Obviously, bloggers try their best to lure you with catchy headlines, and Ed Schipul sure wrote a super-sticky one. I was as helpless as a dead fish caught in a flushing toilet when I saw the headline More breasts and less violence on the Houston Chronicle home page.
I do not necessarily disagree with the main assertions of the piece:
- We have an odd cultural disconnect as far as tolerating television depictions of extreme violence, often of a sexual nature, but not tolerating healthy representations of sexuality.
- There is nothing inherently offensive about breasts.
The author lost me, however, with his poor grasp of the literary concept of metonymy. That’s when you name the part to describe the whole. Ed got carried away talking about breasts instead of talking about women, and healthy depictions thereof. Here are some of the problems with his piece.
One: The issue isn’t that we need more healthy, fun-loving breasts cavorting on the screen instead of the charred remains of dead ones. The issue is that too often in every medium, television, film, video games, etc., women are objectified and sexualized no matter the context.
Two: Would you really rather have your children watch a 30-minute (or hour-long, I’m not actually sure which it is) paid advertisement for an underwear company, i.e. the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, than CSI? Really? Because you could just turn it off and have them read a book, you know. You are not obligated to give in to your reptilian brain.
[I mean, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Look, if this were really a fashion show, Anna Wintour would have a seat in the front row and someone might, at some point, mention something about a designer, a fabric, or something having to do with fashion. We’d see ready-to-wear versions of the outfits in stores the following season. This show is a paid advertisement that is now being marketed as a Christmas television tradition like the annual showing of Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman. But I digress …]
Three: The hypertext link to “breasts are awesome” goes to the Pink Ribbons Project. An organization focused on awareness of unhealthy breasts. That is, breasts with cancer. What? In fact, here’s the whole paragraph so you can see the context, emphasis in the original:
As humans, hopefully we will live out our entire lives without killing someone. God said it best – “thou shall not kill.” Yet hopefully at some point in our lives we will have sex. Breasts are awesome. It’s blunt to say it like that, but everyone dances around the topic. If you lead a successful life you will have sex and you will not kill. It’s just that simple. Shouldn’t that balance be represented in our media?
Breasts are awesome, and sex won’t kill you, but your breasts might, so let me link you to this breast cancer awareness page?
What the hell???
Oh, wait, I get it! Your name is Ed Schipul. A company called Schipul Web Design did the Pink Ribbons Project page. You are linking to their page to help drive traffic to a client’s website!
Let me say, it is really cool of the Houston Chronicle to give bloggers a platform for helping drive traffic to their clients’ websites. That’s using the power of breasts for good!
Four: Look, Ed, you seem to be on to something here. Unhealthy depictions of women in the media seem to at least reflect, if not correlate to, unhealthy actions against women, like domestic violence. I think most women would agree with you that we need more healthy depictions of women on television.
But the only healthy depiction of women’s bodies you can come up with is an advertisement for soap? An advertisement which, by the way, doesn’t really actually make the point you are trying to make once you start to look closely at it. (But then again, you thought the Victoria’s Secret advertisement was a television show, so maybe you are just confused about shows versus ads.)
Here, to help you, are several blog posts that deconstruct and tear apart that campaign
for real beauty to buy Dove soap (and point out that the same company sells Axe body wash to teenage boys by using the exploitative and stereotypical images the Dove campaign says we should protect girls from, but whatever, BOOBIES BOOBIES BOOBIES BUY OUR SOAP!)
I could go on, but I’m busy. I’m going to shoot this out into the blogosphere and see if anyone else wants to point out some of the other issues with this post.
Andrea – thanks for reading the Chron post. Yes it is a catchy title, but if that works to get people to start asking why depictions of violence are up, and depictions of violence against women are up 120%, then I’m willing to do that.
To your point on a conflict of interest regarding a client, Susan was a friend first and later became a client. She runs a Houston based non-profit which is heavily involved in the arts to help those touched by breast cancer. I should have thought about it more, but it was just natural for me to want to promote a Houston based non-profit. That said, the topic is too important so I updated to link to a non-Houston based non-profit (the one that does the bracelets). Hopefully this alleviates your concern. (you may have to refresh to see the new link)
Regarding my writing style, well, given “non sequitur” is literally in your blog title I am going to guess that you are far more skilled at elements of argument than I will ever be. I did have it proofed by four people and one person at the Chron before it was pushed live. Based on the feedback during the editing process I made numerous changes. Yet I see your points and I’ll take that as a constructive “you need to get better at writing Ed” and keep working on my writing skills for the next one.
I would welcome your comments over on the Chron piece. And any insight you can offer on the 120% increase in depictions of violence against women would be greatly appreciated.
I can offer not just insight, but an action step! Stay tuned …