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.