Nightlife Portfolio

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Enraged Feminist vs Utah's Sexy Dancers

"Dear Eric,

I've noticed that there are lots of scantily-clad young girls on your photo stream. Aren't you afraid that you are going to offend 90% of your clients in Mormonville, USA and don't you think that by giving these harlots a public place to flaunt themselves you're perpetuating the stereotype that girls are merely sexy playthings?"

You should take those photos down or you'll never find any work in this state!!!

- Enraged Feminist [Yes, this is actually how she signed!]

Whoah, Enraged. Calm down. First of all, those who would be so offended that they wouldn't hire me are not the sort of people I want to work for anyway. Call it client darwinism. It's a good thing. Trust me -- I'm not hurting for business. In fact, I'm hiring interns to keep up with the workload. From a photographer's business perspective, being true to my unique vision is my primary marketing strategy. My style and subjects are my brand, and what do you know -- sex sells. The last thing I'm going to do is shoot some conservative idea of what people want to buy. I prefer to shoot what I love.

Anyway, these girls aren't the primary subjects of my photographs. I mostly sell photos of the DJ's and other performers. That's where my real passion lies, and that's where the real money is. They need photos for their presskits and promotions, and they're willing to pay for them. Since most of them are from out of state, and unlikely to be conservative, my choice to include these girls in my photo sets has no negative impact on my bottom line.

Another interesting point is that photos of beautiful girls are far and away the most popular photos in my photo stream, and it's a safe bet that many of my fans found me initially through one of those popular images.

As for your second argument, I've just had a discussion very much like this on the message board. Here's a snippet of that conversation:

"And being the feminist that I am I think that they're just ridiculous and perpetuate the image that women are sex toys here for the pleasure of certian perverts and macho sexist idiots." - triciaprefect
"People said the same thing about Madonna." - me
"Madonna was (is) unique." - adrena_line
"So is Ms Easy. The point is that being sexy doesn't always 'perpetuate the image that women are sex toys,' and some particularly strong women manage to be true to themselves and flaunt their sexuality in a way that is empowering and liberating to women." - me

In another conversation, somebody accused me of being exploitive of these girls -- using them to sell my photos and services as if it's wrong to make money from anything that could be considered prurient. Far from feeling exploited, many of these girls are friends, and they respond enthusiastically when they see me. They plaster my photos all over their MySpace pages. They proudly display them to their friends, and many of them have asked me at one time or another for more formal photo shoots. These girls trust me because they know if there's a photo they don't want posted, I'll take it down. None of them have ever complained to me about the way that I conduct myself. I think it's telling that the people accusing me of exploitation are not the people being "exploited".

We can argue until the cows come home about whether it's wrong or right to post pictures of hot girls in skimpy clothing on the internet, but like any honest straight man, I like a dose of sexy in my photos now and then. Call me a sexist pig if you like, but consider this:

I celebrate the individuality and self expression of everybody I encounter in the nightlife scene, whereas, you assume that these girls are harlots, tear them down, and take the time out of your day to rant to me about it, just for trying to express themselves in a way you don't like. You profess to be a feminist, but isn't feminism about freedom and rights? These girls want the freedom and right to express their sexuality in an appropriate venue. Why should I deny them that, and refuse to take and post their photographs? They are part of the nightlife, and my job is to celebrate the nightlife, and all that it includes.

Since you asked me so politely to address this issue, here they are in all their bare-skinned glory: Utah's sexy nightlife dancers.

What are your thoughts on this debate? Take a look at some of the girls in question, and then click the little comments button to chime in.


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