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Oxford Man Objects to Yahoo! "Porn"

m | 22.07.2005 13:59 | Culture | Gender | Health | Oxford

A local resident has complained to Yahoo! UK about the inclusion of a "Bikini babes gallery", explaining the way in which it contributes to unhealthy attitudes and relations between men and women. The letter is copied below.

Yahoo! UK Ltd
125 Shaftesbury Avenue

RE: The front page of uk.yahoo.com

To whom it may concern,
I object to the inclusion on the front page of Yahoo! UK a gallery of “bikini babes”. A look at 3 randomly chosen images in the gallery confirmed that, while the pictures themselves were carefully kept below the threshold of pornography, their intent was nothing other than pornographic.

The offence caused by pornography does not stem from the actual sex or nudity shown – pictures of fully nude women can be far less offensive than your gallery. It is not even necessarily sexist or offensive for women to be portrayed as objects of desire. However, the specific combination of several factors found in your gallery must be described as unhealthy and immoral. Those factors are:
the gallery is specifically for the presentation of photos of women in bikinis.
only attractive young women are chosen
the women have all modified their bodies to conform to the same beauty stereotype
the posed photos are clearly alluring poses
they are described as “babes”.

None of these factors on its own need necessarily mean that there is anything wrong but together they create a very familiar scene and one which contributes to poor relations between men and women. It presents beautiful women as sexual beings to be desired and contributes to a belief that it is the norm to leer at scantily clad women. It also, significantly, omits to present plain, old, fat or ugly women as sexual beings, reinforcing the notion in both men and women that only beautiful women are desirable. In fact, the experience of people shows that people of all ages and body shapes enjoy fulfilling sex lives and that physical attraction is only one of the many factors involved in choosing a sexual partner. Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of the beauty stereotype is causing ill-health and unhappiness for millions of women and damaging the relationships of many men and women.

So the problem is not that the photos are there at all but that they are removed from their healthy context and so form part of a damaging influence on our culture. They appeal to a natural desire inherent in most men but they serve no beneficial purpose and worse they consistently link that desire to an unnecessarily and unhealthily specific image. Can you justify such an obviously frivolous page on your site, given the seriousness of the effects it is contributing to?

Yours sincerely



Hide the following 17 comments

Very offensive

22.07.2005 14:08

Who are you to define what is right, your letter is sexist and offensive. The passage where you say,

"It also, significantly, omits to present plain, old, fat or ugly women as sexual beings" is the worst, who are you to say what constitues "fat" or "ugly". People like you are throwbacks to another age. Get an education


Fine words of encouragment...

22.07.2005 14:35

...there Jennifer.

Good to know that us blokes can feel confident arguing for feminist positions, even if we are a bit wrong headed about it, safe in the knowledge that we will be supported and encouraged by women feminists without being berated as "uneducated" or as "throwbacks".

Solidarity is our weapon!


m, this is oo7, wear r the pics?

22.07.2005 14:49

this is either a spoof or a poof.

Let's concentrate on "Bliar's bombs" and keep reading the great Pilger.

How can we help such idiots from ever being elected again?

Just asking.

))& aka 007
mail e-mail: vaskz@questions.dot

oooh! Jennifer!

22.07.2005 14:57

ooh Jennifer you are sucha bitch, the gentleman was trying to be a femisnist [?} and making quite a serious, if rather dull, point


Too much of this sort of thing

22.07.2005 15:43

I think the arguements presented in this letter are brilliant and it is good that you are making this complaint. I have noticed that there has been an increase in the amount of images of ill-attired women that appear in the media. I have particualrly noticed that there has been a increase in magazines appearing in our newsagents with images of naked women appearing in 'main stream' magazines. Many men's magazines have images of naked women on the cover, often draped over each other with such 'exclusives' as "Michelle and Lucy's first ever snog". It is obvious that this sort of image is geared towards the entertainment of men which makes me feel that women are only there for the entertainment of men generally. I also feel that men are being told that if they should like this sort of thing and there is something wrong with you if you don't. Both male and females alike should resist the increase in women being exploited for the entertainment of men, and we should resist the increase in men being exploited by being made to feel obliged to indulge in this. And before anyone says, yes, I have been spending too much time looking at this sort of thing in my newsagents. And, yes I realise that there is a heterosexual stance to this discussion, but I feel that this is actually a reflection of what I think the media emphasises.



22.07.2005 17:37

'...if there's war between the sexes then there''ll be nobody left..'
(Joe Jackson)


yes it's hetero...

23.07.2005 14:46

I can see what you mean about a "hetero stance" but it seems to me that that's part of the objection, in a background way. I mean, the dull and narrow view of sexuality propagated by this kind of shit (which I think is even worse than actual porn showing people really having sex and enjoying it) doesn't even consider real stuff like homo-sex or relationships or periods or moods or being in love or any of that kind of stuff.


About the letter

23.07.2005 15:46

The letter complains that "only attractive young women are chosen", "sterotype", etc...

I am sorry but I have to admit that I would not buy a mens magazine, or click on a website full of ugly,middle aged overweight women ,that's the average you see on the street, there is no need to click anywhere to see them as I see them everyday.

I believe most of my mates (like me) would not buy a men's product advertised by a fat woman, I can't say why, but somehow I would link the product with bad quality or unhealthy.

I don't think that extreme slimness should be promoted, in fact it should be oppossed, but the women in bikini aren't anorexic, they aren't average looking neither I admit but there is nothing wrong with giving model jobs to women out of the ordinary.


hm interesting

24.07.2005 16:50

personally i find the whole issue of sexuality a slightly complicated one - images of sexuality can be appealing to both men and women - i.e. women 'empathising' with pics of attractive women - and using them as role models and wanting to be like them - and of course these women do tend to conform to idealised stereotypes - and the photos themselves are probably enhanced in photoshop - airbrushed waists slimmed down etc. so in one sense we can just view them as just images, symbols etc... but the problem is - as mentioned previously - when the media gets overwhelmed by these images - and get in the way of real relationships between people.
I think the problem is when these images are so wide spread that we get so used to them , and so normallised that they affect us subliminally and condition our minds to think that this is the norm - for both men and women to believe that this is a sexual ideal - that all women should aim to fulfill. And that is unhealthy - because it's a 2 dimensional editted version of sexuality that doesn't represent real people.

In fact I think it is ironic that Jennife reacts so defensively to the original letter - because essentially she is conforming to those stereotypes herself - accusing 'm' of being sexist - simply for saying that plain, ugly, fat,old women could even possibly exist. What is she saying: that every women is perfect and for him to even consider the fact that this might not be so is 'sexist'? Surely her reasoning is simplistic and reactionary because the point that he is making is that people have sexual relationships due to other factors APART from as well as physical attributes and to only focus on the physical whether 'positive' or 'negative' - is superficial? Therefore I think that as an issue 'm's point is valid - because it's certainly something that I have become more and more aware of - and am in fact interested in researching its affect on our culture as a whole.
It's obvious that the whole thing boils down to the fact that the media are using images of attractive women more and more - purely because sex sells - so yes - seeing women in this context posing in a way that is provocative and sexy - is good for business in a common denominator kind of way - seeing a sexy women makes men feel good about themselves - but at the same time they are not real - the women are posing for the camera themselves to make money - and safely removed from the real men learing over newspapers on park benches or in lonely rooms on the internet.
I remember one time going into a newsagents and seeing a whole row of papers - clearly visible on the bottom shelf - including broadsheets - all displaying the same image - a large almost full page close up pic of kylie's bum as she was walking into the sea. I could understand this was something of an ultimate male fantasy - but i really didn't want to be in that mental space. it was like i had entered into this male fantasy zone - and i didn't want to be there - it was like the presence of these magazines had created this virtual erotic male fantasy zone - and I just really didn't want to be in it. It felt really icky and gross. Like a time when I went for a walk in a park and stumbled across loads of open porn mags - you don't want to know what's been going on there. I was just buying some milk. It made me feel 'why do i have to have this fantasy forced on me?'
So I think it's important that the media are made aware of the affect that they are having on our social culture and are more sensitive towards women and take responsibility for what they do.
What I don't understand is why men buy into the whole 'women learing over a sportscar' fantasy in the first place. Surely you'd think - if you know it works - then that's why you want to buy it. If you need to use a woman to sell something - you must be desparate - because if the product doesn't have any real value in itself - then you have to resort to invented factors. Thinking about all this makes me think - if there was a pic of a sweaty male drooling over an ice cream trying to sell it to me - it'd probably make me sick. But then, I think the thing about the female body is the fact that in some ways it is like a common denominator for all of us - our first few years of life we are totally dependent on our mothers - we adore them - so it is like instinctively we all want our mothers approval - our mothers to approve of things for us before we venture out into the world - so maybe that's why we all subliminally want to see beautiful women blessing the worlds with their magic touch to make it seem alright for us -and to forget our everday troubles.
But I do personally think that we are just getting overwhelmed with the Pamela Anderson type stereo type - and I question - do men really want to go after that kind of fake sexuality - and what about the women who are going down the route of thinking that they have to look like that? Cos I certainly don't - even tho I enjoy expressing myself in other ways - where and when I feel comfortable to do so... that's up to me to decide!


Why is this Newswire post still here?

24.07.2005 17:28

Following the number of posts to Newswire in recent days that have been hidden without comment supposedly because they breach guidelines, why was this one allowed to remain? It would appear to breach the following: Non-news (except of course it wasn't complaining about IMC censorship - see hidden posts for the last week or so), Discrimination and Not Oxford Relevant.


news and sex

25.07.2005 09:11

Tenuous though it may be, this cn be seen to be news because the original story was that the letter was sent to Yahoo by an Oxford man - i.e. it wasn't just published here for the discussion. I just hope he keeps us informed of the reply.

I agree with Lila about men not "buying into this fake sexuality". My sexual existence depends on so many things other than plain visual images and it annoys me to have these crude teases stuck in my face. It's like trying to read a book and someone coming and playing cartoons on a huge screen in front of you.


Sex and cars

25.07.2005 14:30

It's a good idea to associate your product with beautiful women. You want your product to be an object of desire. Get the girls in and the blokes follow....more precisely get the fit girls in, then the fit and fat boys and girls follow.

Its human nature. Sometimes that can be hard to live with. The commercialism of many modern societies makes this even harder to deal with. They just exploit that all the time and its really grinding. It used to drive me mad on the tube.

I think its when stuff is in your face that its a problem. The front page of yahoo I would agree is not the place for bikini girls. Page 3 is no good either. But also I don't think there's anything wrong with hard core porn - so long as its consensual and doesn't result in injury. (Ok...that can be complicated but I'm getting off topic.)

Incidentally, here in NZ they always put the porn in a seperate little room in video stores. The first year I was here I thought they just didn't have porn. Perhaps they should have seperate video shops - like Blockbusters in UK doesn't carry porn at all right? I mean you probably wouldn't want to see a little porn icon next to the Mail and News on Yahoos front page! Having said that the back rooms (at least at my local store) are really unobtrusive. I think all this is about being in your face anway - I'd never want to stop anyone looking at bikini glad girls - even if they only wanted tall blondes with big tits etc. etc.


handy hint

25.07.2005 19:07

If you don't like the look of the website, don't look at it. I like looking at pictures of girls in bikinis and many an ottherwise dull site could be brightened up with them. The site authors have no obligation to justify themselves to such a pompous git. The web will end up censored if idiots like him gain influence.


it already is censored

27.07.2005 10:43

Idiot. The web IS censored. Loads of sites get shut down all the time. It's just that in Western countries they don't bother with porn much (unless there's kids in it) because they're too busy with things that threaten the state or people's lives. Porn doesn't threaten anything, it just quietly fucks with our heads.


It's disgraceful

29.07.2005 10:44

I refuse to buy anything from Yahoo until they put topless girls on their adverts. This is the 21st century, not the 19th. We want bare breasts!


Problematic society

30.10.2005 15:36

I agree with him, but think he's worded it slightly wrong. And I think that there are TONNES of factors that need to be addressed in society. Namely MENS MAGS suchas Nuts and Zoo, they make me sick!

I am seriously affected by them. I can't go into newsagents and see them without feeling sick and ugly. My boyfriend is wonderful and fully supports me and does his best to avoid such things. Although I know I have to work to a point where we can do more things than we can at present, I'll never be happy with these types of media. It's not so much that they don't include "ugly or fat" women as was said but that they decide for us what IS beautiful. And enforce a feeling of inferiority in women as well as the idea that to be slim,big busted, tanned and with a smooth complexion is the ideal and what we should all aspire to. Recently there was a bit of a do about the competiton to win a boob job for your girlfriend and some women said it was ok as long as the woman wanted it and wasn't pressured into it. Unfortunately, they fail to see that the only reason WHY any of us would feel the urge to increase our bust size is because in this day and age it's seen to be- and enforced into our very beings as being- much more desirable. It's not fair. Why can't we celebrate being natural and unique and stop inflicting so much psychological and sometimes physical (ie eating disorders) damage on people, myself most definitely included.

mail e-mail: jacraggs@gmail.com

The usual bias?

12.11.2005 03:26

Jenni, it sounds like you have some problems with self esteem if you feel sick and ugly when you see 'Zoo' or 'Nuts' in your newsagent.

I don't look like the men on the cover of Men's Health, but I can still appreciate the physiques of those men. You may also notice that male film stars and singers are usually feted over by the media for their looks or physiques (eg. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robbie Williams, etc).

Does this equally trouble you or like so many other feminists are you just a hypocrite?

If your boyfriend is willing to put up with your inadequacies and change his natural behaviour to conform to the all-pervading dogma of feminism that is conquering society, then I am happy for you.

The man who posted this letter to Yahoo may be rightly irritated by the distraction and intrusion caused by pictures of semi-naked women. If I wanted to look at naked or semi-naked women I would buy a porn video or magazine or go to a porn website, as I find it annoying that these images intrude on my life in other circumstances.

Men and boys are treated as sex objects by women at strip-shows, in Playgirl magazine, as escorts, as toy-boys, in books by Germaine Greer and countless other examples but nauseating feminists seem to ignore these because that would not fit in with their idiotic rubbish about the Patriarchy.

Feminism is one of the reasons the far-left and socailists are regarded as freaks and loony tunes. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if radical feminists are planted into left-wing groups by the state in order to discredit the left. This is one of the main reasons for the collapse of the left in Britain.

However, it is not a new phenomenon as George Orwell observed the habit of cranks attaching themselves to the socialist movement in the 'Road to Wigan Pier'.

'Workers of the world unite!'

Uncle Joe

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