I have a significant issue with the way women are represented in mainstream media as sexualised objects. Not only does it condone the sex industry, significantly harm gender relations and provide poor role models for young girls, but is also increases the risk of dehumanising women and increases the risk of sexual crimes and violence against women.
A number of Feminist not-for-profit organisations have conducted reviews into the objectification of women as sex objects which identify rising levels of pornographic poses, vacant expressions and harmful messages to society. In turn this also provides “hypermasculine” role models for men and advocates strong gender divide relationships which damaged society as a whole.
There is a significant rise in aspirations among young girls and young teams to be Glamour models with media stars endorsing sexualisation of women by posing in “lads mags” or simply being Jordan.
The presentation of the One Dimensional Woman has a cascade effect to younger generations, As OBJECT identifies with WH Smith selling pink Playboy pencil cases and Amazon sell pole dancing kits with paper money as toys. Alongside more negative gender stereotypes such as the Domestic Goddess and few female role models in Parliament and big business, Society is effectively rolling back decades in gender equality.
There is a significant separation between content and advertising and it is the portrayal of the content of advertising that is the issue. Advertising will continue to increase all the time there is a demand and nobody steps up to say the representation of women in this respect is wrong.
OBJECT runs a Feminists Friday campaign to promote the covering up of “lads mags” with anti-sexist slogans. The more attention that can be created through this, the more likely it is that the presentation of women as sexual objects in mainstream media will stop.
However, there is still a requirement for a socially responsible media in relation to the sexualisation of women. I would encourage you to lobby your Councillors, lobby your MP and lobby the national government to prevent further damage to gender relations.
The Sex Industry
The discreet patriarchal argument that working in the sex industry is the “choice” and the misrepresentation of careers from the globally successful Belle De Jour and Playboy Simply allow corroboration with the idea of “choice” and further degrade and dehumanise women. If you attempt to argue against it you are generally questioned as to whether you work in the sex industry and if not then your argument is not valid.
However, an independent study conducted by OBJECT reports that 75% of women working in the sex industry were drawn into it as children and the other Life events have a significant impact on on the so-called choice of sex industry workers.
There is a growing rise in violence against women at work in the sex industry where it is implicit that the right to buy sex also allows the right to perpetrate sexual crime.
And while the studies reported are not peer-reviewed, they identify serious concerns with the promotion of women sexualised objects within society.
The Netherlands provides what they call a failed legislative experiment whereby legislating on the sex industry has failed to ensure safety and actually promoted higher levels of sexual crime of violence towards women. It ultimately provides a market where the desire for the market grows with legitimisation and therefore the trafficking and abuse of women who work in this industry increases.
The issues in the sex industry are not limited to sexual crimes, but there are also issues around trafficking.
In order to prevent trafficking in the UK section 14 of the Police and Crime Act 2009 states that men who purchase sexual services where they are aware that the woman is traffic are liable to be charged. This is a strict liability offence. However, since the implementation of the section in April 2010 only three men have received cautions for such a crime. Men have telephoned crime reporting lines to report within being trafficked, but when questioned, in the majority of instances they have already slept with a woman who was trafficked and are simply reporting it as a consciousness issue afterwards. This further legitimises the market of trafficking in the work of women in the sex industry.
Local authorities are currently taking the lead and challenging qualification in their area. OBJECT is running a campaign to ensure that people can lobby their local councils to license sex industry venues appropriately, i.e. by going through a magistrates court to ensure the welfare of women and the crease the risks of harm, trafficking and destruction to gender balance relationships.
However, this essentially absolves central government of any responsibility to preventing a growing mainstream media concept of sexualisation of women.
It is up to people to act and stop the objectification of women in the media, in the sex industry and in society as a whole to prevent the cascading damage to young people.