No, Central Track, You Can't Post Nude Photos of Women Against Their Wishes
I rarely chime in when it comes to happenings at Central Track, the side-scrolling music and culture web site, but yesterday the site did something so appalling that I'm putting my morning on hold to work through it.
There's a newish event in Dallas called Naked Girls Reading, and yes, it is much like the title implies. A panel of ladies craft a night of literature around a theme, then they read selections in the buff.
Initially, I assumed the worst. I worried that this would be a flesh-for-fee event, and we'd see vapidity, derobed. So I investigated, as all should do when questioning validity, and I couldn't have been more incorrect. From the moment Friday night's show began I realized that Naked Girls Reading is an absurdist piece of performance art, and within that context, the nudity is bizarrely fascinating.
Each woman on stage was so bold, brave and funny. Not only were they secure in their bodies, which ran the gamut of jiggly shapes, they were raising money for Dolly Parton's literacy charity, reciting passages from Loretta Lynn's biography and stressing the importance of identity and culture through heirloom cornbread recipes.
These were all women I would be honored to have over for brunch.
That's why my heart nearly halted when I clicked on Central Track's coverage: It was a jack-off reel of full-frontal nudity photographs from the event. There were money shots of nipples. Skeezy up-close photos of muff. And, of course, combination pictures that lecherously scanned the women -- all of whom were operating under fake names to protect their careers and identities -- from their Florida Keys all the way up to their West Palms. Some are wives and mothers.
The rules regarding photography at Naked Girls Reading are quite clear. They're listed on their press materials, website, through contact with the show's promoter Black Mariah, and again at the event itself, before the curtain lifts.
locker room editorial office somehow missed all of that.
This could be because there was no actual editorial coverage from the night. Nobody went to see why these women were nude, or how it rounded out the subversive nature of the literature being presented. Instead they sent a camera, then posted the evidence greedily, without context or approval from the show's organizers.
The original post's limited text, penned by Pete Freedman, stated oafishly that they weren't "sure what to believe about the affair," but that "these pictures are pretty choice."
As soon as Naked Girls Reading was alerted that their bodies had been looted for page hits, Black Mariah tracked Freedman down and told him to remove the content immediately. By then, of course, it had already been tweeted out more than a hundred times.
I feel crushed for these women, and wish I could throw a blanket over the post, which was screen-shot and saved, and is still being emailed and messaged around. We respect these ladies: Their bodies are not up for unconsenting grabs, they are not to be sold sacrificially for page clicks against their wishes. They are not to be divorced from their art.
Central Track apologized and cropped the images, which now show mostly breast and higher, blaming the original act of defilement on miscommunication. But if you can't turn up to review the event, you'd better make damn sure that you're allowed access to those women's bodies before you tweet pictures of their vaginas out to the universe.
I thought this went without saying, but clearly it didn't.