Asses in Advertising

So, I had intended earlier to write quickly about Boobs on Bikes, but got distracted from it by a lot of other news and responsibilities. Now that they’ve got their ruling, (and are apparently coming to Wellington later) it seems like a good time to comment.

The judgement allowing the “parade” to go ahead is both good and bad. Bad because it encourages women essentially sell their bodies for public viewing. Good because it establishes that if there are enough of us, we can potentially define the standard of decency for ourselves despite minority reports.

The problem in my mind with this event has always been that it involves paying women to exhibit themselves, and that it is doing so to advertise “adult entertainment”, which is a silly euphemism for pornography. I have no problem with anyone choosing of their own will, without inducement, to go naked or semi-naked, even if it shocks the “decent” community of prudes and the sexually repressive. But I do have a problem with the idea that people’s bodies are for sale- especially so in the case of women, who have traditionally been objectified in this fashion much more than men. I don’t see why we shouldn’t attack Steve Crowe’s “right” to pay people to do this rather than the right of people to go topless, which is perfectly lawful in New Zealand, regardless of whether you happen to be male or female.

And to anyone having doubts that this event is sexist: If you see any topless men riding on motorbikes, I’ll be very surprised.

Advertisements

8 Responses

  1. I don’t see why we shouldn’t attack Steve Crowe’s right to pay people to do this rather than the right of people to go topless,

    Good to see someone spelling out what some of the real problems are with this issue. It’s so easy for the anti parade arguments to get reduced to prudery or moralising, which certainly isn’t where the feminist opposition is coming from.

    <Fixed up your tags for you. -Ari>

  2. I have no problem with anyone choosing of their own will, without inducement, to go naked or semi-naked, even if it shocks the “decent” community of prudes and the sexually repressive.

    And presumably if this did happen – and it was women doing it – you would still criticise any men who gathered to watch them as objectifying the women, degrading women in public, etc etc?

  3. And presumably if this did happen – and it was women doing it – you would still criticise any men who gathered to watch them as objectifying the women, degrading women in public, etc etc?

    I don’t know- I think on its own I wouldn’t find an incidence or two of objectification of women “postworthy”, even though I certainly disapprove. It’s slightly different when it goes on at a mass scale as advertisement for a pornography expo.

    Keep in mind, I said “without inducement”. Leering at someone who’s being paid to be exhibitionistic for you is slightly different to, say, walking in on someone in the bathroom and staying for an eyeful, or watching your partner striptease for you 😛 I think there’s bigger feminist fish to fry than that sort of thing on its own- and Steve Crowe is one of them.

    Finally… I’d also disapprove if it were men being objectified by women- which in my opinion is the chief test of my consistency on this matter.

  4. It seems to me your objections stem from three things:

    1) The women are being paid to display themselves
    2) They’re displaying themselves to men they don’t know
    3) It’s happening in public

    I say this because your examples of more acceptable conduct are all voluntary, intimate and private.

    I can agree with 1), although possibly not any more than paying a woman to do something else disagreeable, like clean shit out of a mortuary sink.

    But I think 2) and 3) are a bit sketchier.

    Much of the criticism I’ve seen levelled at Boobs on Bikes comes in the form of criticism of the men who gather to observe, the general unpleasant atmosphere they create, how much it intimidates women, etc etc. None of this criticism seems to postulate that a crowd of men gathered to watch women displaying themselves voluntarily would be any better. In other words, the idea seems to be that it’s cool for women to display themselves if that’s what they want, but men shouldn’t watch when they do, particularly in large groups.

  5. Hey Hugh-

    (1) is really all that matters. (2) and (3) just make examples that don’t have (1) a bit more acceptable to people who dislike public nudity.

    I think a crowd of men objectifying women that WANT to be objectified and are exhibiting themselves freely is a very different story- while I may not entirely approve of their role there, I don’t feel it’s right to speak out about things people choose to do without inducement.

  6. Good to have it clarified. Having read a lot of feminist blogosphere commentary on this event, there’s been too much of an emphasis on 2) and 3), and not enough on 1), IMHO.

  7. What is all the fuss with 1) ? You have missed the point. Paid or unpaid, it is still voluntary!!

    Personally I don’t care either way on this issue. Even as somewhat of a conservative I don’t mind if it goes ahead. It’s well publicised and easy to keep children away if one feels it is of a concern. What is interesting here is to see Ari compromise his standards for the sake of distancing himself from a political enemy who has a common interest: “The judgement allowing the “parade” to go ahead is both good and bad. Bad because it encourages women essentially sell their bodies for public viewing. Good because it establishes that if there are enough of us, we can potentially define the standard of decency for ourselves despite minority reports.”

    Well make the call…should it proceed or not!? A more clever political activist would see the common end as more important than the motive of the traditional opponent and join forces. Instead both sides lose.

    And as for that dig at minorities having a say…well since when have feminists ever been the majority of the populace? As Mark Twain said “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

  8. (1) is important because as someone’s need for money increases the likelyhood that income-related decisions are truly voluntary decreases. (That is, I believe people should choose things because they want to, not because they need to)

    As for my mixed feelings- I think it should have gone ahead, but without the financial incentive. If you’re going to ask me to choose between one of those principles or the other, I suppose I’d have to say it’s better that it goes ahead and that people get to make their own choices about the matter.

    I’m fine with minorities getting to make decisions, Sean. I even advocate it in cases where the minorities are the ones most effected. What I have trouble with is minorities getting to decide ahead of majorities when both sides are equally effected, and equally interested in the result. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: