Saturday, May 17, 2008

The ICK Poll

What is it with straight guys?

I mean really.

We were travelling down the highway headed back up to Canada when an old VW van pulls onto the interstate just ahead of us. Joe pulled over to pass it and I asked him to stay behind for just a second. The van had a mural painted on the back, it looked like it might have cost more than the old van itself, it certainly used a lot of paint.

There were three women in the mural and they all had those breasts that were so big they just looked swollen. They all had pouty little girl faces with cherry red lips and huge doe eyes. They wore clothing that was impossibly tight over bodies that were geometrically impossible.

But that's not what caught my eye. Not even close. Who hasn't seen similar murals on similar vans. Who hasn't seen those women with breasts that point west on the back of truck mudflaps? So it wasn't that. What was ... um what's the word ... interesting, was that the women were all disabled. One of them had an amputated leg, one had dark glasses and a white cane and one was in a wheelchair. All of them had busts that looked like dirigibles and all of them were quite obviously disabled in some fashion.

I didn't know what to think.

Still don't.

I mean I think those kinds of murals are just plain weird. Don't the guys who drive these cars have wives and daughters ... or at least mothers? Isn't it a bit assaultive to thrust images of women with breasts so big that they are affected by the phases of the moon upon innocent passers by? So, in general, ICK. The objectification of women, the infantile focus on breasts over brain, I get. Double ICK.

But it bothered me that these women's disability bothered me. Why shouldn't women with disabilities also be seen as flagrently sexual beings? Why should disabled women be excempted from the lusty gaze of men? I wonder if disabled women might be disgusted at the mural, or would some feel at last included - albeit in the sticky floored world of male fantasy.

So, a Chewing the Fat poll ...

what say you about the mural. Beyond this kind of art being weird - what say you about three disabled women on a sexy mural with breasts that would keep them afloat in even the largest ocean?


BenefitScroungingScum said...

I don't think it's weird, it's absolutely fantastic!! There is still far too much of the public misconception that disabled people are some how non-sexual, and complete confusion or disgusted judgement when the realisation that disabled people can be sexy hits.
I think the fact that the women in that artwork were portrayed as sex symbols first, disabled second is light years ahead of the rest of society. Bendy Girl

PS Some of us really do look like the non cartoon version of that and just happen to have a disability or two.

lina said...

Ick yes - but that they used women with disabilities, in the eyes of those who enjoy this type of 'art' tells me they view these women as equal objects of 'art'.

Belinda said...

Okay, I agree with Lina!

Anonymous said...

Equal-opportunity objectification is still ... objectification.

Thumbs down.


Shan said...

I agree with qw88nb88. If objectification is wrong, then it's wrong. In this case I don't agree that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

I will also point out that there is pornography catering to those with a fetish for disabled people. Do I think this is a good thing, because it means someone finds disability sexy? No. I believe this to be power-based, just like a lot of other pornography.

FridaWrites said...

Since all of the women are disabled, that indicates a disability fetish and objectification, so I'd feel freaked out about driving past in my disability accessible van, and even more to park next to someone whose car has such a mural.

Tammy said...

I agree with the major ICK factor, and what fridawrites said about the fetish, is the first thing that comes to my mind. I think some see disabled women as "helpless and needy". I don't truly appreciate the art form, esp. so publicly displayed. It's icky, so not my thing, but *shrug*, live and let live.

Anonymous said...

That's a big old "ick" for me. Objectification is wrong anytime, anyplace for anybody.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm...let's see...should I, as a disabled woman, feel honored for being included in smut because at least I am being included along with "nprmal" women who are objectified by creepy people on the side of an old van. I DON'T THINK SO!!!!

Anonymous said...

Although it's a tad distasteful to have that on your vehicle at all... I'm thrilled that people with disabilities were included in it.

I'm amazed you didn't follow him to find out what his story was. :) I probably would have!

Anonymous said...

Would it make a difference if the--"consumer"--of such porn was disabled himself, and wanted to see disabled persons, and thus HIMSELF, as sexualized? Thus, the disabled porn chicks?

I mean, I know that's not the case here, but WOULD it make a difference?

Anonymous said...

"...images of women with breasts so big that they are affected by the phases of the moon..." What a wonderful command of language you have!

I tend to look at the fantasy images of women and think of teenagers having a water balloon fight: everyone's trying to fit more water into their balloons for a bigger splash.

My first reaction to the van mural is ICK, but in trying to answer your question, I find myself straying to thoughts of censorship; that would be a bad thing.

So, while I wouldn't want to see it more than once, any art is better than no art; as long as the mural didn't depict anything outright obscene, it's okay with me. The all-disabled theme is a bit disturbing, but perhaps the artist was only trying to even the scales a bit in terms of inclusion - a sort of reverse discrimination for a good cause?

It's good that the artist can see the sexy side of people with disabilities.

Was it perhaps an advertisement for a custom painter, or a store for mobility aids?

I guess I'm neutral about it. You may feel free to think me a wuss, disinterested, or incredibly non-judgmental. I just wanna see a photo of the mural so I can make up my own mind about it.

Sarah Heacox said...

I'd say it's indicative of a fetish, which I think is NOT great, because it means people objectifying others and reducing them to their stereotype, rather than liking/loving/lusting them as an individual human.
To me it's analogous to, say, having a fetish for women of a particular ethnicity. Falling in love with a Japanese woman=awesome. Desiring a woman simply because she is Japanese and therefore fits some stereotype you hold=degrading and demeaning.
Same thing goes for a woman with a disability.

Veralidaine said...

I think maybe ONE disabled woman in a group of sexy women would be a step forward, but a whole mural of disabled women indicates fetishizing disability, not including women with disabilities in portraits of groups of women.

Ettina said...

I don't think a fetish is necessarily bad - if it's consensual and they don't throw it into other people's faces, I don't care if their sexuality is typical or not.
But that thing grosses me out. I don't think the fact that they're all disabled matters much, although it might be meant to show that they're 'vulnerable'. The big problem is the sexualization/objectification of women.

moplans said...
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