Time for a Red Wave of Feminism?
Recently a Russian lawmaker asked his Parliament to consider allowing women two days paid leave every month when they menstruate. The said Russian is quoted as saying “during their period of menstruation most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort.” He then went on to say that in some cases women are so discommoded they require an ambulance. This rather over egged the pudding and took from his argument somewhat, I thought.
Needless to say, any comments I saw in response to the Russian lawmaker were entirely dismissive of his suggestion, which was regarded as sexist and silly. I mean to say, women are not in any way put out by the arrival of the monthly bleed. Periods are a breeze. Ever since the invention of tampons, we can even go swimming and horse-riding while bleeding. And sure with a reasonable supply of Solpadeine or Nurofen, you don’t feel a thing. Right? I mean, admitting that periods often make you feel really crappy is letting the sisterhood down, right? That would be a sign of weakness, a sign that we are.... well less macho than the guys. Right?
There’s definitely a time and a place for a video released as an attempt by the EU Commission to get more girls into science. The time for “Science: It’s A Girl Thing” a 53-second cringe featuring overly-sexualised minors strutting around in safety goggles and minidresses , salivating over how bubbling flasks and chemical formulas always lead to neon make-up is never, and the place is nowhere. By Naomi Elster
As one blogger put it "The EU Commission may as well have put a lipstick on a string, and filmed 18 year old models doing a belly crawl after it from the nail parlour (or wherever they would normally be) to the lab bench." I’ve never seen a video so ill-received – a barrage of response videos have appeared on YouTube, and Twitter and Facebook are awash with criticisms, from both official sources, such as Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science), Nature (the most prestigious science journal), and most of my friends – fiercely intelligent female scientists who I have studied and worked with and learnt from are rightfully angry. As one friend put it “It’s nice to know Marie Curie slowly irradiated herself to death so we could watch a bunch of fashion models play with molecular models while not wearing lab coats.” (Marie Curie was the scientist who discovered radiation, paving the way for a number of important developments including chemotherapy).
The All Ireland Rally for Choice - Counter Demo to Youth Defence's "Rally for Life"
I am sure you've seen the Anti-Abortion billboards by Youth Defence. These billboards have caused broad range of discussion from advertising standards to free speech to misinformation and the ever divisive issue of abortion itself. And it's not the first campaign of its kind.
In March this year, we carried out a social media campaign analysis of the Youth Defence page, it had 30,178 likes, three months later it has 57,661 fans. (source)
This demonstrates to us that Youth Defence have the financial backing, social media know-how and are actively and aggressively campaigning for their Pro-Life/Anti-Choice beliefs.
The problem is that the pro-choice side is comparatively passive. And in Ireland it is those who shout the loudest who get heard. It's time to start being heard.
Below, are some examples of Youth Defence's behaviour and how you can help rally against it both on and offline.
It is absolutely incongruous to champion TV3's late-night 'chatline' ads as signs of a new, sexually liberated era. By Clara Fischer.
Last week, Fine Gael TD Derek Keating called for the banning of late night adverts, shown on TV3, for what he described as “sexual entertainment services”. There appears to be some dispute about the exact nature of these advertisements, with ComReg purportedly calling the ads “chatline” or “partyline” services, rather than “sexual entertainment services”. Judging by the scantily clad women starring in these particular spots, though, that seems rather odd. Do women always chat and hold parties in their underwear? As a woman, this is news to me.
Walter Iooss Jr., the sports photographer behind Hunky Dorys’ new advertising campaign has described it thus, “Entitled, "Football", the campaign presents a unique take on the kicking, passing and tackling in a football match.” To paraphrase Iooss, it’s sexy when women bend over.
We’ve all seen the new Huky Dorys ads featuring scantily clad women playing GAA plastered on billboards and bus-stops. We’ve thought, that’s a bit cheeky Hunky Dorys…wasn’t your last remarkably similar 2010 campaign banned by the Advertising Standards Authority? Of course, sex sells and advertisers are constantly churning out images of scantily clad women. What is so bad about these Hunky Dorys campaigns?
Two diametrically opposed images of sport dominate in Ireland right now. Both involve Gaelic football but differ in the gender of the players featured. The men’s All-Ireland Final which took place on the 18th of September generated a plethora of images of male GAA players, the most striking of which was produced by the league sponsor, Ulster Bank, and shows a Dublin and a Kerry player going head to head. These ads urge us to consider the men shown as honourable sporting heroes, deserving of respect and admiration.
The images of the female GAA players, featured in the current Hunky Dorys campaign invoke a wholly different response – a seedy ogling on the one hand and a righteous indignation on the other. Countless forum threads are again riddled with comments like, ‘maybe if the players looked like this, more people would watch women’s sport’. Maybe more people would watch, but would they be spectating or ‘starring’, as per one Hunky Dorys tagline, ‘Still Starring?’ This echoes last year’s ‘Are you staring at my crisps?’ printed under the ample bust of a young woman bend forward into the camera.
This is the ‘unique take on…tackling’ that Iooss has captured in these campaigns. It’s the idea that female sportspeople don’t deserve the same respect and admiration as their male counter-parts. In fact, the only thing they have a chance of inspiring is sexual desire, so they might as well strip off and start posing. Still sexism? Yes it is.
The juxtaposition of the All Ireland Final and Hunky Dorys ad campaigns obviously sends worrying messages. It’s in this context that we should call on the Advertising Standards Authority to ban the Hunky Dorys campaign yet again. In the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing female GAA players portrayed with the respect they truly deserve, log onto http://ladiesgaelic.ie/.
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