My original idea for this blog was more about the advertising aspect of having an entire magazine dedicated to the Fifty Shades media phenomenon. Put out, this month, by Topix Media Lab, it’s kind of a glitzy one-off that has the “feel” of “Cosmopolitan” when Helen Gurley Brown was running the show.
And then I saw the timeline on page 18 that identified a “tiny ivory statuette with over-sized breasts and an exaggerated vulva” as a Naughty Neanderthal’s crafting of the first piece of prehistoric pornography.
I think I’m allowed to say vulva, here. I’m not on the Michigan statehouse floor where Rep. Lisa Brown has been banned from speaking because she uttered the word vagina and offended the men who were trying to legislate hers and everyone other woman's in that state. You don’t have to stop reading. I have a tiny soapbox and I’m onto another subject—sort of.
Trust me; I’m very happy that erotic romance has become a topic of conversation because of the popularity of E. L. James’, Fifty Shades of Grey novel but the magazine's attempt to identify the tiny, ivory statuette as a naughty Neanderthal’s first attempt at prehistoric pornography had me shaking my head.
The truth is, the ivory statuette is just as likely to be representative of a respectfully worshiped symbol of a female deity. Not a pornographic representation of the female form. Someone from some long ago, Paleolithic civilization might very well have carved the statuette with as much reverence as later, male-deity worshipers carved a Christian cross.
While researching this subject, I came across a 2009 Discovery News article; written by Jennifer Viegas, that I think might have been where the Fifty Shades magazine contributors gleaned the data for their assumption. According to the article, Nicholas Conard, who reported the find and led the project where the Venus of Hohle Fels (the statuette pictured in the article, listed below) was found, remarked that nothing had changed in 40,000 years. Dr. Paul Mellars, who according to the 2009 article; was at the time a University of Cambridge archaeologist at Stony Brook University’s Turkana Basin Institute, is quoted as saying that he assumed a guy had carved it-- “...perhaps representing his girlfriend”.
It seems Dr. Mellars couldn’t help but be struck by the very sexually explicit depiction of a woman and seems to be comparing the figurine to a Paleolithic Playboy. See the entire article here: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/05/13/sexy-female-artifact.html
Author, Merlin Stone, in her 1976 book When God Was A Woman, gives the people during the Paleolithic period a little more credit and proposes a different picture. Women during this period were revered as the givers of life and recognized for their fertility but they were also warriors, sages, judges, healers and anything else they wanted to be. They didn’t need to ask for permission or wait for it to be bestowed upon them.
The text in the Fifty Shades of Grey magazine identifying the ‘Naughty Neanderthal’ carving as pornographic was probably meant to be cute but the assumptions put forth by these men in the academic world makes me wonder if their two-thousand year-old, culturally ingrained attitudes didn’t influence their judgment.
What do you think?