Celebs take off their make-up (and everything else) for Children in Need

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It’s really exciting to see Children In Need asking women to go make-up free on Friday November 8th in support of its BearFaced campaign. The only thing is, why is it necessary for all the women to not be wearing any clothes alongside wearing no make-up? The ad campaign portrays slebs such as Sheridan Smith, Alex Jones and Jo Wood raising money for disadvantaged children, and (tongue-in-cheek), I hope they don’t expect us to go completely naked as well?

It’s great to see photos (that may be photo-shopped anyway) of known women going without make-up and that sends out a positive message about body acceptance. However, all that positivity is demeaned when, within the world of advertising, women still need to go in the buff to get attention. Did this campaign even need sexualising?

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Gok Wan and his ‘bangers’ rhetoric is offensive and degrading

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It’s seem that Gok Wan has finally been called to question for calling women’s breasts bangers while he pinches them into a Dorothy Perkins tummy-tuck dress, sealed with a big belt at the waist. Rightly so, I say.

Gok Wan’s Fashion Fix has always been a bit of a strange concept to me. He finds women who are obviously quite vulnerable (for reasons which are only vaguely explained with Coldplay sinisterly playing in the background), counsels them on a comfy sofa with a cup of tea, dresses them up in what’s usually the same clothes each week (dress that pulls you in at the waist – check, big ol’ belt – check), and then pisses off while they look into the mirror at their new self, pretending that if they smile and look nice then everything is OK.

Gok tries to make the fashion world seem more human in his programme, but it just merelh highlights how shallow it is. Telling women that presenting themselves as happy, beautiful and confident on the surface, when really there are major self-esteem and confidence issues at play, is surely quite damaging? Maybe a fashion make over would lift your spirits for a while, when at the same time your emotional baggage has been spilled out on national television, but surely that would only provide a short-term boost? Word to the wise Gok, wearing a pretty new top will not solve your problems.

The programme is also hugely patronizing to women, and engrains all the familiar stereotypes that exist about women in the media. We all love bags and shoes and we just love taking our clothes off (I see so many women taking their clothes off in magazines – so we must love it?).

As well as his Trinny and Susannah-esque grabbing of the boobs and calling them ‘bangers’, which only serves to objectify the poor women who he’s servicing, he’s also asking them to strip on live television, as if that’s all that women can do to boost their self-esteem.

Women and men, even if they are slebs, shouldn’t have the right to grab women, objectify them because of their physical attributes and talk to them as if they’re slabs of meat. It is actually broadcasted abuse, but we don’t think of it that way, for some ungodly reason. Would you stand for it if a man or woman called your breasts ‘bangers’ in an objectifying way?

Hopefully programmes like Gok’s Fashion Fix will become woefully out-of-date, and we can all go to sleep safe at night with the knowledge that his grabby hands will never be televised again. I wonder what happened to the women in his shows…

The No More Page Three campaign has an amazing 113,193 supporters

ba30b555e86c0dbd448976760d1f1004Don’t forget to take ten seconds out and join them by signing the petition yourself. You’ll be joining a number of figures in the public eye, such as Lauren Laverne, Caitlin Moran, Jennifer Saunders, Rebecca Front and Fiona Bruce.

It seems like momentum is really growing for the campaign, especially after Mary Beard, Caitlin Moran, Hadley Freeman and Grace Dent and others have received a number of hideously abusive tweets over the past few weeks and the Conservatives are focusing on banning online porn. Government and media attention is currently on representations of women in the media, so now’s a great time to get behind the campaign.

The Guardian are really championing the cause, and Roy Greenslade is one new addition to the number of Guardian journalists covering this. You can view his to-date write-up of the campaign’s successes here. Lucy-Ann Holmes, who leads the campaign, is doing amazingly well, we all just need to continue to spread the word in any way we can!

Tweet: @Nomorepage3 or visit the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NoMorePage3 

What do ‘boys’ like about ‘girls’?

What do 'boys' like about 'girls'?

My friend found this feature in an issue of Jackie magazine from the 1980s, and sent it my way. The content is, frankly, shocking. One ‘boy’ (even though they look adult (the magazine is aimed at young teen girls) said: ‘I hate fat girls who don’t look after their figures – there’s no excuse for it…’.

Great message to send out Jackie! Also, I don’t think anything much has changed, men do still critique women in women’s magazines (maybe not as obviously as this).

Dispelling the myth that men are promiscuous and women prude

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I loved this feature by Zoe Williams (@zoesqwilliams) at the Guardian, which offered a refreshing stance on women’s relationships to sex, sparking thoughts on why the stereotype prevails that men are more sexually promiscuous that women.

Daniel Bergner’s new book, ‘What do women want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire’ argues that, while women are still portrayed as the monogamous sex, we might actually be ‘more naturally promiscuous’, more ‘predatory’ or more likely to ‘objectify a mate’.

Laying all that sensationalist language aside, Bergner’s arguments really struck a chord and made me think about the mysticism around male and female attitudes, and behaviours, towards sex.

Surely women who do have casual sex and enjoy it, without wanting to marry the other person the next day, aren’t cold, or sluts, or wavering their duties as child-bearers? In 2013, surely our attitudes to the way that women can operate sexually (post-50 Shades of Grey) are more progressive?

Sadly, comments like those issued by Stephen Fry in 2010 don’t help: “The only reason women will have sex with (straight men) is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want,” he said. “Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, ‘Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!’ But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?”

It seems that women now, still, I think, are not truly believed when they say they enjoy sex for what it is, without emotional ties. I have female friends who say that women can’t do this. Perhaps these sentiments, and, arguably, the skewed portrayal of male and female sexual behaviour in the media, prevents women from feeling like they can admit they like sex for its’ pleasure. Perhaps we’ll always own the guilty subconscious and conscious feeling that they’re not pursuing their biological duty.

Bergner’s first argument poses that ‘women experience a loss of interest in sex within a marriage – commonly ascribed to low libido, but actually more a thwarted libido’. The age-old tale that women often kick their pestering partner away might actually tell us something – that women get bored with having one option for a long time, sexually.

The second is that wasted desire builds up over time and becomes particularly potent. There have been countless times when female friends have talked about sex and shared particular interest in it, just like a man would. Is that sexual repression? Does that show that women aren’t as interested in sex as men?

Zoe Williams’s article has definitely adjusted my way of thinking about the double standards we allow when looking at sex, and men and women.

The Sun bins its’ ‘News in Briefs’

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I might be a little bit late writing about this, but the fact that the Sun has now completely disposed of one of its most patronizing concepts, ‘News In Briefs’ (NIB), is fantastic news.

Although most will think that taking away only a small part of Page Three (‘News in Briefs’ was the notorious box at the side of the topless woman that puts words in the models’ mouths and ridicules them, no expense spared) is only a hamster-shuffle on the big journey to getting rid of the page entirely, it is a huge statement that we should be making more of.

News In Briefs was so sickeningly patronizing because it existed to emphasize the fact that the Page Three woman is, in her submissive state, without voice and unable to represent herself in full capacity. It pushed the message that the woman was yours, a product so pretty and perfect and wow, she could also talk about football and politics too.

Shelly, 29, would be bare-breasted and gaping-mouthed while also talking about the Comprehensive Spending Review or the Iraq War. ‘News In Briefs’ sometimes gave her a childish voice, or the model would deliver an obscure quote from Aristotle, emphasizing the idea that women are voiceless puppets to contort.

It also made lots of people laugh, because they thought Shelly wouldn’t be able to talk about grown-up things like the Comprehensive Spending Review or even quote Aristotle in real-life, because she was too pretty and had her boobs out.

So three cheers to the end of ‘News In Briefs’, and what I think is one small, but hugely significant step in the right direction towards fair representation of women in the media. It shows that campaigns like Lucy Holmes’s ‘No More Page Three’ project are working. Hip hip!

(Please do sign the petition to urge Dominic Mohan to take the bare boobs out of the Sun).