By MICHAEL HITCH
Does this image seem inappropriate to you? Does it offend you? Are you uncomfortable with the human body?
The issue of censoring women’s bodies and specifically, their breasts, rears its ugly head again after the City Hub newspaper’s online back issue was censored by digital publishing platform, Issuu.
When City Hub uploaded the digital copy of their newspaper last week, an email was sent shortly afterwards stating: “Content in your publication does not appear suitable for safe mode. City Hub 4 July 2019 has been flagged as not meeting these guidelines.”
The warning continued: “This means the following: It will not appear for users with ‘Safe Mode’ enabled. It will not appear in the iOS app. Users will be asked to log in to view the publication or given a warning that the content may not be suitable for Safe Mode.”
The team at City Hub were confused as to why a chunk of their readership was being barred from reading their paper. It wasn’t until the image was uploaded again, this time with the model’s breasts covered by a black square, that the problem was resolved and Issuu’s “guidelines” were met.
Controlling and prudish
It seems that Issuu saw fit to censor City Hub content due to the presence of a woman’s breasts but unlike Instagram or Facebook, Issuu didn’t even need a ‘nipple-alert’ to block access to the paper, just a flash of the side of a breast.
Now, in an age where #freethenipple has over 50,000 hits on Instagram, and the fight to end the fetishisation of the female form is at the forefront – why does Issuu seriously push their outdated mindset onto a progressive community newspaper who pays for their service?
Performer, singer and model in the photo, Anya Anastasia and the photographer, Aaron Austin Glen both agree that Issuu’s actions are the issue here.
“It’s by the beach!” exclaimed Ms Anastasia. “You see women in bikinis and old men in speedos all the time and it’s just a bit of side-boob! The double standard against male bodies and female bodies is just frustrating.”
“It’s frustrating and quite ridiculous,” Mr Glen agreed. “I’m confused as to how that image can be read that way by anyone.”
Publisher of the City Hub newspaper and Star Observer magazine, Lawrence Gibbons, is just as outraged and said that censorship of the female body is completely out-dated and needs to be called-out.
“This is just completely ridiculous!” he said. “The fact that we’re having this dispute… it’s just completely out-dated. We’ve done images far raunchier than this with men and never heard a peep. What I want to know is where does a publishing platform get off in pushing such a backward agenda?!
“This kind of behaviour needs to be put in front of the public and shamed for what it is: controlling and prudish. They [Issuu] can live in the 50’s if they want but that’s not going to cut it here, we’re better than that.”