Concerning nude photos of Amy Schumer

Dear Hannah,

The important fact to begin with is that I'd never heard of the Pirelli calendar until it became too terrible to ignore.  Now all of a sudden Pirelli is the only calendar -- because until now I've never known anybody who was interested in talking about calendars.  Yesterday calendars were for little kids and the elderly; today they're the talk of the town, like every other thing we took for granted that's suddenly gone horribly wrong (I refer especially to our public bathrooms). What Pirelli is -- who Pirelli is -- why Pirelli is, isn't the question.  What's wrong with Pirelli is the question.  Feminism is the answer.

The problem is that Pirelli gave us pictures of women known for everything but their pictures.  There is, for one, a large and muscular black woman -- revered for being good at tennis.  You'll see Annie Leibovitz outdo a man -- in a total disregard for taste in clothing.  You'll even find Yoko Ono, famous for the notable achievements of screeching like a stuck pig and ruining the Beatles.  It's a well-received truth that if a woman lacks the looks she's either got to be useful or have a personality.  But feminists aren't fans of personality or doing great things either, so what we got was something nobody wants to look at with captions nobody wants to read.

This being said, in the middle of a calendar devoid of anything we love about women, we run into a blonde -- neither obese nor muscular, but healthy; neither gorgeous nor ugly, but average; neither clothed like a jock (Serena) or Humphrey Bogart (Liebovitz), but naked.  She's the only one with any business in a calendar* and she's the primary target of most of the complaints.  Amy Schumer is the only woman in the calendar with anything positive to offer, and she's the only one taking a beating for her deficiencies.

The complaints came from men who'd apparently never had any experience with actual naked women.  The truth is that Schumer is a beacon of hope in a dreary calendar of depressing pictures.  She's silly and she's normal and she's naked.  Men have often asked for more and never gotten it.  In this case we never asked for it and got it.  In this case we got worse than what we wanted, and we got a single thing that wasn't horrible; which is exactly the same thing we chose to complain about.  Schumer is the one woman who most women can identify with, and the kind who most men have already had sex with.  She's an icon of the average; and by picking a fight with her we've picked a fight with every other healthy woman.  Which is another way of saying we've lost.

This isn't to say that our calendars should aim low.  The average in women may be acceptable, but the average is our daily life.  Calendars (like pornography) are for fantasy.  But whether Pirelli aims too high or too low, we have no reason to fear.  Whatever men want is what's going to sell.  So long as we're free to choose, we'll choose what we prefer; and so long as we choose what we prefer, the most appealing pictures will continue to be sold.  We worry that Pirelli's calendars are the future.  And they will be -- in our antique sales of historical eccentricities.  Calendars of Yoko Ono will live on as failed attempts by jealous nerds and ugly radicals to buck the artistic and the praiseworthy and the beautiful.  The market will ensure they're only sold -- to aging feminists and collectors of oddities on Ebay.

There is on the other hand an argument that's difficult to resist.  The world which has been dominated by men (and probably because we know the difference between good and horrible calendars) has built a hundred thousand statues and painted innumerable portraits of men known for everything but their appearance.  The question feminists have asked us is why we treat women any differently.   We answer that they'll receive the same treatment when they give us someone as admirable as George Washington or Cicero.  We answer that we have Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill because Hamilton wrote the Federalist and made America.  But most of all we should answer with a statue of Ayn Rand, who would have been man enough to have taken one look at this Godless calendar, and responded in the only respectable way a tasteful woman could: by recognizing it as an insult to the dignity of womankind, and tearing the damned thing to shreds.

Your father,

P.S.  There are two more things I'd like to add which didn't fit too well with the rest of the essay, but are worth mentioning nonetheless.  The first is that the greatest tragedy of Pirelli's calendar isn't the loss of a tasteful calendar (if indeed it was ever really tasteful), but the loss of Italy itself.  Italy had one thing to offer the world, and it was their worldliness.  Had the calendar come from England I wouldn't have worried at all, because England is lost and has been lost for a long time.  But when it comes from Italy, we know Western Civilization is in greater danger than we ever could have imagined.  What will Italy offer the world, if not their taste?  Who can stand up to the frumpery of feminism, if not the Italians?  Pirelli believes they're offering the world their tires.  What they are doing is offering the world our tired and useless women.  All is lost when Italy becomes ugly.  There is nowhere to hide when even the Italians are pushing pictures of Yoko Ono.

Secondly, there's another kind of compromise we could have on the issue of calendars, and it goes the opposite direction Pirelli decided to take.  Instead of showing the world women who never did anything for men, we could start showing pictures of men who never did anything for women.  I would begin with naked pictures of Meatloaf; maybe Perez Hilton in a striking kimono; or an AIDS-infected Magic Johnson in an over-sized banana-hammock.  This is what women are asking of us.  Perhaps it's time for us to start asking it of them.  This is the idea I've had recently.  My other one was that we ought to send feminists nude paintings of George Washington.

*My apologies to the woman in the picture with the baby, the one woman in the calendar who was not only normal, but genuinely beautiful.