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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

Sunday morning. I wake up, roll out of bed, check my email and start reading the Sydney Morning Herald online. Front page: Ban Sexy Ads, say Catholics.

A couple of Catholics are concerned by sexualised advertising on billboards and the sides of cars. I’m not sure why other forms of sexualised advertising are of less concern, like say, television etc, but nevertheless. They are appalled by an ad where a scantily clad young woman lies in a suggestive position to advertise a car wash. Now seriously, as a woman walking through the city I’m assaulted by sexualised images of women absolutely EVERYWHERE. Billboards for champagne, for jewellery, for car insurance, for you name it, it seems impossible to sell a product without some anglo-just-out-of-teens, airbrushed, photoshopped gazelle-like beauty writhing around or seductively pouting at the camera.

So I get that it’s both irrelevant, annoying and offensive. But my offense and theirs seems somewhat different. I would rather that women not be treated as commodities, and rather that women walking around could feel good about themselves and not have to have constant and unattainable images of ” What Women Are Supposed to Look Like”  thrust at them from every store/busstop/television/bus/mobile ad car thing. I would rather that men not get reaffirmation that Teh Chicks is for their constant visual enjoyment, that children male and female not get constant reminders of women’s role in life: Groom, Groom, Groom!!!! Must be Teh Hotz for Teh Menz. Means no food, no hair, no fat, no wrinkles, no hips, no butt – if you could be a kind of pre-adolescent Barbie, that’d be swell.

But I don’t think that’s what the Catholics in question are objecting about. I think they’re upset by the suggestion of sex. A little excerpt from Ms Spinks, Concerned Catholic Extraordinaire: “Who knows what our children are having to deal with,” she said. “By 2040, if no one does something now, the level of our community standards is going to drop.

Ah right. Not, who knows what women have to deal with with this ludicrous pressure to obtain the unattainable, resulting in eating disorders, anxiety and an inability to feel they are desirable if they don’t look like a supermodel post photoshopping…not who knows what women have to deal with when men get the message that women are objects that are always sexually available to them leading in harrasment and assault. No, the childrens! And yeah, the kids are absorbing all sorts of fucked up messages about women via advertising (and church, but that’s another post) but that doesn’t seem to be the concern. It seems to be that the kids will see the Sexay Ads and…go off the deep end with sin?

My favourite line of the whole piece is the dire prediction that if no one does anything that by 2040 community standards will drop. Yeah. By 2040 women might be treated like objects, commodified and pornified in order to sell services such as car washes. In 2040 women might be harrassed when they go out, feeling constantly assessed and compared to unrealistic standards. In 2040 respect for women might still be a joke. In 2040 the rape stats might be as ridiculously high as now, and men might continue to tell rape jokes, and do NOTHING to counteract such violence. In 2040 women might be constantly required to perform overtly sexualised stereotypical ‘femininity’  then bear the blame for ‘ sexualising’  and tempting society. Bad times ahead huh?

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