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Polly Vernon 'Hot Feminism'

(54 Posts)
Merse Wed 20-May-15 16:52:23

Massive caveat - I haven't read her book. BUT, I did hear Polly V on today's Woman's Hour and was not impressed. Gist seems to be - feminists should be allowed to wear make-up/look hot/like wolf-whistles and still be a feminist. Basically. She has no issue with Page 3. Says we live in a 'visual society' so people should be allowed/encouraged to adorn themselves. Thoughts anyone?

morage Wed 20-May-15 17:04:03

This is the kind of "feminism" that does not demand anything changes. No wonder it is so popular. We can tinker at the edges, and then declare that women are free.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Wed 20-May-15 17:10:34

I read her article in the Times at the weekend and there didn't seem to be anything new there, just standard unchallenging libfem stuff.

thatstoast Wed 20-May-15 17:11:21

I haven't read the book, I've read some hype and I'm not sure I understand what the book is about? Is it about looking good or is it about feminism?

Also, as much as I like to joke about the secret feminist handbook, I'm pretty sure feminists are allowed to wear makeup/look hot? Less sure about wolf whistles and page 3. I just don't get it?

Yops Wed 20-May-15 17:13:54

I read her interview in the Times at the week-end, and heard her today on R4. She also thought it was okay when she got caught letting over a guy working in a coffee shop, even though he wasn't happy about it. Her words. She said it's because the women letting over men dynamic is different than vice versa.

I like her, I must admit. But then I am a man, so I would, wouldn't I? And there are different kinds of feminism, aren't there? There are different kind of left wing and right wing politics too. Lots of movements have different schools of thought.

thatstoast Wed 20-May-15 17:28:31

Lots of different types of feminism, yes, but all should have the goal of equality between men and women. How does looking hot do that? As I said, I just don't get it. confused

Yops Wed 20-May-15 17:36:58

Well obviously my comprehension skills are deficient - I thought 'hot' referred to 'hot topics or issues' - d'oh. But is there a conflict between feminism and looking good? They had a debate today about the aims of women getting slammed up, and how it was aimed at self-esteem, pleasure in one's own grooming and doing it for other women, rather than solely for the pleasure of men.

If a woman wants to dress to the nines for her own pleasure, or to look good for her mates, and men also happen to like her appearance, should she stop? That seems restrictive. Plus, the number of preening, pouting young blokes I see out in the city these days, with orange tans, perfect haircuts, manicures and beards just so, would indicate that it isn't just women any more.

God, I'm old sad

Yops Wed 20-May-15 17:38:01

^^ *glammed up, not slammed....

thatstoast Wed 20-May-15 17:49:31

This is making me feel old too. No problem with people looking however they want. If women want to wear makeup for their own pleasure, that's all fine. How does that help close the pay gap? How goes it stop fgm? It seems a bit short sighted if all she's saying is put on some makeup and feel good about yourself.

It's always been a bugbear of mine that so many affluent western white heterosexual women want to talk about how unnecessary feminism is, so maybe I'm putting her in that category. And I am a western white heterosexual woman (not that affluent!)

stoopstofolly Wed 20-May-15 18:46:00

I think the whole premise is a bit disingenuous. She works for glossy magazines, and has a certain lifestyle, and wants to justify is as not being incompatible with feminism. And if course it isn't- the one point of hers I do agree with is that we should stop criticising other women for living/ being feminist in the "wrong" way. However, she then went and wrote a book telling other women how to do it her way....

She airily dismisses concerns about the effects of photoshopped models on girls, doesn't care about page 3 or sexist language directed at her (only as long as it's a young hot bloke calling her "babe")- basically she dismisses as irrelevant a lot of things which concern other women, because to acknowledge them would be inconvenient. She is rightly angry about the gender pay gap, measures to restrict abortion, and rape/ sexual assault, and yet doesn't seem to make the connection that these things may be less prevalent if we didn't live in a society where women are objectified, referred to disrespectfully, reduced to a pair of boobs in a newspaper and generally commodified by the industry she works in.

I tried to read this objectively, although I've been troubled by other pieces of journalism she's done- the one justifying constant full body waxing, the one where she says other women are jealous of her because she's thin (admits to ordering food she hates in restaurants to avoid eating) etc. She makes solid but unexceptional points about the major issues she wants us to be outraged about (I mean, no one sane can really argue that the gender pay gap isn't A Bad Thing) but I'm more of the "broken window" school of feminism- I think the combined effect of the small stuff she claims not to care about has an impact on how women are treated in society as a whole.

Overall not a massive fan of the book, although you can't disagree with her stance on the big issues, and I did admire her for talking about her abortions and sexual assault- this is the sort of openness that can only help other women in similar situations.

reni1 Sat 23-May-15 22:01:08

The feminism which Polly Vernon fights against is a kind of caricature of feminism, a kind of warped perception of what the women's rights movement is all about. She is very superficial and tabloid ready, which is probably the idea, that's how she makes her money.

Her support for the objectification of women (page 3 etc) is inexcusable and is not "hot feminism", on the contrary, it is ice cold misogyny.

TheLily1957 Sat 23-May-15 22:17:31

I agree reni the woman annoys the crap out of me. Every time I read one of her columns I wish I hadn't.

johenne Sun 24-May-15 08:34:13

"She has no issue with Page 3"

Then she isn't a feminist.

johenne Sun 24-May-15 08:35:33

"She also thought it was okay when she got caught letting over a guy working in a coffee shop"

You mean leaning over?

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 24-May-15 09:34:07


DoctorTwo Sun 24-May-15 10:18:16

I heard her on Woman's Hour and cringed a bit at 'leching over' the barista. Then I cringed over her view that objectification is ok, then at her support for Page 3.

Of course she has the right to hold those views, I just think she's sending out a wrong message to young women who could read her book and be influenced by it.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sun 24-May-15 13:50:13

"Says we live in a 'visual society' so people should be allowed/encouraged to adorn themselves. "

My thought is this is all well and good until you take 2 seconds to look around at men and women and boys and girls in every country in the world and see if you can see any disparity.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sun 24-May-15 13:53:41

I just googled and this was what came up first review in the Independent which covers some of the points here.

reni1 Sun 24-May-15 14:09:05

Most feminists and indeed most thinking people would raise an eyebrow at such vanity and eagerness to be sexually attractive to men, she's got that right. This has nothing to do with beauty and feminism being mutually exclusive. Even monstrous vanity is fine for a feminist, it is just a regrettable waste of her resources.

I stand by low level sexual harassment and objectification of women being utterly incompatible with feminism though.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Sun 24-May-15 14:45:59

I agree with you reni.

Also where does she draw the line. She says she likes to be objectified. OK. What does she think of others who don't? (I haven't read the book). Because a man who is going to do some blatant objectification doesn't ask the object whether she is OK with that before he goes for it. So how does she square that? If she thinks everyone should be cool with it, where does she draw the line? Is a wolf whistle OK but someone shouting "suck my cock" not? Is it OK if the object is aged 16 but not 14? 12?

To me it's obvious that the negatives outweigh the positives so enormously in this that street harassment or whatever she would call it should be stamped out.

Interestingly I got a positive comment from a bloke the other day which made me feel quite good. However, that doesn't change my thoughts around this at all. More it made me think about why that comment was quite nice, when so many others haven't been at all. I wouldn't take the one nice one as balancing out the scores of ones I didn't like IYSWIM. Maybe people who like this put the ones they like and the ones they don't like in different unconnected boxes or something? Whereas to me they are all coming from the same place.

yallsexist Sun 24-May-15 14:46:13

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 24-May-15 15:51:24

Oh dear, does she not fit the yall fuckability test?

I'm sure her devastation knows no beginnings.

DownWithThisTypeOfThing Sun 24-May-15 16:04:31

This was featured in this week's Grazia. I wasn't impressed.

AyMamita Sun 24-May-15 16:23:03

Given that PV has made a career out of writing trollish and unfeminist things (smug articles about being thin, etc), I am not surprised she's now written this book, and can't be arsed to take it seriously. Post Caitlin Moran's HTBAW, publishers are falling over themselves for new wave feminism books and publishing any old "new feminist" shite if it's got a vaguely known name attached to it so it's easy to market.

HelenaDove Sun 24-May-15 19:15:04

I dont like the sound of Hot Feminism either.

Re compliments. I was in the supermarket recently and both myself and a man reached for the potatos. sorry Am i in the way
Him A good looking woman is never in the way.
Me You old charmer you.

He was in his 70s bless him. I thought it was sweet.

Completely different from having comments shouted out about the size of of my breasts.

So i know what you mean Whirlpool.

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