Tonight I flicked channels on TV between the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and a documentary on ABC about infant rape in South Africa. It was surreal flicking between them; I felt compelled to do so. The more I flicked from one to the other the more frustrated I became. I’d forgotten what a huge deal the Victoria’s secret thing is. Seal was crooning to his supermodel wife, the new/old Spice girls sang their old/new version of their old/dumb song, looking terrified, not to mention Will I Am singing “Where did you get your body from?” as leggy models with bouncing boobies strode down the catwalk to a chorus of cheers and whistles. There were famous Hollywood actors in the front rows clearly eyeing up their next big purchase, and I’m not talking about lingerie here.
The narrator on the ABC is asking us where men learn the sort of behaviour that could possibly drive them to such brutality. If she’d just flicked channels, she might have begun to formulate her answer. Don’t be ridiculous! the young girls cry, you can’t cross a divide that cavernous. Watch me.
The models in the fashion show are wearing lingerie, attached to which are any manner of weird creations in the name of ‘high fashion’ – a giant 7 foot silver snow flake attached to the emaciated spine of Heidi Klum – for example. The women are half naked and at the same time so trussed up that if you look at it for what it is it just becomes more and more ridiculous. Can you image men bouncing down a runway with 8 foot snowflakes, wings, giant lips and cocoons attached to them? Sure, at a mardi gras, where the point of the outrageousness is to celebrate the contrast of the dominant image of masculinity. But here, on prime time TV, with celebs in attendance, there is no tongue in cheek going on – this truly is a commemoration of the highest purpose of woman – as the image of libidinous beauty and the ultimate seller and consumer of goods. They looked ridiculous, we all know it. And yet, here we are in 2007/8 with this display on prime time TV as we wonder (some of us wonder) why, with women parading (willingly or not, it doesn’t make a whit of difference) their ‘beauty’, advertising goods to enhance their sexual desirability, a five month old baby girl might possibly be raped?
Is it so hard to connect the dots? Well, is it?