7 Jun 2011

Why the sexualisation debate is about both genders

The sexualisation debate is in the news following Cameron's commissioning of The Bailey Review.

Jane Fae makes a strong argument against the report in today's Guardian, pointing out the research is not academic, the debate is geared towards blaming women and that we should be geared towards solutions not blame.

However, the fundemental flaw I see is surrounding Fae's argument 'this is all about girls- what girls wear and how girls may be perceived'. I would suggest that this is largely what the report has been about in newspapers, rather than the report it's self.

The arguments presented in the papers surrounding this debate do centre on examples of female pop-stars, pole dancing kits and gender targeted publications, which are dominated by a market geared towards hetereosexual males.

As a result, it is very difficult to read such reports as being about anything but 'how girls are perceived', because men simply aren't portrayed as commodities in the same way.

The result of marketing and commercialism deliberately targetted at maintaining gender differences means that unvalidated fallacies such as cave men mentality are exploited and portray a two dimensional and flawed analysis of what primal behaviour is composed of.

Men are just as maligned by such misconceptions as women, discriminated against for not 'keeping their libido in check' and expected to conform to a hetero-normative existence to satisfy public perception.

As much as the new woman is meant to be sexually liberated, so the new man must embrace that liberation.

And to me, this is the crux of the debate. The media, in shaping women as physical commodities to be bought and sold, is also perpetuating the idea that men must undertake the buying and selling.

Men are therefore engaged from a young age to observe the 'liberation' of women and adhere to it as a cultural representation.

Then we can enter into the slut walk debate. There are bilateral implications of allowing young girls to dress in 'sexy' outfits, both the effect on a girl's sense of acheivement and self validation, and of the perceived behaviour of that girl in the eyes of the man.

For, in spite of efforts, the madonna/whore dichotomy persists: men embrace a woman's liberation but they'd still rather marry a Kate Middleton-epitome of decorum.

It is these structural ideologies that must be challenged, and if the beginning of this is a report commissioned and written by a Bacon chief exec, then I welcome it. There must be a start.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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