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Naked Girls Reading impressions

By Barcham 12 December 2013 44

Title

So last night I went to go see Naked Girls Reading at the Polit Bar.

Now in interest of full disclosure: Naked Girls Reading event is run by Tiffany Blue who happens to be a member of the Sass & Tease Collective which I am also a part of. Also most of the readers were also members of this collective one of whom is my girlfriend. So bias ahoy is basically what I’m saying.

I quite liked it.

It’s in Manuka, which is a drag because… well Manuka, but Polit bar was a nice friendly bar with some nice food and some great cocktails. It sat at the top of a flight of stairs behind a black curtain and seemed exactly like the kind of place one might go to see some burlesque.

Oddly enough the event was very non-burlesque. There was nudity dressed up in sparkly jewelery and lipstick and high heels and all that, but there was none of the show or spectacle of a burlesque show. None of the energy or tease. Here were four girls sitting on a stage.

The “Naked Girls” part of the title obviously lured a lot of people into the venue, but it quickly turned out to be the least important part of the event. (If you were suddenly thought “Ha! Yeah right!” congratulations, you’re incredibly boring and unimaginative.)

Yes the girls were pretty, but the reading was the star. About 10 minutes into the event a quick glance around the room showed people with their eyes closed or staring aimlessly ahead instead of at the stage. People were just tuning out everything but the stories. It was quite amazing.

The power of someone reading you a story should not be underestimated and many people may not have had this pleasure since they were children. There was something profoundly comforting and enjoyable about it.

The night had some teething problems with sound and lighting, and the performers obviously needed to warm up their voices more to fix some of the projection and diction problems, but these were small quibbles. The girls were open and honest about the fact that this wasn’t a conventional style of event and that they were kind of making it up as they went and the audience respected that. I’m interested to see how they improve it.

I suggest checking it out, even if you were into nudity before hipsters tried to make it cool or whatever if was everyone was saying in the last thread.
Wear a blindfold if you must, but go just to be read to. It’s quite a nice feeling.

Sorry about the lack of photos, but y’know, there are rules about this sort of thing.


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Naked Girls Reading impressions
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maxblues 6:51 am 21 Dec 13

Naked women reading in a bar, four things the Taliban are against. If we oppose any of these four things…then the terrorists have already won.

AsparagusSyndrome 2:05 am 21 Dec 13

I find it disempowering when others flaunt their literacy at me. Their tight grammar, accurate pronunciation and intonation; their informed choice of texts to suit the development of an intellectual discourse; their broad understanding of the milieu in which their reading and storylines will be interpreted, their development of responsive sub-narratives and juxtaposition through body language, audience interaction and facile expression, and their smooth tonal control and contrived sub-lingual resonances. You cannot tell me that’s not just exhibitionism. I could never do that.

tikbalang 5:49 pm 20 Dec 13

Some thoughts.

Barcham said :

I think the purpose/intent of the nudity is slightly different for each girl/chapter. I’ve heard talk of the idea that having nude performers creates an instant intimacy for the event which makes sense, I’ve also been told that fro some the goal is to take the human body away from something we only see in porn and show it doing something normal and natural.

It helps to understand what pornography is, i suppose – for me, one of the crucial aspects of it is that it replaces a something directly lived (sex) with a representation. This isn’t a moral point (or at least not a prudish one) – it is a social one, and goes to our experience of life. Unless you’d make the argument that there is nothing wrong with this separation of the human from human experience, we have the basis for mounting an argument about why pornography is, at least, banal and, at most, harmful.

So now we’re in a position to talk about why Naked Girls Reading doesn’t fit into the definition of the pornographic (or at least, how it might not). I didn’t go to this, but conceptually it’s pretty clear that the intent isn’t to replace some form of lived experience with some kind of representation. You are actually living a particular experience which is derived from the tension between sex and literature – and maybe even throwing into high relief how the text being read does (or doesn’t) call our attention to the physical and active possibilities of art. That being said, I could see how the form potentially could be used simply to titillate. I’d have to think more about that before I could argue whether that would be pornographic, but it still might not.

Barcham said :

Some just want to sexy-up literature, which does in the end fall roughly into the realm of pornography.

Still that’s cool too. Their bodies, their choice, and power to anyone who wants to make porn into beautiful intelligent women classical literature instead of pool cleaners having their way naughty housewives.

This is kind of less interesting. “My body, my choice” is a good slogan but it doesn’t stand for much. After all, while people have agency they are also bound by structure. That is to say, the choices are in many ways defined for you. Others have talked about this as the “rigged game” of official culture and that metaphor probably serves to illustrate what I mean sufficiently. We can respect bodies, choices, people, and still have the right to positions on those choices, why they were made, what coercive forces were in play. For example, ‘my body, my choice’ seems like a pretty sick joke if we’re talking about some Chinese dude selling his kidney because it’s the only way he’s going to afford that month’s groceries after the harvest fails.

Barcham said :

In the end, like I said in the review, I don’t feel like it added much to the event, but that’s just me and what I took from it doesn’t necessarily reflect what they tried to do with it.

Maybe, in the end, all it served was to attract a few gents who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered like you suggested, but maybe it did more than that for some audience members.

I don’t know

I can tell you that the audience was largely couples, or mixed sex groups of friends, for what that information is worth.

The important issue here is that whatever their goal, we shouldn’t be “slut-shaming” these women by calling them sexist, or insecure, or accusing them of just pandering to lonely men, simply for choosing to use their bodies and sexuality differently than we use ours. When we shame women for going against the patriarchal ideal that a woman’s body should be kept hidden her whole life until she gives it to her husband, it’s like we’re suggesting that it’s not actually hers to do with as she pleases and instead she’s merely the caretaker looking after it until a man turns up to claim it, and that’s kinda ****ed up.

See above, I guess.

CraigT 5:34 pm 20 Dec 13

Barcham said :

I don’t know what’s more hilarious and offensive, the idea that men are powerless when presented with naked girl flesh, or the idea that women are actively conspiring to rule over us using their mind control tits.

You may scoff at the power-imbalance that is created by female nudity, but it does exist, and female people do use it to their advantage.

It appears from your scoffing that you are somewhat sexist. Or, more likely, you have been indoctrinated by powerful strippers.

Barcham 4:56 pm 20 Dec 13

Watson said :

Barcham said :

The best burlesque I’ve seen has been harrowing, hilarious, or sometimes both.

But there’s the difference for me. If the nudity or sexual context is part of the joke, then yes, it serves a purpose. But what purpose does the nudity in the book reading serve, other than drawing people to the event who might otherwise not have considered going?

A good question.

I think the purpose/intent of the nudity is slightly different for each girl/chapter. I’ve heard talk of the idea that having nude performers creates an instant intimacy for the event which makes sense, I’ve also been told that fro some the goal is to take the human body away from something we only see in porn and show it doing something normal and natural.

Some just want to sexy-up literature, which does in the end fall roughly into the realm of pornography.

Still that’s cool too. Their bodies, their choice, and power to anyone who wants to make porn into beautiful intelligent women classical literature instead of pool cleaners having their way naughty housewives.

In the end, like I said in the review, I don’t feel like it added much to the event, but that’s just me and what I took from it doesn’t necessarily reflect what they tried to do with it.

Maybe, in the end, all it served was to attract a few gents who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered like you suggested, but maybe it did more than that for some audience members.

I don’t know

I can tell you that the audience was largely couples, or mixed sex groups of friends, for what that information is worth.

The important issue here is that whatever their goal, we shouldn’t be “slut-shaming” these women by calling them sexist, or insecure, or accusing them of just pandering to lonely men, simply for choosing to use their bodies and sexuality differently than we use ours. When we shame women for going against the patriarchal ideal that a woman’s body should be kept hidden her whole life until she gives it to her husband, it’s like we’re suggesting that it’s not actually hers to do with as she pleases and instead she’s merely the caretaker looking after it until a man turns up to claim it, and that’s kinda ****ed up.

Barcham 4:14 pm 20 Dec 13

HiddenDragon said :

zorro29 said :

*eats popcorn…

I love it when Barcham goes native…esp when it gets nice and personal like this.

And unless (in my excitement) I’ve missed it, we’ve not yet got on to the eternal question of redress – i.e. naked boys reading – fasten your seat belts!

Naked Boys Reading is a thing, you could start up a local chapter if you feel there’s a need for it.

https://www.facebook.com/nbrldn

HiddenDragon 3:30 pm 20 Dec 13

zorro29 said :

*eats popcorn…

I love it when Barcham goes native…esp when it gets nice and personal like this.

And unless (in my excitement) I’ve missed it, we’ve not yet got on to the eternal question of redress – i.e. naked boys reading – fasten your seat belts!

zorro29 3:20 pm 20 Dec 13

*eats popcorn…

I love it when Barcham goes native…esp when it gets nice and personal like this.

HiddenDragon 3:03 pm 20 Dec 13

Au naturel readings from Anna Politkovskaya – that could be a new career direction for the amnestied Pussy Riot – Gorbachev once graced Manuka with his presence, so why not the Russian Rioters!

Watson 2:39 pm 20 Dec 13

Barcham said :

The best burlesque I’ve seen has been harrowing, hilarious, or sometimes both.

But there’s the difference for me. If the nudity or sexual context is part of the joke, then yes, it serves a purpose. But what purpose does the nudity in the book reading serve, other than drawing people to the event who might otherwise not have considered going?

Barcham 12:59 pm 20 Dec 13

Watson said :

If it serves a purpose other than marketing, yes. And isn’t there a big difference between art and p0rn? What makes that difference then according to you? And how did you decide which category this particular event fits into?

Exhibitionism comes in many forms and is never pretty… I feel women flaunting their stuff in public has way more to do with a deep insecurity about their gender identity than with confidence and free will. The female equivalent of machismo perhaps.

We live in a society where women already have the freedom to do this and I am very grateful to those who fought hard to get women that kind of liberty. It’s not because you can that you have to though.

I have heard a few different definitions over time, but the one I like the most is this:

If something is designed with the sole goal of sexually exciting someone, it’s pornography.This may or may not involve nudity and/or sex.

If something is designed to be sexy, but the sexiness of it is used as a part of a bigger picture then it is not, by definition, pornographic. Depending on exactly how sex is used it may be erotica (which is generally driven primarily by sex, but the sex is used to make a point rather than just arouse) or it may be something else that just happens to be a bit sexy.

Like I said the presence of nudity, or sex, actually has very little to do with whether something is pornographic. Context and intent are key.

Some burlesque is pornographic, but the best burlesque falls into the erotica zone. Yeah there’s nudity, but there’s a point to it. The best burlesque I’ve seen has been harrowing, hilarious, or sometimes both.

Thumper 12:42 pm 20 Dec 13

“A man’s responses to the female form puts women in a position of power when it comes to how they wield that form. Strippers reading books in the nude is just another way they are trying to manipulate men using their power. Feminism just doesn’t come into it. Quite the opposite. This is a form of oppression against men.”

Oppression against men?

hahaha, seriously?

Barcham 12:17 pm 20 Dec 13

CraigT said :

A man’s responses to the female form puts women in a position of power when it comes to how they wield that form. Strippers reading books in the nude is just another way they are trying to manipulate men using their power. Feminism just doesn’t come into it. Quite the opposite. This is a form of oppression against men.

Tell your girlfriend to grow up and get a real job, Barcham.

I don’t know what’s more hilarious and offensive, the idea that men are powerless when presented with naked girl flesh, or the idea that women are actively conspiring to rule over us using their mind control tits.

Maybe your response to the female form makes you an easily manipulated target, but I’d prefer it if you stopped suggesting that all men are as weak willed and sex crazed as you must be if you lose all self control over the sight of a nipple.

Also tell my girlfriend to grow up? How about you grow up and stop being so scared of girls my friend.

Oppression against men? Jesus…

Watson 11:23 am 20 Dec 13

Barcham said :

Choices do matter, and the choice to use nudity in performance and in art is a valid one for both men and women. The naked body is not inherently pornographic, and while there are those that will view any situation involving a naked body as such, that certainly does not mean all will, and it absolutely does not make nudity into pornography.

If it serves a purpose other than marketing, yes. And isn’t there a big difference between art and p0rn? What makes that difference then according to you? And how did you decide which category this particular event fits into?

Exhibitionism comes in many forms and is never pretty… I feel women flaunting their stuff in public has way more to do with a deep insecurity about their gender identity than with confidence and free will. The female equivalent of machismo perhaps.

We live in a society where women already have the freedom to do this and I am very grateful to those who fought hard to get women that kind of liberty. It’s not because you can that you have to though.

CraigT 6:35 am 20 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

Watson said :

Professional strippers reading books instead of pole dancing. I like that perspective.

And I also like Mossy’s explanation.

I liked your explanation best. In the absence of context it’s just nudism and thus basically pointless.

BTW guys I don’t mean to say that it was marketed as a feminist event. I didn’t think it was marketed as anything at all; when I went past and saw the poster that said “Naked girls reading” I simply assumed it was a silly name for a band or event. It’s the comments about how empowering nudity is that surprise me. It’s not that nudity is particularly awful, just that it’s not proving anything either.

A man’s responses to the female form puts women in a position of power when it comes to how they wield that form. Strippers reading books in the nude is just another way they are trying to manipulate men using their power. Feminism just doesn’t come into it. Quite the opposite. This is a form of oppression against men.

Tell your girlfriend to grow up and get a real job, Barcham.

CraigT 6:34 am 20 Dec 13

DrKoresh said :

Barcham said :

You fail to point out where this “fundamental flaw” actually is. You’re setting up a false dichotomy there, something can be both liberating and empowering for women while being enjoyable for men. It’s not necessarily an either or argument so don’t present it that way.

Beyond that you are completely taking away the agency of the participants in these events, both male and female, with this doom and gloom damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario.

“We live in a patriarchy, so therefore everything is for men and nobodies choices matter whatsoever!”

Choices do matter, and the choice to use nudity in performance and in art is a valid one for both men and women. The naked body is not inherently pornographic, and while there are those that will view any situation involving a naked body as such, that certainly does not mean all will, and it absolutely does not make nudity into pornography.

I’m with you Barcham, all this outrage is just prudishness being poorly framed as progressive rather than repressive in intent. If you are truly a feminist then how can you justify judging the way these girls are expressing themselves? Telling women how they should behave and shaming them for doing otherwise seems to be the antithesis of feminism to me, but everyone seems to have their own definition.

So you can’t give any subjective opinion on any woman’s behaviour because that makes you an anti-feminist.

Got it.

BimboGeek 7:28 pm 19 Dec 13

Watson said :

Professional strippers reading books instead of pole dancing. I like that perspective.

And I also like Mossy’s explanation.

I liked your explanation best. In the absence of context it’s just nudism and thus basically pointless.

BTW guys I don’t mean to say that it was marketed as a feminist event. I didn’t think it was marketed as anything at all; when I went past and saw the poster that said “Naked girls reading” I simply assumed it was a silly name for a band or event. It’s the comments about how empowering nudity is that surprise me. It’s not that nudity is particularly awful, just that it’s not proving anything either.

DrKoresh 5:21 pm 19 Dec 13

Barcham said :

You fail to point out where this “fundamental flaw” actually is. You’re setting up a false dichotomy there, something can be both liberating and empowering for women while being enjoyable for men. It’s not necessarily an either or argument so don’t present it that way.

Beyond that you are completely taking away the agency of the participants in these events, both male and female, with this doom and gloom damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario.

“We live in a patriarchy, so therefore everything is for men and nobodies choices matter whatsoever!”

Choices do matter, and the choice to use nudity in performance and in art is a valid one for both men and women. The naked body is not inherently pornographic, and while there are those that will view any situation involving a naked body as such, that certainly does not mean all will, and it absolutely does not make nudity into pornography.

I’m with you Barcham, all this outrage is just prudishness being poorly framed as progressive rather than repressive in intent. If you are truly a feminist then how can you justify judging the way these girls are expressing themselves? Telling women how they should behave and shaming them for doing otherwise seems to be the antithesis of feminism to me, but everyone seems to have their own definition.

grunge_hippy 4:54 pm 19 Dec 13

So, in the interest of fairness, was/will there be there naked men reading?

maxblues 4:21 pm 19 Dec 13

poetix said :

Still, why do the readers have to be naked?

I wouldn’t go for exactly that reason, however much I like books and hearing them read. It is a fundamentally sexist idea, and it makes me very sad.

I note you didn’t say which books were read.

When did you join the Taliban, Poetix?

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