Why do men think it is OK to wear images of naked women on their t shirts?
I had a discussion with my nephew about this on Easter Sunday. He said the photograph on his t shirt was art. (It was an image of the naked Marilyn, with the red cross over it; from the photo proofs - she didn’t want that photo printed. She certainly never authorised the photo to be printed on a t shirt.) I said it breached community standards. The image wouldn’t be acceptable on a billboard, or during family tv viewing times. He said I could choose to not look. I said I’d have to look to know I didn’t want to look, but then I’ve already seen. I said it isn’t treating women as whole people. It’s objectifying. It isn’t respectful. He said I see everything in terms of feminism. We agreed to disagree.
What I didn’t say was that, in context of the more violent images I’ve seen on men’s t shirts, the red cross could be blood. The image could be seen as more mean and violent than he thought.
Images such as those on men’s t shirts would not be acceptable in the workplace, and I’ve worked in places where men thought they were. Were they trying to intimidate the women who visited their workspace? I don’t know, but as a young woman, I know I was very uncomfortable, vulnerable, and aware that I wasn’t being taken seriously in my work when I entered their workspace. I can’t remember what I did, but I hope I complained. I know I have spoken out against sexism in other workplaces (one place the manager told a joke about rape to lift our spirits).
Here are some articles that have crossed my path since the Easter conversation. They support my argument.
UK teachers say raunch culture has set feminism back 40 years, and they want to teach students to address inequality and sexism.
Melinda Tankard Reist with statistics on the effects pornification of our society has on on girls. I’m interested in how pornification also affects boys and boy’s behaviour.
Tara Moss on political representation and women in the news (saying nothing about the lack of women on boards, and my own friends talking about women being sacked in engineering and the lack of career path in science).
I wanted to say the objectification of women in our culture encourages young men to treat women as the footballers at Steubenville treated the young woman they were found guilty of raping, recording the rape and their callous disregard of her, and uploading images of her as if it was not just OK, but fun. Objectifying women contributes to a rape culture. I didn't say that, because I didn't want to raise the details of the Steubenville case around my children.
I didn’t say that if you want to wear an image of Marilyn, how about the photo of her reading Ulysses.