Something that often strikes me about the progressive left within the UK is its surprising ignorance regarding the need for a progressive movement to tackle the increasing objectification of women. The ‘ideal’ woman pushed in everyone’s face daily, undermines women’s rights. Yes, women who get involved in the sex industry have the right to do so, but equally, all women have the right to be able to walk into their local shop without several pornographic magazines being shoved in their face, or to open up a tabloid like The Sun (some people still buy the Sun I am told) and not to have to turn to a Page 3.
This issue was covered well by Clare Short’s Page 3 Bill, something I support whole heartedly after reading her book. Recently both Labour and the LibDems committed themselves into looking into whether Page 3 should be banned (so a reopening of what was a very popular Bill by Short), only the Tories (Theresa May) defied the request. The difference with Page 3 to pornographic magazines is that it is in newspapers that everyone can buy and their direct purpose is to inform people of the daily ongoing – these are not catered magazines such as FHM – which should be still sold, but face cover blanketing. If you then say, well women don’t need to buy these newspapers if they don’t want to look at it, well you are then saying that women can deny themselves these news sources as frankly we can’t be bothered to go and buy a pornographic magazine. It is utter ignorance.
The sort of arguments I am purporting now are often branded as radical feminist loony ramblings – if only we had a more Australian outlook we might actually see the government take a more progressive pro women stance in relation to key issues . Instead, the direction of this government, considering the increase in charity and voluntary obligations (women are more likely to be in these sectors), and Frank Field’s recent comments, is to undermine women’s rights even more. This is in marked contrast to Australia, which itself has just seen their first ever woman Prime Minister take office.
Whilst the code is voluntary, the Australian government has proposed a very progressive set of guidelines for runways and magazines – which includes (the following information has been taken from here):
- “Designers will be asked not to hire either models with a dangerously low body mass index (BMI) or excessively muscular men
- Diets for rapid weight loss and cosmetic surgery advertisements will phased out of magazines, and clothing labels will be asked to stock a wide range of sizes.
- Specifically the government will award a “body image approval rating” to magazines, modeling agencies, and fashion labels that meet the following criteria:
-Disclose when images have been retouched and refrain from enhancing photographs in a way that changes a person’s body shape, for example, lengthening their legs or trimming their waist, or removing freckles, lines and other distinguishing marks.
-Only use models aged 16 or older to model adult clothes – both on catwalks and in print.
-Refrain from using models who are very thin — or male models who are excessively muscular.
-Stocking clothing in a wide variety of sizes in shops to reflect the demand from customers.
-Not promoting rapid weight loss, cosmetic surgery, excessive exercising or any advertisements or editorial content that may promote a negative body image.”
Whilst the voluntary aspect of the code will pose problems, it can only be hoped that it catches on amongst the industry as they realise that it may actually gain them more respect and sales (capitalism, nuff said). Hopefully then we might see an international movement of progressive gender politics gain a greater momentum.