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To complain about the sexualisation of women in men’s magazines may seem like complaining about the weather. But as Knowles rightly says in relation to the pay gap, the status quo should not just be shruggingly accepted if it is wrong. I never fail to be amazed at the high profile, often A-list women who celebrate their professional success by posing near naked on the covers of allegedly classy men’s magazines, such as Esquire and GQ, and these covers are, to my eyes, becoming increasingly close to porn. In the past four months alone we’ve had Cameron Diaz bending over in a pair of mesh pants; topless Mila Kunis in leather trousers (while inside she writhes naked on a bed); Rihanna naked save for a mini leather jacket; Lana Del Rey also naked except for some jewellery (that was on GQ’s October issue, which had four alternative covers that all featured men. All of these men, funnily enough, were clothed).
It’s one thing to submit to this attention-seeking nonsense if you’re a C-list reality TV desperado trying to get on the cover of Nuts; it’s another if you are professedly one of the most powerful women in the entertainment business who has no need of such tactics. Knowles rightly hates the fact that women are humiliated by being paid less than their male counterparts. But they are similarly humiliated by being fed the message that it doesn’t matter how successful, powerful or smart you are – all that matters is how sexually available you are willing to make yourself look.


Hadley Freeman: Beyoncé, being photographed in your underwear doesn’t help feminism

    To complain about the sexualisation of women in men’s magazines may seem like complaining about the weather. But as Knowles rightly says in relation to the pay gap, the status quo should not just be shruggingly accepted if it is wrong. I never fail to be amazed at the high profile, often A-list women who celebrate their professional success by posing near naked on the covers of allegedly classy men’s magazines, such as Esquire and GQ, and these covers are, to my eyes, becoming increasingly close to porn. In the past four months alone we’ve had Cameron Diaz bending over in a pair of mesh pants; topless Mila Kunis in leather trousers (while inside she writhes naked on a bed); Rihanna naked save for a mini leather jacket; Lana Del Rey also naked except for some jewellery (that was on GQ’s October issue, which had four alternative covers that all featured men. All of these men, funnily enough, were clothed).

    It’s one thing to submit to this attention-seeking nonsense if you’re a C-list reality TV desperado trying to get on the cover of Nuts; it’s another if you are professedly one of the most powerful women in the entertainment business who has no need of such tactics. Knowles rightly hates the fact that women are humiliated by being paid less than their male counterparts. But they are similarly humiliated by being fed the message that it doesn’t matter how successful, powerful or smart you are – all that matters is how sexually available you are willing to make yourself look.

    Hadley Freeman: Beyoncé, being photographed in your underwear doesn’t help feminism

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    Jonathan Jones' musings on the red algae which invaded an Australian beach this week:

    Ancient oceanic life forms called dinoflagellates have swarmed the waters of Sydney, as seen here at Clovelly beach. The beaches were closed because, although non-toxic, these algae can cause skin irritation. But as this mother and child contemplate the red sea, what images float to mind?

    It is hard not to imagine portentous meanings in what is really a natural occurrence. As an uneasy peace was declared in Gaza, as the streets of Egypt shook again, as the fiscal cliff got closer, this gory blossoming of the sea confronted beachgoers with a vivid warning. What new horror is coming? Is it the End?

    Photographs: Newspix/Rex Features

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    The Western media has chosen not to run the graphic pictures of the children killed in Gaza this weekend (nota bene: this is not the picture above, which shows members of the Daloo family during the children’s funeral yesterday).
Priest Giles Fraser asks: do pictures of children killed in Gaza force us to face a gruesome reality?

Let’s start slowly, carefully, with what can be said. Photographs show four small children dead on the cold aluminium surface of the morgue.
They are positioned in such a way that they look like they might be sleeping together. Are these pictures real? Are they staged? That already feels too suspicious a question to be asking so early on. And one’s emotional instincts will rail against the premature engagement of critical faculties. But one needs to bracket out the feelings just for a moment.
Earlier photographs have come in from multiple reputable agencies showing these children being pulled out of the rubble. Other images show numerous film crews witnessing the same event. The children’s bodies are accompanied by the press to the morgue. Those who are trained to spot discrepancies in this sort of story believe that it hangs together. The pictures are real, so it is concluded. And once that is accepted, one immediately feels more than a little uncomfortable that their provenance was ever questioned. Like disbelieving a rape victim when she first tells you her story.
So they are real. Dead children, killed by an Israeli missile while still in their pyjamas and the sort of clothes suited to playing in the street. The western media has chosen not to show them.

Read the rest here.
Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

    The Western media has chosen not to run the graphic pictures of the children killed in Gaza this weekend (nota bene: this is not the picture above, which shows members of the Daloo family during the children’s funeral yesterday).

    Priest Giles Fraser asks: do pictures of children killed in Gaza force us to face a gruesome reality?

    Let’s start slowly, carefully, with what can be said. Photographs show four small children dead on the cold aluminium surface of the morgue.

    They are positioned in such a way that they look like they might be sleeping together. Are these pictures real? Are they staged? That already feels too suspicious a question to be asking so early on. And one’s emotional instincts will rail against the premature engagement of critical faculties. But one needs to bracket out the feelings just for a moment.

    Earlier photographs have come in from multiple reputable agencies showing these children being pulled out of the rubble. Other images show numerous film crews witnessing the same event. The children’s bodies are accompanied by the press to the morgue. Those who are trained to spot discrepancies in this sort of story believe that it hangs together. The pictures are real, so it is concluded. And once that is accepted, one immediately feels more than a little uncomfortable that their provenance was ever questioned. Like disbelieving a rape victim when she first tells you her story.

    So they are real. Dead children, killed by an Israeli missile while still in their pyjamas and the sort of clothes suited to playing in the street. The western media has chosen not to show them.

    Read the rest here.

    Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

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    Portrait of a Ukranian sex worker, defiant and dignified

Natalia Antonova writes:
Brent Stirton’s portrait of Maria, a sex worker and drug addict living in the town of Krivy Rih in Ukraine, has been making the rounds lately. Earlier this year, Stirton won a world press photo award for the shot, which is part of a larger series on life with HIV in Ukraine. At the time the photo was taken, Maria said that she was not infected. How she is doing today is anyone’s guess.
Ukrainian friends of mine routinely tense up whenever the picture is mentioned. “Great, another hooker story coming out of Ukraine,” Olesya, a painter, told me over the weekend when the photograph was featured prominently on the Daily Mail website. “Once again, I have to remind my English friends – no we’re not all drug-addicted hookers. But thanks for asking!”
It’s the dramatic, powerful shots that win world press photo awards, of course. A picture of a middling happy Ukrainian family would probably not do the trick. Still, Ukraine is routinely associated with the sex industry, various horrors related to the drugs trade and the criminal underworld enough as it is. I understand people who are getting “Ukraine horror fatigue”, especially since most foreigners who travel there for a holiday find it to be a comparatively laid-back country, or so I hear.
But oddly enough, the more I look at Maria, the more I like her. At first, I thought there was something Nietzschean about the photograph. When you gaze long into Maria’s eyes, Maria’s eyes seem also to gaze into you. They deliver a warning – on the dangers of drug addiction and Ukraine’s largely unglamorous and dangerous sex industry – and her gaze is clear, calm and knowing. These are the eyes of a woman who has hit rock bottom and may not come back up but the gaze suggests she is not, at this moment, afraid … Godspeed, Maria.
Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty

    Portrait of a Ukranian sex worker, defiant and dignified

    Natalia Antonova writes:

    Brent Stirton’s portrait of Maria, a sex worker and drug addict living in the town of Krivy Rih in Ukraine, has been making the rounds lately. Earlier this year, Stirton won a world press photo award for the shot, which is part of a larger series on life with HIV in Ukraine. At the time the photo was taken, Maria said that she was not infected. How she is doing today is anyone’s guess.

    Ukrainian friends of mine routinely tense up whenever the picture is mentioned. “Great, another hooker story coming out of Ukraine,” Olesya, a painter, told me over the weekend when the photograph was featured prominently on the Daily Mail website. “Once again, I have to remind my English friends – no we’re not all drug-addicted hookers. But thanks for asking!”

    It’s the dramatic, powerful shots that win world press photo awards, of course. A picture of a middling happy Ukrainian family would probably not do the trick. Still, Ukraine is routinely associated with the sex industry, various horrors related to the drugs trade and the criminal underworld enough as it is. I understand people who are getting “Ukraine horror fatigue”, especially since most foreigners who travel there for a holiday find it to be a comparatively laid-back country, or so I hear.

    But oddly enough, the more I look at Maria, the more I like her. At first, I thought there was something Nietzschean about the photograph. When you gaze long into Maria’s eyes, Maria’s eyes seem also to gaze into you. They deliver a warning – on the dangers of drug addiction and Ukraine’s largely unglamorous and dangerous sex industry – and her gaze is clear, calm and knowing. These are the eyes of a woman who has hit rock bottom and may not come back up but the gaze suggests she is not, at this moment, afraid … Godspeed, Maria.

    Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty

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    No women please, we’re Saudi Arabian Ikea

Ikea, as a global brand, prides itself on providing the same experience and products in all markets. But it appears not all Ikea catalogues are created equal. A Swedish newspaper compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the manual, and found that in the latter women had been very skilfully airbrushed out.
A scene of a mother, father and their children in the bathroom, was edited to one of only the father and his children. In another scene, a woman was replaced by a man.

• Also read: Ikea apologises over removal of women from Saudi Arabia catalogue

    No women please, we’re Saudi Arabian Ikea

    Ikea, as a global brand, prides itself on providing the same experience and products in all markets. But it appears not all Ikea catalogues are created equal. A Swedish newspaper compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the manual, and found that in the latter women had been very skilfully airbrushed out.

    A scene of a mother, father and their children in the bathroom, was edited to one of only the father and his children. In another scene, a woman was replaced by a man.

    • Also read: Ikea apologises over removal of women from Saudi Arabia catalogue

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    This is a picture of the confusion of history. Who said what? Who did what to whom? In the epic of great events just as in the intimate warfare of a domestic quarrel, it is impossible to get stories straight. Here, a crowd of people seem confused about their own part in a dramatic escalation of protest and police violence that gripped the streets of Madrid this week.
A restaurant owner remonstrates outside his establishment with its touristic menu of platos combinados while people caught up in the clashes take refuge inside. A woman has her hands up, apparently using a gesture of surrender from old war films to tell the police she’s not throwing stones. Other people too put up their empty hands. One man may have a camera. Others are torn between fear and curiosity. Are they protesters or witnesses or a bit of both? And where do the restauranteur’s sympathies lie?
[Read more] A picture taken outside a restaurant in Madrid during protests embodies the shouting down of reason, by Jonathan Jones

    This is a picture of the confusion of history. Who said what? Who did what to whom? In the epic of great events just as in the intimate warfare of a domestic quarrel, it is impossible to get stories straight. Here, a crowd of people seem confused about their own part in a dramatic escalation of protest and police violence that gripped the streets of Madrid this week.

    A restaurant owner remonstrates outside his establishment with its touristic menu of platos combinados while people caught up in the clashes take refuge inside. A woman has her hands up, apparently using a gesture of surrender from old war films to tell the police she’s not throwing stones. Other people too put up their empty hands. One man may have a camera. Others are torn between fear and curiosity. Are they protesters or witnesses or a bit of both? And where do the restauranteur’s sympathies lie?

    [Read more] A picture taken outside a restaurant in Madrid during protests embodies the shouting down of reason, by Jonathan Jones

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    [WARNING: Graphic content!]

    Probably one of the weirdest piece we’ve ran this year, inspired by this Metafilter thread: In France, medical students’ rest rooms in hospitals are all decorated with *very graphic* sex murals. It is part of the medical establishment tradition, and said murals are re-newed yearly. The also often feature the students themselves, all caught in the, erm, act.

    The Angry Medic blogger writes:

    The usual top-down hierarchy of hazing rituals is also overturned – these paintings are commissioned (and sometimes created) by the students themselves, which I imagine gives them all sorts of control over who gets painted doing what. This isn’t a defence, but remember also that the rest of Europe is rather blasé about nudity compared with Britain, as the nude beaches and co-ed saunas will testify.

    • All pictures via the website Plaisir des dieux.

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It was at this time of year in 1994 that Dennis Potter, then dying of cancer, gave a celebrated interview with Melvyn Bragg published under the title Seeing the Blossom. He spoke of how the imminence of death gave his experience of the world a heightened intensity. “At this season, the blossom is out in full now … and instead of saying ‘Oh that’s nice blossom’ … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance. Not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.” It is impossible not to notice that, this week, the blossom is out again.
In praise of… seeing the blossoms

Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

    It was at this time of year in 1994 that Dennis Potter, then dying of cancer, gave a celebrated interview with Melvyn Bragg published under the title Seeing the Blossom. He spoke of how the imminence of death gave his experience of the world a heightened intensity. “At this season, the blossom is out in full now … and instead of saying ‘Oh that’s nice blossom’ … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance. Not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.” It is impossible not to notice that, this week, the blossom is out again.

    In praise of… seeing the blossoms

    Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA

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    Photographs, clockwise: Bettman/Corbis; Bettman/Corbis; Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Chris Hondros/Getty Images; Alex Lentati/Evening Standard/Rex Features; David Duprey/AP; Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Above, extracts from a gallery compiled by our fantastic picture desk. Below, an emotional farewell to Kodak, written by The Guardian’s head of photography, Roger Tooth:

    I’ve wanted to write something about the imminent demise of Kodak since rumours about their bankruptcy started circulating a couple of months ago. But it wasn’t until I caught a repeat of British fashion photographer Rankin’s TV programme about Time magazine’s veteran photojournalists that something really caught my eye, taking me back to my early experience of being a photographer. It brought home what Kodak meant to me.

    The documentary includes a clip of an old BBC Omnibus film about the great war photographer and Life staffer Larry Burrows, who returned time and again to Vietnam to document the war, and eventually died there. Here he was, I guess early in the morning, getting ready to go out for the day, sitting and talking about his experiences to the film crew while opening box after box of Kodak film. He was taking out those lovely, tiny, dome-topped tin canisters and chucking the boxes at his feet until it formed a veritable pile of discarded cardboard.

    Read the rest here

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