The challenge I want to highlight is the automatic sexualization of the nude female body.
Such conditioned thinking makes many feel that women who share themselves and their beautiful human vessels are not worthy of respect. Sadly, a lot of women’s creative self-expression is limited as they fear the repercussions that would (and have) arisen from others’ sharing, which is due to cultural negative messages and shame surrounding nudity as a whole.
Also, many who have shared, like myself, have been disrespected, and this causes repercussions that create difficulties for families, friends, and those who know them, by receiving mixed messages of fear, hate, and shame.
We need to celebrate human bodies—male and female—with more respect, or at least accept them without spreading shame and judgment. What people need to realize is that nudity is simply a natural state, but porn is sexually explicit. As humans, we are sexual beings, and we feel our sexuality when we view nudity. But with art, if we look deeper, we see a human, and we can learn to treat them with respect like we would a friend. With porn, we only see our lust and desires (using our animalistic instinct) to satisfy a human need (birds and bees), and often, we forget there is a person behind the screen.
Nude art is created for self-expression and helps ourselves and the viewer to learn about themselves, their conditioning, and about being human, with love.
Due to the limited social conditioning of nudity in our society, and because we are also sexual beings, people may become aroused upon seeing nude art, and hence their or society’s inability to distinguish the intention between both. This is what creates disrespect, shame, judgement, and confusion about our bodies and sexuality.
I believe with education and more acceptance of being human in all forms, we will be able to learn the difference and respect each other more and love each other more. Historical nude art has been around for a long time.
Nudity first became significant in Ancient Greek art, where athletic competitions at religious festivals celebrated the human body, particularly with men. These athletes competed in the nude and the Greeks considered them embodiments of all that was best in humanity. Therefore, this was perfectly natural for Greeks to associate the male nude form with triumph, excellence, and glory. Images of naked athletes stood as offerings in sanctuaries. The celebration of the body among the Greeks contrasts remarkably with the attitudes prevalent in other parts of the ancient world, where being undressed was often associated with defeat, shame, and disgrace. The most well-known example of this common view even today is the story of Adam and Eve, where the first man and woman discover that they are naked and suffer shame and punishment.
The ancestry of the female nude is different from the male. Female nudes embody the divinity of procreation. Naked female figures are shown in early prehistoric art and historical times where images represent such fertility deities as the Near Eastern Ishtar. The Greek goddess Aphrodite belongs to this family; she was imagined as life-giving, sensual, seductive, and proud.
There was often profound admiration for the body as the shape of humanity expressed. They may have sex appeal, yet they were never totally obscene in intent.
The nudes in Greco-Roman art are conceptually perfected ideals—each one a vision of health, youth, structural clarity, and organic symmetry.
“Sir Kenneth Clark‘s closely-argued and intelligent volume on the development of the nude traces both a central strand of art criticism and presents a view of life.” ~ Gerald E. Bunker
Perhaps the book (The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form) is more interesting in the insights it implies into the nature of (hu)man, for attempts to create empathy with a personal reaction to works of art. He considered idealisation the hallmark of true nudes, as opposed to more descriptive and less artful figures that he considered merely naked.”
“His emphasis on idealization points up an essential issue: seductive and appealing as nudes in art may be, they are meant to stir the mind as well as the passions.” ~ Sorabella, 2008a
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