Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who Is To Blame For Raunchiness?

This U.K. blog post suggests that it's not the lads. It's the lassies. At least they are the ones to fix the problem:

The lessons from a sexually conservative society are that, the more you try to contain the pressure from insistent hormones, the worse it becomes. At the same time, it's clear from our experiences in the west that a rampant free-for-all (or what sometimes approaches it), also doesn't work. The truth about 24-hour raunch culture is that, when the temperature all around you is rising, your own temperature rises too. Better, of course, not to ban any material but not to promote any material. But that's not the real world.

In the real world, explicit lingerie and cropped tops and low-slung jeans with obligatory thong all sell, and sell big, but promote a misguided message, especially to young women. They provide a mistaken minimum role model to those most susceptible to it: you can be a doctor or a writer or an architect, they suggest, but you must, at least, "be up for it". Anything less is to deny yourself your freedoms as a woman.


The first step is to take control. Searching for political solutions to commercial realities seems like a mismatch of tools. Women (and men) already have the tools at their disposal to decide what is acceptable to them. It is, after all, women who buy women's magazines with airbrushed, perfect women; women who buy lingerie sold to them by anorexic models; women who buy the make-up because they're worth it.

That isn't to say we don't have to play our part. The commodification of women's bodies harms men as well, not just our sisters and daughters. But it is women who wield the strongest economic leverage over companies, women who through boycotts or alternative purchases or simply lobbying companies can make their feelings known. Most men, by dint of inactivity, have set their limits. Women need to do the same and lead the rebellion against raunch.

I'm a little confused. First the writer argues that hormones bubble every bit as strongly in conservative societies, but then he argues that women should become more modest in the nonconservative societies. What good would that do if raunchiness will be there anyway? It looks like anything can make some lads raunchy, be it an eyelash sticking out of the veil or a thong showing right above some woman's low-slung jeans. And somehow it's still the women who are responsible.

I get his point about using market power, of course. If only it was that simple. But it isn't, and one of the reasons is the lack of the types of political solutions that the writer doesn't believe in, such as feminism, which encourages women to have more self-confidence and trust in their value as people. Feminists might still buy thongs and low-slung jeans and makeup, of course, but they'd do it for different reasons.