This photographer is exploring the relationship between social media censorship, the male gaze, and feminist photography
Many female identified artists use sexuality and body image as tools to liberate the female body and a starting point to discuss feminist ideas. But what happens when the female gaze is viewed in the same context as the male gaze? For some, an image of a semi-naked woman may be liberating, but others may not read the same photograph as needlessly sexualising a woman, or representing female bodies as objects.
When questioning her own approach to shooting through the female gaze, Vancouver based photographer Megan Magdalena Bourne found herself interested in the different approaches to shooting men and women. “I was angry about having to censor my photos of women, and about gender in general. I was constantly getting my photos reported and deleted because they were ‘offensive’. So, I began recreating the photos I’ve had deleted from social media sites using boys.”
As Bourne began photographing more and more men for the series, she found herself less caught up in social media politics and more concerned with the hyperbolic representation of gender roles in photography and the needless sexualisation of women. At times the series, entitled BOYS BOYS BOYS, seems hilarious as opposed to deep rooted social commentary. Yes, men with roses held in their mouths or straddled between an open bag of flour may seem ridiculous, but why is it any less ridiculous when women are told to pull the same poses by male photographers?
Casting boys from within her artistic community and social group, Bourne allowed her models complete creative control of their shoot, and took the decision to interview each person alongside taking their portrait. “I wanted them to interpret this project in their own way and find where their own personal vulnerability lies. Some took the project literally, some found it funny, and some really took it to heart, with each person capturing a different mood and highlighting a different aspect of gender.”
Available online only for now, Bourne hopes to widely release the series of images and interviews as a zine in the future. But, despite finishing the project more concerned with gender roles than social media censorship, does Bourne feel any less frustrated that her too hot for instagram imagery – when using a female model – is still being deleted? “I just hope that seeing these men and reading what they had to say will cause one man to think differently before he sexualizes a women, or a man”.
Check out more of Megan Magdalena Bourne's work here