Facebook Prude-Patrol Nixes Another Work Of Art By A Feminist, Entirely Proving Her Decades-Old Point

from the get-licked dept

We’re still fresh on the heels of Facebook’s overly broad and prudish decency rules resulting in the takedown of a bronze piece of artwork in the form of a mermaid statue that features bare metal breasts. Womens’ breasts, as we all know, are shameful things to be hidden from view, lest they corrupt the minds of the young children that were so nourished by them in their youth. Sigh.

Still, as dumb as that story was, and as indicative as it was of the problem of overly broad censorship guidelines employed in the name of decency, at least there were breasts. Metallic breasts, but breasts nonetheless. I have no idea how Facebook keeps this recent story from looking even more silly, in which it takes down a piece of artwork shared by Philidelphia Museum of Art that was constructed specifically to show how objectified women were in the 1960s.

The piece was created in 1964 by artist Evelyne Axell and is entitled “Ice Cream,” because it is a stylized painting of a woman enjoying an ice cream cone. The entire point of the piece was to challenge society on how it views women as sexual objects before anything else, such that this image of an everyday occurrence appears tantalizing when it should not.

The museum’s new post includes more details on the artwork: ” ‘Ice Cream’ (1964) was painted by Evelyne Axell, one of the first female Pop artists. Her work can be understood as a critique of mainstream Pop Art, in which women were often depicted as passive, decorative objects. In contrast, Axell sought to depict active, confident women who pursue satisfaction on their own terms—such as the protagonist of “Ice Cream,” who unabashedly enjoys her dessert. Axell’s provocative paintings challenge artistic conventions while also exhibiting a liberated, playful spirit characteristic of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”

Ironically, Facebook’s removal of the original post with the image of the painting, due to it “containing excessive amounts of skin or suggestive content”, exemplifies the entire point of the painting. Not only is there nothing in terms of skin to view in the painting, the “suggestive content” that Facebook is reacting to is only suggestive by way of society’s myopic view on women as sexual objects. It’s a woman enjoying an ice cream, not a woman performing the sex act that immediately leaps to mind. I’ll admit I had the same reaction as Facebook at first, because I’m part of the exact society upon which the piece is commenting. That’s the point.

For Facebook to take that down says nothing about its view on decency, but everything about how prudish censorship programs are too often employed to the detriment of much-needed culture.

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Companies: facebook, philadelphia museum of art

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Comments on “Facebook Prude-Patrol Nixes Another Work Of Art By A Feminist, Entirely Proving Her Decades-Old Point”

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Sctoe (profile) says:

Re: Seems sexual to you because it was meant to

“”The entire point of the piece was to challenge society on how it views women as sexual objects before anything else, such that this image of an everyday occurrence appears tantalizing when it should not. “

Sorry, but that particular, not very tapered ice cream cone with the glans-like scoop at the top is not an everyday occurrence. It was painted by an artist known for her erotic art, and is, I would say, deliberately sexual. Any guilt felt for noting that resemblance in this particular instance is entirely misplaced.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seems sexual to you because it was meant to

But wait! There’s a head that kind of looks human but is it female? No body, so hard to say. The ice cream cone doesn’t look like a penis, but everyone who looks at it seems to think it’s a penis. No wonder Facebook censored it. It raises too many questions such as, what actually is all that green and blue stuff? Probably that’s what makes the whole affair so profoundly… whatever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Seems sexual to you because it was meant to

Who said anything about being shocked? I find little shocking about either penises or ice cream.

I fail to see what silly thing I’ve done, either. I’ve just said it doesn’t look any more like one then the other. It only looks vaguely phallic, and only vaguely ice creamic (yes, I made that word up, but I’m standing by it).

Generally, I don’t see any reason to censor it, but it’s farcebook’s server. They can censor anything they like for any reason or no reason. If something about this whole affair was going to shock me, it would be that, and frankly it’s hardly the first time I’ve seen silly censorship (or even on the top 100 egregious cases of it).

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: It seems sexual because I as a human being am pretty sexually biased.

I’m not particularly into fellatio, but it’s a painting of a human with feminine features, and so part of my brain processes how much I want to have sex with her. (She’s cute, so quite a lot.)

Objectifying her would be saying that she is only an object for sexual gratification, and not a person with rights. I don’t agree with this, but we have a lot of elements of society (including no small number of laws) that do, for instance the restrictions on her abortion and birth control access due to the religious beliefs of others.

In fact, it is a very anti-erotic culture (thanks to 1500+ years of Judeo-Christian rule) that causes us to regard sex as a gutter-worthy topic, and that thinking about this woman sexually makes us wrong. (And that’s conflated with thinking about her as only a sexual object.)

So long as you still respect her and acknowledge her rights (including the right to not fuck you), it’s okay to be titillated by her eating ice cream.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It seems sexual because I as a human being am pretty sexually biased.


I actually think that suggestive things are actually what makes sex so great. I mean, obviously the act itself is awesome but what leads to it and/or suggests it is also amazing.

Other than that I do think we need more things like that paint focused on women in general. I personally don’t know what would be a suggestive alternative to a girl savoring an ice cream in a sensual way but with a guy so that’s a job for the creative girls out there. But it would be interesting to see a more even playing field there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“A misogynist is a person who hates women.”

Not in today’s usage. In today’s usage a misogynist is anyone who doesn’t believe men should be reviled for having a penis. Really, go look at the petulant children always crying misogyny, and you won ‘t find much if any misogyny there. Modern feminism is a joke, and a rather cruel one.

Sheman says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I agree 100% with you comments. It’s funny how over the last year I’ve heard that everything from air conditioning to Hawaiian shirts worn by scientists who land a spacecraft of a comet are sexist™ and mistreat every last woman they come into contact with.
It’s always interesting to see the fem-centric ladies and vagina-begger boys alike give females the benefit of the doubt towards their claims without a shred of proof, and no matter how petty, impossible, non-existent, or improbable. As if it’s some kind of blasphemy to even ask questions.
Now I don’t like censorship either and if this story is even true, it should never have happened but as is normal, I expect Techdirt to stay totally silent when it’s tthe feminists demanding the censorship like they went to the UN and tried to do. I figured that tech-dirt would be smarter than that. I saw someone above mention the old Womens KKK and I’ve read a few articles about that and it seems to be the origins of the feminist hate movement, but most of them either don’t know that or refuse to admit it. As for myself I am gay and don’t know why in the heck men tolerate this kind of attention whoring from females. I learned early on that most girls seem to like some drama and conflict in their daily lives, positive or negative (and that goes triple for those that lie and claim they don’t)
Males are already disadvantaged when compared with females society-wise, six-ways from Sunday.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Try a dictionary (other than your own), such as Merriam-Webster.
sexism: unfair treatment of people because of their sex; especially : unfair treatment of women

And misogyny is “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”, so it would appear they are slightly different. Firstly, the definition of sexism you provided isn’t specific to either sex, while misogyny is. Second, one can be misogynistic without actually treating women unfairly, and one can treat women unfairly because of their sex for reasons other than misogyny.

Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Of course you would, as would damn near every other person on the planet because the first response would be “How the fuck is that ice cream?”

THAT is the point, to artificially create an object to resemble (by one hell of a stretch of imagination) something that most people wouldn’t think of when seeing what they know they’re seeing.

Clever attempt, but poor execution.

Not that any of this matters. Facebook is in the wrong, especially when its own damn definition of “suggestive content”.

Think about it. What the hell does “suggestive content” mean and why in the hell is that phrase related to sexual content only?

Wouldn’t an ISIS recruitment post be considered “suggestive content”? No, of course not. That’s “terrorist propaganda”.

:eye rolling icon desperately needed here:

Anonymous Coward says:

EVERYTHING with those femroids is ALWAYS sexual. I try to not associate with extremist of any types who like to pretend they are never ending victims of some man or boy saying, “Hello”.
Basically the feminists are no different than the insecure cop that feels he (or OMG maybe she) NEEDS to beat down people to fulfill their power-trip addiction. feminism is a hate group if you read up on the history of the WKKK. (womens klan).
They want attention and should be ignored.

(also I am sure that as opposed as techdirt likes to pretend it is against censorship this comment will be deleted too, but that’s ok)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Welp… this is the natural course for anyone that has been wronged in the past.

Women have been wronged… you bet… but now instead of just swinging the pendulum to the middle where it needs to be, it is being swung to the other side where men are now being emasculated and anything man is just misogynistic in nature.

This is the same crap with the now white guilt, and hetero-phobic comments coming from the gay rights crowd where anything other than 100% support for the gay platform is bigotry that needs to addressed in a way that destroys people lives.

At the end of the day… people just like to bully others and the ones in the majority or loudest voice are the ones typically doing the bullying, even when they claim to just be getting compensation for their past troubles.

People were racist, it needs to stop but everyone is racist.
People were gender biased, but every is gender biased.

We are a pack of biased little idiots and the sooner we realize it the better and then, maybe need we can all be big enough to talk about our problems without getting all murderous on each other…

yea right who am I kidding we are terrible and evil and there will never be peace until there is only 1 culture left on the planet.

Let see who wins? I got the popcorn!

MikeC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Gender Wars

“We are a pack of biased little idiots and the sooner we realize it the better and then, maybe need we can all be big enough to talk about our problems without getting all murderous on each other…

yea right who am I kidding we are terrible and evil and there will never be peace until there is only 1 culture left on the planet.”

I created a desert and called it peace…

Anonymous Coward says:

That pic was clearly sexually or at least enough people thought so to report and have it removed. Facebook has always had a fem-slant to the entire thing from the start of it. And then there was that one facebook ceo lady who complained that men needed to do 100% of the hose work instead of the normal 50%.

“Women have been wronged… you bet” Where? Can you prove that outside of copypasta from fem-wikipedia?
Can you show me where women are at in the western world slaving away in cotton fields?

It does get old tho them seeing all males as sexual objects.

And remember kids women only make 7 cents to every $10,000 a man makes and and on college campuses 1000 out of every 4 women will be raped 500 times every day (or what ever stats the lame-stream media decides to invent this week)

And here all along I thought that Techdirt was above falling into the trap or being used by the fem-establishment

The only respectable womens rights person I’ve ever saw or heard of is Christina Hoff Summers who actually wants some fairness and not female supremacy and bigoted hate that the rest of them see to specialize it.

I will not help a feminist if I ever see one in trouble or else I would probably be accused and arrested for rape, sexism, racism (with no evidence)

And I don’t see why they are even bothering to complain about censorship since they seem to like it (when it’s against men or medicating boys for playing with hot-wheels cars or what ever other “destructive” urges)

Anonymous Coward says:

This whole only-women-are-objectified nonsense is getting rather old considering that plenty of male and female models/entertainers/actors openly choose to objectify themselves here in our modern and free civilizations.

If anything, it’s mindless millennial feminists that likely got that photo flagged since a large part of the movement involves anti-freedom of speech rhetoric and sexism/racism towards strait white men. I.E. ‘Die White Male CIS Scum’

Anonymous Coward says:

Less skin/scandal

I was mystified at first when I read that Facebook thought too much skin was showing in that piece. It only shows her face! Then I realized what they must have intended. The obvious solution would be to modify the painting so that the woman is wearing a burqa. That must be what Facebook wants, right?

Lisa Westveld (profile) says:

Double standard at Facebook

It might be interesting to know that there are groups on Facebook that discuss all kinds of erotic things and even contain erotic images without Facebook responding to them. One of them would be https://www.facebook.com/groups/Rooieoortjes which happens to exist for a long time already and often shares nudity and mild pornography. (It’s a closed group, though.) And I know that some people have tried to report the group, but it just continues to exist. Facebook does not take any action against it. And the banned picture is quite tame compared with the contents of this group.
So, Facebook has no problem with porn, as long as it happens in closed groups…

Musashi says:

Well I'm without words...

I know it’s [current year] but I, after all I’ve seen happening in Western Modern Democracies for the past few years, sometimes I’m still left speechless.

Let’s take a moment to let this fact sink in for a moment:

A decade and a half into the 21ft Century, the dominant brand in social media, and one of the three most important companies in the entire Information Techonolgy and Science Revolution, has unilaterally de-platformed a 60 years old piece of art, effectively removing it from the public’s eye and preventing it’s appreciation and the conversation it intended to elicit, with this rationalization:

It is not allowed to be displayed because of “containing excessive amounts of skin or suggestive content”

Does anybody else think that this action is expected (or at least somewhat explainable) in regimes such as North Korea, Iran, Irak, Afghanistan, China? Or is it just me that feels a cognitive dissonance the size of Silicon Valley?

trollificus (profile) says:

So…are we to really be against censorship, or just censorship that affects works by right-thinking creators? Because it sure seems a point of emphasis here that this work is by a FEMINIST, conveying an approved message ridiculing/attacking/criticizing the patriarchy, (this=rightthink) and therefore the very kind of thing we especially want to protect

Do we really need to appeal to the valorization of victimhood, or apply some “Oppressed Group Membership Scorecard” to work against censorship, when it can be done from first principles and logic?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This censorship is particularly ironic. TechDirt doesn’t have time to cover every act of censorship everywhere. I can remember them covering incidents of colleges censoring students or faculty, and there wasn’t any undercurrent of feminism or liberalism in those stories, and of course much of the copyright coverage here is about censorship. TD is generally pro-freedom of speech, but if there’s a censorship story you think they’re missing, submit it.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Ice cream cone before dick.

You could also be hungry, or have a predilection for ice cream.

I think the obsession on fellatio is an American thing. Not exclusively American, but other cultures aren’t as fixated about getting their wangs sucked.

Considering that some cultures are afraid of vagina dentata (cooches with teeth that bite) I think the US is somewhat removed from those, considering we’re eager to stuff our puds into orifices that very definitely have teeth, and structure with which to bite down hard.

David says:

Easily rectified.

All that the picture needs in order to be acceptable to Facebook is a burqa.

I don’t want to go back to the state before Western Civilization and the Sexual Revolution (which affected both attire and its meaning). But it’s easier for us to pretend that our normality has always been like it is than it is for people from other cultures.

This is a reminder. I am afraid that it’s also sort of a comment on a fundamental backfiring of feminism: positive body conscience and sexualization/objectification are inseparable. You feel good about yourself for the same signals that make other people feel good about you.

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