Andrej’s body is not controversial   Leave a comment

I’ve tried off and on through the last couple days to form some cohesive thoughts about a man named Andrej Pejic. He is a model brought to my attention by a friend after reading my last post.

He is seen to be very beautiful.  For sake of honesty, I have to say “seen” not because I can’t appreciate male beauty (I can) but simply, my tastes lie elsewhere, and I have to take other people’s word for it.   To me, there is something disturbingly callow and insipid about runway model, but if nothing else, I can see the statuesqueness of his face, and recognize that while my standard goes more towards Peter Paul Ruben’s, Andrej’s delicate shoulders do have a certain grace.

Something horrifying to me, however, is the how often his name is linked to the term “controversy” or “controversial”. If you google “andrej pejic controversy” you will find about 100,000 links.  Now many of these will simply make statements something like “Andrej Pejic was in a controversial advertisement.”   Since “advertisement” is the object of the controversy, that’s not really a big deal.  Controversy is a synonym of argument, and every advertisement makes (overtly or covertly) several statements or messages, any of which are open to argument.  But if you look very deeply into these things, you will find that a bit of linguistic slight of hand is taking place, and that while some of the articles are truly saying that controversy seems to follow Andrej, others are flat-out saying Andrej is a controversy.

If a person’s body is the message, then what is the counter message?  When existence is the point of an argument, what is the logical counterpoint?   I think the argument made by his body is “I also exist” and the counterpoint is “No, you don’t.”  Now there are two ways you can challenge an argument. You can bring facts, figures, notes, and evidence, and you can reason it out like equals, or you can just silence the arguer.  When technology has made it so the message can go out and echo long after the arguer has spoken, a simple gag in the mouth has to be replaced with censorship, and Andrej’s image has been censored.  Barns and Nobel blacked out a book cover that displayed Andrej’s pretty face and bare chest, saying “Well, people might have thought he was a woman.”

It’s an interesting case of censorship, because it was not the depiction of some vile act that was blocked, but a man standing in an open shirt.  Andrej’s argument “I also exist” was censored admittedly because B&N did not think their customers would enjoy the argument that human being who doesn’t fit socially constructed gender roles even exists.  But that’s only how you censor an image. If the existence of a person is the argument, how do you censor the existence of a person?

Observe: The Homosexual Agenda. you will see that the Christian Right’s nauseating concept of the gay agenda is based entirely on censorship of existence.  They don’t so much have a problem with gays existing, per say.  They have problem with the argument “I also exist” that a gay person’s existence proves, and they demand that gayness, as a way of being, be censored.  Consider the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy,  the essential argument of which was “It’s OK to be gay as long as you hide it and lie about it.”  Or the now infamous “Don’t say ‘Gay’ bill” in Tenesse, the purpose of which was to “bar schools from presenting any prepared material or lessons about homosexuality to students before high school.”   Returning to more to gender matters, there is the case of the Macy’s employee who said “There are no transgenders in the world.” (Which must come as rather a surprise to the +100 million transgendered people on earth.) and refused to let a transgendered shopper use the changing room. But, you see, she doesn’t like their argument of “I also exist”, so she simply refutes it and expands on it, “No you don’t, and no one like you does out of 6.8 billion people.”

As Beth Ditto once noted about being a gay, fat, female rockstar…sometimes, something as simple as existing is all the message you need to piss people off, and in fact the only message you need at all.

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