Actress Caitlin Stasey wrote a story for Jezebel about her recent altercation with a misogynist magazine editor.
Stasey launched a website called Herself.com, which is a “safe space for women of varying backgrounds, body types and belief systems to amplify their concerns, wishes, dreams, complaints and woes—a platform dedicated to expanding the scope of visible female experience and of visible female bodies.” According the Stasey, “The courageous, luminescent women you will find there are nude, shot by female photographers. In showing us their bodies on mutually-agreed-upon terms, they have given all of us an immense gift; as they appear there, they are both impossibly vulnerable and utterly indestructible.” The interviews on the website are inspiring and the pictures are absolutely stunning.
Stasey herself has been photographed and interviewed for the website, which why many were surprised to hear that when an Australian magazine called The Good Weekend asked her to appear in lingerie to accompany a piece on her, she declined. Stasey wrote, “It wasn’t the nature of the shoot that bothered me, but the pairing of the shoot with the story I was hoping to tell, which was specifically that women, and only women, are in charge of their bodies, their image and their sexuality. This commodification of my body had nothing to do with me. My input and my consent had never been sought. Simply, my body was going to be used as a prop to sell a magazine. And I, as the human occupying this prop, was not a part of the conversation.”
One major contribution to her decision to not pose nude for The Good Weekend was her awareness that the magazine lacked “a certain amount of feminist credibility.” Definitely something important to consider when choosing who to get naked for. Before the red flag of the nude photo shoot, their senior editor Ben Naparstek was called out in an open letter by John Van Tiggelen, editor at The Monthly, for blatantly refusing to pay female writers as much as their male counterparts. A major turnoff.
In her piece for Jezebel, Stasey lays out a detailed rundown of the events surrounding the photo shoot with The Good Weekend. Here are some highlights:
- The Good Weekend requested a feature. Stasey spent several hours airing out and exploring all of her “deepest and sexiest secrets” with a journalist from the magazine.
- The magazine then scheduled a photo shoot for the coming Saturday. In addition to details about time and location for the shoot, they sent along a mood board representing what they were aiming to shoot: “lots of ladies in panties, big hair, big makeup. Panties, panties, panties."
- Stasey and her publicist agreed that the direction of the shoot would be “pretty contradictory to the message of empowerment and bodily ownership” and in stark contrast with the interview she had done for the magazine. When they told the magazine this, they reacted with surprise:
- After that, Stasey and her publicist conferred with them over new mood boards and thought they were all set to go.
- But then, the next day, she received an email from a staff member at The Good Weekend apologizing and stating that the shoot was cancelled.
- After a lot of back and forth, Stasey’s publicist was able to get explicit confirmation that Ben had cancelled the photo shoot because they had pushed back on their concept. From the email:
About this, Stasey wrote, “Hold up. You suddenly don’t have the money to dress me for a shoot? I’m literally only worth my weight in wardrobe cash to you if I’m naked? Were you going to cloak me in pasties made of gold and saffron? In panties made of unobtanium, or whatever was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction? Then, and only then, is it acceptable for you to scrap a feature on someone because they have refused to pose nude.”
- Later on, Stasey was told they were looking to buy existing artwork instead, so Stasey and her publicist sent them existing artwork, and they thought that was that.
- Months went by. “They told me vaguely that the piece was still going to run, but at a fraction of the size. They said words like ‘downsizing’ and ‘timing’ and ‘shrinking margins.’ I understand that the newspaper industry is imperiled. But hold on: timing? They had delayed the article, they’d had the audacity to state that they weren’t interested in me fully clothed; they refused to publish the article in a timely fashion.”
- Stasey posted the correspondence with the magazine and made public the details of the insane situation. Then, Ben Naparstek decided to chime in with a “terribly artificial, factually incorrect, purposefully deceitful response.”
Stasey calls the whole situation a “beautiful reminder of how the world views young women: at their best when they’re naked and not complaining.” This, unfortunately, is something it seems like we are constantly being reminded.
Stasey writes that because of her recent project and candor about her sexuality, men like Ben Naparstek believe they have an inherent right to her nudity and her body. “It’s the same logic we apply to a woman’s sexuality. Just because she’s fucked one guy she must be available to all of them, right? Just because she’s wearing a short skirt, just because her shirt is sheer, just because she is a woman, she must be available to me.” This is unbelievably frustrating. Many men are even trying to take ownership over our own personal empowerment?
Since this controversy, many people have questioned how Stasey discerns the difference between posing nude for her website and posing nude for theirs. Her answer:
“My body, my agency & my sexuality are not invitations; they are vessels which I am entitled to use at my discretion. I don’t need an excuse.”
So even if this ordeal is a reminder about how women are constantly fighting for control over their own bodies and sexuality, Caitlin Stasey has used it as an opportunity to remind us that we still have a say, and the decisions we make about our bodies and sexuality need no justification.
Published July 21, 2014
More from BUST
Olivia’s first sentence was “No talk, just laugh” and since then, she’s made it her business to find the humorous side of life and share her absurd observations with others. She’s a writer, a lover of all things pop culture, and she can’t fall asleep without having 30 Rock on in the background. If you like looking at pictures of food and random dogs, you should check out Olivia’s Instagram.