Blogging on sexual objectification – developing a critical lens is more important than telling people what to criticise.

In a week that began with David Cameron voicing his support for the forthcoming Bailey Report on the sexualisation of children and ended with the opening of a reincarnated Playboy club in London’s Mayfair, I have found myself in equal parts enthused and irritated by the discussion of sexual objectification in the mainstream media. Delighted that some degree of accountability is likely to be enforced on the industries that shamelessly exploit children and young people’s vulnerability, peddling a cynical, commodified distortion of adult sexuality. But more than uncomfortable with the vision of society that this report and its recommendations might represent for the Tories, the Daily Mail and its author and MALE Chief Exec of the Christian organisation, the MOTHER’s Union (I’m Anglican and even I don’t get how that works) – hardly a line up of supporters that screams “Yey feminism!” In fact the images of smiling, energetic feminist protestors in Mayfair gave me much more satisfaction, if tempered a little by the news media’s determination to paint the events as more amusing than significant, complete with all the smirks and eye-widening that accompany all stories in the ‘And finally…’ slot. At least there were opportunities for important feminist voices like Kat Banyard to take on the ‘Just a bit of fun’ brigade with some serious feminist ass-kickery.

One way or another, this week has reminded me of why I started writing here at soisaystoher in the first place – the need for a place to discuss these issues in a little more detail than the average news soundbite allows for, and in doing so to encourage people to develop their own critical lens, something which will stand by all of us much better than stricter legislation of the magazine, clothing or entertainment industries. This is something I had the opportunity to speak about recently at the members’ meeting of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. The event focused on the presence/absence of women in the media in Ireland and included thoughts from a panel of academics, print and broadcast journalists, and bloggers like myself, as well as fantastic input and debate from the 100 or so women in attendance. All the panelists’ talks from the day are available to view on youtube – I posted mine below as a bit of a reminder of what it is this whole blogging malarky is trying to achieve.

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