From the mailbag, reader Matt reports that the Guardian published an article about a man who furtively took bad photos of women in bathing suits and drew in their breasts and hips when the photos didn’t turn out so well. The article’s author is so busy sympathizing with the photographer’s inability to get laid that he neglects to so much as mention that the women he photographed may have found his coping method more than a little creepy.
You might be interested in this piece from the Guardian’s website – http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/aug/02/art.photography
Now I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t some sort of elaborate scam, but even making that assumption the article is still somewhat disturbing. There’s a lot of talk about photographic kit, about what may be mental illness (a worrying romanticisation in itself), and about the biographies of various male artists and photographers. But nowhere are the supposed subjects of Miroslav Tichy’s photographs, the women, given more than the most cursory mention.
No mention of stalking, of how creepy it might be to have some furtive, unknown man snatching photos of you, or much sign at all that women are anything more than mysterious objects to be stared at.
One of the most distasteful passages will be a familiar subject to your readers:
“In the summer of 1991, I went to live in Paris for a while. It was blazing hot, I knew almost no one and was in a torment of loneliness and sexual frustration. My apartment was a pit, so I spent the afternoons in the park, looking, hoping, torn between the desire to talk to one of the many women sunbathing and terrified that to do so was a form of harassment. Meanwhile, other men were doing exactly what I wanted to do, sitting down, chatting to women – and not always getting told to shove off. I remember being crushed by the way the simple mathematics of desire refused to come out right: there were so many women in the world, how could it be so difficult to find one? The question contains its answer: it’s that tormenting and beckoning one, the chance in a million that non-mathematicians call love.”
Perhaps naively I’m surprised that in the twenty-first century a liberal newspaper could publish this.
I found the whole article’s tone too retro to qualify as twenty-first century. The quoted paragraph above is from the perspective of the author, not a quote from the photographer. The author identifies with the photographer – two horny guys getting rejected by the gatekeepers of sex. He remembers not being sure whether talking to a woman in a bathing suit would be considered harassment. Clearly, sexual harassment is on his mind, but not as something bad that happens to the harassed – rather, as something that removes courting options from Nice Guys who very, very badly need to get their penises serviced. That, in his mind, is the tragedy.