Happy Valentine’s Day! It is a day we like to mark in our house, by cards, small gifts and dining out, and judging by all the marketing that’s going on, supermarkets, card outlets, underwear manufacturers and restaurants intend to enjoy it too.
However commercialised it has become, it is an opportunity to remind ourselves of why we are with the partner we chose and it helps to cement the foundations, so to speak!
But while we’re raising our glasses to each other and putting our cards on the mantelpiece we should also remember that in many parts of the world partners are not necessarily ‘chosen’, that marriages are not, and can never be happy and are, in fact an institution wrought with subjugation and violence for large numbers of women and girls. Around the world, women have chosen this day, February 14th, to stage a peaceful protest to denounce violence against women. This campaign is called ‘One Billion Rising’.
We may consider ourselves lucky, here in our cosy, westernised corner that we live in a more lawful, emancipated society, but the UK is not without its own incidents of domestic violence. While women continue to be objectified the element of disrespect will also continue, which is why it is a small step of progress that Murdoch is ‘considering’ swapping topless girls on page 3 of the sun for ‘fashionistas’. Are there to be both men and women in this section, then? And are they to be clothed? Or by labelling it ‘fashion’ will it be a [barely [!]] concealed version of the topless models that have graced the pages for so long?
When labour MP Clare Short was campaigning against the portrayal of page 3 models in the 1980s she had to put up with horrible insults to the effect that she was jealous, being unattractive herself. I wonder what has changed? Of course, for one thing, porn of any sort is readily available on the internet. In fact all proclivities are catered for. If you have a hankering for Alsatians, yiaourtiphilia [sexual attraction to yoghurt] or get excited about teddy bears [yes, there exists such a penchant] it can be sought out on a computer.
Having never been of a prudish nature, I’m all for anyone pursuing their own desires, however odd to others, provided it does no harm to anyone else. Internet porn is here to stay, and undoubtedly addresses the needs of many. But don’t tell us, Sun readers, that Page 3 nudity is ‘harmless fun’, because it does devalue women and puts over a message to young girls that this is what they are worth.
Lecture over. I’m off to try on my lingerie.