Dear Facebook, Venus of Willendorf isn’t Sexually Explicit Content!
Facebook’s censorship deemed the picture of a 30,000-year-old artefact, pornographic. The said picture represents a naked female form the Venus of Willendorf. An early Stone Age statue that is a part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna. An image of the work posted on Facebook was removed citing inappropriate content, despite four attempts to appeal the decision.
The recent censorship of art on Facebook, citing ‘inappropriate content’ as a reason, showcases how naked female form is now perceived as a threat instead of art or anatomy.
Venus Of Willendorf represents many things, but certainly not pornography
The interpretation of Venus of Willendorf varies among historians. Some say that it symbolises female fertility, and a woman’s capability to bear children while there are others who claim that it is a portrait/ self portrait of a woman who lived in Willendorf 30,000 years ago.
I have had the honour of seeing Venus of Willendorf in reality. The first word that came to my mind was not pornography or indecency, instead, it was about how the statue depicted a woman in the starkest, real and beautiful way. The small statue speaks volumes about how our perception of the female form has changed over the years. Nudity of a woman became a matter of honour over the years and even in art, our bodies got trimmed and covered up over due course of time.
The reason for this change was nothing but a change in our gaze.
Over the years our bodies have been reduced to objects to be used either for pleasure or producing offsprings. Our nakedness is now covered with the honour of the family we belong to. Hence uncovering it, is a threat.
Glue our heads to someone else’s body, film us having a bath or changing clothes. Circulate it among other men and then call us vulgar and characterless. How easy it has become to shame us!
The culture of hyper-sexuality gazes at the naked female form and does not see beauty, art and human anatomy anymore. It sees sex, honour, and a chance to defile it.
So, Facebook’s censorship of Venus of Willendorf is a reaction to the society’s changed perception. There are many perverted minds who would look at this statue lasciviously. They will not see 30,000 years old statue celebrating female form and body positivity. They will see her breasts and prominent genitals. But then again, this move plays into the hands of flag bearers of morality. Who would rather cover up Willendorf, than work on inculcating an appreciation of art and beauty of naked female form. Vulgarity and nakedness are two different things. Vulgarity is the objectification of women, and not in pieces of art which show the human body in its full glory.
Change in perception will help us get rid of the former and appreciate our history and culture via latter.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own