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'Soft Porn' in the Sunday Washington Post

Naked woman bent over in a box.  Yoko Ono in bra and panties on a stage.  Half naked woman in see-through top.  Naked grandma sitting in a chair. 


Under the guise of promoting feminist art, the Arts section of the April 22 Washington Post featured four images of nude or partially nude women and suggested that pornography is “aesthetic.”


The headline spanning pages N6-N7 asked whether a particular woman's artwork critiqued “prurient sexuality” or disingenuously peddled a “soft-porn aesthetic.” Read those last three words again: Soft-Porn Aesthetic.  The headline alone implies there is an aesthetic to pornography.  The real picture is not pretty. Research abounds that shows pornography to be linked to crimes against women, the decline of marriage, disease and a rash of other social ills.


Couldn't the headline writers think past the salacious and consider the impact on readers seeing the bold words “Soft-Porn” with their morning doughnut and coffee?


While the contributions of women artists are often worth celebrating and the feminist art movement merits coverage, is the use of nudity in the Sunday paper necessary to “advance the story?” Surely the works of the featured artists included more family-friendly choices?  And if they didn't, couldn't the photo editor have spared a thought for those families who encourage their children to read the paper and exercised some personal responsibility in the choice, layout and cropping of photographs? 


Bias comes in many forms.  Sunday's Washington Post served it up with the female body. 


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.