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is ‘gender flipping’ helping the feminist cause?

Image: Pat Stevenson / Facebook

Image: Pat Stevenson / Facebook

I was freed from Plato’s cave of social conditioning, and awakenedfrom the slumber of patriarchy, with the knowledge that women are oppressed. If you do not believe me, simply take the word ‘feminist’ and all its negative connotations as my proof: Jemimah Cooper of The Sydney Morning Herald goes as far as to argue it is a ‘dirty word’. The best way to emphasise this argument is the simplest, which is illustrated by the recent viral trend of ‘gender flips’. Australian comedians ‘The Bondi Hipstersparodied this month’s British GQ by showing heavily bearded and tattooed Dom Nader mimicking the naked poses struck by model Miranda Kerr.

The Guardian reports that Christiaan Van Vuuren, Nader’s real-life alter ego, told the Huffington Post that the idea was a response to the ‘over-sexualisation of the female body in the high-fashion world. For some reason, as soon as you put a man there … it’s an entirely different thing that we aren’t used to seeing’.

Is it really a precedent that provokes this response? Or, is it that it’s disturbing and emasculating to see a man making himself physically smaller, akin to a victim, whilst pulling down the cloth covering his genitals?

Last year’s controversial video for Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, with its topless models and rape-justifying lyrics, prompted a number of parodies.  Interestingly, The Law Revue Girls’ ‘Defined Lines was repetitively banned from YouTube due to its portrayal of men in subservient roles, as women sing ‘Yeah we don’t want it / It’s chauvinistic / You’re such a bigot’.  Last month, Jennifer Lopez’s video for the single I Luh Ya Papi, began with one of her female dancers asking: ‘Why do men always objectify the women in every single video?’ and proceeded to show Lopez, fully dressed, surrounded by half-naked men in a bed, a pool and sponging down a car. Finally, the film Oppressed Majority, released by French filmmaker EléonorePourriat in 2010, depicts a man struggling with routine chores and childcare, before being attacked and raped by a group of women in the street, and poorly treated at a female-dominated police station. The video became a sensation when Pourriat added English subtitles in February this year, and has now been viewed almost 9 million times.

Moreover, the patriarchal disgust surrounding women’s menstruation, or that ‘time of the month’, is illustrated in Gloria Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate. Here, the power justifications would run counter-clockwise: ‘Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at that time of the month”. Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man’.

Gender flips demonstrate the double-standards within society, but they will not succeed in emancipating women until society discontinues associating feminism with “melodrama”, “being a pussy” and “making excuses for failure”’. And I will not cease being a feminist until the word “cunt” is reclaimed from its definition as the most offensive word in the English language to the most empowering.


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