I'm confused. Okay, I'm always confused and I'm confused about my confusion even more than that, and while my general state of quizzical befuddlement and bemused confuzzlement varies from day to day, I usually start the day off knowing nothing about anything and end the same day knowing even less. Today, my state of confusion, quizzicality, befuddlement, bemusement, and confuzzlement is directed at the brave activists at Honi Soit, the old student rag at my old alma mater, who apparently simultaneously decided to take a photograph of their vulvas and publish it on the cover and withdraw that same edition. Actually, the details are a little vague, but the decision to publish the cover and then withdraw the same cover was apparently taken by the one person, editor-in-chief Hannah Ryan, which makes it all the more of a head-scratcher when you read this piece, by an unnamed Honi writer, protesting against the censorship that it turns out they have undertaken themselves.
But that's hardly all, indeed, a university student paper getting into trouble, or perhaps getting itself in trouble for not getting into trouble, is hardly news. But the confusion multiples, it grows, it keeps coming in great tidal waves of confusion. What exactly was the cover protesting? Surely not the commodification of women's bodies, because mass producing images of vulvas like this - 18 per cover, hundreds of copies of Honi going to print (and then being pulled (but being put all over the net anyway)) is a perfect example of said commodification. Perhaps the cover has an educational purpose, because as one of the writers says, "Until I saw the uncensored versions of the vaginas, I didn’t even realise myself how different they could be." But to present them in this format, disembodied and impersonal - doesn't this kindasorta encourage the objectification of women? Or are we not worrying about that anymore? Will the cover change anything, help anyone, educate girls and liberate women? Is it actually raising consciousness or just encouraging future students to take their clothes off, take photos of their bits, and publish them? Is that good or bad or neither or either or something else entirely? Just how exactly is today's activism much different from yesterday's exhibitionism or tomorrow's participating in the evil patriarchal capitalist hegemony? And for the sake of gender equality, should we perhaps imagine former editors like Charles Firth, Robert Hughes, or Clive James naked as well? Do we really have to?
It's all become a bit of a blur to me, what's right and what's wrong and what to publish and what not. I don't know: if anyone needs me, I suppose I'll be forcing myself to google pics of James supine and naked and fleshy in his London flat: you'll be able to tell where I am by the gently tender yet horrified screaming.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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