MISS Representation and Porn
I viewed the film Miss Representation last Thursday evening in Courtenay along with a sold out crowd. This film was made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and is dedicated to young girls who are being swamped with media images of women as sex objects with no brains. This concept is now everywhere in the media, blatantly unashamed sexism that is clawing at little girls even before they hit puberty. Newsom’s point is that if all little girls see in the media ( music videos, movies, TV, newspaper and bill board ads along with video games) are females displaying “tits and ass” (to use young male terms) along with roaring male approval, what are young girls to think? They will think, of course, that it is their bodies that are important to society, not their brains and personalities. This is a wonderful film, true to the facts and real. But the facts of this film suggest to me (because I have lived so long) that this kind of overt media misogyny is actually a back lash (aka BLACKLASH, Susan Faludi) in the face of women’s social and economic gains, and a recent one at that.
After the Second World War the many Rosie the Riveters were forced, by their government (s), and by custom and religion to give over their jobs to men returning from the battlefield. Women who had held the war machine together were told to go home and have more babies and that’s what they did. The post war economy was booming and even the least educated of men could find good paying jobs. Baby boomers were the result, masses of them. When the baby boomers grew up they were inclined to be more egalitarian in their views and sent their daughters to college, too, along with their sons. And this began to change the makeup of North American and European society.
In the ensuing years the daughters of the boomers began to enter colleges and universities in droves. They usually found high paying jobs upon graduation. Young women with less education also entered the job market and began working their way up in the service and trade industries. Soon a few women were appearing in previously male- only professions. Some began teaching math and engineering and a few were becoming firefighters and policemen, as well as politicians. And while women still haven’t made enormous strides in government, the recent US election saw pro-choice and secular women defeat entrenched conservative, sexist, evangelical men in major political races.
But our western economies, including Canada, are no longer booming. We may never boom again. In the capitalist world it is now capital that makes money, not manufacturing. Asia has become the manufacturing center of the world. While the US struggles with gutted out industrial centers, Canada has been appointed by Stephen Harper to be kept alive by resource extraction that continues to threaten the earth’s stability. How to keep young men preoccupied so that they don’t think too seriously about these things?
Two ways. Games and sex. Hockey, football and pornography. In her book PORNLAND Gail Dines explains how a new, violent, virulent depiction of sex (Gonzo porn) has pushed soft porn into the main stream to the delight of advertisers and the despair of women. Dines informs us that the new, more graphic images of multiple men on one woman invading all of her orifices with their penises while at the same time verbally abusing her has become a huge global business. While little girls are struggling with body image to the point of bulimia and anorexia what is happening to little boys?
A little boy has a hard enough time at puberty separating his love for his mother from his growing excitement about girls who, while different from his mother, are nevertheless females like his mother. When he sees porn, what is he to make of the violent sex images of females like his mother acting as sex dolls, allowing multiple men to stick their penis’ everywhere on a single woman’s body? I think he may become stunned. And stunted. Boys are now falling behind girls in school and are no longer the majority on university campuses. The new jobs coming up are in the main service jobs that require sensitivity to others feelings. Men haven’t been conditioned to do this work. And many are feeling threatened. Capitalism, ever sensitive to selling to male insincerity, created by capitalism itself, offers up the perverted, disgusting images needed to engage men in finding an outlet for their perceived dwindling lack of power.
This has got to stop. It is making our little girls sick and our little boys dumb. Women are making gains but we must get to the position where we have the power to protect our children from our own society. It’s a sad state of affairs where women begin to feel that our government and institutions have joined hands with the money grubbing, money laundering vehicles of commerce to deliver harm to children for their own benefit. It’s sad, but it can be fixed, if women demand it. See the film MISS Representation and beg, borrow or steal a copy of PORNLAND by Gail Dines.