i was watching 7 days on friday night, as i do when i get the chance. well, wouldn't you know it, one of the news items was auckland feminist action's campaign against the tui breweries ads. as would be expected, the feminists were put down and the ads were supported. if you want to watch the episode, head over to the tv3 website.
funnily enough, the guys weren't saying too much. it was the woman comedian, urzila carlson, who really got stuck in. there were a few issues with what she had to say. her main point seemed to be that the young women in the ads must have worked hard at a gym to get the kind of bodies they have, and if she had such a body, she would be busy flaunting it.
there's some unpacking to be done here. first is the notion that people who have slim bodies work hard to achieve them. well that's true of some people but not true of others. some people just have a metabolism which means they don't have to work too hard to keep to the beauty ideal. other people have metabolisms which mean that they could work a couple of hours every day, and still find it almost impossible to get to that ideal.
it buys into the notion that fat people have the bodies they do because they are simply lazy. which she must know is crap. plenty of people who don't have the "ideal" body size are actually active and fit. some of them aren't because they can't be - due to health issues, or time and energy issues (possibly because they are working 2 or 3 jobs plus managing a household, and don't have the time/energy to put into exercise). and of course, some people who are thin aren't particularly healthy.
then there's the self-deprecation. ms carlson is implying that her current body shape is not attractive - seeing as how she isn't flauting it in quite the way she described on the show, she would seem to think it isn't worth flaunting. which again reinforces the notion that bigger bodies can't possibly be beautiful. her body shape is something that she does use to get laughs - i've seen two stand-up routines now where she starts off by saying that she's in the show to be the "eye-candy". which gets a laugh because we're in a society that accepts that someone with her body size and shape can't possibly be worth looking at.
i can only go by what i see, but she seems to be quite comfortable with this state of affairs ie that only thin women can be attractive, that fatness is a thing to be ridiculed at laughed at. and because she ensures that the laugh is on her, more than it is on anyone else, it doesn't seem so bad.
the only problem is that there are women who don't want to live in such a world, and who want to change this notion that only a certain size and shape of woman can be considered attractive. we want to live in a world where fat isn't evil, and people don't make lazy assumptions about fat people which they use to justify the general abuse and ridicule they choose to direct at such people.
now, i'm certainly not saying that ms carlson has to take on that fight. certainly not, and not when she's working in an industry that is particularly difficult for women. what i am saying is that she might consider that other women do want to take on this fight, and maybe she could just think about the possibility of not giving them her contempt or putting them down. it wouldn't be hard - she could have just gone with a comment about how she disagreed with their stance, but accepted that they have their own point of view. see, i'm not even expecting solidarity or any kind of support from her. just a lack of the ridicule and contempt that so mirrors what we're seeing from the dudebros across the internet.
and finally, ms carlson did seem to miss some of the point of the AFA protest. it's not just the sexualisation of the women in the ads, but also treating women as if they are stupid and/or not to be taken seriously, as well the clear misogyny of some of the billboards. it's the whole package. see, ms carlson's defense of the women in the ads seems to imply that it is those women who are somehow under attack. this is not the case. it's the people who make the ads - come up with the concepts, decide that it's ok to depict women in this way (and again, talking about the whole package) who are the target here. as well as the people who authorise and pay for the tui campaign. it's the people who make the decisions and who can choose to change the way they market the product who the protesters is speaking to.
on the other hand, shelley bridgeman gets it (as usual, avoid the comments). make of that what you will.