In case you missed it, the latest media frenzy around drunken Brits abroad this week concerned a girl who was filmed publicly giving oral sex to twenty four men in a bar in Magaluf. Reports suggest that she did this on the promise of a ‘holiday’ which, somewhat awkwardly, turned out to be the name of a €5 cocktail.
Naturally the same newspaper that peddles soft porn on a daily basis, proclaiming that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them showing a hyper-sexualised image of a young woman, was outraged and disgusted. If the Sun (and the media generally) is controlling the woman’s sexual image, there is nothing wrong with it. If a woman then acts in a sexual way, outside of their world, their control, it is “a new low”. I can’t put it better than this article in the Guardian earlier this week:
“What it says is: we get to police your sexuality. We choose what is sexually pleasing, what is provocative, where the lines lie and when they are blurred. […] If you don’t learn to play the game and let us tell you what you can and can’t do with your hands, your mouth and your vagina, then we’ll come for you.”
As for the feminist view, I just don’t know what to tell you.
Does feminism mean the right and freedom to publicly give oral sex to whoever you want, wherever you want, without backlash and criticism? Possibly, though I personally hope that the majority of woman don’t take up this ‘opportunity’.
Does feminism mean being educated enough, independent and free enough not to have to do something like this? Onlookers reported that the girl was in no way coerced, and wasn’t totally off her face: she knew what she was doing, and made that choice. But doesn’t it say something about our society that a young girl would make that choice? Isn’t there some form of societal coercion at play here, even if subliminally, telling her that she will be ‘cooler’, ‘hotter’ if she does this?
Or does feminism give all of us, wide-eyed readers, hungry for salacious gossip, the right to cast whatever judgement we want over this girl? Whether that’s to call her a “repulsive slag”, “actual vermin”, or “scum of the earth” as some lovely twitter commentators did, or to shrug our shoulders and say “it was a free choice”.
Perhaps, as feminists, the only united stand we can take is not to defend this particular girl but to attack the blatant hypocrisy of the media, which pushes and pushes female sexuality with the one hand, while smacking down any woman who dares to independently express her own sexuality with the other.
Personally, I must confess that my prudish sensibilities are a little sickened by the event. Yet another part of me feels sorry for the girl. For the reaction she is having to deal with, from friends and family, media, and the public via social media. But also for whatever made her want to do it, or feel like she had to do it, however condescending that may sound. Yet I’m not surprised by it. Girls these days are bombarded by sexualised imagery, they are perpetually told that to be rich, successful or attractive to men, they must flaunt their selves sexually. Why should we be shocked that this results in something like this? Only when we stand up to the ingrained misogyny in the media will women truly be free to decide which of the above is really feminism, and which is right for them personally.
P.S If you agree that these double standards and misogyny aren’t a good thing, please take a minute to sign the No More Page 3 petition, which is campaigning for an end to the Sun’s page 3 image.