I recently started a long-term photography project with my best mate's girlfriend. He's off training to be a Recon Marine, and will be stationed in California (we're in Michigan) for quite a while. One of the ways she's keeping in touch is by collaborating with me on a monthly clothed pinup calendar we're sending his way.
I just finished the February calendar, but I find myself a bit torn here. Original pin-ups, though cute to modern eyes, are undeniably sexist relics of old-school, misogynistic ideas about female sexuality, portraying unrealistic body types frequently in vapid, gleefully subservient roles. In their original context, they bother me.
However, the recent resurgence of pin-ups, with modern additions of tattoos, powerful-looking subjects, and frequently more badass surroundings, seems to indicate that women are grabbing the style by the horns and bending it to their will. In other words, the knee-weakening sex appeal stays, and the degrading historical context is left behind.
My questions are these; can one do pin-up work without carrying the historical baggage? Is any remotely sexy photo of a woman degrading, or simply a nod to the awesome, brain-melting power of female beauty? If someone approached you about a project like this, how would you respond? What pitfalls would you be worried about?
To make things even more interesting, I'm taking photos of the girlfriend of a guy who is currently training to kill with his bare hands. Heck of a performance incentive, but also an excellent additional reason (beyond the already-sufficient combination of respect for the model and simple good taste) not to push the envelope.