Thursday, September 20, 2007

More hypocrisy

Further to my post about the hysteria about men's magazines, its now been revealed that the websites for girls magazines 'Sugar' and 'Mizz' feature pages where readers can submit photos of boys - as young as 13 - often topless, to be rated for their sexual appeal. Yet its only the men's magazines that get criticised.

Is it me, or is this kind of thing - run by adult women - slightly creepy:


Bare in mind, this this little boy is appearing on a page thats advertised on the front of the website as: "Sexy or sling him? Rate my boyfriend pics!" But from the comments on that page, it seems most of the images are just from 'friends' of the boys, and from some it was clear that the boy clearly hadn't given his permission for his image to be used.

The woman responsible for it had this to say:
All comments may be 'positive', but they are in a section titled 'sexy or sling him?' Is this really appropriate? Particularly for boys as young as 13, who haven't even given their permission? She also defends it on the basis that it's not 'overly sexual'. But it IS sexual, particularly in the comments which are published next to each picture. And the whole point of it is to rate how 'sexy' each boy is. Yet she clings to the excuse that its not overly sexual, as though it were not about sex at all.
Once again, mass hypocrisy, as women get away with things like this, whereas if you swapped the sexes around, a HUGE fuss is made.

8 comments:

Jason said...

I know it's obvious, but then again, success is a study of the obvious: if this were a section called 'How fit is my girlfriend?' and the page showed 13 year old girls in a state of undress, the site would be closed down. For good.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am a feminist and a harsh critic of men's magazine and this disgusts me greatly. I think most reasonable women would find this offensive and inappropriate. To be honest, I've never heard about this crap, and I'm sure I'm not alone. A lot of why women are able to critique "lad mags" is because they are very visible, whereas this is quite hidden--and because it is, it's more reason to make it visible.

However, it's not quite accurate to play the "hypocrisy" card, which would really only apply to women who critique lad mags but not this kind of thing.

Good on you for drawing attention to this, but your conclusion (women are hypocrites) is way off base.

Another question...you point out that this is awful (rightly) but do you yourself turn around and argue the same for lad mags? Or are you just saying this is awful so you can call women hypocrites? Just curious.

Darren said...

I don't personally buy the 'lads mags' with photos of babes in them, but if the models are over 18 then I don't see any huge problem with it. I think its actually a reaction against feminism: i.e. as women have dropped their more feminine charms they've had to look ever more 'hot' in order to stay attractive to men.

What I am objecting to here is the fact that there are feminists and feminist groups who have looked at the magazine world, studied it, and decided to campaign and make a huge fuss about sexualisation of younger girls, yet have remained totally silent on the issue of sexualisation of younger boys.

Darren said...

I do think that feminists willfully ignore a lot of the sexual objectification that women do to boys and men. For example, the way we know women act at male strip shows is way more disrespectful and lurid than men act at female strip shows.

Anonymous said...

What I am objecting to here is the fact that there are feminists and feminist groups who have looked at the magazine world, studied it, and decided to campaign and make a huge fuss about sexualisation of younger girls, yet have remained totally silent on the issue of sexualisation of younger boys.

How do you know this? I for one have never seen sexualization of young boys for an adult female audience on the newsstands...neither have I seen the sexualization of adult men in a parallel sense to Maxim, FHM, Stuff, etc. If I see such things, I would indeed object.

My point was that the website you point out is a) in the UK and b) not with the visibility of the mags I just mentioned so it's a bit unfair to assume that feminists don't object to the sexualization of boys just because you haven't seen any feminists object to the site in question. I thank you for bringing it to my attention, and now that I'm aware these things exist I'll keep my eyes open. After all, thats what feminists had to do in the 60's-consciousness raising among ourselves, and then educate the public. Considering the relative obscurity of these sites, it seems to me that you're blaming feminists for not responding to something we may not even know existed.

On the subject of men's mags in general, most feminists aren't 100% against all sexual representations. When we critique lad mags, we are mostly talking about the one-dimensionality of how women are presented, about how publicly women are only respected if they are sexualized and are mostly represented only by posing half naked. In the last 3 months of Maxim, for example, women were only showed not in lingerie in less than 5 photos in the entire magazine. Sexuality is not "bad" or anti-feminist, but only interviewing women who will pose half naked, and predominately imaging mostly-naked women as illustrations to their stories, and having such images as the dominating ones of the mag is, yes, degrading. The kind of ubiquity of such images simply does not exist in women's magazines. Look at the proportion of women's magazines devoted to nearly naked men (and simply shirtless is not the same) and you'll see that it's true. And if it did, I'd surely critique it. Sexuality is one thing, uni-dimensionality, making her one object among others advertised in the magazine is quite another.

Sexualization of children for adults is wrong regardless of their sex or gender. I challenge you to find a feminist who would say otherwise.

I do think that feminists willfully ignore a lot of the sexual objectification that women do to boys and men. For example, the way we know women act at male strip shows is way more disrespectful and lurid than men act at female strip shows.

These 2 sentences contradict each other. Last time I checked boys do not strip. The issues of sexualization of children and sexualization of adults are 2 different ones so I'd not conflate them.

Further, I've never heard that women act more disrespectfully in strip clubs than men. How do you know this? IF (and a big if) this is true, I think that's shitty, but I also see that women are likely replicating how men behave toward strippers specifically but also women in general. Strip clubs are the only place socially that women are allowed to express desire. And I get frustrated at the incompleteness of the sexual revolution that didn't rethink sexuality but simply "allowed" women to enter it on men's terms. So it's no wonder they too are acting out to male strippers the way women are treated in society on a regular basis. I don't think that's good, but it means there's a lot of work to do in revolutionizing our stifling sex culture.

But I'm wary of your claim anyway. There are so few male strip clubs and so many male strip clubs (I, for example, live in a city of 1 mil and there are at least 6 clubs that I can think of and none are male clubs) that if 100% of women were disgraceful in male strip clubs that would likely only equal 1-5% of male strip club patrons (if that!) and men do routinely behave inappropiately in strip clubs just like they do anywhere else. Hell, as a bartender in the past, I would have inappropriate customers weekly. And I personally know strippers who deal with skeevy men on a regular basis. So I highly doubt your claim to begin with.

But your comment about male strip club behavior is completely irrelevant to your original claim: that feminists who are concerned about sexualization of girls would not be so if they became aware of a situation of sexualization of boys. I think that's just plain false. You made me aware of this, and I am outraged. But fortunately for boys, I don't see these on a regular and publicized basis, which is why you might feel like feminists care about one and not the other--the other is just way more visible. I am thankful to have a source (you) who will alert me to these examples so that I and others (including feminists!) can be aware and can write to these companies, like we would want any feminist ally to do as well. And I'll be on the lookout as well.

Darren said...

I don't see anything different here from normal feminist behaviour: you will say one thing, when cornered, but will carry on attacking men and boys in your campaigns.Many of which are funded by my tax money. This is why I don't pay much attention to what feminists say in debate: I've seen too much hypocrisy and evasion to take them seriously.

I don't think you've come to grips with the issue at all. Probably your only seeing things through the lens of your feminist ideology.

"Sexualization of children for adults is wrong regardless of their sex or gender. I challenge you to find a feminist who would say otherwise."

I'm not necessarily talking about 'children', but about teenage boys. One example is Germaine Greer who wrote a book called 'The Boy' about women appreciating the 'beauty' of boys. She was all over the media promoting it, and was even allowed to make a documentary which appeared on one of the main TV channels here. It was online once and I saved it to my hard-drive to study what she was saying. Heres a transcript where she is interviewing the editor-in-chief of comopolitan magazine Lorainne Candy. In the background, the music 'Mad about the boy' by Dinah Washington is playing, and some women are doing a photoshoot of skinny teen model James Taylor, who is topless and only wearing a pair of low-slung jeans. (Incidentally, the editor's name is ironic as she begins by calling boys like Taylor 'eye candy'):

Greer: "Would you say that the younger model appeals more?"

Editor in cheif, Lorraine Candy "To more women, yes. If you going to put something in the magazine that says 'You're all going to like this' then I have to look at something really beautiful and that tends to be a younger man. They have to look quite clean cut. They have to look boyish because you want to 'buy into that feel'.

Greer: "There are many ways in which a boy is THE ideal fantasy partner for a woman."

Lorainne:"Exactly."

Greer: "Any woman of taste would have a boy for a lover rather than a man. Hes easier to manage, his sperm flows like tap-water."

Lorainne:(laughing) "Much more enthusiastic, yeah!"

Greer: "Quicker recovery time and all that kinda thing."

Lorainne:"Mmm" nods

Greer:"More rewarding in all sorts of ways. Conversation might be a bit lacking but.."

Lorainne:"We've never seen anything wrong with it in Cosmo. Because if thats what you want to be and what you want to do then thats great."


Where is the mass condemnation from the feminist community for this kind of thing? Even the catholic church have now had the decency to apologise for all the boys they've abused. Where is the apology from feminists for educationally disadvantaging little boys? Where is the apology for encouraging fatherlessness?

Even 60s feminist, Dorris Lessing, recently wrote: "I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.

"You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."

"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests.

"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

Well I am fighting back.

Chris Key said...

Being viewed as a sex object is better than being viewed as cannon-fodder and/or a walking ATM.

Anonymous said...

Darren-

"I'm not necessarily talking about 'children', but about teenage boys."

I consider teens to be children, or rather a subset of children.

"I don't think you've come to grips with the issue at all. Probably your only seeing things through the lens of your feminist ideology."

I don't understand why you find it so hard to understand that I agree that sexualization males that are not adults by adult women is wrong. I keep telling you I agree and you keep telling me I can't possibly agree, and that no feminist could agree with such a statement because there is no feminist uproar over obscure sexualizing websites. Let me reiterate: show me these examples and I will denounce them! Show them to most feminists and they will agree that it's wrong.

You seem to equate the following two scenarios:

I have not seen sexualization of boys by adult women and when you point it out I denounce it,

and

When you point it out I say it's no big deal.

When feminists critique objectification generally, and of young girls specifically, they are usually discussing mainstream, obvious, everyday examples. I'm sorry I was unaware of the UK website you wrote of, but that does not mean that I, and other feminists, condone the behavior. That is far and away unfair. If it happened with the ubiquity of Maxim and the ilk, I could agree with you that feminists "ignore" it. But it's not, and they're not. Like I say, I challenge you to discuss this website with several feminists and I doubt that you'll find one to say that it is ok for adult women to sexualize young boys.

It's also interesting that the 2 examples you use are 2nd-wave feminists.

I had honestly never heard of the Greer book. The quote are highly questionable to me, meaning that I find them problematic. But her book, according to Amazon.com is about representations of the erotics of female and male youth in art (and how the scholarship on each has been very different), specifically classical art, which is a different animal that the sexualization of children (incl. 'teens'). Now, many feminists would critique this too, but a lot of feminists and others see art differently.

So while I find the interview q and a that you pasted problematic, without reading the book, I'm not sure that that's really the example you are looking for.

My point still stands. I don't think that feminists think it's ok to sexualize boys and not ok to sexualize girls. I do think that the instances of sexualizing boys are more obscure. Perhaps someone who is interested in this topic can begin tracking such instances, and can share them with feminist blogs to raise awareness. After all, feminists were only able to demonstrate objectification and other inequality by, you got it, raising awareness in society.

But don't say that "the feminists" aren't outraged because at least this feminist had no idea this site existed because the instances are so obscure. I'm not ready to say that one website constitutes an epidemic, but I do think that site is wrong. And I'll be happy to denounce any further examples of this. And I'm willing (eager actually) to become more aware of these things going on, if they are.

So what exactly is wrong with my "feminist lens"?