Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Herring's Objectification

Through Twitter, I found that Richard Herring was doing a Radio4 program about Page 3 and the objectification and sexualisation of women it encourages,as well as talking about breasts. A lot... His show, he claims at the start of one is 'The show where I [Herring] take a object that has become a hot potato,a beef, a bone of contention,and a laughing stock and try to mix it up to become a delicious mixable compatible soup.'

I haven't listened to the show before, but have been increasing my intake of Radio 4 shows recently because they are so interesting and so varied in topics and issues raised. It was through Radio4 I learnt about various other artists including Sarah Greaves. However, I am aware Herring is from a comedy background[check out a review at Huffington Post here] and I wanted to hear a discussion led by a man and not a feminist either.

So The Sun has been parading breasts on Page3 for 41 years now, and is something that we accept in our society and we are all well aware of it's existence, whether we buy the paper or not. We all joke about the models little comment box responding to current affairs, that a women who degrades herself to pose naked wouldn't understand the politics going on around her. When asking the public their views on Page3, and there were some very interesting and fairly varied response:
A young women - It's up to the model if that is what she wants to do, as long as they are happy and it doesn't hurt anyone.
An older lady - I don't want to see breasts paraded in newspapers, they need to cover up.
A young man - It's part of the heritage of this country and very proud to have it.
Another young man- Do women want to be goggled at? Aren't women more important than that?

The responses are very much most points of view that come with the debate over Page3. Do we still need it in our society? What impact does it have on everyone? Surely even if we take it away, people will still find similar imagery in alternative publications anyway such as Nuts and Zoo magazines. The removal from Page3 however wont change the objectification that it imposes on women as well as the sexualisation.
Key points about the issue from the rather amusing and lighthearted show came from Doctor Viren Swami from the University of Westminster, author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction, who answered Herrings question: If men aren't bothered by breasts, why are editors of newspapers still putting them on Page 3?
'The main explanation, from a sociological point of view is to emphasis what is acceptable in terms of male and female behaviour. Putting a women in the paper is acceptable for her to be an object to be viewed. It is acceptable in terms for what a man to do;for a man to observe a woman appearing naked in The Sun is acceptable. Of the objectification the woman in The Sun, it is a symptom of the acceptance of the objectification of women more generally and an attempt to focus women's behaviour and their minds on superficial aspects of their identity other than their real competences.'

The show also featured Zoo and Nuts model Lucy Pinder who said she was first spotted on a beach and was approached by a man to do some photos, despite the fact she was going to go to study English Literature a month later at university. This never happened and has appeared in mens magazines ever since.
 On the subject of whether she feels she has been exploited through her work, she said 
'Personally not. Its like outsiders looking in there are a lot of preconceeded ideas about how the girls are treated and I think when I started doing page 3 and was asked to describe a glamour model, I would have said blonde, not very bright, fake boobs. But then I met some the girls and thought well actually this is quite fun and we get paid quite well, we could be doing a lot worse. I think there are a lot of things that are quite kosher that the girls who are trying to get in to the glamour industry, I think they are quite likely to get taken advantage of.'

Asked about how young girls might perceive glamour models and if it might give them ideas on what it mean to be a women. Pinder replied, 'I think it is kind of a weird idea that it was thought up. Maybe its a bit dated and I kinda see all of those arguments I don't think I ever saw a picture of a Page 3 girl but I don't think I would have been traumatized by seeing a pair of breasts.' I dont think that Lucy Pinder quite realised what the question was about. It was the effect of these images on children and if these images will effect how they feel about their body as well as their aspirations.

In the Guardian this morning, it is reported that ASA [Advertising Standards Agency] have received numerous complaints about a Lynx advery that features Lucy Pinder due to a range of offences including objectifying women. The advert had 10 complaints, whilst another poster in which she didn't feature received 113 complaints. Well done Lynx again for using women and sex to try and sell their product. [Guardian article]

The newly banned advert that objectifies women.

In 2005 a survey suggested that Abi Titmus was a popular role model for girls ages 15-19 and that more young girls were aspiring to be 'famous', WAGs or glamour models. What the hell has Abi Titmus done that is so inspiring and worth while? Before she became a bit presenter on This Morning, she was a nurse. However due to her a fling with John Leslie whilst he was accused of sexual wrongdoing, was filmed having sex with a boyfriend that became public and then appeared in various mens magazines without clothes, she found it very difficult to return to her trained profession. That is just sad and uninspiring. She became a target by the media and was dragged down by it completely as well as getting caught up in a 'celebrity' lifestyle meeting famous people and wanting to be on TV, despite her lack of talent.
The program is available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer in the UK only until Tuesday November 29th 2011. Click the image above to listen to the show.

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