Saturday, 29 November 2014

Reach for the Star (and the Sun)

An update on the No More Page 3 campaign.

This is a brilliant campaign to persuade the Sun newspaper to stop featuring naked women on page three.

The bad news is that the tradition of the Page 3 Girl lives on, waving her nipples at you every day of the week from between the news pages.

The good news is that she's slightly less visible in some high profile supermarkets.

A lower profile on a higher shelf

Tesco and then Waitrose and Marks and Spencer have announced changes to the way in which they display the Sun and the Star.

Tesco has decided that only the names and logos of the two newspapers will be visible from the sides of the cubes in which they are displayed, so they are no longer in the sight line of children, and are less visible from a distance.

Waitrose has announced that it will be doing something similar, and M&S has moved them to the higher shelves.

This means that sexualised images of women are no longer within easy sight and reach of children, it also relegates these titles to less prominent positions. Hopefully this will have an impact on sales, because if that happens then it's more likely that the Sun will sit up and listen and maybe, just maybe, it will put the Page 3 girl into retirement.

A small step for woman, a giant leap for womankind

This tweaking of newspaper displays by supermarkets is relatively small beer in the greater scheme of things. But it is one more small step for feminism in a great long journey that began with women asking for the vote and won't end, I hope, until we have a truly equal society.

By taking steps, however small, to move these newspapers, these three immensely powerful corporations are sending a message that these publications are not completely socially acceptable,

Moving the publications to the top shelves does more than that - it takes pictures of bare-breasted women out of the mainstream and puts them out of clear sight, somewhere that is niche, and more difficult to reach.

It would be great would be if these shops stopped selling the Sun altogether, but even without that, this is a small but significant cultural change, which pushes the Sun and its Page 3 slightly nearer to the margins.

In the meantime, I'm hoping that more big stores will be following the lead.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Strident, obsessive and sexy PhDs

Do you feel like your brains overshadow your beauty? Well weep no more. Amazon is selling a Sexy PhD costume, for women who want to make the most of ALL their assets.

This story has been cropping up all over social media, reported by i100. The story isn't the costume itself, but the review comments that follow it on the page, written by a range of 'Lady PhDs' who express their relief that sensible husband-hunting attire has now been provided for the thinking woman.

As a 'Lady PhD' myself, I was partly drawn to follow the links because the costume had the wrong hat. This is entirely beside the point, but anyone with a PhD knows that the hat is very important. Here's what it should look like. Quite sexy, I think you'll agree.

Anyway, so I read the story and enjoyed the comments.

I thought it was kind of funny that the headline of the article was 'Women with actual PhDs review sexy PhD costume on Amazon' - why the 'actual'? It sort of implies some incredulity at the idea of women having PhDs. But that's just me being touchy, I know it is.

Sexy costumes and comments

I don't really care if they're selling a sexy women's PhD costume on Amazon. It might be worse if they were selling a sexy men's PhD costume and not a women's one, because that might suggest women aren't clever enough to have PhDs, or that women with PhDs aren't sexy. Or something.

The thing that did get my feminist back up, was not the costume, or the comments on Amazon by 'Lady PhDs'. It was the comments left on the page of the article. This was one of the more articulate, the other were variations on the theme:

'It's a costume. Get over it. If you have an actual PhD you should understand the concept. Does your strident, obsessive feminism have to bleed through everything in your lives? Grow up.' Mr Grevy

What's bitten Mr Grevy? Can't he see that these women were just having a bit of gentle fun at the expense of an objectifying/objectionable (delete as preferred) costume?

Does our strident, obsessive feminism have to bleed through everything in our lives? Well now you mention it, yes it does. That's kind of the point of being a feminist.

Strident and obsessive

Having a belief, or a philosophy should bleed through everything you do, because it affects the way you view everything around you. Loving feminism is not like loving cheese. I enjoy a nice bit of cheddar, but I am very capable of going days at a time without touching the stuff.

(That's actually a very bad example because I've now realised quite how much cheese I eat. If I want to get into that costume, I'm going to have to cut back on the yellow stuff).

But I live feminism. Every day I drive my own car, live in my own house, spend my own money and go out to my job, which pays me, hopefully the same as it would pay a man if he were doing my job. These things would not be possible without feminism - it pervades everything I do.

Feminism-bashing is commonplace on the web. This is just one more example. Why do Mr G and his ilk feel the need to have a go at feminism? There is clearly something deeply offensive to them about the idea that their mothers, sisters and girlfriends (is that last a little optimistic?) should be treated as their equals. Who knows where that could end - we'll want the right to vote next.

You can read the article, and comments here.