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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Sexual Imagery in Anti-War Protests

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Author Topic: Sexual Imagery in Anti-War Protests
Beppie
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Most people will have seen, on TV, if not first hand, imagery of anti-war protests in the past month or so. To get my biases out of the way to begin with- I support the anti-war movement, and went to a protest myself. However, I've been pretty disturbed by the fact that many people seem to feel the need to express their beliefs by depicting Tony Blair and John Howard engaging in sexual acts with President Bush.

I find it sad that sex acts are something used to demean people, and all it does is reinforce the taboos and stigma surrounding sex, especially sexual acts widely deemed as "deviant" (when of course they are not- they're simply things that consenting adults can choose to do together). Furthermore, I think it probably also reinforces prejudices regarding homosexual acts. While I would like to say that the gender of these national leaders doesn't play a role here, I do feel that the so called "derogatory" message is reinforced when these images are shown in a heterosexist culture. Furthermore, I feel that because the participants depicted are men, there is less of a chance that anyone will raise the issue of sexual harrassment- when really that is just what this is.

I believe that the protesters have a good enough argument for what they are doing- no one needs to resort to using derogatory sexual imagery, that works negatively for everyone- no matter what there opinion on world politics.

Any thoughts?


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Confused boy
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I haven't seen these recent posters, though it doesn't take very imagination to work out the sort of thing they depict. I am personally not anti-war (though not particularly pro-war either) but I can give a defence to the use of this imagery. A lot of sexual acts produce an explicit or implicit assumption of one being submissive and another being dominant. Indeed, part of the attraction of some sex acts is that they are humiliating or demeaning to a greater or lesser extent. It is a part of many people's eroticism. Thus the acts themselves are sometimes humiliating, and are not just made that way by being put on posters.

So an alternative reading of these posters could be this: here are some examples of power in sexual relationships, but do we really want our world leaders being submissive to a more dominant power?

Its not necessarily anti-alternative sex though it could certainly be interpreted that way.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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kythryne
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On the other hand, I've seen and heard about protest signs with some pretty cool sex-positive (or at least not anti-sex) imagery here in New York and elsewhere. Off the top of my head, I recall the following:

-- a pair of signs being carried by a young man and woman that said said "This Bush and this Dick don't support the war."

-- a sign showing the outline of a woman's body, with pubic hair drawn in, reading "This is the only Bush I'll trust."

-- a t-shirt printed with side-by-side pictures of a woman's crotch and George Bush, and the captions "Good Bush - Bad Bush" respectively.

Normally, slang terms for body parts just irk me, but I thought those signs were pretty clever.

[This message has been edited by kythryne (edited 03-19-2003).]


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Maharet
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A good one I've seen that's sex related

"Fighting for peace is like fu*king for chastity"


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UKgirl
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on the other hand, from yesterday's march:
"Bush is just another word for c*nt"

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nifty
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alot of this war is being fought with propaganda... and "sex sells"........

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UKgirl
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at today's protest I saw one poster of Bush reclining whilst Blair gave him oral sex, and another of the two men embracing whilst topless, with the word WRONG written underneath. Yes these do appear to be very homophobic. And before I get into the rest of this I'd like dto point out that I do think that there is never an excuse for homophobia, and that these were cheap shots.

However, I do hope that there was more to these posters than just homophobia, as that doesn't really contribute to debate. I'd like to think that the first poster was a comment on the power relations between the two men/governments. I'd also like to think that the second was a comment on the "WRONG"ness of the Bush-Blair relationship. As though they were lovers (gay or straight) Blair's closeness to Bush does not seem to be based on anything rational. Blair is a european deserting his european allies for Bush. He is (supposed to be) a socialist, and is cosying up to a right-winger. He is persuing this relationship even though it is making him unpopular with his own people. He is pretending to the outside world (and perhaps himself) that it is an equal partnership, when it is obviously not (eg. Blair having been given 2 hours notice of the first attacks on Iraq, and being informed rather than consulted). I know this may not be the meaning that the people who made the banners had in mind, but I'd like to think it was.

I guess my point is that we can't control which people go on these protests, or what banners they display, but we can choose how we interpret them.

[This message has been edited by UKgirl (edited 03-22-2003).]


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Milke
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If the two parties in question were male and female, would the posters be heterophobic? I'd agree with Confused Boy that what's being referred to here is power, not sexual orientation, and certainly, disapproval of the relationship in question.

We ask, again, that all users be respectful in their posts, to all parties, even though they may not agree with their choices. Keeping such civility a priority is very important in keeping debates on sensitive issues from becoming inappropriate, and if we wish to continue to have such threads, we need to remember this.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP

Word up!


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UKgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by UKgirl:
I'd also like to think that the second was a comment on the "WRONG"ness of the Bush-Blair relationship.

have re-read my post and agree that this was out of line. I had meant for the speachmarks to imply that the idea that this was "wrong" was the opinion of the person that made the banner, but I see that that wasn't clear. sorry.

[This message has been edited by UKgirl (edited 03-23-2003).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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Well, around here, it's a lot of stripping down. Every protest so far has featured at least a cluster of naked people. The protest on capus a few days ago had a group of nude women. There was a group of people in Marin just north of here who started things off by lying naked in a field spelling out "No War."

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¿Qué es el dealio?


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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by Milke:
If the two parties in question were male and female, would the posters be heterophobic? I'd agree with Confused Boy that what's being referred to here is power, not sexual orientation, and certainly, disapproval of the relationship in question.

If the two people in question were male/female, do you think that protests would actually be made in that way? I don't think they would, as many women would immediately object to such imagery, especially if it involved connotations of dominance and submission- it would become a sexual harrassment issue. I want to know why it ISN'T sexual harrassment when it's two men?


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perkymelissa
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I get spelling something out but why just standing around 'nude'... where they talking to people? I've tried to understand this too I mean is it ecause in order to get people to stop an dlisten they strip? Did it work? It sounds like it takes a lot of guts but might be more foolish than heroic.....

has anyone tried this? I've heard about it happening during graduation speeches....

quote:
Originally posted by Gumdrop Girl:
Well, around here, it's a lot of stripping down. Every protest so far has featured at least a cluster of naked people. The protest on capus a few days ago had a group of nude women. There was a group of people in Marin just north of here who started things off by lying naked in a field spelling out "No War."



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