Friday 23 February 2018

Opinion: The Instagram account that shows it's still a man's world

Clare Cullen

Clare Cullen

Instagram user Nate Hill has gained the attention of the media with his photography depicting naked white women used as scarves.

The performance artist describes the 'project' on his website as ""I wear white women for status and power."

His posts include pictures of him "wearing white women" as "scarves", pictures of skimpy underwear-clad bottoms next to a laptop with his face displayed and screen shots of texts messages people send him about the pictures. The account, called 'Trophy Scarves', also features some pictures of naked women in sexually suggestive portraits.

The pictures are posted without caption or context.

He explained to Vice Magazine that the account was to act as 'a commentary on race' and power assertions that come with race. This is where I have the problem with it - in his casual dismissal of the fact that only women are 'used'.

Despite the fact that the 'scarves' featured are only one race, the 'commentary on race' angle stands as Hill asserts that he wants to highlight and deconstruct the traditional ideas of white power, using white people as accessories to show that he is, in fact, the one with the real power. However, it's the blase way in which he neglects to mention the gender implications in his work that truly shows how inconsequential they are to him, and the support his project is receiving only contributes to that.

The 'scarves' he wears are only white women. These women are almost of fully naked, in a vulnerable state - whereas he is fully clothed. This, in a similar fashion to the Blurred Lines video, creates a clear divide of power, importance and strength between Hill and his 'scarf'. The women are depicted in vulnerable positions and states of undress, showing them as less than him, as weaker than him.

They are completely submissive to him, allowing themselves to be draped over his shoulders. The images that focus on their skimpily-clad behinds sexualise and objectify them beyond allowing them to maintain their identity - each picture is indistinguishable in that no other defining feature is shown.

This Instagram account may be intended to be a commentary on race, but is clearly both a contributing factor and result of a contradictory, misogynistic society where women's rights are widely celebrated and fought for yet 'wearing women as scarves' is seen as acceptable.

'Projects' like this future instill the idea that this behaviour is acceptable in this day and age, and even the comments show the unconscious agreement that women are lesser beings.

Under a sexually suggestive picture of a topless woman appearing to be mid-thrust above the camera, Instagram user 'rosieferne' wrote "I love this. Your work is important, even if no one realizes it for forever."

Under a picture of a woman, wearing nothing but a g-string, draped over Hill's shoulders, Instagram user 'sirgeeohhh' wrote 'this guy lol wears b*tches as scarves'.

Under another sexually suggestive picture, this time of Hill with his face in between a woman's legs, Instagram user 'arantgalbert' wrote "these scarves man. Hopefully Target has them on sale".

Personally I'm tired of being bombarded with images like this. I hope that someday people can learn to make a point about race, wealth, money, power or even gender without the abject sexualisation, depersonalisation and degradation of women to make it.


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