P.O.R.N.O is a bad advert for feminism

I’ve got to be honest; P.O.R.N.O. V. is posing a tricky question for me. The words “sexist” and “degrading” are reverberating in an inevitably loud chorus in my head, yet part of me has to admit it looks like harmless fun.

As you may have guessed from the name, the Vanbrugh College event is a celebration of porn. The Facebook group instructs those attending to “dress as sluttily as you can”, with a prize going to “the most sluttily dressed.” At least it did before YUSU forced the Vanbrugh organisers to tone it down.

But is there anything wrong with that? It’s not unfair to say that many women today have re-interpreted old fashioned ‘dressing up’ as ‘dress as sluttily as you can’. Think fresher’s week Army and Navy night; slutty sailor, slutty soldier. You get the gist. Is this a sign of our changing times? A cementing of the success of the feminist movement?

Yet the social pressure on women today to conform to society’s wishes – in dress and behaviour – continues to mirror that of centuries past. Look at the queue for Gallery on a Thursday night: there stand women of intelligence, women attending one of the top ten universities in the country. Yet all you see is legs and cleavage.

While there’s no doubt that the freedom of women has taken leaps and bounds in the past century, in some aspects all modern society has done is to pour concrete in the gaps of our prison walls. The original feminists did not campaign so we could dress like whores and give men a free sex show without feeling a shred of humiliation, yet evidently many women have certainly interpreted it so.

Feminism was supposed to be about equality between the sexes- something P.O.R.N.O. V. can hardly be seen to uphold. This is simply not an event where the men and women in attendance will be sleazing over one another in equal measure. Indeed, as the advert proudly announces: “the girls will be grinding and the boys will be drooling.”

So what of the girls who attend? Are they being used and degraded? If so, by whom? An obvious question, you may think, but no one is forcing them to go. At the age of 20, 21, 22, perhaps we could say they are naïve, that they don’t understand the big bad world of men? I doubt it. And what of the guys: future sleazy old men, or just boys in their twenties, enjoying life?

So here’s the deal; either P.O.R.N.O. V. is an event organised for the purposes of male sexual gratification; or it’s female liberation turned on its head.

True equality and mutual respect for the opposite sex will never be achieved until each of us become an epicentre of change in the attempt to regain our dignity.

If you are a woman who chooses to attend P.O.R.N.O. V and dance around in your knickers, then reconsider your disgust the next time a man looks at you as though you were nothing but window dressing. I believe women have achieved liberation; the restraints we face today are minimal in comparison to those of our mothers. In the words of Socrates: rule worthy of might. If we have truly been liberated then this is a poor reflection of what we choose to do with our hard earned freedom.

Women are not sexual objects; but as a male friend of mine quite rightly said today: men will not stop treating us as such, until we stop behaving so.

10 comments

  1. Just wondering why p.o.r.n.o v seems to come under attack for being ‘degrading to women’ etc etc when Derwent’s ‘slag and drag’, the name of which has the potential of offending me a lot more than ‘p.o.r.n.o. v’, seems to carry on uninterrupted?

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  2. Slag and Drag sought advice from YUSU about how to do it properly, I believe. The problem is making sure that the events are beneficial to people whilst allowing the freedom of having such institutional events – if you want to put forward a UGM suggesting the banning of either event then feel free and see how many other students agree with you..?

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  3. How can such a transparent light-hearted bit of fun offend so severely? I believe there are two many people looking to be disgruntled, it is after all just a student event with a slightly promiscuous theme; in no way particularly original.

    The event has shown no intent to provoke any anger or upset and merely aims to allow students to embrace their more liberal fancy dress needs.

    This very student publication states that 33% of porn is watched by women and is not both men and women who will be dressed in this such ‘naughty’ attire.

    I suggest those who are easily offended, don’t go and allow everyone else to have a good time without enforcing your overly feminist cliche on us all!

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  4. Personally, I wouldn’t want to ban either event.

    Although admittedly this article doesn’t go into details about the poster for the event, the claim that the poster depicted a ‘woman who was thin and on the border of anorexia’ (as quoted in this term’s Nouse) is laughable. I have seen the full photo that was used for the poster and the girl depicted is perfectly healthy-looking, albeit photoshopped to high heaven.

    Furthermore, I thought the poster worked pretty well and anything i’d have come up with for an event with that title would have been a hell of a lot more ‘provocative’ if you can call it that.

    Granted I don’t consider myself a raving feminist but I don’t take the slightest offence to either the event or the poster- the feminist movement won us the freedom to act how we like and dressing up as sluts, although perhaps a stupid way to celebrate this freedom, is still our prerogative. It certainly doesn’t give men the right to treat us like sluts and I believe that that claim is bordering dangerously close to the ridiculous view that ‘women who wear short skirts and revealing outfits are asking to get raped’.

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  5. “The original feminists did not campaign so we could dress like whores and give men a free sex show without feeling a shred of humiliation, yet evidently many women have certainly interpreted it so.”

    – You’re right Victoria, feminists campaigned for equality, and to give women greater choice. A choice of profession, choice of vote, a choice of how to live their lives. This could even be boiled down to a choice of how to dress on a night out, and if you want to go out in a gown and mortarboard to show how intelligent you are, that is your choice. Just like it is the choice of the girls who go out dressed in much skimpier outfits.

    If you don’t agree with p.o.r.n.o, the don’t participate. But certainly don’t denounce the freedom of others who want to, who choose to, be involved. Whether you intended to or not, you have used feminism in this article as a means of disguising your own views about what is right and wrong behavior for young people. The irony being, feminism promotes equality and freedom of choice, where as you are imposing the view that women should not chose to dress in a certain way.

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  6. ‘There stand women of intelligence, women attending one of the top ten universities in the country. Yet all you see is legs and cleavage.’

    I’m sorry, but what has intelligence got to do with how girls choose to dress? Are you by any chance implying that this form of attire should remain exclusively for ‘chavs’ or those lesser-people who decide to wear short skirts and low-cut tops? Rubbish. How you dress has nothing to do with your intelligence. I’m sure these young women are aware what kind of signal they might, or might not be, giving out. I certainly know I dress in what feels comfortable for me; not overly ‘slutty’ and not laced-up-to-the-throat-and-trousered-to-the-ankles so as not to reveal an inch of that thing that men covet: flesh. See how ludicrous it sounds?

    ‘So here’s the deal; either P.O.R.N.O. V. is an event organised for the purposes of male sexual gratification; or it’s female liberation turned on its head.’

    Or, it’s neither…? I don’t think the Vanbrugh JCRC sit down each year and think ‘Oh yes, we must run that event again. You know, the one which promotes rape and is only organised so that the guys can get a boner.’ As for ‘female liberation turned on its head’. Darling, I think it’s a much simpler concept that has absolutely nothing to do with feminism. Perhaps girls are attracted to PORNO V by the premise of cheap drinks and a good night out, not because they are ‘sticking it to the man’ by putting on that risque top and yelling ‘This is what the Suffragettes fought for!’

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  7. How can the event possibly be sexist towards women when the main event is riding a giant cock. What could possibly be more disgusting and degrading to men than a giant plastic penis???

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  8. 1 Feb ’10 at 9:14 pm

    Ernie Goldberg

    anonymous ^ is clearly a homophobe. some men like riding penises, did you ever think of that? queer basher, no wonder you’re anonymous.

    OH AND BY THE WAY this is such bullshit: “men will not stop treating us as such, until we stop behaving so.” So women are not allowed to be sexy? Does this apply to all women? What a shit sweeping statement that is, I can’t believe you would even repeat that in an article, it’s such a chauvinistic statement. Stupid right-wing nouse with your ridiculous Daily Mail hysteria

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  9. Few feminists would recognise this as “feminism”, so I don’t understand your title. Apart from that, I agree with what you say!

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  10. Ernie:
    No, I am not a homophobe.

    A giant penis degrades men by satirising their genitals. Your statement ‘some men like riding penises’ makes no sense- are you actually trying to say that anyone who rode on the ‘giant cock’ did so for sexual arousal?! I was by no means saying that the event was sexist towards men because the girls would be getting off on a giant plastic penis, whilst the men were left with no equivalent!
    Furthermore, the point of the article isn’t that women aren’t allowed to be sexy. The point is that pressure is being placed upon the women to dress in a way that reveals as much flesh as possible (the advertisement this year showed transparent underwear, and last year showed a thong).

    I really think that you have struggled to understand the message of both the original article, and of my subsequent comment. I also find it remarkable that you regard Nouse as some kind of right wing propaganda, despite the mass of awards it has gained from the Guardian!

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