After watching part of a Channel 4 series Best Undressed (of which, more later), I’ve been reflecting upon attitudes towards women and their bodies this week.
There has been outrage over an article in Mother & Baby magazine by Kathryn Blundell about bottlefeeding her baby because she finds breastfeeding ‘creepy’ and likes her ‘fun bags’ kept firm and for her man and not her child. Oh, and she wants to quaff a glass or two. I make no comment, and no judgement, about bottlefeeding over breastfeeding, and have a great deal of sympathy about the wine business (tho’ in truth, I found motherhood so bone-weakeningly knackering, it seriously dented my pleasure in drinking for quite some years). But what I really hated about her article, and about the massively judgemental reaction to it, is how it reflects the misogyny that is so rife, so venomous and so ubiquitous in British society. Women don’t need men to stand in judgement of their size, shape and cellulite. Hell, we don’t even need other women to do it. We loathe ourselves with a passion.
Breastfeeding, and how it is perceived, is just a window to that horrible nasty world where it’s not even ok to suckle a child for fear of making your tits saggy later on (and because doing so in public is such a nightmare, it’s not surprising even women that want to do it, give up). And, by the by, Kathryn. It’s age and gravity you are fighting, not your infant. Tits will sag, buy the best bra you can get. End of story.
It was interesting, this week, to note the appointment of Welsh-born Julia Gillard as the first ever female Prime Minister of that less than obviously pro-women nation, Australia. Particularly when juxtaposed against the Martin Taylor’s documentary about Miss Nude Australia on Channel 4. It was fascinating to watch. Most, if not all, of the contestants are professional strippers or pole dancers. Many were smart and very engaging. One woman was explaining how difficult it is for her boyfriend to remember she is acting and doing a job, and isn’t looking to actually seduce the men in the audience. It reminded me of one of my favourite scenes in the Robert Altman film, Short Cuts, when a woman is simultaneously changing her baby’s nappy and within earshot of her husband, making her living (and paying for the nappies) by talking dirty down the phone. Unsurprisingly, the husband is very uncomfortable (but doesn’t, please note, help by looking after the baby), and later asks, to her incredulity, if she gets turned on doing it.
In terms of the Miss Nude Australia contestants, I was impressed with their imaginative costumes (they start fully clothed) as well as their skill and athleticism on that pole (and hoop, and in one strange case, cat climbing toy) really impressive. It was interesting to meet some of the families too, and I found myself quite liking the cross-dressing promoter.
I was less keen on the clothed Australian men behind a table doing the judging of the ‘best lungs’ and ‘best buns’. If it were a contest judged by women and gay men, Dame Edna, or even a panel who were themselves nude, I could have just about stomached it. But ultimately, however feisty and engaging the women are, they are laid up there like depilated slabs of meat to be judged on their tits and arse by clothed men, and that does not, and never will, sit comfortably with me.
Posted by Inkface