Warning – use of strong language.

January 28, 2012

A few months ago, I was on school holidays and flicking through some daytime TV. I happened to land on the ABC and saw Gail Dines doing a presentation to what looked like some MPs or equivalent.

She was showing how women are now, more commonly, being repreaented. Nothing really surprising. Then she made the following – what I thought was an ‘a-ha’ – point:

She was showing an image of a woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated looking….well you can imagine – and she said, “We all know what she (the woman on the cover) is trying to communicate, don’t we? The ‘Fuck me’ look.” Yep, that’s it.

She said that when she discusses the topic with senior high school students, they come up with the same – no mystery there. She then asks the students if any of them can get up and demonstrate the look. Of course, there are always girls who volunteer.

However, when she asks a boy to do it, she gets a different demonstration – because when a guy does the ‘Fuck me’ look, everyone, including himself, start to laugh. Why? Because it looks silly – as Gail explains, guy can’t do the ‘Fuck me’ look – he does the ‘Fuck you’ look.

Yes.

Yes.

Think about the common way in which our young adults, teens and now children are being depicted. Isn’t what she’s saying right?

I feel like, if we boil it all down, the simple message is that a female is nothing unless she’s seen as ‘Fuckable.’

This is the moment I need to interject my own argument – to make sure we’re on the same page (or not).

I don’t have a problem with a woman being sexual – we are sexual beings. I believe a woman – every woman – has it in her to be attractive + confident and intelligent. But in this ever stifling pop culture, where can our sons and daughters see this modelled?

Again, I’m talking about BALANCE – something I’ll keep referring to because it’s not so much what’s out there (to a degree it’s always been ‘out there’), but where’s the yin to complement the yang?

I don’t know if you watch regular TV, (I don’t have cable – just the free-to-air stuff), but The Good Wife ad has caught my attention. It saddens me that – beside the fact that some of the main female stars look like they’ve gone under the knife a few times – it seems nearly irrelevant that the ‘good’ wife is a lawyer. The WHOLE ad campaign leading up to the new season has her main photo in lingerie, there’s a sexy shot of her on a bed, with raunchy music playing throughout, and the slogan, “Don’t let the name fool you” – obviously…because she’s a naughty, naughty girl.

Now she’s fuckable. Well, that’s a relief!

Here are some promo shots from the show. Here is Julianna showing how her character NOW has strength and won’t be a door mat. What, by performing sexual favours?

Another female character, ironically also speaks about being a ‘badass’…in her over-the-knee leather boots, short mini leather skirt and VERY tight shirt.

The MEN however….Same job and yet, there’s a tired weariness in that first shot – hard day at work ending with a well deserved whiskey – plus the fact they’re all fully dressed in the suits they would actually wear to work.

Why are the women not wearing what they would actually wear to the office in these shots??

Should our daughters watch it and get inspired because she’s also a lawyer? Maybe. But there doesn’t seem to be a hell of a lot of choice – after all, there’s also stupid and fuckable.

The saturation of this simple, subliminal, messaging in popular media means that we are ALL being subjected to it – regardless of age. After all, my interest in discussing this show ONLY came from one ad campaign. As we go on with our lives, in the background there is an incessant drone, telling us over and over again, through these representations, that a woman’s worth is whether she’s ‘Fuckable’ and a man learns that this is what he has to look out for. This is incredibly limiting. 

Question #8: Do you think that it’s OK for women to be portrayed in this manner?

If you hadn’t noticed, start paying attention to the limited blueprints that are being delivered to you about women and girls, and how the same message wallpapers us in outdoor advertising and narratives. 

Nothing can change unless we wake up as a society and stop consuming what we’re given without critical reflection. 

2 Responses to “Warning – use of strong language.”

  1. Love it Paula .. it *always* comes down to whether a girl is fuckable and that is where, primarily, she learns to glean her worth from a very early age. We all know men are driven by sex, and we all know most of the media moguls are male, but I wish to god the world would just flip for a moment so we could all see how unbalancingly (i made that up 🙂 one-sided this world is. I remember doing an exercise once at school where we changed every single generic ‘he/him/his’ in a book to read ‘she/her/hers’ as the generic term and I actually felt uncomfortable using the feminine as the norm .. it felt so unusual and wrong. Funny how we’re just so brainwashed and we don’t even know it. x

  2. questionsforwomen said

    Ha! Yes indeed – it does feel like we’re all a bit brainwashed. I mean, I’m no angel and buy into a lot of the “well that’s the way it is” – BUT it just shits me to see what’s going on now.
    Sometimes I feel like I’m sounding like a nanna, though.
    I’d love to hear from other women and get their views.
    Thank you SO much for your comment, Kate! x

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