It’s the oldest story in the book, and I’m about sick of bloody telling it. Man sees women’s body, sexualises it, fine. Women has women’s body, sexualises it, not fine. The male gaze is a theory developed many years ago by Laura Mulvey and its core beliefs are still present to this day; simply put this is the concept in which women are represented and presented as mere sex objects for the pleasure of- and by – the heterosexual male viewer/audience. From film, tv, magazines and adverts- (my fave thing ever is the spoof ad by Women’s suit company ‘Suistudio‘ which depicts women in suits with naked men, directly touching upon the representation of women as naked objects in fashion ads) a women and her body has often been used to sell products and garner attention. Sex sells we are so often told. But what happens when the power balance flips and the women decide to take control of their sexuality; freely and openly objectifying themselves and using their body for financial gain? Well, they’re all tramps of course.
Last week saw Piers- I will say anything controversial to please Daily Mail readers – Morgan take an un-necessary and uncalled for (like all of his opinions) swipe at girl band Little Mix for posing naked- bar insults they’ve received scribbled all over their bodies- to highlight body-shaming issues in society (oh the irony of his anger towards this specific campaign) and to promote their new single “Strip”; a song which encourages women to embrace and love their bodies with the lyrics “Finally love me naked, I’m sexiest when I’m confident”. Piers shared that “young female pop stars shouldn’t have to use nudity to sell records” claiming it was tacky and going as far as to tell one member to “put some clothes on, if she has any”…. original Piers, really original. He pretended to show concern for their young fans whilst shaming the trailblazing young women that they look up to, all in a lousy attempt to hide his misogynistic views that women’s bodies are something to be ashamed of and their sexuality damaging to young girls. In fact unbeknownst to the old Oaf, his attack only highlighted the underbelly of Little Mix’s campaign that women are constantly attacked and made to feel ashamed about their bodies. Point proven, Good one bruh. But in a World shit-scared of sexually liberated women, Little Mix aren’t the first female popstar’s to be targeted and shamed for their public display of sexuality.
For as long as my FizzTV watching, 12 year old self can remember, popstar’s like Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj have been writhing around my tv screen like the sexy, bad-ass women that they are. From crop top’s and hip slingin’ jeans to bikini’s and thongs, the women of pop have embraced their sexuality through their outfit choices and provocative dance moves, choosing to own their objectification- which would have been thrust upon them regardless -in a historically male-dominated industry, and cashed those cheque$$$$ in the process honey. But the glory years of women in pop (will we ever be gifted someone quite like Rihanna again?) have been tainted with criticism that these explorations of sensuality from ‘supposed role-models’ are damaging our gender with the ever-impending doom of being viewed as sex objects. Actress and writer Rashida Jones whipped up a controversial conversation on twitter a couple of years ago where she called out female popstar’s, asking them to reign in their sexiness and as she so politely put it- to ‘#stopbeingwhores’. Seriously? Who’s setting women back now? *huge fucking eyeroll* Other women engaged in the conversation, chipping in with opinions such as “There’s a big difference in being proud to be a woman and selling yourself” and “What ever happened to class and leaving something to the imagination?” Hey guys, the 1920’s called, they want their views back. Whilst Rashida has since shared her horror at the backlash and insisted “there is a difference between shaming and holding someone accountable”, this hypocrisy of attempting a call to arms amongst the female community by slagging off their fellow peers and labelling them derogatory sexual terms- an angle which is so often taken up by other women in the name of “Feminism” – is an attempt at ‘girl power’ I will never be able to understand.
Ironically, in comparison to everyone’s uproar of female pop artists, my first recollection of seeing semi-naked women in the media was when I loaded 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” single into my PC and a music video featuring Fiddy writhing around with topless women in a bath full of melted chocolate played on my screen. I was around thirteen at the time and I remember instantaneously ejecting the CD whilst coming to the realisation this song was not about licking actual lollipop’s at all, swiftly hiding it under a huge pile of STEPS CD’s and praying my mum never found my new found stash of soft-core music vids. I have to say, Britney Spears oiled up in a bralet and trousers, belly dancing whilst holding a snake didn”t quite have the same long term effect. If you’re searching for somewhere to direct your anger, aim it at the music industry, the executives, the agents, the consumer’s, the male rapper’s who use 50 naked girls in their music video whilst grinding with their tops off and calling them hoes. But aiming your anger towards those who are fighting similar battles as you are in society whilst attempting to break their own glass ceiling is just plain lazy, and to be honest it’s exhausted.
In other “We hate women being sexy” news, last week saw Australian Lingerie brand Honey Birdette face backlash after releasing their Christmas campaign. Not new to criticism for using provocative images, Honey Birdette have often been targeted for their sexy campaigns and shop-window displays, with a petition calling for their ad’s to be banned labelling the pics “porn-style advertising” and “hyper-sexualised”. One big issue which separates this brand from others is that they concentrate on women’s pleasure and sexuality as their selling point. DING DING DING, there goes the women enjoying sex alarm. Best put a stop to that immediately. Women’s groups and journalists alike have attacked the brand for “giving in to sexualised images”, immediately labelling them as derogatory for women, damaging to children and giving us all a bad name. One journalist in her critique towards the brand, saw her reference the recent case in Ireland in which a young rape victim had her choice of lace underwear used against her as a sign of consent, in her argument that this women’s underwear company needs to “have a responsibility to ensure their products- and their marketing campaigns- are socially acceptable” adding how the case “shows in the minds of many men, and some women, sexy underwear equals consent” Sorry, but What The Fuck? These people are so terrified of women being sexual beings that they are claiming lingerie brands should take some form of responsibility for their products and the supposed ‘message’ they give out. The same said critic also added that the image included “a good percentage of side labia” – if the crease which joins your leg to your groin is a labia then we’ve all been walking around swimming pools with our labia’s hanging out for fucking decades. Go back to sex ed’ class love, and give yourself a fondle whilst you’re at it, you might find out you quite enjoy it.
Throw in Chrissy Teigen’s tweet about teem mom star Farrah- “Farrah Abraham now thinks she’s pregnant from her sex tape. In other news you’re a whore and everyone hates you.” – and it’s clear to see that women are our own worst enemy when it comes to respecting each other’s sexual prowess. Chrissy continued her twitter tirade stating “Does calling this ‘slut shaming’ make you feel better? Like pulling the bully card? Ladies: you aren’t a super feminist for okaying super whores.” Ugh, sorry Chrissy, but I just can’t stan you on this one. For one, you’re best friends with Kim Kardashian so any validity when mentioning a sex tape and being a whore is void on your behalf… and two, why do you give a shit about another woman’s sex life enough to publicly shame and embarrass her for the sake of a few retweets? SURE the Farrah tape is a little, shall we say, explicit, but can’t a woman just live out her porn-star fantasy without being labelled an above-average whore?! Whether that be on one of the World’s most popular porn site’s or after a frisky Friday night down the local, this judgement and ridiculing has got to stop.
But seriously, does it ever occur to these critics that some women like to feel sexy? That some women enjoy being sexy? That some women like to wear sexy lingerie- or nothing at all- to empower themselves rather than project themselves as sex objects for the taking? This concept of women posing for sexy photo’s is not a new phenomenon. For years photo studio’s have held make-over days where every-day women get all dolled up and indulge in a sexy photo-shoot whether it be for their man, to celebrate their bodies or simply to treat themselves to a day of pamper and a ‘feel-good’ experience in the process. People pay for that fucking shit. Because they know how good it makes them feel. How much pleasure their naughty pics will give their husband. They accept it as a fun experience. Applaud it as a body-positive move. But switch up the roles to the woman being paid to wear the lingerie, to the woman getting all the financial gain and pleasure, and it’s suddenly disturbed and wrong. The mind boggles. We as women should be embracing more ad’s with the female as the dominator, the one in control- as finally switching up the roles amongst the sexes and in the bedroom, rather than attacking them. We should be praising female celebrities for being so open and care-free with their sexuality within the media, and their acceptance of the bodies they’re in, and not publicly shame them for it.
Why are you so afraid of women being sexy? This outcry every time a women sexualises herself is the product of an intense history of a patriarchal society, which has for so long solely viewed women as sex objects for men, instead of accepting that women can be sexy and sexual for themselves. The call for women to feel ashamed of their bodies being seen in public; that women can only be sexy behind the bedroom door is what sets women back and places their sexual well-being and pleasure, along with their health, in the hands of men. Calling for women to ‘stop acting like whores’ or to ‘put some clothes on’ isn’t going to change the society we are in, or a woman’s personal sexual behaviour. And so it shouldn’t. At a time where women’s progress and equality has never been higher, our rights to the choices we make over our own bodies are still in question. The next time you disagree with a women’s sexual way, agree to disagree, accept it, and look for somewhere more important to direct your anger and energy. There are better ways to fight the patriarchy and protect our children from harm than banning women in nipple tassels and getting vibrator’s taken off supermarket shelves (this really happened). In a World full of Piers Morgan’s, be an Emily Ratajkowski. Fight the good fight.
Check out my other blog on sexism within the media here
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