Viewer Advisory: Images of Women

‘From pop stars to web-cam girls we are bombarded with objectified images of the female form…’ a starting point for considering the ways women fit into modern, western society.

My contribution to the debate; further ‘Viewer Advisory’ warnings affixed to postcards, and one knitting pattern. This label is very liberating to the ‘grumpy old person’ within, enabling an investigation of the various unstated assumptions and covert messages inherent in these images.

Wonder Woman suffered a sad demotion from her start in 1941 as a super-hero battler for good and love, to her reformation in the 1980s as a piece of ‘eye-candy’, mooning over potential boyfriends and stripped of superpowers.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman


An icon of female power more accurate, perhaps, than she first appears.


Look at this card, ok naked lady, but if you think – hmmm… not very attractive, think about what she might look like clothed and you may find that she is actually quite a pretty young lady… Thus has our sight been subverted by the world’s marketing people without our notice.

Naked Young Woman (what's not to like?)

Naked Young Woman (what’s not to like?)

We,  as women, now aspire to look not like normal people, but like photoshopped, enhanced (both in photographs and physically) people; the real is not good enough. As researchers found when asking men of different cultures to look at female figures, they went for the hour-glass, so  the researchers started to say intelligent things about why such a figure was evolutionarily more advantageous, better for child bearing etc etc. But further research showed that men from cultures not exposed to westernised glamour images of women (though few and far between) were not that bothered about the hour-glass figure. Ergo, thinking in terms of evolutionary biology makes it easy to justify whatever you want to have observed Your (male?) preferences are logical and defensible (though not necessarily actually the case).


The Adored

The Adored

Through adoration we put the adored  on a plinth, make them a superior being, thus when they fall (as they will, the plinth being a figment of the imagination) they clearly have further to fall than a ‘normal’ person. Ergo women transgressors of the law are treated more harshly, on average, because more is expected of them, they are ‘gooder’, more noble beings. Men we expect to be naughty at times.


But who is propagating these stereotypes?

Sexy outfits for 'grown up' Sindy Doll

Sexy outfits for ‘grown up’ Sindy Doll

Sindy was a British challenger to Barbie, slightly squarer, slightly less malformed, but ready none the less to instruct her little owners in their future role in society. A sweet counterpoint to the postcard above.


Women golf enthusiasts

Women golf enthusiasts

The golfers enjoy sunshine and fresh air, a manly chat perhaps, or a friendly,vicious point-scoring. The women dressed to shade their faces from the vicious sun in hats and scarves do not look as if they would choose this open place if there were not a duty to be done.

The sixth card is a delight and a joke – Brigitte  in all her crowning glory as beautifully adapted, by an erstwhile flat-mate, probably in the early 1970s.

Ceci n'est pas un femme

Ceci n’est pas un femme


One thought on “Viewer Advisory: Images of Women

  1. Pingback: No Images of Women | anwyl cooper-willis's Weblog

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