So, this morning I logged on to find this piece of art
(and its artist) under fire for misogyny and even racism
And, having looked at it, and looked into it, I feel that I really do have to raise an opposing voice. I don't think that this picture is misogynist or racist, and I even think it communicates a positive message.
So, why is this?
First, context: according to the artist's DeviantArt page, this was drawn for a client as part of a fetish called "transformation" (an example of this fetish played straight up by the same artist can be found here
). So, right on the surface, we have a deliberate subversion of a fetish revolving around intelligent women being transformed into empty-headed sex objects. One can certainly argue that the fetish itself is sexist or misogynist, but this picture is turning that fetish on its head.
Digging deeper, the picture starts with a woman where everything about her is fake. Her hair colour is fake, her tan is fake (it's orange instead of a natural brown), her height is fake (she's wearing shoes that specifically make her look taller), her smile is fake, and there's even an implication that her breasts are fake. Even her walk is an affectation, pushing her breasts and hindquarters out on display. As the picture progresses, each image of her drops the affectations. She loses the fake tan, the dyed hair, stops wearing shoes that make her look taller than she is, and the final image is just her
- who she really is, in comfortable clothes, with no affectations.
And, most importantly of all, the catalyst for this change is a book - it's knowledge
. One can't really say where she's going in the final transformation (it could be to a coffee shop to meet some friends), but the book and the backpack suggest that she is on her way to class to better herself. And, in the final image, she is smiling - not the fake teeth-bearing smile as she walks that suggests a performance for others, but a small, natural smile suggesting true happiness.
The interpretation of art is subjective by nature, and I suppose that one can see racism in the change in her skin colour as she loses the tan, or misogyny in the shrinking of the breasts, but that really looks to me like people twisting themselves into a pretzel to be offended. Instead, there's a clear message here (even if the artist did, as he said
in the comments section on DeviantArt, just consider it a run-of-the-mill porn art commission) that in gaining knowledge lies learning that you can drop affectations and just be yourself - and that this is the path to true happiness.
I don't think that's offensive in the slightest.