Friday, December 1, 2017

The Goddess Myth

So last week's TIME cover story 'The Goddess Myth' on the increasing pressure to be the perfect mother was told with motherhood represented with several images of a fairly discretely naked woman and child/children, images taken by the woman's husband and the father of the child/ren, Erick Madigan Heck. 

This week some objections were aired in TIME's letters to the editor. One genderless person called 'R. Mortenson' from Phoenix was outraged by the cover appearing in the wake of the Weinstein scandal and wrote:

'We are kidding ourselves if we think we can indulge in viewing provocatively dressed or nude women and not have it carry over into our attitudes and behaviour... of sexual predation.' 

Really?  This person is connecting an image of maternity with Weinstein's sexual perversions, abuses of power and violence? Has it really come to that? Have women really lost all freedom to show our bodies in their natural state, discretely - it's not Playboy - without men being tempted to assault and harass us and if not, that is our problem? I call bullshit to that.

These images are so natural and so non-provocative, having absolutely nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the simple joy and beauty of motherhood, and womanhood, that to even mention that man's name in the same context seems like a kind of assault all of its own, and a further victimisation of women and womanhood and implied victory for men like him.

Haven't they got enough power already? They do, and so they must be allowed to degrade motherhood and womanhood further still.

Indeed I think it is quite likely part of the reason why TIME chose to celebrate motherhood in this way, as a reclaiming of the beauty and power of womanhood as something that women (and children, and men who aren't perverted sexual predators) can enjoy - albeit not helped by the modern pressures to be perfect. In these images, there is no pressure at all, which also works as a welcome counter to the story's theme of society expecting too much of women and mothers.

Another detractor, an Australian woman or man called Kerry, protested:

'Why is the woman on your cover naked? I never saw my mother naked, yet...she was the personification of motherhood...' 

These images are not about showing off women's flesh for the sake of it, Kerry. They are about, I like to think, showing womanhood and motherhood in their most natural and powerful state, neither adorned with religious iconography nor twisted and objectified for men's pornographic gratification.

This woman chose to be photographed naked with her young sons and that should be her choice. That TIME chose to represent motherhood that way, indeed in a story about the stresses of motherhood, is their choice and I appreciate them both for making those choices, along with the husband-father photographer for taking such striking images of human beings, female and male, living in their natural, happy and loving state.

Thank you TIME for your most timely story.



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