Loving Boobies -- Hating Women

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I've been following with some interest the travails of Lady Heather Mills McCartney, now estranged from her husband, former Beatle -- and man of a very young Curmudgette's dreams -- Sir Paul McCartney. It hasn't gotten a lot of coverage in the US but the British tabloids are going nuts over some images of the former model they are calling hardcore pornography.

The photos were purchased by The Sun and depict some nudity and erotic content. The Sun only ran them heavily edited, explaining that:

Many of the images are too explicit to print in a family newspaper.

Coming from a paper famous for its topless "Page 3" girls, that's just funny. Looking at the online version of the paper today, these are the choice items I notice in the sidebar. Of course there is a link to the newest Page 3 girl, with the text:

Danni, aged 19, from Coventry
See loads more girls on our super cyber site

Then there is a link to "Gizmo" with a thumbnail of a bikini clad woman demonstrating the comfort of an inflatable chair. The associated page is adorned with women in various states of dishabille sporting power tools.

From this paper we get the following moralizing text in one of its numerous articles on the images of a young Heather Mills.

One shot shows Heather naked and smothered in baby oil as she performs a sex act on a nude male porn star. The curly-haired man is then photographed performing an act on her with the help of a sex toy.

In other shots Heather appears to act out bondage scenes with whips, handcuffs and edible underwear.

Dressed in red stockings, suspenders and a corset — and with long red-painted nails — she looks like the madam of a sleazy brothel.

Oh no! Not red fingernails!! Clutch the pearls!

This is not just hypocritical. It's deeply telling and emblematic of a long-standing schism in our attitudes towards women. As much as we love looking at women's bodies and using them as props to sell everything from cars to, well, women's bodies, we deplore female sexuality. A sexual woman is just too threatening to be allowed any kind of autonomy. She must be labeled, defined, constrained, diminished, and, even, owned.

According to Mirrorshade Mind over at Booman Tribune, a woman has only two choices, being objectified or hiding her body and sexuality completely.

If women don't want men to look at them as "sex objects" then they have the choice of wearing the required dress for women of the Taliban overlords when they had control of Afghanistan.

Women in America get upset when their physical attributes go un-noticed by males they want to attract. They also get upset when a male can't take his eyes off the cleavage long enough to look them in the eye. So for males it is a no win situation.

That's right. To be a sexual woman is to be an object; a thing. If we have lovely breasts, we can't possibly have eyes... or opinions, or souls. The whole of us is never greater than the sum of our body parts. Or as susanw put it:

So according to you, we should just cover up. The same solution men have imposed for thousands of years. Let's try something new, shall we ? Why don't you make an effort to treat women like HUMAN BEINGS.
And if you won't, don't be surprised when we blow you off, shut you out, and suggest that you grow up, because we don't have to take this crap anymore.

I don't want my personhood reduced to a piece of ass.

I'm sure you find that hysterical and overly dramatic, but somehow I developed the notion that I have worth transcending my vagina.

I think the entire diary and comment section are worthwhile reading. It's a study in the disconnect that occurs when women and men debate the way female sexuality is viewed by the culture as a whole. In fact, I recommend looking through Booman Tribune's entire coverage of the anniversary of the Daily Kos "Pie War," for the same reason.

Perhaps it is too fine a point for many to grasp that as long as women exploring their eroticism are classified as whores, we will express ambivalence at having our bodies used as marketing tools and decorations. We are vilified one minute and trivialized the next.

As for poor Heather Mills McCartney, I thought what I saw of the oh-so-shocking pics were fun, in a very dated, 80s sort of way. Such a brouhaha over a little baby oil and b&d. My goodness. I suppose I could question them on aesthetic grounds. Artistically they don't hold a candle to the work of my favorite erotic photographer Brad Wallis. That's right. Curmudgette has a favorite erotic photographer. Let the vilification begin.


Michelle said...

Wow. Those pics are soooo 80s!!!

I totally had Robert Palmer playing in my head.

DavidByron said...

In your related story at MLW you said,

"I'm no fan of the exotic dance industry. I think it's exploitive and degrading."

Don't you think it's hypocritical of YOU to criticise the people who pressurised the cancer society to reject the exotic dancers' donation, when you appear to be just the sort of reason that those big donors would want to disassociate themselves from strippers?

Curmudgette said...

See my response in the appropriate diary.