Thank you for all your help and support for the first ever Beach Party. We saw it as a great success. As for the poster, many of you saw the image as obvious bad taste in a good way, which is how we meant it. But some people were actually offended by it, and we’d like to respond to those self-righteous few. We feel that accusations of sexism in our Beach Party poster are baseless and unfortunate – the result of a knee-jerk reaction to a complex image.
It is true that we see a woman, situated below a man, seemingly in complete adoration of him. To attack this motif is to throw rocks at a wide range of art throughout the history of the world. The clothing and position of the figures alone are not a reason to censor it.
We also think it’s unfair to accuse us of reinforcing gender-role stereotypes through the poster. Who are any of us to say which figure self-identifies as one gender or another, or if they identify with one at all? To assign such roles automatically is an example of hetero-normative prejudice, which many find offensive. You may be comfortable imposing your insensitive paradigm on the world, but we aren’t.
Another thing. An act of expression is neither a validation of its contents nor the declaration that the speaker believes its substance. To assume that every representation of an idea is an endorsement of that idea is incredibly naive, and disallows all kinds of art, criticism, debate, and humor. To deny the re-appropriation of symbols and memes is to disenfranchise whole communities – largely those oppressed by the dominant discourses. A picture of sexism is not the same thing as a sexist picture.
The photo, as you know, is of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man whose legacy revolves around his bad acting, his drug use, his mismanagement of the State of California, his sad and creepy family life, and his petty insistence that he is four inches taller than he actually is. If his fame and reputation connote for you the superiority of males over females, then we’d be fascinated to know how you see the world on a daily basis. You could even argue that the original photo, taken in 1975, was a smug commentary on the values of the time. Today, some 37 years later, it most unquestionably is.
If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Taste is personal, and we respect that. But remember that everything offends someone, and that if we decry and censor everything we’ll have nothing left.
PS. We still want you at the party. If you didn’t like the last poster, here’s a good PC one that you’ll likely approve of: