Anna Van Heesvijk. Is she magnificent? I think so. Articulate, steady and unflusterable. She is the CEO of OBJECT – an organisation which challenges the objectification of women and girls in the media. Look…here she is talking to a former editor of FHM.
In our neighbourhood there is a newsagent/corner shop where we go to buy papers, milk and things we run out of but never really do our main shop there. Whenever I visit the shop with my boys they rush over to the magazines – focusing on Ben10 and Cbeebies magazines, but I feel a kind of sad anger at the peripheral array of normalised pornography on the shelves around and about and on the floor below in the shape of Red-top front pages and lads mags. I don’t want my boys growing up thinking that this is OK. I had been feeling vaguely aggrieved at this but too tired and caught up in the minutiae of daily life to get any further than my personal feelings. Then an article in the Guardian about the Women’s Library facing closure led me to the OBJECT website and the report they had put together for the Leveson Inquiry – it is a list of the various and many ways in which tabloid papers objectify women. It is a long list. It makes for sad reading and made me cross. The newsletter here is an update of where the campaign is at now – the report can be viewed there as well as links to the Leveson Inquiry.
This in turn led me to a Festival of Ideas talk at the Watershed where Anna was supposed to be speaking as part of a panel. This was organised by Bristol Feminist Network, who as well as hosting a discussion were there promoting a new book ‘The Lightbulb moment’ – a collection of writings about when the writer first realised she was a feminist. Some of the readings were powerful and some facts that came up during the discussion were alarming – for example that during these testing financial times domestic violence is on the increase, just as funding and resources for support are more scarce. It made for another thought-provoking evening and was inspiring to see so many young, knowledgeable and passionate women standing up for Equality.
And hey – while we are on the subject of feminism- PINK Stinks – (pinkstinks.co.uk) is campaigning to halt the steady flow of ‘pink’ products aimed at girls, including the latest – pre-school make-up. Mad that it needs to exist. But looking at the products in the short movies featured on the site it is important to stop this tide of sexualised and gender stereotyped toys – and give children some space to breathe.