29 December, 2007

Bearing breasts is empowering

Once women burned their bras, today they send photos of their breasts to lad mags and call it liberating. Is this really a new form of feminism or just the old objectification, asks Sarah Montague, of BBC Radio 4's Today.

Twenty years ago when I was in my teens, Page Three girls seemed old fashioned. Surely it was just a matter of time before they disappeared altogether.

Not only has Page Three survived, it has been joined by almost every other page of a newspaper, including the front.

Jordan, aka Katie Price
Katie Price - aka Jordan - uses her body as a business asset
These days I find myself in petrol station queues trying to explain to my five-year-old daughter why these women haven't got any clothes on. I don't know what message she takes from it. Perhaps she'll think the only exploitation going on is of men's sexual responses.

After all, women like glamour model Jordan have made a fortune from this sort of stuff. She's become a role model for thousands of young women who no longer see the sex industry as a last refuge if they're desperate but as something to aspire to. And it doesn't seem to be just down to the money it can pay.

A few months ago, a woman from Nuts TV told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the reason thousands of young women chose to upload pictures of their breasts for free so that men could rate them on the Nuts website was because it was "empowering" to do so.

It reflects a change in society over the past ten years. I wouldn't blame the Spice Girls. I'm sure they just successfully tapped into something that was already there.

As a result of the success of feminism, women can now do exactly as men do. Not only are they doing the same jobs, they're drinking the same amount of alcohol and even treating sex in the same way. But 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, a female director in retail or business earns about £57,000 while a man in the same job earns £70,000, according to the Institute of Directors.

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