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Health Porn In The LA Times!


What's with the LA Times' West Magazine that they don't list the letters online that are in the print edition? I was going to link to a letter from a woman complaining about the (oh so sexy) naked lady on the cover from the last edition (I guess she means that tame shot above), but the LAT only links to letters printed in the edition of the Magazine that came out a month ago -- now that they've cut the Magazine back to once a month. (Hey, guys, nothing like taking advantage of the immediacy of the Internets!)

I'll retype the letter, headlined "How Healthy, Really, Is This Cover Image?" (My comments are in italics.)

Reader Lauren Rheaume writes:

As a woman, I am getting tired of being sexually exploited, and I feel the cover of your July 29 issue does just that.'re sexually exploited when they show a photograph of...another woman? Are you vicariously sexually exploited, symbolically sexually exploited...or just jealous nobody asked you to pose nude?

I'm guessing that the woman in the photo was a consenting adult who was paid for her services, but thank you for your concern.

Can I please be respected for who I am, not what I look like?

Sure thing! The next time you write a letter like this, hit "delete" instead of "send." As far as respecting you for what you look like, e-mail nude photos to AdviceAmy at aol dot com

Do you really need to get my attention with a naked woman on the cover?

It worked, huh?

I am 46 years old, generally modern, liberal,

Liberal like John Ashcroft!


Don't forget to e-mail those nude photos!

and educated, and I'm offended that you would stoop to that.

I'm offended they don't stoop to that more often. The photographs in the magazine are so often such a bore.

Advice for Lauren? Stay out of Italy.


And don't go anywhere near France, where the subways are filled with giant ads picturing massive naked breasts.

Eek! In fact, naked breasts are everywhere!


window, 14th arrondissement, Paris, enroute to dinner at Jim Haynes'

I'm trying to feel dirty just looking at that, but I think my "dirty" threshold goes a bit beyond street sightings of naked plaster of paris nipples...sigh.

Posted by aalkon at August 20, 2007 1:33 PM


Amy you may want to note that you only wanted the photos of the complainer, otherwise all sorts of freaks might start sending you nude emails

Posted by: lujlp at August 20, 2007 1:36 AM

Maybe she IS the woman in the photo! That's why she feels sexually exploited! (I realize she isn't, but it's the only explanation I can come up with, as to why she would feel sexually exploited at the sight of the woman in the photo.) She's getting naked for cameras, placing her limbs strategically to cover all the "naughty parts" (to borrow a phrase from Dana Carvey's Church Lady), and is just so fed up with being sexually exploited. (Of course, the solution would be to stop getting naked for cameras, but that would make too much sense.)

Reminds me of Sharon Stone's famous piece of idiocy, "The frontal nudity in 'Basic Instinct' was done without my knowledge or consent!" Ms. Stone would enlighten me, if she were to explain how she managed to get naked before a camera in front of her, without her knowledge or consent. How stupid can you get?

Posted by: Patrick at August 20, 2007 1:39 AM

Amy you may want to note that you only wanted the photos of the complainer, otherwise all sorts of freaks might start sending you nude emails

All sorts of freaks already send me nude e-mails. I prefer them to e-mails from freaks who are irate vegans.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 1:42 AM

Amy -

The woman in the picture is beautiful. The complainer doesn't feel sexually exploited, she feels threatened.

Because she's obviously not as attractive as the woman in the picture. Why else would she need to note that she's attractive and liberal - unless she's neither.

Why are Americans so threatened by female beauty?

Posted by: brian at August 20, 2007 5:16 AM

If the photo in the magazine were of an attractive, fit man (likely in a different pose/position) would Lauren feel threatened on behalf of men? Sexuality is great and exploitation depends on the context of how the sexuality is used! As Amy noted - the woman was (I'm willing to bet) paid and willing.

The picture isn't threatening womankind in any sense.

I can appreciate the beauty of the woman (she's a little on the thin side but it may be her natural set point) however I'd personally rather see a naked man with his hands strategically placed over certain areas (or not! how about hands above his head?! how's THAT for sexualizing?). But there are magazines for that. And boyfriends/boy_friends.

Posted by: Gretchen at August 20, 2007 5:49 AM

I actually have another post to put up about another woman who is upset about how men feel about women's bodies. There's a whole lot of denial of the realities of male and female biology in this culture, and far too much boohooing from women about what men want.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 6:02 AM

I'd like to see more ads like that, personally. It's beautiful and makes me happy.

Posted by: Melissa G at August 20, 2007 7:14 AM

I actually have another post to put up about another woman who is upset about how men feel about women's bodies.

This may be the most ridiculous thing ever. If men didn't feel the way they do about women's bodies, our world would go to hell in short order. That desire is the primary force that drives the world.

Posted by: justin case at August 20, 2007 7:35 AM

Well I'm not sure the rational behind this but I have a buddy who's girl friend considers porn cheating. Maybe that's how Lauren Rheaume feels she being exploited. The printed picture is having an affair with her man.

I'm lost as to why this women (the one in the picture) is exploited? She's paid for this, probably well. She's not a sex slave, nor does her posing for this picture promote sex slaves. I actually had to argue this point with a feminist (self proclaimed). In her mind all sex was slavery and it was all about submission and domination.

How straight men feel about womens bodies? I'm gone go out on a limb here and say "We want them as much and as often as we can get them." Being a male pig dog I'd have to say that the sound of stilletos on pavement (or just about any hard surface) make me think about a lot of things, none of which are close to "Wow I wonder if she went to Harvard, has a PhD., is a Doctor etc." If that's what she means by exploiting (or objectifying)women then yes I'm truly a male pig dog. I wonder what she thinks about when Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom (insert what ever name you want) do a topless shot? If her first though on seeing a half naked good looking human is "Wow I like his education" she needs to look up the words attractive and educated.

Posted by: vlad at August 20, 2007 7:39 AM

As for the notion that any viewing of "porn" is cheating, sorry, ladies, it's worse than that. A study by Doug Kenrick and a couple other researchers found that it isn't naked pictures of women that make men feel less committed to their partners, it's the sight of ANY attractive women, naked or clothed.

As I once wrote in a column: "Nobody stands across the room and and says, 'See that chick with an ass the size of Kansas? Bet she has a great personality!'"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 7:48 AM

She doesn't view porn as something the encourages cheating. The studies that I'm familiar with show that when some one is surrounded by attractive members of the desired sex they are more likely to cheat. She sees that looking at another women is just on the borderline of cheating. I mean a casual glance. Porn in her mind is the same as if he did nail one of his co-workers.

P.S. She happens to be the size of Kansas and no her personality is very unpleasant.

Posted by: vlad at August 20, 2007 8:18 AM

I've written about this before -- "Gapes Of Wrath" is my column about it:

The truth is, after millions of years of evolution, the impulse to ogle comes factory standard in men. At the recent Human Behavior & Evolution Society conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, I cornered Dr. David Buss, and asked him about your question. Buss told me that when men ogle women the reward centers of their brain light up. “So, it’s just inherently pleasurable for men to look” (kind of like taking a bong hit of hottie). Your wife, on the other hand, wouldn’t get the same buzz from eyeballing hot men, because, Buss explained, there aren’t corresponding reward centers that light up in women. And, he said, contrary to your wife’s fears, your inclination to eye-grope doesn’t mean you don’t love her. Buss’ book The Evolution of Desire, which details how standards for female beauty are actually cues to women’s reproductive fitness, may help both you and your wife understand your look-a-rrhea for what it is -- an evolutionary knee-jerk reaction.

Now, it’s one thing for your wife to expect you to be faithful to her, but visually faithful? What are you supposed to do, say, “Oh, no! Scarlett Johansson’s coming down the street, better hide”? Your real problem is your wife’s real problem: She’s irrational and insecure. That isn’t something you can change, but you can tell her you love her very much, and think she’s hot, and show her, too. If your eyes regularly bug out for her, maybe she’ll be less bugged if she occasionally catches them wandering down some other girl’s cleavage. And stop being such a wimp. Tell her, “Look, we have a kid, and we’re going to have a marriage, and not one that revolves around you looking to see if I’m looking.” And, remember, all men look. The smart, kind ones look without getting caught. Some do this with practice, some wear wraparounds, and some develop an affinity for tiny portions of Jell-O with a side of chickpeas -- whatever it takes to keep going back to the salad bar for another helping of bazooms.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 8:27 AM

Be sure to keep "46 years old, generally modern, liberal,attractive, and educated" away from the art museums. Some of those renaissance masters were total pimps.

What a joyless crone she must be.

Posted by: martin at August 20, 2007 8:49 AM

Amy, you reminded me of a class I took in Century City in the 70's. It was how to go girl watching at lunch in the plaza without getting caught. It was very entertaining. It also worked. At least I thought it did.

Posted by: Dave at August 20, 2007 9:42 AM

> Can I please be respected for
> who I am, not what I look like?

Where's Tressider? I was trying to pick a fight with her over this this kind of thing earlier.

Posted by: Crid at August 20, 2007 9:59 AM

Whoops! Ahem- I was trying to to pick a fight ewith Tressider about this kind of thing earlier.

Yeah... That.


Posted by: Crid at August 20, 2007 10:01 AM

If I'm looking for a co-worker then I care what your abilities are and really have better things to worry about what you look like. I will then respect you for your abilities (I'm assuming that's what she means by who I am). If I'm looking for a 5 minute mental distraction of the commute home after a long day then no. Don't care about your abilities just looking for a pleasant distraction to clear my mind. Respect has nothing to do with it, beyond not staring intently and visibly drooling, which I think has more to do with courtesy then respect.

Posted by: vlad at August 20, 2007 10:28 AM

Whoops! Ahem- I was trying to to pick a fight ewith Tressider about this kind of thing earlier.

Oh, crap. I was planning on blogging that.

Girls would do better if somebody prepared them to deal with reality instead of to get all sniffly about it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 10:38 AM

I keep trying to feel bad for Allison Stokke but I am reminded of a gag that involves a lengthy description of a powerful telescope and a powerful microscope and ends by saying the two instruments together could not locate my interest in your problem. This young lady has blessings coming out her ears and she has found a way not only to feel bad about it but to get people to feel sorry for her. Nice trick.

Anna Kournikova managed to survive such a run of bad luck. Maybe Allison can contact her to commiserate.

From Wiki: Most of Kournikova's fame has come from the publicity surrounding her personal life as well as numerous modeling shoots. During her debut at the 1996 U.S. Open at the age of 15, Kournikova's beauty was noticed by the world and soon pictures of her appeared in numerous magazines worldwide.

Posted by: martin at August 20, 2007 11:13 AM

As a woman, I am getting tired of being sexually exploited,

Hmmm....well, having gone to an "elite" east coast college I've seen many an example of how modern feminism has become "a good idea executed very poorly." This sort of thing does not surprise me.

The above complaint has nothing to do with protecting the poor huddled masses of oppressed women around the world. It has everything to do with self-righteous indignation as an indulgence. It does not serve to help anyone; it merely serves to soothe one woman’s feelings of inadequacy in much same way binging on chocolate soothes the sting of being spurned by a lover.

It seems that feminism is too often NOT about "Supporting women in all of their endeavors" and more about "Getting revenge on men."

One form of revenge: banning all images of women that may give ANY pleasure to a male observer. It’s the ‘ol “If we can’t cut their balls off, we’ll make damn sure they can’t do anything with them” syndrome.

One could easily write volumes about Ms. Lauren Rheaume’s “issues”, but I’m not sure the topic deserves more than: “*pssssh* Get over yourself.”

Posted by: RedPretzel in LA at August 20, 2007 11:20 AM

Damn, she's hot! And I'm not into girls, so...

I agree, girls have to learn how to love the way they look, and realize the effect they will have on men for most of their lives. They should learn how to handle men graciously but firmly, and know themselves so that they will get a man who who will treat them with respect, and when the girls are ready for it, give them awesome sex too!

Posted by: Chrissy at August 20, 2007 11:23 AM

Yeah, quit crying ladies. We have all the pussy for godssake. Make use of the knowledge.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at August 20, 2007 11:28 AM

I love Pirate Jo. So few words, so well-said.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 11:40 AM

I *heart* Pirate Jo.

Posted by: RedPretzel in LA at August 20, 2007 11:51 AM

I generally find Americans a warm friendly people, though you certainly have your fill of conservatives. If only someone could find a way to give the country a giant enema, all would be well.

Posted by: dani at August 20, 2007 6:09 PM

I'm a fiscal conservative, but a godless harlot.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 8:21 PM

In general I hate tatoos, but that sun on the inner arm of the blonde makes me want to explore the universe....

Posted by: eric (who has nothing important to say...) at August 20, 2007 9:12 PM

PS- someday you need to explore the armpit area of females in your blog Amy. They are so erotic for a hundred reasons....

Posted by: eric (armpit fetishist) at August 20, 2007 9:14 PM

I love that you're hot for pits.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 20, 2007 9:31 PM

Who'd have thought egg cartons (some eggs included!) could be a bold fashion statement?

Posted by: Patrick at August 21, 2007 2:02 AM

I find the concept of female nudity as "exploitive" to be more of an insult than the perceived exploitation itself. Children are "exploited." Grown, consenting women are not.

I doubt the woman in the photo was incapable of making her own choice in posing or could be called a victim by any reasonable person. Saying that women in porn (or just a tasteful nude photo) are exploited suggests we're all too obtuse to know any better. THAT'S offensive.

I briefly resented the "objectification" of women's bodies back when I was in my early twenties. Know what I did? I figured, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," lost a bunch of weight, and started dressing like a girl.

It worked. Feminine power is no bullshit if you know how/when to use it appropriately. No resentment necessary.

Posted by: Kristen at August 21, 2007 3:30 AM

Do you really need to get my attention with a naked woman on the cover?

I am 46 years old, generally modern, liberal,

So, what do you suppose she would say if the model was wearing a burka?

Posted by: Doobie at August 21, 2007 4:13 AM

Great question.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 21, 2007 4:54 AM

Naked or covered up, women's bodies symbolize sexual power, and that makes some people uncomfortable. I agree with the enema idea-it would be most helpful for those people.

Posted by: Chrissy at August 21, 2007 8:38 AM

I agree with the enema idea-it would be most helpful for those people.

I'm hip. So where do we stick the hose?

Posted by: RedPretzel in LA at August 21, 2007 11:19 AM

That pose on the cover of West was, um appropriated from that in an ad (different lady) that's been running in the L.A. Weekly for years.

Plastic surgery or something such. I never got to the text.

Posted by: TE at August 21, 2007 3:21 PM

This is just another reason why people are moving away from print media to the net where things are more open and people are more freely able to express themselves.

Posted by: Mabus Foo at August 28, 2007 10:20 PM

Part of the problem is the fact that daily newspaper features sections are often run by stodgy old people whose greatest fear is getting angry letters from readers.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 29, 2007 2:06 AM

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