"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Objectification of Women

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Objectification of Women

"You’d have thought Formula One racing had little in common with Greek mythology, but they have both fallen victim to the latest wave of feminist susceptibility that Some sritics are calling a new Puritanism. The casualties at Formula One are the so-called Grid Girls, the pretty but peripheral scantily clad lovelies who prance around the pits. They like their sisters, the walk-on girls who escort dart players onto the stage at televised championships are being done away with, well, no longer employed because they are seen as objectifying women. Reducing them to objects of sexual desire.

The feminists were less successful, one’s tempted to say got their knickers in a twist with Greek mythology. The famous Pre-Raphaelite painting Waterhouse’s Hylas And The Nymphs was removed from display at Manchester Art Gallery for a week, but it was reinstated after a public outcry. The picture shows the Argonaut Hylas being serenaded by some damply lubricious nymphs.

The story of course is that they fancied him because of his astonishing beauty despite him being Hercules’ gay toy boy. They took him off, turned him straight, and he was never seen again. A story actually of female empowerment in which it was the male that was objectified, which just goes to show how tricky this all is...

‘So apparently Free the Nipple campaign and showing your breasts in support of breast cancer - that's acceptable. Take your top off and appear in Page Three. Then this is deplorable. Empowering apparently if you get dressed up as #metoo women in beautiful designer black dresses on award ceremony, and terrible if you get dressed up beautifully and you’re on the F1 circuit. Utterly snobbish double standards get on my nerves in this discussion’...

'Objectification is a process that we all engage in. In order to have sexual relationships with each other, we’re sexual beings. We objectify our partners. They become an object of desire… I don't believe, when I go to work [as a stripper], that I'm automatically turned into just an object like a temptation or thing. I get spoken to, people engage in conversation, we talk about our lives, we talk about, customers will ask me who I am, but essentially what do I stand for, what do I believe? So that's in lots of ways.

One, I'm a stripper, a lot of what I go through is quite humanizing in lots of ways. I mean, I've done the job for ten years... I really don't feel trapped by the male gaze. I feel more trapped by the male gaze when I'm in the street in somewhere like Rome, or Paris where the sexual harassment that goes on while I'm just walking, doing, going about my business, certainly not inviting it, certainly not consenting to being objectified...

In some ways being objectified can be empowering... the dichotomy of if something is just empowering or subjugating, it's kind of, a bit misleading.'...

‘I very much agree with the French eminent women’s letter, hundred eminent women's letter that said, ‘This is an Anglo-Saxon Puritan reaction and it's a load of nonsense, really’...

‘People who have what I call erotic capital, who are attractive and know they’re attractive and know how to use it, make money out of it in perfectly legitimate ways. Just as people who have brains or qualifications or a skill with making money on oil markets make money from their activities.

We admire people who make millions out of insurance or something, which is not particularly admirable. Very often, it to people's disadvantage, but we criticize anyone who makes money out of, monetizes their erotic capital. Erotic capital actually has value. In rich societies, and we're getting richer all the time, in rich societies individuals and people and societies will spend more on luxury. Beauty is a luxury...

I don't find concepts like commodification and objectification useful… I don't think they're useful concepts. They don't actually tell you something that you need to know and didn't know. And I think they've been hugely over-used by people just to say, try and pretend that they're an intellectual, and they don't like something, so they use big words as if that makes what they're saying important or valuable or clever... In relation to people who are attractive, we admire them.

So when, for example, in June 2009, David Beckham was modeling Armani underpants and there was this massive poster that was hung from the top of Selfridges building, six stories high photo of a naked David Beckham in Armani underpants. There was a complete frenzy in the street of young women who came to see it, and apparently, some of then fainted with delight at this picture and David Beckham is making millions or did make at the time millions from what I would call modeling and was a politely called sponsorship for whatever. And I read that he had made a lot more from modeling than he made from his career as an athlete. No one objects to that…

‘Puritanism is a noble moral tradition, founded the United States of America, gave us democracy. What on earth is wrong with Puritanism?’

‘It is anti-sex, anti-luxury, anti-beauty-’...

‘What’s wrong with modesty? Modesty is an important moral category’...

‘We're in the 21th century by the way.’...

‘You keep using the word value, which I fully understand, but isn't it the case that what you're describing, could be used, could be described as a form of sexual teasing or enticement?

For example, there are, many of the actresses who've been going around saying #metoo, in objecting to the misuse of sexual misbehavior, themselves dress in scanty clothing, in sexually provocative ways. Isn’t the point that it's not objectification, it's merely sexualized behavior which you might say is very licentious and bad and degrading? But that's different from objectification.’

‘I think it's really difficult to tease apart the individual choice and behaviors from the societal level impacts and pressures. We don't exist in a vacuum. And women are disproportionately expected to commodify their bodies. And so I think it's really difficult to see some of those things as individual choice. I think we can't necessarily think that women are actually truly free to have those individual choices when they're still living in a society that is claiming ownership over their bodies’

‘Or is it the women claim that they have choice, unless you know better than them? I think maybe we should take their word seriously’...

'A lot of young women I meet when I talk in schools and universities, seem so caught up in this objectified world, in imagining that seeing these images are destroying their life forever, that they've almost become frightened of the female body, or showing it… the outcome of this could only possibly be until we get equality that what we should advise young women to do is to dress up in the burka or all the nuns’ habit to be religiously equal. But you know if objectification in the male gaze is so damaging maybe women should go back to the Victorian parlor and hide away.'...

'The contemporary debate that is going on at the moment basically says those women are dressing sexually and they are objectified victims. I am dressing beautifully sexually, because I'm a liberated feminist and it drives me mad. There’s a double standard'...

‘There is all the difference in the world it has to be said between middle class people feeling empowered about doing this and people who are trafficked and it shows that actually the big difference is a difference in power’

‘What you don't approve of, that’s the only difference’

‘Giles, complete hypocrisy. All these people prancing around the catwalk half undressed. saying #Metoo, please’


Ironically the modesty argument came from Giles Fraser, who would be upset about modesty and puritanism if they were used by white Christian men to tell women what they should wear

Women don't know their own minds, unless they have feminist views
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