Remember that hijab and lollipop ad that once made rounds over facebook, and was hugely popular with photos being shared by all: from the partying, glitzy girls to the incredibly annoying flirts and the Zaid Hamid fanboys, everyone seemed visibly impressed with the idea of covering women up.
Now, the ad is fairly simple, and delivers its message in a strong and clear manner. The ad creatively depicted women as lollipops, yes, lollipops with the flies portraying men. When that edible thing was left out in the open, it could be seen that a deluge of flies were attacking it. Lollipop, being a lollipop, without any powers to protest, speak or move, was just standing there, falling victim to the playful and hungry flies. Now flies, being flies, could not be stopped from getting close to the lollipop to a proximity that the lollipop may feel threatening. NO, they will move towards and eat anything that remotely resembles a lollipop, without any self-control. This hunger, this lust was shown as part of their nature, and if I can be excused in saying so, their right. On the other hand, as the next panel shows, when the lollipop is fully wrapped up, without even a slit through the coating for breathing, all the flies have been warded away. The lollipop then stands alone, erect, dignified; although as still and quiet as the uncovered lollipop. The lollipop, will, in due time, has a male-lollipop selected by her parents and clan and neighbor, who MUST be of the same flavor, whom she can marry.
Now consider what Camille Pagila has to say about rape:
These girls say, “Well, I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy’s room without anything happening.” And I say, “Oh, really? And when you drive your car to New York City, do you leave your keys on the hood?” My point is that if your car is stolen after you do something like that, yes, the police should pursue the thief and he should be punished. But at the same time, the police— and I— have the right to say to you, “You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?”
For those who do not know, Camille Paglia is a ‘self-described dissident feminist’, to quote Wikipedia. And to quote Molly Ivins, “What an asshole.” Back in the day, she fangurled Madonna in her writings for being the epitome of sexuality and feminism. Recently, the ageing Paglia voiced her concern at Lady Gaga ‘so stripped of genuine eroticism’ getting idolized by the youth. Instead of applauding a female star whose popularity doesn’t depend on her sexual appeal, she bashed Gaga for not being ‘sexy enough.’ But I digress. The point is, if you read through the above paragraph, Ms. Paglia is evidently lecturing young women on safety. For this noble purpose, she likens women to cars. Just as cars cannot be left on their own for the risk of theft, women also cannot be alone with men without getting raped. And if anyone was forced upon them, it should never be considered the man’s fault. Of course, it was just his hormones acting up.
The similarity between the advert and Camille Paglia, is the explicit objectification of women. Both of them have equated women with commodities, personal objects that must be safeguarded to avoid any corruption in their purity. Men, on the other hand, are permitted to stare at, catcall, or rape any woman if they feel aroused. With this approach, both of them not only reduce women to sex symbols who only serve to satiate the desires of men, but also degrade men to brutal beasts without any self-control.
This type of objectification is offensive not only to women, but also to men. It is offensive to those millions of girls who had to undergo the agony of rape and sexual abuse, without the fault being theirs. It is offensive to all those people who work tirelessly for women empowerment. And it is offensive to me, because I like to be viewed as a complete person with likes, dislikes, weaknesses, instead of a mere object.