Today, I got involved in a Feminist campaign at the University, which seeks to challenge objectification within the Student Union. It was interesting to learn about the motions that have been passed in the Union, where the Union has agreed to make sure that objectification of women does not occur, but then they do exactly the opposite. The specific issues of concern were things such as FHM free hand outs, ‘Lynx girls’ having up close and personal photographs with men and the promotion of tanning to make you look ‘beautifiul’. All of which, happened in Freshers week.
Whilst these specific issues regarding Freshers week are part of the campaign, the campaign is more general and relates to many of the issues I have talked about in previous blogs. The discussion today around the campaign got me thinking about things I haven’t mentioned before, however. Primarily, race and disability issues.
I never really thought about objectification in a more general equality basis, and tended to view it in a sexism context. However, it is interesting to think, when do you really ever see ethnic minority models on the front of FHM? This heteronormativity and stereotyping of what ‘men want’ also relates to disability, as when was the last time you saw a disabled person feature on page 3, for example? It is not that I would like to see these people doing these sorts of things, I don’t like seeing any woman do that to themselves, but what i am saying, is that if it is going to be done, surely there should be equality in this sense? There again, equality full stop would be contrary to what the actual aim of these degrading practices set out to achieve!
What it made me think about however, was how communicating with other equality promoting groups such as ethnic minorities and disabled people will help wider groups realise their own objectification within contemporary society. Thus, fighting the objectification of women should not be a primarily women’s struggle. This was highlighted to me today by the presence of many men at the meeting, which again helped me realise that I am sometimes viewing the objectification debate within some sort of prism.
Something I have always believed in, but was made more apparent to me today was also the way in which, if we want to produce alternative images to the unrealistic images put on the front of lads mags etc, then we should do this within a non sexual context. Thus, the Dove campaign where women were promoting a more realistic image of what women’s bodies look like, was wrong in how it did this within a sexual framework. The women were put in their underwear to show this. This is simply trying to beat the industry at its own game, but actually is fueling the industry’s power, as it almost says, well actually in order for any woman to be beautiful they have to be judged by what their body looks like, and thus takes attention away from the overall person.
The discussion today has informed more of my own views, and I hope to write more about this as time goes on. Objectification is something I feel very strongly about, as I am sure those who read my blog know. A change of slogan from my last woman focused blog is needed to end this blog:
Women and men object to women being treated as objects