Sexual art is inappropriate in the workplace

Share
Sir: Contrary to Marianne Macdonald's article, "PC activists confront naked truth" (8 February), about my views on the location of Larry Wakefield's paintings at Southampton University, I do not believe that "nudes have no place in a public space". My view is that the nudes which were hanging until this week in the Faculty of Social Sciences conference room were inappropriate to that particular space. I agree with Larry Wakefield that the nudes in question are neither "obscene" nor "pornographic", and I have never said that they are. However, their subject matter is sexual, and it is on this ground that they were inappropriate in the context in which they were exhibited, to my way of thinking. Anybody who doubts the essentially sexual nature of the nude as a subject could usefully consult John Berger's Ways of Seeing or Edward Lucie-Smith's Sexuality in Western Art.

So far as I am concerned, artists should have complete freedom of expression. If they wish to paint nudes, they are and should be free to do so. There are plenty of places - both public and private - where the display of nudes is entirely acceptable: in art galleries, in people's homes and in any context where the celebration of human sexuality is appropriate. However, the workplace is not such a context. Why not? As I see it, the depiction in the workplace of women in their private roles as sexual beings is inappropriate because it encourages a perception of women as primarily sexual beings, thus undermining their dignity in the workplace and their professional status. In the process, this helps to create an environment in which insensitive and unprofessional attitudes and behaviour towards women are more likely to occur.

Then there is the institutional aspect.The decision to remove the conference room paintings was taken by a majority vote of my faculty colleagues. There are probably as many reasons for voting to remove the paintings as there are voters - my guess is that many of my colleagues will have voted against the paintings simply because they did not like them, rather than because of their subject matter.

This, and not a phoney row about political correctness, is the true issue at stake: shouldn't people be consulted about and shouldn't they have a say in deciding what images are displayed in their workplace? Probably through administrative inertia, we were not consulted about whether the nudes should be hung in the conference room (nor, previously, in the foyer) in the first place.

Now that consultation has taken place, the consensus is that they should go. PC? Seems like democracy to me.

Yours sincerely,

Mire N Bhrolchin,

Senior Lecturer in Population Studies

Department of Social Statistics

University of Southampton

Southampton

10 February

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
Jeremy Corbyn addresses over a thousand supporters at Middlesbrough Town Hall on August 18, 2015  

Thank God we have the right-wing press to tell us what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn as PM would be

Mark Steel
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future