Op-Ed: Discriminating against beautiful blondes in bikinis? Yep.

Posted Jun 12, 2014 by Paul Wallis
One thing you really have to admire about modern society is its dishonesty. It’s not just theoretical, they put a lot of effort into making it work. A scrap metal yard using a billboard containing a blonde in a bikini has raised a lot of flak .
Pink underwear
Pink underwear
Helga Weber
Sydney Morning Herald :
The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld a complaint against the Rockdale business, ruling that its billboard had breached a code that directs advertisers not to employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative and degrading.
The billboard, which was erected in Sydney earlier this year, showed a blonde woman in a bikini kneeling on a beach, alongside the name of the business and the words: "They are definitely not the largest. But I wouldn't sell my stuff to anyone else".
The complaint:
"The billboard is a blatant display of sexual objectification with a scantily clad, heavily photoshopped, blonde woman in a bikini posing suggestively...," the person complained.
"What in the world does that have to do with scrap metal??? It is sexist, predatory and offensive."
I must not all that respectfully disagree with this approach. Sex sells. Not much else does, in fact. Bikini-clad scrap metal wouldn’t sell anything like as well. How do you make scrap metal interesting? It’s not, to most people, except alloy addicts.
The wording may be ambiguous. “They” actually refers to the firm in question. Not boobs, not buns, not some form of prostitution. Selling scrap metal isn’t sexy. The problem is that the complaint is wrong. People sell scrap metal to dealers. So talking about selling is relevant to the service.
Should beautiful women in bikinis on beaches be allowed to sell scrap metal to scrap metal yards?
There’s no law stopping them from doing so. There is no dress code requirement to sell scrap metal. Some might say that it might affect prices, but that’s not illegal either. What if it’s a hot day and she’s on her way to the beach?
Who is being exploited? The viewer, presumably.
Who is being degraded? Not a person, but a theory of the image of women. That may be a basis in principle, but try avoiding women in bikinis, anywhere in any kind of media.
Does this “heavily photoshopped” person actually exist? Not necessarily. The oldest trick in digital manipulation is to create a fictional, therefore not payable, model.
Predatory? How? Who’s being stalked as a result of this sign? Or is the theory that nobody can look at a billboard without becoming an instant misogynist?
One person complained. Not the other 4.5 million people in Sydney. Has public offence been given? Not noticeably. Go to Bondi Beach or any other beach in Sydney just about any time, and you’ll be awash in women in bikinis. Anyone offended? Nope.
A question of priorities
This is a society where the whereabouts of the genitalia of celebrities gets more real time coverage than actual wars which kill hundreds of thousands of people. Where a pair of boobs, real or imaginary, is more relevant than a collapsing society. Where chronic violence against women gets an occasional grudging mention, despite god only knows how many deaths and how much misery. Where the inability to understand basic sentences isn’t an issue, but some kid in a bikini is a cause for outrage.
Obscenity really is in the mind of the beholder. The scrap yard said :
"We also believe this to be a discriminating comment aimed at any beautiful woman who has ever had a half decent photo taken of them,"
The Board found:
…."the woman sells herself".
(This refers to the “they’re not the largest” comment and assumes that any use of the word “they” by a woman, refers to her bust size. Just for the record, plural pronouns have been used by women for other purposes. Even the Brontes and Virginia Woolf.)
"The Board considered that the text, accompanying the image of a woman posing in a bikini which has no relevance to the product, amounts to a depiction that makes use of the woman’s sexual appeal in a manner that is both exploitative of and degrading to women," the board said in upholding the complaint.
Ahem — In theory, the millions of photos of women in bikinis advertising tourist resorts has nothing to do with booking a hotel room, booking plane flights, chartering a yacht, or signing up for a sightseeing tour.
The company will change the wording to:
“They are definitely not the largest scrap yard. But I wouldn't sell my scrap anywhere else.”
Talk about “empowerment.” So the other millions of blatantly exploitative magazines, websites, ads, etc., continue to publish actual pornography, and a scrap metal yard, of all things, is penalized.