Survey claims young women would rather be attractive than intelligent

Labour Party

If true, this is a very depressing story.

A survey of 1,142 women by the discount website http://www.MyVoucherCodes.co.uk has found that almost half of young women age 18 – 20 would prefer to have large breasts than high intelligence.

These young women apparently believe that bigger breasts would attract more men. Only 43 per cent felt that men would be ‘more interested’ in them if they had a higher IQ.

The researchers also found around 40 per cent of respondents would prefer to have a ‘slim figure’ than high intelligence, with many stating that it would make them feel ‘more confident’.

Almost the same percentage of people said they would swap their IQ in order to be their ‘ideal dress size’.

If borne out in practice, these findings are deeply worrying, showing as they do that today’s young women are far from happy. And it’s themselves they’re unhappy with.

As Kat Banyard from women’s group UK Feminista said in the Mail Online: ‘Women face unprecedented pressures to focus on their body.

‘Industries that focus on the way women look are flourishing – and that means that from a very early age, women are taught that the way they look matters more than what they do. 

‘The consequences of this can manifest in eating disorders or extreme measures such as plastic surgery.

‘These figures show that women still loathe their bodies on an industrial scale.’

It’s the same story when it comes to relationships. Most of those surveyed felt men ‘valued’ intelligence in women, although two thirds said they felt appearance was more important when attracting a partner.

The same was true in the workplace, with almost half believing that being ‘attractive’ would also further a woman in her career.

Almost 80 per cent also felt they were judged more on their appearance than their intelligence.

There is a view that young women’s lack of ease with their bodies and themselves results from celebrity culture. Also in the Mail Online, Mamta Saha, psychologist, said: ‘Celebrity culture is much more accessible than it ever was before. We are bombarded with images of beautiful women with enhanced features such as full lips and large chests.

‘It’s easy to look at these women and make the connection between the way they look and success – but this can turn into an unhealthy fixation.”

I am sure the fashion and beauty industries, our celebrity culture and images of women such as those on Page 3 of the Sun and the Ryanair calendar have all played a part in this appalling reduction of young women’s self esteem.

We live in a world where almost all available forms of communication massively encourage us to achieve physical perfection. While the fashion and beauty industries are obviously a large part of this, it is also true there is an all-pervasive social and physical ideal which allows little room for individuality unless you are very brave or determined not to go with the flow.

The result is a generation of unhappy young people seeking to reach a goal only a few can attain.

Commercial imperatives have to shoulder much of the blame for this. In order to continue to sell beauty products, fashion clothes, “diet” food and many quasi-medical items (to name but a few) people have to actually want to buy them. Making them feel bad about themselves is a successful advertising tactic.

I am minded to ask what kind of world do we live in when we deliberately depress people’s self worth in order to sell throw away goods?

Murdoch’s Sun ate women’s dignity

Labour Party

Congratulations to campaigning MP (and fellow blogger) Tom Watson for exposing the bullying of women members of staff at the tabloid Sun.

According to Watson, Sun editor Dominic Mohan, told the Leveson enquiry “it is wrong to suggest that the Sun trivialises offences against women.”

Not so, says Watson, and I know who I believe. Watson tells us on his blog he has inside knowledge that at least five female journalists on the paper have been sacked in the last eight years. At least two of the sacked women went on to win compensation after challenging their dismissals. Two out of five strikes me as a high percentage and provides strong evidence of serious discrimination against female employees.

More recently, Whitehall editor at the Sun Clodagh Hartley had a complaint of bullying against her upheld by an independent adjudicator. This will, of course, be of great concern the beleaguered Mohan, who has a lot on his plate after the recent arrests of Mike Sullivan, the paper’s crime editor; the former managing editor, Graham Dudman; executive editor, Fergus Shanahan; and Chris Pharo, a news desk executive.

Appalling though this is, unfortunately it’s not the whole story. The Sun still publishes topless and virtually naked women on page three – a practice deeply disrespectful to women, which I believe should immediately be consigned to the scrapheap.  

The Sun is not just a newspaper, it’s theUK’s largest selling national daily with a circulation of 7,774,000. It’s our most popular newspaper and it behaves in a totally unacceptable way towards its female staff. It also publishes demeaning images of women.

I wholeheartedly agree with the four women’s groups – End Violence Against Women, Equality Now, Object and Eaves – who appeared before the Leveson inquiry arguing that the Sun should ban sexualised images which would not be shown on television before the 9.00pm watershed. As Former Labour MP Clare Short, who has campaigned against page three, said in the Guardian “The bottom line is that pictures that would not be permissible in the workplace or on broadcast media before the watershed can still be published in a daily newspaper.”

What is more, the newspaper reading public do not want page three, perhaps understanding how degrading it is to women. According to the Huffington Post, Platform 51, formerly the Young Women’s Christian Association, commissioned a nationally representative poll which showed that twice as many women would support a ban on pictures of topless women appearing in daily newspapers as would oppose it. And it’s not just women. Almost a third of the men questioned also supported a ban.

So it’s actually the Sun “wot ‘as got it wrong”.

Disrespect to women and actions such as bullying at work and publishing pictures of undressed women are no longer acceptable. Thankfully the world has moved on from the 1970s when the Sun introduced page three. It’s about time the Sun itself caught up with the modern world.