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All Nude Atheists All the Time

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Let me say right up front I’ve normally got zero problems with nudity in art. Art featuring nudity can be innocuous, it be beautiful, it can be tasteful,  it can be sexy, it can be erotic, it can be challenging. There is a place for nudity in art, absolutely. I even enjoy some cheesecake/pinup/erotic art if it’s clever. But when it comes to nudity that’s pretty obviously there to titillate I think there’s a time and a place, and that place is probably not the American Atheists National Convention art show.

As much as I enjoy the idea of Neil DeGrasse Tyson winking impishly at onlookers as they take in all the sexy booby goodness next to the ultra-serious portraits of clothed atheist men, I think this juxtaposition is jarring, to put it mildly. Where is the pantsless portrait of Christopher Hitchens no one is surely screaming for? Why isn’t Carl Sagan shirtless and breaking a misty sweat while he sucks on an ice cube? “WHY?!” screams fives of people. I mean, this picture says a lot, and most of what it says isn’t good.

Here is a link to the painting (POSSIBLY NSFW!!) that is mostly cropped out of the bottom left corner. Are you aroused? Confused? Aroufsed? Yeah, uh…I’m not quite sure what to make of it either. But whatever you make of it, I hope you agree that maybe this wasn’t the best place to showcase the piece.

Listen, there’s a reason why there is very little sexy/nudieness in my art: it’s because I don’t want that to be the focus of my pieces. In this one I painted the yoke over the stock model’s breasts.

the_star_collector_by_vacuumslayer-d7b3hfi

 

Why did I do this? Was it because it found her two-sided sideboob objectional? No, not at all. I thought the original stock was gorgeous as is. But the truth is that I feel like sometimes even a little bit boob will make a piece boob-centric, and I didn’t want this piece to be–even a little bit–about boobs. (Also I have a fetish for ruffles/ruffs/yokes.)

It’s clear that some of the convention art focuses on women in a way that is objectifying. And it wasn’t the time or the place for that.

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  • The prophet Nostradumbass

    Your second link is not working.

    • sharculese

      Until VS, fixes it, you can make it work by deleting the :/ at the end.

      • sharculese

        also delete that first comma, because I do not know why the fuck I put that there.

        • Jordan

          grammarfraud

          • sharculese

            So irl I have a beard, but also long hair and a slim build, and today on Metro a dude told me ‘excuse me, young lady’ then got uncomfortable when he saw my face and I smirked and thought of you guys.

            • Aimai

              Aw…you thought of us!

            • Tristan

              I used to get that all the time, but still not sure if it was my hair or my juicy ass.

              • Tristan

                I said I used to get it from behind all the time, from dudes who thought I was not

                • Tristan

                  not a dude.

                  Look this didn’t work

                • herr doktor bimler

                  TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

                • Dear me, I hope they got your permission and you got a reach around.

                • Jordan

                  I’m twelve and what is this?

            • heckblazer

              When I was in Thailand and Cambodia twenty years ago I had a ponytail. As a result I was constantly being confused with a woman. I tried growing out my facial hair, but it didn’t help.

  • sharculese

    Oh you want Christopher Hitchens to show us his ass? There are any number of public appearances I can recommend in that regard.

    • atheist

      Did he ever do anything else?

      • Warren Terra

        Sure, he also slept it off.

    • Jack the Second

      You could do an entire “Assholes of Assholes” exhibition.

  • Joshua

    I have recently learned there is a fair amount of crossover between the online atheist crowd and the mansplainer/niceguy crowd. Who knew, right? There’s probably a lot of fedora tipping going on there, m’lady.

    • Aimai

      Yup, they’re going to arrive here in a few minutes like a gaggle of sweaty hobbits and start a drum circle to protest being lectured to about objectifying women while pursuing the noble art of being skeptics and atheists.

    • Jordan

      slymepit.

      Note: Don’t actually click that link.

    • mds

      There’s probably a lot of fedora tipping going on there, m’lady.

      Sweet flaming armpits of Ba’al. I like fedoras. I wore one to work this morning with my trenchcoat. Is there some way to signify that one isn’t a mansplainin’ dudebro just because one was wearing fedoras before smug sexist assholes decided they were cool? Based on limited observation, I’m thinking that the fact that I don’t leave it on inside private homes, my workplace, or restaurants might count, but what about out on the street? Do I need to add … a cockade?

      • fidelio

        Most of the hipsterdouches wearing fedoras aren’t really wearing fedoras but trilbys instead; you can tell by the narrow brim. Indiana Jones wore a proper fedora, with a brim wide enough to give some protection from the sun and rain.

        If that’s not enough to save the situation, maybe you could switch to a homburg.

      • Tristan

        Nope, you’re already outside polite society, sorry.

      • njorl

        Don’t let galoots deter you from indulging in the fashions you prefer, unless you prefer Hitler mustaches. Some old is dead.

      • Halloween Jack

        Three ways of looking at this:

        1) If you take it off when you come inside, in the circumstances that you’ve already mentioned, then yeah, you’re cool.

        2) Wearing a fedora doesn’t make you a d-bag, any more than wearing a ballcap or popping your collar does. It’s a warning sign that can be disregarded in the absence of egregious behavior. Note this example from MetaFilter, in which the fedora really takes a back seat to some alarming m’ladyism.

        3. See fidelio’s comment about trilbys.

    • JoyfulA

      I figured that out a long time ago.

  • Karen

    Today is the 450th anniversary Shakespeare’s birthday.

    This has me trying to think of a convention where nude pictures would be appropriate, and I’m stuck after “visual artists” and “plastic surgeons.” I can’t really think of any. Insurance actuaries? Pilots? Agricultural machinery salesmen?

    I have no objection to nudity in art, and I hope to spend a couple of months after I’m retired staring at the nudes in the Uffizi Gallery, but there is something about the connection between a meeting for the purposes of learning new accounting procedures or what the new product line and nude pictures strikes me as being wrong.

    • Karen

      Ugh. I also fail at prepositions. There should be an “of” in the first sentence and a “that” in the last one.

      • Walt

        Great. Now we have to cancel Shakespeare’s birthday.

    • Nobdy

      I mean…porn? How did you skip porn here?

      • Karen

        Wouldn’t that be covered by “visual artists?” Or does the “artist” part exclude porn?

        • Nobdy

          Visual artist usually refers to a still medium and not film or video. In part because most film or video (and specifically most porn, which is rarely silent) are not purely visual arts, having a very important audio component. I think Hans Zimmer might be offended if you called film a visual art.

          Also porn conventions aren’t generally just about the videos and often sell a lot of merchandise in a way that visual art conventions don’t.

          • Lee Rudolph

            For millennia, pornographic graphics were (of course) never in the form of moving pictures, and despite many technological advances, some still ain’t.

            • Nobdy

              Pornographic stills certainly do exist, but I don’t know if there are conventions related to them. I have never been to a porn convention of any kind but I am vaguely aware that the pornographic video industry does have at least one convention and I’d imagine there’s a lot of nude images there, among the merchandise and meet and greet stuff.

              • herr doktor bimler

                Pornographic stills … conventions
                Shirley the concept of ‘moneyshot’ counts.

              • sparks

                Psst, would you fancy some French postcards?

                • Lee Rudolph

                  The only French “French postcard” I ever saw, and have ever since bitterly regretted not buying, featured two swans floating on a lake, over the caption “Fais moi un petit cygne” (means “make me a little swan”, sounds like it means “give me a little sign”).

          • Karen

            For some reason your comment made me think of a friend of mine who lived in a “clothing optional” apartment complex. One day he saw a female neighbor at the mall. He saw her almost every day naked at the pool, but never noticed how attractive she was until he saw her clothed. I have to wonder if there is a similar effect at porn convictions?

            • herr doktor bimler

              never noticed how attractive she was until he saw her clothed.
              Was that the first time he looked at her face?

              • Karen

                Probably.

            • bluefoot

              That’s pretty funny. I used to be a pretty serious dancer, and I once ran into a dance buddy in a coffee shop. His words, “I didn’t recognize you with all your clothes on.” Not that we danced naked (I was normally in leggings and tshirt, as was he), but I guess context is everything.

    • Vance Maverick

      You may laugh about agricultural machinery, but once long ago a friend from the north of Maine gave me a poster for Stihl chainsaws with a lightly-clad model posed in the woods. Using cheesecake to sell what looks like the bonfire of the vanities religious symbols is peculiar, but not notably more imaginative.

      • Karen

        I remember reading the Farm Journal when I was a kid. The ads for things like tractors often featured models in Daisy Mae outfits sprawling on tractors. I never did figure that one out.

      • Nobdy
        • Karen

          That is the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

          • Aimai

            Well, they’ve definitely put the tool back in tools, if you know what I mean,and I think you do.

        • FridayNext

          She is not going to actually wear that safety equipment, because she is not actually going to use the saw. She is offering the saw to manly men with some wood to cut. She will then gird you with safety equipment, tie her favor to your lance, and send you off to do battle.

          You get the girl by buying the saw. The women in these ads are never going to use the testostertoys. That’s for the menfolk.

          • Anonymous

            She is offering the saw to manly men with some wood to cut.

            I don’t think they’re interested in having their wood cut, per se.

          • Ken

            You get the girl by buying the saw.

            This is the most succinct and accurate explanation of the entire advertising industry that I have ever read.

      • Warren Terra

        I hope she was lightly clad in appropriate safety equipment for chainsaw use.

        Though as a non-expert that doesn’t sound like “lightly clad” to me.

      • Pee Cee

        Their current ads say “Real people. Stihl people.” … which to me sounds like you can only be approved to use power tools if you kidnap someone first.

    • Lee Rudolph

      This has me trying to think of a convention where nude pictures would be appropriate, and I’m stuck after “visual artists” and “plastic surgeons.” I can’t really think of any. Insurance actuaries? Pilots? Agricultural machinery salesmen?

      Ivy League / Seven Sisters reunions.

      • I can understand research on curvature of the spine, but if I were doing research on conditions caused by malnutrition IL/SS students, especially before the 70s, would be one of the very last populations I would check.

        I see at least at Vassar there was a different reason for the photographs.

        • NewishLawyer

          Oh my alma mater. I’m a guy and people still look at me weird when I say I went to Vassar. People don’t realize it went code ed in 1969, we are still seen as an all women’s college in the broader public imagination it seems.

  • And what is going on in the topless redhead you can see in the main image?

    Also, is anyone getting the major creeps from that paining of NDT?

    • WITH. Damn it. That was Karen’s fault!

    • Jordan

      I dunno, I think that NDGT painting looks AWESOME :).

      • Vance Maverick

        He’s a charming guy, but the painting will follow you with its eyes despite a creeping deformation of the jaw.

        • Jordan

          I’d put it up in my apartment, if only for the lulz.

          • Warren Terra

            Almost anyone’s head would be amusing to have portrayed on the wall, so long as it’s at least five times normal size. So long as it’s not in poor taste (historical monsters, etcetera), of course.

            • herr doktor bimler

              (historical monsters, etcetera)
              My Jimmy Carter portrait is in bad taste??

            • Jordan

              This might be the most true and original thing I’ve ever read on this blog.

        • Jordan

          although, yeah, wtf is with the jaw?

        • herr doktor bimler

          I guess that’s the ‘paining’ part of Shakezula’s question.

    • UserGoogol

      I don’t know if I’d say creepy, but it’s certainly kitschy as all hell.

      And more than that, those sorts of hagiographic depictions of scientists and science popularizers are by and large horrible. They’re bad for science because they’re not exactly promoting critical thinking, and they’re bad for art because they’re sentimental pablum.

      • Lee Rudolph

        And more than that, those sorts of hagiographic depictions of scientists and science popularizers are by and large horrible.

        Thank you for voicing my thoughts on the matter.

        • So you’re saying I should take down the string-art Robert Hooke portrait I have on the wall?

          • Barry Freed

            What do I do with the Francis Bacon macaroni art I made in elementary school? I used rotelle for the ruff collars.

            • Aimai

              You can boil it, I guess, and serve it for dinner.

              • N__B

                First, conduct a thought experiment of boiling it, to see how it would taste.

            • herr doktor bimler

              I hope you used actual bacon.

  • Nobdy

    Surely beefcake atheism is possible, even if you just want to slap Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s face on a (insert whatever you find attractive here) nude male body.

    I think the main issue here is that atheist conferences are already hostile for women (there are innumerable examples of this phenomenon) so adding in sexualized nude female bodies feeds into that intimidation in a way that an equal number of sexualized nude male bodies wouldn’t really take away from.

    On the other hand you could imagine non-sexualized nude art that could be very appropriate, such as a commentary on all those Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden paintings with an atheistic spin, or something related to evolution.

    This is about the sexism of the atheist community, not about art that involves female nudity. After all, in a fine or modern art museum you’re going to see lots of naked people, some clearly at least partially intended to titilate, and most of those are not particularly hostile places for women.

    • Karen

      Neil de Grasse Tyson was my Astronomy TA at the University of Texas in 1982. He was an amazing teacher, too. I made the 2nd highest grade in the class, and that was even taking the final after drinking Sangria all afternoon before the test. Actually, the sangria probably helped.

      • Super-jealous.

        Though it sounds like he wasn’t real enthusiastic about his time at UT…

        • Karen

          It was not a great experience for him, but most of the crud happened after I graduated.

      • Sharon

        I heard an interview with him in NPR when he told a funny story about being an exotic dancer to earn money during grad school. So NDGT’s head on a Chippendale dancer would at least be autobiographically accurate.

        • Jordan

          I must have a link for this!

    • Karen

      More to your actual point, that is the problem with the cheesecake picture. It isn’t that it’s a female nude; it is that it is a female nude marooned in a sea of art about male scientists wearing suits. Heck, a picture of Madame Curie or Rosalind Franklin or Sally Ride or Amelia Earhart on the wall would have blunted the effect of that picture.

      • Warren Terra

        I probably shouldn’t pipe up and say this, but I think it speaks to some problems we have with science education, gender roles, and valorizing truly great woman scientists that even Karen, an obviously brilliant person who is well educated, widely aware, and cares about this topic, would lump in with luminaries like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin overhyped stunt-artists like Amelia Earheart and Sally Ride. We really need to communicate better the incredible stories of, say, Barbara McClintock or Rita Levi-Montalcini, people whose accomplishments demand our attention, rather than wasting our time recounting the undoubtedly brave but scientifically meaningless careers of Earhart or Ride (though Ride’s later work as a symbol and educator is perhaps genuinely important in a way that her earlier work as extraterrestrial supercargo wasn’t).

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I think it’s okay to have some popularizers (sic, so what) along with the hard-science people

        • Jordan

          I dunno, were all the doodz who had their pictures up there Real Scientists(tm)?

          • Warren Terra

            Quite possibly not – but in shot you’ve got Einstein and Darwin, plus DeGrasse Tyson (about whose science I know nothing, but he’s a great educator and popularizer).

            • Jordan

              Yeah, I dunno either. But I don’t see why Tyson counts but Ride doesn’t. Earhart: sure. But then you are just nitpicking about one random person thrown into the discussion.

          • FridayNext

            No (There is an image of either Christopher Hitchens or H.L. Mencken below Einsein’s gaze, and neither of them was a scientist.) because this is not a scientist’s convention. It is an atheist’s convention. It seems to me, given the topic, we might ask for Ayn Rand, Madelyn Murray O’Hair, Janeane Garofalo or Paula Poundstone. Do we even know the scientists people are mentioning are/were atheists?

            While the point about knowing the names of women scientists vis a viz men scientists is absolutely correct and interesting, I think it is dangerous to automatically equate scientist with atheist.

            • Jordan

              Well, there you go.

              Well, except for the Ayn Rand thing.

              • FridayNext

                I only know a lot of atheists, but few who identify with the public face of atheism and would be likely to go to such a convention. Among the latter, Ayn Rand is very popular.

            • Aimai

              Well, its the atheists who prefer to align themselves with prominent scientists, not the scientists who feel the need to align themselves with atheists. So although you are perfectly right to point out that we shouldn’t make the leap between sceintist and atheist the fact of the matter is that the largely male atheist community wants to borrow the reflected glory of scientists and free thinkers–given the freedom accorded to important men, and the importance accorded to men in general, when the atheist’s convention goes for recognizable famous people to lay claim to they are going to land on male scientists (for the most part) and not bother with Paula Poundstone.

        • Karen

          Good point. I debated including Irene Curie — Marie’s daughter, and one of the very few children of a Nobel Laureate who also won one — but Irene isn’t anywhere as famous as her mother. And you’re correct that I really can’t think of the names of many women scientists: the Curies, mere et fille, Franklin, Jane Goodall, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, and that pretty much ends the list.

          • Sphysicist

            Funny you mention, the other day I was disturbed at how few famous female scientists I can think of offhand. Your list includes a few I’d forget, and I’d add Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. How much is it because women were cut out of the fields when the foundational work was being done, and how much is it because most every month is (white) male history month?

          • Aimai

            I don’t object to Amelia Earhart or Sally Ride–Ride was a real astronaut, for one thing, she wasn’t some teacher picked out of a popularity contest:

            Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, Ride joined NASA in 1978 and, at the age of 32, became the first American woman in space.[1] After flying twice on the space shuttle Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She worked for two years at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, then the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics, primarily researching non-linear optics and Thomson scattering. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, the only person to participate on both.[2][3] Ride remains the youngest American astronaut to travel to space.[4]

            Its just as problematic to assert that only the most unique and famous of women can be presented as scientists–Ride was a scientist and a fucking professor of physics. As it turns out many other women have made significant contributions to the sciences, often against incredible odds, but we may not easily know their names unless we are specialists in their field–to be known outside your field and for centuries afterwards there has to be some popular dedication to your name and identity, something which is often denied to women.

            Other names that come to mind though, and here I agree with Warren Terra, Rita Levi-Montalcini (who my daughter impersonated for a biography project), and Barbara McClintock, here’s a

            link to ten more

            rather surprising ones.

            • herr doktor bimler

              Sofia Kovalevskaya.
              Also Beatrix Potter, for her work on lichen symbiosis.

            • Warren Terra

              I wasn’t aware Ride was an actual physicist, as while I’ve frequently heard her invoked or interviewed it was always as an astronaut. I’m impressed with anyone who’d qualify as a professor of physics at a research university, but I’m far less impressed with someone’s being an astronaut (I understand it’s highly selective, but it’s also highly useless). It was after all to disparage the program as a whole rather than Ride in particular that I referred to her time spent as extraterrestrial supercargo.

              • GiT

                Aren’t most astronauts engineers and scientists? Not sure what’s motivating your hostility towards astronauts.

                • Warren Terra

                  A lot of astronauts are jet pilots (see for example Chris Hadfield). But more to the point, and regardless of the qualifications and qualities the astronauts bring to the endeavor, the manned space program absorbs tremendous sums theoretically provided for Science, and produces essentially no discoveries, all the while spewing out a line of truly brazen bullsh!t to camouflage these facts (nonsense about protein crystals grown in space, just as one example). Meanwhile, the truly revolutionary unmanned spaceflight program is constantly scrounging for loose change, and the rest of the physical sciences are just plain impoverished.

            • Karen

              I had heard of Caroline Herschel, but all I could remember was “astronomer related to a male astronomer” and thought she was an American.

              All of which demonstrates that I need to study this a lot more.

              • rea

                Jack Aubrey’s girlfriend (or so his wife claimed, anyway), for certain values of geekdom . . .

                • fidelio

                  Queenie was real.

                  I remember how delighted I was when I put that piece of the story together.

        • Anonymous

          Yeeeaahh. If you want male popularizers who’ve never actually produced significant work, you’ve already got them. They’re Hitchens and Dawkins.

          • Jordan

            Yeeeeahh, its pretty stupid to say Dawkins hasn’t produced any significant work. He’s been derping it up for a while now, but as far as I know his derp doesn’t travel into the past.

            • Anonymous

              He hasn’t, and he’s not a scientist. He’s written some nice, if not elegant then approachable, summaries of other people’s research, with a fair amount of self publicity thrown in. What innovations he may be responsible for (gene as site for selection) have been quite thoroughly debunked by better and more reputable minds. He’s loathe to admit faults or weaknesses in his own work, and that rightfully hurts his credibility. Apart from that, he found a word for what we call meme. Congratulations, how wonderful.

              • Jordan

                he’s not a scientist

                You are a moron.

                He’s written some nice, if not elegant then approachable, summaries of other people’s research, with a fair amount of self publicity thrown in

                Mostly fair.

                What innovations he may be responsible for (gene as site for selection) have been quite thoroughly debunked by better and more reputable minds.

                He’s a partisan for a faction, and it isn’t one I belong to (at all). But he’s influential, and for a reason.

                He’s loathe to admit faults or weaknesses in his own work, and that rightfully hurts his credibility.

                Absolutely agree.

                Apart from that, he found a word for what we call meme. Congratulations, how wonderful.

                This is also very stupid. But not as stupid as your original statement that he “isn’t a scientist.” So I’ll just say that again: you are a fucking moron if you don’t think he is a “scientist.”

                Look, there are good ways and bad ways of attacking those we don’t like. One bad way is to make obviously incorrect statements.

                • Anonymous

                  He’s, at best, a philosopher. Hasn’t done science since he finished his degree.

                • Anonymous

                  Thanks for the advice about how to make comments on the internet, sweets, but you’re projecting. I haven’t revealed whether I like or dislike Dawkins, merely that his celebrity is overblown and that he functions, at best, as an advocate for his version of atheism (and for his version of evpsych and evbio).

                • Jordan

                  You are welcome. His celebrity is indeed overblown, and he does indeed function mostly as an advocate.

                  None of that has anything to do with whether he is a scientist. Which he is. And an influential one.

              • JL

                Dawkins is an ass and I’m no fan of pop-evopsych proponents, but his biomorphs are still taught in ALife classes.

                People can be proponents of hypotheses that turn out to be wrong, and it doesn’t make them not-scientists.

        • bluefoot

          Barbara McClintock was a freaking badass. Her many contributions to genetics were nothing short of briliant. Just her work discovering and demonstrating the existence and nature of transposons would be enough to put her in the greats of science. I don’t get why we weren’t taught about her in high school along with Mendel, Watson and Crick, etc.

          • Tristan

            Funny you should mention Crick and Watson in this context, given the achievement that made them famous can be accurately described as ‘stealing from Rosalind Franklin’.

    • Vance Maverick

      You have opened a giant can of worms there. How much “non-sexualized nude art” is there, really? Not zero, but not a whole lot either.

      A formative experience for me was seeing Titian’s Venus of Urbino (in a traveling show in Brussels). Without resolving the entire riddle of the picture, it was clear to me on the spot that it was at least in part about the sexual/matrimonial possession of the subject — and that Titian had also painted her as a human being. But the great virtues of the picture did not somehow elevate it from the category of the naked to the supposed category of the nude.

      • Nobdy

        It’s a tough question to answer and relies upon artist’s intent, effect on viewer, and all kinds of other stuff, but there’s definitely a difference between gratuitious nudity, which might be a better term, and nudity that serves some other function even though it might also titilate.

        For some reason I always come back to Julianne Moore’s nude scene in Short Cuts. She’s a very attractive woman, but the nudity also conveys all kinds of other stuff about the relationship, the situation, her character etc… Similarly if you were to draw a “The Evolution of Man” diagram where the final stage was a woman, she might be naked and it might even titilate, but there could be all kinds of other intent and impact impossible to achieve through another means.

        The problem with gratuitious nudity is that it reduces women to nothing more than sexualized bodies, and women get enough of that in every day life.

      • Aimai

        I don’t have any problem with seeing nude pictures of women–I see them every day, really, if you count in just ordinary stock photos of bikini clad young women. Of course you pretty much never see naked women who are old, fat, or classified as ugly or even just normal/unmade up and unretouched. There’s no inherent connection between nude images of women and pornography–it takes a viewer to make that happen. A viewer and a setting.

        The problem with this image of a woman is its setting–its just there casually, like a choice the artist and the judges have made that the only place women belong in this exhibit is as garnish, like an inedible piece of plastic grass on a sushi plate. Or maybe I mean like a bit of sugar sprinkled over something so inherently tasteless and uninteresting that some portion of the audience requires it in order to pay any attention at all. And you know that’s not the women in the audience, if any, so the assumption is that the audience that counts is a male audience that needs to have its prurient interests satisfied before it can pause and look around at the theoretical topic of the show.

    • Anonymous

      NdGT is pretty hot just the way he is. That’s kinda (this strain of) sexism in a nutshell: dudes are attractive as they are, and it’s the women who need fixing / repairing / to be shoved tits first in a early grave trying to fulfill multiple and contradictory beauty standards (and then get slutshamed for doing so and plainshamed for being unable to do so).

  • Steve LaBonne

    Fuck American Atheists. My support goes to Americans United, which defends my rights as an atheist and everyone else’s rights of conscience as well, and doesn’t cater to misogynist dudebros.

    • Nobdy

      Does dudebro just mean “guys we don’t like” now?

      Because I thought it had a specific meaning, and I would put faux-sophisticated pompous atheist types outside of that meaning.

      • Steve LaBonne

        It goes way beyond that. There’s a large contingent of MRA libertoony atheist shitheads (you can frequently encounter them trolling PZ Myers’s blog), and the leadership of AA goes out of its way to play footsie with them in order not to “divide” the atheist “community”.

        • Nobdy

          I think of dudebro as meathead fratboy types (who are likely to call each other, or you if you’re male, dude or bro, thus the name.)

          • Steve LaBonne

            Yes, and fratboy culture is typically misogynist to the point of being rapey. Which is what’s going on with those “artworks”.

            • Nobdy

              But the people at the atheist conventions are unlikely to say dude or bro. That may just be my literalism but I think of them as a different sort of rapey sexist than the dudebro.

              • Jordan

                I think it is more that dudebros aren’t generally atheist misogynists, while atheist misogynists all wish they were actually dudebros.

              • Matt T. in New Orleans

                What on earth makes you think this? Have you ever met a representative of either group?

                • Nobdy

                  I believe I have met representatives of both, though the dudebro did not announce himself as a dudebro.

                • Matt T. in New Orleans

                  Shit, maybe it’s just my experience, then, or I’ve historically found myself amongst a smarter class fratboy or a duller class of atheist-type willing-to-go-to-a-convention. The line seemed pretty friggin’ thin to where if I would be insulting one party by comparing him to another, I wouldn’t know who to apologize to.

                  And dudebros a never announce themselves as such. Perhaps that’s how they get into conventions.

              • Tristan

                ok chief

      • Origami Isopod

        Are you going to defend the honor of dudebros like you defended the honor of [male] geeks the other day? Because I need to go make popcorn in that case.

        • Nobdy

          The dudebro is the noblest of all creatures and must be permitted to graze, sexually harass, and homoerotically socialize in his natural environment without impediment or interference.

          • Dudebro Lorax

            I speak for the dudebros.

            • They never shut up, so maybe you need a new job.

              • KmCO

                Who will defend the dudebros if Dudebro Lorax doesn’t?! First they came for the Redditers…

                • First they came for the Redditers…

                  And I said “DIE MOTHERFUCKERS” because I was not nearly a big enough asshole to be a Redditer…

                • Jordan

                  haha. good job.

    • joe from Lowell

      Fuck American Atheists. My support goes to Americans United

      Does Americans United do non-political, cultural, social stuff?

      My understanding is that American Atheists and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have different missions.

  • Steve Gravelle

    Isn’t not having to go to f*****g conventions the point of being an atheist?

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      I woulda thought so. groucho spoke for me

    • Origami Isopod

      Holy fuck, THIS.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Especially conventions where the attendees have nothing in common beyond “dictionary atheism”- what the hell is the point?

    • Jordan

      meh, comic dorks go to comic conventions. Star Trek dorks go to star trek conventions. Why wouldn’t atheist dorks want to go to an atheist convention?

      • However, conics dorks should never go to Star Trek conventions. DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!

        • herr doktor bimler

          However, conics dorks

          N__B is just being hyperbolic.

          • Aimai

            Stop it you two!

          • Colin Day

            And I thought N_B was being elliptical . . .

          • N__B

            Picture a spherical polar bear…

        • Jordan

          Indeed.

          All involved were lost.

    • Matt T. in New Orleans

      No shit. I have a casual acquaintance that’s continually trying to get me to join some group of dingleberries stroking each others’ dicks on how clever we are and how stupid everyone else is. I was raised Southern Baptist, and that shit is way too familiar.

      • When I was a student, I joined a friend’s homegrown group “DENSA.” Our charter said we had to drink and make fun of MENSA members while drunk.

        • Matt T. in New Orleans

          Were the MENSA people in the same room? And how much did they have to drink?

          • They met at the student union, sober. We were rolling on the floor outside the meeting room.

        • NewishLawyer

          That is almost as good as D.A.M.M., Drunks Against Madd Mothers.

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        It depends on the Con and the speakers/subjects. More and more cons are featuring panels that focus on issues outside of the typical dick stroking superiority topics. I think a con featuring Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, Ed Brayton, etc., is going to have a decidedly different crowd than one that features Dawkins, Harris, Krauss etc.

        I have never gone to one myself but I imagine if I lived in Red State America the idea of just getting together with some non-religious people would be much more appealing to me just as a rare escape from the dominant Christian community of the Heartland (TM). Heck just visiting TX for a few days makes me itchy to get back to the liberal/relatively Secular enclave of Los Angeles.

    • wjts

      It is for me, sure, but here’s the thing: I was raised in an areligious household. I passively absorbed the idea that there was a thing called “God” who was best described as a very nice man who lived in the sky. Christmas was Santa, presents, and visits from the grandparents and Easter was egg hunts and chocolate. The only vaguely formal religious instruction I ever received was my kindergarten teacher relating the Nativity story and the only thing I took away from it was the idea that a census that required people to go back to where they were born would mean that my parents and I would have to go to Ohio to participate. I remember being in favor of this idea, because it would mean I’d probably get to see some of my favorite relatives. I’m fairly certain I can count the number of times I went to church as a child on the fingers of one hand, and that includes weddings and funerals. By the time I was 10, I could have told you all about the birth of Hermes, the dismemberment and resurrection of Osiris, and Baldur’s death but if you asked me who St. Paul was I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. “Formally” declaring my atheism was a non-event for me.

      But other people have very different experiences. Coming to atheism as an adult or a teenager after believing something very different for your entire life can be very difficult, even traumatic, and being able to connect with other people who have gone through something similar can be extremely valuable. So if you want to hold an atheist convention, I’ll be the last one to try to stop you.

      • Aimai

        There are actually blogs and sites for people to go who are stumbling into atheism, or agnosticism, from serious childhood indoctrination. I don’t get the sense that these atheists are those atheists–for one thing a lot of the neo-atheists I “know” are women who are leaving abusive marriages and patriarchal families with literally nothing. They have little in common with upper class male atheists who have always been atheists, or always free to live as they chose whatever their nominal religious affiliation.

        • Jordan

          This is good and true insofar as it goes.

          But not everyone reads blogs as much as we do. I know I could have used a public “hey its ok!” type of event personally.

          These types of gatherings (which I have never been to, honestly) seem like they can provide a safe space to some people. Will they work for everyone? No. Will they work for some? Almost assuredly – well, assuming they aren’t sexist assholeries. But my point (and I do have one) is that these types of things can be very helpful, if they are done right.

          • Origami Isopod

            This is quite true. I was speaking for myself upthread.

      • Rob in CT

        This basically sounds right to me (also raised in a non-religious household – even morseo than you), but I’m not sure it translates to the convention-going crowd. I remember patting myself on the back pretty vigorously at times back in high school about how smart I was and deluded sheep others were. I grew up, and I’m far less likely to think I’m superior for having one less delusion than someone else. ;) Man, thinking about it, having some convention to go to might’ve made me insufferable.

        Anyway, while it’s plausible that the more unholier than thou types are bringing the fervor of the convert to things, it’s also plausible that the convention is full of folks like you and I, but who had more inclination to gather with others to pump each other up or something.

        Another possibility: cultural background. I grew up non-religious in an affluent, nearly all-white Connecticut town. As a result, I caught very, very little sh*t for not believing. Basically none, really. Annoying questions (wait, so how do you have any morals?) were about it. If I’d grown up in a more religious environment, maybe I’d have felt a stronger need to gather with others…

    • I dunno. I’d happily attend a atheist convention if I had the time/opportunity.

  • Jordan

    also, and this doesn’t really matter, but for a dumbass like me I kinda thought the person in your piece was missing an arm :?

  • Manju

    I interpreted the work in question as pro-feminist, though somewhat anti-sex worker.

    The artist is mocking those who claim there is no glass ceiling (“What glass ceiling?”) via a Colbert-like parody of their argument. The evidence for their claim is all the money available for sex-work. Ergo, a stripper and a bar code.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Vis-a-vis the Star Collector artwork… No, I am not tired of linking to Remedios Varo paintings.

  • Jordan

    Oh also: the three most recent posts have nearly 200 comments total. And not one troll. And they deal with sexism, racism and labor! This has to be a recent record.

    • Barry Freed

      Shhh! Don’t tempt fate.

    • Troll

      Jordan, thank you for reporting this violation of the strict Troll Code of Honor. Remedial action will be taken immediately.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    Stephanie Zvan did a good post about this (warning: images shown in post) and talking about the difficulty of using nudity:

    Well, someone at the convention who had also heard a couple of complaints talked to American Atheists staff, including the person who approved those paintings for the art show and was able to give me some insight. As it turns out, the person who approved those paintings liked them specifically for the feminist interpretations they took from the paintings. They were unaware of the context (nameless, naked women hanging among famous, clothed men) when they approved the paintings, they knew the paintings had previously been hung in a feminist show, and they were in synch with the artist on feminist interpretations. Everything seemed great.

    Then it turned out that other people interpreted the paintings very differently.

    This is where I come back to Scalzi’s observations about being clever. Just as factors outside your control influence whether you succeed when trying to be clever, there are factors that influence whether you succeed when trying to convey a message by using nudity, particularly when issues of gender and race get tied up in the package. No adult comes to view nudity without carrying along a host of cultural and personal meanings, many of them conflicting. If you’re trying to reach a large audience with a message that uses nudity, you’re almost certain to fail with some of them–with more of them the less practiced you are at crafting your message, the less you consider the context in which your message will be presented.

    And when you fail, the end result will be that your work is interpreted as objectifying the naked person instead.

    • Dudebro Lorax

      Thats a great essay. However I still remain puzzled by the idea that the show was composed, seemingly at random, of all kinds of images but somehow the only nude images are of women. I mean–I totally see how that happens but its an argument for people running shows like this to consider how constrained art really is. It clearly doesn’t occur to any of the artists to strip famous male scientists of their clothing because, well, why would you? This is not a point that needs to be made by anyone, apparently. But its so very common to use women’s nude bodies to make all kinds of points, and no point at all, that you are quite likely to get such images almost at random, by sheer chance.

      I’m also reminded of the recent Breitbartian attempt to create bizzaro world viral “memes” like sticking Nancy Pelosi’s head on (some stupid gyrating semi nude girl singer whose name I can’t remember). If you were to go to the Breitbart site I think you’d find them strange and off-putting. There is one image of Pelosi’s head on Miley Cyrus’s body and mouth, one of Jerry Brown’s head on a body builder’s body, and one of some guy’s head on a woman’s nude torso. These very much conform to a cultural standard where showing one person without clothing is demeaning to that person (this has been much discussed on Mad Men where women are often shown partially unclothed while the men around them are fully dressed). The Jerry Brown image is, to the contrary, oddly powerful since the image gives back to him a young man’s physique and visually telegraphs his power. The other guy is debased by being given big tits and pasties and rendered as a kind of hermaphrodite.

      • Aimai

        Oh, bloody hell, nymfail.

    • Jordan

      This is, in fact, the post that was (supposed to be) linked in the OP.

    • mark

      Yes, it’s the failed link in the OP and I think it’s great.

      That she looks for charitable interpretations–and finds a few sincere ones–is something I wouldn’t have bothered with or thought much about. And after reading her I checked out the other pictures she mentioned, and personally found one picture she links to (an old man hand grabbing at a picture of nude woman) so creepy that I would have thought the creepiness of a ‘living’ hand pawing at a passive nude was clearly “the point.” In context it’s hard to reconcile my interpretation with the other two pictures, let alone the clothed men–so I do think the ones who hate it are “right” as far as you can be.

      The “Light my fire” picture is I think horrible–it’s like a beer ad for atheism with a model pretending to be turned on by schlubby men, if only they embrace whatever product they are selling.

  • stick

    Why isn’t Carl Sagan shirtless and breaking a misty sweat while he sucks on an ice cube?

    Holy Cthulhu!

    Please make this happen…

  • herr doktor bimler

    Where is the pantsless portrait of Christopher Hitchens no one is surely screaming for?
    A tasteful rendition of his exercise in crack- and sack-waxing, perhaps.

    • Jon H

      Exactly what came to mind.

      Christopher Hitchens’ freshly denuded pudenda.

      Make it a zombie Hitchens, all the media nerd kids love that shit.

  • NewishLawyer

    My only comment is that this is just as unnecessary and bad as conservative art.

    There doesn’t need to be an Atheist Art convention just like there doesn’t need to be some random dude hauling around a muscular Reagan painting/mural.

    This is bad art by any account.

    Signed NYC/SF art snob.

    • Jon H

      It’s basically mall art. Like the airbrushed Al Pacino Scarface t-shirts, only with a different market in mind.

      • NewishLawyer

        That’s a good way of looking at it.

  • Dorfl

    Atheism Is Also A Religious Position.

    • Jordan

      Well, there you go. It couldn’t last.

      Wait, I mean:

      Pacifism Is Also An Imperialist Position.

      • wjts

        I Think You Are Missing The Joke.

        • Jordan

          I am sad and not worthy :(

          • mds

            Jeez, that’s it? A quick explanatory link and it’s all over? I Don’t Call That Much Of An Argument.

    • Colin Day

      Like virginity is a sexual position.

  • David W.

    The “atheist art” as shown in said photo is a nothing-burger to me. I’d vastly prefer an XKCD exhibition.

  • Kiwanda

    A response from a friend of the painter.

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