Male Nudity and the Realities of War
There are two areas of photography that are especially void in America. The subjects of sans-macho male nudity and the realities of war are considered taboo for most photographic artists. Before the invention of photography, painters recorder and interpreted life through art. Photography is just another medium for recording and sharing non-verbal concepts. War and male nudity are very different subjects, but they share the same resulting suppression of truth.
With war, there is a blatant and intentional governing force that keeps the raw realities of individual death (of allied soldiers) out of the media. – It’s just bad for the business of war if people really knew what happens on the battlefield. If all were witness to the harshness and finality of war, it would sway popular opinion and quash the machines of war. Conversely, women are photographically so overly objectified in contrast to men that it makes one wonder if any progress in equality of the sexes has been made. Gallery after gallery display women in every possible suggestive position and camera angle (sans clothes of course). The graphic exposure of women’s genitalia is so common place now that someone visiting from another planet would get the impression that women solely existed for the pleasure of men.
Almost everyone who has first hand experience in the horrors of war, never wants it repeated. Finding that the heavily marketed glory of the freedom fight turns out to be nothing but a ruse, veterans of previous wars are often the most outspoken critics against war. – They know the truth first hand. Photographers are legally sequestered in the US from showing war in an unfavorable light. – This is media-supported propaganda. Society obliviously accepts the non-truth about war because the image-makers don’t reveal it.
Through contrived societal conditioning (consumer marketing), the sexes have become very polarized. Girly girls and manly men adorn the halls of galleries and modern art exhibits. In reality, the sexes are not as different as depicted in modern photography. Real life women can be tough and strong while men can be effeminate and soft. Both sexes have similar desires and visual fantasies about the other. Yet, women have largely become subservient to the desires of men without retribution in the art field. This lopsided view of reality is becoming as serious as the issue of negligence in the truth about war. Whenever society beliefs are artificially altered for the benefit of a one group, the resulting tension eventually explodes into war. The whole women are from Venus and men from Mars thing is largely just marketing. – We are all really from earth and have very similar tendencies and desires when left uninfluenced.
What you don’t see in almost any mainstream art display that shows nude women are nude men in similar context. Why not? Why are the visual desires of women suppressed? Maybe there is an underlying fear in the art world that by showing provocative nudes of the male figure will make men subservient to women? After all, most artists and photographers are men. For many women, it would be primordialy more interesting to see those high-contrast artsy black and whites of men posed openly, suggestively, or even submissively. The fact that showing softly posed images of the nude male form with an erection is taboo, while close up photos of breasts with erect nipples and sexually poised female genitalia is common art. Today’s body of modern photography subscribes to a de facto double standard and worse, skews the truth about human sexuality in art for both sexes. As a man, my primordial instinct drives me to prefer to view women in art than other men. But, I can assume the opposite must be true for most women. Although, through centuries of male domination, I would suspect that the women’s outward desires to view the male body form in the same light that men desire to view women is a bit suppressed.
In summary, if you want to be an honest war photographer, capture both the glory and misery of war. Someday, your work may be the fundamental imagery that prevents war. If you specialize in capturing images of human sexuality, then present an accurate representation of your subject so that it captures the essence of the sexes but doesn’t loose site of the unilateral desires of each.
Why is it important? Most artists are just followers of great masters who are the influential spirits that sculpt creativity and expression for society. Regrettably for all, the masters have failed to lead in conscience. The building of barriers and differences between people leads to disparity. One side always ends up wanting what the other side has. Inequality is the basis for all conflict. Imagery artisans (especially photographers) have the ability to convey both truth and lies in the body of their works. Society has largely and superficially accepted men to be the dominant sex over women. Men have what women want – governing power. But, women have what men want – influential power. Separation of how we portray the sexes creates societal tension. If both sexes enjoyed governing power and influential power together, perhaps the world would be a more peaceful place.