Aug 11, 2009


Top Irish chef, Neven Maguire, of MacNean's eaterie, stepped up to the plate yesterday to launch the 2009 Food and Wine Magazine Edward Dillion Restaurant of the Year Awards but the tasty treat that really got mouth's watering at the event was dishy model Georgia Salpa

Quoted in Liveline regarding the discussion of the PR decision to photo Neven Maguire with Georgia Salpa in a bikini. Apologies but I can't find the actual photo online.

Joe mentioned the normality of half-naked women used to promote events and I fired off an email,

It's not normal to have half naked women on the front of the paper.

Women are commodified in the media as sex objects and this is linked to anorexia, self harm, sexism, rape and rape apologists.

It's not ironic. It's despicable.

and ended up on the radio. I took umbrage at the blatant objectification of the model and tried to link it to the society at large. She is there as an object, without agency, to look pretty in a bikini. Why a bikini? Is it the sunny summer that we are not having?

I spoke about the male gaze, objectification and the patriarchy without using either of those terms as explanation time was limited. Not sure how I came across but a couple of callers dismissed the whole discussion as petty or said that the people who objected were just jealous of the model. I hate the "you're just jealous" meme. It's a straw argument used to derail and silence. It's classic derailing for dummies!

There were suggestions that one of the unreleased pictures was of one of the chef's eating food off the model's body. If so, they literally treated her as an object - a table. How utterly demeaning and sexist. It put me in mind of this post from Sociological Images.

It was a big pile of sexist privileged fail and it was jarring to go from feminist blogdonia to Irish radio. The podcast does not contain the whole discussion but it gives a good enough idea.

Then I saw Maman Poulet has a post on a similar theme - h/t.

Positive Options is a brand created to promote State-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services and to provide information. But in Ireland, this apparently means positing women as objects rather than adult humans with full agency.

To me, it says "shame on you, you mindless puppet, for not knowing that there are partisan anti-abortion agencies trying to counsel you". How is a poster like that of any use with the woman-as-object, woman-without-agency, woman-as-child imagery? I'm going to write to them to ask why they are using such ads to promote their service?


Anonymous said...

Dear Morrigan,

Your position is entirely predicated on the failure to comprehend the straight male psyche around sex.

Here is the news: Straight men look at women in a sexual way quite regularly, because that's the way nature wants them to behave. It is not a choice. It is a compunction. It is by design. And it is not one that men should feel ashamed of, or should be discouraged from. It is utterly, entirely natural - and healthy. Yes it needs to be put in context, and yes young men need to be encouraged to comprehend and learn that women are more than sexual objects, but to pretend that there is a world out there waiting to be created where men don't look at women as sexual objects is just simply wrongheaded.

Until feminism comes to the realisation that men are not the same as women, and should not be encouraged/indoctrinated to behave like women, then I think you will finding your good self and your fellow feminists in a permanent groundhog day, rehearsing the same arguments over and over again.

Feminism would also do well to remember that in parts of the world where mass media has no presence worth mentioning eg the Congo and other Central African Republics, rape and related sex crimes remain at a very high - indeed pandemic - rate.

The sexual tendency came first, not the advertising.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, for compunction read compulsion.

Best regards,

Mór Rígan said...

Dear Anonymous,

Biology is not destiny. I know many straight men who would utterly disavow your claims.

There is a huge difference between sexual attraction and sexual objectification. Of course straight men are attracted to women but that does not mean they objectify them.

I utterly reject your assertion that the high rates of rape in the Congo or the Central African Republic are due to biology. That sounds like rape apology to me. Do you think that men are bio programmed to rape? Cos that's what your argument sounds like. I think most straight men would not agree.

For more information on rape in the Congo, check out Amnesty and the other human rights organisations.

You are coming dangerously close to trolling

Anonymous said...

Biology is not destiny. I know many straight men who would utterly disavow your claims.

Those men are a) not being truthful with themselves and b) thus not in a position to be truthful to you.

And biology is destiny, when it comes to gender/sexual desire. Heterosexual men have a heterosexual interest in women - this includes objectifying the women as sexual objects to a certain extent. Where it not the case, then there could be no such thing as sexual attraction, as physical sexual attraction stripped to its bare bones, is not about someone's personality or character, but rather the aesthetic and 'animalistic' appeal of a woman to a man, and vice versa. To suggest otherwise is to live in a chronic state of denial.

Perhaps if feminism could understand that men can simultaneously both objectify women, and treat them as fully realised human beings and all that that entails, the movement would find itself more in touch with how things really are, rather than how it would like things to be.

I utterly reject your assertion that the high rates of rape in the Congo or the Central African Republic are due to biology. That sounds like rape apology to me. Do you think that men are bio programmed to rape? Cos that's what your argument sounds like. I think most straight men would not agree.

You are entirely misconstruing my point, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, I cannot know. My point was to the effect that the Mass Media and its objectification of women is not required for men to view women as sexual objects - reinforceing my point that feminism is entirely wrongheaded, about how men view women.

More to the point, in the instance of Africa, as I'm sure you know, rape is used as a weapon of war first and foremost, and which is why, if you have been following recent developments there you will know that rape of men, by men, has now increased in recent months.

And no, I wouldn't suggest for a moment that men are programmed to rape biologically, as that would be silly, nonsensical, and have as little substance as the notion of old that women were too emotional to have the vote, or be in politics.

And I'll think you'll find that you would do well not to use strawman arguments against other people if you wish to maintain any kind of civilised discourse with them. You would do well not to suggest that people rape apologists purely because they have the audacity to disagree with you. You would well to remember that in a environment where anonymity is not enjoyed, that allegation, when written, could reasonably be deemed libellous. Mind how you go there.

Also, as an active member of Amnesty Interational Ireland, for the past 15 years, I certainly don't need your good self to point me in the direction of Amnesty's files on the many, and vile, human rights abuses perpetrated against both genders, in Africa.

Finally, may I point out that if you find people commenting on your blog as 'dangerously close to trolling' simply because they disagreed with you, might I suggest that you cease publishing your opinions on the blogosphere, as being read and commented on by the passing public, is the raison d'etre of the blogosphere in the first instance. Although, as the intelligent and articulate person you seem to be, you know that already.

Rest assured, I won't trouble you again with my comments. I hope you overcome your various troubles soon, and go on to enjoy all the joy that life can bring.

Best regards,

Mór Rígan said...

Dear Anonymous

I disagree and I’m not the only one who does.

Just in case you were wondering, yes I did pick the posts because they were written by men. I particularly recommend I am not my cock by Ross Lincoln in this context.

Men do not need to objectify women in order to be attracted to them. Sexual objectification requires the projection of desires on to a passive object. In that objectified state, the woman is not human in the viewers’ eyes. That is not sexual attraction.

Feminism is not a monolithic movement. There are many feminisms and womanisms each with different aims and issues. Most acknowledge the intersectuality of oppressions and the role the patriarchy plays in the lives of women every day. Many paths to equal rights for all.

You are right. I jumped ahead of the argument. I agree that the mass media and its objectification of women is not required for men to view women as objects. However, the constant barrage of images where women are half naked out of context, the violence against women in the papers everyday, in movies, advertising, bus stops, billboards, facebook sidebars etc does desensitise the viewer to these messages. We are at a point where it is now normal for a chef to present a dish with a bikini-clad woman beside him, totally out of context. What I am pointing out is the insidiousness of this objectification.

Well I suppose if we were not both using pen names we could duke this out at the next AGM. I brought up Africa because you did. Also Africa is a continent and I feel uncomfortable talking in generalities about very different countries.

The line you appeared to be taking was that of evo psych believers. Normally the commenter who comes to blogs like mine comes to prove that men are bio-programmed to x y z and engage in rape apology. See below for the bingo card of straw arguments that have been utterly rejected.

Of course the bio-prog argument is ridiculous but in my experience that argument comes directly after the "men are programmed to objectify women" argument. It is used as a straw argument to detail the debate. I apologise for jumping to conclusions.

My feminism incorporates the idea that men are hurt by patriarchy too. We are all a part of the system and those who deviate are punished. I'm sure that you can think of quite a few examples there.

Thanks for commenting.