Objection to Vatican image for women

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015, in Church Teachings, Faith and Justice, Feminism/Women in the Church1 Comment


In the Irish Times recently, Soline Humbert, a spiritual guide and advocate for women’s ordination, asked “How has a headless, truncated, nude, female bondage image recently acquired pride of place on the website of a Vatican all-male body?”

The image was chosen by the pontifical council for culture, headed by Cardinal Ravasi.

The council regularly holds a plenary assembly in Rome and the theme this year was “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference”. To introduce that document on women’s cultures the council chose to illustrate it with one very graphic image. The image is a frontal view of Venus Restored, a plaster cast of an amputated nude female torso with the exposed breasts, belly and pubic area tightly bound with rope. There is no head/face, no arms and no legs.

Venus Restored (1936) is the work of a male artist, Man Ray (1890-1976). Like other male artists linked to the Dada and Surrealist movements, Man Ray objectified women and saw them as subordinate: there was a strong connection between artistic achievement and sexual prowess, specifically power over women. Here Soline Humbert talks with Miriam Gormally about her objections to the image.

One response to “Objection to Vatican image for women”

  1. Suzanne Ryder says:

    I found this a profound interview, at the edge of real issues with regard to women. So many dimensions attest to this choice of an image being controversial. Yet, as Soline says towards the end of the interview, there was no possibility of showing a woman presiding at liturgy. The church has many holes in its arguments and I can only hope that this image can carry them through into something creative. Let’s hope!