According to American photographer Steven Meisel, the Iraq war, in which women have been raped and killed by soldiers, is the perfect setting for an oh-so-glamorous Vogue fashion shoot. Why? Because rape and violence against women are sexy of course! In this photo story, rightly deemed the most nauseatingly tasteless fashion pictures ever by Guardian columnist Emine Saner, women stand near naked, vulnerable and dishevelled as muscular soldiers stare and grab possessively. In the most disturbing photograph (15/18), a woman’s anguished face appears on the screen; as the picture clears we see her lying on a bunk next to a contented looking soldier. I don’t think I need to spell it out, but it begins with ‘R’ and it’s not sexy. Oh, and the final shot features the ultimate in glamour: a woman’s dead body.
While not every photo is as overt as the post-rape scene in its glamorisation of violence against women, the clear and disturbing overtone for me is that these models supposedly represent the countless number of women abused as prostitutes by soldiers in war after war as they assert their supposed inalienable right to sex. I doubt a designer frock and the opportunity to tattoo a soldier’s arse (11/18), no matter how peachy, would be much consolation for a barrage of sexual abuse and degradation.
But never mind all that, don’t the clothes look great?