'Women on top' BBC Article

March 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

An interesting article about how women are portrayed in the mass media. Obviously, not much of it is new, but I did like this bit:

Apart from our numbers in big jobs, though, what most concerned the conference was the near-pornographic portrayal of women in what were supposed to be mainstream magazines. (I gather the real top shelf is not doing too well commercially, because the most dedicated hard porn seekers can get it harder and dirtier on the net.)

“When we complained about it,” one of the Bristol women said, “we were told that lads mags were part of a young man’s growing up process, that we couldn’t alter them.”

Which makes no more moral sense, I’d have thought, than if you’d said in the 19th Century that you shouldn’t worry about the ghastly conditions of girls in brothels because being taken by your uncle to your first prostitute was a rite of passage for young men.

It’s not so much the lads, though, as the lasses that these women were really worried about, as sexy magazines are aimed at younger and younger markets.

Young girls so often see being able to behave badly as a right to be fought for; that being as sexy and outrageous as the boys is “empowering”.

They don’t have any sense of being bamboozled or exploited.

I’d agree that pornography isn’t something that should particularly be encouraged, especially in mainstream magazines. In general I lean towards it being morally corrupt, but not because I feel that images which are aimed to sexual arouse or titillate are inherently wrong, but because I fear that the circumstances in which those images are produced may well be exploitative in nature.

The stuff about women not being aware that they’re exploiting themselves is certainly true with regards to some young women. You only have to look around in the high-street to see that. The worst example of this is the playboy bunny logo which adorns the tops, hand bags and other assorted accessories of many a fashionable teenybopper. Oh, I see, it’s ironic; it’s women taking power from a predominantly misogynist symbol and making it their own. But, hang on, by wearing that T-shirt aren’t you, I dunno, sort of spreading the advertising dollar of Playboy magazine even further? Aren’t you just adding to the coffers of an empire built upon the promotion of women as sexual objects, not as intelligent, rational human beings? Hmmm.

I get that women like to dress up, wear make-up etc. because they enjoy doing it for its own sake. This hasn’t passed me by. It’s more the wearing of labels, or the impression that Jordon’s career is a sound one for a teenage girl to follow, that is a cause for worry. It’s not a symbol of empowerment; it is emblematic of the level of acceptance we have sunk to regarding the objectification of women in our society.

I don’t know, I just think it’s women selling themselves short. But then, I don’t necessarily feel that the objectification of women is a bad thing, just as I don’t think the objectification of men is. Both are necessary components of sexual desire and, in short, we wouldn’t be able copulate without it; it’s an essential part of our human natures.

I think what I object to is this idea – which is becoming too wide-spread – of women being primarily sexual objects, and everything else after the fact. And that somehow, becoming a page three model is a worthy affirmation of women-hood, when there are plenty of other things women can be known for.

P.S. I love the Jodie Marsh picture caption.

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