My 8 yo daughter is old enough to read the slogans on the Wicked Camper vans we see around Byron Bay when we go there on holidays. We’re there a couple of times a year and I’ve seen dozens of these repugnant things being driven by budget travellers and backpackers.
Thankfully, we’ve never sat behind one in traffic or she’s never been interested enough to notice the vile things proudly scrawled all over them.
Vile things like this:
Or maybe she has seen them and she just hasn’t said anything. Maybe she just digested what she read in the same way our kids digest all the messages that come at them from the media. Maybe she just read slogans like this and they silently embedded themselves into her understanding of what the world thinks of women:
Sometimes I feel like I am human shield, standing in front of my daughter, trying to protect her from the tsunami of screwed up images and ideas coming at her about what it means to be a woman and a girl.
They’re coming from everywhere. The media. Music videos. Instagram selfies of bums and boobs and thigh gaps and pouty preening. Of course there’s a spectrum to how messed up these messages are on a scale of ugh to WTF.
At one end there’s objectification and the way the media and social media relentlessly hammers home the message that a woman’s value lies solely in her appearance and her weight.
A visit to the supermarket any day of the week and we are constantly faced with covers like this at the checkout:
What is this teaching her about pregnancy and motherhood? That the most important thing about having a baby, your absolute top priority must be to look good in a bikini. Forget the baby. Forget being happy. Looking hot is everything.
Then there are images like this:
What does this teach her about aging? About the value of a woman’s life? That even when you’re a grandmother with a decades long successful career, the most important thing is looking hot in a bikini.
At the more extreme end of the negative media spectrum are the putrid misogyny ‘jokes’ on the side of Wicked Camper vans. Misogny masquerading as humour is among the worst kind because it mocks those who object to it with a, “Come on, can’t you take a joke?” response.