Women, Porn and Fashion

I got involved this week in a fairly heated discussion of the infamous Miley Cyrus video.

Now I am not a fan of Miley Cyrus, her style of music or the sector of the music industry she represents. I would never have watched her video were it not for all the fuss about it. But now I have watched it and to be honest my first impression was, “Really… Is that all? Is this what all the fuss is about?”

So my opinion is this. I fully support Miley’s right to portray herself and her songs as she sees fit (so long as it really is her choice). The video is really quite tame. There is some partial nudity but we don’t see her breasts or any other private parts. There are allusions to and suggestions of sexual activity, but nothing graphic. My only concern about that was that they didn’t seem particularly necessary. I don’t think this video gives anybody the right or justification to accuse Miley of being cheap or a slut. If partial nudity is seen as pornographic these days we really have turned the clock back in a negative way.

If Miley or any other woman were required or obliged to portray themselves in a sexual manner to have any chance in the music industry I would be entirely and vehemently against it; but if it is their own choice I support their right to be seen as who they choose to be seen as.  I think that women have a tougher ride in the music industry (and many other spheres of life) than men do, however there always have been and still are women who achieve success on their own terms without having to rely on a sexy or sexual image. But there have always been and always will be some who choose to use their sexuality as part of the package. Since I don’t think there is anything wrong with sex in itself, I support their right to do that. Moreover, if Miley or any other woman freely chooses to express their sexuality as a significant part of their persona; this is not in itself evidence that they are cheap, nasty or unworthy of respect.

But  would say that, wouldn’t I? I have previously described myself as a sex positive feminist and I do tend to be criticised by feminists who have a more conservative view. Still, I stick to my beliefs and opinions.

The Miley discussion I became embroiled in developed into a discussion of the way young women are damaged by porn and fashion.

I agree that women as individuals and the image of women as a whole can be damaged by both pornography and fashion. On the whole though I think fashion is more dangerous.

Let’s start with porn. As regular readers will know I am not against porn. I myself enjoy some of it. However, there is some that I don’t personally like and there is some that I think is thoroughly wrong and should be illegal. In terms of how porn can effect women negatively I have several areas of concern.

Firstly in terms of the production of porn it is very important that all those who are filmed or photographed (women and men) do so of their own free will. Any kind of coercion including the use of drugs, bribery or blackmail; in my opinion means everyone involved in manipulating the subjects should be arrested and sent to prison for a long time.

Secondly no participants in pornographic images should be (or be made to look like) they are under the age of consent.

Thirdly I find any depiction of rape perverse and I don’t think any film or photo-shoot should be allowed to convey the impression that women in general want or need to be raped. Such things do exist and they are very damaging to the way men are encouraged to think about women. (For any men reading this who haven’t got it yet;- it may be that some women fantasise about being taken by force but this does not mean that ANY woman wants to be raped. If you don’t understand where the difference is, please stay at home until you have had suitable therapy).

Finally porn which objectifies women as creatures that have no other desire or purpose other than sex, is false, dangerous and wrong in every way. It is totally demeaning to women; and to men as well, because you’d have to be totally fucking stupid to believe any such thing!

But where porn portrays women as intelligent creatures with interesting lives and professions who just happen to enjoy sex, I have no objection to it. While there is an increasing amount of pornography that is made by women with women’s tastes in mind, it is still an industry largely driven by men and male tastes. There are inherent dangers in that in terms of the way women are portrayed, some of which I have mentioned. Fashion on the other hand is an industry which is still geared more to the tastes of women, and in the context of this discussion I think that makes it more dangerous.

I have a passing interest in fashion. I have an artistic eye, I like to look at new designs and styles in clothing. I do occasionally read fashion magazines. However I have personal tastes and my own style, and due to my own philosophical beliefs I object to the herd mentality that the fashion industry engenders. My main concern however, and the biggest danger to women in fashion is the way women are portrayed physically.

The size zero debate is nothing new but it is frustrating that the fashion industry still hasn’t mended it’s ways. Images like those below are still far too common in the magazines that nearly all girls and young women read at some time or other.

I honestly find the above images more disturbing than most of the pornographic images I have ever seen. The problem is that fashion is to a large extent aimed at adolescent girls and young women at a time in their development when self image is very important, physical and hormonal changes are ongoing and they are very susceptible to subtle programming.

The obvious truth is that the above women look more sick than beautiful, but that truth is not so easy to see when you are fourteen, desperately trying to find your place in society and dieting gives a sense of control when everything else around you is chaos and flux. Trying to emulate these so called super models actually causes women to die. It also imprints an utterly false image of what a fit and attractive woman should look like.

And even when we are a little older, the models portraying the clothes people my age and over should be wearing certainly don’t look much like any healthy person I know.

But the implication of the fashion industry is not that the models are wrong. They should not look more like us; we should always try to look more like them. There is a whole industry of diet products worth billions in addition to the fashion houses themselves that is based on the lies of the fashion industry. Women of all ages are constantly judged against an impossible and unhealthy standard and therefore encouraged to feel bad about themselves. All for the sake of the mighty dollar.

The truth is the fashion industry is both repressing and depressing many women and it is based on a concept that we should all be the same. I find it more dangerous and more insidious than porn in almost every way. Moreover porn seems to be much more realistic and democratic in the physical depiction of women. Porn stars have flesh and they have curves, like most of us do. You can find small breasted and large breasted women. You can find middle aged women with sagging skin if that turns you on…

If Miley Cyrus’s image was an encouragement for women to conform to a certain physical size and appearance and risk their health in doing so, I would be very critical of her. And in fact in the Wrecking Ball video that is the only aspect I would be critical of since with Hollywood money and make-up artists she is not far off the size zero… Personally I’d like to see her develop a less plastic image and put on a few more pounds, it would make her look more human and sexy. But what her detractors seem most critical of is the fact that she has shed her Disney Princess image and alluded to the fact that she is a woman who has sexual appetites. Good for her.

The truth is there is a whole spectrum of experience and personality between the stereotypes of the virgin and the whore that conservatives seem comfortable with. It is about time they grew up.

11 responses to “Women, Porn and Fashion

  1. Pingback: “An all-out ban on porn isn’t going to clean up music videos, and it isn’t going to stop young women… | feimineach.com

  2. In agreement with the first half and horrified at the second. Who would want to that to their body voluntarily?

    Great post 🙂

  3. Pingback: #Sex – The Differences between #Men&Women | Christina Mandara

  4. writingthebody

    ps thank you for visiting me as well….

  5. writingthebody

    I agree with you about all of that….those principles should surely be able to guide what is ok as porn and what is not. And those fashion images are horrible….

    I am also offering you the Versatile blogger… please do not feel you have to do anything..,..but if you do want to…well, http://writingthebody.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/versatile-blogger-award-a-little-modified-as-i-do-rules-you-know/

  6. Good post making some very good points. I for one do not find anorexia sexy or even attractive, but i guess the designers save on fabric costs. And i too am totally disgusted by any porn that simulated rape scenes (violence) and the “little girl” look (just plain sick). The Virgin or the Whore – obviously a side effect of Christianity on our culture.

  7. This is all being done for a calculated reason. What is that reason? Money.

    How else can they get women to pay for all these diet aids, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, and psych meds when things aren’t going the way the women thought things should go because their lives do not match what the media portrays?

    They are like christians in that these vermin have to entrap people at an early age. If I could destroy them by flipping a switch, then don’t get between me and that switch!

  8. Mmmmm …. I see those you ID as size 0. I don’t think they are pretty or sexy looking. All I can think about is I need to feed this girl a a thick steak with all the trimmings.

    • You are right of course, that is what they need. But if they are really not interested I might pop round myself for some steak sometime! 😉

      • Love to have you drop by (anytime) for a grilled, home grown, locally processed steak or BBQ sauce covered steak with all the trimmings. I’m not a bad cook either.
        Making a new girlfriend is always a welcome unexpected pleasure for me.
        Happy holiday season

    • I’m hungry now. I’d forgotten it was holiday season in your part of the world. Have fun. 🙂

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