornograpic. Phooey; if you really believe this you must have lead a very sheltered life and I wonder how you got to Mefi.
Also gallimaufry +1.
posted by adamvasco at 4:12 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't have to assume anything. Labelling something 'very sexy' is surely an indicator that you personally find it erotically stimulating -- what else could it mean?

This is absolutely, positively not true. I could easily describe a gay love scene as "very sexy" in the sense that it is obviously meant to arouse. What I would mean is that I believe that a person who was attracted to such things would find it "sexy" (although I wouldn't). In fact, due to the way gender politics work in the West, women and gay men have had to learn what (heterosexual) men find arousing, and can describe things in those terms even though they themselves may not find it arousing. Sexy outfits, sexy actresses, etc, etc.

I think the meaning of "very sexy" to ONLY mean what YOU find arousing is peculiar to heterosexual males, and they would do well to show some understanding of others' sexual tastes and expand their use of the word beyond the simply first person view perspective. It is a sign of privilege that they have never had to.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:02 AM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes. Sorry to blow your mind.

Well you've really left yourself nowhere to go then. Unless you regularly split the atoms in your body and emit gamma radiation.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:04 AM on June 24, 2012


IVAN FYODOROVICH WILL SMASH YOUR SEXIST MIND WHILE EMITTING FEMINIST RADIATION PARTICLES. DUDE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:07 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Hi folks!" is find for two or more people of any gender or in any combination.

Wow, this is much better than the "Greetings, carbon units!" salutation I've been using all this time.
posted by Ritchie at 6:22 AM on June 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Actually, "Greetings, carbon units!" is AWESOME!
posted by DarlingBri at 6:24 AM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Very sexy" works for me. And it adds context for me as it tells me that this was what was considered 'very sexy' in that time period. I found the group of photos fascinating for a number of reasons (and not sexiness, I am a woman attracted to men):

The positions highlighting leg, thigh and rear, was that the main focus of erotic photography then? The hairstyles, the use of garters and stockings and seeing where the new burlesque movement gets its inspriation, the backgrounds (always the backgrounds!) The size and shape of women who are perceived as attractive back then as opposed to now (makes me feel better about my shape and size). It might be me, but there also seems to be more of a sense of fun with earlier erotic images, whereas erotic photos now seem so serious in expression, layout, etc. I find all of this fascinating.

Flex, I do see that you have a position for a conversation, but I think you would have more success if you went and found a different FFP that had a layout of a single link to erotic images with nothing else added. The conversation started off broken because the FPP wasn't all that great of an example of what you are opposed to.

People here seem to take things very specifically (hence the semantics conversations), so to get your point across successfully, I think you might have needed to be more specific than you were.
posted by Vaike at 7:07 AM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


a 'very sexy' label seems somewhat indistinguishable to me from 'I'd hit it'

That's not how I read that at all - I think that is a harsh interpretation. I read "very sexy" as a label to alert us to the fact that there was NSFW content: as in "sex-related stuff ahead."

As in these pictures were never shocking or anything like it.

Wut?? I can't speak for Europe or other parts of the world, but I would disagree that these types of photos were never shocking here in the US. The tame early airbrushed centerfolds in Playboy were shocking back in the day. These photos might have been shared slyly among men, but sex-related publications were not widely accessible in the general public forums. There was no searchable Internet. Sexuality was much more underground and the idea that women enjoyed sex was radical; the assumption that women should be virgins when married was still prevalent until the 60s-70s "sex revolution." Widespread availability of "very sexy" pics did not really happen until the explosion of popular porno mags like Playboy & Penthouse.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:18 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Labelling something 'very sexy' is surely an indicator that you personally find it erotically stimulating -- what else could it mean?

I assumed it was a sort of play on words indicating that these images were themselves intended to be sexy for their time but also maybe not really that sexy. But I have been known in the past to give gman too much credit, so maybe that is the problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, in my aim to frame it as neutrally as possible I did not talk about "male gaze" (I think stoneandstar has a good take on that though, that "male gaze" is relevant but imprecise for my particular objection) since feminist terms tend to provoke instant backlash, as I've dealt with before on MeFi, and I wanted to avoid that. And I did not talk about my personal feelings, although that might be easier to understand for some, because I felt it made it less neutral. I don't want to make it all about me because, well, it's not all about me; and I wanted to present it in a way that was inclusive and opening a discussion.

I apparently use certain words to mean different things than other people use them, and much more focus was on that, or refuting those meanings that I didn't mean - the porn/erotica/whatever thing, the "context" thing, the single-link vs. direct-link thing, etc.

I do sort of end up with the idea that there probably isn't a way to present these concerns that isn't going to get people hung up on some part of it somehow (and I did expect that). I really did not want to have this perceived as an outrage post (since, well, it's not) and I feel I did the steps I should have done to make sure it wasn't, but I still think it was treated more like that, and maybe having not put my feelings into it left it without a hook, I don't know.

I think there is value in discussion, simply to talk about people's different perspectives on the site; I think concerns about the site can't be on people's radars if there's no discussion to provide awareness; I think I am attempting to deal with the site by engaging with it rather than withdrawing from it, because I think if I have a concern I should present it and try to explain it and see where other people are at.
posted by flex at 7:35 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, is your concern that you feel that images of women created for men's sexual delectation, such as these, inevitably dehumanise their subjects and as such it is morally wrong to view them and metafilter should not permit that as a community norm?

You opened the thread saying you wanted to take the temperature; the response, on the whole, was "nope, I'm getting 98.6, thanks for checking, we're fine, though." at this point, 200 odd comments in, we have established the group consensus. The only reason to persist in the conversation is not to understand the consensus but to change it.

I realise that conversations like this are fraught, that you have been admirably neutral and calm in your responses and have every right to clarify your position as much as you'd like. If you think the site norms on this are immoral and ought to change, say so. To persist otherwise seems disengenuous.
posted by Diablevert at 7:51 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Hi folks!" is fine for two or more people of any gender or in any combination.

I address parties of mixed or either gender as "little campers."

But I have been known in the past to give gman too much credit, so maybe that is the problem.

That there is some tough love.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:07 AM on June 24, 2012


Wow, this is much better than the "Greetings, carbon units!" salutation I've been using all this time.

I've gotten a laugh out of "greetings, fellow earthlings" a time or two. Depends on the group.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:12 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


On preview: Diablevert: I did consider not responding further to this thread but I felt it was better, after having left it for over half a day, to attempt a little bit more to share and clarify to further points brought up. I just explained I did not want a discussion to be focused on ME and MY OPINION because I felt that was not an inclusive way to open a discussion. I felt that, much like making a post to the front page of MeFi, it is a given that one is making a post to MeFi out of a personal interest in the subject or so forth and that it is unnecessary and perhaps actually harmful to the discussion to editorialize. I don't know if that was the right approach to take here, but that is why I did.

Anyway this is what I typed before previewing:

Having said that, given that it doesn't really matter that I opened the discussion at this point, so my desire for relative neutrality is probably satisfied -

I don't have a problem with the site that is the subject of the post in and of itself & I agree similar things get posted all the time with no further excuse than "neat photos". When I say "with no further context" that means "with no good reason, just simply why not" and I do absolutely recognize people disagree and say, because they are neat old photos, because neat old photos are interesting, that's good enough reason to post anything at all. And, you know, if this were a post about vintage porn/erotica/whatever or about a particular photographer, just if there were some other context than "neat old photos" to it, I would feel no need to express this concern. I guess I think if you're going to take it somewhere potentially sensitive, it is better to have more reason than that.

It's been said because it was not the main link of the post, that this is not a good example. I would argue it is a good example precisely because it's not the main link, because I think people already have the standard that a single link "look at some sexy" is not good enough reason. It's a personal choice what to pull out of a subject to "sell it" as a post, and gman's personal choice was to pull out a set of (word-of-your-choice sexual content, female) as a particular point to direct us to, with no particular reason that we should be looking at it other than it's "very sexy".

I understand why this is not going to ping on the radar of many people: this is normal in our society to look at women this way, sexually; it's vintage, therefore old and neat to compare to now; it's tame, because it's sexualized nudity, but it's softcore; it is generally all around a thing many people would be interested in viewing. I don't feel that makes it okay, just because it's normal. I feel there is worth in looking at why people think that's okay.

Having a focus placed on sexualized women with no other reason than those, on the front page, is uncomfortable. It's not "outrage" levels of uncomfortable, but it's uncomfortable. Throwing women up as sexual objects like that, as an aside that we should all be cool with, is exclusionary and insensitive, and yes, privileged. Throwing anyone up as sexual objects like that, I have a problem with, but particularly here there is a history all built up behind using women as sexual objects. I feel like my ideal MeFi has a higher standard than "it's old, it's neat, I like sexy, what's your problem?", that it could consider how that might be exclusionary and a little icky and definitely privileged to do that; how that others might not consider it so much "offensive", but more like - well, I think Peter McDermott's analogy to "I'd hit it" is quite solid here, that it's a flag that most people are or are expected to be bringing this sort of focus to a post, and that is unpleasant not simply from being a woman sensitive to that sort of thing, but unpleasant in that it's unasked for, unnecessary commentary & evaluation in general.
posted by flex at 8:35 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


As somebody who greets dozens of people a day as part of his job, I usually use 'sir' or 'ma'am' at the first encounter, especially with people middle aged or above. With younger people, especially those more casually dressed, I just say hi or welcome. Regular or even repeat customers of either gender I'll often call 'buddy' or 'dude.' Really young kids just like being acknowledged apart from their parents, so I'll occasionally say 'hello, little person.' It can be tricky, but navigating it is part of my job. Among people who I actually know well, of course, things are a lot looser.
posted by jonmc at 8:52 AM on June 24, 2012


Throwing women up as sexual objects like that, as an aside that we should all be cool with, is exclusionary and insensitive, and yes, privileged.

This is what I was trying to say too.

I think there's a difference between personally wishing something would change, and thinking that site policy needs to be changed. There's nothing disingenuous about this MeTa to me, as someone who would like to see less of this behavior, but knows it's an uphill battle of an uphill war.

Well, is your concern that you feel that images of women created for men's sexual delectation, such as these, inevitably dehumanise their subjects and as such it is morally wrong to view them and metafilter should not permit that as a community norm?

I am not flex, but this is emphatically not my objection, and I doubt it's really anyone's here-- my objection is that they were presented in the FPP as photos of sexy women, to be enjoyed as sexy women. There are many other ways to present vintage nudes. (And note how commenters had something more to say about the change in beauty standards for men than just, "men were so much sexier back then, why do men today have to be X/Y/Z?") And again, that the conversation turned to revering one idealized body type over another idealized body type with no tinge of self-awareness about it. (Because yes, those women had more body fat, but it's not exactly the way every woman would look naturally if she started eating candy bars for breakfast.)
posted by stoneandstar at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having a focus placed on sexualized women with no other reason than those, on the front page, is uncomfortable. It's not "outrage" levels of uncomfortable, but it's uncomfortable. Throwing women up as sexual objects like that, as an aside that we should all be cool with, is exclusionary and insensitive, and yes, privileged. Throwing anyone up as sexual objects like that, I have a problem with, but particularly here there is a history all built up behind using women as sexual objects. I feel like my ideal MeFi has a higher standard than "it's old, it's neat, I like sexy, what's your problem?", that it could consider how that might be exclusionary and a little icky and definitely privileged to do that; how that others might not consider it so much "offensive", but more like - well, I think Peter McDermott's analogy to "I'd hit it" is quite solid here, that it's a flag that most people are or are expected to be bringing this sort of focus to a post, and that is unpleasant not simply from being a woman sensitive to that sort of thing, but unpleasant in that it's unasked for, unnecessary commentary & evaluation in general.

So, you think it is immoral and you think mefi should not do it, because people like you don't like it.

That's fine.

For my part, I didn't mind the pictures.
posted by Diablevert at 9:15 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think "immoral" and "morality" are very loaded words and I did not use them, nor did I intend what I think you mean by them. I am sorry if that is your takeaway.

As well there is a very large difference between "I think MeFi's policy should be X" and "I wonder if MeFi is aware of X, and ideally I'd like MeFi to be more aware of X, and maybe consider doing less of X".
posted by flex at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


And I should add you are making it very much about the pictures. It's not about the pictures; it's about the framing, the presentation.
posted by flex at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2012


It's not about the pictures. It's about gratuitous sexual advantage dressed in neat vintage guise.
posted by de at 9:24 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


C'mon, do you really need to frame it like that? His post is clearly about finding the presentation exclusionary-- he doesn't have to weaken his opinion in order to recognize that Metafilter doesn't function by catering specifically the concerns of each and every member.

Every post has limited appeal. A post about movies from the 30s is only going to appeal to some people...

I thought about this while writing my comment, but I don't think the same principle is at work. The male gaze is so prominent in the majority of media and discourse that it does feel a little uncomfortable when it's presented here without comment as a neutral POV. And honestly, I feel like people aren't hearing me here: vintage straight erotica is interesting to me. That post could be "for" me, as a straight woman. I just wish it hadn't been framed like it was "for the fellas" (except without even needing to say so, because it's such a standard assumption).

It's also a mistake to assume that all and only hetersexual males would find the link appealing.


I never assumed this. Talking about the male gaze is talking about a certain societal trend with a considerable amount of money and power behind it, but I'm well aware that there are men who find a wide variety of things appealing.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:25 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> As well there is a very large difference between "I think MeFi's policy should be X" and "I wonder if MeFi is aware of X, and ideally I'd like MeFi to be more aware of X, and maybe consider doing less of X".

This is true, and I appreciate that you were doing the latter, did not consider that you were making an "outrage post," and have been taken aback by the mass reaction as if you were. I can also understand that you wanted to make your position clear. I guess what I'm having trouble understanding is why you didn't, some time back, say "Huh, I thought more people would agree with me, but at least I expressed my point." When people talk about your doggedness, it's because you seem to feel that if you just keep making your point maybe somehow people will start agreeing with you. They won't. There's nothing wrong with your point of view, but it's a minority one, and you say you knew that when you made the post... so what is it you want/expect to happen at this point?
posted by languagehat at 9:26 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be tempted to respond more in this thread simply because people seem to have so misconstrued the point. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to clarify something, even if repeatedly. Obviously the tide is not going to be changed here, but it was personally a small relief for me to see this MeTa, and it sounds like a few people did think, "hm, I'm glad someone pointed this out above." It is possible to want to start a discussion to see how people feel without knowing in advance how it will play out, and with the desire to maintain one's point.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:31 AM on June 24, 2012


Once, I gave gman too much credit and he bankrupted a shady Chinese ETF.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a Brit who lives in Canada and I not only write but SAY 'an historic'.

I'm a raging pedant too, but I don't think they're connected. It just sounds normal to me.
posted by unSane at 9:38 AM on June 24, 2012


*plays an harmonica*
posted by jonmc at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2012


"Again, I have no problem with the photos-- or even with comments that might discuss their eroticism-- but the way it was presented ("sexy") assumes that we are going to be viewing female bodies through a certain lens, and as a straight girl, I sometimes want to move beyond that kind of blunt, crass address of the female body. A more nuanced frame. Which I don't expect to be policed here, but that is how I feel."

You can talk about that within the post as long as you focus on the pictures themselves.

I read Gman as being at least mildly ironic, and the photos themselves are examples of performative sexuality as well as part of American history.

I also disagree with Flex's repeated assertion that this is somehow worse because the photos were superfluous. They're not really, for a post on These Americans, because one of the things that crops up in their remit is vintage nudes/porn (I do think they were porn, but I disagree with that being used as a pejorative rather than as a descriptor).
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think "immoral" and "morality" are very loaded words and I did not use them, nor did I intend what I think you mean by them. I am sorry if that is your takeaway.

I mean "wrong and bad." Something that people should not do, and something they should feel guilty about if they do do it. You think looking at photos like these is wrong because they are part of a dominant patriarchal ethos in our society which you also feel is wrong and ought to be destroyed.

As well there is a very large difference between "I think MeFi's policy should be X" and "I wonder if MeFi is aware of X, and ideally I'd like MeFi to be more aware of X, and maybe consider doing less of X".

I didn't say anything about policy, either. I was inexact, in my phrasing; it probably would have been better to have said "something mefites should not do." Because you would like it if mefites realized that many people feel that erotic pictures of women which employ the male gaze are bad and people shouldn't look at them. Further, you tend to believe that by posting FPP links to them it makes the site look as if endorses the patriarchy. Therefore, out of concern for the site's reputation and for the well-being of other mefite who would suffer discomfort, mefites should voluntarily refrain from posting such FPP links.
posted by Diablevert at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just wish it hadn't been framed like it was "for the fellas"

I'm not very conversant in the ways that issues like this one are typically discussed, so it's entirely possible that that statement went over my head. Please explain? The framing you wish wasn't there actually wasn't there, at least not in any explicit sense, and there's so little 'post' to begin with that it's hard to see anywhere it could even be implicit. You continued, "(except without even needing to say so, because it's such a standard assumption)." Are you suggesting that every post containing or referencing any shred of this ubiquitous social/sexual power imbalance should also contain some sort of anticipatory apologetic hat tip to anyone who might be uncomfortable with the content?
posted by jon1270 at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess what I'm having trouble understanding is why you didn't, some time back, say "Huh, I thought more people would agree with me, but at least I expressed my point."

It sounds like you're asking why didn't I give up on the discussion because some people have weighed in to tell me they disagree, more people than have weighed in to tell me they agree. Well, you're asking me a direct question here, do you want me to answer it, or do you want me to go away because I should have given up "some time back" since the percentage of agreement is not in my particular opinion's favor?

I kept trying to clarify because people kept reacting to what they thought I said, or what they thought were my intentions, not what I actually said, and I did my best to clarify yet remain neutral enough to allow discussion. I guess I'm having trouble understanding why the focus is so much on this idea that I'm seeking agreement when I've repeatedly said I didn't expect agreement, I am fine with disagreement, and I am not seeking any particular resolution.

I suppose I was unsuccessful in that it doesn't seem to matter how much I clarify or what details I give, you are still asking me something that as far as I was aware I answered thoroughly a while ago. I'm going to assume you want me to answer it instead of assuming it's rhetorical or trying to make a point off me while insisting I shouldn't refute. You have an opinion of me right now and I think you based it on incorrect assumptions, but if I try to correct them in hopes of knowing you understood my point even if we end up disagreeing only reinforces your opinion, but if I don't try to correct them, you walk away with that opinion. Do you see how that might be a little frustrating?

On preview: Diablevert, that characterization is incorrect, overly harsh, and I absolutely feel at this point you are determined to misconstrue me no matter what I say. That is not a discussion in good faith, and I do not want to participate in it.
posted by flex at 10:13 AM on June 24, 2012


Ugh, flex, thanks for starting this MeTa. I appreciate it.

I think the whole post was mediocre ("Here are some old photos without captions or credit" -- is this just because I read on my phone?) You know, a "historic photo narrative" really requires, well, narrative.

The skimpy framing of the porny photos was especially surprising. Including the phrase "vintage female nudes" would have made it 100 times better for me.

Debating "pornography" vs. "vintage erotica" -- what? Really? Are you guys so far down the internet rabbit hole that you don't see them as closer to porn than not?

To repeat: Thanks, flex, for posting this, and also to dougmoon, MexicanYenta, and stoneandstar. You are making Metafilter a place I feel comfortable hanging around.
posted by purpleclover at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand why this is not going to ping on the radar of many people: this is normal in our society to look at women this way, sexually; it's vintage, therefore old and neat to compare to now; it's tame, because it's sexualized nudity, but it's softcore; it is generally all around a thing many people would be interested in viewing. I don't feel that makes it okay, just because it's normal. I feel there is worth in looking at why people think that's okay.

Well, your personal feelings on this matter are really not very commonly shared. You say "just because it's normal" like that's a bad thing, as if sexual objectification was inherently wrong or demeaning. I think you are throwing out a very big baby with just a little bit of dirty bathwater.

Male objectification is featured/discussed on MeFi fairly often as well. Were you bothered by something like "Hairy Chests I Want To Cry On"?
posted by hermitosis at 10:36 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I suppose I was unsuccessful in that it doesn't seem to matter how much I clarify or what details I give, you are still asking me something that as far as I was aware I answered thoroughly a while ago.

I just reread all of your comments here, in order, twice, and I think I am getting what you are saying:

And I should add you are making it very much about the pictures. It's not about the pictures; it's about the framing, the presentation.

Your issue is that the framing in the FPP ("very sexy") sucks because of the way it focuses on the titillation and with more than a whiff of "I'd hit it!", compared to a more neutral descriptor ("vintage nudes," say) or just mentioning that there is nsfw content on the page with no direct link, right? If so, I'd mostly agree.

I enjoy nsfw content (and not just of the naked women variety), but I like it that MeFi is a no "I'd hit it" zone, and I appreciate that by and large nsfw FPPs tend to be framed in ways that either bring out what is interesting (as compared to the I'd-hit-it-ness), or totally leave it context-free for everyone to bring their own framing. (An example of the second might be the Tit thinks it's people FPP, where you are free to make what you want of a single context-free and framing-free link.)

I feel like my ideal MeFi has a higher standard than "it's old, it's neat, I like sexy, what's your problem?", that it could consider how that might be exclusionary and a little icky and definitely privileged to do that; how that others might not consider it so much "offensive", but more like - well, I think Peter McDermott's analogy to "I'd hit it" is quite solid here

I think, though, that this is where you are getting a lot of push-back -- for many people, old/vintage is enough to differentiate it from what we might call "generic" porn, similar to how an FPP of old street photos captures interest in a way that an equivalent set of photos from today probably would not.
posted by Forktine at 10:50 AM on June 24, 2012


hermitosis, there was a MeTa on that, too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:51 AM on June 24, 2012


well, I think Peter McDermott's analogy to "I'd hit it" is quite solid here

Peter McDermott claimed that there was only one thing that gman possibly could have meant. And you agree. It has been repeatedly said here, in this thread, that there are multiple interpretations for what was said. For someone who believes that they are being misrepresented, you seem a bit too ready to assume that gman meant a particular thing that you dislike. And you keep repeating it over and over, in spite of peoples' counterpoints.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:59 AM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


makes the MetaFilter front page seem male gaze-y. -- Luckily, it was counterbalanced by the 7-kitten-cam.
posted by crunchland at 4:25 PM on June 23 [+] [!]


But...a man who unabashedly loves kittens is the manliest man of them all!
posted by 200burritos at 11:08 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really like what stoneandstar said here:
Again, I have no problem with the photos-- or even with comments that might discuss their eroticism-- but the way it was presented ("sexy") assumes that we are going to be viewing female bodies through a certain lens, and as a straight girl, I sometimes want to move beyond that kind of blunt, crass address of the female body. A more nuanced frame. Which I don't expect to be policed here, but that is how I feel.

tl;dr, I'm grateful for this MeTa, even though I also don't think anything Needs To Be Done. (I would like it to change, but I would also like an ice cream sundae right now, and I'm not particularly indignant about not getting my way about either.)
I can definitely get behind that, and I hope I communicated that earlier when I said I could definitely understand getting to the "very sexy" bit and being all "ugh, again?" For the reasons stated several times, I don't think it requires mod action? But I'm now not sure if flex was even asking for that? Or just instead saying "hey this kind of sucked for some of us, could we consider not doing that."

It's also sometimes difficult for me to talk/think about this stuff because for obvious reasons, even if I ever made an FPP, it's not going to be one looking at nude women.

Philosopher Dirtbike: your position - whether you're aware of this or not - is shaping up to be "when a statement is possibly ambiguous we can never make an assessment of the actual meaning," which is something I think you probably don't want to say. It's totally fair to say "in this case, I think gman meant "I personally found this gallery sexy.""

Postscript: FWIW, my use of "ladies" was put in quotes because it's not really something I'm going to say outside of a particular little social circle. In this case I used it as a shorthand to imply the kind of clueless bro-ey guy that might use it.
posted by kavasa at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I never claimed it was the one thing gman possibly could have meant - it's been pointed out it could have been meant simply as a warning, and it's been pointed out it could have been read as ironic/sarcastic - both of those interpretations are valid, I think, as to his intent.

I don't think the intent matters because I am discussing the perception and the effect; if gman employed that phrase with a different intent, then now he (and anyone else reading or participating) is aware it could be perceived differently.
posted by flex at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2012


1. I'm with flex & stoneandstar on this issue.
2. I thought the post was weakly constructed. I agree with purpleclover who wrote, " I think the whole post was mediocre ("Here are some old photos without captions or credit" -- is this just because I read on my phone?) You know, a "historic photo narrative" really requires, well, narrative.
3. I've looked at a lot of the photo galleries on These Americans and I personally think there were much stronger galleries that could have been part of the FPP.
4. I'm glad flex brought this issue up.
posted by OsoMeaty at 11:25 AM on June 24, 2012


Diablevert, that characterization is incorrect, overly harsh, and I absolutely feel at this point you are determined to misconstrue me no matter what I say. That is not a discussion in good faith, and I do not want to participate in it.

I am sorry for being harsh. I was impatient and hasty and so harsh, and I am sorry for that. I respect very much that you have kept your participation in this thread so civil; that is very difficult to do.

If, however, you think I have misconstrued you, I would like to know exactly how. What I was aiming for was to take the reading level of this discourse down to its most basic level, because I feel you are being disingenuous. "Wrong" and "Bad" are catch-alls, and there are other related words on the same spectrum that can express similar ideas with much more nuance. But nuance can obscure, as well. And the spectrum remains and same, just as "Uncomfortable" and "painful" are both words on the spectrum of suffering. Reducing the vocab to its most basic expression eliminates nuance and casts opposing ideas into sharper contrast. If you do not feel, in the end, it is wrong to look at such pictures and wrong for mefi subtly endorse such content by posting it on the front page, then why do you care about this?

You keep talking about wanting to discuss this. Well, we've discussed it. If the purpose of the discussion were merely informative --- to find out what people's opinion are --- then we've done that. Amply, I would say. If the purpose of the discussion is persuasive --- if you want to change people's opinions because you think they're wrong --- then we're having an argument. I don't think you should have to stop participating just because you're in the minority. I do think that once you're trying to persuade the majority to change their opinions on an issue or that the minority opinion should nevertheless prevail because the suffering of the minority is greater than that of the majority on issue X, then you're discussion moral issues, rights and wrongs, oughts and ought nots.
posted by Diablevert at 11:28 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Philosopher Dirtbike: your position - whether you're aware of this or not - is shaping up to be "when a statement is possibly ambiguous we can never make an assessment of the actual meaning," which is something I think you probably don't want to say.

If I don't want to say it, it is not my position. And you're right, I don't want to say that. That's why I'm not saying it.

I don't think the intent matters because I am discussing the perception and the effect; if gman employed that phrase with a different intent, then now he (and anyone else reading or participating) is aware it could be perceived differently.

That's fine. Also, you are now aware that your initial impression need not be the only one, and that many people interpreted it differently; in fact, you seem to be in the minority. The knife cuts both ways here.

I, personally, would never have framed the post the way it was framed, because I do think "sexy" is a fraught word. I don't use it in real life either. If this discussion yields anything, perhaps people will give that more thought.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:43 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I also wanted to say in response to the thought that not all MeFi posts have to include everyone, that the framing didn't just miss my interest, but made me feel vaguely excluded. I don't know the slightest thing about American football, but if I see a MeFi about American football, I assume that with enough info I could follow along. A post about sexy women, emphasis on the sexy, both leaves me with nothing to say, and it's extremely common for that kind of discourse to exist everywhere without much consideration of a non-male POV. Additionally, the fact that the American photos website is such a rich resource makes the focus on sexy female nudes even more unusual to me. I didn't think it was a particularly good FPP either (though a great site).

jon1270, it's not there explicitly, except that looking at interesting photos of female nudes and saying they're "very sexy" frames them in such a way that their sex appeal is indicated as the main point of interest. The website was a tribute to a broad swath of Americana, so I would have appreciated a more inclusive FPP.

Are you suggesting that every post containing or referencing any shred of this ubiquitous social/sexual power imbalance should also contain some sort of anticipatory apologetic hat tip to anyone who might be uncomfortable with the content?

Absolutely not, because again, I had no problem with the content (female nudes). I do appreciate it when something that can feel fraught and exclusionary (posting photos of naked women) does a little extra footwork to make it about more than a sexualized look at women. Linking to photosets of men and women might have helped, to be honest, just to broaden the focus (though it most likely wouldn't have reduced the amount of evaluation of female bodies).

Some might say that the discussion about differing beauty standards did materialize (though there weren't all that many comments, actually), but again, as a woman, I felt like it was mostly saying, "these women are sexy, what's with women in porn nowadays?" Which on the surface is trying to be charitable to female body image, but really isn't doing much but praising the rigid beauty standards of another time period. It's actually critiquing the women in porn right along with the porn industry, and devaluing less voluptuous bodies. I think this viewed as acceptable because vintage is very cool to people, and so praising women with a little more body fat (mostly in "acceptable" places) seems kosher, even though they were still very beautified and still have relatively unattainable bodies (large breasts, thin waists).

To push the issue of content vs. presentation, if there had been an FPP about a website featuring female nudes, and it was presented with some commentary and context that made it interesting beyond "something to gaze at and evaluate in terms of sex appeal," I don't think I would have felt as weird about it. But a post that seems to invite men to discuss women's bodies without incorporating a broader perspective is weird to me.

I don't know gman, and I'm not implying this was his goal, but that's the way it felt to me. I think putting women's bodies on display in general is a powerful statement, regardless of intent.

Also, I don't mean to imply that men are the only people who could find these photos sexy, just that they were most likely originally shot for male consumption and that the male gaze is a particular power construct I'd like to discuss.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2012


If you do not feel, in the end, it is wrong to look at such pictures and wrong for mefi subtly endorse such content by posting it on the front page, then why do you care about this?

Because discussing female nudes isn't exclusionary, inviting the male evaluation of female bodies on a message board in our society is?
posted by stoneandstar at 11:46 AM on June 24, 2012


Which on the surface is trying to be charitable to female body image, but really isn't doing much but praising the rigid beauty standards of another time period. It's actually critiquing the women in porn right along with the porn industry, and devaluing less voluptuous bodies. I think this viewed as acceptable because vintage is very cool to people, and so praising women with a little more body fat (mostly in "acceptable" places) seems kosher, even though they were still very beautified and still have relatively unattainable bodies (large breasts, thin waists).

This is totally true. Some of what passes for pro-woman, which is a point made here by Amanda Marcotte (her point is actually subtler than it seems at first...)
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2012


oops, *some of what passes for pro-woman is just as problematic...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2012


Everyone needs a hug.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stoneandstar, I'm as gay as the day is long, and I dont feel excluded by such posts, even with "sexy" framing. And women spend as much time appreciating/critiquing bodies (male or female) as men do. "Meh" i could understand, but i don't really understand why anyone would feel excluded.

You or anyone else are welcome to make posts engineered toward your interests, sexual or otherwise. Diverse voices and perspectives -- yes, even those that cater to the mainstream -- can flourish here.
posted by hermitosis at 12:56 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm an USian and I say "an historic" and "an honorable". (Actually, isn't it particularly in American English that the name of the letter "h" does not contain an "h" sound?)
posted by XMLicious at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2012


If you can't even brook a bit of criticism without having to provoke back, but haha, the joke is on me because you used some of my words against me - and the standards on MeFi say you are totally okay making that post - so now you've really shown me! then you know what? Y'all enjoy. I definitely don't feel welcome here with that, and if you wanted to make me sorry that I dared to start a discussion, a discussion as neutral as I could make it, about a concern I have, you win. It's been enough work to keep myself relatively collected over the past couple days, to try and brush off the misunderstandings and the digs and the feeling that plenty of people would prefer I just shut up - and maybe I shouldn't admit that shit stings, but it does, and maybe I shouldn't admit I am upset, but I am.
posted by flex at 2:36 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I think the whole post was mediocre ("Here are some old photos without captions or credit" -- is this just because I read on my phone?) You know, a "historic photo narrative" really requires, well, narrative."

I think that it's more not your thing. I may be biased here since I've been following These Americans for a long time, but it's a fantastic archive of curated photo sets from American vernacular photographers (often anonymous).

Further, I'll push back on the idea that narrative is necessary, or that it needs to be explicit. Neither is true of art, and the implicit context is an aesthetic one here. I often include more framing in my posts, but that's because I often feel deeply disappointed in the MetaFilter audience's ability to comprehend and communicate with art, not because it's necessary. Arguing that this post required narrative is arguing that it required pandering hand-holding rather than trusting MeFites to look at something and use their brains to discuss it.

"A post about sexy women, emphasis on the sexy, both leaves me with nothing to say, and it's extremely common for that kind of discourse to exist everywhere without much consideration of a non-male POV."

I don't think that's true categorically — there are plenty of straight women that can say plenty of intelligent things about mid-century stag shots. Further, I think that you're selling yourself short, given that you've managed to write quite a lot about the meta-issue here.

"Additionally, the fact that the American photos website is such a rich resource makes the focus on sexy female nudes even more unusual to me."

Female nudes are actually a pretty common feature, as are male pinups. It's representative of the site itself.
posted by klangklangston at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Stoneandstar, I'm as gay as the day is long, and I dont feel excluded by such posts, even with "sexy" framing. And women spend as much time appreciating/critiquing bodies (male or female) as men do. "Meh" i could understand, but i don't really understand why anyone would feel excluded.

Well, I do? I don't know what else to say. Perhaps you don't feel the same discomfort when extremely beauty-standard-conforming female bodies are held up as a "healthy" standard, as you don't feel the pressure to fit that standard? It seems to me to be a commonplace that women are sexualized far more often in our culture than men, regardless of how individual men and women act. (Though it does seem rather easy for a discussion to go in the direction of men commenting on women's bodies, not so much now, but very much so elsewhere and in the Metafilter past.) Eroticized women are practically everywhere; men, not so much.

I don't think that's true categorically — there are plenty of straight women that can say plenty of intelligent things about mid-century stag shots. Further, I think that you're selling yourself short, given that you've managed to write quite a lot about the meta-issue here.

Sorry if I was unclear, but I know that plenty of straight women (including myself) have much to say about mid-century stag shots. I'm actually interested in the photos, and was glad to find them here. It's just that when those shots are framed as something for male delectation, it's mildly evocative of how female bodies are treated... everywhere else. Which is to say, in possibly regrettable language, as Other. It comes down to the pervasive equation of the female body with sex. It might be "obvious" that in this context, the women's bodies indicate sex, but they don't do so in the same fashion to (speaking of straight viewers) men and women, and the framing was distinctly male-gaze to me. I do have plenty to say about the meta-issue, but honestly I wouldn't have felt comfortable saying what I've said in this MeTa in the original thread. Even this MeTa was built specifically for this conversation, and it still seems to me to contain a lot of defensiveness and misconstrual. Plus, it's really not a hill I want to die on, I just don't think there's anything wrong with being uncomfortable with this.

klangklangston, I noticed that too, but the FPP didn't really bother to mention the male pinups, or really anything at all about the photosets, except that "here are some photos, oh, and some of the best ones are really sexy [predominantly to straight men]." The fact that you're pointing out the sort of equality in representation of male and female pin-ups kind of underscores the point to me.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:48 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Further, I think that you're selling yourself short, given that you've managed to write quite a lot about the meta-issue here.

To reiterate, I'm talking about the framing, not the photos. The photos are A-OK with me, and I totally do have things to say about them (which I didn't mostly because the FPP text felt kind of annoying and complicated to me).
posted by stoneandstar at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2012


"here are some photos, oh, and some of the best ones are really sexy [predominantly to straight men]."

I think that's an unfair characterization. The "very sexy"-ness of the photos has a lot to do with how the women are presenting themselves (very sexily) to whomever may be looking. At the time they were taken, it surely would have been assumed that straight men were the audience. Nowadays, that's the farthest thing from the truth. Almost all of the vintage pin-up stuff I see on Tumblr is posted by women, queer or otherwise. And even the straight ones would probably categorize them as generally "very sexy" whether they were personally turned on by them or not.

I have been trying to imagine if I'd made that same post whether I'd have included those two words. I genuinely think I might have. Yes, partly as a disclaimer, but partly as just a general statement: These are sexy photos of women posing sexily with the intent to arouse or entertain the viewer.

You are the one applying a gendered filter to the interpretation. You are. If you think that there isn't a wide enough spectrum of sexiness on display here, feel free to contribute some. If you think that even extremely tame posts appealing (presumably) to men's interest in women have no place on a general interest site, I'd like to know why you think that.
posted by hermitosis at 3:00 PM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Almost all of the vintage pin-up stuff I see on Tumblr is posted by women, queer or otherwise. And even the straight ones would probably categorize them as generally "very sexy" whether they were personally turned on by them or not.

This doesn't mean that culturally, our dominant idea of sex appeal isn't constructed around the female body? I think it confirms it. I am a woman and I'm aware of how I'm acting out conventional sexual ideology when I wear lipstick or do a striptease. James Joyce understood this. I'm willing to be a lot of women on tumblr, who seem to be gender politics oriented, understand this too.

Trust me, as a woman, I know what "very sexy" means, it is what's expected of me. I can identify it in photos, and use that language to describe them. I can even take pleasure in acting it out, while feeling that I'm relatively disempowered within that framework. This is not a black-and-white issue, and I feel like a lot of the backlash in this thread wishes it were.

You are the one applying a gendered filter to the interpretation. You are.

If by this you mean that I am interested in how women are raised to think of their bodies as the locus of sex appeal in a way that men are not, then of course I am. I don't know what's wrong with this.

If you think that even extremely tame posts appealing (presumably) to men's interest in women have no place on a general interest site, I'd like to know why you think that.

I don't think this. I think posting erotic photos (of men and women) is fine, but the FPP seemed to do so without any self-consciousness of the fact that he was highlighting female sex appeal over male sex appeal, which seemed kind of lazy and thoughtless to me.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:30 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


> If you think that even extremely tame posts appealing (presumably) to men's interest in women have no place on a general interest site, I'd like to know why you think that.

While I basically agree with you, I think you're maybe being a tad unfair to stoneandstar. She's been careful all along to avoid overstating her case; she says "it's really not a hill I want to die on, I just don't think there's anything wrong with being uncomfortable with this." I don't either; just because I'm not uncomfortable with it doesn't mean she or flex should't be, or shouldn't talk about their discomfort. MeFi in general seems not to agree with them, but that shouldn't be the be-all and end-all. There are endless gradations of possible offense and possible discomfort in this area, and I can easily imagine a very similar post that would have led me to join them in their protest.
posted by languagehat at 3:33 PM on June 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm sorry. I was upset enough when I made my last comment that I did not link to what I was talking about, and it probably doesn't make a lot of sense without that.

I feel very much right now that I have done my level best to be a good member of this community. I try to be friendly, thoughtful, inclusive, understanding, and share my opinions and point-of-view in a constructive way, to be helpful. I try not to attack or provoke. I am sincere, maybe even overly earnest, but better to err on that side than on the other, IMO. I participate to bring value to the site & I am invested in this community and have been for a long time. Take a look at my history on this site and see what I've brought to it in posts, answers, and comments under this handle. I think my bona fides are unquestionable.

I wouldn't even flag that post I just linked, you know? It just gets me - as I'm almost certain it was meant to - that it doesn't matter how much I try to do things right, that other people think it's perfectly okay to push back like that, to deliberately tweak. It's unnecessary and it's hurtful.
posted by flex at 4:15 PM on June 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm a UK citizen who lives in the US, and I say "a historic" and "an honorable". I already said "a historic" when I lived in the UK. I can't stand the sound of "an historic" or "an hotel", it just sounds so 1950s BBC RP to my ear.
posted by Joh at 4:16 PM on June 24, 2012


I really appreciate your participation and clarification of your thoughts regarding the original post, flex. I personally thought I didn't have a good grip on what you found unnerving about the post originally,but with your responses I've gained a greater understanding. Thank you.

And yes, stuntpost.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:22 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


other people think it's perfectly okay to push back like that, to deliberately tweak. It's unnecessary and it's hurtful.

Part of the problem is that one person's playful jab is another person's painful tweak. We deleted that post as stunty but that's not without its own problems.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:22 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to make clear I did not in any way ask for or seek to have that post deleted - as I said above, I wouldn't even have flagged it, and I did appreciate some of the comments in that thread. But I did feel it was deliberate and that feeling did bother me.
posted by flex at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2012


Flex, thank you for this MeTa. You have consistently made calm and measured comments, trying to be as honest and nuanced as you can in the face of polarizing attempts. I think it is absolutely a topic that will continue to need discussion, and you have at the very least given folks some food for thought.

And yes, when I saw the original These Americans post, I also felt a twinge. "Oh. Right. There it is again." And yes, I hope the stunt post was just a playful jab.
posted by likeso at 4:27 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


That post was an asshole maneuver. Why the poster felt the need to purposefully tweak flex is beyond me. Even if that post would be fine in general, contextually it was clear to me that it was meant to be a childish rebuke to the discussion here.
posted by Falconetti at 4:49 PM on June 24, 2012


I don't really have strong opinion one way or the other on the topic of this thread, but that other was absolutely a stunt post. Bullshit immature crap that would not have been posted without this thread.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:53 PM on June 24, 2012


Part of the problem is that one person's playful jab is another person's painful tweak. We deleted that post as stunty but that's not without its own problems.

Bah, it was a prick move by someone who participated in this MeTa and was fully aware of the context. Shit pictures, too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:05 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, I didn't even make the connection initially, not noticing who the poster was. Then someone in the comments pointed out the tags and I felt like I got suckered for having commented. I don't want to be part of your stupid game.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:13 PM on June 24, 2012


Yeah, that other post was a dick move.
posted by Justinian at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2012


Man, I thought those other pictures were at least worth talking about. Shame the post got axed.
posted by klangklangston at 6:03 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to put it up in a way less stunty way in maybe a week, that'd be fine. It was sort of interesting but much thinner than it needed to be, and for a couple of reasons looked like deliberate baiting which is not ok.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:07 PM on June 24, 2012


My definition of pornography does not make me anti-feminist. Let's save that type of vitriol for actual anti-feminists.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:31 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surely everything has been said by now, has it not?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:35 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It only remains to point out that this was an hysterical callout.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:39 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It only remains to point out that this was an hysterical callout.

If you are trolling, please stop. If you are not, please try harder to look like you are not.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:47 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


restless_nomad, I believe that was a jokey riff on a discussion about using 'an' before h-words upthread. Maybe lighten up, huh?
posted by unSane at 7:58 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Hysterical" is not a particularly wise term to be slinging about in a thread even tangentially about sexism.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


A post about sexy women, emphasis on the sexy, both leaves me with nothing to say, and it's extremely common for that kind of discourse to exist everywhere without much consideration of a non-male POV.

stoneandstar, I disagree vehemently with this statement.

I'm a straight woman, and, speaking directly to flex's point, I think the women in the pics are very sexy and I do not feel like the post should have been framed differently. I did not in any way feel excluded by that post. I am saddened that you and flex feel uncomfortable or excluded, but I don't think that is due to the framing of the post.

Rather, I think it is because you are bringing your own, extremely uncharitable connotations to two words from gman: very sexy. To me, these words are not hurtful, and the pictures they are linking to neither offend me nor make me feel belittled or objectified. I do not feel excluded because I do not accept the construct that "very sexy", as it pertains to nudes, women or nude women, is the purview only of straight men or this mythical "male gaze".* I feel you do yourself a disservice in looking at the world in such a prescriptivist manner, and that your feeling of exclusion is self-imposed.

Obviously, you and flex disagree with me. I don't expect to change your minds. I hope you will consider, though, that just because you accept certain assertions--such as, in this case, the "male gaze" and your perception that this FPP appeals only to that with its "very sexy" framing--that does not mean that everyone who disagrees with you is either not a feminist or not as enlightened on modern feminist thinking as you are yourselves.

I feel a little of this coming through in both of your responses to criticism in this thread. Though flex remained civil in tone, phrases like, "I am rather dismayed, though I guess not surprised, at the combativeness," and "feminist terms tend to provoke instant backlash, as I've dealt with before on MeFi" are simply more subtle forms of MexicanYenta's diatribe in which she accuses pretty much every woman on Mefi who likes pornography of being unwitting puppets of and proponents for the patriarchy (which is not only simplistic and dismissive but far more offensive to me than gman's "very sexy" framing!).

Anyway, I hope that you will, instead, consider that , as repeatedly stated by the mods, flex was the only one on the entire site who flagged the FPP. You might want to pause and wonder why that was.

Flex, I feel it is because you are reading the most uncharitable connotations into two words, "very sexy," that you possibly could. You are quick to say that you don't object to nudity or pornography, that it is only the framing that bothers you. You have asserted that the framing alone is enough to make you feel uncomfortable, that it is exclusionary, that it invites the "male gaze"--really, those two words are taking on a HUGE significance.

Also, though you very earnestly, I and believe sincerely, feel that this is not an outrage post, that you are fine with disagreement, and that you have no issue with "pornography" but just with the framing, You should perhaps reread your own remarks in this thread. You make a point of picking out and praising "relevant" views like, "nudity compels people to click, that it is perceivable there could be justifying the male gaze, that objectification is an issue". You also repeatedly state that gman should have more of a reason to link to the pictures than that he liked them, again insinuating that there is something wrong or bad with the pictures, or, by association, with gman for liking them.

I think it is not surprising that others are seeing a very negative view of nudity and erotic (or pornographic, if you prefer) images being the real issue behind this FPP; to me, it is also coming across that way, though I have been trying to understand where you are coming from.

I also want to say that I personally feel we need to keep Metafilter as open as possible when it comes to the perspectives of FPPs. I learn so much from posts with different perspectives from mine! I don't want to live in an echo chamber; I do NOT want the dominant view to drown out the minority viewpoints. But I also don't want to be told which viewpoint is the "right" one. I prefer to be exposed to everything, so I can decide for myself the relative merits of each individual perspective.

*I don't know if you are aware that the "male gaze" theory was proposed back in the 70's by a film critic named Laura Mulvey, who later denounced it. She officially recanted her position in the nineties after many prominent feminists, as well as cinematographers, openly criticized her prescriptivist (and heterocentric) views. Mulvey used Freud as a starting point and declared that women in cinema were necessarily either cast in the role of madonna (icon) or whore (fetish object) . She admitted that she was just trying to stir up controversy in her "manifesto" , which is pretty obvious when you read sentences like, "...Analysing pleasure or beauty annihilates it. That is the intention of this article." Outside of film theory courses in college, I don't know anyone that has heard of, let alone subscribes to male gaze theory.
posted by misha at 8:07 PM on June 24, 2012 [40 favorites]


Except I didn't get to say thanks to the members that felt they had a right to speak up about community norms in the face if a majority that disparaged their opinions. So thank you to those that spoke for us silent ones that are tired of being attacked when trying to "raise the consciousness" of the majority who have difficulty seeing the world beyond what they were born into and assume it is everyone else's responsibility to repeat themselves rather than seek out information and viewpoints different from their own.
posted by saucysault at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't flag that post, misha, though I felt a twinge of discomfort, too.
posted by annsunny at 8:24 PM on June 24, 2012


I often include more framing in my posts, but that's because I often feel deeply disappointed in the MetaFilter audience's ability to comprehend and communicate with art, not because it's necessary. Arguing that this post required narrative is arguing that it required pandering hand-holding rather than trusting MeFites to look at something and use their brains to discuss it.

This is so rude and unpleasant. I'm sorry you feel like you have to "pander" to me. So "disappointing" that I get to be part of Metafilter too. I mean, who is keeping up the standards? Sorry I don't pass your bullshit, high-brow, smartypants litmus test.

You would never say this to my face.

back on point:
I agree that artists shouldn't have to explain their work. Art can, of course, be its own narrative. But that's not what the FPP promised. This is a collection of vintage photographs. Not created by the person who collected them. Not created by the OP. The words "a collection of vintage photographs" would have completely sufficed to explain what we were being asked to click through to. I know — my pointing out that there were no words in the "narrative"! Just one lady's ass after the next! So gauche! I am a philistine!
posted by purpleclover at 8:39 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh I want to be someone that raises other people's consciousness! But I unfortunately own a TV, and drink Starbucks.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:50 PM on June 24, 2012


Outside of film theory courses in college, I don't know anyone that has heard of, let alone subscribes to male gaze theory.

I've never taken a film theory course, and I've heard of the theory of the male gaze, and know its history... And, honestly, I don't think either "denounce" or "officially recant" describes what happens in "Afterthoughts on 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema'" or the discussions that followed its publication, nor that Mulvey said that she was "just trying to stir up controversy".

It's possible that you've read something I haven't, but that sounds like a polemical reading unsupported by the text.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


So thank you to those that spoke for us silent ones that are tired of being attacked when trying to "raise the consciousness" of the majority who have difficulty seeing the world beyond what they were born into

This is so condescending and self-congratulating that I don't really have any choice but to exit the conversation for fear of making things worse.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 PM on June 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Nicely said, misha.
posted by dg at 9:59 PM on June 24, 2012


Thank you, misha.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on June 24, 2012


MexicanYenta and stoneandstarr have good reasons to think as they do. I don't agree with them (at least I only agree with them partially), but our culture is so heavily skewed in the opposing direction and won't take seriously any such viewpoint to any extent, that I consider their viewpoint less wrong than the one they oppose.

I say this as a sex-positive feminist who does, in fact, believe that such a thing exists, within the context of understanding patriarcy, as the male-gaze and that it's bad. I also think that objectification of female bodies is not necessarily and universally oppressive and involving the male-gaze, though I think it usually is and does. On the other hand, I think it's far more ubiquitous and insidious when it isn't pornographic but is, rather, the innumerable images which bombard us each day in advertising and media in general. And I'm uncomfortable with the historic association of feminist anti-pornography and related theory and what is, I think, objectively sex-negativism. All this is to say, within the context of feminism, the views of MexicanYenta and stoneandstar are views I contest and combat. But within the context of the larger culture of sexist oppression of women, they're more right than wrong.

I can't speak for other feminists here who are also sex-positive and/or friendly to (some) pornography. But I imagine that many of them feel and believe similarly. For obvious reasons, I'm disinclined to enter into a discussion about this stuff that is polarized between these two extreme positions. However, I'm also unhappy with either polarized side pretending as if there are none of us who don't take one of those two positions. Because that's very much not true.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:24 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah.

This one has been tough for me because I have a lot of sympathy for flex et al's position. The analogy that helped for me was thinking of walking out of the theater of Cabin in the Woods and hearing the girl behind me go "that was so gay," or more recently being in an elevator with a construction guy who thought having to work nights for his current job was gay. You know, I'm used to it, it's not a big deal, they're probably not bigoted shitheads (probably), but still: ugh.

Sorry, not trying to make this about me, just kind of explaining how I helped myself understand the position, and why I have zero problems believing that it's entirely about the framing. And in that light like, really, would it be a big deal if instead of "very sexy" the original FPP had been exactly the same but instead linked to "Tally Ho (note: nude women)"? If that's all anyone's asking, then what's the big deal? Isn't that a pretty easy request to accede to?
posted by kavasa at 10:55 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a big difference between using "gay" as a slur and referring to nude photos as "very sexy."
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:08 PM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


If that's all anyone's asking,

It is my understanding that several of the participants in this thread think that that link should not have been included at all.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 PM on June 24, 2012


A few, to be clear.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 PM on June 24, 2012


Thank you for posting that, misha.
posted by palomar at 11:24 PM on June 24, 2012


I don't have a problem with the site that is the subject of the post in and of itself & I agree similar things get posted all the time with no further excuse than "neat photos". When I say "with no further context" that means "with no good reason, just simply why not" and I do absolutely recognize people disagree and say, because they are neat old photos, because neat old photos are interesting, that's good enough reason to post anything at all.

I think that there is plenty of room for this sort of otherwise-unremarkable erotica just within a framing of "neat vintage photos," as long as content warning is provided, which, as you note, was not the issue here. I would very, very gladly remove any need for alarm bells over this sort of ordinary erotic nudity in our society in exchange for across-the-board outrage over the quite vile subtext of contemporary sexy-but-not-nude magazine advertisements.

It's a complicated sometimes to explain the distinction between "it's disrespectful to objectify women via nude images" and "we must protect everyone from seeing nude women" and then not communicating that "nude women are fundamentally obscene." (I'm not saying that you personally are being this simplistically reductionist in your point.)
posted by desuetude at 11:27 PM on June 24, 2012


Blazecock, it is an ancient debate
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:30 PM on June 24, 2012

There's a big difference between using "gay" as a slur and referring to nude photos as "very sexy."
I was explaining how I was able to get a better, more empathetic grip on what was going on. The difference is not the relevant part, while the similarity is.
It is my understanding that several of the participants in this thread think that that link should not have been included at all.
Ok? We can probably agree that we're not down with that as a site. Can we also agree that the requested change to framing in the future isn't a bad or onerous one?
posted by kavasa at 11:39 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And just in case, I will once more repeat my Statement About Analogies: they are not used to prove a point. They are used to get a better understanding of a perspective. Which is what I did with mine, specifically thinking of that feeling I got in the pit of my stomach on those occasions.

Just the same, it may be worth considering that there is no slur made on a gendered or sexual orientation basis that hasn't had its vehement defenders right here on MeFi.
posted by kavasa at 11:44 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, what are you suggesting we agree to?
posted by dg at 11:45 PM on June 24, 2012


Really? I'll quote myself from like ten minutes ago I guess:
And in that light like, really, would it be a big deal if instead of "very sexy" the original FPP had been exactly the same but instead linked to "Tally Ho (note: nude women)"? If that's all anyone's asking, then what's the big deal? Isn't that a pretty easy request to accede to?
posted by kavasa at 11:48 PM on June 24, 2012


Respectfully, no it isn't. It's difficult to ask and almost impossible to enforce without drastically changing the tone and purpose of the site.

No change is easy for a community as large as MetaFilter to accede to, but big changes are almost easier to make than these nettling small ones, because you can explain a large change in the same language to almost everyone. So far in this thread a handful of people have barely been able to clearly communicate exactly what the issue really is, despite their best efforts, and even they have mostly conceded that it's an entirely subjective preference that they understand not everyone shares.

Don't try to control what I say or how I say it, as long as I'm making a clear effort to uphold community standards and participate in good faith. Control your own speech, your own links, your own framing.

MeFi isn't a "safe" space. When I think of some of the hateful remarks that have been allowed to stand on this site, it burns me up, but I've learned from it and it has helped me know when something is MY problem versus the community's problem. Usually it's just MY problem to deal with.
posted by hermitosis at 12:41 AM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


So, TWO men immediately made fun of my comment about not wanting to speak out lest I be attacked. You are aware of the historical use of humour to belittle minority opinion, right? Or do you decide it is okay to avoid having a good faith discussion when you are "right"?
posted by saucysault at 12:48 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


saucysault, for what it's worth, I'm a woman who agrees with hermitosis about the tone of your comment.
posted by palomar at 1:23 AM on June 25, 2012


Assuming that enforcement/control/safe space were ever on the table, I think we can take them off. Ok?

And then we can not worry so much about the community's response as a whole, since as you say no individual has a whole lot of control over that.

Let's instead say "can I personally get behind this?"

Of course it's sort of academic for me! I do not see a great number of nude women in the course of my browsing the web. The only galleries of women I could ever really see myself linking would be something like the Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor tumblr because I'm a huge nerd.

But if I did link to that tumblr, and for whatever reason I thought maybe I could frame it in part as "they're sexy!" then I could reconsider that, in the way that I would really like people to reconsider other things they may say here.

So yes, "control your own speech etc" is what the thing is about, i.e.: asking people to do that in a way they might not have previously considered.

And if you go back to flex's original post of this thread and say that it seems different, then I'd say sure, it does. But the discussion in the thread has moved and changed a bit. The position I'm putting forth right now might not be one that flex really agrees with, but I do think that, yeah, sometimes there will be links to nude women on the front page and I think that's ok. But (especially keeping in mind the sorts of discussions we have about the depiction of women in pop culture) I think it's worthwhile for people to maybe be extra-careful about how they approach those links. And "very sexy" is not that.
posted by kavasa at 1:43 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: the post flex is talking about here, I can't believe you did that, Brandon (and the commenters who approved). We're having a discussion in good faith, and people have described why they're disturbed by particular content. While the community may not agree with the premises underlying the critiques, it is not ok to intentionally go beyond their boundaries, just to offend or make fun, in the midst of a discussion. If you wanted to find a way to make people feel unwelcome, you managed to find an excellent way.

To flex and everyone who posted here sympathizing with flex's position: I don't agree with you (as should be clear from my comments above), but I'm glad you brought it up for discussion. Issues like these are difficult; even among people identifying as "feminist", opinions vary widely (I generally identify with second-wave views, and many third-wave views baffle me). Let me speak from experience and say that opinions take time to change. Discussions like these stick in one's mind, and have the potential to be part of a person's consciousness change in the future. I'm not, of course, saying that my mind will be changed in the future; it may happen, and it may not. But I am a different person than I was 15 years ago, and discussions like these are part of the reason why.

So, please believe me when I say that your viewpoint and discussions of it are welcome. I think everyone in this MetaTalk thread would agree on that. None of my posts above were meant to convey dismissiveness of your opinions. Unfortunately, we don't get to make communities exactly how we like them --- if I could, for instance, Brandon's post would not have happened --- but at least we can discuss community issues in good faith.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:22 AM on June 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


I feel like I've wandered into 1975.
posted by spitbull at 3:31 AM on June 25, 2012


I feel like I've wandered into 1975.

Yeah!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:45 AM on June 25, 2012


That stunt post was a crappy move.
posted by OmieWise at 3:51 AM on June 25, 2012


That's an interesting thing to say, spitbull. I've been trying to unpack all of the subtexts that I think I feel roiling about underneath this discussion, and one of the things I've been fleetingly reminded of were the accusations of prudery, frigidity and/or cockteasing flung at women who did not immediately and gleefully jump into the sack with all and sundry during the "sexual revolution". It was, after all, for our own good, we were being liberated. Yeah, that really happened. But I emphasize that this is not that!

I went back to the OP and tried to reconstruct my "twinge". I emphasize that this was a teensy ping, not even a real blip on the radar. Not flagworthy, not huge, but it did register and when this MeTa went up, I understood what flex and others were referring. For me it was the combination of the "very sexy" qualifier, the "Tally Ho" title, and the t+a content. The title references foxhunting, my immediate personal association is riding horses. Maybe I was hoping for sexy shots of men and women posing with horses? And clicked, and oh, here are naked women. View halloo?

But I enjoy looking at naked women and men, and vintage erotica, so, ah well. I enjoy looking at pornography. I believe gman is entitled to frame his post in accordance with his tastes. I find Metafilter can be a blessed oasis of intelligent, liberal, rational, reasoned discussion. Don't want to endanger that, don't want to be prescriptivist, get very impatient with all the pc bullshit that for many topics pretties up the language without actually addressing the situations.

I also think that American culture is very repressive of sexuality, repression leads to pervasive allusion and so everything in media is subtly or explicitly sexualized. With the bulk of it in advertising and the brunt of it on women. I live in a country where there have been commercials that included full frontal male nudity on prime-time tv, so my benchmark is different. The insinuating, subtle sexualization of increasingly younger females in a great deal of American media gives me pause. I emphasize that the original post was not that!

But we've recently had several heated discussions about sexism, and I think this current discussion has some carryover from them. I think the sunburn effect is at play here both sides.
posted by likeso at 4:30 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


"That's an interesting thing to say, spitbull. I've been trying to unpack all of the subtexts that I think I feel roiling about underneath this discussion, and one of the things I've been fleetingly reminded of were the accusations of prudery, frigidity and/or cockteasing flung at women who did not immediately and gleefully jump into the sack with all and sundry during the 'sexual revolution'. It was, after all, for our own good, we were being liberated. Yeah, that really happened. But I emphasize that this is not that!"

Right. But, if I may be so bold, I think it's extremely important for anyone who wants to try to work through, in good faith, the intersection between feminism and sex-positivism to take a long and critical look at what the "sexual revolution" and "free love" really meant to women in the sixties and seventies, how that played out. Specifically, that it wasn't about throwing off the chains of women's sexual oppression and it wasn't about women being free to have sex with whom they choose. It was about men having more latitude to use women sexually as they please, free of a restrictive sexual morality that enforced female chastity. It had fuck-all to do with women's sexuality, controlling their own bodies, choosing their own partners, and having sex how they like.

I'm overstating it, but that's truer than is the common view that it was all about everyone having great sex when, previously, they weren't allowed.

And the reality of that so-called sexual revolution is a microcosm of the larger issues in play with regard to how our culture thinks about both women and sexuality. I'm very passionately sex-positive and am at least as angered at and opposed to repressive sexual morality as any other sex-positive person. But it's really easy for sex-positivism to express itself as a reification of patriarchal sexuality, just in another form, and just as oppressive to women. It takes effort to avoid this.

It's a difficult line to walk and pretty much all of us who try to walk it misstep now and then. We have a sense that there's a better world out there, somewhere, that maybe we can reach where people have sex however they like and look at sexy images and whatever else in a way that isn't part of reducing women to a mere sexuality utility to men...but we're still a long way from that place and the road there is murky and treacherous.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:04 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't that a pretty easy request to accede to?
No, not really. I'm sorry, but you seem to have a lot invested in the term 'very sexy' that I don't and I know that a lot of other people don't either. I'm afraid to try and explain why I feel this way because it will no doubt come out wrong and just piss everybody off but, to be honest, I don't really know how to write it without just repeating what misha wrote above. It's not exactly the way I feel, but it's as close as I can come with my poor skills with words.
posted by dg at 5:08 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


re: the post flex is talking about here, I can't believe you did that, Brandon (and the commenters who approved).

Look, the post a stunt but was ill timed. It's pretty annoying to hear the moderators and members say what the post was and what I was thinking in doing it and no one bothering to ask "Hey, this looks stunty, what the hell." Here's the explanation:
This was the original link where the images were found. They were great, in my opinion of course, but problematic because of the recent MeTa. Since I had slept badly the night before (Note, never drink a soda around midnight when you haven't had caffiene for a week or so, it'll keep you up), I decided a nap would be a good general idea and decent way to think about whether this post should be made.

Got up about 3 hours later, feeling refreshed and felt the post would be ok if posted sensibly. But the original link didn't have much explanatory text and the artist's website was in Italian. Googling around revealed several posts about the series, including this one, which described the photos as "sultry and delicate". I liked the sultry descriptor, because it wasn't the word sexy which was problematic, what with flex's recent MeTa. Didn't think the word 'delicate' was fititng, as the solidity of the bodies was at odds with that description and I didn't want to completely crib the words for the post. Smokey seemed right in both a literal and figurative sense.

Ultimately, the single link put in the post struck me as perfect, because it displayed the images large and included links to the photographer's website. I debated linking directly to the other photos on his site with his name, but the single link was appealingly direct and contained two links to his website and another to his Flickr stream.

In summary, yep I was aware of the problematic nature of the post, but really thought and still think the images were great and worth posting at that point if done sensibly.

I'm not pleased that the mods and several people felt it was an asshole move and described what I was thinking without bothering to ask me. So I wrote up this explanation in case anyone did ask and to get it off my chest and here we are.

Since the deletion reason indicated that posting the photos later would be fine, I'll just do that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:12 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked the sultry descriptor, because it wasn't the word sexy which was problematic, what with flex's recent MeTa.

You did kind of put the word "sexy" into the tags, though, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:18 AM on June 25, 2012


I'm not pleased that the mods and several people felt it was an asshole move and described what I was thinking without bothering to ask me.

I don't think the post was the end of the world or anything, but it seems like you're putting the onus on those seeing the post, rather than understanding that given the context you had the responsibility to clearly demonstrate why this wasn't a stunt post. Frankly, your explanation does nothing but suggest that you don't have a very good sense of what's appropriate in the midst of a fairly contentious community discussion about nudity. You easily could have waited a few days to post and the problem wouldn't have existed. Again, the post wasn't the end of the world, but that you took away from the deletion the idea that the problem here is that you were poorly understood is very strange.
posted by OmieWise at 5:19 AM on June 25, 2012


I just wanted to thank flex and stoneandstar and others for your thoughtful and sensitive comments, and say that I agree with you.

I see that others are reading "very sexy" as neutrally descriptive - i.e. pictures of women deliberately depicting sex-evocative (in our cultural setting) poses.

But I think it is just as reasonable to read it as, well, judgmental - i.e. the OP judges these photos to be sexually appealing. And then it is firmly in the camp of women's bodies being publicly subject to men's valuations based on their personal sexual tastes. (I've never taken a film theory class and I admit to believing in the male gaze idea), and men's private sexual tastes being considered publicly significant.

I don't know what was intended by the OP and it may even be difficult for him to completely put himself back in his mindset at the time, and I guess he didn't really think about it either way, and I'm completely willing to believe he had no specific intentions with regards to the meaning there.

That's why I think it's so good that flex brought this post, instead of just going through the usual routine of feeling uncomfortable, telling herself that the poster didn't mean it, and quietly moving on. Even if some people here read her post and dismiss it, maybe others will be moved to think more carefully about framing, both being more sensitive to others feelings.

If she (and Stoneandstar and others) haven't managed to persuade you, so fine. I wish posters here would at least give her the same benefit of the doubt and generous reading that they want her to give to the OP, and not belittle others for not having precisely the same set of cultural sensitivities that they do.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:27 AM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


When someone says something is "very sexy" or "not sexy" — just as with regard to "funny" and "not funny" or "scary" and "not scary" — it's not clear to me whether they are being descriptive about a subjective experience they've observed in others, or they are making a categorical statement about something they think is qualitatively universally true (or ought to be).

This is a really big problem that always crops up in discussions involving aesthetics or anything related because the same language can hide very different meanings. Worse, I think that when most of us make such statements, we're often not even totally sure which type of statement we're making, or if we're sort of saying both, or how the different things might relate to each other.

I really started thinking about this during the arguments about The Blair Witch Project. A lot of people were adamant that it wasn't frightening, despite the unambiguous and unavoidable truth that many people were frightened by the film. So what were they saying? Not merely that it wasn't funny to them, usually. Maybe something closer to that it shouldn't have been frightening to anyone.

In a way, this is actually a good thing, because it's intimately involved in the nature of art. If we had a very clear sense of the distinction between the subjective and objective with regard to art, I think art would much less interesting to us.

Anyway, the problem here is that in a patriarchal heteronormative culture like ours, someone's statement that certain depictions of sexualized women is "very sexy" can easily be heard as being a normative statement about how everyone should respond to it (that is, in a patriarchal heteronormative fashion) because, in fact, many people do make such statements intending exactly that meaning — but, on the other hand, many other people might make such a statement as a simple descriptive evaluation of what they know to be true about some portion of an audience's response to those images.

Which is it?

Well, it's hard to tell. So while I feel comfortable describing the images in question as "very sexy" because I'm well aware that I am doing so in a non-normative and merely non-universally behaviorally descriptive sense, I also don't have a problem with someone feeling a little put-off by it because they're sadly accustomed to hearing such things intended as normative assertions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2012


Look, the post a stunt but was ill timed

Whoops, that was a typo, should read "Look, the post wasn't s stunt, but was ill timed".

You did kind of put the word "sexy" into the tags, though, right?

Yep and I do regret that. It was dumb.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2012


Ivan, you know and describe exactly the dynamic I briefly referred to, and that warrants greater discussion. I'd hoped it could happen in the Skepchick thread, but that got too ugly before anyone had a chance to add it to the table.

For the record, though I know it is well-intentioned, I don't think banning the "very sexy" qualifier is necessary or even a good idea. I do think it's a good idea to have these discussions, though, even if they don't result in any direct conclusion or insight or action. Just taking the time to check the community's and my own personal pulse is important.

And Brandon, I am so glad that your post was primarily because you thought we'd enjoy seeing and discussing the artwork. Which we will, later in the week. I do recommend a 4-hour nap next time... One extra hour = better timing + tabs?
posted by likeso at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2012


In light of the current discussion, I did think it was a bit disrespectful. It seems as though it would have been more prudent to wait to post female nudes--especially considering the words you tagged the post with.




I still see a lot of confusion, so I'll try to explain my take on the situation. For some posters, the very sexy descriptor made them acutely aware of what is viewed as very sexy. These people suddenly were reminded of feelings of inadequacy, unattractiveness, anger, institutionalized oppression, etc. Why are so many in this thread upset by those emotions and reactions? We should care about each other enough to respect hurt feelings, even if we can't personally understand the places that they are coming from.
posted by 200burritos at 5:36 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Ivan, you know and describe exactly the dynamic I briefly referred to, and that warrants greater discussion. I'd hoped it could happen in the Skepchick thread, but that got too ugly before anyone had a chance to add it to the table."

Yeah, that stuff is all lurking right there with the stuff about swingers and that women are involved (so how can it be sexist?) and then in the larger sense of some people seeing any (feminist) boundaries on sexuality as being sex-negative. Some of these MeTa threads and their corresponding MeFi posts are deeply related.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:39 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would so love to have a discussion along these lines! What would a truly equal, sex-positive culture be like?

(Some elements of the (somewhat mythological) Samoan culture Mead described, some elements of polygamy and polygyny, some elements of bonobo behavior, some Le Guin, a teensy bit of Heinlein maybe, definitely not Haldeman... I wonders, yes I wonders.)
posted by likeso at 5:51 AM on June 25, 2012


For the record, though I know it is well-intentioned, I don't think banning the "very sexy" qualifier is necessary or even a good idea.

Just to clarify - I don't think anyone has said it should be banned, right? I mean, that's not on the table?

I've been thinking about this, and it struck me that people editorialize about the content of their links quite often - but context is important. So, when I linked to a live-action version of the intro to Ulysses 31, I may have called it awesome. Other people may have thought it was not awesome at all - but the stakes are pretty low, so I don't think that's controversial. Whereas "Apple/Microsoft/Google release an awesome new product" or "Israel/Palestine does a terrible thing to Palestine/Israel", or "Obama shows once again that he is a terrible/awesome president" is going to get direct pushback against that editorializing, because the stakes are a lot higher for some people.

(In this case something like "These photos, originally produced as erotic art/pornography and still probably NSFW" would be non-personal, "these very sexy photos" may be seen as personal, depending on whether 'sexy' is taken to mean 'intended to arouse sexual feelings in their target audience' or 'sexually arousing to me', and "no normal person could fail to find these images very sexually arousing" would be very personal and also exclusive (and obviously an extreme example which is unlikely to happen).

What one does about that is trickier - flex isn't asking for a change in policy or moderation (although some people seem to believe this is the ulterior motive, I think it's OK to assume s/he means what s/he says). It feels like a situation where the community gets to show how it responds to minority viewpoints, which will not shape or direct policy but will provide information points on how certain ways to present information may be received.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:52 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I would so love to have a discussion along these lines! What would a truly equal, sex-positive culture be like?"

Ah, well, I'm not so keen. Because, you know, this is fraught. It's a sign of my age, I suppose, that I stopped thinking about the utopia I am aiming for and what it might look like. I did think this way a lot about several things important to me — chief among them sex and women's rights — when I was younger and imagined the utopias I sort of vaguely believed I might live to see.

Now, though, it's more whack-a-mole. Incremental improvement.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:59 AM on June 25, 2012


Just to clarify - I don't think anyone has said it should be banned, right? I mean, that's not on the table?

Oh god no, it was framed as a request in kavasa's comment here and later repeated. Ban was my poor choice of word - I think subconsciously because I really fear to put words on lists. As far as I know there are two, possibly three currently on the list?

Ivan if ever I'm in KC or you're in NL, let's drink some old single malt and shoot the shit. (Yes, that is an invitation. I have Laphroaig Quarter Cask basically on tap.)
posted by likeso at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2012


(I cut corners again. I just suddenly saw us affably swapping stories over a drink as two old veterans of the Sex Wars.)
posted by likeso at 6:20 AM on June 25, 2012


I still see a lot of confusion, so I'll try to explain my take on the situation. For some posters, the very sexy descriptor made them acutely aware of what is viewed as very sexy. These people suddenly were reminded of feelings of inadequacy, unattractiveness, anger, institutionalized oppression, etc. Why are so many in this thread upset by those emotions and reactions? We should care about each other enough to respect hurt feelings, even if we can't personally understand the places that they are coming from.

Because the vast majority of metafilter users don't feel that there mere use if the word "sexy" meets the threshold of known fightin' words. Is this thread not sufficient evidence of that?

I'll come straight out and say it: the fact that say, 5% or readers out of hundreds might possibly be momentarily uncomfortable by a given word does not to me meet the bar for checking myself before I wreck myself, you know? A metafilter in which every single post has been scrupulously vetted so that nobody could possibly be made momentarily uncomfortable by it would be boring as fuck.

Look, I get that boys club atmosphere is bad. In fact, I once sent in a question over at the Onion's AV Club wondering if the demographics were indeed largely male or if, like me, other women were put off from commenting because of the fratty vibe of the comments, which I think ended up generating a interesting discussion over there.

But requiring the level of self-censorship necessary to have a site where no one ever feels a twinge, no one ever reads a post and thinks "eesh" --- I think it would close off a lot of profoundly interesting viewpoints and discussions, and make conversations a lot less interesting. Speaking for myself, I am not that delicate of a fucking flower.
posted by Diablevert at 7:01 AM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Salamandrous: I wish posters here would at least give her the same benefit of the doubt and generous reading that they want her to give to the OP, and not belittle others for not having precisely the same set of cultural sensitivities that they do.

Totally. And people can discuss those two words till the cows come home. I've pretty much stayed out of this conversation because I can't even begin to understand where flex and a few others here are coming from. I hope those smoking photos get posted again, and I could care less how the post is framed, so long as it is within the site guidelines. I will continue to make posts and frame them as I wish, again, within the guidelines of this website. I hope that everybody else will do the same, as I wouldn't think to impose my own issues on others.
posted by gman at 7:04 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


A metafilter in which every single post has been scrupulously vetted so that nobody could possibly be made momentarily uncomfortable by it would be boring as fuck.

Amen. I often find my worldview squarely in the crosshairs of the commentariat here on MetaFilter. However, I see occasionally feeling uncomfortable as the cost of choosing to enter an environment where ideas are exchanged fairly freely.

There are plenty of internet echo chambers in which I could sequester myself if I chose so that I'd never be exposed to an idea or a picture or words that bother me. I choose not to and I accept that my feathers will get ruffled from time to time.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:38 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sex Wars

One of George Lucas' early, abandoned projects.
posted by jonmc at 8:02 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was awarded the Purple Hard On during the Sex Wars. Got caught by a roadside sex bomb guarding a caravan from Soddom to Gomorrah.
posted by XMLicious at 8:06 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look, the post a stunt but was ill timed

Whoops, that was a typo, should read "Look, the post wasn't s stunt, but was ill timed".


Freudian slip.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, sorry. I totally regret interjecting Freud into this considering....you know....bah. Sorry!
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:09 AM on June 25, 2012


It's going to be alright.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was awarded the Purple Hard On

Not the Medal of On Her?
posted by jonmc at 8:15 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Forget about the specific post, forget about the nudes, forget about this MeTa-- is it likely that an FPP linking to male erotic nudes/pornography would have just simply offered them up with the descriptor "very sexy"?

Not would it be allowed, not would people behave themselves, but is it likely? In my experience, I think no. Straight men in our culture are generally enabled to believe their sexual preferences are important, so important that they should shape the kinds of jobs women do, the roles actresses play, the clothes female athletes wear while playing sports. The sexual preferences of straight men affect my life in frustrating and never-ending ways-- why do I have to wear heels to look professional? Why do I have to wear makeup every day to keep my job? Why didn't I have more non-sexualized role models growing up? Men feel presenting their sexual point-of-view without context is justified in itself, that it trumps all other concerns. It's privileged. It has baggage, like it or not. I don't find the words "very sexy" offensive, but reading them on the front page did make me feel like, great, we're in for another discussion about the merits/demerits of female bodies, and guess what? We were!

misha, you didn't say anything that the comments before you hadn't said. Obviously, I have no problem with gman finding naked women erotic. Do I necessarily want to know about that on the front page, without any context? No, not really. Do I think that photos a member of this site found sexually arousing without any context is a good link? No, not really. Do I think men should be slightly more circumspect about just presenting their approval of highly beauty-conforming female bodies in a public forum, especially when the conversation usually proceeds to evaluate those bodies? Yeah, probably. As a woman, I don't feel entitled to talk about men's bodies in public without getting a significantly different reaction (I'm oversexed, I'm a hypocrite feminist, I'm just kind of creepy and weird, I'm actually asexual, &c.) This is my experience on the internet, in classrooms, among friends, &c. You can tell me I'm wrong, but I have repeatedly experienced that men's sexual preferences have a much stronger cultural power behind them, and a little responsibility for that would be nice.

You also repeatedly state that gman should have more of a reason to link to the pictures than that he liked them, again insinuating that there is something wrong or bad with the pictures, or, by association, with gman for liking them.

The way he framed it, it wasn't that he liked them, it was that he found them sexually appealing/arousing (is there really much difference there?). There's a difference between posting 3D letters of the alphabet because they look cool, and posting pictures of naked women because they give you a chubbie. If it was more the former than the latter, he should have framed it that way instead.

And I've read Laura Mulvey et als. and I know the history of the term "male gaze," but I think your summary is quite skewed, and that it remains an extremely useful term for analyzing what's going on in media produced by straight men with little self-consciousness about how their sexual gaze appears to non-straight men. I agree that "recanted" &c. are not the terms I would use to characterize her position. And the term "male gaze" is used extensively by academics and non-academics alike, sorry to burst your bubble.

To be honest, the FPP was just a little blip in my day, but the backlash to this MeTa is much more indicative of the atmosphere of this place. I didn't flag the post because the offense was not so egregious as to have it removed. It was annoying, though.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:16 AM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, to repeat, I don't think that me being annoyed by male privilege is sufficient justification to change the structure of the site or vetting process. I never said it was, and I acknowledge that it's pretty small potatoes. But I'm telling the truth about my reaction to the FPP in a MeTa that was designed to address that.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yup, well said Diablevert, gman and DWRoelands, I agree. But I'm feeling such vehemence behind the words and a pot, meet kettle kind of irony in declarations about discomfort and impositions and echo chambers. Don't you think this is exactly why it's important to discuss the minority positions here?

I often feel that discussing things in America turns into debate, using sanitized and elliptical vocabulary. That is why it's so refreshing to see topics thrashed out on Metafilter. Folks are willing to call a spade a spade, or honestly discuss whether it actually was a spade at all.

I guess the fear of censorship - very, very realistic fear in America - might inform part of what I'm interpreting as vehemence. If you're told that your vocabulary is insulting to someone, all kinds of psychological defense mechanisms come into play. Nobody wants to be an asshole, nobody wants to be a delicate fucking flower, nobody wants to censor nor to be censored. Yet it really is an option to say huh, I see what you're saying, there might be a connection you see one, but you know you could be just being a tad oversensitive about this.

And Heh! I am a Member of the Order of the Swol- but I say too much. Lucas can eat his heart out.
posted by likeso at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2012


gman loves it when you talk about his chubbie.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2012


I can't even begin to understand where flex and a few others here are coming from...I wouldn't think to impose my own issues on others.

Gman, I hope you can understand that for those who are the minority within a community that the community does continually "impose its own issues" on others and then invalidates the opinions and feelings of the minority who try to become part of the conversation, especially when the minority makes the majority uncomfortable. I do not see metafilter as a place where "ideas are exchanged freely" as DWroelands does, I see it as much more of an echo chamber where attempts at open communication, especially around gender politics, lead to defensiveness and snark as the majority circle their wagons and argue semantics.
posted by saucysault at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I read Mulvey on my own, as I've never taken a film theory or a women's studies class.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:21 AM on June 25, 2012


is it likely that an FPP linking to male erotic nudes/pornography would have just simply offered them up with the descriptor "very sexy"?

Would you accept "hot"?
posted by Dano St at 8:24 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's in a context that's making fun of men who are objectifying themselves (putting themselves in a feminized position)-- I don't think it's used in earnest. The photos are hot, though.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:26 AM on June 25, 2012


If you're polling people, an FPP linking to male erotic nudes described as "very sexy" wouldn't surprise me in the least.
posted by neroli at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2012


And if you disagree with that assessment, check out like the first 20 comments, most of which are making fun of them, calling them douchebags, seeming freaked out about seeing penis, and linking to/asking for women with iPhones. I don't really have a problem with any of that, but the discourse around female objectification is different than that around male objectification. If they had been male cheesecake photos absent any context of schadenfreude... ? I am curious what happens around here when that is posted.

What I want to discuss in this context is admittedly subtle/potentially theoretical (but also felt), and it doesn't really lend itself to site policymaking, which is why I'm not outraged or calling for censorship.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:31 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why limit yourself to the first 20? Did you get to the comment about the subpar goods?
posted by Dano St at 8:35 AM on June 25, 2012


If they had been male cheesecake photos absent any context of schadenfreude... ? I am curious what happens around here when that is posted.

Example.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:36 AM on June 25, 2012


Because I don't have all morning for this thread, basically. Yes, of course a few people will comment on the men themselves, but that was not really the trend.

I've thought about it a little more and it would surprise me (less so here than other places), but I don't assume it would get shouted down, or anything (I mean, it might-- someone in that iPhone thread was unhappy with the "lowered standards"). That's just because they're nude though, not because they're men. I do think it's common to assume objectified women are a universal interest and objectified men are not, though (maybe straight men are less inclined to play along, don't feel the same pressures as most women do?), and that publicly referring to male bodies in a sexualized way is a different act which is usually done with more circumspection-- see the context provided in Brandon Blatcher's link.

Brandon Blatcher, that's a great example of an FPP with interesting info/context, so I think it stands on its merits much more than the FPP that caused this MeTa! Also, it's awesome.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:39 AM on June 25, 2012


Incidentally, wow. I may not agree with stoneandstar, but I think s/he may well deserve some sort of field commendation for remaining calm, respectful and thoughtful in the face of some pretty stiff-armed sledging.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:43 AM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


So, yeah, in sum, the glibness with which it is assumed that objectified female bodies are palatable to all (or that they should be presented as such, see like, all TV, all Hollywood movies, &c.) is the bee in my bonnet, here, not that nudes were posted at all. By all means, post interesting photos of nude women, just provide a little context for why they're interesting, and try to steer the conversation in a direction that isn't mere evaluation of female sex appeal?
posted by stoneandstar at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


but that was not really the trend.

You are asserting that there is more body judgement and/or objectification in the "very sexy" thread than in the "hot" one? I'm honestly confused because that really does not compute with my reading. Perhaps we should count infractions to crown a true gender/orientation champion of body gazing?
posted by Dano St at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see it as much more of an echo chamber where attempts at open communication, especially around gender politics, lead to defensiveness and snark as the majority circle their wagons and argue semantics.

saucysalt, I think this is because each user (including myself) sees Metafilter through their own glass darkly. If you and I were to make a list of words and phrases that described the average MetaFilter user's sociopolitical profile, our lists probably would have more differences than similarities.

In marketing research, there's a concept called "asymmetry"; it posits that a customer's perception of a product or service is impacted far more by a bad experience than a good one. This concept extends to the social sphere; our opinion of a community is impacted far more when we are disagreed with than when we are agreed with. That leads us (again, myself included) to believe that the opinions with which we disagree are far more prevalent in the userbase than they actually are.

I'm not attempting to devalue your perceptions of MetaFilter, and if it comes across that way than I apologize for my inadequate eloquence.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


some sort of field commendation

Let's name it The Chubbie.
posted by Dano St at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2012


posting pictures of naked women because they give you a chubbie

Yeah, let's all talk more about whether the OP had an erection at the time of posting. Are you for real? Isn't that pretty much what you don't like men doing to women?

gman didn't mention anyone's body parts, he just called something sexy. So you respond by making assumptions about his penis in this thread. Color me unimpressed.
posted by heyho at 8:52 AM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sorry, no more penises in-thread. (What I'm saying is that calling something "very sexy" is an expression of sexual attraction, and pretending like it's the same as saying "wow, neat!" is inaccurate).
posted by stoneandstar at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2012


Yeah, and if you were trying to make a decent point with a feminist slant, you just alienated part of your audience. Excellent work here. Thank you.
posted by heyho at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2012


What I'm saying is that calling something "very sexy" is an expression of sexual attraction

This is precisely what most people seem to be disagreeing with.
posted by neroli at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I've used the word "sexy" about gay erotic photos, modernist furniture, and slices of pie -- and in none of those case was I actually sexually aroused. (Well, maybe with the pie, just a little.)
posted by neroli at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


What I'm saying is that calling something "very sexy" is an expression of sexual attraction, and pretending like it's the same as saying "wow, neat!" is inaccurate

I think it can be and often is, but I don't think that's a given at all. People make aesthetic statements all the time that aren't driven by some sort of active, visceral response; the sexiness of something can be as much an assessment of its type or its execution as anything. I can talk about a film's scariness without my pulse going up; I can talk about an excellent meal without salivating; and so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


If gman wants to clarify (has clarified? can't find anything) that actually he just found the photos neat and to him, "sexy" is an objective assessment, then that's fine, but he maybe should have put more thought into the framing? Because it was very minimal, and clearly led to great diversity of interpretation. When you link directly to erotic nudes and call them "sexy," I have a hard time wrapping my head around what you're saying, besides "these will lead to sexual attraction if you are so disposed." Why are we divorcing "sexy" from "sex" so much?

And my point wasn't that gman was in a state of arousal while posting, so gman & others, I apologize for my crudeness. I'm not too worried about alienating my audience, though, as I'm already alienated, and weary of the opinion that if you're expressing a "feminist" viewpoint, you have to do so in all delicacy, even while you're being accused and insulted throughout the thread.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


What I'm saying is that calling something "very sexy" is an expression of sexual attraction, and pretending like it's the same as saying "wow, neat!" is inaccurate

My absolute favorite boss of all time was an older female designer who used the term to describe how a particular layout or type design looked. She was using it to describe visually appealing pieces.

I've heard the term used in similar ways over the years. Not always, of course, but I do disagree that it only indicates sexual attraction.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, cortex, I agree-- I was being crude to make a point and shouldn't have. On the other hand, regardless of bodily response, I do think that the discourse around women's bodies is such that "sexy" is a given, whereas for men's bodies, there's more latitude (actually unfortunately in the direction of mockery and disgust).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2012


Brandon, there is a more figurative use of the word "sexy," but I think it's obvious that that's not what's in question here.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2012


Yeah my dad always used the word "sexy" to refer to computers that ran really really well and I grew up thinking that was a normal way to talk about things that were awesome. It took me a while to realize that wasn't really a standard way of using the term, but to me the word itself doesn't denote sexual attraction as much as some sort of normative "People should find this appealing/attractive" which, yeah can be a male gaze sort of thing but doesn't I think, have to refer to the person making the statement.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:12 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


stoneandstar: What I want to discuss in this context is admittedly subtle/potentially theoretical (but also felt), and it doesn't really lend itself to site policymaking, which is why I'm not outraged or calling for censorship.

YES. And also, what saucysault just said. Very well put.

My frustration, again, is not from disagreement, it's that, for one, I don't think many people understood what I meant to begin with - and that may be partially due to my attempt to frame this neutrally. Had I known the mods were required to respond to every MeTa of this type, I would have definitely have presented this more personally, and then it might have been more relatable.

I guess it's like this: I'm more sensitive to this stuff than other people seem to be, which I fully acknowledge. Say if I'm watching a stand-up comic, and I'm laughing along with everyone else, and then the comic cracks a cougar joke (cougars = older women obviously interested in being sexual and/or sexually appealing, maybe this is a Canadian term), and everyone keeps laughing because it's totally okay in our society to make fun of women for wanting to be sexual after a certain age, because everyone knows women older than a certain age aren't sexy and therefore it's funny; but I don't laugh, I think, really? did you need to go there? was that necessary? because that's uncomfortable. Or if I'm watching a funny commercial, and I'm laughing, and at the end they decide to parade some women in bikinis through to further sell the product, with no other reason than that women in bikinis = hot, amirite. That's jarring.

In fact (thank you, de, for the word) it's gratuitous. That is how I felt about this link and how it was framed in the post in question. It felt gratuitous. It felt jarring because that's actually pretty rare on MeFi these days, an aside of "btw, here's a bit of women sexy". You know if the post had been framed like "here is a site full of vintage photos, there are these historical sets here and here and also vintage pinups/nudes here and here" then it wouldn't have even pinged my radar. It was the random set of women, instead of, I don't know, the Playboy Bunnies which has some specific historical context; it was calling it "very sexy" (whatever the intent, it can definitely be read as a bit leering even if you don't read it that way); and definitely that it was a set of women - why not the male pinups as well? The site has both. That all made it feel gratuitous, just thrown in there because why not - who doesn't like to look at some sexy nudes. It is exclusionary to do it, I think; it is privileged to think everyone will feel okay about that; it is uncomfortable to be a woman sensitive to this and know that other people have no problem with women's bodies objectified in this manner.

I think people misunderstand that I am concerned about nudes or erotica or porn posted to the front page - no, I am not. Brandon's nudes post could have had more to it, but as it was, it was okay by me, except for the feeling of deliberate provocation it carried. I think people misunderstand that I am calling for everyone to stop doing something or start doing it a way I prefer - and absolutely no, I am not. It is subtle, it is a small thing, but it is an everywhere thing, it is a prevalent thing. I thought I could open a discussion about this on MeFi, and even though I knew people would disagree, I thought it would be valuable in awareness, in sharing viewpoints, in just the chance to talk about this stuff, how it pings our radar or how it doesn't.

The rest of my frustration is in feeling unwelcome here. If I can't express my opinions respectfully and as non-judgmentally, non-combatively as possible and not get some measure of that respect back - if I am not alone in "just going through the usual routine of feeling uncomfortable, telling herself that the poster didn't mean it, and quietly moving on" (thanks Salamandrous) over and over again - extending consideration all the time to others who don't bother to extend some back to you - then I tell y'all, you are losing those voices who I am sure have a lot to contribute to this site. I feel righteous and judgmental about stuff too sometimes but I do my damnedest to keep it out of MeFi because I don't want to be treated that way, so I won't treat other people that way.

And if there is this much pushback after so many qualifying details and calm reiterations that all I think is that this is a thing worthy of discussion, even if it is small - and it is, in this one case, just a small thing, but it is a thing - even if there's no remedy to be sought here beyond getting it out in the open - then, well, I'm not going to stop having opinions or sharing them, but this is basically telling me I shouldn't bother to do it here.
posted by flex at 9:20 AM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah my dad always used the word "sexy" to refer to computers that ran really really well and I grew up thinking that was a normal way to talk about things that were awesome. It took me a while to realize that wasn't really a standard way of using the term, but to me the word itself doesn't denote sexual attraction as much as some sort of normative "People should find this appealing/attractive" which, yeah can be a male gaze sort of thing but doesn't I think, have to refer to the person making the statement.

Yeah - in Europe people talk about "sexy football" - which is sort of second-order sexy. You like it because it's put together nicely, because it's aesthetically appealing, because it's exciting to watch - because it reminds you in an abstracted way, or shares metaphorical qualities, of other things you find sexy. It doesn't mean you want to have sex with the footballers. Or the football. However, it depends for its meaning on the idea that certain things - grace, neatness, delicacy - are themselves sexy... It's sort of like a dependent metaphorical quality.

(Which I think is why "this picture of a naked woman in a sexy pose is sexy" is probably unavoidably a different kind of usage than "this football/computer/type layout is sexy" - just as saying that a person is high-maintenance is related to the idea of a car being high-maintenance but not exactly the same: the one is a metaphor drawn from the other. Or a highly-strung person and a highly-strung violin, for that matter. This is elementary philosophy of language: a sad song isn't like a sad person - it does not feel sadness - but its description as being sad is dependent for its comprehended meaning on what the emotion of sadness is understood to be. So, "this picture of a naked woman in a sexy pose is sexy" isn't exactly like "this woman is sexy" or indeed "I am reacting to this picture as I would the presence of a sexy woman", but it also isn't exactly like "this type layout/computer/spell of play is well-assembled").

You are asserting that there is more body judgement and/or objectification in the "very sexy" thread than in the "hot" one? I'm honestly confused because that really does not compute with my reading. Perhaps we should count infractions to crown a true gender/orientation champion of body gazing?

This is a derail, I think, however honest the confusion: the question is about the framing of the FPP, not the comments on it, although that could be another interesting angle.

And, interestingly, the framing of the FPP there is indeed clearly humorous, and the link also clearly humorous - "look at these vain guys taking pictures of themselves as objects of sexual display with their fashionable phone". Same with the Seth Rogen - we're not actually supposed to be being aroused by looking at Seth Rogen's naked line-drawn body. We're laughing at the oddball who is drawing pictures of naked Seth Rogen for his own arousal - and doing so with the active permission and participation of Seth Rogen himself. These are framing narratives, I think, designed to make it OK for straight men to look at these pictures of naked men.

(Another leg of the table might be "Hairy chests I'd like to bury my face in" - which ended up in MeTa, if memory serves, both for objectifying men and for finding humor in men's bodies - you wouldn't like it if it was big boobs, in essence. But seemed to me to be someone looking for an acceptable register to talk about what she found attractive in male bodies, and settling for the comic register. I don't think there are actually very many useful models for women to produce galleries of "dudes I would like to bone", without some form of frame or context. But a frame or context for images of men presented by a woman for the purposes of (ironic?) sexual arousal seemed to be a much more controversial and potentially upsetting thing; I'm not sure if the issue was the female gaze, or the possible lack of sincerity in the arousal...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:28 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flex, I believe I understand where you're coming from. It's annoying and frustrating and sometimes just plain tiring to deal with racism in America (I'm black) and the thousand little small ways it seeps into everything.

But I do not understand what you're hoping to come from this MeTa. You want to gave a discussion. Ok, here's the discussion, with various agreements and disagrees. What would you like to see occur, if anything, from these discussions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:39 AM on June 25, 2012


In fact (thank you, de, for the word) it's gratuitous. That is how I felt about this link and how it was framed in the post in question. It felt gratuitous. It felt jarring because that's actually pretty rare on MeFi these days, an aside of "btw, here's a bit of women sexy". You know if the post had been framed like "here is a site full of vintage photos, there are these historical sets here and here and also vintage pinups/nudes here and here" then it wouldn't have even pinged my radar. It was the random set of women, instead of, I don't know, the Playboy Bunnies which has some specific historical context; it was calling it "very sexy" (whatever the intent, it can definitely be read as a bit leering even if you don't read it that way); and definitely that it was a set of women - why not the male pinups as well? The site has both. That all made it feel gratuitous, just thrown in there because why not - who doesn't like to look at some sexy nudes. It is exclusionary to do it, I think; it is privileged to think everyone will feel okay about that; it is uncomfortable to be a woman sensitive to this and know that other people have no problem with women's bodies objectified in this manner.

This is, to me, the best that you have framed your concerns. I disagree with you, not vehemently, but a little bit, in that the photos were part of the site, part of a larger post, and therefore had a context and a framing that made them not gratuitous. Which is how I end up again kind of confused when you write next:
I think people misunderstand that I am concerned about nudes or erotica or porn posted to the front page - no, I am not.
I don't know how you could be concerned about the contextualized vintage photos in gman's post and not be concerned about nudes on the front page. It seems like you're saying that a stand alone nude post is ok because you expect it and that's fine, but if it's part of a larger post, if it's excerpted from another set of links, it reads to you as gratuitous? (I'm really trying to understand here.) In the first case everything is up front and that's ok, but in the second case there's a kind of smuggling of sexual imagery into something that need not have it introduced? I'm not sure if I'm understanding that correctly, but if I am, I think that's a pretty specific concern. I don't feel at all that anyone should be ok with links to nude content on the front page, but if they are, I have a hard time understanding why one nude link among many would be bad. To put it in the language of your example: when I don't laugh at "cougar" jokes it's because I don't like cougar jokes in any context, not because they are jarringly sandwiched among "airplane food" and "getting the baby to sleep" jokes.

The rest of my frustration is in feeling unwelcome here. If I can't express my opinions respectfully and as non-judgmentally, non-combatively as possible and not get some measure of that respect back

I've got to tell you, and I know that you already think I was combative with you, and so I might be part of the problem, but I think your post here was extraordinarily poorly framed, and that you kept insisting on the framing, and everyone else's bad faith, even when the evidence was that you weren't being understood here. I think there was some disrespect in this thread, and I am sorry for that, but I think you also contributed to how this thread went in your initial and ongoing presentation. In other words, I don't think you did nearly as good a job as presenting this issue neutrally as you think you did. I'm a feminist, I have participated in threads about MeFi sexism alongside other feminists, and I read your initial couple of comments as suggesting that you had an agenda that you did not want to reveal. I say this not to re-legislate that whole deal, but because if you're feeling really frustrated by this I think you should maybe take a look back at what some of the objections were and try to determine if they were dismissive from disrespectful stance or from a place of misunderstanding.
posted by OmieWise at 9:40 AM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think is that this is a thing worthy of discussion, even if it is small....even if there's no remedy to be sought here beyond getting it out in the open

Here, to me, is the crux of the issue: I do not understand what you can possibly mean by this. I am trying to be as literal as possible. It seems to me that if you do not like something and it makes you uncomfortable than you must want it to change. I cannot comprehend the idea that you would bring something up for discussion with the thesis of "I do not like this and it makes me uncomfortable but please, go right ahead and keep on doing it, that's totally fine." that doesn't make any sense to me. If what is being "brought out into the open" is the fact that a given behaviour is making people uncomfortable, the implication is that we, as good group members, should knock it off. The logic of this seems to be inexorable.

But I've been known to be dumb before. So if Ive got that wrong, then tell me. What do you want to happen here? What is the point of the discussion? What is the next step?
posted by Diablevert at 9:40 AM on June 25, 2012


> As a woman, I don't feel entitled to talk about men's bodies in public without getting a significantly different reaction (I'm oversexed, I'm a hypocrite feminist, I'm just kind of creepy and weird, I'm actually asexual, &c.) This is my experience on the internet, in classrooms, among friends, &c. You can tell me I'm wrong, but I have repeatedly experienced that men's sexual preferences have a much stronger cultural power behind them, and a little responsibility for that would be nice.

I absolutely know what you are talking about (to the extent that's possible for a man), and I strongly agree with you... except that I think MeFi is different from most of the internet. It's come a long way in the last few years (with a lot of pushing and urging, and my thanks go to all the feminists who have done the heavy lifting), and I'm pretty sure you can talk about men's bodies here without much of that reaction (though obviously I can't promise none).

Anyway, I agree with running order squabble fest about the field commendation for remaining calm, respectful and thoughtful. If everybody were more like you, MetaTalk would be much less of a blood sport. Kudos.
posted by languagehat at 10:08 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Brandon: we're on a community site that is full of discussion. What do you get out of discussion anywhere, about anything, on this site? You get a chance to share your opinion, your unique point of view? You get to hear if people agree with you or if they don't? You get to hear their opinions? You get to learn from their opinions? You get to exchange ideas? Don't I get to do that too, as a member? Shouldn't I, or anyone else here, feel okay participating in discussion not without any particular goal in mind but because the visible participants on this site are clearly people who like to talk and maybe argue a bit and read what other people have to say?

OmieWise: I don't know how you could be concerned about the contextualized vintage photos in gman's post and not be concerned about nudes on the front page.

It was the FRAMING. It didn't have to be a link to nudes - although porn/erotica/call it whatever is definitely more blatant, or easier to spot, for most people - I think you can throw up many examples where women are used as a bit of "sexy" and they're not nude - advertising is a big example. Why are we looking at these sexualized women? Are we looking at them for a reason - is there a reason you're directing us to them? Or is it just "hey naked ladies"? To me there is a difference in context there. It read as an aside, a bit of background "hey naked ladies". Yes, that's subtle. It's there, though. Even if it's small, it is there, it is a little bit of "ugh, not this again".

I read your initial couple of comments as suggesting that you had an agenda that you did not want to reveal

Yeah, if I could do it again I would do it differently, no question; but maybe it is not fair to assume there's got to be a hidden agenda somewhere especially if there is no clear reason not to take it in good faith. I realize this is how MeTa normally operates and I was trying very hard to signal I was not trying to do that. I clearly didn't succeed. The objections in many cases are from misunderstanding, I do feel, and it is frustrating because I did what I could about that, but I feel like a lot of the time people read what they want to read and they don't really care to dig any deeper than that. I feel a little bit, I guess used is the word - that my opinions are being used - through misunderstanding or not - to score points off of, when I am not trying to do that to anyone else.

Diablevert: I am really reluctant to respond to you, because I absolutely feel you are poking me for a response so you can use my words against me in your own particular interpretation of what you want to think I mean. I bring something up because I feel honesty and transparency is a good thing; I bring something up because I think that is better than keeping my mouth shut and feeling bad, but not sharing what I am feeling bad about with anyone; I bring something up because this is a subtle thing that people may not be aware of, and now I get a better read on it: do they care, or do they don't? Sure, ideally MeFi would change in ways I liked, of course. But maybe it will, maybe it won't. All I can do is be honest with the community, be respectful of the community, learn what the community take is - and then if it doesn't change, that is fine - maybe that means this is not the community for me or someone else that agrees with me, and then it's back to the individual, do I want to stay here and invest my time on here, now that I've aired that out? Or maybe it's a thing that isn't as prevalent as it feels like it is, now that I've aired it out, and maybe I can deal with it? Maybe not everything has to have a direct goal, especially, as I said to Brandon above, on a site that is all about discussion? Why do we discuss anything? Where else on the site am I to discuss the site itself, if not here?
posted by flex at 10:09 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's a difference between posting 3D letters of the alphabet because they look cool, and posting pictures of naked women because they give you a chubbie

That's the dismissive and disrespectful tone I hoped we could avoid in this thread. Stay classy, stoneandstar.

And I've read Laura Mulvey et als. and I know the history of the term "male gaze," but I think your summary is quite skewed

Then you must know that Afterthoughts was not at all Mulvey's last word on the subject of the male gaze; she has published a number of papers in the last 37 years tracing the evolution of her position since then. Just one recent example, appropriately entitled Unmasking the Male Gaze, advocates a more balanced approach to assessing women's portrayal in film, taking societal, historical and economical factors into account (for instance, that women made up nearly 3/4 of the viewing audience from as far back as the 1920s and the emergence of the "pre talkie" films, and that women within the film industry were creating dynamic female characters distinct from the "to be looked at" caricature she had posited even then).
posted by misha at 10:10 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


running order squabble fest: Incidentally, wow. I may not agree with stoneandstar, but I think s/he may well deserve some sort of field commendation for remaining calm, respectful and thoughtful in the face of some pretty stiff-armed sledging.

Yes; yes, she calmly and respectfully berated me and held me up in a sexist, disgusting light. Having said that, I feel no need to justify anything to someone like her or answer any question she may have.

flex: I guess it's like this: I'm more sensitive to this stuff than other people seem to be, which I fully acknowledge. Say if I'm watching a stand-up comic, and I'm laughing along with everyone else, and then the comic cracks a cougar joke (cougars = older women obviously interested in being sexual and/or sexually appealing, maybe this is a Canadian term), and everyone keeps laughing because it's totally okay in our society to make fun of women for wanting to be sexual after a certain age, because everyone knows women older than a certain age aren't sexy and therefore it's funny; but I don't laugh, I think, really?

You know, I've been holding back mentioning this, but the hypocrisy here is something I find somewhat baffling. It's similar in nature to my reaction when I saw another MeTa of yours about Metafilter needing more hugs soon after I met you for the first time. (Yes, what I'm talking about is real life shit, but it was at a meet-up, so I'm calling it fair game.) The very first time I met you, you proceeded to repeatedly refer to me as a douche throughout the entire evening, so frankly I'm perplexed as why you're bothered by the phrase 'very sexy'.
posted by gman at 10:18 AM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I'm not too worried about alienating my audience, though, as I'm already alienated, and weary of the opinion that if you're expressing a 'feminist' viewpoint, you have to do so in all delicacy, even while you're being accused and insulted throughout the thread."

Afuckingmen. And that goes double for the whole "you don't want to alienate your audience" nonsense which is never advised evenhandedly.

This is one of those topics where even the most even-tempered people sometimes are intemperate and misstep. The "chubbie" thing was one mistake among a whole hell of a lot of good-faith, thoughtful and evenhanded commentary. It's hard to avoid straying into provocative hyperbole occasionally; almost all of the heavy participants in threads such as these do so once or twice. This is especially true when someone is in a minority position being interrogated by numerous people like flex and stoneandstar have been.

Responding to it with "stay classy, stoneandstar" when you weren't even the person to which the comment was addressed doesn't help.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:25 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, this is taking a turn that for the worse that will torpedo the possibility of any good discussion left in this thread. Is this really necessary?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. Even more layers.
posted by likeso at 10:29 AM on June 25, 2012


Oh geez.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2012


Shouldn't I, or anyone else here, feel okay participating in discussion not without any particular goal in mind but because the visible participants on this site are clearly people who like to talk and maybe argue a bit and read what other people have to say?

We're talked. We've discussed this particular item and a number of its points. Ok, the phrase 'very sexy' bothered you and others in this instance. It didn't bother many others, nor did it violate site policy or guidelines. Yet, and I'm trying to put this as delicately as possible, you're still going on about how it bothers you, how the post I made bothers you, yet you take the time to point out that you didn't flag it, but you still take the time to point it out.

Lots of things bother lots of people on this site. I don't see how its very productive, useful or helpful to the site if we all made MeTas about what bothers us. At certain point, in my opinion, we have to recognize that our individual likes and dislikes aren't as important as we'd like to other people and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't flag the post because the offense was not so egregious as to have it removed. It was annoying, though.

This is the kind of thing that I think has provoked such a backlash here in MeTa. It's not really a big enough deal to justify the sort of sitewide discussion it will inevitably get here. You were annoyed? Big deal. MetaFilter can be REALLY annoying sometimes. If we started a MeTa for everything that annoyed us or gave us a faint twinge or blip or whatever, it would be the Thirty Years War in here.

I don't want to be seen as someone who shouts down minority opinions, but the reason people get steadily more frustrated and edgy toward flex and the others is that, yes, okay, we hear you, and we sort of understand, but even you say it's really not that big of a deal, but it's really colossally ANNOYING to have someone repeat the same arguments and protestations over and over while the entire site seems to crawl up its own asshole trying to figure out what (if anything) to do about it).

Voice your voice, but save your thunder for a real storm.
posted by hermitosis at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, people are free to call out things as they see fit, but it could reasonably be inferred that the OP has a beef against gman that could be driving this post.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


gman: I don't recall at all using the word "douche" to you, it's not something I usually say. I did call you a troll more than once, and if that insulted you then I am sorry I said it; if I did say "douche" it was probably intended in a teasing way, but if you felt insulted rather than teased by it (again, I don't remember anything about it) then I am very sorry, that would have been out of line of me, and probably too much to presume upon from meeting someone the first time. At that same meetup, you may recall, I had to listen to someone we were sitting with run down my home city repeatedly throughout the night; both of you laughing at me when I was excited that he was living there, and him telling me it was an awful place and all the details why. If I felt I should respond to that sort of thing with some of that back at you all and trying to overlook the insult to me, I hope you can understand why.

Being a troll was absolutely my impression of you from the site at the time; after that meet-up when you were more on my radar, I noticed you make some very good posts, and I revised my impression of you. I definitely felt more friendly toward you the next time we met, and have felt friendlier through our occasional MeMailing. You definitely give off the impression that you don't care at all what other people think, and I am someone who really does care more than I would like to a lot of the time, so around that sort of attitude I sometimes "act tough" and it is more a protective persona than anything, as in the example I gave above. I hope my apology is acceptable to you.
posted by flex at 10:33 AM on June 25, 2012


flex: gman: I don't recall at all using the word "douche" to you, it's not something I usually say.

That's fine. Your exact initial phrasing after hearing my username was, "So you're the douche from Metafilter." Others who were sitting at my table can confirm this. Anyway, I could care less about someone calling me a douche; I just find your hypocrisy about wanting Metafilter to be a more positive place, where everyone feels welcome, to be, well, laughable.
posted by gman at 10:39 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


That phrase I remember explicitly, I said "so you're the troll". If you all heard "douche" and you have been thinking this whole time I said "douche" then I am sorry, but you never mentioned it to me before, and I did not say "douche" in that phrase, I said "troll".
posted by flex at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2012


Folks, this "who said what to whom" stuff probably needs to be in MeMail and not at the end of a 370 comment thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


It would be quite odd for the two other people sitting there with me to also mix up the words "douche" and "troll", numerous times, but personally, I wouldn't consider calling someone you've never met a troll, to be positive either.
posted by gman at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Folks, this "who said what to whom" stuff probably needs to be in MeMail and not at the end of a 370 comment thread.

Curious, what doe the thread count have to do with whether it should be here and if does matter, then would it have been better to mention earlier in the thread?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on June 25, 2012


Steering away from the pile-on, since it seems unlikely, at this stage, that anyone involved will think harder or look worse than they currently do, now there's blood in the water..and cleaving to film studies.

Then you must know that Afterthoughts was not at all Mulvey's last word on the subject of the male gaze; she has published a number of papers in the last 37 years tracing the evolution of her position since then.

Well.... Afterthoughts was published in 1989, as a new piece in the 1989 collection Visual and Other Pleasures. I confess that you may have more insight into what Mulvey wrote between mid-2012 and 2026, because from my perspective those years haven't happened yet.

However, I am pretty sure that, from my temporal niche, she has not "denounced" her early work, nor "officially recanted" it (howsoever one might officially recant something in film theory), nor said that she was "just trying to stir up controversy" with Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Certainly none of those things occur in "Unmasking the Male Gaze", which says:
The static, textually orientated. psychoanalytically influenced concept of the gaze still has, to my mind, an obvious, common sense, validity.
and concludes:
In retrospect, it is seems that early feminist film theory may have over invested in the psychic structures of cinematic pleasure, especially the specificity of the male gaze. However, this theoretical perspective was right to argue that sex and sexuality, however censored, were key to the American film industry. "Woman as spectacle" and "narratives of desire" were close to the heart of studio system Hollywood. Feminist historians worked to transcend early feminism's generalised analysis of Hollywood cinema's preoccupation with sex and sexuality to locate the whys and wherefores behind this preoccupation.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:48 AM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Brandon & hermitosis, having this conversation here was cathartic for me and reassuring, in that I now know that there are other members of the site who are willing to have a conversation about this issue and see where I'm coming from, whether or not they agree. It was validating, at the least. Is the way sexism affects discourse on the Blue really not worth discussing? I think having a place to discuss it is a part of the "solution," to be honest. Because I didn't want to derail the FPP by going on about this. (I tend to have a "feminist" point of view, but even I get tired of every post tangentially related to women being a gender war.)

it's really colossally ANNOYING to have someone repeat the same arguments and protestations over and over while the entire site seems to crawl up its own asshole trying to figure out what (if anything) to do about it)

I mean, it's annoying to have to repeat yourself over and over because you're being mischaracterized, too. The discussion proceeded in such a way that several people noted that they had understood later in the thread, after several explanations. So that seems like a good thing, to me, and indicates change. Talking about background noise seems worthwhile to me.

Obviously I (I won't speak for anyone else) want people to quit doing this, but I don't think that there's a good way to make that policy. I think having a discussion about it can help. I was happy to see this MeTa.

Voice your voice, but save your thunder for a real storm

Was there really that much thunder in this thread? I thought I was pretty neutral about most of this. Explaining my opinion when I think it's been misconstrued is part of having a discussion.

gman, I never even called you sexist, what a brutal and careless characterization.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2012


That meetup was almost two years ago, we have talked a bunch of times since then and you have never mentioned it to me and neither has anyone else. If the fact you were insulted by something I said (that I seriously do not remember saying), but you don't care about an apology - just it's being brought out now as proof I am a hypocrite, I do not know what to do with that except say, you win, I guess? Because nothing I say matters in that case. Feel free to contact me elsewhere if you honestly care about following up on this with me.
posted by flex at 10:53 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Curious, what doe the thread count have to do with whether it should be here and if does matter, then would it have been better to mention earlier in the thread?

After a thread has been open for several days there is often a diminishing returns thing setting in where there are a few hardcore folks sticking around for better or worse and a lot of people who have wandered off. Starting up with a bunch of back-and-forth accusations about a personal interaction that happenes years ago is something that, if it were a salient point for the thread and/or the motivation of the person who started the thread, it should have been brought up a few days ago. gman and flex going back and forth about who called who what is something that should go to MeMail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:54 AM on June 25, 2012


You brute!
posted by Dano St at 10:57 AM on June 25, 2012


gman, I never even called you sexist, what a brutal and careless characterization.

Careless? If I were him, I'd care a great deal about how you've characterized his motivations. My takeaway from that comment (yes, I read your follow-up) was that you were accusing him of being sexist in his attitude toward women and reducing him to his physical response to seeing photos of women without their clothing; a response you can't possibly know is true! I don't think it's a leap for him to respond to that by feeling that you're calling him sexist.
posted by heyho at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


It sounds like a FPP on the idea of the male gaze might be interesting. It looks like the direction this thread is taking will make it impossible to have a discussion of it here.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:15 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is the way sexism affects discourse on the Blue really not worth discussing?

Sure, but it doesn't sound that was the point here. Rather it was about validating your feelings and concerns, which is fine on one level, but comes across as self centered for a group resource, i.e. MeTa.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:16 AM on June 25, 2012


It sounds like a FPP on the idea of the male gaze might be interesting.

Ok.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on June 25, 2012


a lot of people who have wandered off. -- Mildly curious if you have any stats to show that traffic to a three-day-old metatalk thread does taper off, or if this is just conjecture, since Recent Activity doesn't seem to care how old a thread is.
posted by crunchland at 11:32 AM on June 25, 2012


I bring something up because I feel honesty and transparency is a good thing; I bring something up because I think that is better than keeping my mouth shut and feeling bad, but not sharing what I am feeling bad about with anyone; I bring something up because this is a subtle thing that people may not be aware of, and now I get a better read on it: do they care, or do they don't

Flex, you wrote to the mods, and they had a back-and-forth with you about this, so you did have a chance to speak up. They did not silence you; in fact jessamyn especially validated your feelings.

They did tell you, though, that yours was the only flag, so you knew the community position was pretty much directly opposed to yours before you ever posted this. So this thread, rather than "do they care or do they don't", as you put it, seems instead to be, "I want everyone to know that I care passionately about the framing of this FPP!"

Now, if it were me, and I knew I was the only one across all of Metafilter who had flagged something, I'd think maybe I needed to reassess my own filter. I'd wonder if perhaps in my reading I had made some uncharitable assumptions.

But after thinking about it, you decided to bring this "subtle" thing to Meta anyway. And, while you assure us you don't want any New Rules about posting per se, you hope this Meta will have the effect of making people more sensitive in the future.

Sensitive to what? That is pivotal, so let's spell it out.

This is why we have this Meta: You want the rest of us to be sensitive to "subtle" framing that might possibly make you, Flex, flag it even when no one else would.

Wow.

If you cannot appreciate the *stunning* arrogance of your position after all this, if you cannot understand why people feel you are trying to impose your own norms onto the site, if you still remain "frustrated" by the "backlash" in this thread--!

Well, then maybe you can at least acknowledge that it is unreasonable to expect that we, incapable as we are of appreciating nuance and subtlety as you do, could rise to the level of prescience required to anticipate what you, Flex, will be offended by in the future.
posted by misha at 11:34 AM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hi! I just noticed this thread, what are you all --

Oh.

*backs out*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Hey, EmpressCallipygos - let's go get a drink. First round's on me.

*shuts door quietly*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


misha for President.
posted by hermitosis at 11:46 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, but it doesn't sound that was the point here. Rather it was about validating your feelings and concerns, which is fine on one level, but comes across as self centered for a group resource, i.e. MeTa.

If there's one thing this thread seems to indicate, it's that anger really isn't a scarce resource around here. Check out heyho - stoneandstar apologized for a bad choice of words and undertook not to make any similar references in future - and it just made heyho angrier. Or gman - he's checking his diary, offering to pull in eyewitnesses to support his account of a two-year-old slight. That's like angry cold fusion.

And less than a day after having to write a five-paragraph defence of an FPP deleted as apparently dedicated to provoking flex, with much complaint that nobody gave you the benefit of the doubt or asked your intentions, you're back on the horse and telling Flex what her motivations are. Even since I started typing this Misha's back, running through scarequotes and exclamation points like there's no "tomorrow"!

If I were a psychoanayizin' man, which I'm not, I'd be suspecting that there's a kind of built-up psychic pressure in a thread like this, where there's an unconscious expectation that somebody might flame out in an interesting or amusing way. And, despite feeling _unwelcome_, Flex hasn't done that yet. So, the pressure keeps building, and because high pressure, as we know, lowers the boiling point, everybody starts bubbling...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:46 AM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Here's a white guy getting hit in the face with a dildo.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:54 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's very sexy.
posted by Drastic at 11:59 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


*realizes that EmpressCallipygos and BitterOldPunk locked the door behind them*

Nooooo, let me out! I'll buy the first round!
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a white guy getting hit in the face with a dildo.
posted by Burhanistan 9 minutes ago [+]

That's very sexy.
posted by Drastic 5 minutes ago [+]


Maybe save it for some other thread?
posted by OmieWise at 12:09 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


and it just made heyho angrier

If anyone cares, no, it didn't make me angrier. This is weird.
posted by heyho at 12:09 PM on June 25, 2012


Here's a NFSW discussion of douche erections. I think [deleted member] raises up some particularly relevant, though anecdotal, analysis.
posted by Dano St at 12:13 PM on June 25, 2012


That really expanded my horizons. Or, perhaps just just my mucosa.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2012


This is seriously not the time to linking to porny stuff on other websites because you think it might in some sideways way that you haven't explained, be relevant. No one is making you continue to read this thread but other people are trying to have a discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:29 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting, though - we had our first link out to not-porn (some erotic images from Greek vases, perhaps to make the point that erotic art+time=art) pop up here.

There was an interesting comment during the controversy over Anita Sarkeesian that pornographic images were considered by the people attacking her as a kind of crucifix or garlic clove against feminists: there's no indication that I know of that Sarkeesian is anti-porn, but her wikipedia page was still defaced with pornographic images, and attempts made to link google searches of her name with porn.

This, I think, is something that we're all better than here - we were, in fact, having a conversation about exactly the phenomenon of people sending pictures of their junk to women on dating sites the other day, and it seemed to be very definitely not something MetaFilter was aware of (on the undistaff side) or in favor of.

But, notwithstanding, the humorous links being posted now feel a little different from the usual run of MetaTalk winding-down. Again, this may be a tradition I haven't seen before, but isn't it usually recipes?

(On preview - sorry, heyho, for misreading you - this just seemed very "apology UNaccepted". Although, again, the difference between using the _word_, and the reaction it occasioned, and people now linking out to a page full of images of the actual object is maybe interesting, but possibly not usefully examinable in the current environment.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:30 PM on June 25, 2012


"and a lot of people who have wandered off"

I am trying so hard to be one of those people, but this is just getting more surreal as it goes on. It's like a car accident. Ask 10 witnesses what they saw and you will get 10 different answers. Ask 10 people what this thread is about and I am sure you will get, well, more than 10 answers...
posted by Vaike at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: Check out heyho - stoneandstar apologized for a bad choice of words and undertook not to make any similar references in future - and it just made heyho angrier. Or gman - he's checking his diary, offering to pull in eyewitnesses to support his account of a two-year-old slight. That's like angry cold fusion.

Sure she apologized, but then went onto say that she never called me sexist, which, I never said she did. She inferred it quite clearly by how she characterized my motivations for the post. And who the fuck are you to say heyho got angrier as the thread went on? I'd also like for you to point out where I offered to pull in eyewitnesses.

If I were a psychoanayizin' man, which I'm not, I'd be suspecting that there's a kind of built-up psychic pressure in a thread like this, where there's an unconscious expectation that somebody might flame out in an interesting or amusing way.

Wait, which one of us kept engaging someone earlier this year, after they told you that you scare them and asked you to stop, both publicly and privately, to the point where they quit this site? So while I don't keep a diary, I do have a pretty great memory, even for this kind of bull shit.
posted by gman at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am really reluctant to respond to you, because I absolutely feel you are poking me for a response so you can use my words against me in your own particular interpretation of what you want to think I mean. I bring something up because I feel honesty and transparency is a good thing; I bring something up because I think that is better than keeping my mouth shut and feeling bad, but not sharing what I am feeling bad about with anyone; I bring something up because this is a subtle thing that people may not be aware of, and now I get a better read on it: do they care, or do they don't? Sure, ideally MeFi would change in ways I liked, of course. But maybe it will, maybe it won't. All I can do is be honest with the community, be respectful of the community, learn what the community take is - and then if it doesn't change, that is fine - maybe that means this is not the community for me or someone else that agrees with me, and then it's back to the individual, do I want to stay here and invest my time on here, now that I've aired that out? Or maybe it's a thing that isn't as prevalent as it feels like it is, now that I've aired it out, and maybe I can deal with it? Maybe not everything has to have a direct goal, especially, as I said to Brandon above, on a site that is all about discussion? Why do we discuss anything? Where else on the site am I to discuss the site itself, if not here?


I think we have misunderstood each other. I didn’t ask “why did you post this metatalk?” I asked, “what do you want to do now? What is the next step?”

I feel we are talking past each other to some extent. I want to try and explain how I see the thread, and perhaps you can point out where you feel differently.

In reviewing the thread as a whole, I feel like many members of the site have made their positions clear; they ranged from “Yes, I found it bothersome, and thought the FPP was thin and should have been deleted” to “no, I thought it was totally fine,” with some stops along the way in “I thought it was a little icky but not that big a deal,” or “eh, I rolled my eyes at that one link but I thought the site was pretty neat over all.” I would say, overall, more people were fine with it than not. To my mind, it is clear what the community thought about gman’s FPP.

Are we in agreement there or not?

In among those opinions your own were expressed, which I would sum up as “as a feminists, while there may be contexts in which nude photos would be a-okay with me, I felt by labeling them “very sexy” gman opened up a whole can of worms that contributed to make me feel uncomfortable.” I don’t want to put words in your mouth, I’m just trying to make clear my understanding of your opinion. If am off-base, then set me straight.

To me, now that we’ve established all that, then discussion=concluded. We know what everyone thinks, we understand what the consensus opinion is: The post was fine. The only point in discussing the issue further is to change that consensus. You keep explaining your opinion in different words, with different phrasings, but it didn’t seem to me like your opinion had changed at all. It felt like, to me, you kept hoping that if you kept on explaining it people, they would have some kind of epiphany and would change their own minds or at least change their behavior to be more in line with your ideal metafilter. Because otherwise, why keep reiterating the same point over and over?

Now, where have I erred? Because we obviously see things differently, and so I am sure that you will probably disagree with my assessment. Do you not feel that enough people have offered their take? Is it not clear where the majority opinion is? Is your opinion of the FPP different than “this framing of this is icky”? What do you want of us, now? What are your conclusions? What is the next step?
posted by Diablevert at 12:53 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"She inferred it quite clearly by how she characterized..."

Implied, not inferred.

"Wait, which one of us kept engaging someone earlier this year, after they told you that you scare them and asked you to stop, both publicly and privately, to the point where they quit this site? "

Yeah, I remember that and I was entirely uninvolved. It was when you freaked out for no good reason and played the victim card for all it was worth, then used it as collateral to buy a sports-car, and then sold it and resold both to some barely literate dirt-farmers. It was impressive. I see that you think you can make a go of this scam again.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:55 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gman, I think that you're falling into the trap of trying to argue against a MeTa focused on your post. It almost always makes you look less sympathetic, not more, and in this case, being angry (even over legit stuff) will only reinforce the narrative that this is a place where critical voices can't be heard. If you still want to respond, I'd advise you to remember that there's no action here likely to be taken, there's no shift in site ethics likely, there's no increase in the amount of context required, and a lot of the complaints look like thin nitpicking than substantive argument.

Be a gracious winner.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I see that you think you can make a go of this scam again.

Wait, what the hell is going on here?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2012


klangklangston: Gman, I think that you're falling into the trap of trying to argue against a MeTa focused on your post.

Fair enough, dude. I'm outta this thread.

Burhanistan: Wait, what the hell is going on here?

It was an attempt at a joke, I think.
posted by gman at 1:03 PM on June 25, 2012


At this point, I'm not sure what's to be gained by leaving this open.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a white guy getting hit in the face with a dildo.

Is this one of the lines that didn't make it into "King of Pain"?
posted by DWRoelands at 1:06 PM on June 25, 2012


And less than a day after having to write a five-paragraph defence of an FPP deleted as apparently dedicated to provoking flex, with much complaint that nobody gave you the benefit of the doubt or asked your intentions, you're back on the horse and telling Flex what her motivations are.

I'm curious, which horse was I on?

Otherwise, I was telling flex what her motivations sounded like.

Fair enough, dude. I'm outta this thread.

No, never listen to someone named klangklangston!!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think flex is being arrogant or out-of-line. Let those of us who have never posted a metatalk thread cast the first stone.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wait, which one of us kept engaging someone earlier this year, after they told you that you scare them and asked you to stop, both publicly and privately, to the point where they quit this site?

It is a shame that there were no repercussions from that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2012


You must have asked the mods to review all those threatening messages I must have sent by now, surely?

rosf, I am asking you right now to leave this alone. The intensity with which you approach these discussions is sometimes off-putting for people and this latest comment is sort of over the line as far as that goes. gman's was also. Leave it.

This thread is turning into a weird sort of mess and really not much of a discussion area anymore. I generally don't like the "I'm going to turn this car around..." sorts of ultimatums, but I'm going to give it a few hours and if people can't all dial it back and go back to having a discussion instead of sequential back and forth accusations [this goes for everyone] I'll just close it. If you'd like it to not be closed please be the change you want to see in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


... sequential back and forth accusations...

Heyho, you're are friggin' awesome and don't you dare deny it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2012


Why, I oughta...
posted by heyho at 1:45 PM on June 25, 2012


I know people like to say the bar for deletion is much higher here, but since more or less trifling comments are getting axed then why bother keeping this thread open?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2012


more or less trifling comments are getting axed

Comments making personal attacks on other users after we've told people specifically to stop doing that here don't, to me or the other mods, qualify as trifling. That's the only thing we've deleted except a response to the now-deleted comment and two "please fix my typo" comments.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:14 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, and this may be because I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, but I did click on the Tally Ho link expecting flirtatious and saucy pictures of people on horses, and was expecting the nudity to be variously distributed through the galleries.

I also say that I don't have any problem with people linking to nudity, but I do like to know ahead of time, because I'm not always in the mood to be titillated, but also might can't help a little frisson of titillation when I see something titillating. So, yeah, clear warnings are appreciated.
posted by ambrosen at 2:58 PM on June 25, 2012


Ambrosen, this bit of titillating titillation is just for you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:11 PM on June 25, 2012


Thanks, BB. Great tits there: or at least the one on the right was.
posted by ambrosen at 3:20 PM on June 25, 2012


on the undistaff side

Spear side.

We're all adults here, no need to use euphemisms.
posted by Floydd at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hesitate to say anything at all at this point in the thread given the level of vitriol flying around, but I just can't let this stand without any counterpoint:

But after thinking about it, you decided to bring this "subtle" thing to Meta anyway. And, while you assure us you don't want any New Rules about posting per se, you hope this Meta will have the effect of making people more sensitive in the future.

Sensitive to what? That is pivotal, so let's spell it out.

This is why we have this Meta: You want the rest of us to be sensitive to "subtle" framing that might possibly make you, Flex, flag it even when no one else would.

Wow.

If you cannot appreciate the *stunning* arrogance of your position after all this, if you cannot understand why people feel you are trying to impose your own norms onto the site, if you still remain "frustrated" by the "backlash" in this thread--!

Well, then maybe you can at least acknowledge that it is unreasonable to expect that we, incapable as we are of appreciating nuance and subtlety as you do, could rise to the level of prescience required to anticipate what you, Flex, will be offended by in the future.


I think one of the best things about MetaTalk is the way that people can raise things they notice on the site that bother them, and explain why, and create a space for other people who may also be bothered to share their perspective, and raise awareness among others many of whom may choose to modify their behavior because they didn't realize how certain things would be perceived. I genuinely love seeing it and learning from it and I think it makes us a better community. (In this particular case, I think the "explain why" was very muddled and that led to a lot of the problems with the thread, but I'm talking in generalities here.)

I would hate for anyone to feel shamed out of raising genuine concerns because they're not sure whether they're the only one who's bothered by it. They're usually not alone (and flex wasn't either in this case-- just because it didn't rise to the level of flagging doesn't mean that no one else had a problem with it)-- but even if they are, I don't think they should be belittled or treated as arrogant for daring to share their feelings and their vision for what they'd like to see this community look like. It would have a serious chilling effect if people felt like they had to be sure that a significant group of other Mefites agreed with them before expressing that something makes them uncomfortable. And I personally would be very sorry to see people that, both on principle and because I think it results in alienating and losing valuable and diverse community members.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:30 PM on June 25, 2012 [33 favorites]


very sorry to see people that = very sorry to see that
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:34 PM on June 25, 2012


but even if they are, I don't think they should be belittled or treated as arrogant for daring to share their feelings and their vision for what they'd like to see this community look like.

But that implies they want something to change, which created a lot of tension in this MeTa, The mods and many other members are said, "no, this isn't a problem" then it's incumbent on the original user to accept that or deal with in their own way.

Part of being in a community is accepting its guidelines/rules/policies even when you disagree with them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:52 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
Mary Wortley Montagu
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:08 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would hate for anyone to feel shamed out of raising genuine concerns because they're not sure whether they're the only one who's bothered by it.

Yeah - I think this is a funny thing about this thread (apart from the links to pictures of dudes' junk, and a couple of other things). The people who are challenging Flex are saying that she must want to change how MetaFilter behaves, or she wouldn't have made the thread. And, in fact, they are getting quite aggressive about her protestations that she's not trying to get a thread deleted, or a word banned, or a rule against nudity in FPPs, or anything of that sort. After all, if you don't want to propose a change why start a MeTa post? And if you don't still want a change to take place, why stay in one?

Which is kind of odd, since we've had MeTa posts in the last few days asking about a humorous skit about Sex and the City, or an iPhone app for tracking moods. Of course, those aren't about behavior on MetaFilter. But we've had one asking if copyright threads ever go well, which isn't really looking for a change, exactly. There was one about the mods not changing small text. That was probably about where people think this is...

But here... we've got into a funny situation where one party is saying "I wasn't requesting a deletion or a change in policy, I just wanted to say how it made me feel, and see if anyone else felt the same way, and see what happened from there". And then you've got a party either insisting that the other party must want something to happen immediately, or arguing that they are playing a longer game involving "stunning arrogance" and trying to impose new norms.

(I'm not sure what's wrong, exactly, with persuading a community over time to do something a different way by building consensus, but since that's not happening here, and is not going to happen in this case, the point is largely moot.)

So, there's this odd situation where people keep saying "Don't you see that this (variously the posting of naked pictures to MetaFilter or the use of the word "sexy", or whatever else you think Flex wants to be excluded from his/her new orthodoxy) isn't going to change?", and Flex is saying "Yes, I know, I wasn't expecting it to, or asking for it to. I just wanted to say how I felt about it and have a conversation about that." Which gets the response "But why are you still trying to change this?", and then Flex saying "I'm not", which gets the response "So why are you still here?" Which seems to be answered by the fact that people keep asking Flex questions, or telling Flex that s/he will not succeed in changing MetaFilter, at which point s/he says that she isn't trying to change MetaFilter, and the whole thing goes round again.

The funny thing is, people express their vision of better MetaFilter all the time - either through specific threads ("We don't do tl;dr anymore"), or by commenting in threads that MetaFilter would be better if it were less easily offended/more considerate/less boyzone/less feminist - and so on, and so forth. This really happens all the time. And, honestly, it very rarely leads to any changes; I mean, when has a MetaFilter callout, say, led to the banning of a member, or in structural changes to the way the site is run? On occasion, presumably, or people would have stopped making them, but the ratio of request (or expressed vision) to change seems really very low indeed. The system largely works.

I'm not sure what the exact circumstances are which have made this thread into such a feedback loop. It's fascinating to watch, but also must feel pretty unpleasant. And it seems odd that flex appears to be being held to a singular standard of behavior - s/he alone has to MetaFilter's standards without comment (lest s/he imply that s/he wants something to change).

So, Decani can accept MetaFilter's standards insofar as not getting banned, while expressing fairly regular disapproval of the level of coddling and oversensitivity that is tolerated. Crunchland or Crabby Appleton can accept MetaFilter's standards insofar as they do not get banned, while expressing fairly regular disapproval of the way the site is run. And so on. Possibly they can get away with it because they don't start posts in MetaTalk, only comment on them, so they don't become the focus of attention - just a kind of noise in the background.

If I were Flex, I'd probably stop replying, since it's not doing anything very much except perpetuating the cycle, and just accept that a small part of the membership are going to think she has an ulterior motive to try to usher in some sort of change to MetaFilter through the medium of not requesting changes - and that people around here have long memories (or at least good long-term memories, which is not quite the same thing), so will probably bring it up whenever it seems appropriate.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


BB, flex did not start off her post demanding change or a new policy, she expressed how she interperted the post and wondered what others thought. I see flex and others (including myerself) asking that community members consider other points of view. As to the community changing, I think it is changing all the time; it has never been static. We all contribute to that fluctuation all the time. If minority voices are continually belittled, mocked and distorted as I have seen in the this thread then the community will only reflect the bullies of the group. I see nothing wrong with having a conversation and having various points of view expressed even when members disagreend no immediate change happens. That is how change is brought about in large groups, in evolving open-minded conversations. It makes me sad to look back at other gender politics threads and see how many of those voices have left the site entirely, they would have had something to contibute to this thread too if they had stayed in the community.

I do not think it is fair to say that 420 comments are all dismissive of her concerns and therefore something she should just "deal with"; there have been words of support along a wide spectrum, which is what I would have expected. In contrast to flex NOT insisting on a new policy, those opposed are very hardline on this not even a subject worthy of discussion.

Part of being in a community is accepting the guidelines, rules and policies must accurately reflect the entire community and must constantly be in flux lest they become rigid. They will never please all the members at the same time (and I would argue communities where all the rules are religiously observed and never debated is a very dysfunctional community).
posted by saucysault at 4:38 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just want to say. I know very well what is meant by the male gaze. That (neat but forgettable!) FPP should be the worst we ever see of the male gaze.
posted by skbw at 4:59 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


BB, flex did not start off her post demanding change or a new policy, she expressed how she interperted the post and wondered what others thought.

This is probably some variation of Ask vs Guess culture. Some people want to talk, just to talk or get it over their chest. For others, if you bring up a problem, well surely you want something done, right? You don't just bring up a problem to discuss it, right?

Everyone, we need you to identify your communication styles. Those who are bilingual, with at least 2 MeTas experience, could you please line up in the back for volunteering?

There are squat toilets on the front page if you need them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:07 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like it's been a few hours.
posted by heyho at 5:10 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And there've been several thoughtful contributions. If it looks like the course has been corrected and it's no longer veering into the ditch, why close it now?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:21 PM on June 25, 2012


Itchy trigger-finger, Alvy. There were comments there that I was still seeing when I typed that comment in my browser. They're gone, so it appears calmer.
posted by heyho at 5:30 PM on June 25, 2012


Just to weigh in, I thought the "very sexy" was a bit uncomfortable, mainly because it seemed (whether intended or not) like a peek into the poster's private life.

(A bit like having a dinner guest recite an affectionate anecdote about their third-grade teacher and add, as a musing afterthought, "...and she was smoking hot." You wouldn't be offended, but at the same time would probably think "wait, what?")
posted by maxwelton at 5:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was thinking about this and similar meta threads earlier and I wanted to say that, on balance, I think these threads actually work. Even though they feel really awful at the time! I'm specifically thinking of some meta threads where someone requested that people avoid using a specific term or phrase, and those meta threads were almost invariably pretty hostile and unpleasant and get a lot of pushback. On the other hand, I honestly can not think of the last time I've seen any of those terms used here.

So to be honest, even though a lot of people said "yes" to my "is it too much to ask" question, I bet those same people would approach a hypothetical future FPP link to nude women with a little more caution and care than they might have otherwise.

So I'm choosing to be optimistic. Nyah.
posted by kavasa at 5:51 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, this has turned into a shit show of epic proportions. I am really saddneded to see this level of nastiness achieved on MetaFilter. Wow. Wow. Wow. I well never go to Meet Up. Wow.
posted by OsoMeaty at 6:05 PM on June 25, 2012


stoneandstar: "I do think it's common to assume objectified women are a universal interest and objectified men are not, though (maybe straight men are less inclined to play along, don't feel the same pressures as most women do?)"
I think (but may be wrong) that the reverse is more true (not sure if it's as well or instead of, though). By that I mean that women are far more likely to be comfortable in making a pronouncement that another female is 'sexy' (by whatever meaning of the word) or attractive than a straight man would be making the same pronouncement about another male. This is somewhat self-perpetuating, because it drives the very behaviour that it reveals. So, in fact, the pressure on men is not to 'play along' where the pressure on women seems to be to do so. I don't know what the solution is, except that men could be more willing to admit that another man can be attractive even though they may not be attracted to them personally. If someone thinks less of you for doing that, well, that's really them displaying their own flaws, isn't it?

stoneandstar: "What I'm saying is that calling something "very sexy" is an expression of sexual attraction, and pretending like it's the same as saying "wow, neat!" is inaccurate"
What I hear you saying is that if you were to use the term 'very sexy', it would only refer to something that you are sexually attracted to. I (and plenty of other people) use the term to mean all sorts of positive things. I can assure you that flow charts do not arouse me sexually, but I have been known to refer to one as 'that's a pretty sexy flow chart', as recently as last week.

flex: "this is basically telling me I shouldn't bother to do it here."
Well, if you can't do it here, where can you? MeTa is for talking about the community. While I'm not particularly on your 'side' in this debate, I'd hate to see people being or feeling discouraged from speaking up when they are bothered about something here. Personally, I've learned more about people from MeTa than pretty much anywhere else.
posted by dg at 6:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


We could always start http://feelings.metafilter.com... Also, there's always MetaChat
posted by hermitosis at 6:44 PM on June 25, 2012


I thought the website was creepy (so very *much* softcore of all sorts, the blackface set, the minstrel set, the mental patient set, so little context and no photo credits - and since Doug Rickard was born in 1968, he didn't take most of these) and I didn't find the Tally Ho set sexy (so many acres of pallid assflesh), but I didn't find it especially confronting from my perspectives as a woman or a feminist.

Also, although the point's been made, I, too, learned about the "male gaze" without ever taking a film class.
posted by gingerest at 6:52 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> (In this case something like "These photos, originally produced as erotic art/pornography and still probably NSFW" would be non-personal, "these very sexy photos" may be seen as personal, depending on whether 'sexy' is taken to mean 'intended to arouse sexual feelings in their target audience' or 'sexually arousing to me', and "no normal person could fail to find these images very sexually arousing" would be very personal and also exclusive (and obviously an extreme example which is unlikely to happen).

Holy crap, it was this bit that finally (finally!) made things click for me. For most of this discussion I've felt like a five year old listening to adults talk about adult stuff (and I am still not sure exactly what "male gaze" is, but that's for me and google and wikipedia to sort out in a bit). In my circles, very sexy is used as a synonym for aesthetically very pleasing, so I was racking my brain trying to understand why flex saw that framing as problematic. But now I can see how very sexy can be an exclusionary phrase when interpreted in a certain way.

It took flex repeating herself to make me understand it was the framing not the pictures that was the issue, and that it was an important issue to her, and it was important to her for people to understand why it was an issue.

Personally, I have no problem with the framing of the post, but that's because "very sexy" has a completely different meaning to me than it does to some others. But, those other perceptions are just as valid as mine and understanding this has expanded my horizons a bit more than they were prior to this thread.
posted by forforf at 7:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, I'm glad I don't have to be the first to admit that I had never heard of the term 'male gaze' before this thread. I mean, I know about it as a thing - you'd have to be blind not to if you have ever seenTV/movies/advertising of any kind, but was ignorant of the term itself.
posted by dg at 7:25 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The male gaze looks on speed boats, too.

"Very sexy" in this case was not referring to speed boats, or any other thing, other than, as gingerest so nicely puts it: "so many acres of pallid assflesh" ... under the offensive title ' Tally Ho'.

It's gratuitous on so many levels it's not funny, and frankly, gman? TMI!

Your fourth link was unnecessary.
posted by de at 8:00 PM on June 25, 2012


... and indefensible, as demonstrated by you altered disposition and personal attack on flex.
posted by de at 8:09 PM on June 25, 2012


There are so many ways to read 'very sexy'. The other way I read it was sort of in an old fashioned "oh la la" way. Or a comical "veddy sexy" way. Or a possible 'oh, I'd hit that'. The two words can mean so many different thing with different inflections, tone, etc. To assume it was meant one way without taking into consideration that you might be wrong and it was meant in another way is just as dangerous as assuming tone in a text. They are words that can be used in so many contexts that to read it just one way and not to allow for the possibility of being used in other ways leads down a difficult path.
posted by Vaike at 8:14 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not reading this whole thread to see if anyone pointed out that male gaze may not find those women very sexy.
posted by found missing at 8:20 PM on June 25, 2012


What's wrong with being sexy?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2012


What I hear you saying is that if you were to use the term 'very sexy', it would only refer to something that you are sexually attracted to. I (and plenty of other people) use the term to mean all sorts of positive things. I can assure you that flow charts do not arouse me sexually, but I have been known to refer to one as 'that's a pretty sexy flow chart', as recently as last week.

I see what you mean, but do you really think calling a flowchart sexy and calling a page full of naked women sexy has the same connotation? I can understand calling someone/a photo "sexy" even if you're not attracted to it yourself, and I shouldn't have said that they always go together, but I do feel that a straight guy calling female nudes "very sexy" has an obvious evaluative overtone that is apparently slightly uncomfortable to some of us, and indicative of a larger, more uncomfortable trend.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


OsoMeaty I well never go to Meet Up. Wow.

That would be most unfortunate. Mefites are an incredible bunch of people.

I went to a meet-up last June and a mefite and his wife had read a post I had made on Metachat about how my step-brother suffered a catastrophic brain injury, asked how he was doing and what hospital he was in. It turned out one of the mefites was assigned to the same hospital and he stopped by and checked on my step-brother and assisted with contacting some of the specialist doctors as well as visiting with us.

Around the same time another mefite came into the city on his day off and fixed a problem on my step-brothers laptop.

I know this is kind of off-topic, but at the point at which people are posting porn links in this thread, I thought it would be nice to share some first hand examples of how great mefites are and why you should go to meet-ups.
posted by mlis at 9:15 PM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Itchy trigger-finger, Alvy. There were comments there that I was still seeing when I typed that comment in my browser. They're gone, so it appears calmer.

No worries, I had suggested closing it up a few hours before, but after reading EmilyClimbs' comment, was really, really grateful it hadn't.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:17 PM on June 25, 2012


She inferred it quite clearly by how she characterized my motivations for the post.

I really don't think this is true, since I didn't even think of calling you a sexist before you mentioned it. I thought that your FPP reflected ambient sexism in our culture. I don't think there's anything sexist about being attracted to women-- possibly a bit of privilege in not having to think about how that's expressed. That's the most extreme critique I would have put forward of your personality. (Seriously.) I honestly don't remember any of your past comments or FPPs, so I had no preconceived notions about you, either. I was getting a little frustrated about the line drawn between "sexy" and "sexual" and tried to illustrate why there is slippage between those two words and made a crude comparison, which I regret. I think I stand by the rest of what I said.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:18 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Part of being in a community is accepting its guidelines/rules/policies even when you disagree with them.

Apparently the guidelines/rules/policies allowed this MeTa, so I'm not sure what you want to change here? I still don't think there's anything wrong with a thread where a minority's concerns are heard, so that those conscientious about such things can decide whether they feel it's an issue or not. "Taking the temperature" of MeFi may have demonstrated a distinct (or at least vocal, I don't know the demographics) majority, but there seem to be enough people in the minority for it to have made an impact and lessened some concerns, I don't know, that seems like a good result. Nobody has to read the MeTa.

My takeaway from that comment (yes, I read your follow-up) was that you were accusing him of being sexist in his attitude toward women and reducing him to his physical response to seeing photos of women without their clothing

To me this is a leap. Those are legitimate concerns, but 1) I don't think that calling someone a sexist makes sense when at worst they're reflecting a little bit of the subconscious pressure on women to fit a certain cultural mould (this is such a complicated issue, calling someone a sexist isn't helpful at all, the issue is too diffuse), and 2) I re-read my comment, and I think a charitable reading is that to me, a straight guy calling naked women "very sexy" has a very standard and obvious primary meaning, and comparing the naked women to spreadsheets or whatever seems like reaching. (This happened after Brandon Blatcher's nude photos post when my ire was considerably raised.) My point was that without adding context or distance to the FPP text, it seemed uncomfortably personal-- whether or not it was meant that way. My actual point was: If it was more the former than the latter, he should have framed it that way instead. I do apologize for the crudeness of the implications toward gman, though, and I already have. If the apology isn't good enough you can tell me what is still bothering you about it. I think it's possible to make the general point I was getting at (about the way the text reads as a possible, maybe probable reference to male desire) without asserting any truths about gman's personal reactions. (And I wish I had instead.)

Dano St, you can quit deriding all my comments now, whoever you are.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:55 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


stoneandstar: "
I see what you mean, but do you really think calling a flowchart sexy and calling a page full of naked women sexy has the same connotation? I can understand calling someone/a photo "sexy" even if you're not attracted to it yourself, and I shouldn't have said that they always go together, but I do feel that a straight guy calling female nudes "very sexy" has an obvious evaluative overtone that is apparently slightly uncomfortable to some of us, and indicative of a larger, more uncomfortable trend.
"

No, of course not, but the context is generally available - if I say 'that's a sexy flowchart', my meaning is obvious. If I post a link and say it's 'very sexy', I'm obviously talking about the contents of the link. But that wasn't really my point - it was that the words themselves can mean different things to different people and that they don't intrinsically mean a certain thing without some context around them. I also wasn't aware of whether gman was straight, gay or other, so you clearly had access to more information than me to evaluate what he meant.

Also, maybe I misunderstood, but I thought your main issue with the term 'very sexy' was that you associate it solely with 'being sexually attracted to'?
posted by dg at 10:00 PM on June 25, 2012


My main issue with the term "very sexy" is that it is casually used about women's bodies in a way that I don't think is typical of male bodies. On a general interest forum, it is more likely that naked women will be discussed without prelude or justification in a sexual context, while naked men require more context, elicit more dodging of the erotic tone, provoke expressions of disgust or discomfort (with male "objecthood" on display), &c. And in general, the commentary of straight men about what they find sexy drives advertising, women's self-image, the depiction of female role models, &c. So I think that there is some privilege in being a straight man who refers to naked women (of a very body-conforming type) as "very sexy" without any additional context or distance. The message that women are sexy and we should expect to take their sex appeal seriously (even if it isn't directed toward us) is omnipresent, and I felt like the wording and structure of the FPP was a subtle reinforcement of that atmosphere. (I didn't feel that the wording and structure were a conscious choice to elicit that effect, but the visceral impact was there.)

they don't intrinsically mean a certain thing without some context around them

This is true, but the voice of heterosexual male attraction being so pervasive/powerful, I think that sexual attraction is a plausible primary meaning. Again, saying "these photos are sexually appealing" doesn't mean that you're actually salivating over them in the moment in question, just that there's a kind of sexual evaluation happening (i.e., these bodies are appealing because X, these poses are appealing because Y, or whatever).
posted by stoneandstar at 10:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


you clearly had access to more information than me to evaluate what he meant

I did take some cues from information already in the thread, perhaps made unwise hasty assumptions in this.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:37 PM on June 25, 2012


Well, FWIW, I agree with you 100% on the broader issues around this. As a straight male, therefore the purported 'beneficiary' of this type of imagery, I often feel uncomfortable about the overt sexualisation of, well, everything. In particular, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that it's all about straight men as if they are the ones with all the buying power, which I guess is another way of putting 'others' in their place.

But I don't think that this particular hill is the best one you could have picked to die on. Yes, women are objectified all over the place all the time. Yes, that sucks. Yes, 'we' should do something about it. But I don't get the impression that the original member that made the 'very sexy' remark was intending to do anything other than provide his own colour to the link. He thought they were 'very sexy' and I agree with him. For me, that's tinged with a bit of guilt over 'I wonder if those women are being exploited' and that can be attributed to this place and the influence it has had on my thinking about how the world interacts with women. But, as far as I can figure out in this brave new (to me) world, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with thinking that a woman looks sexy unless that means you see her as nothing more than a plaything. I may be wrong there, of course. As a straight male raised to treat women with respect by doing things like opening doors, I find this all very confusing even though I've been around long enough to be able to figure it out, I guess.

Now I'm rambling, so I'll shut up with an apology for being a bit disingenuous in my remark about gman's assumed sexuality. I have no idea of which way he swings, but I wondered whether you had actual information or just assumed.
posted by dg at 12:18 AM on June 26, 2012


I'm glad this conversation could occur here, and thanks to all who kept it civil. The issue for me is, as a female, you are NEVER allowed to forget that the female form is an object of sexual attention.

Sure, porn/erotica is all well and good when you want it/expect it/are looking for it (ie in an FPP on porn/erotic) but it is annoying as hell in other places. You're thinking oh, cool, vintage photo sets! Doot-dee-doot-dee-doo, looking at vintage photos… oh, right, I have a female form which is the object of sexual attraction by the dominant group. Sigh. It's just tedious.

I definitely see the parallels with the Skepchick/swingers thing. She is just going about her business, greeting fans, chatting, then BAM: you are sex object. Nevar forget. All part of the pervasive culture.

And, yeah, I don't expect, AT ALL, for any of this to change ever, but it is still sucks and I don't have to like it.
posted by bobobox at 4:19 AM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


A couple of comments deleted; this isn't going to become a knockdown drag out between two users. I think this has pretty much run its useful course at present, and I'm closing now.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:27 AM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


« Older Anyone playing trivi.al on iOS...  |  I'm looking for a comment that... Newer »

This thread is closed to new comments.