Friday, November 6, 2009

What is Sexually Explicit About this Photo?

Celebrating a woman’s body has always been a controversial thought. However, many would like to think that our world is becoming increasingly open to the human form in all of its glory, including a woman’s pregnant body. Unfortunately, the ever-evolving world of Facebook (most of whose users are of college age), does not agree.
Cary Curran, a member of a New York City based dance troupe, recently had her Facebook account deleted without her knowledge or consent by the administrators of the popular social networking site. This was due to the fact that Curran decided to upload a picture of her semi-nude pregnant body as her profile picture. Curran, who celebrates the often semi-naked body daily as part of her profession, saw nothing wrong with the picture that featured her in simply “gold pasties, a thong bikini bottom and a liberal sprinkling of gold body glitter”.
Facebook decided this picture constituted sexually explicit material, which is banned by Facebook user's Statements of Rights and Responsibilities. Though parts of Curran’s breasts are exposed in the picture, she is not fully nude. In addition to her not being fully nude in the picture, so again, the question can be posed, what is sexually explicit about her picture? Her genitalia is not exposed, and no sexual acts are being performed in the picture. Therefore, Facebook seems to be defining any form of nudity as sexually explicit, thereby further reinforcing our country’s outlook that the naked woman form is shameful and should not be exposed.
This makes me wonder if Facebook applies this view of nudity being sexually explicit material to other cultures where unlike America, nudity is embraced. Last semester as I traveled around Europe, I was time and time again exposed to nudity on numerous beaches from Spain to Italy. Women everywhere sunbathed topless and no one gave a second glance. As I pondered how everyone seemed to be so comfortable with their bodies, I realized the reason why I would never think about taking my top off was the fact that I was raised in a country where nudity and celebrating the woman’s body is looked down upon, and not talked about often. By deleting Curran’s account, Facebook is reinforcing this thought process. I would in fact like to see how European Facebook account holders would react to this profile picture of Curran. My bet is they would see nothing wrong with it, and in fact, it would not faze them in the slightest.
The fact of the matter is, we are all exposed to far more explicit material everyday on primetime television. Tune in at anytime to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and while body parts are not fully exposed, the actions they are portraying during sex scenes are far more sexually explicit than a picture of a semi-nude, pregnant, female body. Or, how about this weeks upcoming attraction for the latest Gossip Girl episode which apparently is featuring a threesome?! Sexually explicit material? Guess we will see.

All in all, if Facebook insists on counting Curran’s picture as sexually explicit material, they could have at least given her a warning so that she could take appropriate action such as removing the picture, instead of deleting her entire account. Really Facebook, do you know how much time it takes to accumulate all of those “friends” and upload all of those pictures? Work with us here.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Facebook allows so many overly sexualized pictures and comments to be left on walls and pages.. I agree that this picture does NOT seem any more provocative then others seen on facebook. Thank you for calling them out on their unfair deletion of the account!