Art of Woman

Reclaim The Night 2012

Reclaim the Night is an annual event where women gather to demonstrate against sexual violence by men of women. Once a year women and their men supporters walk around the city streets declaring freedom of movement for women. Our streets should be safe enough for women (and men) to walk freely without being molested or raped. Rape is a crime regardless of what time of day it occurs or location or what clothing the woman is wearing.

Violent men have often tried to deflect responsibility for their actions by blaming their victims. There is still a lot of victim blame in society, where the focus is on the victim’s behaviour or clothing or even the time of day or location, rather than addressing the perpetrator’s criminal behaviour. A civil society does not blame victims for crime.

Rape and sexual violence are not a result of clothing. Around the world, there are many cultures that do not wear clothes, yet these cultures have very strict marriage laws, incest laws and rape laws. Some people holiday in the nude, but they do not expect to be sexually assaulted. It is like going shopping. The advertising banners and signs are bright, obvious and enticing. It is hard to navigate past the armfuls of merchandise that vie for our attention in tightly packed shopping malls and stores, some are so close they brush past us when we walk through. We may be hungry or in great need for something, yet if we take any piece of merchandise without paying, we will be charged with shoplifting. Enticing and seductive advertising is no defence for stealing! Likewise, rape and sexual violence is not about the type or amount of clothing a woman wears.

There were many types of clothing featured in the march. Some women wore long sleeves and long skirts, some had head covering, some wore very short shorts showing all their legs and some had low cut tops. These items of clothing show a fashion preference and have nothing to do with consent for sex. Some women wear provocative clothes in our society, but we do not condone sexual attacks on them. Think of Lady Gaga, Madonna or Kylie Minogue. These powerful, talented performers are not inviting assault. Neither is the teenager next door who wants to look fashionable.

I wonder if a study has been done of the cloths that were worn by victims of sexual assault. My prediction is that most victims wear ordinary cloths because most sexual assault is committed opportunistically. In many cases, the victim is not even dressed up, the victim is simply going about her usual activities. I searched the internet for such a study and found many studies that assessed people’s attitudes, such as the paper by Maurer & Robinson, 2008.

I found none that has actually checked police records to find out what the victims were actually wearing.

This quote from skeptics.stackexchange.com by a policeman was very revealing however:

Having been in police work for 40+ years, I can say that how a woman is dressed has little or nothing to do with sex crimes. It's about opportunity. Our local serial rapist, The "South Side" rapist, attacked some 30 women in their homes. He could not even see them before hand, he forced his way in through a window and raped the victims at knifepoint.

– M. Werner May 10 '11 at 15:01

I agree with the conclusion from a fact sheet from Rape Crisis Ireland:

Attitudes that blame victims of rape excuse perpetrators and reduce the likelihood of the prosecution of rapists. Such attitudes thus increase everyone’s vulnerability to rape.

(Download fact sheet)

Here are some interesting articles published by Utah State University:
Myths and facts about rape
Friends_family_of rape victims
For men only_male rape victims

Let’s all stop blaming the victim!


I love the banner that the demonstrators carried. It stated in hot shiny pink letters “There’s nothing sexier than consent”. I agree. Sexual love and joy should be promoted and spoken about openly in society so that all adults have their sexuality respected. There is no place for coercion or intimidation. Consent is a basic foundation of respect for our bodies.
Photo of Reclaim the night with banner reading 'There's nothing sexier than consent'

Types of Nudity

As an art photographer who also photographs nudes, I have been following the debate about photographing children in the nude with interest.
Nudity has many meanings and purposes. Sexuality is only one meaning of nudity.

1. Nudity can represent innocence. Cupids for hundreds of years have been depicted as nude children. Many cultures around the world allow children to run around nude until they become adults. They are considered cute and sweet because of this innocence.

2. Nudity can represent freedom. Many beaches in Australia in the summer have nude children happily playing, some have specific areas for nudes. During my childhood, there were many times the neighbourhood children went 'skinny dipping' in our local creek. This was experienced as a great sense of freedom. The parents were not worried and none of the children felt threatened by the nudity.

3. Nudity can represent our common humanity. Nudity takes away the trappings of culture, status and employment. There is a common humanity to a group of people in the nude. Many "naturist" clubs experience this and enjoy a sense of community. A link to social nudism.

4. Nudity can represent caring. A great deal of child care involves nudity, for example, bathing, toilet training, getting dressed. When people are old or become an invalid, again nudity is a part of caring. None of us should withhold care because we are afraid of nudity.

5. Nudity can be healing and wholeness. A complete physical examination from a Doctor requires nudity, also many procedures, imaging and operations. Some of the healing arts require nudity or partial nudity, at times, for example, a massage, or acupuncture. Healing can be greatly impaired if society and individuals become too afraid of nudity. Imagine trying to give birth with cloths on! Yet that is what happened for centuries in many cultures, potentially endangering both mother and child. Doctors themselves must study nude photography in medical text books. It is impossible to show examples of medical conditions covered by clothing.

6. Nudity as activism, political statement, social comment or dramatic humour. Sometimes people use nudity to articulate their views in a dramatic way. Animal rights, tree-hugging hippies, streakers, women's rights etc.

If we as a culture say that it is always unacceptable to show a child in the nude, then this gives a very negative view of the body to children. They grow up fearing their bodies. They grow up hiding their bodies and not really knowing what is usual or unusual and what needs checking.
I am concerned at the moral panic about nudity in Australia at the moment. I am referring to the recent case of a six year old girl on the cover of Art Monthly magazine. This moral panic is likely to curb free speech and creativity in Australia. There are many more artistic and symbolic ways to view nudity that enhance human experience. Artistic creativity should be encouraged in society, it expands our thinking and enriches our lives.

God has made our bodies in a very beautiful way and we should be able to look at our bodies without thinking about sex all the time. 

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Last weekend I went with my husband to Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. What a wonderful celebration of human sexuality and joy in diversity. It was a vibrant festival of light and colour. What impressed me was the range of groups participating - friends, businesses, gyms, clubs, police, defence, nurses, schools and even churches. The floats were varied and exciting. Many groups made elaborate costumes of various fantasy themes. Some of the costumes were very bold. Gay and Lesbian people often have important things to say about bodies, sexuality and gender. They know their views are not mainstream, so they challenge mainstream ideas of sexual love and expression. Many gay and lesbian people have had to think about meaning and desire. Their views can be refreshingly honest, cutting through habits and euphemisms to the heart of issues.

Unfortunately many mainstream people just follow trends without challenging the justice of their behaviour or attitudes.

The event was attended by thousands of people. The crowd was friendly and well behaved, people were joyful, having a great time celebrating life. There was no pushing or shoving. I wore a costume that I made. It was a bit adventurous for me, but was completely suitable for Mardi Gras! I felt completely safe the whole time walking around Sydney city centre and catching trains.


Topless dykes on bikes, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo copyright Margaret Kalms



A float from a group from San Francisco, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo copyright Margaret Kalms



A muscle man and a globe float, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo copyright Margaret Kalms



A colourful float, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo copyright Margaret Kalms

Older age sexuality

In "The Canberra Times" today, page B5, Virginia Haussegger wrote an article about older women showing cleavages - or not. She makes the observation that older women do not usually show their cleavages. When they do, they are often criticised. It seems women over 40 are not supposed to be sexy!

Virginia Haussagger links women's display of sexual power as a measure of her confidence. That is until she becomes about 40. Why should society be afraid and affronted with female sexuality when that female is past her fertility? What is so threatening about older female sexual power?

Many older women seem to be happy to become immersed in their grandchildren or enjoying a quiet life on their own. However, there are also a significant number of older women (and men) who do not fit this mold and simply refuse to give up their sexuality simply because they are considered by others to be too old.

Take my mother for example. She fell in love at 70 and got married at 71! Yes married. A full wedding. Bride's maids, flower girl, minister, lots of guests and yummy food. The works. Their marriage is an obviously affectionate one and it has given both of them a whole new lease of life. They still hug and enjoy each other's company more than ten years on. I congratulate them.

My family is not the only example of older age sexuality. "The Canberra Times" today, on page B11 under "Adult services" there is an advertisement, "GROANING GRANNY Sixty+." Then a mobile phone number and rates charged.

I wonder what she talks about!!!! I'm glad that she is bold enough to be sexy in her sixties and even advertise the fact! Many older folk have good health and feel just like the rest of us inside. It is terrible loss that older sexuality is so ignored. Many aged care homes do not have double beds for example, or even double rooms. Yet human touch and contact, especially hugs are very soothing and healing. The comfort of a loved and special person can literally mean the difference between life and death when older people are suffering isolation and stress. I would like to encourage any loving relationship, no matter how old the participants are.

Sexual health and Christianity

Yesterday at church a guest speaker described 'safe sex' as an encouragement for promiscuity!! This is an outrage!! Safe sex is a health issue. People can become very ill and die from lack of knowledge in this area. Lack of knowledge also leads to further transmission and even more people suffering. To have knowledge that can protect against deadly diseases and to withhold that knowledge is morally irresponsible. Those people are in part responsible for any subsequent suffering or death.

We all know that washing hands reduces transmission of diarrhoea. If we recommend the washing of hands, does that make people more prone to gluttony or obesity because now they can eat without getting sick??? Of course not!!

If we recommend hand washing then we will have a healthier community.

If we recommend safe sex then we will have a healthier community.

What is more important, a condom or a person's life? What is more important, a vaccine or a person's life? What is more important, a contraception or a person's life? I chose a healthy life!

I am glad the Australian government is promoting the vaccination of girls and young women under 26 against human papillomavirus which causes cervical cancer. See link for more info, HPV

We all need sexual health because we all have sex organs.