Lifting the lid
Posted on January 24, 2013
On Tuesday night I took part in the Fabian Women’s Network event Lifting the Lid: Challenging the Sexualisation of Women in Popular Culture. Diane Abbott gave the keynote speech, where she said lots of things I agreed with and then some things I disagreed with, but I’ll cover that in more detail in a separate post.
Anyway, here’s what I said in my bit:
“As most of you are probably aware, thanks to the submissions from feminist organisations such as Object! and the End Violence against Women coalition, last year’s Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press help put a spotlight on the tabloids, highlighting how the Sun and similar red-top newspapers demean women by the way they choose to represent us: as objects for men’s sexual gratification, rather than as sentient beings with minds and brains of our own
As you may also be aware, in 1986 the then Labour MP Clare Short started a campaign against Page Three, but in the face of a sustained and hateful onslaught against her and her supporters, initiated and led by the Sun newspaper, it was a campaign that sadly failed.
But we live in different times now, and even though for those of us who have been campaigning on these issues for years it often feels like a case of one step forwards and another four back, thanks to the feminist activism of the past 30 years and more, people are far more aware of the insidious and damaging effect of hyper-sexualised media on young women and on society as a whole.
In fact by last Sunday, a Change.org petition calling on the editor, Dominic Mohan, to “take the bare boobs out of the Sun”, had reached over 63,000 signatures, and the petition is still open so that number is set to grow.
But Page three is just one small part of all this. The abuse and humiliation of women is sold to us daily as mainstream media entertainment in a laddish misogynist culture that not only objectifies and degrades women, but which demeans us all.
Everywhere we look we are assailed with images of women as sexual objects, and vilified if we fail to meet the increasingly extreme ‘beauty’ standard. From advertising airlines to men’s deodorant, from “ten years younger” and “extreme makeover” to the latest trend in vaginal rejuvenation –the Barbie – where women are paying to have their entire inner labia removed to meet the so-called aesthetics of our pornified culture, our bodies sell and our looks define us.
I said before that we live in different times now, but sadly some things never show any sign of changing. As the latest statistics show, somewhere between 60,000 and 95,000 people are estimated to be raped each year, and yet still the conviction rate for rape and other crimes of sexual violence remain stubbornly low, with only 1,070 rapists being convicted in a year.
But is it any wonder survivors are still being denied justice, when both public opinion and the legislative system continues to judge women not by the crimes committed against us, but by what we were wearing at the time of our assault, how much we’d had to drink, or the numbers of sexual partners we’ve had in our lives.
Rape culture is endemic in the UK, and yet our media continues to reinforce negative attitudes about rape survivors, and to prop up sexism and misogyny by contributing to a blame culture that holds women responsible for the crimes of rape and sexual violence committed against them.
Meanwhile the same journalists who fill the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame with pictures of female celebrities in states of undress, upskirt pap shots and lascivious commentary on teenage and pre-teen girls, explode in mock outrage as Savile’s previously unreported paedophilia is exposed, reassuring us that his crimes are from another time and place entirely, and no one could possibly get away with that now.
Oh and by the way, here’s yet another photo of six year old Suri Cruise, and my word, isn’t she growing up fast….
I wonder how long it will be before someone creates a countdown clock for Suri reaching the age of consent, as they did with Charlotte Church……
There are so many examples of the sexualisation of women and girls, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing plenty more of them from our other speakers tonight. Suffice to say the challenges are many, and we have much to do, but hopefully this evening will help highlight these issues, help grow the anger, and persuade more to join in campaigning against this pernicious porn- fuelled culture.
Daily Mail is condoning/promoting male sexual exploitation/rape of underage girls by constantly publishing articles giving almost minute by minute details of the physical growth of a 6 year old girl called Suri Cruise who just happens to have a famous biological mother and father!
It is articles such as these in malestream media which reinforce mens’ pseudo sex right to females of all ages. I’ve yet to read any article detailing the physical development of a 6 year old boy whose parents just happen to be celebrities! But of course males are not dehumanised disposable sexual service stations – unlike women and girls.
Our misogynistic women-hating society is going backwards because now it is openly acceptable for males to subject women and girls to vile sexualised insults and women-hating. Professor Mary Beard was the latest female to be targetted by males who are incensed that a mere inferior female should be allowed to give her opinion on BBC Question Time. But as usual the men claim ‘it wasn’t misogyny because the males who sent their women-hating sexualised insults had just targetted one woman!’ So we can ignore the fact that women-hating men subject famous and non-famous women to routine sexualised insults because each female victim is supposedly ‘just another individual’ rather than fact she is a member of that supposedly dehumanised sexualised group called females!
In fact it is overwhelmingly women who continue to be subjected to male sexual violence including males raping them – not ‘people being subjected to rape and sexual violence.
The number of males convicted of raping a female(s) remains at the appalling level of just 6% and reason is because our misogynsitic male supremacist system has succeeded for the moment in normalising male belief that women are ‘sex’ whereas males are autonomous human beings not ‘disposable/interchangeable sexual service stations.
Mens’ dehumanisation of women is almost total and any woman or feminist organisation which challenges pandemic male belief women and girls are not human is met with male cries of ‘you are all man-hating femininazis!’
Male Supremacist system and women-hating culture – doesn’t exist according to men because their male pseudo sex right to female bodies of all ages is sacrosanct!
I totally agree with what you’re saying. But especially with this one:
“Mens’ dehumanisation of women is almost total and any woman or feminist organisation which challenges pandemic male belief women and girls are not human is met with male cries of ‘you are all man-hating femininazis!’”.
The said part is that society wants us to believe a fairy tale of an equal and free place for all. Emancipation is a thing of the past and every attempt to point out that this is NOT SO gets smashed.
The sexual revolution of the 60ies wasn’t intended to end up like this. Our noble aspirations of sexual freedom have been hijacked by male stream media, where the justification often goes like this: don’t complain now about naked women in every magazine, you started.
What was meant to liberate turned out to become another prison, which if not worse, is certainly just as misogynous as the previous one.
However, as long as women are conscious about this sexploitation there will be resistance. The big task here is to pass on this awareness to younger generations.