Tag Archives: empowerment

Objects of desire

Fragile box

I have been slightly disturbed by a recent thread on a mums’ online group. The discussion was about the attractiveness of a local delivery man – his doorstep appeal. Sizzling, apparently. The type of fella you’d want to be answering the door to in your nightdress. Maybe letting your dressing gown slip open as you drowsily open the door at 7am. Desperate housewives having a bit of a giggle. All good, clean fun, right?

But turn the tables and is it so funny? Imagine a thread on a dads’ forum talking about a delivery woman: “Should’ve answered the door in my pants!” “Wouldn’t mind posting something in her box!” Suddenly it sounds less harmless and much seedier. Why is it okay for women to do to men what they don’t like done unto themselves? Is one of the benefits of being the ‘weaker’ sex that we can harangue men in a non-threatening and therefore acceptable way? Look at the ad with the Diet Coke man cutting the grass – tossing him the shaken can to open is equivalent to making a woman climb a ladder to look up her skirt. I’d like to see whether an advert like that would avoid complaints.

I’m not aiming criticism at the people who commented on the thread – I certainly want to be able to go into town without wearing a flak jacket – but it made me think about the double standards that operate in a society that is (hopefully) striving for equality. Perhaps turning the tables on men is a form of empowerment – an attempt to redress the balance of power by taking men on at their own game. After all, gender equality is about creating a level playing field. Do we therefore say, yes, it’s fine for women to talk about men based on their appearance and sex appeal alone. If we do, then at the same time we should be reaching for the topshelf in the newsagents and ripping the protective wrapping off the men’s magazines – right? It’s only fair after all. Either we agree that it’s acceptable to treat women and men like this, or we agree that no one should be reduced to the status of a mere sexual object.

That’s an awful lot of questions. I don’t have the answers and, yes, maybe I should take a hike and go and burn my bra someplace else. I am sure the delivery man – high up on his pedestal – is in no danger of being chased down and ravished by a pack of mums so to that extent it is harmless. But I wonder how he would feel if he read what was being said about him. Perhaps he’d be delighted and his testosterone levels would surge. But perhaps – and there’s a good chance – he would feel uncomfortable and more than a little embarrassed by the attention he’s received.

How to be fabulous

You’ve been lured in by the title haven’t you? I bet you’ve been drawn into posts and articles like this before. The promise of ‘fabulous’ is very hard to resist. Particularly if you’re a woman. Especially if you’re a woman. Look at the number of magazines women buy that promise the Golden Ticket. (Women’s lifestyle/fashion magazines had a circulation of 6,863,314 at the end of 2011. Source: ABC.)

According to women’s magazines women all want the same: to be fitter, thinner, lovelier, more sexually alluring and successful at work (although on the latter some magazines have yet to be dragged into the 21st century). The sexism inherent in this bothers me. No, I’m not claiming to have noticed anything original. I’m pointing out the bleeding obvious. To become fabulous is to become empowered. Yet where does the power really lie when the yardstick is other women and much of it is to attract men? Seems that the power still sits with those around us, not with ourselves. Depressing really.

So what’s to be done? I suggest we ditch the mags and subscribe to my 3-year-old’s guide to How to be Fabulous. She wisely advises that to be fabulous you must:

  • Be nice.
  • Be good.
  • Listen.
  • Not burn your fingers on the oven.
  • Be a builder.
  • Don’t chop your fingers off with scissors.
  • Not be grumpy (like me apparently – delightful child.)

See, it’s as easy as that. Male or female, fat or thin, young or old, you can ALL be fabulous.*

* The precise amount will depend upon your circumstances and your soul may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments.Due to market fluctuations terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. (You didn’t think it was really going to be that easy did you?)