In "Cloak of Anarchy", one of his Tales of Known Space, science fiction author Larry Niven pointed out that Nude is an art form while Naked is defenceless. First and foremost, being unclothed is simply being naked. Everything else is the ramifications arising from that state of undress and those ramifications are in the minds of both the perpetrator(s) and the observers. A newborn baby is naked and only becomes nude when someone takes a picture and thereby transforms that fundamental defenselessness into a beautiful art form. The same principle applies to every nude work of art: this is how the artist has captured what they perceive and here is how we respond to it.
The real problem with artistic nudity is created in the mind of the observer. Take a typical DOMAI picture of a pretty girl. Some of us, like Eolake, will be filled with innocent joy [most of the time. :-) - Eolake] while some will experience a more voyeuristic response and others a predatory lust. Then there are those who will experience fear, disgust, loathing and hatred, either of themselves or of whatever degree of evil decadence they consider the image to represent. [One wonders if that is different than finding it in yourself. - Eolake] Among the audience there is a full spectrum of responses to even the most innocent and innocuous nude. Everyone's a critic and there are a lot of provocative pictures alongside the seeming innocence, even on DOMAI.
Obviously each individual model has their own rationale for posing naked, just as artists have their own intentions when capturing those poses. As we've already witnessed, there's much scope for debate simply in the reasons for nude art existing in the first place. But when we discuss instances of female nudity I think we're rationalising about our own and others' responses while overlooking the obvious, which is the reason for the state of undress: why did that girl take her clothes off in that man's presence? Again there are many possible explanations, each perhaps being valid for different models on different occasions. The short answer may simply be money or exhibitionism. A girl's got to eat, after all, and we know from men's magazines that a significant number of women get a thrill from exposing their bodies to the male gaze. But I think the majority of explanations will prove to be more subtle and secret than this.
In the Season Three Overview making-of featurette for the TV series Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Kristine Sutherland points out the parallel between the episode Band Candy and her own teenage years, with all of her feminine charms and whiles being concentrated on getting a guy's attention off whatever he was preoccupied with and onto her. Apparently this is a major relationship hurdle for many girls. As guys, many of us simply don't comprehend how starved for our attention women are. Especially when they're interested in us as men. What we do tend to see are essentially unassertive people who are ready to go along with what we say but are unwilling to meet our gaze.
When it comes to romantic relationships, women tend to be acutely aware while men tend to be obtuse. If we do become aware of a girl being friendly, she probably feels like she's already pulled out all the stops just to get that brief spark of recognition out of us. And if we do then show her some interest, she probably feels like she's won a jackpot. I have observed that women make up their minds about a man very quickly, usually before the guy's mind has even registered her as a romantic possibility. She's chomping at the bit, impatient for us to get on with it, while we're still slowly awakening to the possibilities her presence implies. And if we miss that first opportunity because we're too slow, she will assume we're not interested and is unlikely to give us a second chance. So what can they do but go to extremes to get our attention and build fantasies for later enjoyment around the time they do spend with us?
It is my belief that the reason a lot of the girls described in DOMAI newsletters take off their clothes with a guy is to draw his attention onto them and hopefully engage his romantic inclinations at the same time. She fancies him but thinks he doesn't even see her, so she resorts to extreme measures just to let him know she's there waiting for him. And what do we do? We relish the moment and mostly let it pass, missing an opportunity to love someone who wants us. And we think we're being noble and considerate by doing so. Well, at least we have the excuse of the profound and awe-inspiring formative experience her naked beauty evokes.
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