Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Men by Women

I've been mulling it over, and since nobody has pointed me yet to an obvious "yep, been done, it's over here" I am going to start something. It's not mine, I don't want to own it or run it. But maybe I can get it started. This post is, explicitly, a call for volunteers to own the thing, to lead it, to be it.

Men by Women

For millenia men have been creating Art around the nude form of their lovers, girlfriends, wives, and muses. The nude female form in Art has been ubiquitous for as long as humanity has been daubing pigment on to surfaces and shaping stones. In recent decades there have been efforts made to enable women to "take back" something, to reverse the inherent objectification. These efforts, curiously, have usually resulted in more depictions of the nude female form. While the arguments surrounding these efforts are both reasonable and persuasive, there are obvious problems as well.

See, for example, The Nu Project and The Grace Project (Not Safe For Work, obviously.)

This is, I think, a new project, in a similar vein. Men by Women stands the male/artist vs. female/muse dynamic on its head. The male nude form depicted by the female artist. En masse ideally. The aim, my aim at any rate, is not to replace, improve, or criticize the other projects, but only to provide another avenue, a parallax view as it were.

This isn't mine to operate. I'm a white male. My wife has expressed a frisson of interest in taking part, and I am willing if she does, but that's as far as it goes. I will propose, as a starting point, some ideas for the format.

I think it is a reasonable requirement that any photographs that result should have been made by a woman, at least in the sense that she pressed the button. Ideally, the photographic concept would also be hers, but the only hard line I see as making sense is the button-press. Who actually does the styling, lighting, post-processing and so on strikes me as irrelevant. The subject should be male, since the point is to stand the male/female dynamic on its head.

As a default, women might well photograph their husbands, lovers, partners. But surely that's not all?

Issues surrounding "born (fe)male versus identifies as (fe)male", as well as all other details both social and technical I will leave entirely to wiser heads, not offering even my own two cents. Well, I do like the name Men by Women, but that's one cent at best. Is there a web site? A flickr pool? A book? I dunno, not my problem!

I think this project, if is goes anywhere, should be "owned and operated" by women. This seems obvious to me. Lest we inadvertently launch several competing projects that don't know about each other, I think it makes sense to communicate with me initially, if you're interested in leading this thing. I will step aside and simply broker communications between all who are interested in any kind of leadership role (again: I am a white male, my only reasonable role here is as a model).

That's my idea. My one firm goal, though, is to make my opinions and ideas on this irrelevant.

Forward this announcement around to anyone you like. My contact into is: amolitor@gmail.com if anyone's interested.


  1. Of course some women take erotic pictures of men, make erotic drawings of men, write sex stories, etc... It just is that the art galleries won't sell it because they think it would hurt the market.

    At to the other post about "empowerment", it used to be different. For example, there was an exhibition about women artists around 1900 in Munich, see this link (in German):

    At the time "empowerment" meant to disguise as a man to be able to study in art school. I saw the exhibition, it was fascinating and had male nudes.

    I am sure that there are similar exhibitions in other museums around the world. You would just have to look for cities which had an active scene of female artists at the turn of last century.

    Also: if you search for female photographers of that era, you will find that they took some male nudes. For example, look for "Imogen Cunningham male nudes" in google images.

  2. By the way, this year's Oskar Barnack Award was given to a project I'd call variation on a theme "Men by Women": http://leica-oskar-barnack-preis.de/en/winner/winner-2016-scarlett-coten.html

  3. Eva Rubinstein did some decent male nudes back in the late 1960s-1980s.