The F Word

Recently, my Facebook wall has been covered by a proliferation of semi-naked ripped men and it doesn’t make me happy. Let me explain.

When I was a girl in the 1960s and 70s, women did not have equality. We were expected to be housewives, secretaries or work in factories for a fraction of what our male counterparts earned. Tabloid newspapers all had photos of topless women on Page Three, we were told if we were raped while wearing a short skirt we were asking for it and if we were not virgins (assuming a rape case even got to court), our entire sexual history would be paraded in before the jury to make us look like hookers.

Then Women’s Lib became a movement, some burned their bras to metaphorically free themselves from the shackles and restraints society placed on our sex and Shirley Conran told us life was too short to stuff a mushroom while she advised us on how to be Superwomen.

And feminism became a dirty word.

Things have changed, however. To be a feminist now isn’t to be synonymous with a “dungaree-wearing dyke” – one of the kinder epithets thrown my way – but have they changed enough? You might think so.

Instead of scantily clad women in adverts we see men stripped to the waist, mowing a lawn while a group of young women jeer and drink coca cola. Women are empowered to express their sexuality however they please – Miley Cyrus grinding into Robin Thicke, Britney Spears suggestively dancing in a school corridor. We’ve even had a woman at the head of the security services.

For me, this is all a smokescreen to hide how little has really changed for women in society.

The Sun may be the only newspaper still to carry a Page Three model, but magazines like Zoo, Nuts and even GQ proliferate the top shelves of our supermarkets.

The music industry is run by men. Middle aged men. In order to be successful now a young girl has to wear very little and writhe like a lap dancer. Yes, I know there are artists like Adele and Florence & The Machine who don’t, but basic principles and all.

We had a woman running MI5. And that’s it. Where are all the other women in business, economics, law and politics? We are still under-represented in these male occupations.

In Hollywood men continue to work until they are old. Women are forced to halt ageing by whatever means they can in order to continue to work. We starve ourselves and spend hundreds of pounds on cosmetics and elixirs of youth in an attempt to achieve what can only be done with a plastic surgeon’s knife and an hour or two in photoshop.

And all the while we think we’ve never had it so good.

And if you think Western woman are basically emancipated, look at the rest of the world. Female genital mutilation is rife in Africa and happens in the UK too. In some asian cultures young girls are forced into marriage at eight or ten years of age, raped on their wedding night by their much older husbands and suffer such severe injury that many die. In Saudi, if you don’t have a Y chromosome you can’t drive a car.

So if you think that posting a photo of a naked man on Facebook (which is sexist in itself) means the job is done, that sexism is dead and women are emancipated, think again.

The social media thingamybobs:


  1. ailsaabraham
    Apr 28, 2014

    Totally agree with all you said but from experience, a lot of the naked or sexually provocative males are from writers of gay fiction. Let’s also be honest and say we can phoaaaar over a guy with his clothes on (usually preferable in my humble opinion, willies are so funny)

    Otherwise – yes. I joined “the Movement” way back when and all we have achieved is to make ourselves “second class blokes” instead of first class women.

    • Nettie
      Apr 28, 2014

      A lot of the photographs come from romantic novelists and I honestly think some women see themselves as empowered by openly drooling over them. You are right: all that does it make us second class blokes. And yes, willies do look silly when they are objectified. But I think boobies do too.

  2. Viv
    Apr 28, 2014

    Spot on.
    It’s been worrying me a lot.

    • Nettie
      Apr 28, 2014

      Yes, it makes me very uncomfortable.

  3. Margot Kinberg
    Apr 28, 2014

    Nettie – I couldn’t have put it better myself. Anyone who thinks that sexism is a thing of the past is, in my opinion, not paying attention. It’s still very much alive, and it limits us all.

    • Nettie
      Apr 28, 2014

      Exactly – we are distracted by the flim-flam

  4. Derek Flynn
    Apr 28, 2014

    Wow! You nailed that one, Nettie. Well said!

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