The original message goes like
"About a year ago, we played the game about what color bra you were wearing at the moment. The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news.
This year's game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example "I like it on the couch", "kitchen counter", "the dresser" well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. It doesn't have to be suggestive. I'm going for the vague "on the stairs". The bra game made it to the news. Let's see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER - DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!"
I didn't know about the last year's campaign and just found out about this years, and have participated. I know some people have had real fun with this, since it was a "inside joke" amongst women, and find it very funny how men reacted. My male friends knew what it was about, and didn't send any questionable remarks.
However, others found this sexist and objectifying women and have made this heard.
Ofcourse as it happens in facebook, this has drawn comments/discussions, and I thought I would share this with my non-facebook friends, since it draws an interesting example of feminist in conflict.
I will try to summarize this discussion, which will really not do anyone justice but again, what is justice anyhow.
Here are the points.
1) campaign was sexist due to its deliberate exclusion of men.
2) it presumes women have either purses and/or sex.
3) It is provoking and has sexual connotations
4) did not help in making the point, which is breast cancer
Let;s respond to this one by one. 1) yes, it is excluding men, but breast cancer is predominately something that women have to deal with, like pregnancy, and the whole point of the joke was to keep it as an insider's joke, which made some people happy. Also many gender equality movements exclude men.
2) I don't think it was sexist to think women can have sex or bags(I've understood this term broadly),
3) I believe women who read this note and put status signs up are able to make this judgement for themselve - they are not stupid
4)Yes, I agree on this issue. it could've been done much smarter, but if the whole point was to draw attention, it succeeded - but I agree it could've been much more linked to the actual cause and abit more stylish. And this point, I think is shared by most people (from the conservatives, to not so conservative, and the times)
Also, my beef with this was that the statement about this whole status update was stated as a "fact" where it is really a "opinion". And the nature of the statement was potentially be offensive to those who participated in the whole scheme. It also had a bullying nature, where it made those who participated feel like they were ignorant and were impediments to the feminist cause.
But more importantly, let's talk about the number 3, provocative and sexual innuendo part of the problem, which is probably the biggest problem the supporters for "the joke being sexist/objectifying" group.
I have always faced criticisms from women on this issue. The example here shows women noting where they put their purse, but give the reader the notion that this is where they would like to have (their bag) sex. This isn't funny at first site, but if you have several status updates doing the same thing, it could be funny.
But whichever the case, even if this were actually about sex, I don't find it objectifying. Definition of objectifying is to make something as if it were an object, rather than a person. Me talking about where I would like to have "it", whatever it may be, does not objectify me. Perhaps it shows that I am a sexual person who may like to share my preferences with others. However, making me into an object it does not. I am also aware that many women are objectified and are objectifying themselves as nothing but something to have sex with. This, if chosen out of ignorance or is forced, it is bad/horrible. But since one of the core human essences are being sexual beings, it is natural to show one's sexual side as well. Ofcourse the stupidity of this is that some women objectifying themselves, may encourage men to think that of other women. However, just because men have dominated the territory of sex for a while now, does not mean that we should shun it as being a wasteland, a place no real feminist goes, unless you want a full on battle to tear down the land - to talk about it seriously.(I am referring to comments such as "If you want to talk about sex openly, admit that you've had it at least once when you didn't really feel like it.Or how you REALLY like it. Or masturbation. Or something"... which indicates sex is supposedly something women should never make light of or joke about). I think women should take the reins of women's sexuality discussions into our own hands but we should also be able to see the lightness in it as well. Thus women in charge of showing women's sexuality, not men in their own fantasy way. The first seasons of sex and the city did improve this aspect... although the later seasons were as if I was watching the video version of Cosmopolitan.
But again, do not discourage women in talking about sex, period, due to the scares of objectifying themselves.The problem with this is that it is dangerously close to the religious/conservative views on how women should be chastised and prude, and women do not have sexuality or their sexualities should be a secret. Ofcourse there are women all over the spectrum of sexual freedom. But to shun the side where one believes women should have fun too and can freely talk and make jokes about sex, to shun those who are not afraid of the male penis, is also not feminism. The problem is that once you do this, once you mark that out of the feminist map, you will have women who will not be able to own their own sexualities, and again this is a battle lost against the conservative male view. Also, it is losing your (potential) freedom to own your own sexuality. Coming from very prudent/conservative countries (I also mean the US here), I know how this could go. Some women believe that equal rights is to make men(and women) fear talking about sex and sexuality, rather than enabling women to take power and lead in the discussion of sex. Where it is believe that sexuality/sexual things are evil, too private to be talked about. This is not a society I will like to live in, nor do I believe is a gender equal society.
Last point I want to make is the ease of calling thing sexist. Being Asian, I also have the god given right to call things racist (no, I don't really but you get my point). Now with both things, its like calling wolf. Once you start calling everything sexist/racist, the gravity of your voice becomes weaker and weaker, since you are thought to be someone who will always be calling "wolf!". Also, the people who can join you in the cause becomes smaller and smaller, since you are excluding diverse views. I believe that this is one of the reasons some women themselves do not want to be categorized as feminist, due to that many "feminists" have marked the line way too strict, restrictive and aggressively and then marked it as being a "general feminist rule". Making feminism something like a totalitarian regime is not something we should aspire to. Taking a strong stand is one thing, being facist is another.
someone posted a blog post on this discussion (from the opposing view) - although I disagree with parts of the point 1 & 3 - first of all sex is the way to catch EVERYONE's attention, and I don't think others were excluded, you could've easily did something such as putting a ribbon on your photo, or a link (again its your choice). which is something I also did. but I understand what he's getting at, and is much clearer than what was being mentioned in the previous discussion, so thanks chris!