Skip to main site content.
Artist Ella Dreyfus. (Facebook)
Artist Ella Dreyfus. (Facebook)

"Age and Consent"

Artist calls out Facebook censorship of ’empowering’ images of aging women

By WITW Staff on March 16, 2016

Artist Ella Dreyfus found herself banned from Facebook after posting her own photographs of aging, naked women, in a protest against the narrow “community standards” under which the site operates. Dreyfus, who teaches at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia, was motivated to challenge the social media site following its censorship last week of an image that showed Aboriginal women, whose breasts were visible in traditional ceremonial attire.

On Monday, Dreyfus posted an image from her 1999 exhibition “Age and Consent”, of an elderly woman’s hands in front of her body, that was subsequently removed by Facebook on the basis  “the content might promote sexual violence or exploitation.” Dreyfus responded by posting a second image — this time showing a woman’s chest with a long scar on it, as a result of heart surgery, to further test her theory that certain images have “nothing to do with sexual activity — [u]nless you see it that way.” While the second (deliberately more androgynous) photo remained up, a follow-up post that featured a screenshot of the initial, banned image resulted in Dreyfus being banned from the site for 24 hours on Wednesday.

Artist's nude photo censored by Facebook

Australian artist Ella Dreyfus is shocked that her 1999 image of a nude woman's hands has been removed from Facebook under "community guidelines".(This video contains images of Dreyfus' work, which includes photos showing nudity.)

Posted by The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

“It’s a really beautiful, poignant image from my ‘Age and Consent’ series, I had a lot of positive feedback from people who were moved by the image,” Dreyfus told Fairfax Media, also reflecting on the fact the images were published in full across print media 17 years ago, and widely seen. “What world of censorship do we live in?

“The whole point of my exhibition was that we are not allowed to look at older bodies. Here we are in 2016 and the biggest company in the world is really monitoring carefully what we are allowed to see and so diversity is not there.”

In a second, filmed interview with Fairfax Media, Dreyfus said: “Sadly, men do still get old gracefully. They acquire stature and power as they get older. But this is not the case for women. Women are invisible as they get older and they lose agency. My exhibition ‘Age and Consent’ was in fact about empowering people — empowering women to have some status, get over the shame, get over the invisibility and put it out there.”

Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.


Facebook suspends users over traditional Aboriginal ‘nudity’

Women protesting Instagram censorship by photoshopping male nipples on their own

Instagram’s pursuit of propriety is sexist and senseless