“Why don’t you make the Skepchick Calendars anymore?” Ever since I stopped producing not-quite-nudie calendars back in 2007, I’ve heard that question a lot. The problem is that I never have the 30 minutes I’d need to list half the reasons why I no longer do it. But now, I will list a few of those reasons in the desperate hope that organizations that need money or publicity or whatever will read this and make the decision to not produce calendars.

You see, in the past few days I’ve heard of two different calendar projects from within my circles: ScienceGrrl is a calendar of female scientists, and proceeds will apparently go to encouraging girls to pursue STEM degrees. New organization Secular Woman has also announced a calendar, which will feature nude atheists and benefit a cancer charity and the org’s own travel grants to send women to conferences.

This comes on the heels of many similar calendars in the past year: there was one of both clothed and nude male and female atheists to raise money for Skepticon (which I was in, clothed), another showing nude revolutionary atheist women as a statement on free expression, a British geek calendar (clothed, male and female) benefitting libel reform, and this ongoing “Girls of Geek” calendar that, when preordered, comes with a “Geeks <3 Boobies” bracelet, so you can tell everyone you meet what a giant shithead you are without saying a single word.

I’m sure it’s obvious that I don’t feel that all those calendars have equal worth, but I do want to make it clear that even for those that are well-produced and benefit great causes, I’ve got some problems. Before I expand on those problems, please have some background.

The Skepchick Calendar started as a fantasy on a forum full of skeptical men (the JREF forum): “Wouldn’t it be hotttt if all the women on the forum made a pin-up calendar?” And then it became a joke on a forum full of skeptical women (shout out to Mu.Nu!): “Wouldn’t it be funny if we made a pin-up calendar where all the pictures relate to skepticism?” And then it became a hobby: “Wouldn’t it be fun if we actually made the calendar, sold a few to friends, and used the money to send disadvantaged women to the The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas?”

So we did it, with each woman coordinating her own photo shoot and me doing all the organizing and the layout and the printing and the selling and the shipping. Despite all the work, it was a lot of fun – dressing up and taking artsy black and white pin-up photos with your friends? Fun. Definitely. And it was also fun how the calendars sold way, way, way better than we had initially planned. As in thousands, instead of the dozens we had assumed we’d sell.

The following year, everyone wanted more. This time, I wanted a male calendar as well, to satisfy the dude-loving buyers and because it just seemed nice and egalitarian. I drafted more people and did it again. And then again the following year. And then I stopped. Why? For some of the same reasons that I’m turned off by the current crop of calendars:

1. Regardless of the intent behind the calendars, regardless of how much fun we had making them, regardless of how empowering we found them, regardless of the racial and age diversity we showcased, and regardless of the fact that they were run by a woman and benefited women, pin-up calendars added to an existing environment in which women were seen first as sexual objects and maybe if they’re lucky they’d later be seen as human beings with thoughts and desires of their own. Back in 2005, I thought skeptics weren’t affected by the patriarchy and that misogyny was something left to the religious. In a community like that, a pin-up calendar of women would be absolutely fine. I learned that a community like that does not exist and it was naive of me to assume otherwise.

2. Adding a calendar of men did not balance out the calendar of women. In a perfect non-patriarchal world, it would, but what I realized was that the women in the calendars were not being seen in the same way as the men in the calendars. The women were objectified on a level unmatched by those viewing and commenting on the men. This was something difficult for me to objectively evaluate at the time and was just a hunch based on my casual observations, but that hunch was confirmed last year when I had shitlord after shitlord emailing me to tell me that I have no right to complain about being groped or propositioned at conferences because I posed in a calendar for skeptics (see my filthy slut photo as the featured image on this post). If Phil Plait ever complains about a woman grabbing his crotch at a conference, I’m confident that no one will forward him his entry in the 2007 “Skepdude” Calendar and tell him to stop being such a whore if he doesn’t want that kind of attention.

3. Sending women to large conferences isn’t that great of a cause. This is something that I’ve debated mentioning here, because I know Skepchick has continued to support scholarship funds like the very successful one Surly Amy has run, but one of the things that annoyed me about the Skepchick Calendars was handing over thousands and thousands of dollars every year to the JREF for tickets for women to go to The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, and not really seeing much benefit in return. Yes, I got to meet some great women. Yes, we increased the total percentage of women in the audience at that one conference. Yes, the women I sent had a wonderful vacation in Vegas. But did they really learn anything? Did it help them feel more connected to the skeptical community? Did they go home and get involved in their local skeptical group? I have no idea. I asked many of them to write me an essay on how they benefited from the scholarship they got, and I don’t recall ever actually getting one. There were so many better ways to spend that much money and benefit women, but I didn’t have the time to run a large nonprofit scholarship program that actually had solid goals, accountability, and reports on how the money was actually helping anything.

4. No one uses calendars. Okay, admittedly I can name three people I know who continue to take out a pen and write things down on a paper calendar. Every other person I know uses something on their phone and/or computer to keep track of appointments and tell what day it is. I have a calendar hanging in my office – it’s the nude revolutionary calendar, and I have it hanging up because I love the people who made it and want to show support, even though I forget it’s there and have to flip over two months each time I remember it.

5. Here’s the most important one for all the organizations currently considering making a calendar: calendars, and particularly nude calendars, are in no way edgy, interesting, or clever. Everyone has done it, including ambulance drivers, humane societies, rowing clubs, the staff of Marks & Spencer, Mormons, and two different coffin-makers. And as my list near the top of this post indicates, it’s not even special in our niche. There is now an abundance of skeptic, atheist, geek, and scientist calendars.

So please, organizations and people I love and support: find something new to do. If you want to make women in science more visible, put them somewhere people are looking. If you want to show the diversity of atheist women, you don’t need to make them take off their clothes. If you want to be revolutionary, come up with a new idea that no one else has thought of yet.

Maybe one of those novelty pens where when you tip it upside down the lady’s reliance upon appearance-based self-worth falls off.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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119 Comments

  1. Avatar of Bjornar
    September 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm —

    Yay, mu.nu!

  2. Avatar of Nicole Introvert
    September 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm —

    THANK YOU! I’ve been discussing this as a member of Secular Woman and you phrased my thoughts perfectly. Especially #5. I really dislike things that are supposed to be “edgy” and naked people/calendars are far from that.

    The reaction is to say that I am prude and just part of the whole “America has a societal stigma about nudity!” “You wouldn’t think this way if you were in Germany!” I spent 4 years of my life working at a video store whose main income source was pornography. I’m not afraid of sex or nudity.

    I’m also concerned with why a lot of the feminist circles feel that everyone needs to be on the same page sexually. I wish this wasn’t the case. Perhaps I read into it too much. But when I read certain things, I feel if I am not in support or if it is not for me, then I am wrong. (A random example would be polyamory. I feel sometimes those discussions end up, “If ur not poly ur doing it wrong!”) I’m cool with whatever consenting adults want to do, but it’s not always going to be what I want to do.

    I understand that the Secular Woman calendar is not supposed to be sexual in nature but simply artistic nudes. And it is the fault of the person who sees and then sexualizes the images, not the model. But I just feel icky about the whole thing. So again, thanks for fleshing out my own thoughts.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm —

      And it is the fault of the person who sees and then sexualizes the images, not the model.

      I agree entirely. In a perfect world, women posing nude in calendars is awesome and fun and empowering. And in the world we live in, it’s reinforcing the role women’s bodies play as an object used to sell something – a car, a beer, or in this case, a calendar or an idea.

      • Avatar of kagehi
        September 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm —

        I think we have kind of an odd situation though. As long as nudity *is* only presented as advertising, its never not going to be about that. And, oddly enough, the means to undermine this is “saturation”. I.e., more nudity, not less, even if the first step in that process might need to be using it to sell things indirectly (as apposed to, “Look at how much like a body/body-part this bear bottle/car/whatever looks, or reminds you of.” Its a serious catch-22. As long as nudity isn’t something common, its usable as a means of advertising. But, if it becomes so common, even in advertising, that no one notices any more… it becomes worthless as advertisement, or at least incidental to it. Where we are now in the US is that awkward point where we don’t want to use it too much, because its creepy to do so, but its not used often enough, for its presence to be totally meaningless. Its not real certain how that changes, unless there is some sudden and rapid rise of a nudist movement again, which overtakes some significant part of the population. Otherwise.. the only other way it happens is by becoming so ubiquitous, in media, in one way or another, that people look at an ad, and say, “Nice car. Oh, and I suppose the model is kind of cute too…” But, that is going to be a lot slower, more painful, annoying, stupid, and well… problematic, for all of the reasons you don’t think they should be doing calenders.

        • Avatar of Harry Sanborn
          September 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm —

          Yes, Kegdish, more nudity should minimize it’s effect but, that nudity needs to be presented as something bordering on uninteresting or inconsequential. It needs to be mundane, sort of thrown in there. A nude pinup calendar is made for the sake of being edgy, or eliciting a “tantalizing response”. It’s very nature, intentional or otherwise, is sexual, and as such, it doesn’t advance the perception, it reinforces it.

          • Avatar of Emily
            October 1, 2012 at 10:48 am

            Exactly… The “shock” value of nudity only comes from its association with sexuality. BTW, what are your thoughts on other nude calendars that are meant to be sexual? Just curious.

    • Avatar of ihatemusic
      September 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm —

      Yes, us German feminists all love objectification. I mean, I don’t mind nudity in movies or on pictures, but when it is about the nudity and sexualized, it is something else for me.

      Regarding the calender: everyone I know has a paper calender. Um. We sell a lot at the bookshop I work at/my parents own. Then again, I guess the same people who dont use physical calenders anymore dont go into bookshops either and just read ebooks or something… Makes me sad to think about it :(

  3. Avatar of Melody
    September 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm —

    I can’t tell you how much I love this.

    However, I do believe that raising money for conferences like Women in Secularism are beneficial, as *part* of its goal is to educate men and women about sexism and gender equality in the secular movement, and empower secular women.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

      I agree conferences like WiS are worthwhile and beneficial. If someone is raising money to send people to it, though, I’d want to see exactly what results they hope to get. What will the attendees learn? And is flying someone to that conference and putting them up in a hotel the most productive way to spend $1,000 donated to the cause of empowering women in this community?

      Maybe the answer to that question is “yes.” I just want to know that it’s something that is carefully considered.

      • Avatar of Melody
        September 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

        Fair enough. I only have anecdotal evidence. After the WiS, it inspired local secular women’s groups and one national group to be formed. It inspired one regional and two more national conferences on the subject. I have been told from women that attended that they may not have stayed in the movement had they not attended. I have seen those women continue to participate in online discussions involving sexism and gender equality in the secular movement.

        I think the challenge is to send the *right* people to a conference like this – people that have the desire to take back what they have learned and implement it in their community.

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          September 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm —

          I think the challenge is to send the *right* people to a conference like this

          Agreed!

      • Avatar of quietmarc
        September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am —

        I just wanted to point out that as someone who has benefited from other people paying my way to participate in awesome things, that it can make it more difficult for someone who’s poor to heap on extra requirements in order for them to be eligable for participation.

        No one wants a free ride, or to feel like they’re taking advantage of others, but being poor is already hard enough. To add an expectation that they give something back can come off as classist.

        No one wants to write an essay: “I’m poor, so this is how I used someone else’s money to have a good time.”

  4. Avatar of Steve D
    September 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm —

    Yeah, I can’t remember the last time I bought an actual calendar. Five, maybe six years ago? Shortly after Google Calendar went live.

    Now, Munchkin cards. That’s where the big money is these days. :-D

    • Avatar of Maki
      September 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

      I think I last bought a calendar in 2004. Yep, there it is on the wall.

      Ha ha. Oh March.

  5. Avatar of porlob
    September 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm —

    Yes. This post.

    I thought the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is a slightly different case as some of the women featured were from places where being in a nude photo was truly an act of defiance. But on the whole, yes, this reinforces the idea that women are meant to be viewed.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm —

      I also like that calendar because most of the photos are pointedly non-sexual.

      But ultimately, I don’t think Western women posing nude actually makes a coherent statement about the inability of women in other parts of the world to have control over their own bodies. For instance, I could go drive a car around New York, but I don’t think it will drive home the point that women in other countries can’t legally drive a car at all.

  6. Avatar of Paul Fidalgo
    September 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm —

    I’m going to make a calendar with 12 reasons why I agree with this post. All the reasons will be semi-nude and have something shoved painfully up an orifice.

  7. Avatar of jmd22
    September 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm —

    Well argued, Rebecca.

    I’d like to add that even if women’s nude calendars are fun and empowering for the participants, the reason the are is because of a society that tells women that nudity and sexuality are taboo. Reaching a point in your own life where you can own those things is immensely liberating, but the overall circular logic of it makes the whole thing kind of silly. And it’s just not the 1960′s anymore.

    I’ve participated in calendars before, but my images were always clothed and always relied on humor rather than scintillation. They weren’t the most popular images in the calendar, but when the whole thing was said and done, it was an enjoyable and creative project that left me with my dignity intact.

    The right decision for me is to save the scintillation for the select few deserve it and who’ve proved that a woman’s sexuality is a component of her overall makeup rather than the only thing of importance.

  8. Avatar of marilove
    September 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm —

    You’ve explained beautifully why I’ve always been bothered by such calendars. Thanks, Rebecca!

  9. Avatar of porlob
    September 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm —

    Once upon a time, I was organizing a local skeptic group. I thought it would be fun to have a small giveaway for people who came to the first meeting. I bought a few items: copies of Bad Astronomy and The Demon-Haunted World, a few things I can no longer remember, and 1 copy each of the current Skepchick and Skepdude calendars.

    “Skepticism doesn’t have to be stuffy. It can be fun and sexy!” I thought. “And I got one with men and one with women, so it’s not sexist,” I tried to justify to myself. But in the end, I elected to not bring them. Why?

    I wanted to make the group welcoming and inviting for all. And I knew that my local skeptic group did not exist in a vacuum. It existed in a society where women are supposed to be pretty first, strong and smart second; while men are supposed to be strong and smart first, and pretty second. That means those calendars were not on an equal playing field. And it was not welcoming.

  10. Avatar of Rebecca Watson
    September 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm —

    Instead of approving this comment and letting this troll onto the site, I’m just going to show a screenshot so you can all enjoy, as it proves my point several times over:

    So, basically, it took you a whole article to say what you could have said in one simple sentence, i.e., “I stopped making nude calendars because I decided to stop showing everyone what a slut I am.”

    • Avatar of Emily
      September 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm —

      Actually, I wouldn’t classify him as a “troll” (using the literal definition aka someone who says stuff just to piss people off)… I’d classify him as something much worse – someone who actually believes that posing for a nude calendar somehow makes a girl a “slut.”

      BTW, I agree with some of your points but not all of them. Just like misogynists will always think of us only as sexual objects no matter what we think, I’ll always think nude calendars are empowering no matter what they think. Guys like that can try to objectify me all they want (I’ve met lots of guys like that at Comic-Con)… And I just objectify them right back. :p

      I agree with your other points, though… Who in the world still uses calendars?

  11. Avatar of bcmystery
    September 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm —

    All makes sense to me, except number 4. Because…

    Well. Um.

    Maybe I’m just old. Anyway, the paper calendar I write things on has pictures of cute animals. Or sometimes majestic animals. This month it’s an eagle in flight. Last month it was bunnies. One of the months featured sloths.

    I’m rambling.

    • Avatar of Zoltan
      September 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm —

      Ditto – I have a paper calendar on my wall right now (cute animals – I donate to a bunch of different organizations). #4 on the list is far and away the least important, but I must chime in.

      • Avatar of Buzz Parsec
        September 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm —

        #4, Foggy morning in the Great Smoky Mountains. I get dozens of free calendars (mostly nature scenes and cute animals) every year, way more than I can use, but I find it much easier to plan and keep track of stuff on a paper calendar than on any sort of electronic gizmo.

        But everything else, yup.

    • Avatar of Blakut
      September 25, 2012 at 7:00 am —

      I too have a paper calendar, pretty women wielding chainsaws and circular saws. It’s a commercial calendar, ok?

      • Avatar of marilove
        September 25, 2012 at 11:36 am —

        Well, you certainly missed the entire point of this post. Yay. You have a porny calendar with sexualized women, made for the male gaze. You’re awesome!

      • Avatar of pieterb
        September 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

        I always cringe when I see one of those, because the women are never wearing proper protective gear.

  12. Avatar of mobjois
    September 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm —

    “comes with a “Geeks <3 Boobies” bracelet, so you can tell everyone you meet what a giant shithead you are without saying a single word."

    Just about snorted coffee through my nose. A+

  13. Avatar of FledgelingSkeptic
    September 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm —

    I’m so glad you wrote this post Rebecca. “Naked” stopped being edgy a while ago. And even though such photo shoots are fun and empowering, there really are better uses for people’s time and money.

    What about college scholarships? Not just for teens, but also to encourage women to go back to school and get a STEM degree? At 45 I’m going back to school in January for my BS in Biology. It’s never too late!

    • Avatar of karenx
      September 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm —

      When I was in high school, I won a $500 “book scholarship” that was the then-equivalent of a line of credit/gift card to the campus bookstore. It seemed small but made a huge difference, and it would be quite easy to manage something like this now that everyone has gift cards everywhere.

      • Avatar of marilove
        September 25, 2012 at 11:37 am —

        Even a $500 or $1000 or $2000 or whatever scholarships for college would be amazing. As a community college student, $500 would probably pay for my school books for a semester!

        • Avatar of marilove
          September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am —

          I missed FledgelingSkeptic’s comment! So, I agree. Scholarships are a fantastic idea. I’d be all up in that! :P

  14. Avatar of Jeffrey Markus
    September 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm —

    With Skepticon we started a little late in the game. Two years ago we started our Skepticon Calendars(Men and Women), and last year we had our joint male and female calendar. Both of which were very fun to create, but this year we have decided that our time would be better used on other endeavors. Most of our organizers are artists, so we are constantly trying to bring that creative touch to Skepticon, we just do not think that calendars are it.

  15. Avatar of Ophelia Benson
    September 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm —

    Yup.

  16. Avatar of Anthropologist Underground
    September 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

    “…one of those novelty pens where when you tip it upside down the lady’s reliance upon appearance-based self-worth falls off.”

    I thing we need a vaccine against reliance upon appearance-based self-worth. Roll it in with HPV or something. Where both boys and girls get the jab.

  17. Avatar of Sophie Lagace
    September 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm —

    This makes me wistful. I remember at the time thinking all these things, because I was already old enough to have gotten a bit jaded and suspicious about the level of equality we had supposedly reached. But I didn’t comment and I just stood aside — as I have for Boobquake, Slutwalk, and a number of similar events — because I don’t wish to discourage other younger women who trust more than I do in progress accomplished. I would enjoyed being proven wrong.

    But maybe we just can’t fully believe it until we see it first-hand. Maybe the nastiness is just too unfair and gross to be believed without being experienced first.

    All I know is that for me, this means not squandering my efforts on things that are nice but not at the core of the issues, unless I get enough personal satisfaction out of it.

    • Avatar of ihatemusic
      September 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

      I dont see how slutwalk is the same..?

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        September 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm —

        Girls Gone Wild – for feminism!

        Show Us Your Tits – for equality!

        Bit of dissonance, there.

        • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
          September 25, 2012 at 1:00 am —

          That’s not what Slutwalk is. It’s message isn’t some general endorsement of feminism.

          It’s specifically about the right to wear provocative clothing without being shamed or told we’re inviting rape. Or inviting misogyny, there’s a lot of that going around too.

          I don’t want to get hit on constantly at conferences. I do, however, want to get hit on constantly at the club. It’s okay there. Wearing provocative clothing or even deliberately attracting the male gaze isn’t wrong or antifeminist. It’s appropriate at the club. It’s appropriate at Slutwalk.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            September 25, 2012 at 8:19 am

            I understand what it is. It’s doing the opposite of what it intends. I was making light of that.
            It isn’t fun or liberating for the rest of us. It’s just a mass voyeur/exhibitionist event masquerading as consciousness raising. Otherwise they’re just nudists.
            It’s an excuse for (mostly) young attractive women to be told how awesome and open minded they are for shaking that money maker for a good cause. And the uglies get to hear how brave they are for enduring all the ridicule. And het dudes get to take fapping pictures.
            The whole thing is a tits-up. :D

          • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
            September 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm

            I can’t honestly say that any of your statements are wrong. Although I would point out that every protest is an excuse for (mostly) young attractive people to be told how awesome and open minded they are and there’s a lot of people that have only a surface understanding of the issues and are really there just to hook up.

            I guess it all comes down to whether or not you think exhibitionism/voyeurism of women’s sexuality is important. I think it is. The intent of the organizers that originally set this up was that everyone would dress conservatively to show the reality that rape victims are not targeted because of the clothes they wear. I suspect a lot of women found the idea of toning down their sexuality to appease bigots that would otherwise consider them deserving of rape kind of offensive.

            I do think it’s important for women and girls to advocate for their sexuality. This idea that women’s sexuality is bad or shameful is the root of a lot of our messed up attitudes about rape. Shameful isn’t the right word. I wish there was a word that combined the meanings of “forbidden” and “mandatory”.

            I can’t really say if it’s working or not. I’m sure guys are being gross about it, but they’re that way about everything and I wouldn’t expect one protest to fix that. I’m not really sure what it working looks like. It’s hard to imagine what posing for fapping pics would look like in a world where it wasn’t forbandatory. I don’t think anyone will know until it happens.

            I will say what I think failure looks like, though. If Maxim or Axe Body Spray become official sponsors of the event, I will admit that it is a failure.

  18. Avatar of martian_bob
    September 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm —

    I was going to argue #4, but then I looked at my Despair.com calendar and realized it’s still on July.

  19. Avatar of gregladen
    September 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm —

    Thanks you. I feel so much better now that the pressure is off.

    But seriously, all good points, especially, as it happens, the last one. I’m not going to get mad at groups making calendars, but I hope this is a transition into the era when we don’t do that so much.

  20. Avatar of amm1
    September 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm —

    I’m also relieved that you’re not making these calendars any more.

    I’m saying that as a man who does enjoy looking at women and, yes, sexy-looking[*] women (and, under the right circumstances, nude women.)

    But I can’t ignore context, even when I’m looking, and the context of selling women’s sexuality, regardless of by whom or how noble the cause, just bothered me. I just kept hearing Twisty Faster’s phrase “the sex class.”

    [*] for a suitable definition of “sexy-looking.”

  21. Avatar of Louis Doench
    September 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm —

    Ok with everything except #4, if only because the kitchen calendar is kind of a tradition in my family. Sure I can store all of my schedules in one of my many iDevices. But what if I need to consult it and the Grommit is in the middle of one of his Angry Birds Trances? Trust me you don’t wanna step into that!

    I also advocate for real paper calendars with nice pictures on them (cats or mountains or Snoopy) because they are a much better learning tool for kids than an electronic device.

    My Schmoo loved the calender I blogged about here (http://skepticfamily.com/2012/02/10/simple-science-tools-calendars/) and she is already asking about next years.

  22. Avatar of dr. dr. professor
    September 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm —

    Here’s a good breakdown by Great Christina of why women expressing there sexuality is unfortunately degrading: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2011/11/09/why-i-probably-wont-do-porn-again/

  23. Avatar of voxmoose
    September 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm —

    All good points, Rebecca. Not offering the calendar anymore is the right decision, in my opinion. As an aside: although quasi-nudie calendars might not be artistically edgy in some circles, many professional settings simply don’t allow any kind of sexual content to be displayed at all, depending on the organization’s sexual harassment guidelines. This might not be important if the project was done just for fundraising, but partly defeats the purpose if one wanted the calendar to be displayed to generate discussion and awareness for a cause. This is particularly essential if one’s target audience includes science teachers, university academics, research scientists, etc. (as is likely the case for groups like ScienceGrrl and Secular Woman) because the organizations those people work for typically have very strict harassment guidelines.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      September 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm —

      Companies are quite ridiculous about how they get into your social life. It’s wrong how deep they dig, and wrong how they penalize people for exhibiting their sexuality.

      And if you’re a woman who’s displayed anything sexual, especially anything pornographic in the past? Well it’s much worse in that case.

  24. Avatar of mikerattlesnake
    September 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm —

    Wait, that picture at the top is the one that you still get shit for? I’ve never looked at the skepchick calendars but that’s a ridiculously tame picture, even by non-pinup standards. A 19th century bathing suit shows off more skin!

  25. Avatar of Amy Roth
    September 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm —

    I think there are a lot of positive things that can come out of sending women on scholarships to events, primarily the raising of visibility of women at events which creates an environment with more women and thus encourages more women to attend and so on (I hope). But I have to admit, that over the past few months I have been reconsidering if the effort I put in the programs is worth that outcome. I got a TON of great feedback from the women I have sent but I have never asked anyone to write about it.

    I am planning on continuing the Surly Women Grants for next year- events unannounced as of yet but if someone can tell me a way that my art/time/efforts can be better spent encouraging women in our community I am definitely open for suggestions.

    As for the calendars, I am a huge fan of black and white photography in general and a fan of photographs of the human form but yeah, I agree the topic and content is just too loaded to escape biased critique from this community and quite frankly at this point it’s overdone. If it was a calendar or book of photography that explored the science behind photons and how light is scattered upon things and is collected in photographs and then tricks our mind’s eye – and there happened to be a few photos of nudes included, I would think that absolutely lovely but when the topic and content is focused on hey-look-maybe-kinda-sexy-naked-or-sorta-naked-skeptics-you-maybe-have-heard-of then meh. Seen it. It’s not teaching me anything I haven’t already learned nor is it inspiring me to do better.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      September 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm —

      Actually I have suggestions.

      Donate to:
      - Women starting cool new companies
      - Cool women’s kickstarter projects
      - Women’s art projects
      - Women’s STEM projects
      - In general women’s social, entrepreneurial, artistic, or STEM projects

      And not to denigrate your work, but after going to a million conferences in various causes (game industry, space exploration, education, simulations, engineering, etc.) I’ve began to form the opinion that conferences on any subject are often of limited overall value when the time and money are considered.

      • Avatar of Amy Roth
        September 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm —

        Those are all great suggestions. I am going to seriously consider some of them and see if I can reorganize some of my efforts for next year.

  26. Avatar of kittynh
    September 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm —

    I loved it. In fact, I know men and women that were very sad when it ended (was the last calendar sort of taken over by another group of people to take the burden off Rebecca? I’m trying to remember…I do know that my friend Naomi Baker was thrilled to be involved in the last calendar). Objectification in a calendar could be wrong, but then what does that make my friends that work in the sex industry? I don’t look at what they do by choice and make a judgement, in fact a recent performance based on Schrodinger by a skeptic sex worker was quite fascinating I heard. (She lives too far away for me to ever attend any of her performances). If someone wants to do a calendar, why not? Freedom of expression, and by intelligent women who know enough that they can decide if they are being exploited and are making an informed decision, is fine. I frankly think that a calendar of kittens dressed as famous skeptics would sell far better. But telling people what to do and not do isn’t my thing, Rebecca gives a good take on it. She’s not saying “I did it first, don’t steal my idea”. She should be proud of the very tame calendars that came out, more wit than nudity in most of the photographs. If people don’t buy calendars, then the nude women/men calendars will die a quick death all on their own.

    • Avatar of DebGod
      September 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm —

      OMG Someone make a calendar of kittens dressed as famous skeptics please!!!

  27. Avatar of John the Drunkard
    September 24, 2012 at 6:29 pm —

    The calendar thing is just old. Even for those who use paper calendars.

    Even if ‘skeptics weren’t affected by the patriarchy and [...] misogyny was something left to the religious’ there is still a strange air about such pics. My feeeling (for what its worth) is that nakedness is either personal or anonymous; whether it has any erotic intent or not, or is ‘edgy’ or ‘artistic’ or not.

    My appreciation of B&W ‘studies of ths human form,’ or plain pin-ups, has little to do with whether those depicted are scientifically literate, or atheist. People I read online, or meet at conferenes are people I ‘know’ in some sense. I don’t usually look at semi-naked pictures of my senator, my co-workers etc.

    For myself, as a singer/actor I have appeared in costumes in which, as they say, you could tell my religion. I have no reluctance getting naked in intimate or close situations (e.g. at the swimming hole or hot-tub). But selling pictures of myself to people I know for charity, even if it would make a dime, seems to sprawl accross several boundries.

  28. Avatar of yarro
    September 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

    What about the nude protests by Femen in the Ukraine?
    I think they should read this article. Perhaps it will open their eyes.

  29. Avatar of Bill Goodwin
    September 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm —

    70,000 years ago or so, humans invented clothes. Consequentially we also invented nudity since prior to that it would have had no meaning. And so consequentially, the conditions were set for the advent of nude art and porn. While I am sad to think that your change of heart means there will be a reduction in the average nudity in the world, the reasoning, I think sadly, is exactly right. Hopefully, one day, we can reinvent nudity and enjoy the fun, freedom, irreverence, erotica and spectacle of it without encouraging ogres to subjugate and denigrate those who, IMHO, do nude the best.

  30. Avatar of laurenlane
    September 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm —

    Hi there! Lauren Lane, co-founder and organizer of Skepticon here.

    The first Skepticon calendar happened a lot like the first Skepchick calendar did. We were all sitting around brainstorming ways in which we could raise money for our event. Someone made a joke about us taking our clothes off for a risque calendar, and an idea was born.

    That first year, we made both a male and female calendar so that all would feel included when both making and selling the product. Even if calendars such as ours possibly do not have a wholly positive impact on the community and society at large, we had a great time making it. Our local community really came together to help us make a great fundraising item. We made a lot of memories setting up shoots and cheering each other on to make our individual photos awesome. There was never any pressure to ‘get naked’ and everyone came up with how they wanted to do their own photos.

    As for the next year’s calendar (2012), we decided to up the ante and include some of the speakers. Nudity and sexuality were always something that was chosen to do on an individual basis, as with the first years calendars. We were more interested in creating some fun photos that people would enjoy rather than something that was made to be specifically scintillating.

    I suppose that, in the end, calendars are a fundraising object that have reached the height of their popularity and are on the decline. I know that we over here at Skepticon Calendars have decided to stop making them simply because they became more work than we could handle on top of also organizing an event.

    I actually have my Skepticon 2012 Calendar up on my wall right now. Funnily enough Rebecca you are actually Ms. September. Go figure.

    Maybe the future of fundraising calendars are fundraising calendar apps, now THAT would be cool.

    -Lauren

  31. Avatar of geek goddess
    September 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm —

    The first “skepchick calendar” (and it was called just that) was in 1999 and can be seen here: http://www.magicdave.com/sccal/skepchicks.htm

    One of the women in this calendar has been a member of the JREF forum since 2004, years before the ‘skepchick.org’ calendar was proposed and indeed, she can be located on old newsgroups on skepticism from the early 1990s.

    I wasn’t around at the first ones, but I know A.Real.Girl worked very hard on the 2007 and the 6-month calendar. I bought them to donate money specifically to the JREF scholarships, even though I donated considerable cash (thousands) out of my pocket straight to scholarships or paying directly for several college-age students to attend.

    One way to make sure people are dedicated to the cause when seeking funds for travel, is not to write an essay after, but to write an essay in order to apply for the scholarship.

    I got to professional conventions at least once a year. Yes, I got to hear or present papers, but I also go to network. Meeting other people in my profession, developing resources, reviewing stories about our personal experiences, are as valuable in the convention experience has hearing another speaker.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm —

      One way to make sure people are dedicated to the cause when seeking funds for travel, is not to write an essay after, but to write an essay in order to apply for the scholarship.

      You seem to have missed my point entirely – it wasn’t that the women we sent weren’t deserving; it was that there was no accountability, and no way to tell if the scholarships were benefitting the women and the community at large in any real way. Maybe they were, and I’m sure that some of the women did use the trip as inspiration to launch into bigger, awesomer things. But without real follow-up, there’s no way to tell, and there’s no way to tell if there are better ways to achieve the same goals.

      • Avatar of geek goddess
        September 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm —

        Actually, I didn’t miss your point at all. I’m actually pretty smart ;)

        I know in some other scholarship/grant instances (not yours), the recipients treated the trip like a vacation and didn’t even attend any lectures, instead shopping or gambling. Since I had contributed to those funds, I wasn’t very happy, and realized that there had been no vetting process to award the grants to people who really wanted to get something out of the conventions. It’s very difficult to get people to respond after the fact, after they’ve already received the benefits.

  32. Avatar of somewhat
    September 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm —

    Thank you for writing this, Rebecca!

  33. Avatar of Cathy
    September 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

    That makes sense. Thanks for the post Rebecca. I bought a Skepdude calendar back whenever that was and I always wondered what happened to the calendars.

  34. Avatar of jbey
    September 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm —

    In 2006, a Skepchick scholarship permitted me to come to my first TAM. I got to meet and shake hands with the first other black woman who called herself “Atheist,” as I did.

    I stood in a corridor stuck while a banquet room was constructed out of fold able walls with Christopher Hitchens for 20 minutes while he talked with me another person who remains a dear friend to this day.

    I love you and support your evolution, Rebecca.

    BUT- that essay you asked for, I actually gave to you and you published it. (Twice if I recall!)

    It’s hard to evidence a full accounting of lives you’ve impacted and perhaps improved through the years. But do know, I am proof positive that because of you and your work, the atheist world may claim me as an unabashed member.

    Jamila

  35. Avatar of Kris
    September 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm —

    I just figured you’d stopped because you were never going to be able top Phil Plait’s 2007 Skepdudes picture.

    Seriously, though, I’ve never bought a wall calendar for pretty much all of the reasons you mention (though I came close for the Nude Photo Revolutionaries and said Skepdudes calendar). I’d be more likely to cut out the picture pages and hang them all on my wall than to hang the actual calendar.

  36. Avatar of jose
    September 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm —

    People are laughing at you because the perception of this post is that when you do a calendar it’s fun and empowering, but when others do it it’s sexist and patriarchy-enabling.

    If I read you well, however, I think the point of the post is that the calendar was a mistake in the first place that came from a failure to grasp what atheists and skeptics are like. This is the part you mentioned about being naive. You thought this was a post-feminist community only to learn years later it was not so.

    Jen Mcreight went through something similar when she tried to distance herself from boobquake and not do it again because that was the only thing everybody wanted to talk with her about — actually, that and taking a picture of her boobs to compare them to the boobquake pic.

    One would say Twisty Faster was right all along. I said this at Jen’s too, but I got no response.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm —

      People are laughing at you because the perception of this post is that when you do a calendar it’s fun and empowering, but when others do it it’s sexist and patriarchy-enabling.

      See this is the benefit of blocking illiterate bullies on twitter – I have no idea who or what you’re talking about.

      • Avatar of oolon
        September 25, 2012 at 7:58 am —

        This is what amuses me most about this post – the illiterate bullies use the RW once posed nude in a calendar therefore she cannot talk about objectification as their argument. Which as you and Jen show is clearly not a valid argument at all. So in all the intervening years they cannot come up with a cogent argument against them apart from this false dichotomy on objectification. Now you, the supposedly non-sceptical one, produce a much better argument on why you shouldn’t have made the calendar than they ever managed! Somehow I doubt they’ll see it this way though…

  37. Avatar of rubyroyce
    September 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm —

    ” pin-up calendars added to an existing environment in which women were seen first as sexual objects and maybe if they’re lucky they’d later be seen as human beings with thoughts and desires of their own. Back in 2005, I thought skeptics weren’t affected by the patriarchy and that misogyny was something left to the religious.”

    YES. As long as we are judged based on how sexually appealing we are to men, we are not on equal footing when being judged based on competence in various fields. Making a male equivalent, while not sexist from the intentions of the people producing it, is still subject to inequality of the sexes from the culturally-imposed norms that damn females to the lesser role. This is largely the reason I object to porn and (as it currently exists, tainted by patriarchy, even much feminist and woman-run porn). I do not morally object to people using it (I do, which is why as a teenager I thought it ridiculous and prudish when people decried harms of porn) but it will always be unequal and with many sexist overtones until we have a truly egalitarian society. In the meantime, I think it is sufficient to seek out “better porn” and for people to continue trying to improve their understanding and empathy for the sexism women continue to face.

    When I was in high school, I was at a store with a gay male friend, and there were calendars of “hot men” and “hot women”. We decided on a lark to each purchase one (as I am lesbian). I couldn’t understand why feminists opposed objectification (I’d been doing a lot of reading about feminism and gay/lesbian history). I mean, I “objectified” women and am female myself, and men “objectified” men. It took awhile for the way sexualized gaze is culturally channeled into harming women far more often than men.

    For instance, I enjoy taking risque photographs of myself, to share with future girlfriends, but would be extremely cautious in sharing them even with intimate partners, for while I am comfortable enough with my body to put it out there in public (whether for money which I am seriously low on or because I make my photographs in an artful way), I know that people on the viewing end would filter it through sexist lenses, and I can’t tolerate the idea that someone might find a picture of me and prioritize their judgments of that image over their judgments of my capabilities for a job or something. One day, hopefully, pornography will not hurt women in such a pervasive way, and there would be no need for a special movement or genre of “feminist” porn, as all porn, and all of life would be feminist. One day the same may be said of erotic calendars.

    I, too, plan to do some community work toward encouraging young women into careers in STEM – as well as other disadvantaged, particularly economically and racially disadvantaged, youth. I’m not sure what form it will take, but probably some talent development project, to find interested and talented youth regardless of current grades and motivate them despite extra hurdles they face. That will take a long time to get off the ground, though, as I’m still an undergrad with no money and no connections.

  38. Avatar of rubyroyce
    September 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm —

    I realized there is unclarity (can’t remember the real word right now) in my post above – I do, as in I do use porn, but recognize that even woman-directed porn is subject to patriarchal influence, even if it’s much better than typical aimed-at-het-dudes-subservient-women-giving-dildo-BJs-lesbian-sex-as-warm-up-for-man porn.

  39. Avatar of Artemisia
    September 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm —

    I am personally concerned about the ability of a group to represent the interests of secular women when they chose to make this sort of promotional material, especially when they offer a ‘prize’ from Penn Teller as a donation incentive. Did they not consider that, given the current issues of misogyny and sexism in the atheist and skeptic communities, that this may not be the best way forward?

    I do not think that they will achieve their aim of “[projecting] the imagery of openness, joy, and freedom within the freethought community, in distinct contrast to cultures that objectify and repress” when the next sentence is “We’ve commissioned photos of a transgender woman, a pregnant woman, a breastfeeding mother, a Native American senior couple, a gay couple..” How are these people not objectified when reduced simply to their token representation of a particular demographic?

    I think it is possible to show bodies in a way that celebrates diversity (and what is real) without objectifying and would give http://theshapeofamother.com/ and http://www.adipositivity.com as examples of how I think it CAN work. Neither are fundraisers or calendars.

  40. Avatar of Artemisia
    September 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm —

    Sorry – that should be Penn Jillette!

  41. Avatar of Troy Boyle
    September 25, 2012 at 10:32 am —

    Rebecca, I agree completely. The idea has been floated several times in the National Atheist Party to produce a calendar (plus a very disturbing suggestion to auction ME off at the skeptical event of your choice). The horror.

    I wouldn’t say that there isn’t a feminist or sex-blind community in atheism, but it is not the de rigeur stance that I’d like it to be, personally.

    I’m on record as disagreeing with the upcoming calendar from Secular Woman – exactly for the reasons you’ve posted here. Nice post.

  42. Avatar of anon skeptic
    September 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm —

    Rebecca, I applaud your intellectual honesty. But I have to say that I would be more impressed if you would stop the “Hug me I’m vaccinated” campaign since this is your own campaign.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      September 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm —

      Did you want to try a second comment? Since this one makes no sense?

    • Avatar of geek goddess
      September 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm —

      This makes no sense. The vaccination campaign is one of the most awesome things this group has accomplished!! Stop it???

    • Avatar of Bjarte Foshaug
      September 26, 2012 at 12:19 am —

      The Hug Me campaign is just like a pin-up calendar in the same way Rebecca and Elyse are the same person (i.e. when you’re full of s**t)

  43. Avatar of nomaduk
    September 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm —

    I agree completely with every point Rebecca has made (and, really, with pretty much every point she has ever made that I have read). I admit that the last paper calendar I ever bought was a Star Trek calendar, ages ago, and the whole nudie calendar thing probably became passé right after Calendar Girls came out.

    But I am also going to say that, regardless, that is one very nice photograph.

  44. Avatar of auroranovus
    September 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm —

    I was one of a handful of feminists that debated the wisdom of this calendar on SW’s Facebook page. Our numbers were far too few and apologia was too strong. But this is the south and believe it or not, deference culture reigns supreme even over religion.

    Agree with what you’ve written, Rebecca, and appreciate you taking a stance on the matter and posting it here. This is a much-needed perspective that isn’t getting sufficient traction in the community, much to the disappointment of secular activists like myself who are nearly in despair over the lack of women-friendly spaces.

    I would like to take your points a little further, though. There are studies available that clearly demonstrate the harm of objectifying women…articles on same are available here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/women-and-objectification_n_1701275.html

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/study-proof-that-we-sexually-objectify-women/260339/

    Both reference the same study which is here: The study is here:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/%28ISSN%291099-0992
    This is a vitally important piece of the puzzle as we advocate for the end of women’s bodies as commodities and raise awareness to the literal and measurable cognitive harm objectification causes.

    The other thing that concerns me deeply is that this objectification, which we now know heavily influences the way men and women perceive women, is part of what influences bias in other areas. In specific, I’m talking about the very STEM fields that are of concern to so many of us. Another recent study shows that there is clear bias against women of equal qualifications to their male counterparts.

    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/09/are-scientists-sexist-new-study-identifies-a-gender-bias/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+smithsonianmag%2FSurprisingScience+%28Surprising+Science+|+Smithsonian.com%29&utm_content=FaceBook

    Is it any wonder that women are seen as somehow less than men when to much of our culture women are nothing but a pair of breasts on legs? We have to do better than this. Seriously.

  45. Avatar of lofgren
    September 26, 2012 at 12:07 am —

    I had some similar thoughts when I first heard about the calendars, but my impression was that the creators just thought to themselves, “Yeah, but… fuck it, let’s do it anyway.” Which I actually thought was a healthy attitude.

    I figured it didn’t matter whether somebody who goes out of their way to read your thoughts on an almost-daily basis was sexually attracted to you. It’s hard to argue that you are not being respected for intellect in addition to your body if your primary audience are people who want to hear you speak and respect your opinions. I listen to SGU every week and I frequent this site, as I had long before I saw a semi-naked picture of anybody related to those things. I probably would not have been interested in seeing photographs of Rebecca Watson if I wasn’t already attracted to her voice, her sense of humor, and her ideas. Is it really a bad thing that I find that picture up top sexy? So what if I <3 boobies? (No, I will never ever type that again. I'm so, so sorry. But it's still true.)

    Similarly, I figured it didn't matter if the uninitiated were drawn to Skepchick or one of the other female-run skeptical blogs by the calendar. If they end up sticking around and liking what you have to say, so what if they were initially curious because you are physically attractive? Being a sexy woman or man is not something to shy away from. We all have certain natural or cultivated assets, and personally I don't see anything wrong with exploiting your physical attractiveness just as much as you would your intellect, personality, sense of humor, whatever.

    But a person can only say "Fuck it," for so long. Everything you said in this post is accurate. Sometimes it can be a good thing – empowering, as you say – to just go ahead and do something fun and sexy and cool because that is what you should be able to do in an ideal world. As I said, I think that's healthy. It's good to occasionally live your life as if you lived in a perfect world, and to remind people that they can do that once in a while too. It's probably not so good to do it over and over again, willfully denying the obvious fact that we don’t live in a perfect world.

    So I am glad that the calendars exist, that you went ahead and did it because of what it ought to mean rather than being discouraged by inconvenient things like the existence of assholes. But I think you are probably right that their time has past.

    • Avatar of Emily
      September 29, 2012 at 11:34 am —

      There’s a lot of things I wanna reply to in your comment (so I’ll just type them in point form):

      - I can’t speak for anyone else… But if a guy’s sexually attracted to me, it’s ALWAYS a good thing. I mean, it’s just an extra compliment to me… But it’s only the actual sexual attraction that’s flattering. Hitting on me in a totally inappropriate context = NOT flattering.

      - In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with you finding that picture up top of Rebecca Watson “sexy.” It’s not the sexual attraction that’s a problem… The problem is when guys express their sexual attraction in a completely inappropriate context.

      - No, there’s nothing wrong with you loving “boobies” (this comment of yours made me laugh)… I mean, we know that you guys love our breasts. Why do you think the whole concept of showing cleavage exists? But like I said, it’s all about CONTEXT.

      - I don’t see anything wrong with exploiting my physical attractiveness, either… That’s why I’m a sex-positive feminist and why I don’t believe that objectification is always a bad thing. But when it comes to men exploiting our physical attractiveness (without our consent), that’s completely different.

  46. Avatar of vexorian
    September 26, 2012 at 11:28 am —

    I was going to call you out for the “nobody uses calendars anymore comment”. Then I noticed that while I own a calendar, I can’t remember the last time I looked at it. In fact, I just went to check out and it is still in May which reminded me that back in May, the calendar was in January and I told to myself that I should have really changed it. Then I figured, the only reason I had the calendar to begin with was that it was for free during Christmas time when I bought something.

    Darn.

  47. Avatar of ragdish
    September 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm —

    In regards to the calendars, you only have total control over how you project your image. You don’t yet have a lot of control on how it will be perceived. Indeed, that will happen even if you are fully clothed in the calendar images. The real question is how do you acquire control over how you are perceived? How do you insure that sexy calendar pics are appreciated as multidimensional human beings and not sex objects? Here’s a thought and I’m not being facetious. How about test driving a calendar on a group of individuals while they undergo functional neuroimaging. If the fMRI reveals among several individuals that the prefrontal cortices geared towards empathy light up in conjunction with those involved with sexual desire (ie. hypothalamus, brainstem) and objects (inferior temporal regions), then the calendar is good to go. If the prefrontal regions don’t light up then the calendar is a no go. Or as psychology professor Sarah Gervais explained, what about brain retraining to view those images holistically to make the prefrontal cortices light up? I’m dead serious here. Let’s read the audience’s minds. This can be done if you agree that the different cortical regions are involved with various thought processes.

    • Avatar of Emily
      September 29, 2012 at 11:19 am —

      Well, since we’re getting really technical about this issue, we might as well ask this important question. What about the women who don’t mind being viewed as sex objects in that situation (since they’re already posing for a “sexy calendar”)? My own thoughts on this is that if it’s MEANT to be sexual, I don’t have problems with being viewed as a sex object. But if I’m in a picture that wasn’t meant to be sexual (and everyone who comments on it only talks about my body), then it’s a problem.

      • Avatar of ragdish
        September 30, 2012 at 10:56 am —

        Do women want to be objectified? Or do women want to be regarded as multidimensional human beings who are sexual. From what I gather, it is the latter that the Skepchick calendar was trying to achieve. But in general, do women want to be objectified in certain circumstances (eg. bear cleavage at a club)? I honestly don’t know. Is a woman making a free choice in looking sexy or is it all the result of patriarchical conditioning? I have heard different views on this matter from different feminists on this site. Whatever your views are, one thing is clear. In no way should any such behavior be repressed by society. I personally will not take a moral stance that will limit a woman’s freedom even her choices are influenced by patriarchy. As an example, a woman has an abortion because her male dominated community threatens to kill the child if its born. She has the abortion because of patriarchical reasons. But I would still support her choice nonetheless.

        • Avatar of Emily
          September 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm —

          Yes, I know that the Skepchick calendar wasn’t about self-objectification (but I’m talking about in situations where there’s a “sexy calendar” that’s meant to be sexual). Well, what are your personal views about the club situation? Don’t be shy… You must have at least some views on it. BTW, you’re a guy, right?

          Well, my position is simple – of course I want to be objectified at the club! The only reason I show cleavage when I go clubbing is to be objectified. So, the word “objectification” has taken a negative connotation by itself but it’s only a problem if it’s done in the wrong context.

          BTW, I understand the arguments that feminists who aren’t sex-positive make but I don’t think just looking sexy is because of “patriarchical conditioning.” I mean, I don’t even show cleavage unless I know there’s going to be at least 1 guy around… So, my decision to show cleavage is a very conscious decision and not just a result of being taught that “women are supposed to show cleavage in this society.” Does that make sense? And don’t just talk in general… Tell me your views. :p

  48. Avatar of ihatemusic
    September 27, 2012 at 11:29 am —

    Excuse me if im wrong but I thought the studies suggested that women are perceived as mere objects no matter what…

    • Avatar of ragdish
      September 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm —

      Although there are genetic predispositions to all behaviors, environment also plays a huge role. The objectification of women is not totally an innate feature. The brain can be rewired via sociocultural changes that foster seeing women holistically.

      • Avatar of Emily
        September 29, 2012 at 11:21 am —

        I have a question for you… Do you think objectification is wrong in all circumstances?

        • Avatar of punchdrunk
          September 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm —

          We should be talking about ‘harmful’, not ‘wrong’, I think.
          I think the culture is steeped in objectification of women, and I think it’s learned behavior. I think it contributes to everything from street harassment to rape culture. It reinforces the pressure women face to be sexually attractive to men. It reminds ‘unattractive’ women of their diminished value in society’s eyes. It gives men implicit permission to put women into ‘fuckable’ and ‘unfuckable’ categories.
          Are pretty women really in need of uplifting? I mean, do you think ugly girls have had it too good for too long? Or that it’s okay to reinforce women’s value being tied to their looks, as long as you’re not the ugly one? Because that’s what it says, regardless of the intent of the models or photographers.
          I think it reinforces a lot of really sick stuff that feminists should be working against.
          You do you, but don’t think you’re helping anyone or performing feminism when you reinforce those negative social forces.

          • Avatar of Emily
            September 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

            I agree with all your points… But I don’t think it’s hypocritical for me to agree with all your points and still support nude calendars. An analogy that I think works in this case is showing cleavage at a party. If an immature guy starts making inappropriate comments about every girl around him who’s showing cleavage, then it’s their choice if they want to stop showing cleavage at parties. I’d rather confront him directly about it and not making any changes to my attire. So, my approach to objectification is to confront those who are objectifying, not to stop doing things that increase the likelihood of (but DON’T cause) the objectification. This is similar to what SlutWalk is about.

            BTW, since you’re not a sex-positive feminist like me, then what do you identify as? Just curious. :)

        • Avatar of ragdish
          September 30, 2012 at 10:20 am —

          Is behavior X wrong in all circumstances? If X=pedophilia, then a resounding YES!! And there are a number of behaviors that equal X to which I would take an absolute stance. Yet for a lot of behavviors I personally do not cling to moral or ideological absolutes. Is objectification wrong? The word has different meanings in different contexts. Is it wrong for a woman to show her cleavage and is it wrong for a passerby to subtley notice? Is it then wrong for that passerby to go home and self-gratify himself/herself while recollecting the image of that woman? This happens and will happen all the time. Even the individual who sits on his/her moral high horse claiming all objectification is wrong will wank his/her privates to a blissful climax to that image. But while acknowledging our carnal and lustful instincts with warts and all, can we not also respect each other? Suppose that cleavage bearing woman is an ER physician who later treats the passerby. Regardless of what goes on in his/her mind, the outward attitude has to be respectful. So in answer to your question is objectification wrong. It’s not always wrong and it’s not always right.

          • Avatar of Emily
            September 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

            I agree with you 100%… And that’s a perfect example of the goal of sex-positive feminism! I mean, in a perfect world, an ER physician would be able to show a lot of cleavage in the club and in the next day, she would be able to treat the same guy who masturbated while thinking about her cleavage.

            But you forgot 1 important part of sex-positive feminism… That ER physician should be respected for her mind at her job and respected for her body at the club! Although, “respected for her body” isn’t the perfect phrase… What I mean to say is that she shouldn’t be told she “can’t be sexual” just because she’s an ER physician and she also shouldn’t be told she “can’t be intelligent” just because she likes showing a lot of cleavage at the club.

            That example is pretty much what sex-positive feminism is all about… I mean, I know that some people think it’s just “feminists who support porn” but it’s not just that. It’s about taking our sexual power back from men… It’s about empowering ourselves by putting our sexuality back in our hands and taking away the power of men to put us into either a “slut” group or a “prude” group. It’s about allowing ANY woman to be sexual ANYTIME she wants (regardless of what men think).

  49. Avatar of punchdrunk
    September 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm —

    We’re out of reply buttons. :D
    I can understand the difference in intent, but don’t think that you can separate actions from the larger culture. I really believe it does harm. It doesn’t have to, but as things are now, it does. I believe demystifying nudity is helpful – seeing people of all ages and genders and abilities with all different kinds of bodies, and saying that all these people are valuable, all these people can be sexual. That’s not what pin ups or objectification is about.

    How do I identify? I’m just a garden-variety feminist. I was active for a long time in my local kink scene. I don’t identify as much beyond that, I obviously don’t think I’m sex-negative. I’m just sick and tired of seeing women(including myself) suffer from being treated like our physical attractiveness defines our worth. You can only yell at so many men for talking to your tits and dismissing you in one lifetime. And I see so many women hurting themselves because of this messed up prevailing attitude.
    I think commodifying sex diminishes us. And anyone trying to fight that has to be very very careful not to unintentionally feed the beast.

    • Avatar of ragdish
      September 30, 2012 at 10:39 am —

      punchdrunk,

      Your views are right as long as you don’t cling to a moral extreme. I have no doubt that you and everybody else masturbates to mental images of a person(s). The feminist John Stoltenberg considers this form of objectification wrong and only the hardcore fundies agree with him. Suppressing this behavior is wrong and this has been the status quo for whom? For the longest time women have told that lustful thoughts are wrong and they have been the victims of repressive norms which only work in brutal totalitarian theocracies.

      • Avatar of Emily
        September 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm —

        You haven’t really called yourself a sex-positive feminist (like I call myself) but you obviously are. I mean, you have the same views as me… So, just admit it. And go read the Wikipedia article on sex-positive feminism if you’re not sure.

        Again, I agree with your comment… Lustful thoughts aren’t somehow “wrong” (no matter who thinks them). Exactly… Everybody masturbates to mental images of at least 1 person! Except for asexual people (it’s important to remember the whole range of sexual orientations that are possible). :)

        • Avatar of ragdish
          September 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm —

          I guess I am sex-positive and I accept the social, political and cultural equalities of men, women, trans, etc.. I accept your brand of feminism. Sex-positive feminists I admire are Rachel kramer Bussell (Lusty Lady), Audacia Ray (Waking Vixen), Violet Blue, Tristan Taormino, Nina Hartley, etc.. I’m fully on board with feminists who champion above all else individual freedoms and civil liberties (eg. Wendy Kaminer, Wendy McElroy, etc.). I won’t barracade myself in an ideological fence and point fingers at those who don’t agree with my views. Indeed, I consider feminism more of an ideal that is a large tent rather than a fixed ideology.

          And I think your response regarding the hypothetical ER physician sums up what I would regard as an ideal world. She can be both sexy at the night club and be a respected intelligent physician by day. Or she doesn’t have to be sexy at all. Whatever floats her boat.

          In regards to whether patriarchical conditioning has any role in a woman’s attire, this is controversial and I don’t have any idea. I’d like to think and hope that she is making a free choice. And it begs the question that in a society stripped of patriarchy would a woman still go to a night club bearing her cleavage to sexually attract someone? I’m gonna say yes. I liken patriarchy to religion. Do atheists still do things that belong to religion eg. appreciate the Golden Rule, sing Christmas carols, read Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, etc…Well as an atheist, I still love all that stuff even though they are products of theism. Atheists co-opt elements of religion. And similarly, as feminists acquire a greater and greater social space for freedom, they will co-opt elements of patriarchy including breast implants, thongs, string bikinis, James Bond films, football, porn, etc..

          • Avatar of Emily
            October 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

            I’m a HUGE fan of Nina Hartley… How did you find out about her? I actually found out about her through porn (and then I found out that she’s a sex-positive feminist and how we agree on so many things)!

            I agree… That would be an ideal world (and that situation applies directly to me). I mean, I like showing a lot of cleavage and looking sexy at the night club but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be respected for my intelligence during my job.

            Well, I think it’s obvious that patriarchical conditioning has a role in a woman’s attire… The important thing is to analyze it and do whatever you wanna do (instead of what you’ve been conditioned to think is normal for a woman to do).

            For example, when I show a lot of cleavage at a night club, I do it 100% on purpose (to sexually attract someone). But that’s different from a woman who’s learned that “women are supposed to show cleavage” and she’s too scared (of criticism from others) to ignore a gender role.

    • Avatar of Emily
      September 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

      What exactly do you mean by you were active for a long time in your “local kink scene”? I’m not really sure what you mean by that… BTW, I don’t have a problem with you not being a sex-positive feminist like me (as long as you’re a feminist, that’s all that matters). I mean, all that really means is that you’re against self-objectification (such as nude calendars, Boobquake, SlutWalk, etc.), which means you won’t participate in those events yourself. And that’s fine – it’s only a problem when people try to ban sex-positive feminists from participating in those events.

      Anyways, I’m not trying to have a debate on sex-positivity but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand each other’s viewpoint better. Since you’re against self-objectification (which really is the core of sex-positive feminism), then how do you think we should “take our sexuality” back from men? To me, sex-positive feminism is the right way forward because it’s basically about how we don’t have to be sexually attractive to men (but if we want to, we can do it without any negative repercussions). It’s also about how women that men deem as “ugly” can be sexual too (and that men can’t do anything to stop it). To me, it’s the ultimate “fuck you” to misogynists. :)

      • Avatar of ihatemusic
        October 1, 2012 at 8:43 am —

        I still think it is wrong to say we are less “sex positive” because we don’t like sexualisation. I am too tired of it. I love sex. But it is about sex from every person and every body. And this will not happen by saying “hey, i show my beautiful cleavage that is accepted by social norms and it doesn’t have any moral side to it whatsoever”.

        This is, simply, one-sided bullshit.

        • Avatar of Emily
          October 1, 2012 at 10:43 am —

          There’s that argument against sex-positive feminism again (that we’re implying that those who don’t agree with us are “sex-negative”)… And what do I say to that argument? Well, I agree! You didn’t expect that, did you? :)

          I agree that “sex-positive” feminism isn’t the most accurate name for it (but that’s the official name). That’s why I’m always worried about offending someone when I call myself “sex-positive”… And that’s why it’s important to focus on the actual issues instead of labels. So don’t worry, I know that being against sexualization doesn’t mean you don’t love sex – who doesn’t? :p

          Although, the word “sexualization” is pretty vague, too… I mean, what actually do you disagree with me and other sex-positive feminists on? From your comment, I gather that you don’t like showing cleavage (but I highly doubt you wanna stop me and other women from showing cleavage). So, what are some political issues you disagree with sex-positive feminists on? By “political issues,” I mean any issue that has an effect on actual laws.

          • Avatar of ragdish
            October 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

            Emily,

            When you’re at a venue wherein you show your cleavage, clearly there will be staring onlookers. I’m asking this in light of the fact that the “male gaze” has been described as leading to unwanted self-objectification, low self-esteem and negatively impacting a woman’s intellect ie. if people view her as an object then she will feel and act like an object. I think Ariel Levy expanded on this in “Female Chauvanist Pigs”. I would assume that none of this applies to you and many sex-positive feminists. What are your thoughts on the whole “male gaze” thing?

  50. Avatar of jedibear
    October 4, 2012 at 11:35 am —

    Now I’m glad I didn’t buy the original calendar.

    My reasons at the time were stupid and wrong, but Rebecca lays out better reasons here, and I find I agree with them.

  51. Avatar of geologic
    October 8, 2012 at 4:05 am —

    Bravo Rebecca. I still a calendar on my wall to keep track of family appointments. I totally agree with your reasoning for not making nude calendars. A nude calendar is not something I can share with friends to make a point about skepticism without the point getting sidetracked. Besides, as you say, it is no longer edgy or new. My calender (I make it each year on my Mac) has dates for skeptical events, birth dates of skeptical activists and scientists. And nuggets of information scattered throughout the calendar. My calendars notes HAVE been objects of discussion in ways a nude calendar never could be.

  52. Avatar of Artemisia
    December 5, 2012 at 7:54 am —

    Looks like the calendar has been cancelled.
    http://www.secularwoman.org/calendar_cancelled

  53. Avatar of satanaugustine
    February 10, 2014 at 8:14 am —

    But, butt, but butt, butt, You look so lovely in that picture, Rebecca. If it’s cute women for a good cause, I say keep it up (says anachronistic man with crush on Rebecca Watson),

  54. Avatar of satanaugustine
    February 10, 2014 at 8:15 am —

    ———-

  55. Avatar of samael
    March 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm —

    Naked people – disgusting. Objectification – disgusting. Human nature – disgusting. Erections – disgusting. Engorged clitori – disgusting. Honestly – you people are pathetic.

    • Avatar of marilove
      March 26, 2014 at 6:14 pm —

      LOL what the hell. This thread is from a YEAR AND A HALF AGO. What the fuck is this about erections and engorged clitori?! I am so confused. Also ugh pretty skeeved out now that I’ve typed that phrase out. Ugh.

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