Adam wrote: “I’ve been nude modeling for art classes, which I’m comfortable with as there’s no photos, just drawing and painting. Quite often at the end of a class a female artist has asked for private one on one sessions, so they can be more in control of the poses I do and the angle they get, compared to jostling for the best view in a busy class.
In the one to one sessions I’m finding a recurring pattern of the female artists politely asking for an ‘erection pose’ as they would otherwise never get to draw them, as they’re not expected in group classes. They tell me it’s completely normal and every male model does this for female artists, but it can become sexual when trying to maintain an erection while posing still for 30+ minutes and they come over to get it stiff again! I’m wondering if you know how normal this is, or if you can tell whether this is a sexual rather than purely artistic thing for the female artists? I don’t know any other male models well enough to ask, and the artists are saying it’s normal but I’m not convinced – as they mostly know each other I wonder if they are quietly saying to each other to all tell me it’s normal! Or maybe that’s me being a naive conspiracy theorist?”
Liz says: While I’ve never posed privately for any female artists, I am almost 100% certain your experiences are not the norm.
When I first posed for my husband (who wasn’t my husband or even a love interest at the time) he was perfectly professional. He never touched me, instead giving light direction. I recall he even mentioned that in the industry, it’s a big no-no for photographers to touch the models. Any costume changes or pose changes are done by the model only (or also by stylists/etc on a big-budget fashion shoot). When I posed for a sculptor years ago, he also never touched me. As a matter of fact, he tried to downplay any sensuality I was emitting, choosing to highlight a different mood in his sketch of me.
Which brings me to another reason it’s not typical for artists to touch the models, let alone to achieve and maintain erections: most of the art community favors non-sexual nudity in art. There is certainly a place for sexual nudity in art (and that is still respected art), but in those cases where sexual nudity is the goal then the artist will usually ensure the model fully understands and agrees to the arrangement beforehand.
Whether or not it’s the norm within the industry is beside the point here, though. If it makes you uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter how common it is. In my opinion, they are crossing a line behaving unprofessionally with you, so if it does make you uncomfortable (they’re being manipulative by lying to you, after all) then don’t pose for them anymore. But if you enjoy it or are indifferent to it, then there’s really no problem (as long as you’re an adult!) Simply speak up next time if you don’t like it, and ask more questions before the session even begins so you understand what will be expected of you.
***Bronze Sculpture by Adolf Frick