Friday, 19 August 2011

a levels, pretty girls, not surprised

A level results came out this week [so no doubt I will have spelling/grammar errors in this post that spoilsports will spot and say 'see what happens when you dumb down the education system and take away rote learning and the strap?] as did the expected flurry of pictures in the press of young girls jumping for joy - young, blonde, slim girls. Usually in white vest tops.

Now, I wasn't surprised because I am a dour feminist sensitised to every possible insult against women real or imagined. The press however, in a real quine of a story, reported on the a levels using such pics, then reported on the pics being used and what it might mean, then pointed out we all knew this last year.

And a whole tumblr has birthed on the subject of sexy a-levels which proves - through, of course, publishing pics of the very thing it proposes to be exploring - the hypothesis that no a levels story should be without some leaping ladies.

There is a whole other train of thought - that no-one should get all twitchy about young, barely legal girls being photographed mainly by blokes old enough to be their fathers encouraging them to jump, hug and smile, smile, smile because -

"Spotty oiks [the author means teenage boys] don't take much of a picture, and anyway girls get better exam results. They also express emotion in photographs and boys, with the best will in the world, just don't."

and -

"Firstly because A-levels are like popularity - important when you're 18, and for the rest of your life you couldn't care less. And secondly because the sight of a happy teenage girl with a whole life of possibilities in front of her is one of the most magical things you'll ever see."

followed by how crap the whole world pretty much is for girls, so please, feel guilty that -

"In India if you're a girl you're lucky to survive to 18. In most of Africa school is an expensive luxury that comes a long way down a parent's list. In China a girl will probably be aborted if her parents can afford it, and dumped after she is born if they can't. In fact, while we're busy bewailing pictures of successful young kids in the newspapers covering our tiny, self-important part of the planet, there are 100million women in the rest of the world who have simply disappeared."

but you are spending your time worried about pics of girls getting their a levels. First world problems, people.

The things is, the article above actually has valid points to make. The world is a hell for women in many - and varied - ways. There is a gulf between not even being born because of your gender and being photographed to sell newspapers on exam results day. I get that. But ultimately it is all part of the same package - exploitation and abuse of women and girls. It isn't two separate issues - just different degrees of burn. But not mentioning the a level pictures doesn't - in some kind of magical trade off - mean the 100 million the article states have disappeared will magically reappear. Or that one woman or girl destined to disappear will remain. Not one of them will.

So - rather than argue the toss [sorry, I know, I kinda just did that myself] why not say 'yes, this is unacceptable - and by the way these other things are unacceptable too - how 'bout we do something to change that too?'. Then we get to change the world instead of argue ourselves round to next year's exam results and find ourselves smack-bang in amongst the same spaghetti junction discussion we thought we were working our way out of. Not much learning going on there, is there?

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