Note | Nudity Two weeks ago I posted model Taryn Andreatta’s images from ‘The Offering’, as they appeared on GQ Italia’s website, lensed by photographers Mark Sink & Kristin Hatgi. Many readers were very impacted by ‘The Offering’ — women as much as men.
They all expressed admiration for Taryn’s artistic journey and courage to me, with more than one self-photography project retrieved, with Taryn as muse. “If she can confront her physicality in this way, so can I,” the women said.
Sharing a female sympatico and commonality of vision about the origin and evolution of women’s lives makes Taryn and me more than digital friends. ‘How did we get here?’ and ‘where are we going?’ are questions that occupy our mutual thoughts and artistry.
Taryn Andreatta has been the sensual provocateur since our paths first crossed early in 2010— a key reason why I am so fond of her and seek to cultivate her own intellectual voice. I would also be a liar for not admitting that while I found her images in ‘The Offering’ to be superb — and I wrote so — I also found them mildly unsettling.
The result of our discussions about ‘The Offering’ is a Faustian bargain of sorts. Taryn and I are embarking on a dialogue, without knowing where we are going. Rather than interjecting my own thoughts and followup questions into Taryn’s well-articulated answers to my key questions about ‘The Offering’, I will be quiet for once.
Today we publish Taryn’s answers to my initial questions, with a followup dialogue of unspecificed length and duration between us to follow. The images are essential to understanding the context of her interview, and we republish them again in my Sensually Yours column. I encourage friends to join the conversation on these very important issues about being female, in comments or in private messages to me, via contact Anne.
I’m very proud of Taryn’s actions and convictions to define her own self and personal philosophy in artistic collaborations in the time I’ve known her. The diverse views of young women are of critical importance to the future of women’s rights worldwide. Anne
Updated Oct 31, 2011: Posting my own thoughts of Taryn’s interview this weekend, and also OSU grad student’s Jennifer Lewis’s positive thoughts about this piece, a new negative comment on my essay about my knee-jerk, feminist reaction to Taryn’s brilliance prompts me to clarify the actual nature of Taryn’s alleged interview.
In my effort to promote Taryn, I responded affirmatively to her request to write her own interview, without a give and take between us. I loved her previous article on Phoenix Rising and the Kanye West video, and never dreamed she would take on feminism as the root of the world’s problems. We had also conducted a similar interview about her modeling career, although I was actually involved in helping frame the questions.
In fact, I would not have asked Taryn the following questions about how feminists might react to her images, because I work hard not to drive a wedge between women. Simply stated I am a unifier, a fact reflected by the large number of conservative readers who support AOC, even though we have major policy differences on key issues. I believe strongly in femininity and feminine values, as do most feminists. This reality is an inconvenient truth for those who prefer to make feminists the bad girls of the universe.
When I received Taryn’s ‘interview’ that I did not conduct and questions that I did not provide — words that should have been presented as an essay by Taryn — I was surprised by the provocative content but decided to reflect on it, as I wrote.
I felt an obligation to give Taryn her own voice to present her creative position, as part of my significant commitment to artists. In doing so on my own website, within the content of my own voice which has always told “women’s stories from fashion to flogging”, I did not inherit a responsibility to remain silent on Taryn’s statements about feminism, which I uncategorically reject as historically inaccurate.
I will now change the facts of the alleged interview that did not occur and remove myself from the dialogue.
Taryn is the only person with whom I have engaged in a deceptive act of this kind on AOC. I apologize to readers for misrepresenting my involvement in the questions that are attributed to me.
Taryn knows that she could have written her own essay about ‘The Offering’ and I would have gladly published it. Consciously or unconsciously, she made me her collaborator in this anti-feminism vision, and I owe it to myself and readers to clarify my actual nonrole in her alleged interview with me and my rejection of her core assumptions about the natural submission of women.
When I personally speak of female-centric values, they do not include the past 10,000 years of women’s history — and the current history of most women in the world — as the ideal. As a feminist, I have sought to empower women, not further our submission. I believe women were conquered by men, rather than submitting naturally.
As for Taryn’s views on nudity and the power of the female body, she knows that I agree with her. Indeed, I feel that she is biting that hand that feeds her in attacking feminists, when this one has published every one of her nude photoshoots. This is life in the big city and another life lesson learned.
I sincerely apologize for the misrepresenting the truth of events as they occurred on AOC. We have too much deception in our world as it is, and I was wrong to add to it. Anne
Taryn’s Question to Herself: What significance does ‘The Offering’ hold for you personally?
Taryn: The term itself is a softer expression of sacrifice, implying that one must give away entirely or partially certain aspects of self associated with needs, desires, and intents. The result is an outlet for creativity to manifest into tangible form. Also, quite commonly throughout history mankind has rendered peace offerings or religious offerings to reestablish a connection with the divine. Fruits, flowers, and other objects of devotion, in this case, the female body are gifts and symbols of veneration and thanks. Although, religions typically reflect high moral standards and sexual prudence, I believe art can purely explore the nude body in an innocent and almost holy revered way, even in its most sensual erotic form. Therefore, this piece can be interpreted as an artistic offering, divine offering, or sexual offering of intimacy and warmth for a lover, all of which are ultimate signs of affection and gratitude.
Taryn’s Question to Herself: How do you think a feminist would respond to these images? What is our perspective when looking at these images?
Taryn: Feminists operate on a level that condemns the objectification of the female body. “The Offering” is an attempt to address that issue and prove that women have intellect, sentiment, depth, fragility, and femininity beyond this contemporary notion of women being perceived as objects or robots for display. It is placing emphasis on the reality that women are a large part of mother nature forming a complex web of generational longevity spanning the continuum of life and humanity.
Taryn’s Question to Herself: How do you feel about the term ‘sex object’ vs ‘sex symbol’ when applied to women? Is there a difference?
Taryn: Sex object being the more derogatory of the two and probably a more recent term in history does not generate strong feminine ideals. Sex symbol on the other hand, as first given to Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot, is a potent reference to a women’s sexual ferocity or level of sex appeal according to another’s erotic preferences. Sex Symbols, labeled by our world’s perspective, are based on sociological and biological factors but also integrate the world’s need for an all-encompassing woman to enchant with powerful feminine energy and then to later become notably symbolic.
Taryn’s Question to Herself: What role, then, do women play in your perspective, with regard to their masculine counterpart?
Taryn: I am observing that in today’s world gender roles are becoming more and more ambiguous. Due to early Women’s Right’s Movements and a so called liberation in Western Societies, we see women asserting their power in the work force and challenging men’s place and abilities. This intertwining is creating a trend in fashion towards androgynous characteristics. However, we also see the bondage theme prevalent and the corset will be an everlasting pleasure; from these themes I believe women are subtly saying that we still need men to be men and that courting type of love that existed so many centuries ago is in desperate need now. I believe the genders should craftily reclaim the delicate dominant and submissive traits that are natural to our human preservation and create genuine balance and equality in the feminine vs masculine roles.
Taryn’s Question to Herself: What is your personal contribution to ‘femininity’ and the concept of ‘female’ in our modern world?
Taryn: Primarily my contribution is through my work. During the Renaissance principles of eloquence and profound meaning in speech and literature were applied to all types of art. Fundamentally, that is my work’s mantra, to convey a deep story, a message, create a connection, and offer a piece of my authentic self, energy, and most importantly feminine sexuality, at whatever capacity the viewer is able to translate.
Taryn’s Question to Herself: Is there a common theme in all your work beyond the sensual and erotic?
Taryn: Simply put, Love.
While the comments are few, there’s a lot of private discussion gonig on about Taryn’s editorial. To clarify again, the topics under discussion are 1) the humiliating image of Taryn being totally submissive and gagged. No other images are under discussion; 2) Why did she call the editorial ‘The Offering’? It seems that she is embracing submission. 3) Why does Taryn blame feminists for problems created by the patriarchy.
Taryn writes that she is working on a response to her article and its misunderstandings, including my own. The following dialogue has occurred between Taryn and me in the last couple weeks.
Taryn to me:
Anne, I know that this has brought a lot of pain to you. I also know your analysis of “The offering” is incorrect but I can see clearly your point of view and how you were able to gather your own interpretation based on events in your life. It essentially peeled the scab from a deep wound you had, that still needs to be healed. This isn’t about me and my message that comes from a place of love. This is about what happened to you when you were a child. This is about undoing the wrongs and making rights. It is also what’s empowered you to use your words and fight for unfair, unjust, and criminal acts against women.
What happened to you is something you never deserved. I’m so sorry you went through that and went through it alone. That was a terrible tragedy. I’m also sorry that my reflections and my latest art has effectively forced you to confront these events that were harmful, degrading, and unnatural.
I’m preparing something “in essay” format for your readers. However, disturbed and upset I still feel by your recent insults and misjudgments, I’ll try to look past it because this isn’t a piece to defend. This is a follow-up, which I’ll send when ready.
Please take care and find some peace and solidarity today through something beautiful you appreciate. Most importantly take solace in my words, for you will see in due time, the bigger message behind it all.
Anne to Taryn:
Yes, Taryn, it IS about your title ‘The Offering” and the image you have put forth as an ideal image for women. I have women writing me asking “Why did she call it ‘The Offering” and she is in a totally submissive position like that. She looks deranged and humiliated. How is that a positive image for women, Anne? Why did she call it ‘The Offering’? So YOU write and I will repost exactly your words. What do you mean by ‘The Offering’ and what would I see in that one image and your words, if I wasn’t recovering from old wounds as you write. You never did say what you want women to learn from that photo, Taryn. So why don’t you answer their questions and Ellen’s excellent article honestly. What is ‘The Offering’ really about?
They ask me “Why is she gagged?” “Why did she give up her voice and prostate herself like that? What is she telling me to do?” You are dealing with a generally stupid bunch of women who just don’t understand your lofty, artistic intention. In fact, I don’t know one woman who isn’t confused about the message you are sending us with that title and image. We thought we knew because generally we love the other images. But your imaginary interview, title ‘The Offering’ and totally degrading image of yourself are too complicated for our brains to understand. So why don’t you cut us all a break and state what you intention was with this title and that image.
The difference between you and me, Taryn, is that you submit. You want a daddy and if you can be adored by the patriarchy, you will sell every woman around you down the river. It’s as simple as that. I’ve known other women like you in life, but I admit that you got by me. I thought you were a strong woman based on your other editorials. Now I see you as a closet submissive who is trying to perpetuate your message far and wide and you are no different from Phylis Schlafly to me. You can be The Secretary for all I care; it’s different strokes for different folks. But don’t criticize the rest of us who are fighting to be taken seriously as intelligent women who are equals to men. Men have totally fucked up this world and I will not prostate myself to men with a ball being gagged. Personally, the vision disgusts me because I fight for women not to be chained and flogged. I will not be an Offering and I am proud to be a feminist. I didn’t read your message and asked a friend to do it. He failed, so I just read it. You are really arrogant Taryn. No problem. Enjoy your membership in the creative class.
Quite frankly, I believe that women are superior to men as generals, as presidents and as leaders of corporations. Most studies suggest this to be the case. So you bow down to the guys and I will align myself with enlightened men who are happy to collaborate and share power with women . . . men who believe that only women can get us out of this mess.
I’ve decided to close all further comments on Taryn Andreatta until she delivers the essay on the meaning of ‘The Offering’, her ‘interview’ and what her message is to women out female submission. Taryn has promised this writing for about two months and is “working on it”. My positions are well stated and it’s time for Taryn to reciprocate.
All comments on her editorial “The Offering” are closed. Nor will I use the photo that has many of us so confused, nor her words again in any of my writing. If Taryn delivers the essay, it will be posted with no comment from me. And that will be the end of this entire conversation. Best, Anne