The questions are always more or less the same: “Why if we girls walk without a t-shirt, they would look at us like that? Why when men do it people don’t stare at them? Why instagram and magazines censure the nipples of women and not those of men? Why are the women’s bodies always more sexualized than men’s ones? Why doesn’t all that change?”
This is what Angèle Basile, a photographer from La Rochelle, France, wondered through her project: the picture of a man and woman in the same state of near-nudity, and the respective reaction of the people of the street.
But, perhaps, beyond a purely feminist concept, the answer simply lies in an idea of beauty inextricably linked to modesty, and which, from this point of view, makes the modern civilization much more backward than some indigenous tribes. A society based more and more on appearances and on provocation creates more occasions for scandal towards all that is primordial.
Why does the act of covering or uncovering create more disturbance than something that is already uncovered? Why is a nude scene more disturbing than a documentary on indigenous nude peoples? — not counting social media censorship. Whole industries today rely on the attention that the “see-through” attracts and the sexual arousal it causes.
Perhaps we’re just continuing to focus too much on the questions rather than the possible answers? Or maybe the questions we’re asking ourselves are not the right ones?
“The idea came to me at the beginning with a friend,” said Angèle to The Curator Mag, “we were on a coffee terrace, and we saw a man walking on the street without a shirt and she told me ‘if it was a woman it would not be not the same’. And it’s obvious that it will not be the same! Women are hypersexualized I think now.
In this photo, I put forward two different subjects: the censorship of the nipples, and the look of the society on the fact that a girl is without a t-shirt or a man. For a long time, I saw that when a photo contained nipples of women it was deleted, but those of a man were not deleted or censored. And I find it a pity for art because a censorship on a pic is not pretty. If a picture was made with a woman body and the nipples of a man, it wasn’t deleted, it’s incredible!
The second subject is about the vision of society. I don’t want a man to be favored or a woman. But I want equality, because walking naked is forbidden, but it shocks us less when it is a man — I am the first to be less shocked, it is also a self-criticism — but it’s mostly a photo to make us think.”