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Super Liberal Women

August 1st, 2011 Posted in Media by

For a while I was hesitant to contribute my thoughts on the latest feminist furore de jour. I feel as though I have said everything that needs to be said; government is not responsible for the self esteem of young women. To be fair, the advertising industry, should be commended for making some significant progress.

Jo Swinson is now persuing some ‘war on pink’ nonsense. I really do wonder what type of women she thinks she is representing when she goes on these crusades though. Are there really women and young girls who fall to pieces upon glimpsing an overly airbrushed ad? Do they crawl weeping to the telephone to make a complaint to the ASA and then drag themselves to the bathroom to purge themselves of every last morsel? Is every woman in the country becoming Daily Mail columnist, Liz Jones? (I think you’ll agree that’s a frightening prospect.) What has happened to womanhood?

Feminists have never been particularly good at making women feel anything other than angry and miserable and I think Swinson is falling into the trap. She has got some ads banned but she is not projecting another appealing feminine ideal (and that’s not really her job either…). The feminist solution used to be dress like a man and cut your hair short – as if femininity and assertiveness are in someway mutually exclusive. Everytime I hear the phrase ‘real woman’ it is accompanied by a picture of some overweight, miserable looking creature in dungarees. If that is real then I want to be ethereal, unreal, surreal. Or better yet, let’s drop this ‘real woman’ crap and think about what is the Super Liberal Woman? I hope she is a healthy, althetic, feminine, interesting and assertive individual who laughs heartily when she sees a ridiculous ad in a magazine, then goes about her daily business (and dreams at night of 4% flat rate of income tax…).

There will always be a media ideal of feminine beauty. The truth is that women have the freedom to pick as much of it or as little of it to aspire too as they so wish. The emphasis should be on teaching girls and young women how be strong when they are made to feel bad about it – not insulating them from it – because you never truly can.

8 Responses to “Super Liberal Women”

  1. Alessandra Says:

    ‘There will always be a media ideal of feminine beauty. The truth is that women have the freedom to pick as much of it or as little of it to aspire too as they so wish. The emphasis should be on teaching girls and young women how be strong when they are made to feel bad about it – not insulating them from it – because you never truly can.’

    AMEN. Too right.

    This whole bubble today is ridiculous, really. True ‘war on pink’ nonsense.


  2. Jack Hughes Says:

    Great except for the last para…

    “The emphasis should be on teaching”

    Who says ? Who teaches ? It looks like you still buy into the idea of some kind of “wise navigator” charting the course for girls and young women but you want a different course.


  3. Sara Scarlett Says:

    Please do not put words into my mouth. I assume that these girls and young women have families and/or belong to communities who are responsible for their health and well-being up until the age of 18, yes. Having a parent or primary caretaker mention, on occasion, that Barbie isn’t a real person (if they were ever so educationally sub-normal as to think that in the first place) is hardly navigating their lives.


  4. Bolivia Newton-John Says:

    “I hope she is a healthy, athletic, feminine, interesting and assertive individual who laughs heartily when she sees a ridiculous ad in a magazine, then goes about her daily business (and dreams at night of 4% flat rate of income tax…).”

    As a liberal I tend to shun utopian notions, but this was a great sentence.


  5. Richard Says:

    Do you really think that lying in advertising is defensible on freedom of speech grounds?

    It seems obvious to me that this is the core of the question. If it isn’t, then advertising make-up by taking someone wearing the make-up and then airbrushing them to make them look more attractive implies that the make-up is more effective than it really is. That’s deceitful advertising and should not be allowed.


  6. Sara Scarlett Says:

    I do not think that lying in advertising is acceptable. But that is not the grounds on which Jo Swinson is fighting this crusade. Her arguments are some neo-feminist bullshit about women not being able to know the difference between an airbrushed photo and reality not purely that the representations are fraudulent. Similarly, I do not think it is the role of government to police the advertising industry. I find Swinson’s role in this bizarre, the fact that she is an MP makes it look like it is the responsibility of government to act in the name indivuals self esteem. By the way – what I will say again, is that the best way to deal with fraudulent advertising is to stop buying the magazines that carry them and let the magazine know why you no longer buy it. Ultimately this is a more effective solution than banning the ads altogether could ever be.


  7. Leslie K. Clark Says:

    An interesting article (and photo), Sara.

    Isn’t all advertising about being economical with the truth? Do young men really buy Lynx products in the hope that they’ll have a veritable bevy of beauties throwing themselves at them? In the same way, do aging housewives in Hull really buy L’Oreal in the vain hope that they could be transformed to have the looks and complexion of Julia Roberts?

    The solution to this is simple – just don’t believe everything you see on TV and in glossy magazines.


  8. Mark Littlewood Says:

    I can’t comment on what “super liberal women” might aspire to.

    But it does seem to me that Jo Swinson should also argue that movies like Star Wars should have banners across the bottom saying “This film does not feature real aliens”.


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