Contested Images: Debates on Nudity, Sexism, and Porn in The Body Politic, 1971–1987

  • Juan Carlos Mezo González


This article examines debates on nudity, sexism, and pornography in the Canadian gay and lesbian newspaper The Body Politic, tracing its use of images and people’s responses to them over time. In the 1970s, concerns about sexism and the objectification of the body shaped discussions over sexual and erotic imagery. In the 1980s concerns about pornography were more current, since they mirrored the then-contemporary debates over pornography and censorship. Drawing upon archival sources and oral histories, the article argues that TBP’s visual culture—particularly its sexual and erotic imagery—played a key role in the paper’s community-building project. The article also shows how responses to images reflect a deep ambivalence, and the conflicting perspectives shaping the paper’s production and reception. While liberationist politics, feminist theory, and ideas of a “gay community” influenced the paper throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the meanings that people ascribed to such concepts were diverse and sometimes incompatible.