Recently I was invited to write a feminist piece by the lovely editor of this magazine who was keen for some “alternative” content. He’d read about some of my campaigning around sexual violence. He did point out that my feminist principles may not sit at ease morally or politically with the rest of the “fashion” content that would surround such an article. That was fair of him. He was right.
So here I am. I believe there are breasts mostly everywhere around me on the page. After all…. in a magazine needing profit, why wouldn’t there be? Breasts sell. Breasts can sell most things. Except they can’t sell the idea that they contain breast milk obviously, because men find that “icky”. As Alex Dyke on BBC Radio Solent said this week….. “fat chavvy mums with their boobs out on buses isn’t a good look”….. “I just think a public area is not a good place for it and fellas don’t like it.” I presume some of those “fellas” liked it when they were “little fellas” that were hungry and needed feeding by their mothers and their amazing breasts? Anyway. He was rightly suspended for such a ridiculous view. It is a view that is instilled in men like him by a porn industry that encourages men to view women’s bodies only as sexual receptacles for their pleasure. I feel sorry for him. I like breasts. They are wonderful. They can be whisked out on trains and in shops and park benches all day long for me if a baby is hungry. Here on these pages the breasts are not utilised in the same way. They aren’t feeding a hungry child. They are feeding a male gaze. An “agent” woman, lips slightly parted, back arched, twirling a scarf around her wrist is not about to feed her child. She is obviously about to sexually please a man. That is her designated role. For me she is a bit oily. It’s all over her shoulders and hair. Men must like oily women with scarves. I would never put such a nice bra and pants on until my moisturiser was properly dry. My mother would use talcum power too just to make sure. I don’t have time to mess about playing with scarves whilst I’m in my pants. Flavourmag dudes… women who do smear themselves in massage oil, put full make-up on and then deliberately ruin a good pair of silk pants whilst tying their own wrists up…. let me whisper a secret…… that never happens. We can’t get the oil out for one thing.
Many feminists may criticise me for writing here at all. Feminists do tend to have a pop at each other’s choices and standpoints. We sometimes can’t agree where the sky is. However, we do pretty much all agree that objectification of the female body is wrong. Images that are all around this piece for example. We know what those things do. They put women in a place where they are commodified and powerless. They distract and derail us from getting on with our real lives by presenting us with bodies that we can’t have, in clothes we don’t need or can’t afford and that we probably can’t effectively run away from potential sexual harassers in.
So when I was asked to write here I jumped at the chance. What better place could there be to say….”Whoah now there… calling that woman a “bitch” at the same time as telling her to wear a transparent jumpsuit is just not on dudes at Flavourmag! What are you doing here?” than from right here alongside it? Jumpsuits are evil anyway. You can’t go to the toilet in one. You have to unclip, unzip, suspend your belief in a higher power that loves you, wriggle and balance and scrunch endless material between your knees …….and frankly …..no woman wants a wee or a jumpsuit quite enough. Jumpsuits for men? Not a thing. And they can just flip their tackle out of the front. A jumpsuit would be a breeze for a dude. They don’t wear them though. Because they are silly. Even Tom Cruise in Top Gun looked rubbish. Mind you… he was very short. Unlike the women of Flavourmag ads who are as tall as my grandmother stood on the shoulders of my mother. So like two women really. But not much like a real woman at the same time.
Real women are here on the pages of Flavourmag. They’re not presented in the same way as the skyscraper women though. They are branded “curvy girls”. So they are …. firstly, not women and secondly problematic. They have to deal with having flesh on their bones and it is a proper trauma. They have to contend with “chub rub” I’m informed by one article. Thighs touch on these women. Their legs meet! In the middle! They actually destroy their own jeans in under a year! I couldn’t stop laughing at this. The idea that women who are of normal size actually destroy fashion willfully with their own thighs makes me happy. If we perfectly normal women can’t wear the clothes of Skyscraper Woman and get on the pages of Flavourmag we will burn it up with our thighs. Revenge of The Normal Woman. Perfect.
Elsewhere I can see a Victoria’s Secret article. I can’t get past the photo revealing their new “angels” or as I like to call them “teenage girls in their pants”. Apart from their obvious youth, and worryingly slim frames, they are joined at the knee to another one of them exactly the same. None of them have feet or lower legs. Obviously a mirror has been used but the effect is that these women are seen as “creatures” unlike real women. Perfect, happy, laughing, mythical creatures. Who clearly have no need to walk. Or….. once again run away from potential harm. Why would they? They are required only to be young, beautiful available and in their bra and pants.
So, yes I will lodge myself here amongst the breasts and the legs and the objectification …..if Flavourmag will have me and my big pants and my normal feet and my lack of massage oil and a scarf. I would quite like to write about topics that are as important to women as whether they should keep their thighs apart or grow another one of themselves from the knees down. Perhaps next time I can discuss abortion or sexual violence or street harassment or pornography. I can do it in my pants if you like …I will just choose not to show you.
Jean Hatchet. @JeanHatchet on Twitter.