How can covering up women at one time oppress them, and at other times empower them? Why, when some women take their clothes off for money, are they objectifying themselves, and at other times simply performing? Why are some images of women objectification and others simply art? Essentially, how can the same action mean two different things? One thing must be understood: it’s not about nudity.
The recent Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign is spearheaded by two organisations which fight for gender equality (UK Feminista and Object), but some have argued that covering up lads’ mags in shops is actually a misogynistic action. However at the same time, there is a similar case made by Islamists that the hiding-away of lads’ mags should be done to preserve modesty. The hiding-away is being done for two very different reasons, and people need to realise this.
Authoritarian Islamists use gaffer tape on lads’ mags for the same reason they want to cover up real women’s bodies- but Lose the Lads’ Mags wants to do it to protect not only children but the female salespeople who must handle this material. The critique that the campaign is promoting a ‘weak, meek’ image of women suggests that he has failed to grasp the difference between a woman seeing another woman’s naked breasts, and a woman being forced to handle and sell sexist material. As Sophie Bennett, a spokesperson for the campaign, explains, ‘The issue for the thousands of people who have called on shops to lose the lads’ mags is absolutely not about nudity. It’s about sexism.’
The concealing of lads’ mags in shops in the UK is far removed from the ‘sticky handmade burqa’ that is used by Islamists to cover up such magazines as the author points out it’s not about the nudity.