Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hypocrisy here at Third (Dona)

She had me, dead to rights, or whatever hackneyed phrase from long before I was born that she was using. Little Ms. Nation magazine took it upon herself to call me out for The Third Estate Sunday Review calling The Nation out in "The Nation endorses and amplifies sexism" Why? Well, if you've read The Nation, you know, as I do, that they don't spend a great deal of time actually writing anything. So why not do dopey e-mails?

And I had written "Mailbag (Dona)" last week.

So clearly, we (or at least me) were hypocrites!

According to Ms. Nation.

Katha and butt

For those late to the party, The Nation magazine is (still) running ads allegedly selling a canteen which really just show off a woman's ass. Now maybe they think humans, like camels, store liquids and maybe they believe the "hump" is the "ass"?

I have no idea. But we called them out last Sunday and they didn't like that.

Right below that article, right below!!!! Ms. Nation wanted me to know, was a feature I wrote (she's correct) and I drew (she's wrong) an illustration of a man in a "speedo" (she's wrong) so I was selling sex as well.


First, the illustration (above) is not a drawing. I'm not surprised, however, that someone with The Nation wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a drawing and a painting. They've long confused War Hawks with people of peace so their liberal arts education is clearly lacking.

Second, I didn't do the illustration. Ty and Kat did the illustration.

The illustration was done for "Mailbag."

The illustration is a play on "Mailbag." ("Male" "bag.")

I made a mistake. The mistake was that I ran the illustration too big. When it's normally used (by Ty -- and it's also been used in roundtables that are e-mail roundtables), it's used in its smallest form so that it more resembles a stamp.

Other than the size, I made no mistake.

Ms. Nation thinks that a canteen company using a woman's body to sell their product is the same as my running an illustration for an article. It's not.

I didn't sell anything and one is commerce, the other is art.

We're not opposed to the male or female form. We're not opposed to nudity. We are opposed to women's bodies being used to sell cars, booze or, yes, canteens. We're opposed to it for many reasons. One of the primary ones is the message that it sends: Women are for sale.

The guy these ads are aimed at, on some level, is being encouraged to believe that if he buys the product he will get the woman, in other words, the woman is for sale the same as the product. You can see her as "thrown in" or as a "bonus," but the message is cash will get her for you.

Is that the message of Kat and Ty's drawing?

No. They were doing a joke on a stamp and on "Mailbag."

Did I use the illustration to sell something?


And, in fact, I wasn't even planning on calling it "Mailbag" but I was asking, "What illustration do we have to run with this?"

Jim suggested a cigarette scan we'd used a few years ago. (Back when Rebecca was still smoking, so quite a few years ago.) I said no to that because an article (largely) on why I stopped smoking and how I did it might be undermined by a cigarette illustration. We were at a loss. It was a last minute piece. C.I. had been suggesting I write it for weeks and I'd said no repeatedly. Last week, the edition fell apart and we needed as many features as we could pull together quickly. When C.I. again suggested I write on this topic, Ty reminded that a huge number of e-mails have come in on it. At which point, Jim said I could call it an e-mail piece and include two things in the e-mails that we hadn't had time for elsewhere (which I did) and Ty said I should use the "Mailbag" art.

Not only was there no selling, there was no pre-planning. The whole thing was hastily tossed together (like every issue of The Nation).

I asked Kat and Ty to talk about the illustration.

Kat: I honestly don't even remember it.

Ty: It was the summer of 2008 and I don't remember what was going on otherwise. We needed an illustration for mail bag and Jim was going through old papers -- bound -- from the turn of the century to see if he could find anything in that we could use. Kat and I were at the table and joking around about how it was a mail bag and who was the mail man.

Kat: That's right.

Ty: And so we started talking about the 'package' and ended up with the idea that we quickly did in water colors. I think the most time we spent was in determining whether or not we wanted hair on the guy's chest. If [Ms. Nation] thinks that's a sexy picture, she may need help because we wanted the body to be out of focus and we went out of our way to avoid defining it. We spent the most time -- and that's really Kat all by herself -- painting the postage stamp over his crotch.

And that's how the illustration came to be and, studying it after talking to Kat and Ty, I noticed that the man was, in fact, undefined. For example, his inner legs are missing. Certainly, his penis shape is concealed by the stamp. It's a man in a bathing suit (Kat and Ty both reject the notion that it's a speedo) and he's not that well defined. Presumably Ms. Nation's active imagination filled in the missing blanks and allowed her to have a lustful fantasy.

For most of the week, I was puzzled by the fact that The Nation continued to run the sexist canteen ad. Then Ms. Nation e-mailed. The fact that she would liken an illustration with an advertisement using women's bodies to sell a product went a long, long way in explaining to me how The Nation could have accepted that ad in the first place.
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