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Prude or Feminist?

braA few weeks ago I was walking home in the freezing cold, a familiar picture of a woman in lingerie met my eyes, it was the latest clothing label advertisement at the bus stop. I saw some graffiti etched into plastic covering saying “objectification = violence”. I continued my stroll home in deep thought, I have to admit that having walked past this particular picture over the last week or so I was feeling a little bit aggravated. It is sometimes difficult for a woman to speak out about something like this, for fear of seeming jealous or uptight to others who have no problem with it. I often worry that if I do talk about issues such as objectification of women in television and print media, that those around me will judge me on the same level as models and air brushed celebrities, drawing the conclusion that I must simply be jealous. I’ll admit I, probably like many other women, would like to be more attractive in a stereotypical sort of way. I’d love to walk into a room and turn heads simply by just being there, I’d love for people to whisper “isn’t she beautiful …”  after I’ve walked away but I don’t want that to be the only thing they would say about me. I honestly believe that this shouldn’t be the only thing that is said about anybody, man or woman. It’s strange that statistically people believe that woman who dress “sexy” or provocatively are partly to blame for being assaulted (a very worrying statistic) but also expect woman to be attractive unless they want to invite criticism.

When talking about matters on the female figure, expressing your opinion can Tulisasometimes be difficult. Increasingly I’ve noticed that whichever end of the spectrum you fall you run the risk of being a pervert or a prude, for this is a subject that many people have impassioned opinions about. It seems that an opinion either way is met with criticism from one direction or the other, even for those making casual comment or an off the cuff remark. I’m often frustrated by not being able to speak out about how I feel about the objectification of women’s bodies and to some extent men’s as well.  This all came about when talking with a close friend about the “No More Page 3 Campaign”. I feel quite strongly about this and often feel quite upset on the train when sitting next to a person reading The Sun, knowing that with just a turn of the page a woman’s bare chest is on show, making it ok for him to ogle whilst looking at the daily news. The conversation then moved on to scantily clad women who grace our televisions and magazines, after expressing my concerns about positive role models I was called a prude. There is a big step between topless woman and celebrities in short skirts but I feel the exploitation of the female figure is so normal to audiences now that we are almost desensitised to it.

Prude – “a person who is excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct, dress”. After consulting my dictionary and confirming its meaning it’s fair to say I was a little bit confused. I mean me? Pint swilling, C word using, dirty joke telling me? But alas this is what I’d been dubbed and maybe there was some truth in it. As a teenager and a young adult I’ve struggled to find role models around my own age, frustratingly, often talented young women’s ability is often over shadowed by their beauty. Actresses being used for modelling campaigns and pop stars gracing the pages of lags mags like FHM or GQ, shows aspiring young people that to get anywhere in the entertainment industry you have to be both stereotypically beautiful and willing exploit that part of yourself. This isn’t to say that there aren’t talented musicians and actresses out there who don’t play by these rules but to be at the top of A list success you have to flawlessly represent a body image that most young women will never be able to achieve. I can, I suppose, see why when expressing opinions like this people might think me a prude, I mean you can’t have a go at people for being attractive right? It just saddens me that being a female celebrity means that you will forever be scrutinised about the way you look and if when faced with a picture of a half-naked woman I role my eyes it’s only because once again we are faced with the same formula. Diversity isn’t something we like in our megastars.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I object to beautiful bodies or to people expressing themselves sexually. By all means enjoy yourselves, life is to be enjoyed after all. Everyone is entitled to feel sexy and to find anyone they desire attractive. I just think woman have been misrepresented for far too long. The sex that “sells” isn’t real sex at all, the bodies we are so used seeing render my reflection unrecognisable in the mirror. It sends out a message to young girls that this is how you should be and that isn’t fair. We are all very different and I don’t see that as a bad thing; I find it interesting, exciting. Narrowing attractiveness down to only the young toned and (seemingly) easy, creates an environment where it’s ok to prev. Pop music videos aimed and young people are a prime example. To stop and stare because it’s only the select few that possess these qualities, it segregates us and sets us apart, which I think is wrong. If I’m a prude for not agreeing with this, then so be it. I’d simply call myself a feminst, I believe woman shouldn’t be judged as sexual objects.

natalie portman

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