Mixed Messages

This is a rant which has been coming for a while now. The catalyst was this story on The Register. It’s all to do with feminism and glamour modelling.

Personally I feel that suffragettes who chained themselves to railings to secure a vote for women would be appalled if they found out that you can buy a newspaper today and find images of topless girls plastered all over them. I just can’t reconcile equality with girls willingly putting themselves forward to do topless modelling.

The article I mentioned picks up on that. The basic idea is that a group of women got naked for a “Calendar Girls” style calendar, in order to benefit charity. They tried to donate some money to Scottish Women’s Aid, but were refused because they didn’t condone women taking their clothes off to raise money.

Although I can’t comment about the calendar itself (I haven’t seen it), I do somewhat agree with this quote from a spokeswoman for the charity Zero Tolerance:

“…We should be showcasing women for their talents and aspirations. Anything that focuses on women’s bodies is not helpful.

“We live in a culture where female nudity is everywhere and there is too much female nudity… and not enough celebration of women’s brains. It undermines our work to achieve gender equality.”

And this is what bemuses me. I completely agree with equality: women and men should have the same opportunities, and generally be treated equally. I cannot square this with posing topless in newspapers and magazines – surely an enemy of equality is objectifying women, i.e. men viewing women as sexual ‘objects’?

The attitude that “it’s our right to do as we want and pose in these magazines” seems to be highly detrimental to the right of equality. As long as a few women are willingly exposing their bodies to be, for want of a better word, ogled, then some men are going to continue viewing women as objects. I understand that I sound like I’m coming straight out of the 1950s here but … am I just going mad? Or is this actually an issue other people feel strongly about?


3 responses to “Mixed Messages”

  1. I’d like to throw a proverbial cat amongst the pigeons here, possibly with a touch of Devil’s Advocate – I agree that we should appreciate women’s brains, but does that need to be at the expense of our physical nature? The quotation seems to imply that our bodies (male or female) are inconsequential, or at the very least a mere distraction, and should not be given a second thought. Just a thought, but surely ‘equality’ should not favour one organ (i.e. the brain) over the rest of the body?

    To take my observation a step further, should we be equally objecting to men posing topless? Otherwise, surely, that’s showing a sexually oriented bias against women, which would tend to defeat the object of their argument.


  2. Matthew, it depends what level of the physical nature you’re talking about. My issue is not so much with a calendar but with so-called “lad’s mags” and the whole “lad culture” which basically seems geared up to objectify women. Men apparently want to see pictures of topless girls, very well – that’s what they are given. Surely that does not help at all.

    Furthermore – are you suggesting that we should value people who are attractive more? (If you can play devil’s advocate, so can I). Does that mean someone who is physically disfigured is of less value than someone who is young, good looking and ‘hot’ by the world’s standards?

    Of course not!

    Anyway sorry for rambling, I think I just get annoyed by the casual nudity inflicted on us by today’s culture. It cannot be productive. Yes, bodies are not ‘inconsequential’ but I think the showcasing that goes on simply encourages us to value someone purely on the physical rather than taking a more holistic approach.

    I’m sorry if that sounds pretentious… I’m tired :p

  3. […] while back I wrote a blog post ‘about’ feminism. Well, sort of, more about the lad’s mag culture and what have […]

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