Today's guest is Filip Ängelsson, a 21 years old boy from Sweden. He's currently studying graphic design and working part time as a freelance androgynous model.
I interviewed him about his recent unpleasant experience with censoring his photos, nipple approval, activism, sexuality and gender stereotypes. Read it below!
• What experience did you have with FB and censoring?
I am using FB as a means to communicate with people I’m involved with in projects, be it school or work. Sometimes I use it to keep in contact with friends that live away. In any case, because of my job as a freelance model, I have to update my pictures quite frequently.
It was a shock for me to find the best and most liked picture was reported for nudity. There was hardly any pornography, or female nudity for that matter. I am a guy after all, and my image was showing my topless torso. However the picture has been reported and removed as many times as I have uploaded it.
I’m not the only one that has suffered such unfair treatment. Fellow androgynous model Van Burnham has also talked about this issue of having his pictures taken down by FB because he was topless while in makeup.
• Why do you think there is such difference in female and male nipple approval?
I think that female nudity censorship is a leftover of women’s oppression by men. It hasn't been more than 50 years since women in the US stopped being men’s accessories. In many countries in the world women are owned by men, no matter how crazy that might sound, it’s true.
With the female liberation, so came the use of female sexuality as a means of advertisement. Nowadays most ads show this self-contradicting image of a woman that is sexy but innocent, experienced but virginal, selfless but vain.
Women have been hypersexualized so much that ads have been banned even though there was no evident nudity. I'm not surprised that the unclothed state of the female body is such a big taboo.
• Do you feel oppressed because of that?
Of course I do. It’s such a double standard. My summer photos with me in the beach enjoying the sun while wearing just swimming trunks are perfectly fine to be published on FB, but the moment there is red lipstick, eyeliner, mascara and flowy hair, my photo is inappropriate? I just don't get it. What changed?
• How important activism is to you?
It actually depends on the kind of activism. In most cases such as human rights (including female rights, gay rights, racial rights) I'm all for it.
But if things get too out of control then it is safe to say it’s no longer activism, but fanaticism instead.
• Could you describe yourself as a feminist? Why so?
Yes, absolutely. One would have to be a blithering idiot not to be a feminist. An activism that promotes the equality of sexes is something that should be embraced by everyone. Men and women alike.
In such a male dominated society, where for example being vulnerable and emotional is deemed as a feminine trait, both men and women are at a disadvantage. Men end up building up all of these emotions inside them to the point that makes them a ticking bomb ready to explode, just because they are afraid of being devalued and made fun of. And women are always being criticized for being themselves. It’s a situation where everyone loses if they don't support feminism.
• What tips do you have for men in same situation as you were in?
Good question Agnes. In case they don't care about their account being terminated, then they should respect the service’s rules and guidelines, even though they might be unfair. If they want to go against the system, then they can by all means continue what they do. That’s my advice.
You never know, if more guys took the time to create such intriguing pictures of themselves where they have the face of a girl and the body of a boy, perhaps the page’s moderators would make their rules fairer.
• What's your opinion on stereotypical masculinity and on the other side male femininity? Is there an issue?
Stereotypical masculinity disgusts me actually. Because one can see that the men that exhibit and perpetuate it are not comfortable with what they're doing. It’s merely a grotesque façade that supposedly protects them from judgement and gives them a free pass in life.
To me, male femininity is just embracing one’s humanity. Who came up with the idea that long blonde hair, painted nails, big lips, and voluminous eyelashes are something only women should have and enjoy? Or to want to be kind and gentle to others. When did these traits become something men should avoid so that they won’t be deemed feminine?
Concepts such as femininity and masculinity are artificial. For example, before Hitler came in power, pink was for boys and blue was for girls. Such things got reversed after that dictator left his mark worldwide with the homosexual holocaust were gays were distinguished by a pink triangle on their arm. Another example is how high heeled shoes were an exhibit of masculinity and status in French Renaissance. The height of the heel was equivalent to one’s status. At first such shoes were sported only by male royalty but soon women wanted to adopt a more androgynous fashion, and so they also started wearing high heels.
• So, being feminine doesn't mean you're gay?
Of course not. Sexuality, gender identity, and personality traits are three completely different things. People come in all different kinds of forms, colors, personalities. Just because most known gay men happen to act very feminine, doesn't mean that anyone that is feminine is also gay.
There are men that have hairy muscular bodies, watch football and drink beer, and are acting like the typical idea of a man, but they still get turned on by other men and identify as gay. There are women out there that are so feminine that one would describe them as the ideal straight female, yet they are gay.
• How does one become confident in their own skin.
The most important thing to do, but also most difficult one, is to stop caring about the opinions of others and surround themselves with people that love them unconditionally. If the latter is difficult, then they should start spending more time in front of the mirror, and only compliment themselves on the things they like about themselves. No negativity at all. Eventually they will be able to embrace their individuality and learn to love their image.
I'm no expert though, as I am still struggling with such a task. But I feel positive that I am in a very good route towards accomplishing it. I believe that eventually this is how one becomes confident in their own skin.
Photo: Filip's FB (https://www.facebook.com/phil.juicy.lips)