I feel as though I need to do a short intro to this piece purely because I follow so many travel blogs and blogs from around the world that if someone randomly stumbles across this it may not make sense.
There’s a newspaper in the UK and for the last 40+ years, it has posted a picture of a topless model on page 3 every week day. (Yes this is a page 3 blog post for anyone who is fed up of reading about page 3). A couple of weeks ago, this was a hot topic, it really got people debating the whole notion of page 3, feminism and female empowerment. It started when The Sun published an edition minus the topless model which anti-page 3 campaigners all over hailed as a huge victory, meanwhile glamour models stated that this was a sad day.
This is not a blog about whether or not page 3 should stay or go.
There are however, a few things that really stayed with me after the media frenzy died down… Since when did the ‘F’ word (feminism) become such a dirty word? I think back to when Margaret Thatcher passed away which sparked a debate about feminism and the fact that yes, Thatcher was a strong independent woman, but she was not a feminist.
‘Feminism’ – it used to be something to be proud of. A strong movement but today it’s seen as something negative, a dirty word even. It’s become such a strong and powerful word that only strong characters are associated with it, perhaps because in the eyes of society, I guess a strong woman is dangerous so really there can only be a few.
The other thing I noticed which is key, is the way two women would sit opposite each other in a news studio, and each would passionately make their case as to why ‘it’s a victory for women’ or ‘it’s a sad sad day’. If a woman (anti-page 3) is sitting opposite a woman (pro-page 3, for instance, a glamour model) saying that topless modelling is degrading and the glamour model says that it isn’t, is it degrading?
And it struck me that what we’re fundamentally telling young women is that there is positive and negative female empowerment. That there’s a right way and a wrong way.
When did this happen?
There was a time way back when, (The Suffragettes and in the 1960’s) when women stuck together, they had a mutual goal that they were aiming for. Womens’ rights. We’ve come a long way since then but this whole debate has really made me question how far we’ve actually come. I disagree with the notion that there is right and wrong female empowerment because I believe that empowerment should be a common goal, not a dividing one.
I understand the argument against page 3, which centres on the notion of the objectification of women implying that they are simply there to be looked at, and this whole perception of the perfect body isn’t appropriate however, I also believe that if a female chooses to undertake that career and feels good about it, and feels good about herself then she is being empowered and that is good for her!
I believe that female empowerment is subjective and therefore depends on each individual to decide how they become empowered (as long as they do ultimately become empowered). I realised this while I was at college and created a mini project based on female empowerment, specifically relating to two famous women in pornography; Jenna Jameson and Linda Lovelace.
What I learnt was that Jameson was empowered because she actively made this career choice, it was her decision, whereas Lovelace was forced into her role and became severely disempowered.
I interviewed a female film studies lecturer at the time to get her perspective and what she said was really interesting; she stated that she isn’t opposed to pornography, but what she is opposed to is plastic women and steroid pumped men that are creating an unrealistic, unhealthy and unnatural impression and expectations for the people that watch it. Which comes back to the ‘unrealistic body image’ debate.
I think that a crucial area of the media that is responsible for increased body issues is reality television as a pose to page 3 – although this is purely my opinion. In particular, shows with young people that are relatable to their audience or inspiring to them. I think that this is increasingly becoming an issue because of the amount of shows that now discuss or have significant ‘role models’ that are pro-cosmetic plastic surgery.
To make my position clear, I am a (not-so-secret) trashy television fan, having invested countless hours into Big Rich Texas, The Real Housewives Of…, The Valleys, Geordie Shore and so on, but increasingly, these shows are beginning to set unattainable standards for the everyday viewer that fights to simply plod through life.
The point is, cosmetically enhanced people fill our television screens every day, it’s quite clear that they are here to stay and importantly, the long term implications of this on society and young impressionable people will probably not be fully understood for years, but those issues will be bubbling below the surface I’m sure.
The issues surrounding cosmetic plastic surgery are complex in relation to the debate around female empowerment because on the one hand, the female may be empowered by the surgery, but on the other hand, you could argue that the female is disempowered because they are changing themselves (often permanently) to fit within the standards that a part of society has set. I think this issue is a big part of the wider debate and something that will continue to be relevant over the next few years.
Recently, I read about this story on Twitter, and then again this weekend when it popped back up and I felt utterly compelled to share it. Not because it’s directly about page 3, or feminism but it’s about choice, and what it is like to have that choice taken away from you. And the way that society cruelly treats women instead of supporting them.
”Someone stole naked pictures of me. This is what I did about it” – (video) http://gu.com/p/453dg/stw
Women have the right to express themselves, to be themselves and to be empowered.
This is something that some groups of society can’t quite seem to understand. Choice is individual, and it comes down to one person, not women collectively or women as a whole. The women on page 3 represent themselves, not all women. Maybe this is where change in perspective is needed? Women should be viewed as individuals – individuals that are making an individual choice (as long as it is their choice).
I hate how women in society turn their backs on each other, I hate the judgement that comes from society – that is particularly aimed at women, I hate how privacy has become so unimportant to some and I hate how we as women stand against each other instead of united by the fact that we’re all allowed to have our own opinions.
If women stuck together more often, and if we as women were better women to each other, I think we’d all be a lot better off.