We need to have a discussion.
I stand with the #metoo
movement. I fully believe we need to shift the parts of our culture that favor power dynamics that disproportionately push out women and minorities, that don't afford them equal opportunities. I believe those who abuse their power should be held accountable. Sexual harassment and assault cannot be tolerated from anyone. I hope the majority of us already know what the core of these movements in recent years are about and support them too.
I do not support censorship. I do not support shaming tactics. Unfortunately, this has become a much more noticeable problem in recent years. if you followed video games and comic books you probably know there is a part of the far left, feminist, progressive whatever you want to call it, movement that pushes for censorship and shames those who don't side with them.
Two incidents recently have made me very weary of where this is going, particularly the me too movement. First we have Nolan Bushnell, who is up for the Pioneer award at the Game Developers Conference, a sort of life time achievement award for gaming. As the founder of Atari it is quite clear that his contributions to gaming deserve to be recognized. He had his award rescinded after blow back online due to his sexist past.
As far as I can tell, he is not being accused by any women that worked with him.
I can understand not approving of his lifestyle. I can understand not wanting to honor him as a person. However, I cannot see the logic in attaching the me too hashtag if there are not women accusing him of anything (again, that I know of). I feel it is damaging to the me too movement to start labeling people you don't like with it in an effort to diminish their contributions. This is not what I thought the me too movement was about.
The second incident is the Manchester Art Museum pulling down a painting with nude women
in it to "spark conversation". They too, attached the me too and time's up movements to this decision. This is straight up censorship.
I'm not sure what else to say about this one but a quote from the article linked above should show how dangerous the line of thinking that is going on here is: "The work usually hangs in a room titled In Pursuit of Beauty, which contains late 19th century paintings showing lots of female flesh. Gannaway (the gallery’s curator of contemporary art) said the title was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women’s bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive decorative art form or a femme fatale. Gannaway said the debates around Times up and me too had fed into the decision."
The idea that painting nude women is now a me too issue honestly offends me as an artist. There has been a lot of talk in the last five or so years about censorship in art, particularly games, when figures like Anita Sarkeesian entered the discussion. I highly disagree with the assertion that eroticism in art (or even just sex appeal) is harmful to women.
The art gallery issue only furthers my belief that there is a very toxic form of feminism that has been clinging to the equality movements of recent times. This actually scares me. What does this say about my art? Is my art "me too" now? Is erotic art sexist or worse?
I stand with the underlining message of me too. I stand with creating welcoming environments that allow men and women to succeed and compete equally, to express themselves without fear that they will be held back or hurt for any reason. Everyone should be able to express themselves through art. I feel I cannot stand silently by while a small fringe part of an important movement threatens these basic facts that shaped my career in art. This, too me, is censorship disguised as feminism.
I spoke up a few times when these issues came up in video games but I was still afraid that it could hurt me, that the type of art I love (and create) will get me labeled a threat. These two incidents in a row have made me feel a bit more comfortable voicing my concerns as they feel like serious overreaches. I imagine a number of people feel the way I do.
I really hate talking about these issues since they're so toxic, hostile and full of blame games but I feel this to be discussed in a more open way where people are not afraid of backlash from the few far left/far right ideologues that try to control these debates.
It is not sexism to view women's bodies as a thing of beauty, interest in the sexual is healthy and natural. It is not a negative form of Social Justice Warrior to fight for more representation in art mediums. It is a problem to suppress any of it because it doesn't align with one's own views.
So, What do you think about these issues?
Is the use of "me too" for issues like art reasonable?
Do you think art that celebrates the female body is a problem?
Is censorship justifiable?
What is the me too movement to you?