Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thoughts: Pregnancy in Erotic Art

I’ve been approached by about four different couples during the past few days. I’ve been corresponding with some interesting people, and I’m optimistic about having some new shoots soon.

One of these couples informed me they were pregnant. Only about four months along, but she was starting to show--”would this be a problem?” Of course not! I told them working with a pregnant couple would be a first for me, and I was very excited about the prospect of doing something so new to me.

But I got to thinking: why aren’t more pregnant women featured in erotic art? I don’t mean traditional nude photography, where pregnant women are merely accessories in “explorations of human curvature” (gag). The whole “lets put a curvy woman against a mysterious backdrop with stark lighting to play up how curvy she is” schtick is so trite and overdone, I find it insulting to everyone involved: the photographer (big fish in a small pond, falling back on what he/she/ze knows is safe, too cowardly to really delve into something new), the model (reduced to looks, don’t get me started on THAT Feminist conundrum), and the audience, who was just robbed of the time it took to look at the photo and remind themselves that the photo isn’t anything new, and it was probably done infinitely better by Imogen Cunningham or Helmut Newton, so why bother with this imposter? Yeah, that’s right, I can be downright nasty. Like I’ve said before, I have an intense, intense hatred of traditional nude photography. But I digress.

Back to the original question at hand. Why AREN’T more pregnant women featured in erotic photography? They seem like they would be perfect candidates. First of all, they’ve obviously had sex. Second, I’ve been told the hormones drive them batty. And yet, pregnant have rarely, if ever, been featured as intense sexual beings in art history. My suspicion is that it stems from a time when the health of the general populace was fairly unstable, and when a woman became pregnant, there was (unfortunately) a significant risk that she would lose the baby. As a result, pregnant women were sheltered and protected. More graphic erotic art (such as mine) has historically been associated with a more hedonistic mentality, images of people who love sex, pleasuring themselves, and they don’t care who witnesses it. In that context, pregnancy was something that “happened” to women, a roadblock of sorts, because now her responsibilities lay with the baby. Her sexuality was denied. My boyfriend informed me last night that there are people with pregnancy fetishes (don’t ask me how he knows this), which I’m not surprised by, as that is what a fetish is, the application of sexual associations to something decidedly asexual. I find this incredibly problematic. Not only does it imply that pregnant women aren’t sexual beings, but it reinforces a myopic ideal of what IS sexual. This also applies to fat fetishes, transsexual fetishes, and senior citizen fetishes.

I’ve never made any secret of my attempts to expand the idea of “erotic art,” hoping to encourage people to reevaluate their definitions of art and porn, or at least the binary between them. Much of this stems from who I work with. I like working with non-models (I don’t really like using the phrase “real people”, as it implies models are fake people. That’s not fair.) It’s a bit of a departure from traditional erotic photography, where professional models are used (but I’m not the first to do this, let’s be honest). I personally think photos of non-models having sex is more erotic than models because a.) you don’t see it all that often, so it’s usually more alluring, and b.) it’s easier to relate to. That’s not to say that models aren’t sexy, or that I’m trying to deny them their sexuality. But if a photograph of two non-models having sex is heralded for being erotic, then it sends the message that ANYONE can be celebrated as a highly sexual being. This includes pregnant women. I hope I get an opportunity to work with this couple and show how sexy they can be. These are two people who are comfortable enough with their sexuality to show it off, and who obviously love each other very much, so much so that made a baby together. What’s wrong with that?

I know I haven’t given much opportunity for input, but I’d like to start a dialogue. Any thoughts?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam - Congrats on the influx of couples for your photo shoots. I hope it all works out.
Being one who enjoys pushing people's buttons, and the envelope of life, I believe I'd enjoy viewing pregnant women in erotic art. Like you, I'm unimpressed viewing sundry naked women on magazine covers. Not only has it been exhausted, but what is the viewer really seeing save for an airbrushed version of what pregnancy can be like (I'm obviously speaking here of celebrities/models on covers).
I believe pregnancy hasn't been showcased in an erotic arena due to the attitudes toward women in such a state. Generally when we see a pregnant woman, we reflexively view a handicap, e.g. she is now 'altered' so let's hold the door open for her, make sure she gets her rest, keep her safe. She is carrying the most innocent of innocents, a nascent being not yet besmirched by the influences of the world. It's innate to want to preserve this. And this purity if you will (that of an unborn child), contradicts most people's attitude toward the erotic world. We are creatures of habit, conditioned a certain way from infancy. Most tend to criticize that which they fear or don't understand so it's no surprise this topic hasn't made it anywhere. Expose people to something new when they're not ready and they usually react as if being locked in a small room and pushed up against the wall. I recently opined to a close-minded individual, "If homosexuality was the norm and hetero wasn't, you'd probably feel the same intolerance toward hetero as you now do homo." Sadly, most follow suit simply for fear of stirring the pot.
Ironically, one place where I do not appreciate seeing pregnant women is stripping. There is something cut-rate about it for me. So go figure. I guess we all have our thing. Speaking of, your boyfriend is correct about pregnancy fetishes. The topic was recently featured in Bizarre magazine (www.bizarremag.com) in August.

5:54 PM  
Blogger pornstudent said...

I've come across some porn sites with pregnant women. I suppose there will be as much pregnant porn as there is a market for.

Following is some porn you might want to have a look at.

http://pornstudies.net/sites/pregnantfever.htm
http://pornstudies.net/sites/pregnantfux.htm
http://pornstudies.net/sites/pregnantgirlies.htm
http://pornstudies.net/sites/pregnantschool.htm
http://pornstudies.net/sites/pregnantwishes.htm
http://pornstudies.net/pictures/Preggy-XXX.htm
http://pornstudies.net/movies/Pregnant.htm

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Tracy Lee said...

I didn't take a single photo of myself when pregnant - either time - cause I was totally TOTALLY uncomfortable with the way I looked. And felt.

yeah yeah yeah, i know, pregnant isn't fat, it's pregnant and beautiful and all that. Yes. I agree. Just not for myself, that is not how I felt at all. So getting in front of the camera? Only would have made it worse.

(Aww, but you didn't take any photos? You don't have anything to remember it!) Hell yes I do, I remember every single day. Plus I got these two kids running around to remind me in case I forget ;)

You have to toss in as well that Pregnant Means Mother, and Mother is Sacred, so a lot of people are going to have this holy sort of ideal regarding a pregnant woman. True, there is that percentage of the population that has a fetish for pregnant women. But honestly I believe there is a fetish for everything out there.

Link to Wikipedia article on maiesiophilia

10:33 AM  
Anonymous dc said...

My wife has been pregnant three times (the last time with twins) and she has ALWAYS been eager to have my photograph her - not having sex but just being pregnant.

In two of the three pregnancies, she was extremely sexual - frequently wanting me to have sex with her, or masturbaing more than once a day. (She likes to masturbate, but generally not every day... or two-three times a day). I think the notion that pregnant women are not sexual is disappointing. While in some cases it's true (many mothers I've met weren't thrilled with their pregnant bodies and didn't feel sexual), in my case I would love to see pregancy viewed (at least on some levels) as not just maternal, but sexual.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Samantha Wolov said...

as much as i've been waxing poetic on eroticism and pregnancy, i've gotten a strong impression that pregnancy, regardless of intent, is still relatively glamorized and romanticized. i've been witness to a fair share of pregnancies, and i've heard all sorts of stories that make pregnancy seem as pleasurable as going to the dentist: back pain, trouble with sleep, constant farting, swelling feet and shoes that don't fit, strangers accosting you to feel your belly, etc. when push comes to shove, there are two sides to every story, and pregnancy is no exception. if a pregnant woman feels sexy, great. if not, it's not the end of the world.


as much as i'm really interested in this topic, and i'm excited about taking these pictures (twice, actually), it's made me think a lot about my own views towards pregnancy. luckily, i'm young, and i probably won't have kids for a while...

6:36 PM  
Blogger Jef said...

Sam,

Check out Bernard Landon pictures at www.bernard-landon.ch

He's a French-Swiss photographer and takes beautiful (in my opinion) pictures of nude pregnant women.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been searching for photographs that beautifully erotise the state of pregnancy. To me there is nothing sexier or more erotic than a pregnant belly. I don't like the porn. I like things that are tastefully done. And I was happy to see your site and see that you are considering expanding your artistic design to include this...genre? I never thought of pregnancy fetishes before I read the other comments, but I suppose maybe I fall into that category. I definitely believe that women in the "delicate state of pregnancy" should be brought out of their bare feet and kitchens into the light of the sexuality that got them in that condition in the first place. Pregnant women don't stop being sexual just because they are carrying a baby. And it should be that way. I wish that every pregnant woman felt sexy and sexual. And I wish that society would stop trying to "shelter" them and let them be the sexual, erotic, beautiful beings that they are. In order for people to really appreciate this kind of art/fetish, they have to have an appreciation not just of sexuality, but also of life, unborn and born. Please do work with these couples and create something awesome.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Mette said...

This is a really cool article, since I got pregnant recently:-), thanks for that. By the way I just saw this site, I think it’s pretty cool: erotic-confessions.net. I very much like sexy erotic stories, so if you are also into that kind of stuff, this should be your next stop. Click here for: sexy erotic stories Have fun!

9:42 PM  

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