Does Herself.com Feminist Website Nail It Or Miss The Mark?

Yahoo Lifestyle

You'll recognise the face - Caitlin Stasey played Rachel Kinski (Susan's step-daughter) on long-running soap Neighbours.

And in a widely different guise, she's launched her own feminist website called Herself.com, packed with fascinating interviews, thought-provoking insights and, oh yes, loads of pictures of naked women.

Caitlin from one of her shots on Herself.com

In a long interview, Stasey herself discusses sex, feminism and her reasons for launching the site. Which come across admirable and heartfelt:

"Women’s bodies are taken from them, dissected, scrutinised, and then sold back to them — we are expected to foot the bill of societally influenced perfection.”

And as a woman in Hollywood - she's recently starred in US series Reign and Please Like Me - she knows better than anyone the pressure and contortion women are put under to look a certain way.

Herself.com's subjects

Are Nude Pictures The Answer?

But the site has garnered criticism from some, who are frustrated that it simply adds more naked female bodies to the sea already out there on the internet.

While Stasey has carefully chosen photographers to tell the women's stories, she's still done the very thing she's trying to fight against - distract every reader from what the women say by what they look like.

The interviews are beautiful, powerful and full of incredible soundbites journalists rarely uncover. But with so many boobs, bums and vaginas on the page it's hard to concentrate.

Rebecca Sullivan, writing on News.com.au suggests: “If you want other people to stop talking about, judging and taking ownership of your body, don’t put naked photos of yourself online and invite people to talk about them. Make them talk about something else. You only succeed in fuelling the beast that shames and commodifies female bodies.”

Photographers Jennifer Toole and Georgia Smedley have created some beautiful imagery (Herself.com)

Herself.com

But on the other side, there has been plenty of praise for the website. It is beautifully done and the photos tastefully shot, alongside powerful, emotive text. It is doing something a little different.

As perfectly summed up by Clem Bastow on Aussie website Daily Life, who touches on the rise of 'femvertising': "In an era where insincere viral advertising masquerades as feminist ideology and women of note frequently dodge the question of feminism with soundbites like 'I like men too much!', to see a project where women's bodies (ordinary, human bodies) are celebrated without the lack of agency that can go hand-in-hand with nude portraiture is refreshing."

Stasey adds to this, explaining that she was keen to make the women the subject, not the object of the site - to focus on the words and illustrate with the images, rather than the other way round.

She said: "I think our greatest weapon against body shaming and criticism are desensitisation and exposure to all the diverse manifestations of a woman's form."

The site's definitely worth a look - and more importantly a read - if you can get pas the nudity distraction. But whether it's a step forward or a step back for feminism, women, our bodies will continue to be debated.

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