Beware: Possible hint of suggestive imagery. Not sure.

There appears to be a storm spilling out of its teacup and soiling a perfectly good saucer all because of some poorly chosen stock photography. The Democratic Alliance Student Somethingorother have published a poster which has been described by some as ‘shocking’. It features a beefy white guy hugging a non-beefy non-white non-male person who may or may not be indecently dressed. I for one would like the guy to put on a shirt, because really, some of us struggle to put on muscle mass. It’s unkind.

Anyway, the poster is so shocking that I am completely willing to post it on this site, which will automatically email it to my mother (hi mom!).Shocking No, it really isn’t shocking at all.

While some writers have intentionally misunderstood the meaning of the poster for comedic effect (it does invite some ridicule unfortunately), it quite clearly means to communicate that the DASO aims at a non-racial future in which the scene pictured will illicit no surprise. It’s an entirely praiseworthy message, although depending on the context, bumping into people apparently that undressed will hopefully always cause a double-take.

In spite of it not being any more shocking than day-time television, the Christian Democratic Party went to town on it. Theunis Botha, clearly unfamiliar with the extremes, claims that it is ‘distasteful to the extreme’, and that it promotes sexual immorality and promiscuity. He adds:

“In a country with high levels of Aids and an overdose of crime, especially the high incidence of farm murders this year, this poster sends the opposite message to the country than needed.” (Source: Mail & Guardian)

Of course, this is ridiculously far from reality. The couple isn’t doing anything lewd, and who says that what they may or may not be planning won’t be taking place within the bonds of holy matrimony? There is not much immoral or voyeuristic about the image either, because even though it is slightly racier than Jacob Zuma’s last election poster, the couple in view might easily be on the beach; there is nothing more revealing here than is on display onyour average day out with your kids to the seaside. The poster certainly isn’t advocating sex or spreading STDs, and it doesn’t promote promiscuity, unless seeing biceps the size of my thigh sends you into an uncontrollable frenzy. It may encourage farm murders, but I have yet to spot the connection.

As a Christian, I’m extremely disappointed that a Christian party would try to score cheap points against a rival on such flimsy moralistic grounds. Is it really serving any sort of discussion in this country to oppose a message of racial harmony because of an excessive amount of arm skin? Is it really necessary to radicalise your disagreement so that vaguely tittilating imagery must be described as ‘distasteful to the extreme’? In connection with a poster about racism, must you bring up farm murders, the big white-advocacy issue of our day?

I wish Christian parties were rather at the cutting edge of positive change, good ideas for promoting peace and reconciliation, for combatting poverty and so on. Instead we get this. It’s annoying that in response to a poster encouraging unity any Christian politician should be leading the polarising, petty, divisive rhetoric against it. The first step to overcoming our national problems just really isn’t the banning of pictures of hugging.

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10 thoughts on “Beware: Possible hint of suggestive imagery. Not sure.

  1. Ingrid says:

    Thanks for this Jordan! I also thought what the fuss is all about!! I’ll say we see more revealing-flesh clothing on a Sunday morning at church!
    I agree that a different picture of an inter racial couple could have been chosen, but this offensive?? I think not!

  2. Hephaestion says:

    The couple isn’t doing anything lewd, and who says that what they may or may not be planning won’t be taking place within the bonds of holy matrimony?

    And what if whatever “they may or may not be planning” is *not* taking place within the “bonds of holy matrimony”? Would it then be promoting “sexual immorality and promiscuity”? If yes, then your position is actually no different to that of the Christian Democratic Party (in that you wish to have influence over when, with whom and how we have sex).

    • Jordan Pickering says:

      Once again, Heph, you’ve hit the nail on the thumb. I would consider it ‘committing an immoral act’, not ‘promoting immorality’. Even if the poster was overtly advocating pre-marital sex, why exactly does having a moral conviction about the proper place for sex — religiously based or otherwise — automatically mean that I therefore think all of society should be forced to share my convictions? I might also hate red meat and wish that everyone hated red meat and insist that my circle who call themselves vegetarians also do not eat red meat, but none of this would be evidence that I also want to create a pressure group or pass legislation prohibiting others from doing so. I am able to maintain a distinction between what I believe is morally right and what I believe the rest of the nation should be forced to do.

      ________________________________

      • Jordan Pickering says:

        Heph, you were the one who took my opinion about morality and claimed that it makes me identical to the CDA, which had been making public political statements about sexual ethics. They are known for insisting that society should be made subject to their (far more right-wing than mine) ethical standards.

        I may have misunderstood on what basis you were comparing me to the CDA, but I assume you can’t honestly be griping that I have moral opinions or that I have (or want to have) influence over others. I train pastors for a living, which accounts for both of those things. The fact that you are arguing with me about these things would suggest that you also have a standard of sexual ethics with which you hope to influence me. There’s nothing unusual or wrong with than, unless people get presumptuous, blinkered, and pushy, like the CDA. I assumed that was your initial point, so I was pointing out that I was in no way trying to force my views on anyone. I can’t think what else you were driving at.

  3. Hephaestion says:

    Is asking for clarification now considered to be griping..?

    So, you are aligned with the CDA in that sex before marriage is immoral, but disagree with their more pushy methods of promulgating this view?

    • Jordan Pickering says:

      Alright, apologies for reading too much gripe into your comments.

      If it’s all the same, can we allow me to be aligned with the CDA in no way whatsoever, and allow me to be aligned rather with Biblical Christianity in calling sex before marriage immoral? I think it is a consistent enough belief about Biblical teaching, and I don’t trust the CDA to be sensible about anything.

      I will write a post about the basis for ethics, principle of harms, adult consent etc. in a week or three. When I get time.

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