Realsociology

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Archive for the 'Feminism' Category

Using twitter to research sexism

Posted by Realsociology on 8th January 2013

Just stumbled across an interesting use of twitter – I’m not sure exactly what time it started but sometime today (the first tweets originate from 8 Hrs ago, so it must have started circa 12.00 GMT) @EverydaySexism (website here) facilitated a TWITTER CHAT on Street Harassment on the #ShoutingBack encouraging users to tweet their experiences of harassment.
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This post lists some of the responses and then discusses methods
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A selection of tweets on #shoutingback
Most responses relayed experiences on the street and in bars. Some of the most shocking/ retweeted include – (NB – These are in no particular order, my twitter analysis skills aren’t up to that!)

Abi OAbi O@ashke50at 15, with friends on train, group of boys blocking our path and asking if they “made us wet”.

EverydaySexismRT TheAfricanHippy Walking home in the afternoon.Drunk guy says: If I knew where you lived, I’d follow you home and rape you
Emma AmatoEmma Amato ‏@emmatronic - A van that blocks you while cycling so the driver can tell you he wants to be your saddle
Rachel BichenerRachel Bichener ‏@rachelwaxinglyr - chased by a bin lorry full of jeering men for a mile while on my bike, aged 18. Never rode again until 32.
chillerchiller ‏@chiller - If I wrote down all the assaults & verbal harassment experienced since age 12 I’d be here for a month.
ylhlhrylhlhr ‏@stopgrinning - complaining about street harassment or harassment in general, being told by others you should feel ‘flattered’.
Dancing MisanthropeDancing Misanthrope ‏@DaMisanthrope - People shocked by India rape reports as if it’s a foreign problem, check your own backyard

Roxanna BennettRoxanna Bennett@roxannabennett - Male friends told me it was disgusting I was breast feeding and that’s not what tits are for

Natasha ViannaNatasha Vianna ‏@NatashaVianna - Clubs are the worst! How many times have I felt stiff penis on my back while dancing? Too many.
Ellie ThomasEllie Thomas ‏@EleanorMThomas - Friend and I trying to take down tent at festival without bending over, due to shouts of “legs” and “boobs”
Tarah STarah S ‏@tarahfied -  going out to a club. guys decide to dance&touch w/o asking, get offended when you push them away or say no.

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I also quite liked this response…

Hollaback Girl ‏@hollabackgrrrl - Man in bar repeatedly groped me, used homophobic/sexist slurs. I yelled at him the first 3 times. The fourth I broke his nose.
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So what are the strengths and limitations of this as a method for finding out about street harassment? 

Strengths

  • Firstly on a practical note  it’s very easy to set up, free, and accessible
  • Secondly, it’s hopefully empowering for the women using it – I like to think of women reading thinking ‘I’m not the only one’ – quite a few tweets with ‘solidarity’
  • Thirdly, on the concept of validity – it’s giving users the freedom to define sexual harrassment, useful for facilitating debate around the issue.
  • Fourthly, it’s giving us an idea of the range of experiences of sexual harassment - could be a useful basis for operationalising a questionnaire with a more representative sampling frame.
Now to the limitations -
  • Firstly and most obviously, the sample will be biased in the extreme – limited to twitter users, and to users who follow @Everydaysexism and happen to be on twitter at the opportune moment, so this research is useless as a quantitative study.
  • Secondly, we always have to question the validity of what’s being said and it is very difficult to validate the truth of what these women are saying. I am not saying these women are lying, just that it is practically impossible to verify what they are saying.  Having said this, I personally wouldn’t have thought there is that much motivation to lie on twitter about such experiences given that ‘coming out with them’ is probably accompanied by negative emotions.
Find out More 

If you want to find out more about the extent of street harassment – then check out the collective action for safe spaces blog (U.S based)

This Guardian Article suggests 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment – based on a yougov poll

Hollaback – a depressing but useful site in which women in Birmingham share their experiences of harassment, has the potential to expand into more areas!

 

Posted in But what can I do?, Feminism | No Comments »

Ten Indicators of Gender Inequality in the UK 2012

Posted by Realsociology on 16th December 2012

OK So accuse me of selection bias… but here are 10 indicators of inequality in the UK by gender… Mainly focusing on work, politics and the media 

Looking at ‘positions of privilege’ women account for…

  1. 26% of News Journalists (2011) (3% of sports journalists!)
  2. 22% of Members of Parliament. Although admittedly numbers have more than doubled in the last 20 years.
  3. 23% of judges
  4. 16% of members of the cabinet
  5. 4.9% of directors of the FTSE 250 companies

Looking at ‘indicators of disadvantage’…

  1. 65% of the Tory Cuts to the public sector will be born by women
  2. 70% of people on the minimum wage are women
  3. 75% part-time workers are women
  4. 90% of Single Parents are women
  5. On top of all this, women earn only 85% of men (more usually expressed as a  gender pay gap of 14.9%)

Find out More

Also look out for an infographic I intend to to knock up on this topic (exciting I know!) 

 

Posted in Feminism, Gender | No Comments »

Gender representation in the FTSE

Posted by Realsociology on 11th December 2012

Latest Figures show that there are now 163 women in executive positions in the FTSE 100 and 189 in the FTSE 250.  While this does represent an increase on 2010 figures (an additional 25 women being added to the FTSE 100 director posititions) representation remains poor – Only 15% of directorships in the FTSE 100 are female, and this figure drops to 4.6% of executive directorships of the FTSE 250.  

 

What’s of further interest is that you can pretty much forget any hope that the (very gradual) feminisation of business will herald in a new age of ethical business practices – There are some real ‘corporate clangers’ in the top 17 list of FTSE companies with female representation.

Top 17 FTSE companies with female representation on the board (2012)

 

Imperal Tobacco and BAE systems really stand out – It seems there are plenty of women out there just as willing as men to run companies that make their money out of encouraging weak minded, poor, low-status, and/ or ignorant people to shove a cancer sticks down their throats and plenty of even ‘harder women’ happy with making their bonuses out of selling even more storm shadow missiles to governments so they can kill relatively powerless people who might dare do things such as try to put their interests before those of Western Corporations.

Source of the TablesThe Female FTSE Board Report 2012 - Cranfield University School of Management

Related Links

Useful comments on methology here!

Broader knowledge on women in the labour force (UK) here (2010)

Posted in Feminism, Gender, TNCs | No Comments »

To Pole or not to Pole, is that Objectification?

Posted by Realsociology on 6th December 2012

My sixth form college (16-19) has just started ‘pole fitness’ classes and put this very large banner up to advertise them. The college’s take on this is to see ‘pole-fitness’ on a level with Zumba – It’s simply a different form of exercise that young women (let’s face it – it’s primarily women who will attend either) can use to empower themselves, but the former’s just a bit more aethletic and more ‘Burlesque’ than Zumba.

However some staff have commented that it just doesn’t seem appropriate for a 16-19 college to be promoting something that is associated with the sex-industry. The sexual connotations are visible in the banner – you can ‘clearly see cheek showing’ as one member of staff recently pointed out.

Of course I had to go away and do some digging on the issue, and it comes as no surprise that there are a wide range of opinions about whether or not Pole-Fitness is empowering or oppressive to women. To summarise just two…

Clare Mohan, writing at the Varsity Blogs about Pole Fitness in Cambridge University sets out the argument against it….

‘Whatever you name it, pole fitness or pole dancing, you’re still participating in the social context of the pole. Everyone knows where it comes from, that pole dancers are to be found in strip clubs and sex establishments up and down the country, and that pole dancing (which is, a huge percentage of the time, an activity carried out by women) is a dance form specifically designed to excite the watcher (who is, a huge percentage of the time, a man). So pole dancing encourages a view of the dancer [as a] sexual object.’

For more information on the objectification of women see the ‘Object‘ website.  

The ‘Pro-Pole’ voice comes from a number of women who both ‘pole’ and identify themselves as Feminists over at the StudioVeena.

Two of the more compelling arguments for ‘poling’ being empowering include…

(From ‘Nilla’) “Maybe people feel that way because stripping as a profession is often seen as something women would only do as a last resort, and that it’s degrading for any woman who does it (It can be, but so can working in the fast food industry).  So in a way, taking pole dance out of the stripping/sex industry context and doing it for your own enjoyment is the ultimate act of feminism, kind of taking the activity back for your own control and enjoyment rather than having to do it for the enjoyment of someone else.”

(From ‘Poledanceromance’) ’”To me, the answer is very simple (sex positive feminist): feminism must be about choice. It’s about women supporting other women in our efforts to explore undiscovered parts of ourselves. If I want to explore my potential by staying at home full-time to be the best mom I can be, you’d support me in that. If you wanted to explore yourself as a sexual being by experimenting in different sexual relationships, I’d support you in that (provided everyone is being safe!)”

If you read through the arguments for poling, many of them focus on the notion that it’s good for women to be allowed the freedom to express whatever they like through dance, including their sexuality if they damn well please, and they argue that in pole-fitness this process of exploration is completely liberated from the context of male domination and objectification that may exist in stripping.

What’s interesting is that both Pro and anti-pole stances see a sexual link in the activity, which brings me back to the original question – Is it right for a 16-19 college to be promoting something that has obvious sexual connotations? Moreover, is it right to do this when we all know that it will be mainly, probably solely young women, rather than young men, engaging in this sexualised activity?

Personally I don’t feel particularly comfortable with the college’s promoting pole-fitness, but am I just showing my age here? Or maybe this is my ‘inner patriarch’ just wanting to control young women from expressing their freedom? Or my ‘inner dad’ wanting to prevent young women from growing up?

Maybe I just need to get over it and start promoting pole-fitness in tutorials? Maybe that’s the future… ‘And don’t forget… final UCAS deadlines are this Friday, next Wednesday there’s a guest speaker talking about how to break into Journalism, and any young women wishing to explore their inner sex kitten are welcome to attend our new pole-fitness classes on Tuesdays… Please undress appropriately.’

Comments more than welcome…

 

Posted in Beauty Myth, But what can I do?, Feminism, Gender, My 'life' | 2 Comments »

Top Ten Resources for Teaching Gender and Development

Posted by Realsociology on 9th April 2012

OK – Only up to 5 – but I’ve really got to down the pub, and I really wanted to post something before I left!

These are in rough order of how much I like them – If you prefer other sites then let me know. These are just the best ones I know of , and I don’t know everything! (clearly!).

OneThe UN’s hub page for the Gender Inequality Index

 ‘The Gender Inequality Index (GII) reflects women’s disadvantage in three dimensions—reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market—The index ranges from 0, which indicates that women and men fare equally, to 1, which indicates that women fare as poorly as possible in all measured dimensions.

  • The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate.
  • The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels.
  • The labour dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force.’

The above page has lots of useful links – one of the most accessible being this table showing details of gender inequalities for most countries in the world. You should also check out the ‘interactive data tools’ and ‘FAQ’s at the bottom of the page.

TwoThe United Nations Development Fund for Women

Very broad in scope – The site says of itself ‘In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.’

It’s also worth considering what the fact that this wasn’t established by the UN until 2 years ago says about what the UN’s development priorities really are!

ThreeGender Across Boarders – What a fantastic blog! – A team of writers blogging under various headings including (the ones that interest me) health, education and activism – and a load of stuff about culture too. The about section of the web site says of itself

‘Gender Across Borders (GAB) is an international feminist community where issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class are discussed and critically examined. We embrace people of all backgrounds to come together to voice and progress positive gender relations worldwide’

FourInternational Women’s Day Web Site

International Women’s Day takes place on 8th March every year and the above link is a hub-site for events surrounding that day when thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. The site (annoyingly for me) doesn’t actually explicitly state what its about – but I guess this is because a huge part of the ‘women’s empowerment’ agenda is to allow women with diverse aims to ‘speak for themselves’. Still, reading between the lines, the main posts and themes seem to be about celebrating women’s achievements and using these to inspire positive change in those parts of the world where ‘progress’ has yet to be made – and this means promoting women’s empowerment through improving the education, health, employment prospects and political power of women worldwide.

The day itself is very popular – to quote from the site….   ‘IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

Five – The Guardian’s Summary of the worst place in the world to be a woman – Includes a handy ‘interactive map’ where you can find out such things as ‘in Somalia girls have a 95% chance at being of risk of Female Genital Mutilation’

SixAmnesty International’s Women’s Rights Page

SevenUnseen is a UK based charity to help recovering victims of sex trafficking – and there are enough of them – estimates range from 500 to 800 000 per year being trafficked across Europe.

EightOne World Gender Guide - A nice ‘hub page’ with lots of resources on Gender Inequality in different countries

NineWomen for Women – An example of an NGO working with socially excluded women in 8 countries – a good example of what you might call ‘people centred development’ – a number of different projects are tweaked to meet the needs of different women in different situations – ranging from teaching economic skills to rights education.

Ten  - TrustLaw is a global hub for information on human rights and women’s rights. The link takes you to the ‘women’s rights’ section. While you might have to click on some of the links twice to get them to work, this is a good site for summaries of up to date news on women’s rights in international context and there is also a useful database which you can search for resources by keyword, region and country – although once again, the links to some of these are unreliable, so you may have to ‘cut and paste’ into another browser.

 

 

Posted in Feminism, Gender, Global Development | No Comments »

Gok Wan challenges the beauty myth?

Posted by Realsociology on 9th February 2012

Episode one of  Gok Wan’s ‘Teen’s The Naked Truth’ focussed on Body Dysmorphia - offering us three tragic tales of teens in anguish over their imperfect bodies.

Gok Wan - Teens the Naked Truth

I want to just focus on two of these cases – two girls  - One a 15 year old who spent several hours a day surfing ’pro-anorexia sites’ and another 14 year old who had been through anorexia and seemed to now be coming out the other side.

Gok Wan’s approach to dealing with their body anxiety was to firstly, literally, just sit down with them and discuss the fact the ‘beauty myth’ they were trying to obtain was just that – a myth, and that the images they saw on pro-anorexia sites and in fashion magazines were not real.

One girl aspired to be so skinny as to be able to have a gap between her inner thighs when she had her legs closed: Gok simply pointed out that even the skinniest models he knew didn’t have such a gap and that the look had been engineered in photoshop; he took another to a photoshoot to demonstrate how it took 3 hours of make-up and just as long with photoshop to create the ‘glamour look’.

At this point I have to congratualate Gok (although I’m far from putting him in the ‘National Treasure’ category!) for actually putting in the effort to educate teens out of ‘chasing the beauty myth’ and encouraging them to be happy with whatever body shape they’ve got. Recognising that body dysmorphia has social causes is certainly a positive step beyond the BBC’s advice site – which treats body dismorphia as a genetic condition - Simply stating, in answer to the question ‘what causes it’ that ‘The cause of BDD is unclear, but it may be genetic or caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain’ which can be treated through antidepressant medication, cognitive behavioural therapy or a combination of both. Antipsychotic medication is sometimes used.

However, I would have liked to have seen Gok go further in criticising the ‘beauty industry’ – at one point he was actually face to face with someone who ‘retouched’ images in fashion magazines for a living – someone who actually gets paid to create the ‘beauty myth’ - and it would have been akward, but maybe he could have probed a little? - ’Here is evidence of a 15 year old whose anorexia seems to have been inspired by the unrealistic photos in your magazine… given the direct social harm your industry contributes to, can you please explain to me, in your view, what justifies the job you do?’ – It would be interesting to hear from the ‘myth creaters’ – On this note – The Illusionists - is a good film to look out for that will hopefully be released relatively shortly.

Also, the programme could have been more informed by statistics – there is considerable evidence that, as Gok said more than once, if you suffer from these body issues, then you are not alone! – Chapter one of the Equality Illussion by Kat Banyard is especially good on this matter – which notes, among other things that…

  • 1.5 million people in the UK have an eating disorder – 90% of them women and girls
  • A survey conducted by Dove of 3000 women found that 90% of them wanted to change some aspect of their body with body weight and shape being the main concern.
  • One in four women has considered plastic surgery.
  • The more mainstream media high shcool students watch,  the more they believe beauty is important according to the American Psychological Association.
  • Some studies have shown that the more a girl monitors her appearance, the less satisfied she will be with her appearance.
  • Two thirds of women report having avoided activities such as going swimming or going to a party because they feel bad about their appearance while 16% of 15 -17 year olds have avoided going to school for the same reason.

Also, it has to be said that the programme oversimplified the issues somewhat – while I am critical of the ‘beauty-myth’ industry – it isn’t as simple as ‘see images of skinny girls’ – ‘become anorexic’! There could have been more recogition of this

Finally, I am not convinced by the ‘individualised therapeutic approach’ to sorting out problems that have social roots – but I will return to this in another blog…

Related Posts

For more info on Gok’s thoughts on the programme – see this Digital Spy interview  interview with Gok Wan

Lucy Jone’s Review in The Telegraph

Ilona Catherine’s Independent Blog

 

Posted in Feminism, Sociology on TV | 1 Comment »

Changes to child maintenance policy adds insult to injury to victims of domestic violence

Posted by Realsociology on 11th December 2011

Shocking strap line from a recent Guardian article - worth passing on! Broad support for the radical feminist view that the government isn’t really interested in putting up money to actually support victims of domestic violence – also relevant also a nice case study below to remind you how domestic violence victims who have had children with an abusive partner may well end up remaining a victim of abuse even after leaving said partner – Just to summarise briefly from this grim article -

NB – Child Maintenance is what the absent parent pays the ‘primary care’ parent towards the cost of child care.

The proposed policy changes -

The idea is to change the policy surrouding what happens when one ‘absent parent’ refuses to pay… it’s proposed that the government now charge the resident parent for chasing the absent one for money: £100 if you’re in work, £50 if you’re on benefits.

This sum could be paid repeatedly: if the non-resident parent stopped paying for any reason, such as changing jobs or changing bank accounts. This happens all the time; the kind of parent who can’t make an amicable agreement and has to be chased by the CSA will often cease maintenance if they find out their ex has done something frivolous, like bought shoes, and the whole process has to start all over again.

Problems with the proposed changes

50% of lone parents exist below the poverty line (50%) and £50 is a lot of money for someone in that situation to find (probably meaning a choice between eating or having gas and electricity for a week).

It is proposed that lone parents who were the victims of domestic violence. are to have their upfront fee waived, but they would still have to pay a percentage – 12% is on the table – of their maintenance payments back to the government.

The idea behind the policy is to encourage parents who have split to sort out privately who pays what for the children, rather than relying on the CSA - the problem is of course, that victims of DV are not exactly in a position to do this are they! As the article goes on to say…

Women are at more risk from a violent partner when they’ve split up from him. Plus, it’s quite rare to find an abuser with a completely normal, equitable relationship with money.

As on DV victim points out “They’ll try to buy you back after the abuse, so they’ll suddenly be showering you with luxury items. Or they’ll try to buy the kids, to turn them against you.”

Another adds, “One year, my ex arrived, and said ‘I’ll take you out and buy presents, but only if Mam comes.’ So I had to go, and he bought everything. Toy Story had just come out, he bought everything you can imagine. Then, a month before Christmas, he turned up on the doorstep and said he wanted everything back.”

So here is another, very bleak example of how some of the most vulnerable women could bear the costs of the public sector cuts in coming years.

So for the sake of the victims of domestic viollence – We’ve got to get these Patriarchal Tory Millionnaires out!

NB – This is also a pretty good case for not having kids.

Posted in Feminism, Gender, Social Policy | No Comments »

The Ideal scenario for children – the dual earner household?

Posted by Realsociology on 22nd November 2011

Nice little summary of recent research on the effects of mothers working and the behaviour of children from The Millennium Cohort Study funded by the ESRC. Some of the chief findings seem to be -

  • There are no significant detrimental effects on a child’s social or emotional development if their mothers work during their early years
  • The ideal scenario for children, both boys and girls, was shown to be where both parents lived in the home and both were in paid employment
  • Children in single-mother households and in two-parent households in which neither parent was in work were much more likely to have challenging behaviour at age five than children where both parents were in paid employment

The Cohort Study follows 19000 babies born in 2000/2001 – although I don’t know how many of these the above research based its sample on as details of the research are only available ‘on request’ – so it’s a good job the ESRC aren’t a public body -oh er hang on, they are, ok so it’s a good case we don’t expect researchers to be IT literate enough to post links to their research, oh er hang on, I do expect them to be that competent – so ESRC – could do better…

If you can be bothered to find out details of this interesting research the contact details are here… It would be good if someone could because the summary above suggests that the impact of the working life of the mother partly depended on the working life of the father…

Also, while it might well be better for children to have both parents working, I think it’s still the case that women ‘are the takers of shit’ in most familial relationships – not in the classic rad. fem sense of the word – but in the sense that studies still report they are the ones doing most of the drudge labour and, even when they earn more than men, working women have to overcome feelings of guilt about ‘working and mothering’, and they have to pay special attention to make sure their male partners don’t feel emasculated.

So all in all, while children may be doing best living in dual earner households, there may well be a lot of exceptions, and we have to consider the extent to which women are responsible for this by doing more of the domestic labour and emotion work…

Posted in Feminism | No Comments »

Head to Occupy #LSX for a real education

Posted by Realsociology on 10th November 2011

Tent city university at the Occupy LSX protest is the most amazingly progressive force for education in Modern Britain - The agenda for tomorrow is like a living, breathing Sociology/ Politics A2 level class…. but probably with a bit more life in it….

As it says on the web site -

This is a space to learn, share knowledge and develop skills through a wide series of workshops, lectures, debates, films, games, praxis and action. As formal education becomes more and more commodified and inaccessible, here we have an opportunity to explore alternatives. Because between us we have all the resources we need.

Anyone can teach, everyone can learn – and the two go hand in hand. Feel free to propose sessions, listen to new ideas and share with others what you know or want to know.

All events are free, open to everyone, and take place in the ‘University Tent’, (next to the ‘Info Tent’), at the OccupyLSX camp, outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, the library next door or in the ‘Uni Yurt’ at Occupy Londons second site at Finsbury Square.

 

Just look at the list of events for Friday (tomorrow)

11.00 – poverty in the uk and the debts of the poor – Rev. Paul Licolson -

12.00 Why Anti-Capitalism? Speakers include Selma James, Global Women’s Strike, author of Marx and Feminism and Sex, Race and Class; Sam Weinstein, Assistant to the National President, Utility Workers Union of America, Payday Men’s Network.

14.00 Morality and Finance: A response to the St Paul’s Institute Report – A Panel discusion in response to the recent release of the report by the St Paul’s Institute indicating city professionals feel their wages are out of proportion with those in other employment. Speakers will include James Meadway senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research LLP and The Tax Gap Limited, one of the report’s author’s Bishop Peter Selby, the retired Bishop of Worcester, as well a members from our own working groups dedicated to exploring matters of economics.

15.00 ‘Offshore finance: a realm beyond the imagination’ – Liam Connell

16.00 – Judith Orr speaking on “Women, work and walk-outs: fighting for liberation today” –  looking at the effect of the global crisis, cuts and austerity on women and what can be done to fight these, drawing in part from past womens struggles but looking in the context of today. Judith has written on these matters and also spent time in Tahrir Square during the revolution in Egypt

Posted in But what can I do?, Feminism | No Comments »

BBC3 – Devoted to spreading The Beauty Myth…

Posted by Realsociology on 9th November 2011

While the primary function of BBC1 appears to spreading neoliberal hegemony, - so BBC3 seems to be increasingly devoted to perpetuating the beauty myth – at least if Wednesday’s current schedule is anything to go by – I mean look at this appalling array of programmes in which mainly women, but also occassionally men, demonstrate to us that being more beautiful is the true path to happiness.

19.00 – Hotter than my daughter - involves mothers who dress like tarts and daughters who ‘dress dowdy’ having their dress sense judged by a panel – typically resulting in the mother ‘toning it down’ and the daughter ‘glamming it up’ – in tonight’s episode, the mother was so overwhelmed with the transformation that she broke down in tears – as she said, her previously tom boy daughter who now had her hair trussed up, bright red lipstick, and checked dress – showing a few more curves – now ‘looked beautiful’ – This would have moved be to tears had I not been vomiting.
 

 

19.30 – Snog,  Marry or Avoid - this programme takes typically ugly or average looking (and normally vacuous) teens or twenty somethings who wear too much fake tan, too many lashes, and generally too little clothes, and subjects them to judgement by ’lads on the street’ who typically report that they would avoid or snog these girls – but never marry them (samples never disclosed of course) - the subjects are then given a ‘make under’ – they tone down the make up and are dressed more conservatively, to bring out their ‘natural beauty’ and then told by their now admiring public that they would be married or snogged.

Even though we are moving away from ‘fakery’, the agenda is still very much focssed on the need for girls to look ‘beautiful’ – and all of this is made much worse by the fact that the show’s host Jenny Frost simply ooses natural beauty and viavaciousness out of every pore – so hardly a good base line against which to compare yourselves girls - the end result of the show is that the girls ‘compromise’ – so rather than being makeup disaster zones, they know tone down their fake tan and lashes to actually look ‘beautiful’    

21.00 – Hot Like Us – To be honest I’ve never watched it but I know it’s got something to do with young, attractive couples (probably shallow) who think looks matter above most other things – obviously a good basis for a long term stable relationship as we’ve all got more than enough time and money to plow into keeping ourselves looking unaturally young well into our 60s, and who wouldn’t want to end up with a Joan Collins lookalike when their 80? (I am being sarcastic btw – I’d rather be dead than end up with something looking like Joan Collins).

At the end of the day these three programmes – while presented to us as entertainment are really just reinforcing and even normalising the idea that ‘looks matter’ and that people, women especially, should spend inordinate amounts of time reflecting on and modifying their appearance. It is depressing just how many women buy into this game – reflecting the extent to which socialisation still reinforces the idea that a woman’s self-worth hinges on her appearance. It would be far better if these insidious programmes disappeared from our screens and they were replaced with a plain and simple message – women, you are more than your looks, get over them. – or something like that anyway.

Posted in Beauty Myth, Feminism, Gender, Sociology on TV | 1 Comment »