Kate Long Profile picture

Sep 13, 2018, 131 tweets

Tonight's #VintageMagTweets come from this amazing stack of Women's Monitoring Network home-made magazines. They date from between 1981 and 198, though I think the group was active outside those dates.

This was their brief: to choose a date, then get women from all over the country to spot sexist or misogynistic items in national and local publications, cut them out and post them to the WMN for compilation.

The group was methodical in their approach, and the result is a revealing snapshot of attitudes to women as portrayed in the print media in the early 80s.

Much of it's your typical 'Let's stick a semi-naked woman in any advert whatever it's about' approach. I posted a LOT of examples of that using the #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd tag last year.

(I use the tag #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd because whenever you talk about the exploitation of women's bodies in advertising, some bright spark always pops up and tries to claim it's a level playing field because once a man took his shirt off to promote Diet Coke.)

And as I always point out, the reason that advert's so memorable is because it's such a subversion of the norm, such an anomaly. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

And in society generally, men are not pressured to show flesh, or be judged primarily on their looks. Nor are they victims of sexual violence at anything like the rates women are. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

The man being ogled by the women in the Diet Coke ad is always perfectly safe. The women gaze at him politely and silently from behind glass, then go back to work. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

They're not heckling him, or exposing themselves in a threatening manner, or doing anything that might embarrass, harass or disturb him. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

He's never in immediate danger of being attacked by them in a gang, or followed home later and assaulted. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

So the situation has no parallel and anyone who tries to argue that it has needs to stop and think it through. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

Women and girls live their lives surrounded by this dreary parade of female-bodies-for-sale, and it takes its toll in many ways, not least of which is being alone on a train station at night with some giant sexual image of a woman on the wall. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

Anyway, I'll post another batch of these on Sunday. Here's a list of the publications where sexist images were found, to finish with.

I've just noticed a typo in my first tweet: 1981-1986, those dates should read.

Time for more #VintageMagTweets now, and I'm adding to the thread about the Women's Monitoring Network. These clippings come from the very early 80s.

Letters to a popular car magazine, 1/3



Here a woman becomes manager of a fish merchants. How is the story reported?

Aka, how many weary sexist puns can we crowbar into one short article.

Remember, girls, we're all in a great big race against each other to bag a man.

So don't neglect your paranoia levels, whatever you do.

The Violence Against Women edition of the Women's Monitoring Network mag was particularly awful. I haven't included everything in there because some of it felt too horrible to disseminate.

There was discussion of films which equated violence against women with titillation.

The photocopied image isn't very clear, but you can see roughly what the cover was like - woman being pushed backwards through a window.

Here the Daily Star portrays a news story about a serial rapist as some kind of posed drama for the readers to consume as if it were a TV programme.

Prime example for the #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd collection. It's an advert for a tanker!

Here's there's the threat of violence, the idea that a tyre could roll over her at any moment. And of course it's gratuitous female flesh. #WhatAboutTheDietCokeAd

More films where VAW is depicted as 'erotic' and 'thrilling'.

And magazines...

Violence against women *and* a jibe at people with mental illness. Staggering.

Even cartoons are at it.

Excuse me, my sides have split.

And I'll finish with the background to the cuttings. If you remember, these are taken from just one day, Feb 27th 1982, creating a snapshot of the casual and ubiquitous misogyny in UK society. Meanwhile here's the actual violence that's being visited on women at the time.

You almost wonder if there's a link between the two.

I sincerely hope no one's been distressed by anything I've posted. As usual, if you'd like anything taken down, let me know. x

#VintageMagTweets again, and yet more of the Women's Monitoring Network cuttings. There will be some upsetting stuff here as it's about VAW, so mute me or unfollow if you need to, and go carefully with RTs. x

The WMN called out the titillating nature of much reporting on sexual violence against women at this time.

Look at the sympathetic way this violent man is treated: a convicted robber who stabbed his ex wife in the chest after being allowed out on parole.

The WMN give examples of all three of these devices. The frequent juxtaposition of pin up and report of a sex attack is particularly horrible.

Here's an example.

And again look at the language: the victim is "pretty" and "blonde", we're told - what's that information in there for if not to imply the man was 'provoked'?

Moving away from violence, the cuttings look at how women are presented in a domestic setting. (Spoiler alert: they're in the kitchen.)

We're just basically servants.

We're certainly never pictured as executives.

Another recurring message is 'It's your duty to look thin and young'. Here the implication is that the woman's somehow 'cheated' her husband or 'let him down' by not staying the exact same shape as when they first married.

I'd love to know who this male writer is. This was 1982, and yet we STILL have people telling us that certain traits are innately feminine and masculine. You'd think we'd have moved on from this tripe.

That's all we boil down to, really.

Well, I'll have to leave it there because we have visitors coming to stay this weekend, and my innate sense of housewifeyness means I feel compelled to clean the place.

However, my two teenage sons and my husband will all be cleaning too. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, 1982.

More #VintageMagTweets now from the Women's Monitoring Network, dated around the early 80s.

Horror and chaos as two women councillors want to be called "councillor".

They are Very Silly for wanting that.

Let's have a look at women in cartoons. Firstly, female drivers are all stupid.

Yes, really stupid.

God forbid he should descale it himself.

Female employees are there to be slept with.

I'm not going to reproduce the whole of this grubby little strip, but does anyone remember this cartoon? It existed purely to show a drawing of a naked woman every week.

Needless to say, "George" always kept his kit on.

Oh look! Even a frail, feeble woman can manage to do the job!

But wait - she'd better not spoil her beautiful woman's hands.

Better get a man to sort it, dear.

I'll end with this brilliant image of two young women ignoring the sexism and just getting on with the job. I wonder where they are now? xxx

Further #VintageMagTweets now, again from the Women's Monitoring Network. They start by looking at some 'opposite sex' birthday card images.

Boys get to build sandcastle while girls sweep up.

Boys play exciting sports!

While girls read quietly in a pretty pinafore.

Boys are all action...

While girls pose coquettishly.

Meanwhile n the Mothercare catalogue, there are no girl babies at all.

Boys are ACTIVE from the very start.

A boy's grip is STRONG.

Where baby girls do show up, it's to demonstrate ignorance and naivety.

Boys: manly, ACTIVE PLAY.

Girls: make-believe and role play.

Look at the respective poses in this clothing catalogue.

Just like dad: a life of action!

Just like mum: go shopping, pose prettily and cleanly.

So how cool to end with this, a sewing kit for a boy or a girl.

Anyway, don't come to me with this bobbins about boys being naturally more boisterous and loud than girls. We tell them to be that way, from before they can even speak.

#VintageMagTweets again now. The last batch, I think, of the Women's Monitoring Network magazines, so coming from the mid 80s.

Firstly, the WMN looks at the way stories involving threats against vulnerable female are reported, and come to the conclusion that it's mainly about titillation.

Here's the example they give.

"Pretty 10-year-old".

Someone's taken the trouble to count the number of characters in four children's comics and compare the male ones against the female. The results are predictable, and completely in line with kids's fiction, reading schemes, TV shows etc.

Also with women's presence in films this century. Further reading here: pudding.cool/2017/03/film-d…

See also the Smurfette Principle. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.… You only have to take a look at shows like Paw Patrol to know that the marginalisation of female characters in children's TV is alive and well.

I digress. Back to children's comics.

I was a Whizzer and Chips fan myself.

This one's really depressing. Is it Beryl the Peril?

I myself was a huge consumer of girls' pre-teen comics, and this analysis is absolutely true thought I never spotted it at the time.

A few examples:

Remember, this stuff has been collected from the publications available on just ONE DAY.

I remember some more: 'Bella at the Bar' - a story about an orphaned gymnast who was ill-treated by her trainer and was always trying to run away. And 'The Wanderings of Wanda' about a girl who was without adult protection and forced to wander about looking for a home.

The WMN observation is right. All these characters were essentially passive victims. It was grim stuff now I think about it.

Let's have a look at the boys' comics. Were they full of the same stuff?

Er, no.

This is what boys' comics looked like.

Little boys even get their own 'starter sexism' cartoons.

So there we are. Next Thursday I'll tweet the last batch of these. I'm still keen to know if anyone's on Twitter who was involved in the women's Monitoring Network, so if you know any feminists in their late 50s or above, I'd be really grateful if you'd ask around.

#VintageMagTweets Here's the last batch of the Women's Monitoring Network cuttings. All the snippets are from (I think) 1986 and were culled from just one day.

An observation by the magazine's editors. I have quite a collection of adverts that prove this which I might tweet on Sunday.

Look how women over 45 are discriminated against by employers.

Get ready for a hilarious punchline...

Yes, we who are Past It are all so grateful for any male attention.

Basically middle-aged women were treated as a joke by the media.

Which is why this is such a rare and fab image (1 of 2)...

It doesn't say which newspaper this appeared in, though.

This is where the cutting-edge ad agency for Protein World stole their idea from.

Because if you're a woman and a particular shape, you don't *deserve* to go on holiday.

Compare this headline with the fact that follows.

10m women: 40% of the workforce.

Pause for a quick digression: at this time some women were still being blatantly paid less than male colleagues doing the same job, and some were still denied access to work pensions, and many were barred from high-earning professions.

In this advert, the woman's reduced to just a pair of serving hands.

Yes, you'll be thrilled to do all the work and he'll be thrilled to have you wait on him.

Apparently men can't manage to take responsibility for their own nutrition. That's a woman's job.

So it's YOUR fault if he eats too much and gets ill.

YOUR job.

The WMN notes how seldom women are shown enjoying food. Unless it's to demonstrate denture fixative.

A digression: if you have a spare moment, google "Women laughing alone at salad."

Look! The men get to pick up their food and make like they're about to eat it. The woman just sits next to it in case she accidentally inhales a calorie.

That's the whole batch, but there are some I haven't tweeted because I worry about causing distress to followers and beyond. I am due to visit the LSE library and look at some more, though. Watch this space. x

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