Filament Magazine: The Thinking Woman's Crumpet
To clarify from my celebration of "Dress Like a Whore" Day: I do understand the Feminism 101 concepts of the "male gaze" and its companion objectification, wherein women are reduced to bodies existing only for men's pleasure. There is already a huge assortment of feminist treatises showing how objectification and unrealistic beauty expectations damage women. But then, however problematically, none of my Women's Studies courses have stopped me from feeling a great erotic charge from intentional exhibitionism. So for years I've been working to articulate how I, as woman, can occasionally enjoy the role of the flashy slut without being reduced to "only" a slut. (Step one is the deliberate choice.)
And then a fellow kinky female friend introduced me to the brilliant Filament magazine, subtitled "The Thinking Woman's Crumpet." Instead of fighting the erotic "gaze" as inherently evil, Filament fights for straight women's right to gaze at men.
To put a philosophy behind its glossy pages of beautiful naked men, editor Suraya Sidhu Singh writes in Volume II:
It's hard to imagine how a society in which women are seen as erotic subjects by men, but men are not seen as erotic subjects by women, can also be a society in which broader equality exists... The vista in every newsagent suggests that being an erotic subject is a gender role, not a personal choice.
And continues on Filament's FAQ page:
Surely popularising erotic images of men legitimises degrading images of women?
‘Erotic’ and ‘degrading’ are polar opposites as far as we’re concerned. It’s natural to be attracted to viewing the human form erotically, and there is nothing inherently degrading about the subject being less clothed or more aroused. In conducting our research we’ve been heartened by the kinds of things that women are asking to see, namely more erotic imagery that depicts the subject as a person, not a sex object. We’re proud of catering to such twisted fancies.
These things research says women like in an image, it would be safe to assume men like the opposite?
No, in fact, that would probably be wrong. If anything, research suggests men and women find similar image qualities erotic.
The assumption that women and men are chalk and cheese is perhaps what led erotic image aimed at women to be so unappealing to women in the past. Erotic images for men are almost always shot in colour and in recognisable locations, and the models are usually looking at the camera. Meanwhile, supposedly erotic images for women are usually in black and white, shot on a plain studio backgrounds and often, the model’s whole head is out of frame. There was never any evidence to suggest women liked that kind of thing; it arose from the assumption that male and female erotic tastes were oppositional, which is wrong.
But what's especially refreshing about Filament (and little other pornography I've found on the internet or newsstands) is that it also presumes its readers' intellect. Instead of selling itself as "naughty," Filament intersperses between its nude photographs well-written articles that aren't necessarily "sexy." For example, Issue 2 includes a history of England's 19th-century prostitution laws, one woman's experience raising a child with cerebral palsy, and an explanation of the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira - along with advice for strap-on pegging. It's almost as if they think women who want to look at and/or fuck pretty menalso enjoy intellectual learning!
Which really should not be a novel idea, but then, I've never seen a magazine quite like it before.
Filament is based out of England but ships anywhere in the world. Support them.