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Steve Edwards' website

American woman critiques art in a Spanish bar

  A "blue nude" by Henri Matisse,
  not an amateur Spanish illustrator

I was in a small place in Seville when three Americans came in — a young woman and her parents, by the look of them.

Above the only available table hung a large, rather artless drawing of a semi-nude woman.

"Gross," the American girl said, standing in front of that piece.

It was, quite simply, the depiction of a woman lying on her belly, with a sheet playing over parts of her and leaving parts exposed.

For the American girl, it was disgusting. And, more than that, it was apparently her duty to say so.

She didn't say any more. But she had said a lot. I remembered America.

For the American women, there's a fine line between acceptable masculine expression and "gross." The presumption is common that public appreciation of a woman's body is disrespectful and even abusive.

The Spanish do not equate masculinity with oppression. If a man enjoys the look of a woman, that's considered natural.

  — Spring of 2001