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TIFF 2016: Best cleavage of the fest

A Pair of Your Finest Breasts, Sir, 2009, Charcoal on paper, Caitlyn Jean

I read the news. I don't really follow films (though TIFF is way better than Cineplex, I am an artist after all) and I don't really follow celebrities, though some seem nice. But I do read the news.

This is the article I came across. TIFF 2016: Best Cleavage of the fest.

Granted, I was reading Canoe, a Canadian fluff paper that is run by Postmedia which is the same company that gives us the Sun papers and the National Post. So yes, it is more known for it's popular culture and the SUNshine girl, a feature about a hot woman from the area than it is about real journalism. I read the Canoe because it offers a Canada wide view of the news (which is probably due to the fact that they own most of the newspapers across Canada) and it seems to leave out a lot of the sexist crap that is highlighted in the Toronto Sun, as well as avoiding the "we are the only city that matters" attitude that most urban papers provide *Toronto*.

I stared at the headline for a full minute, wondering what they are trying to get at. Who their target audience is for this.

As a woman, I sure don't care whose tits are better. I can imagine those who are interested in the fashion on the red carpet are keeping an eye out for these articles, but won't be hooked by the promise of tit shots. The article itself consisted of a slideshow of celebrities from their tits up, sometimes even cutting off the top of their head. You couldn't even see what they were wearing! So I guess they weren't going for fashion.

It seems like a title for a male-centric audience, as while I'm sure some men took the click bait, I bet most of them aren't interested in the actual article, nor the images which weren't all that titillating compared to everyday images of celebrities. In fact, some of the cleavage was underwhelming to say the least. (after all it was about the clothes... right?)

Finally, as a lesbian, I suppose I would be the perfect intersectionality for this article, looking for a bit of skin, still interested in the dresses, sort of a combination of the above two audiences. (okay, I'm not the perfect identity as I don't care about fashion all that much) However a lot of queer women (at least the ones I've met) would be angry at the objectification of the headline.

So who were they really targeting? The failure to adhere to the most basic of writing techniques (know your audience) has shown that the media just doesn't care about anything but ratings.

Now I can already hear the critiques of this assessment. That it was just for fun. That it was a spin on the usual boring red carpet articles. That they are celebrities and it's their job to be in the public eye. That they are allowed to show as much skin as they wish. That men are objectified like this also. (yes they are and that makes me uncomfortable, but I have yet to see an article titled "TIFF 2016: Best pecs of the fest)

This is the problem. We reduce images of women (particularly celebrities) to objects for your viewing pleasure. We find it acceptable to do so, to direct millions of viewers towards women's chests and ignore their accomplishments as people. Rather than covering the movies, the awards, the successes, they write about their bodies. But not about their bodies' successes and achievements, but about how well they look naked (or exposed).

I need feminism because journalists think that it is okay to reduce women to their body parts and call it news. Because they will move on to next years best tits without considering the work or talent of these women. Because as I read just recently, that women who refuse to walk the red carpet are doomed to obscurity (fair warning Miley Cyrus... love your best advocate, a journalist) regardless of their achievements.

Strangely, I depict women naked in my art all of the time. I even title them with titles of a similar inflammatory nature (A pair of your finest Breasts, Sir) Bur this is why I depict women naked in my art. Because even naked, women have meaning and purpose. Because I believe that exposed bodies are more than just bodies, and because I want to challenge the public's reaction to nudity by offering them images of bodies that have a greater meaning than to gawk. While I know my art has and will always get a load of gawkers taking them at face value (body value) but I hope that people will look a little further.

A Pair of Your Finest Breasts, Sir is a title taken from an Eddie Izzard skit where he is commenting on the unexpected conversations you have as a self proclaimed transvestite, when shopping for fake breasts. The image itself juxtaposes my shaved head, hairy armpits and large breasts (though this one is clothed) to question the expectations of gender performance. To question whether the authenticity of my breast really matter, if an image of me with a shaved head, hairy armpits and a large chest is any different from an image of a male with a shaved head, hairy armpits and a large chest. To make the viewer question their own attitudes towards expectations of gender.

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