Last week we came across a post about an Australia web magazine whose Facebook page had been suspended after posting an article about the way that aboriginal Australian women are shamed for their nudity while the European female is celebrated. The account suspension and removal of the article suggests a real double standard when it comes to how the clothes free bodies of native/indigenous people and the bodies of people of color are viewed, versus the clothes free bodies of people of European heritage. Something we have written about recently in the black history series.
The New Matilda article was based on a speech given by aboriginal feminist writer Celeste Liddle at the Queen victoria Women’s Centre on International Women’s Day. Liddle’s Facebook page was subsequently banned for posting links to media coverage in the UK of the original page ban. In her speech Liddle observed the double standard in the way European nude bodies and non European clothes free bodies are viewed.
“I say this, by the way, not to demonize young, pretty, blonde women but to point out that the offence actually comes from the male gaze, and what that gaze deems acceptable,” wrote Liddle.
“Aboriginal women are not acceptable. Older women aren’t acceptable, particularly if their breasts are pendulous rather than perky. Women being semi-naked for the purpose of taking part in women’s culture are not acceptable
This is an important issue for the people in the clothes free community to engage. Liddle points out raising the double stand is not equal to demonizing or “slut-shaming”. In this writer’s view, neither is questioning whether the monetization the nude body is a good thing for the normalization of clothes free life. Exposure to diverse cultural values, norms and morays call into question the European stand as the standard for how the clothes free body should be viewed. The naturism/nudist/clothes free community should be as equally concerned and outraged by this as it is about the “slut shaming” of Kim Kardashian and Facebook bans of nude images of people of European descent.
It would seem that Facbook’s community standards are more inclined away from the cultural values and lifestyle of non-white/indigenous people. Liddle suggests as much in her response to the UK’s Daily Mail when they covered the issue.
I want Facebook to investigate their own community standards, particularly when it refers to cultural standards.’
Liddle suggests that Facebook’s enforcement of its standards is selective and uneven and asks how two topless tribal elders preparing for a tribal ceremony can be considered pornographic.
Facebook responded to New Matilda suspension by defending its community standards.
We are aware that people sometimes share content containing nudity for reasons like awareness campaigns, artistic projects or cultural investigations. The reason we restrict the display of nudity is because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of cultural background or age.
If natural indigenous nudity is considered abnormal, but a monetized western nude body is not, then it is unlikely that clothes free living will be seen as normal.
The response called for here from the clothes free community is and intersectional view of the issue. Those of us who want to see clothes free living normalized should try to grasp this concept. If natural indigenous nudity is considered abnormal, but a monetized western nude body is not, then it is unlikely that clothes free living will be seen as normal. If the only images that serve to legitimize the normalization of nudity or clothes free life are those of celebrities who tend to profit from those images, the cause will not reach its goal. If ordinary native people performing a tribal ceremony top free is considered pornographic but the nude celebrity body, already engaged in a cultural dynamic that worships them, ensues them with characteristics they may not actually have, monetizes and sexualized them is not, then the normalization of clothes free living may never be within reach.
Facebook’s suggestion to New Matilda that they simply remove the “offending” image when posting the speech illustrates the deeply embedded “abnormal” view of indigenous non-white bodies.
In order to treat people fairly and respond to reports quickly, it is essential that we have policies in place that our global teams can apply uniformly and easily when reviewing content. As a result, our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like, and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes. We encourage people to share Celeste Liddle’s speech on Facebook by simply removing the image before posting it.”
New Matilda committed to the cause of indigenous people and the presentation of the speech, censored the image and reposted.
Liddle’s Facebook account however has been suspended a second time. She has started a petition at change.org to address the inconsistent Facebook policy. Be forewarned it includes the “offending” image so if you post it to Facebook your account may be suspended. According to reports, this not the first time Facebook has removed images of indigenous people for being “offensive.” A video featuring aboriginal women in tribal ceremony was banned last year. The quote by an individual interviewed by ABC Australia about the issue sums up the double standard and culturally misguided approach of Facebook:
“Facebook, who are just absolutely notorious for refusing to take down really horrific racist pages towards Aboriginal people, to ban Celeste for this photo is beyond ludicrous.” – Luke Pearson, IndigenousX founder
I call on the clothes free community to say with one voice that this is a cause celebre as much as any nude selfie image from Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, or Amber Rose. I, for one, believe that until native nudity is normal, clothes free life will never be normal. What say you? Tell us what you think.
Full transcript of the Liddle speech with offending image