How contemporary culture creates sexist men

Explicit imagery of women that we are faced with daily, negatively impacting on women’s body image and sense of self, while, as ‘The Bro Code’ says conditioning men to dehumanize and disrespect women, creating a sexist culture.

Enough is enough, things have to change. Those profiting off exploiting and sexualising women’s bodies won’t stop on integrity and decency’s behalf. Men – it is up to you to stop benefiting from it and buying into it. Women – stay brave, stay strong and keep speaking up for the return of our dignity. And what of the women that take part in this pornified culture, in the images in ‘The Bro Code’ preview, in our society? Read the article below


In a culture with widespread sexual objectification, women (especially) tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others… Pop culture sells women and girls a hurtful fiction that their value lies in how sexy they appear to others; they learn at a very young age that their sexuality is for others…

This unfortunately leads to a society where some women think they have to be as sexy, sexual and readily available as they can be to compete with the imagery they are inundated with daily, to feel good about themselves, to find their value in this pornified culture. A vicious cycle breeding disposable women, as youth as well as sexualisation is dominent in this culture.

Read more here:

Specialist support needed in schools for kids who are growing up faster

I’ve just read an article by Elissa Doherty from April 23rd 2012 which states “pre-teen girls donning skimpier clothing and wearing make-up has forced a school crackdown.”

So much so that the Victorian Principles Association wants welfare officers in every school to provide specialist support to kids who are embroiled in the complex issues of growing up too fast.

The Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Dr Joe Tucci said “…young people were being bombarded by adult concepts, and research was showing more 12 to 13-year-olds were engaging in sexual activity.”

With a spokesman for Education Minister Martin Dixon saying “by the end of the Government’s term, two-thirds of primary schools would have a primary welfare officer to support students,” shouldn’t we also be addressing the issues of why this is happening to our kids while we support them through it? Call for Governments to take responsibility and action on the sexualisation of children

You can read the full article at

Collective Shout – a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture.

Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services.

Collective Shout names, shames and exposes corporations, advertisers, marketers and media engaging in practices which are offensive and harmful, especially to women and girls, but also to men and boys.

Collective Shout is for anyone concerned about the increasing pornification of culture and the way its messages have become entrenched in mainstream society, presenting distorted and dishonest ideas about women and girls, sexuality and relationships.

Collective Shout builds on work carried out in recent years around the issue of objectification and sexualisation. This includes research like Australia Institute’s Corporate Paedophilia report, the American Psychological Association’s Taskforce on the Sexualisation of Girls and a number of books – including the newly released Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls.

The harms associated with the increasing sexualisation of childhood and objectification of women have been raised in recent times by community groups such as Kids Free to be Kids, and many others concerned with children’s health and wellbeing.

A common response to issues relating to the objectification and sexualisation of women and girls is ‘What can we do about it?’

People want to act, but get weighed down and frustrated by complicated complaints procedures, a lack of community support and too often, inadequate responses from the targets of their complaints.

Collective Shout makes it easier: we are a ‘one-stop shop’ for concerned people to make their voices heard. Together we are directing the widespread concern on this issue into a series of hard-hitting and targeted campaigns to bring about the change needed.

It’s time for change, so get on board!

Join Collective Shout  To connect with Collective Shout, sign up for Facebook today. Collective Shout – for a world free of sexploitation.

Women’s body image – women and men both hold the power for positive change

I would like to start by saying that when I am not inundated with certain images of women, I love my body and my face, I feel like a beautiful woman, I feel so comfortable, lovely and happy in my own skin, as I’m sure most women do. But then we turn on the TV, watch a movie, read a newspaper or are subjected to magazine covers and advertising in shops, shopping centre’s, supermarkets, and on the street, or we watch our partners soaking in and benefiting from these images that permeate our existence, and then, oh boy, watch how fast our self esteem can plummet and we feel like an unworthy unattractive unlovable being.

On a media program this morning a psychologist stated that negative body image is the number one concern for over 40% of Australian women (though I think that statistic is putting it lightly, going off the number of women I know, meet and talk to about this, the percentage is much higher). And here are the facts of how and why we can become so quickly deflated and stripped of our right to feel beautiful and worthy.

 Media Awareness Network’ ask in ‘Beauty and body image in the media’

Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any of the models? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. If not all women need to lose weight, for sure they’re all aging, says the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversité des images corporelles. And, according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with.

The stakes are huge. On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth anywhere between 40 to 100 billion (U.S.) a year selling temporary weight loss (90 to 95% of dieters regain the lost weight).1 On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.

Unattainable Beauty

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Jill Barad president of Mattel (which manufactures Barbie) estimated that 99% of girls aged 3 to 10 years old own at least one Barbie doll.3

Still, the number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly underweight body is epidemic, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences. In 2006 it was estimated that up to 450, 000 Canadian women were affected by an eating disorder. Advertising rules the marketplace and in advertising thin is “in.” Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman—but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Advertisers believe that thin models sell products.

Self-Improvement or Self-Destruction?

The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells “ordinary” women that they are always in need of adjustment—and that the female body is an object to be perfected.

Jean Kilbourne argues that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The real tragedy, Kilbourne concludes, is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry’s standards. Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention. This focus on beauty and desirability “effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate.”

“We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty.” Source: Robin Gerber, author and motivational speaker

Media awareness network state on ‘Sex and Relationships in the Media’

The National Eating Disorders Association reports that one out of four TV commercials send some kind of “attractiveness message,” telling viewers what is and is not attractive.

Provocative images of women’s partly clothed or naked bodies are especially prevalent in advertising. Shari Graydon, former president of Canada’s Media Action Média, argues that women’s bodies are sexualized in ads in order to grab the viewer’s attention. Women become sexual objects when their bodies and their sexuality are linked to products that are bought and sold.

Media activist Jean Kilbourne agrees. She notes that women’s bodies are often dismembered into legs, breasts or thighs, reinforcing the message that women are objects rather than whole human beings.

Laurie Abraham, executive editor of Elle magazine, warns that the biggest problem with women’s magazines is “how much we lie about sex.” Those “lies” continue to perpetuate the idea that women’s sexuality is subservient to men’s pleasure. In her study of Cosmopolitan and Playboy magazines, for example, Nicole Krassas found that both men and women’s magazines contain a single vision of female sexuality—that “women should primarily concern themselves with attracting and sexually satisfying men.”

Jean Kilbourne concludes, sex in the media “has far more to do with trivializing sex than with promoting it. The problem is not that it is sinful but that it is synthetic and cynical. We are offered a pseudo-sexuality that makes it far more difficult to discover our own unique and authentic sexuality.”

Sexualized Images in Advertising by Jane Tallim, Media Awareness Network May 2003

Over the past ten years, advertisements in mainstream magazines have increasingly relied on the explicit sexualization of both men and women to sell products. Over the same period, the models used have become younger and younger. The images in these ads often imply – violence, superiority and domination, dismemberment (fragmenting and sexualizing body parts), playfullness and exaggeration, coy behaviour, approval seeking, emaciation, drug addiction and fetishism.

It’s not unusual in the fashion industry to see very young models setting standards of attractiveness for older women. What’s new is the emergence over the past two decades of highly eroticized portrayals of these young women.

[Go to to view some examples of this form of main stream advertising for yourself]

Sex Sells

Advertising often pushes the boundaries of good taste because of competition for “eyeballs.” Any image that entices a reader to linger over an ad – whether tasteful or not – causes that person to remember the particular brand advertised. Even controversy can be effective in getting a brand or name into the public eye (as Calvin Klein has often proved).

There can be no denying that “sex sells.” Abercrombie & Fitch, one of the most successful and trendy US clothing manufacturers, now puts its catalogues (which are geared to college students) in plastic bags to prevent them from being opened casually, because of controversy over the sexualized images of young people contained in them.

Increased sexualization in advertising is not happening in isolation; rather, it reflects the overall pushing of the envelope that is occurring throughout the media. In film, television, music videos and popular culture, sex is increasingly pervasive and mainstream – for example, music videos of artists such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have been directed by well-known directors of pornographic films.

This article also goes into another atrocity of mass media, the Effect of Sexualized Images on Children

How does advertising’s increasing encroachment into every niche of mass media impact our culture in general, and women in particular? Mothers Who Think asked pioneering advertising critic Jean Kilbourne, author of “Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel.”

A favorite on the college lecture circuit, Kilbourne has produced videos that are used as part of media literacy programs worldwide, in particular “Killing Us Softly,” first produced in 1979 and remade as “Killing Us Softly III” in 2000. She shares her thoughts here about advertising’s effects on women, children, media and our cultural environment — and explains why salvation can’t be found in a Nike sports bra.

‘The truth is, most men gain insight into women not through quick fixes but by having close relationships with them over time, sometimes painfully. In the world of advertising, relationships are instant and the best ones aren’t necessarily with people.’

By now most of us know that these images are unrealistic and unhealthy, that implants leak, anorexia and bulimia can kill and, in real life, model Heidi Klum has pores. So why do the images in ads still have such sway over us?

Most people like to think advertising doesn’t affect them. But if that were really true, why would companies spend over $200 billion a year on advertising? Women don’t buy into this because we’re shallow or vain or stupid but because the stakes are high. Overweight women do tend to face biases — they’re less likely to get jobs; they’re poorer. Men do leave their wives for younger, more beautiful women as their wives age. There is manifest contempt and real-life consequences for women who don’t measure up. These images work to keep us in line.’

Adolescent girls constantly get the message that they should diminish themselves, they should be less than what they are. Girls are told not to speak up too much, not to be too loud, not to have a hearty appetite for food or sex or anything else. Girls are literally shown being silenced in ads, often with their hands over their mouth or, as in one ad, with a turtleneck sweater pulled up over their mouth.

One ad sold lipstick with a drawing of a woman’s lips sucking on a pacifier. A girl in a particularly violent entertainment ad has her lips sewn shut.

There are also many, many ads in which women are pitted against each other for male attention. For example, there’s one ad with a topless woman on a bed and the copy “What the b**** who’s about to steal your man wears.” Other ads feature young women fighting or glaring at each other. This means that when girls hit adolescence, at a time when they most need support from each other, they’re encouraged to turn on each other in competition for men. It’s tragic, because the truth is that one of the most powerful antidotes to destructive cultural messages is close and supportive female friendships.

Jennifer L. Pozner is Women’s Desk Director at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), a national media watch group.   More Jennifer L. Pozner

Hooked – The average person in the U.S is bombarded with over 3,000 ads a day, says activist Jean Kilbourne. Is it any wonder we’re addicted? By Clea Simon in Ms. Magazine.

The woman at the podium is smiling, her voice a little breathless, as if she were just a tad nervous about her reception. The image projected behind her, a larger-than-life Revlon ad, is of a woman who is neither breathless nor smiling, but instead presents a lacquered, doll-like blankness.”We are surrounded by such images of ideal beauty,” says Jean Kilbourne, reminding the audience—as she has in more than a thousand college lecture halls around the country—that we are all being judged against this porcelain perfection. And that when we are compared to such a standard, “failure is inevitable.”

We all eventually “have the bad taste, the poor judgment, to grow older,” she says in a low and friendly voice that gains confidence the longer she talks. Kilbourne pauses as her audience murmurs with the familiar laughter of recognition. The connection has been made. They see what she sees: how the ideal is unattainable, and more importantly, how it is being used against us.

For Kilbourne, that message has become a mission. As one of the preeminent scholars on the effects of advertising, Kilbourne has shown, through lectures, films, and a book, how marketing has perfected the science of seducing us. How its glossy allure can leave us feeling somewhat less than human. In the ideal presented by advertising, “our face becomes a mask,” she says to the assembled students, as she clicks through slides of cosmetics ads, all featuring flawless faces. “And our body becomes a thing.” Listening to her speak, one could almost think that Kilbourne is discovering these truths for the first time. Her indignation seems so fresh and immediate that you’d never imagine she’s been lecturing with unflagging passion on this topic for more than 20 years. Her voice is calm, even a little sad now that she’s flashing picture after picture of women with impossibly smooth, overwhelmingly Caucasian features onto the screen. “And turning a human being into a thing,” she continues, “is often the first step toward justifying violence.” The next series of ads begins by showing women as props, intended to make cars or apartments more attractive; it then shifts to tight shots of butts and thighs, and finally mere parts. Dismembered limbs. Meat.

Later, sitting in the kitchen of the Victorian house she shares with her 13-year-old daughter near Boston, Kilbourne is still eager to talk about her ideas. Yes, she lives this stuff. Yes, she says, there are many ads that we all recognize as sexist, the silly ones that use our bodies to advertise beer or boats, or her own personal bête noire, cigarettes. And many of us are also aware of the subliminal messages of the cosmetics industry: that we must, in the words of William Butler Yeats, “labour to be beautiful,” even if that means sacrificing our health to fad diets and our money to the producers of paints and powders. Although women today are as media savvy as we’ve ever been, we are exposed to something like three thousand ads each day, she estimates. And so, despite our intelligence and despite our growing cynicism, the message—that we are not good enough as we are and need certain products&3151;seeps through.


Many Australians have a negative body image

NEGATIVE body image? You’re not alone. Many of us are unhappy with what we see in the mirror.

Women have an average of 13 negative things to say about themselves each day, according to a recent US survey. The quest for the “perfect” body has become normal for many women. The cost of this social issue is it continues to churn out generations of women who believe they are not good enough.

>> What women are thinking

Recent research reveals just how ingrained negative body image is in women: Ninety-seven per cent of women will say something negative about their body every day, such as: “I hate my thighs”, “I hate my stomach” or “I’m ugly”, a US survey reports. The first thing women notice about other women is how fat they are, a UK study of 2000 women found. Ninety per cent of women aged 15 to 64 want to change at least one aspect of their appearance, most of all their body weight, according to an international survey.

>> Bad body image begins early

Dietitian and co-author of The Good Enough Diet (Wiley), Tara Diversi, says body image issues exist across all age groups. “Girls as young as five have strong ideas about weight, such as fat is bad and skinny is good,” she says.

These values often develop into unhealthy eating behaviours in adolescence and beyond. An international survey found 68 per cent of 15-year-old girls are on a diet, while an Australian report found 30 per cent of women aged 18 to 23 have experimented with purging, laxatives or fasting to lose weight.

There are four main factors contributing to women’s negative body image, according to Diversi One of which is Models in media

Research shows the more women see pictures of perfect women in the media, the more they believe they should look like that. “This happens even though women know pictures have clearly been airbrushed,” Diversi says. “The rational brain knows it’s not real, but the emotional brain doesn’t.”
Read more

This is an epidemic negatively impacting on us as individuals, the women and girls in our lives and our society. We aren’t making this up or ‘banging on about feminist crap’, the evidence is in and it’s clear. It is time for change. And though our impact on mass media may be a slow journey, we can realise change in our own lives and in our relationships; romantic and family.

This is not just a mission or journey for women alone. The men in our lives have power also. The power of choice, the power of support, the power of standing beside us and turning away from these images also, the power of speaking up.

We won’t be silenced

Australia’s body image crisis

Where does the blame fall for women and girls feeling so bad about themselves?

‘Mission Australia’ says that “body image has been one of the top three concerns for young people in the last 5 years”. Shouldn’t alarm bells be ringing? Does mass media have that much power that the imagery they present of women is out of our control?

Almost every movie you watch, every television show, every advertisement, every music video, every magazine has unrealistic representations of perfect young women and what beauty is, and therefore what we should all strive for if we are to feel beautiful, desired or even loved. As well as this, if women in these forms of media are not being stripped naked, they are being overtly sexualised, scantily clad or treated to depictions of violence and male domination. This is causing a body image crisis including depression and anxiety among children, teenagers and women alike.

Plastic surgery rates are surging for those who can afford it, Anorexia and bulimia rates are out of control fuelled by self-hate, and depression and anxiety rates among women are at an unprecedented high, and while most men might benefit from this and some women defend it, the majority of the ‘female sex’ of our nation are suffering. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

‘They’ say change the channel, turn of the movie, don’t read the magazines if you don’t like it censor yourself and your children. But it is hard to do when these images are everywhere in and outside of the home. And who doesn’t like to sit down and watch a good movie or a funny sitcom or a thrilling drama? But the fear of not knowing what will pop up next ruins this experience for a lot of women. I watched parts of a UK show ‘Silent witness’ the other night, the female cadaver was laid out naked in all her glory, full frontal and behind, on the table while being examined. The male cadaver was only shown from the chest up, with full protection of his sexual parts. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

When faced constantly with these images women learn of inequality in little ways all day long (‘To live in a culture in which women are routinely naked where men aren’t is to learn inequality in little ways all day long.’ – Naomi Wolf)

Advertising Executive Jane Caro says “we are taught to value the way women look above everything else, and all these images and ads out-way the small messages we are receiving of good body image”.

The experts say it is up to parents to reinforce to their children that these images are not real taking the onus and responsibility off the government, film, television, music, advertising and magazine industries for the constant unreal imagery and sexualisation of women and teenagers that they are producing and reproducing with dire consequences. They say that models are deliberately made up to look ‘un-real’.

Other experts state that this is double messaging; by saying it shouldn’t matter, while all the imagery is saying how beautiful you are is very important and definitely matters.

Now we have the new ‘photoshop ratings system’ controversy, while certain people in the industry are calling for transparency others say these idealised versions of women shouldn’t be labelled as ‘photoshop’d’

Felicity Harley from women’s health magazine said on the morning show last week that people need to realise that “I don’t look like this”, with professional makeup artists and hairstylists making her look this good for television. That people also need to realise that these models and actresses have had full hair and makeup done, fake tan’s etc before they are then photoshop’d to even more perfection including airbrushing out skin flaws and wrinkles, whitening teeth, reducing or enhancing body parts etc in the images we see daily.

No it is probably not a good idea to show how much manipulation a woman has needed to look good in a photo, but these unrealistic images are not good either when we are confronted with it many, many times throughout each day of our lives. It is a lose/lose situation for women and girls of all ages.

It is time for social responsibility by media and government bodies. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

We do!  photo shop rating system   day spa’s for children   baby beauty salons

Body Image Post Card Campaign – Equality Rights Alliance

Inspire. Action. Vision.

Body Image is a top concern for young women today. We want the Australian Government to take action and we need YOU.

Send the Hon Peter Garrett MP, Minister of Youth a message. Let him know that media, fashion and advertising industries must do more to promote positive Body Image. Enter your details in the postcard below and the postcard will be sent straight to Minister Garrett. The more postcards we send, the more attention we’ll get.

To be part of the campaign on positive Body Image follow this link and enter your details into a post card that will be sent to Peter Garrett.   Printer-friendly version    Send to friend

Dear Minister Garrett,

Body Image matters for young women. Yet media, fashion and advertising industries continue to promote unrealistic and unhealthy images of women. This goes against the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct for Body Image. To celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day in 2011, I’m asking you as Minister for Youth to put the Code of Conduct into force. In the next 12 months, let’s secure 100 media, fashion and advertising agencies as compliant with the Code of Conduct. Let’s publicly promote these 100 agencies and let’s give young women a chance to see images of natural women with real beauty.

Want to have your say? Paste the message above into an email to Minister Garrett (

or post it to his address below.

The Hon Peter Garrett MP  Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth

PO Box 6022 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Equality Rights Alliance |

Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image

Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image.

The Australian Government is committed to supporting the health, happiness and resilience of young Australians. This includes undertaking work to promote positive body image.

The fashion, media and advertising industries play a significant role in shaping the cultural ideals of society.  Messages about beauty portrayed in popular media can contribute to body image pressures on young people. 

The former National Advisory Group on Body Image, appointed by the Australian Government in 2009, developed the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image to provide national guidance on body image.

The Code aims to build on and further encourage the positive steps that are being taken within the fashion, media and advertising industries to bring about long-term cultural change. 

The Code outlines principles to guide industries to adopt more body image friendly practices. It encourages more diversity in the selection of models, a wider range of clothing sizes in retail fashion, the use of realistic and natural images of people, and disclosure when images have been digitally manipulated.

Respect Every Body Poster ( PDF 5.68MB) free download

The ugly truth – pornography and the sex industry

This will be 45 minutes of your life that will change forever how you view pornography, the sex industry and all those involved. All adults and teenagers should see this clip (link above) – Pornography Andrea Dworkin 1991.

The porn industry offers nothing useful, positive or productive to our society or our lives, and in fact is steeped in atrocities from beginning to end for all women, gay men and children involved, all those who profit from porn and all who participate through voyeurism.

Many thanks to the fabulous blogs of madradfab  Radical ProFeminist and robertwilliamjensen for posting this clip

If it weren’t for the facts it would be hard to believe that in the 20 years since the making of this video this ‘trade’ has only become more graphic, prolific, readily available via the internet and mainstream via those who glamorise it e.g. ‘Playboy bunnies’. We need to be the change we want to see in this world. We won’t be silent. We won’t be silenced. And as another great blog Anti-Porn Feminists says – let’s be Pro-sex, anti-porn and reclaim dignity, respect and value for women and girls of all classes and all races all around the world.

Read more:

News on Modern Day Slavery

When is female nudity in movies called nudity?

It has been my experience that more often than not a movie or TV show featuring topless or naked women is usually rated under ‘Adult themes’, ‘sex scenes’ or ‘strong sex scenes’, while a movie or TV show with naked men (their bare bottoms only) is usually rated under ‘nudity’. What??? This alone says so much about our society and what we view as sexually vulnerable or obscene and what we view as nudity, that I would like to add-dress this issue and its effects on women, men and relationships again.

Female breasts are a private, sexual and vulnerable part of our bodies, I should know. And aside from breast feeding the children we bear from our creative bodies, they should be protected publicly, just as the vulnerable parts of a man’s body are. However, I have heard the argument recently that a woman’s breasts are nothing more than a man’s chest, so seeing female breasts and sexualised images of women everywhere is therefore acceptable and we women should just basically get over it. But why are women’s breasts and bodies sexualised constantly when men’s are not, and why has it become so acceptable in our society? You just have to look at the epidemic of restaurant chains like hooters, topless bars, boob magazines, wet t-shirt competitions, boobs in movies, the list goes on.

Another argument is that there is nothing that is equivalent on the male body to the female breasts so they are free fare. But in The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf debunks this myth by writing:

“The practice of displaying breasts, for example, in contexts in which the display of male genitals would be unthinkable, is portrayed as trivial because breasts are not ‘as naked’ as male or female genitals; and the idea of half exposing men in a similar way is moot because men don’t have body parts comparable to breasts. But if we think about how women’s genitals are physically concealed, unlike men’s, and how women’s breasts are physically exposed, unlike men’s, it can be seen differently: women’s breasts, then correspond to men’s genitals as a vulnerable ‘sexual flower’ on the body, so that to display the former and conceal the latter makes women’s bodies vulnerable while men’s are protected.” She goes on to state, “Cross culturally, unequal nakedness almost always expresses power relations: In modern jails, male prisoners are stripped (naked) in front of clothed prison guards; in the antebellum south, young black male slaves were naked while serving the clothed white masters at table. To live in a culture in which women are routinely naked where men aren’t is to learn inequality in little ways all day long.”

Women’s breasts are a private, sexual and vulnerable part of our bodies to bare us, sexualise and trivialise this part of our bodies frequently is undermining and degrading us. The time has come as a culture, male and female, to become aware of what it means to be, as a class of people, made vulnerable publically by being naked in mass media.

Naomi also elaborates on something else that should sound alarm bells within the hearts of our society. Censorship and what is considered by the authorities:

“The Ontario Police Project P held that photos of naked women tied up, bruised, and bleeding, intended for sexual purposes were not obscene since there were no erect male genitals, but a Canadian women’s film was banned for a five-second shot of an erect male genital being fitted with a condom. In New York subways, metropolitan policemen confiscated handmade anti-AIDS posters that showed illiterate people how to put a condom over an erect genital; they left the adjacent ads for Penthouse, displayed by the New York City Transit Authority, intact.”

The American Psychological Associations view on the effects of this sexualisation and inequality towards women reveals:

“Cognitive and emotional consequences’ noting that studies have found that thinking about the body and comparing it to sexualized cultural ideals may disrupt a girl’s mental concentration, and a girl’s sexualisation or objectification may undermine her confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety. In regards to mental and physical health, they state, ‘Research has linked sexualisation with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.’ They go on to say, ‘Some psychologists and feminists argue that such sexual objectification can lead to negative psychological effects including depression and hopelessness, and can give women negative self-images,’ and that ‘the precise degree to how objectification has affected women and society in general is a topic of academic debate.’ They also reference pro-feminist cultural critics such as Robert Jensen and Sut Jhally of accusing mass media and advertising of promoting the objectification of women to help promote goods and services.”

Kate Hughes in Every Girl’s Guide to Feminism writes:

“Pornography has been linked to profit, in a society designed to please men, where men have money to consume things, they will want to consume women in various ways….. Pornographic imagery is spreading further and further into our lives. It is used in TV advertising, on billboards, in magazines. There are places where you can see pornography come alive – in strip-clubs where women who are naked (how can I put it?!) let men give them a gynaecological examination. Of a kind. Strippers and topless barmaids are proliferating (and) it is arguable that the reason for all this activity is that we have got used to pornography being all around us. We see it every day, we see it everywhere. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that this is not good. Pornography does not promote healthy images of women….. It seems to me that it is possible to argue that pornography serves the purposes of men rather than women, and does not offer anything useful to society at all and just might offer some really bad things. We’d be much better off without it.”

On speaking up about sexism in our society and relationships, Kate says:

“It might be that it is because feminists have pointed out why pornography exists and some of the impact it has on people’s lives, and spoken about sexual matters as they are, which add to the perception that feminism is, somehow, anti-sex. That it is unsexy. One result of such name-calling is that young women are less likely, because of this, to feel comfortable aligning themselves with feminism. Again, it is social death and likely to put men off you for life! Not so.”

We can of course be a feminist and stand up for our worth and self respect and still love men, love sex and be feminine!

In The Beauty Myth, Naomi clearly penetrates the true identity of beauty pornography in the mass media by stating:

“Ads do not sell sex – that would be counterproductive, if it meant that heterosexual women and men turned to one another and were gratified. What they sell is sexual discontent.” And what of Beauty pornography when aimed at men, she states, “Its effect is to keep them from finding peace in sexual love. The fleeting chimera of the air-brushed centrefold, always receding before him, keeps the man destabilized in pursuit unable to focus on the beauty of the woman – known, marked, lined, familiar – who hands him his coffee every morning….. The beautiful object of consumer-pornography has a built-in obsolescence to ensure that as few men as possible will form a bond with one woman for years or for a lifetime, and to ensure that women’s dissatisfaction with themselves will grow rather than diminish over time. Emotionally unstable relationships, high divorce rates, and a large population cast out into the sexual marketplace are good for business in a consumer economy.”

She then goes on to state further how beauty pornography diminishes a woman’s sense of self, in her own beauty and sexuality:

“The beauty myth aims to discourage women from seeing themselves unequivocally as sexually beautiful and adored by the one they love. The damage beauty pornography does to women is less immediately obvious them the harm usually attributed to pornography: A woman who knows why she hates to see another woman displayed like a piece of meat in porn and can state her objections, is baffled if she tries to articulate her discomfort with ‘soft’ beauty pornography on television – in movies, sitcoms and advertising. For the women who cannot locate in her worldview a reasonable objection to images of naked, or almost naked ‘beautiful’ women to whom nothing bad is visibly being done, what is it that can explain the deep damage she feels within?

“Her silence itself comes from the myth: If women feel ugly, it is our fault, and we have no inalienable right to feel sexually beautiful. A woman must not admit it if she objects to beauty pornography because it strikes to the root of her sexuality by making her feel sexually unlovely. Male or female, we all need to feel beautiful to be open to sexual communication: ‘beautiful’ in the sense of welcome, desired and treasured.”

We all want to feel good about ourselves, we all want to feel desirable and loved, we all want to have fulfilling relationships, we all want to have fulfilling sex lives. It’s time for women to no longer be sexually vulnerable and pornified in our culture. It’s time for us to speak up for positive change. It’s time for women’s nudity to be rated equally to men’s, including our breasts, so we know what we are getting into when we sit down to watch a movie or TV show. It’s time for change in our individual lives, in our relationships and our society as a whole.

          “It is not enough to simply say that women and men should be equal, but those who believe this should try to make sure that within their relationships there is equality too. This means that women are treated with respect and dignity, that they are not put down, that things are organised so that they get there needs met too.” – Kate Hughes, Every Girl’s Guide to Feminism

          “If women and men in great numbers were to form bonds that were equal and respectful, non-violent, and sexual, honouring the female principle no less or more than the male, the result would be radical. A mass heterosexual deviation into tenderness and mutual respect would mean real trouble for the status quo since heterosexuals are the most powerful sexual majority. This would transform society into one based publicly on what have traditionally been women’s values, demonstrating all too well the appeal for both sexes of a world rescued from male dominance. The good news would get out on the street: Free women have more fun; so do free men.” – Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

          “Feminist efforts to end patriarchal domination should be of primary concern precisely because it insists on the eradication of exploitation and oppression in the family context and in all other intimate relationships. It is that political movement which most radically addresses the person – the personal – citing the need for the transformation of self, of relationships, so that we might be better able to act in a revolutionary manner, challenging and resisting domination, transforming the world outside the self.”
― Bell Hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black