Feb 03 2006

Maxim is Stupid

A couple of weeks ago I predicted that the incursion of Maxim into previously lad-mag-free India might generate some interesting results. For once, I was right.

For it appears that at least one Indian hottie has rejected Maxim’s mandate that she embrace the male gaze while wearing her underwear. After they airbrushed film star Khushboo’s head onto some hot skivvy-clad bod she became skeptical that Maxim is, as it claims, “in the business of respecting and celebrating rather than denigrating women.” She told’em to go to hell and filed suit. They apparently forgot to get her permission to “treat [her] as a commodity.”

And so it begins.

[Thanks, Laughingmuse]


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  1. Sylvanite

    Heh. I like her. Give ’em hell, Khushboo!

  2. Steph

    I like her too. Of course the problem with these lawsuits is that magazine sales go up because people buy it to see what the controversy is about.

  3. tisha

    The title of the Maxim article: “Women you will never see in Maxim – 100% fake”.

    Meaning, they were presenting faked pictures of women who they knew would never allow themselves to be objectified in this mann . . . . perhaps, to punish/humiliate them for their temerity?

    That’s what it looks like to me.

  4. BadBeliever


    I beg you to comment on making fun of godbags via “shocking and mocking
    cartoon images of their prophets/profits!”

    Can you imagine how it might feel?

    I found this website (below) and wondered how it could also be a form of prophet/profit porn?


  5. Nia

    One Indian woman refusing to be treated as a commodity. Now there’s only 200 million Indian women to go.

  6. Sharoni

    “Indeed the punishment that is finally meted out to them should be a deterrent against anyone who tries to treat women as a commodity and exploit them as they please. I will not opt for any kind of out-of-court settlement,” she said.

    Deterrent? Ha! Treating women as “a commodity and exploiting them as they please” has been a major pastime of the patriarchy since time immemorial. That is why porn is exploitive to begin with. The feelings, opinions, thoughts, etc. that a woman may have are not important to the patriarchy. What is important is making money off of whatever image they decide is au courant today.

  7. the bewilderness

    I’m glad to see that this chemo is not as harsh as the last.
    Thank you for letting us share your thoughts. It’s not so much what you say as the delightfully shrill and churlish way you say it that sets me up for the whole day. You also have the most polite trolls I have ever read.

  8. laughingmuse

    Kushboo sounds like an interesting woman who I’d like to meet.

    At the end of the BBC article, it is also mentioned:

    “Khushboo, 36, is one of the most popular actresses in southern India and fans have built temples in her honour.

    It is not the first time she has been involved in controversy.

    Last year, she sparked off demonstrations across southern Tamil Nadu state after she said no educated male should expect his bride to be a virgin.”

    I like her.

  9. tisha


    Well, I guess they’ll show her.

    Wonder if there is a way for us to send her fan mail?

  10. LL

    “We are in the business of respecting and celebrating rather than denigrating women.”

    Wait, what?? Someone needs to buy a new dictionary.

  11. thebewilderness

    Arthur Silber has returned to blogging. Please forgive my blog pimping, I love him almost as much as I love Twisty.


  12. Burrow

    “We are in the business of respecting and celebrating rather than denigrating women.”

    Wait, what?? Someone needs to buy a new dictionary.

    I find myself saying that almost daily. People make use the strangest definitions. Not to mention that their definitions are WRONG.

  13. BadBeliever

    Pseudo-feminism is so, so popular…and profitable. Let’s all embrace our inner-13-year old! Like the favorite-fembot of gawdbags…Naomi Wolf. Al Gore needs to embrace his inner alpha-male? Naomi needs to find her inner-transgendered convert to Gawd’s truest incarnation.


  14. flea

    A British singer filed the same suit against Maxim a couple of years ago. I’ve been trying to think of her name, and the only thing I can remember is that it begins with the letter “N” and she had some song about flying like a bird, or something. Helpful, yes?

  15. Matthew

    OK, sure, Maxim’s PhotoShop stunt in bad taste, and sexist, and stupid. But I have a hard time celebrating Khushboo’s suit. As long as you aren’t trying to deceive anybody (and Maxim clearly wasn’t), I think you ought to be legally able to paste anybody’s head on anything’s body. This is Jerry-Falwell-in-the-outhouse-schtupping-his-mother territory.

    If Khushboo wants to organize a boycott or whatever, it’s fair that the mag’s poor taste should cost them business. But it shouldn’t cost them legal fees.

    Of course, I have no idea what the rules are for this sort of thing in India.

  16. LMYC

    Matthew, you blithering jackass, newspapers get the shit sued out of them left and right when they print LIES about people. Why is this any different?

    Christ, that’s the problem with having a blog that suddenly becomes well-known. The fuckwads start showing up.

  17. Twisty

    This blog isn’t well-known. My own mother has never even heard of it.

  18. LMYC

    Seemed like it would have been getting a bit more … connectivity netwise lately. All it takes is to get connected even tangentially to ONE blog that has more than its share of cockroach-like MRA losers and the fuckers can show up to infest here, too.

    Now, I may be giving Matthew a harder time than he merits, but I doubt it. That sort of “yes but” crap that presupposes that women are fair game to any male who wants to use sex as a humiliation weapon and that she’s out of line if she attempts recourse plucked my last nerve sometime in 1994.

    Parse THAT sentence, I dare you!

  19. Matthew

    Wow, how completely uncalled for.

    I don’t even understand your question. Maxim didn’t lie about anyone. They made a joke, and were totally up-front about doing so. It strikes me as being satirical in the Falwell-v.-Hustler category, as indicated above. It’s legitimate to say it was unfunny, or stupid, or sexist, or rude, or whatever. It’s a different thing to call it illegal. Except when you’re defrauding someone, or threatening someone, I don’t think any kind of picture-making ought to be punishable by law.

    I repeat: I don’t think Maxim India was being especially clever, funny, enlightened or decent. I just don’t think they should go to court over it.

    And again, I’d be unsurprised if there were different standards in India, but in my neck of the globe I’m glad I can Photoshop famous people’s heads on bodes that don’t belong to them.

  20. antelope

    My gut level response is that it makes a difference how the picture was done (yes, I have a very finicky gut). If, in addition to using the header “100% Fake” they also stuck Khushboo’s head on some body that was the wrong size &/or turned at the wrong angle so that it looked kind of like a bobblehead doll sort of image, then I agree with Matthew – tasteless, stupid, immature & vicious, but not actionable. If they photo-shopped it for a higher degree of bikini realness, so the title says one thing but the many, many people who aren’t there for the words might well think it was her, then I think she has a case.

    Or ought to have a case in some sort of ideal world anyhow. Come to think of it, there are tons of U.S. based “nude celeb” sites out there that feature photo-shopped bullshit, I wonder if anyone has bothered to make a case out of it yet or if they figure that just calls more attention to the pics than they deserve?

  21. Hattie

    Let Aunty Hattie try to unruffle some feathers here. This woman has a right to sue for defamation. Let the courts decide.

  22. Nancy

    And again, I’d be unsurprised if there were different standards in India, but in my neck of the globe I’m glad I can Photoshop famous people’s heads on bodes that don’t belong to them.

    “Against this backdrop a case was filed on her for violating sentiments of people. Her fans have even collapsed temple constructed to her.”

    A case filed on her for violating sentiments of people. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say there are different standards in India. Since the entire system there is completely stacked against women, the First Amendment standards of the US are hardly in women’s favor.

    But any time you come out against exploitation of women, you always get the First Amendment hysterics accusing feminists of censorship. And of course who more perfect to demonstrate the sacredness of the right of any asswipe to exploit female bodies than First Amendment martyr Larry Flint.

    Chester the Molester was such a gift to humanity.

    Next we’ll be hearing how swell the Marquis de Sade was because he was persecuted for writing porn – when he was actually jailed for abusing prostitutes. But de Sade has become a hero of the First Amendment hysterics because a man who writes about abusing women is clearly a champion of free expression.

  23. Matthew

    Well, I certainly think of myself as more of a First Amendment hysteric than a fuckwad.

    I think those are good points, Nancy, and F.A.H.s like me should be careful that high-profile incidents like this one don’t have us painting Maxim (or Flynt) as champions of anything — merely as acting within their protected rights, even if they’re acting despicably.

    Back to lurk mode with me, then, until another F.A.H.-baiting issue arises.

  24. Christopher

    Well, uh, the point here is that Ms. Kushboo said “I’m not going to show my body off just so a bunch of jerks can whack off to it.

    And then Maxim said, “You don’t have a choice in the matter.”

    It seems pretty clear to me why that’s different from a satirical mockup.

  25. Nancy

    Well, I certainly think of myself as more of a First Amendment hysteric than a fuckwad.

    More perhaps. Certainly not instead of.

    A First Amendment hysteric focuses on defending First Amendment rights for magazine publishers in a country where women are still burnt alive if they or their families don’t come up with enough dowry money.


  26. Mandos

    Nancy: Giving the Indian government and legal system (including civil) the right to police magazine publishers even for such worthy goals is a knife that cuts both ways. Do you REALLY want them to have that power? I don’t. There are people there who would consider Twisty to be as indecent as Maxim if not worse. I do think such concerns are valid.

  27. Christopher

    But, Mandos, isn’t it reasonable to give people some kind of control over their own likenesses?

    Free speech isn’t absolute. Besides libel and slander, there are intellectual property rights.

    If I put a quote that says “George Bush says ‘Christopher is the greatest writer of our time'” on the back of a book, doesn’t George Bush have a right to ask that the quote be taken off?

    We’re not talking about decency laws here, but fair use.

  28. Nancy

    Giving the Indian government and legal system (including civil) the right to police magazine publishers even for such worthy goals is a knife that cuts both ways. Do you REALLY want them to have that power? I don’t

    I never said I was in favor of censoring Maxim. But you assumed I was, because I think it’s silly to obsess about Maxim’s First Amendment rights in a country that doesn’t have a First Amendment, and that is charging Kushboo with “violating sentiments of people.”

    A goodly number of women in India live in virtual slavery thanks to an iron-clad Patriarchy. And this blog is about blaming the Patriarchy.

    But whenever you question the First Amendment hysteric’s lack of perspective, they ALWAYS leap to the conclusion that you are therefore against the First Amendment itself. That’s why they’re “hysterics.” Although I’m open to a better term if anybody has one.

  29. Mandos

    Perhaps you are right. I’m somewhat suspicious of libel and slander laws too. In the US, the First Amendment protects you from the full effects of these laws, but in other countries their effects can be quite perverse.

    And Nancy seemed to frame her opposition in terms of generalized First Amendment Hysteria, ie, that concern was unwarranted. Forgive me if I am mischaracterizing her, but particularly in antiporn feminism, there’s a long tradition of critiquing those who are too zealous in guarding the First Amendment.

  30. Nancy

    There’s also a tradition of fearing that if women start talking about sexual harrassment it’s going to lead to groups of women censoring men’s books, preferably through blackmail. Please see the play Oleanna for details.

    Along with the tradition of presenting vicious upperclass rapists as heroes of free expression. See the play Quills for details.

    And no, I’m not in favor of censoring either play, just because I think they’re bullshit. But you invariably have to state that, directly, in any conversation with a First Amendment hysteric. Because they so often mistake criticism for censorship. Because they are just dying for an excuse to put on their cape and reveal their true identity as Mighty First Amendment Man.

  31. LMYC

    Well, I certainly think of myself as more of a First Amendment hysteric than a fuckwad.

    Yeah, and the Pope thinks he’s in favor of women’s rights. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    If it walks like a fuckwad and it quacks like a fuckwad …

  32. ozma

    Delurking here. I have nothing intelligent to add but it’s such a trip to read this site. I know people always throw roses to the writer but God, are you a genius at patriarchy blaming or what? I wish I could be more articulate in explaining the thing that is so awe inspiring but here’s a metaphor: If the patriarchy is the Alps and the ideological justifications are the twisty roads then your patriarchy blaming is the Maserati going 120 miles around them. And I agree with you only on occasion but you constantly have me thinking.

  33. suezboo


    I am an ex-hippie (and Proud, I say) so am therefore technologically challenged. Could someone more savvy than me please go over to Common Dreams and check the sidebar for a story about Judi Dench being too old for US talkshows? I (blush) can’t do links. Ta muchly,

    /End drift

  34. linker

    Like this, hippy lass:

    US talkshows too dumb for Dench

    To see how others are making links clickable, use your context menu on this page (right click for the Windoze captives, control click for Apple mugs) and select the “view page source”. Look for the url of the Judy Dench link and see how it’s been framed in some caret brackets. To repeat with other links you want to make, just cut-and-paste the brackets and substitute your desired URL and your desired description.

  35. linker

    And so you get this to put somewhere ready to cut-and-paste your link into:

    <a href=”url you want noticed“>description you want for the link</a>

  36. famous soviet athlete


    I get your drift. I’m not sure if I know how to link properly here either, but I’ll give it a shot:


  37. Frumious B.

    Re: Fair Use:

    I don’t know about India, but in this country, depending on the details in the release you signed at the photo shoot, it is fair use to put your head on someone else’s body, or vice versa. The body in this picture is Rachel Brice, bellydancer. The face is someone else. totally legal. The lesson here: before you sign up for the photoshoot, read the release!

    I can’t feel too sorry for Khushboo. By agreeing to appear in Maxim in the first place, regardless of what she was wearing, she was giving tacit approval to lad magazines and their content.

  38. Frumious B.

    well, dag


  39. Famous Soviet Athlete

    I’m not sure that she agreed to appear in Maxim. I think they just stole her head.

  40. ismnotwasm

    I’m glad she took a stand, I’m glad she’s sueing, and I’m glad she told them off. Just what India needs, huh? Maxim. Wonderful. We’ll bring porn to the country that brought us the Karma Sutra.

    The rights and wrongs of photoshopping are irrevelent to me. Maxim with it’s sly little “women you’ll never see” promotion just used this women in a attempt to break into a market. Sueing them may well bring them undeserved publicity, but at least someone is calling bullshit.

  41. drumgurl

    I doubt she gave Maxim permission to use her pic. Do you think every celebrity has to give consect for every picture used? If so, how do you explain all those awful shots in the tabloids?

    I know I have appeared in the newspaper without my consent. I believe any photo is fair game. It’s freedom of the press.

  42. drumgurl

    I meant consent* rather than consect. Oops.

  43. Sola

    Here’s what the Guardian reported, which suggests Maxim went into defamation territory:

    “When the actress Khushboo, who goes by one name, said last year that men should not expect their brides to be virgins, arguing that premarital sex was fine as long as it was safe, she was pelted with tomatoes, old shoes and rotten eggs by conservative groups and taken to court.

    Instead of celebrating her stance, Maxim’s inaugural edition had a mocked-up photograph of Khushboo half naked beneath a slogan declaring: ‘Of course, I am a virgin if you don’t count from the behind.’ Khushboo threatened to sue and Maxim was forced last week to make a public apology.”

  44. Sin Monkey

    This whore has sucked off dozens of men to show off her flabby bod in fifty crappy indian movies. She was known as ‘glamour’ actress in her heydey. Portraying her as an anti-porn feminist is idiotic.

    Write about what you know, Twisty.

  45. Twisty

    Look, you ass, I don’t care if she sucked you off–although if she did, I’m sorry for her–she’s still a human being, and if she’s pissed off when some jack-off mag purloins her head, what’s it to you?

    Thanks for the 8th grade creative writing advice, but just to avoid any confusion in future, I write about whatever the fuck I want. Glad we could clear that up.

  46. Christopher

    Um… I know that Twisty doesn’t need my help to fight her battles, but who portrayed Kushboo as an anti-porn feminist?

    I don’t think her views on porn in general were ever mentioned.

    What was mentioned was the fact that she didn’t want to appear in this particular piece of porn. Appearing before in other exploitative settings does not nulify her abilty to refuse to consent to new appearences.

    I mean, really, you’re pretty much making the “she was a slut so I had the right to rape her” argument, and I hope that’s not a place where you want to be.

  47. ae

    Well said, Christopher at comment #46.

    Nancy, completely agree that “Oleanna” and “Quills” were pieces of shite cut from the same cloth. If people want to perform that tripe, whatev, but presenting de Sade as, above all, an advocate for “free speech,” as we understand it, is delusion of the highest order, besides being just silly on the face of it. He’s a victim of the real villians, the censors! Poor de Sade. Just wants to write “philosophical” treatises on torturing women — after torturing women — and the meanie magistrates insist on jailing him. Life’s so unfair.

    As for Khushboo, she has a right to protect her image as she sees fit. If she was not photographed in a public place and that photograph then subject to “fair use” standards in a publication, then she has a right to say no. These rules are pretty complicated, and I don’t pretend to understand them all, certainly not in the context of modern India, but not all images are “free.” This was not a photograph of her, which means they’re trading on a false image of her for their profit, and she has every right to object. In contrast, celebrities on red carpets are clear in their agreement that their photos will be taken and used as such. It gets murky when assholes w/ telephoto lenses are lurking in the bushes trying to find you on vacation, or assholes w/ Photoshop are trying to punish you for not playing along in a “lad” (gag) mag. There are limits, thankfully.

  48. Rajat

    I think most people don’t see the Khusboo point of view about the whole episode. How would all those supporting Maxim’s cause or right to freedom of expression feel if it was their mother’s face that was morphed on to the body of a female pornstar being schtupped and then printed in a magazine that allegedly sold 80,000 copies. Everyone also jsut talks about the photo being morphed, what about the caption that says “I’m 100 per cent vrigin if you don’t count from behind”. I don’t believe that anyone of us would like our faces to be morphed onto someone else’s body like that. Many of the people here have not really understood the issues involved.

  1. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » “Indian star sues Maxim over photo”

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