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Letīs talk about nudity...


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Le Fanu's Avatar
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Letīs talk about nudity...


Ok, Im hijacking a thread which Cat was going to start, but now is as good a time as any, seeing the way that a couple of unrelated threads have currently picked up on this.

Whatīs with the dated, 1950s style comic book/ Playboy nudity in so many (particularly Scarabeo) decks?

Let me get something straight; I love nudity. I know itīs a metaphor for nakedness of spirit, candidness, of being at ease, lack of deceit etc etc. Im not talking about that kind of nakedness. Im talking about tremulous, heaving, breast-baring nudity in which women (never men) go about expressing their time-honoured tarot traditions (pouring from urns, sitting on thrones, holding scales, swords, batons) but with breasts accidentally popping out, and buttocks exaggeratedly pert?

Why does this bother me? Two reasons. Itīs not the nakedness as candidness stuff. Secondly, itīs never men. Why donīt we see The Hanging Man naked more often, with gravity-defying member? (Ok, you get it on the Haindl, but when they tried to do it on the Rohrig it was quickly "reissued" as if we werenīt quite ready to deal with it) The nudity is never democratic, itīs a kind of "nudity" from 50 years back. I could be wrong, but I always suspect that the majority of tarot readers are women. Do they want to see this? Some do (Cat, for instance) But do the rest of the female members here not find some of these images a bit uncomfortable or gratuitous or unnecessary? And who do you think theyīre aimed at?

Thereīs the Rohrig (great deck; but you do get a sense of male libido working over-time). Thereīs the Klimt (which I love, but by being so stripped of meatiness they strike me as having been largely assexualised). Itīs mainly the Scarabeo comic-book style ones. And the consciously "erotic" ones. The Casanova; contorting nude women and heavily buttoned-up men.

I mean, why?
Top   #1
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Because sex sells. Haven't you noticed that on TV they even try to make things like car tires sexy? That's it plain and simple.

And there are lots of naked men in decks, even on the Hanged Man card. Is that supposed to be a pun?
Top   #2
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Le Fanu,
This imbalance in nudity isn't unique just to tarot. Look around. How many magazines show half naked or fully naked men? Yet, there is a long list of men's magazines with naked women. In movies, how often do we see a man without clothes? Very seldom. If they show a man's bare backside it is surprizing. I think it is very slowly starting to change but it probably won't change until women change. Men (in general) want to see naked women. Women still put a higher importance on the quality of the relationship than on just sex. I think a lot of women would look at a picture of a man doing something that is tender and gentle as being romantic and 'sexy' even if he were fully clothed. If women start demanding to see the total package, it will probably happen. I guess I just don't see that many women wanting that. (I don't want to imply that we women don't want to look, of course we do, it's just that I think we put higher value on other qualities.) One of my favorite decks is the Cosmic Tribe. It is an equal opportunity nudity deck! And yes, I think the Knight of Swords has a very nice sword. ;-}
Top   #3
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*grin* We must have been writing at the same time, Le Fanu.

My thread on erotic decks (with an emphasis on their merits and on exchanging reading experiences with them) is also open now (over here). Since the two threads have a different focus, I suggest keeping both discussions up and (hopefully) running.

And now I'll read what has been written here. Be right back.
Top   #4
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Oops... Funny, I had a sense this might be happening as I was writing... If the Moderators want to merge them, thatīs fine.

Or maybe the discussion will develop in different ways...

Im glad you started your thread. I knew youīd have interesting observations to make...
Top   #5

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Raeanne's right - the imbalance is everywhere. So much so, that I think women are largely desensitised to it, hardly even noticing naked women any more. Look, for example, at sculpture. How many classical-type works of art featuring scantily-clad mermaids and nymphs have been knocked off for the purposes of cheap (and nasty, if I may add) water-features in pretentious suburban gardens?

*NOTE: Don't take offence if you have one!*

It's everywhere, and we're used to it. I know someone's going to say, "But that doesn't make it right!" and that's true. But it's my take on "Why?"

Also, I think there's an element of removing female nudity from the explicitly sexual; whereas a naked male just screams "sex!!" to a woman. I don't know how to explain it, but I get a more spiritual sense from nekkid chicks than nekkid men (I so wanted to type something else there )

But I agree about the comic-book nudity. The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn has to be one of the worst I've seen for it that isn't specifically an erotic deck. What's with those Princesses??? I don't think it's necessary and it's certainly not in the slightest bit realistic. IMO, it's distracting from what could have been a really serious and useful deck there - an intellectually fulfilling deck sabotaged by the culture of spotty adolescent comic-book fans *sigh*

Oh well. Back to the Thoth At least the nudity there is abstract and somewhat implicit . . .

\m/ Kat
Top   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu
Whatīs with the dated, 1950s style comic book/ Playboy nudity in so many (particularly Scarabeo) decks?
[...]
Im talking about tremulous, heaving, breast-baring nudity in which women (never men) go about expressing their time-honoured tarot traditions (pouring from urns, sitting on thrones, holding scales, swords, batons) but with breasts accidentally popping out, and buttocks exaggeratedly pert?
Well, as Grizabella already said, sex sells. BUT: Since the large majority of tarot readers (and therefore, tarot deck buyers) are women, this is actually an interesting argument... Then again, don't many of us like looking at beautiful women, no matter if we are heterosexual or not? Otherwise, most fashion magazines wouldn't make much sense... (I'm going to spare you the details of all those Cultural Studies theories about the "female gaze" here, okay? Let's just say that the line between identifying with another woman and desiring her can be quite fuzzy for some/many of us.)

I also believe that female nudity is an age-old tradition in Western art (just think of all those Eves, love goddesses and bathing women...), so that probably also plays a role in what artists consider acceptable. Comics, in particular have a strong tradition of depicting impossibly idealized women (and men, I might add) - so I'm not surprised to see that aesthetic repeated in tarot decks that are painted by comic artists (I understand that many Lo Scarabeo decks are, please correct me if this is wrong).

It might have to do with cultural differences between Europe and the USA, too. It seems that nudity generally just isn't that much of an issue over here. "We" are much more used to seeing naked female breasts in public (on real women, in advertising, in art photography, etc.), so maybe our general tolerance level is higher. That would also influence what is considered a suitable illustration for a Lo Scarabeo deck. (Forgive me for extremely oversimplifying and homogenizing Europe here.)

That said, I certainly don't believe that "it's always been like this" is a valuable argument for not changing things. So the above reasons are meant as explanations rather than as justifications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu
Why does this bother me? Two reasons. Itīs not the nakedness as candidness stuff. Secondly, itīs never men. Why donīt we see The Hanging Man naked more often, with gravity-defying member? (Ok, you get it on the Haindl, but when they tried to do it on the Rohrig it was quickly "reissued" as if we werenīt quite ready to deal with it)
I agree with the general criticism here. Even though I personally prefer to see naked women instead of naked men (if I have to choose), I still believe that male bodies are interesting subjects for (tarot/erotic) art. When I recently learned about the reissue of the Röhrig, I just shook my head about the ridiculous "diapers."

But we shouldn't equate female breasts with male genitals. There still is a strong taboo to depicting anyone's genitals. This goes doubly so for male genitals because seemingly they are often perceived as a weapon of some kind (I remember a discussion about the half-naked guy in the World Spirit's Ten of Pentacles...).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu
The nudity is never democratic, itīs a kind of "nudity" from 50 years back. I could be wrong, but I always suspect that the majority of tarot readers are women. Do they want to see this? Some do (Cat, for instance) But do the rest of the female members here not find some of these images a bit uncomfortable or gratuitous or unnecessary? And who do you think theyīre aimed at?
Yes, much of the nudity is certainly unnecessary (unless the deck was specifically intended as an erotic one - and even then we could ask if eroticism couldn't be effectively expressed in other ways, too), as well as sexistly distributed. I also understand why a professional reader would be uncomfortable with using decks with a lot of nudity, especially if they didn't know if their clients objected.

I'm also a bit bored by only seeing "perfect" naked bodies - why can't we have more images like the big beautiful Universe of the World Spirit Tarot? Why not show a few older people amongst all those nudes? Don't we get to be naked in spirit and at ease once we're over 50? (And what about throwing in a short-haired woman or a person with glasses while we're at it? The Minors at least should offer the freedom to do just that...) But then again, there are a lot of people out there who don't want to look at regular folks in their tarot art (or fashion magazines, or erotic films, or comic books) because us normal-bodied people seem to ruin their ideal fantasy world...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Fanu
Itīs mainly the Scarabeo comic-book style ones. And the consciously "erotic" ones. The Casanova; contorting nude women and heavily buttoned-up men.
As to comic-book style decks: I think this largely boils down to a matter of taste. Either you like that style and then you'll delight in buying many Lo Scarabeo decks, or you don't and then you need to look elsewhere. Personally, I think it's a pity that Lo Scarabeo doesn't offer a wider range of styles in decks (not counting the historical ones here) because I really love some of their ideas for themes and deck structures but don't care much for the style. The Manara really seems to be an exception here for me, aesthetically speaking.

As to erotic decks: As much as I like the Manara (which also features many many scantily-clad women and very few (half-)naked men), I would appreciate it even more if it had a wider range of body types and couple combinations (it can be a stretch do read for queer people with a thoroughly heterosexual deck!). Now if only I were better at drawing humans...!
Top   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorhammer
Raeanne's right - the imbalance is everywhere. So much so, that I think women are largely desensitised to it, hardly even noticing naked women any more. Look, for example, at sculpture. How many classical-type works of art featuring scantily-clad mermaids and nymphs have been knocked off for the purposes of cheap (and nasty, if I may add) water-features in pretentious suburban gardens?
Heh, all that talk about women pouring water reminds me of an art lesson back then... The (male) teacher had us examine some of those ridiculous postures (would you really lift a large, heavy urn full of water up over your head to pour from it while you pose elegantly on one leg?!) and helped us realize that many of these pieces of classic art actually served erotic purposes for their buyers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by thorhammer
Also, I think there's an element of removing female nudity from the explicitly sexual; whereas a naked male just screams "sex!!" to a woman.
Very good point.

I'd like that female nudity is also often seen as vulnerability whereas male nudity is often seen as some sort of "threat." This is certainly due to age-old patriarchal (there, I've said it) structures in our minds and lives, but that still doesn't make it right. (Look at the Manara's Empress to get a different idea of female nudity and power.)

To get back to that Ten of Pentacles in the World Spirit: the creators said it was about the guy being free to do what he wants and if he wanted to meditate without his pants, good for him - but some people saw an immediate threat to the children in the same card. I don't think anyone would have reacted that way if it had been a woman without pants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thorhammer
But I agree about the comic-book nudity. The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn has to be one of the worst I've seen for it that isn't specifically an erotic deck. What's with those Princesses??? I don't think it's necessary and it's certainly not in the slightest bit realistic. IMO, it's distracting from what could have been a really serious and useful deck there - an intellectually fulfilling deck sabotaged by the culture of spotty adolescent comic-book fans *sigh*
*lol* What a great description of what's going on there! I agree, comic-book nudity usually isn't the way to go when you want to get something serious across. (Not that sexuality isn't serious and/or spiritual, but you know what I mean...) You wouldn't wear a short short skirt and revealing blouse if you wanted to be taken seriously as a financial expert, automechanic, or teacher either, no matter how much you enjoyed such clothing when you were not at work.
Top   #8
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A naked man does not scream "SEX!!" to me .... it screams, "HON! Where'd you put my clean underwear?"

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skydancer
A naked man does not scream "SEX!!" to me .... it screams, "HON! Where'd you put my clean underwear?"

A friend once said that naked men (except the one you happen to love at the time) just make her giggle. I have to say, I can see her point..... Unless in use the dangly bits are a bit ridiculous.....
Top   #10

 





 



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