For some time, I have been a member of a group here at dA that features works involving nudes. I had submitted a number of my own works there previously, without issue. Recently, however, I submitted a work entitled "Joy: Legacy 2" hardbargainart.deviantart.com/…
, which is part of a trilogy that features one of my characters, Joy, interacting with her infant daughter. Since I am primarily a fetish artist, I had no expectation that the trilogy would amass any popularity at all, and I seem to have been correct, with the exception of a number of my traditional artist friends who favor it quite vocally. At any rate, the image was declined by the group's founder. Though I, like most people, have at least some degree of aversion to rejection, I am working to learn to swallow my cud and move past it. And given my low expectations for the trilogy, the declination itself was not what bothered me. What bothered me was the justification that was provided. The group founder quoth, in one dismal, incomplete sentence:
"Not really a fan of female nudes built like dudes."
Initially, all I could do was blink mutely at my monitor. The rationale encased in this gem of vernacular was, somehow, simultaneously comical and sad. Slowly, I was able to compose a brief reply... brief, I say, because I'm fully aware that the intellect behind this pearl would be immune to any rational discourse.
"So, let me see if I understand you: Your declination has nothing to do with art, then? You're merely rejecting a work purely on the basis of a personal bias against muscular women? What if she were an amputee and you didn't care for people with missing limbs? Or scars? Or red hair? All rejects in your myopic little world... never mind the art, or the possibility that someone else might appreciate it?
If you're declining works of art based purely on bigotry, I have no interest in remaining in your group."
And to compound the stupefying incongruity behind this precious stone, the group's founder is a watcher of mine, which means, of course, that he is fully aware of my art's subject: muscular women in fetish scenarios! I continued:
"It is not lost on me that you are a watcher of my work. How, then, do you reconcile your xenophobia with watching an artist who creates works featuring almost exclusively muscular women? What sort of pretzel logic compels you to follow a subject for which you voice distaste to the extent that it pollutes your decision making on matters of art?"
I have not had a reply as yet, and honestly don't expect one, especially given the indefensible nature of bigotry and prejudice in the minds of most rational beings. What really galls me, then, was not the rejection itself - much as I relish acceptance of my work - but the sheer, unmitigated myopia behind it. I'm galled that the individual who cast this purely personal judgment fancies himself an artist, in a community of artists, yet has no apparent appreciation for either the art itself, nor for the perspective of its creator, when making determinations about a work's admission to his group. I'm galled that this individual, in the year 2014, in a social media venue populated primarily by practitioners and lovers of the visual arts, allows his xenophobia to sit at the very kernel of the internal process that governs his response to that which he claims to appreciate, but instead, denigrates with his addle-brained bigotry. It galls me that his fear of something different - some perceived threat by something outside of his unfortunate little bubble of a reality - causes him to reject something which others may appreciate as beautiful, and thereby deny them the opportunity to do so, simply because he, personally, is afraid of it. Now, in the bright light of further contemplation, this is not funny any longer. It's just mortally sad. Indeed, pathetic.
You see... Joy is not just a digital image. Nor is her baby. She is representative of every athletic young mother who has ever cherished her body, built it, been proud of it. She is iconic of every strong young mother who values strength as she values her child. She is symbolic of the beauty of every powerful woman, and the sanctity of her bond with the fruit of her loins. That mother, that infant, that connection, is what the trilogy "Legacy" seeks to depict. And whether or not I was successful in my effort is far less at issue than the unhappy reality that someone - indeed, another "artist" - encountered an image about love, and somehow found something to fear, and to hate.
In defense of the group's founder, one might well make the argument that group owners and moderators have the prerogative to accept and decline submissions as they see fit. And while I would concur in part, valid grounds for declination normally include appropriateness of content, categorization, subject, etc.. But if one hosts a group showcasing nudes, then a rejection based purely on the "judge's" particular aversion to a specific body type is decidedly bigoted, and entirely contrary to the spirit of creativity, not to mention utterly insensitive to the nature of diversity. I have no tolerance for xenophobes, and no patience for bigots.
I considered naming the group here, and even its unfortunate founder, on the rationale that xenophobes need to be called out and held accountable for their actions. But to what end? And how does that benefit me? So, I decided against it. The individual in question will undoubtedly have a lifetime of opportunities to embarrass himself, as well as his fellows. You know who you are. Good luck to you, friend. You will need it.