Sunday, August 28, 2005


'88.2% Of Statistics Are Made Up On The Spot'*

*Guinness advert from 1997. Picture courtesy of TVWhirl.

According to this post, the joyless whingers at The Guardian have been having a moan again. Every time I wonder why I call myself a libertarian, not a liberal, all I have to do is pick up the Guardian and it all becomes clear.

The latest fuss from those most joyless of liberals appears to be the fact that WHSmith, the stationers, have started selling stationery with the Playboy logo on the front. Shocking! Apparently, however, my overwhelming apathy to the fact was not shared by the Guardian readership, who, in the link above, moan and mutter and claim that this is the beginning of the end. Let's take a look at what they think, shall we?

Robert Machin, Hampshire

'It's appalling, but why should you be surprised that WHSmith stocks this stuff? This company apparently thinks it's perfectly OK to display Loaded, Maxim and all the other half-witted lads' porn on the lower shelves next to the comics. No doubt product placement is analysed to the nth degree by WHSmith's marketing geniuses, so what is the rationale?

I find this relentless normalisation of smut and objectification of women much more disturbing and depressing than pornography itself, and it seems to me to be much worse than it ever was in the 60s and 70s.'

This guy's a classic. In the first place, it's sad to see him continue a tradition that has been all too prevalent on the left over the years, which is taking offence on somebody else's behalf, usually done because the protagonist, whether consciously or not, believes that said somebody is incapable of protesting for themselves. Is there really an objectification of women in society? See, I would say that there used to be. However, how can anybody say that there is anymore? Take a look here. It's a website of all the adverts released in Britain over the last few years. If you have way too much spare time on your hands - and let's face it if you have time to write to a newspaper, you do - try typing the word 'husband' into the search box. Do the same with 'wife' if you like. Now tell me - is it men or women who are objectified in these adverts?

This isn't some gender conflict thing - the correct answer is that neither are objectified. This is because people get involved in the media, outside the news of course, because of their own free will. The women on the front, and in the middle, and on the back, of Loaded and Maxim, as with the men in Men's Health, are all there out of personal choice. Of course, if they weren't, that would be more serious:

Heather Rutledge, Birmingham

'I am sick of being faced by crotch shots on railstation newsstands and in every newsagent. A friend of mine with two young boys says he is faced with the task of trying to counter these images every time he takes his kids to buy sweets. We both grew up in the 1960s and 70s, were both working class and very sexually active teenagers, but both feel that the sex/porn industry is pernicious, nasty and is presenting girls and boys with images that are at best misleading and at worst downright vicious.

Recent reports indicate that perhaps 80% or more of porn that is routinely viewed shows women and girls being raped and enjoying it. We have increased reporting of rapes; lowered rates of actual conviction; police concern about gang rapes.

Sorry, but it is nauseating. We need some respect for girls and women.'

It's becoming apparent to me that I reside in a parallel universe. I go to my local newssagent every day, and another one most days, and in neither would I say I am 'faced by crotchshots.' The only way to see any such thing is to go peering at the top shelf, which is going out with the intention of being offended in my book. I would be fascinated to know if this charming lady considers herself any different to those viewers who stayed up late enough to be offended by 'The Idiots' recently?

I particularly like the emphasis these writers place upon the sixties and seventies, as if what happened then should automatically be considered an appropriate comparison for today. Yes, women were objectified in the sixties and seventies - most frequently portrayed as simple creatures with simpled desires, who were never happier than when providing for the family. Does anybody see that emphasis today? Girls wearing shirts with the Playboy symbol on are in fact celebrating a freedom their mothers, and certainly their grandmothers, never knew, which is the freedom to be sexually active without censure. That women don't have to be virginal on their wedding day, is, I should say, a great improvement on life decades ago. Even their mothers, who may not have faced that pressure, certainly faced criticism were they seen to be too promiscuous. As a woman who claims to have been sexually active herself in her pre-marital youth, you would think Ms Rutledge appreciates this freedom being granted to those younger than her, but alas not.

She then goes on to make the astounding allegation that 80% of pornography shows women 'being raped and enjoying it.' The fact that she frames this with 'recent reports', and no actual evidence, says to me that she is fully aware that this figure is complete rubbish. It's the reason I chose the title I did for this post. In fact not only is this a lie, but if Ms Rutledge has any actual evidence of any woman being raped for the sake of pornography, then it is her legal duty to report such to the Police, as it obviously constitutes a felony. I'm sure her dossier is winging its way to Scotland Yard right now, but on the off chance it isn't, I think we can safely conclude that she is a deluded fantasist who has read too much Andrea Dworkin.

Typical day at Hef's house.

Surely the definition of rape is an act unwanted penetration- the idea of a woman being raped and enjoying it is a contradiction in terms. Idiotic comments like that and fake statistics are the reason many people are fed up with a reactionary media in this country- this issue concerns me far more than boring moaning about the exploitation of women in ‘men’s mags’!!

I think these women are modern feminists taking advantage of penis-driven men, they are empowered and are earning far more than many of those who complain about their work; perhaps that is the problem!
I've met women with rape "fantasies" which, of course, have nothing to do with actual rape and more to do with roleplaying.
perhaps the woman is wearing ceiling installer stilts. Anyone wearing ceiling installer stilts would be faced with crotch-shots, as well as the sharp edge of various ceiling fans, and the top of bald men's heads.
So, I guess that's it.

Oh, and I had to say it:
An acquaintance of mine once had a go at the (female) cox of the boat I rowed in at the time, saying that it was, and I quote, 'symbolically tantamount to gang rape'. The mind boggles as to how she worked that one out...
I would have posted an eloquent reply to those that think that all men objectivize women by buying porn, or Bunny logoed stationery.

However, Safetinspector beat me to the punch.

Well said, Safetinspector; Boobies, indeed.
Mr Machin is trying to pull women by appearing all sensitive and modern. He's probably peering through the cracks in a toilet door right now.

And Ms Rutledge had a working class upbringing which places her utterly beyond reproach.
It has to be said that papers like the Guardian have come at the front of this New Moral Prudery, and seem to me at least as reactionary as The Sun.

It could be that she's just very, very tall I suppose. Although the idea of her head being hit by fan blades is amusing me greatly, it would serve her right for looking at things just to be offended by them.

Bob is right, too - I once knew a fellow who sucked up desperately to women in that fashion, not just being nice, but being creepy and prostrating himself at their feet. People like that shouldn't be trusted - he stole my copy of 'Dog Day Afternoon.'

Oh, and I'll third that - boobies!
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