Real Women and Real Cultural Change

I'm down in Bournemouth for the conference and have just spent the morning perfecting a speech in the Real Women Policy Debate this afternoon.

It looks like it's going to be a debate over subscribed with speakers and there's at least 3 amendments and a separate vote!

Here are links to the policy paper itself and conference extra which has the amendment 2 to I speaking against.

I'm definitely in favour of the motion, and hoping to speak against Amendment 2 in particular - so here is my speech, just in case I don't get to give it!

Friends,

I am delighted to support this innovative and practical policy paper, because it re affirms our commitment to freedom, choice and true liberal values.

But Amendment Two would undermine that commitment.

If we pass this amendment, we’ll be saying :

‘We see there’s a problem with media images, body image and eating disorders but we don’t want to do anything about it, except to cross our fingers and hope that the problem will go away all by itself’.

What sort of policy is that?

Let’s be clear: images of women are manipulated in advertising in order to make more sales and revenue for large corporations.

Where that harms people, liberals must take positive action.

Time and time again over the past decade, research has shown that from as early as age 5 young girls feel under pressure to be slim and have a perfect body.

The publication Under ten and Under Pressure’ , put out by the Girl Guides Association – that bastion of radical feminism! - found that Girls Between Seven and Ten Believe being Slim and Pretty Makes you Clever, Happy and Popular’

In research by Field et al in 1999, nearly 2 in 3 of 500 girls aged between 9 and 17 agreed with the statement “pictures of women in magazines influence what you think is the perfect shape”

And 1 in 2 of the girls agreed that “Pictures of women in magazines make you want to lose weight.

The policy paper addresses this harm in a thoroughly liberal way, by providing consumers with information on how much images have been digitally manipulated; so that people can know how real or fake they are.

We’ve supported this kind of consumer empowerment before.

To help mitigate the harm of climate change we have laws requiring manufacturers to provide us with information about how energy efficient their fridges are.

Yes, the issues are complicated but now there is a simple set of categories.

So we are all empowered to make an informed choice about energy efficiency.

Yes, the process of airbrushing may also be complex.

Yet, it is entirely possible to come up with some useful guidelines.

Commonsense would ensure that what was being regulated was the manipulation of body images, not the benign change of lighting or removal of shadows.

And, just as the labelling of fridges has changed the behaviour of fridge manufacturers, so the labelling of digitally manipulated images will change the behaviour of advertisers.

What we’re talking about here is cultural change ; changing behaviours.

One reason digital manipulation works is that we don’t always know when it's been done.

If we make sure that advertisers are open and honest about it, what company will want to admit that the only way it can sell it’s products is by using fake pictures?

But if you don’t require advertisers to provide the information in the first place, you don’t get the cultural change we need.

They will have no incentive to change.

As advertising drives the profitability of magazines, newspapers and television, where they go, editorial will follow.

We didn’t cross our fingers and hope for cultural change when it came to energy efficiency of fridges, why should we do it about the well-being and self-esteem of young women and girls?

Conference, this is a liberal approach to achieving cultural change!

Yes, if a five year old is reading Cosmo then she will see digitally manipulated photos.

but if her parents choose to protect her, they will know where the safe places are.

So, Cosmo Girl, aimed directly at the teen market should help young women feel good about themselves; they shouldn’t decide they’re fat at the age of 12!

Conference, let’s make a real difference to young girls and women’s lives:

Support the motion and reject amendment two.




3 comments:

neil craig said...
20 Sep 2009, 15:45:00

We decided at the Nuremberg Trials that planning aggressive war & bombing civilians were war crimes & massacring, ethnic cleansing, genocide & mass kidnap & rape were crimes against humanity. There is no question that the LibDem leaders, without exception, enthusiastically supported an aggressive war against Yugoslavia conducted overwhelmingly by bombing civilians. That after the occupation of Kosovo they unanimously supported the Massacres, such as Dragodan where at least 210 civilians were murdered by our police, widespread genocide, the ethnic cleansing of at least 350,000 & the kidnap & sale to brothels of thousands, probably 10s of thousands of children. It gas since become public that the British government knew & thus party leaders who are Privy Councillors would have known, that our police kidnapped at at least 1,300 Serbs & dissected them while still alive to sell the parts to our hospitals.

There is clearly a prima faci case that all those involved, including all the leaders of the party, are personally guilty of these war crimes & crimes against humanity.It seems to me that this is a serious charge yet not only have all LibDem MP's refused to defend themselves in any fact based way* but neither has any
LibDem blogger & the party has made it a condition of membership that one support this genocide. Indeed most of them (listed here http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/09/lib-dem-bloggers-who-censor-in-nazi.html) have also censored mention of the facts. It should be unnecessary to point out that censorship (& indeed genocide) is anathema to any real liberal.

I am therefore seeking to find if there is a single "Liberal Democrat" anywhere among the alleged 60,000 members who feels it is possible to dispute, in any factual way, the prima faci case that the entire party leadership are guilty of war crimes, genocide & worse crimes even Hitler didn't match in the Nazi cause. Alternately is there any single party member who disproves of such atrocities 7 supports the application of the rule of law to such people.


* The sole person to have been publicly willing to defend the party is Baroness Shirley Williams who admitted that we had done such things but that it was alright because "Milosevic did the same". She supported that allegation by stating that she personally had seen Yugoslav police carrying out the same atrocities as our police when she visited Belgrade in 1995. While I have to accept this as representing the absolute pinnacle of honesty of which she is capable nobody else has seen this & all other sources say that the fighting in Kosovo took place in Kosovo in 1998/9. When asked to give details of these alleged acts she has repeatedly refused. I'm afraid before accepting that there is any truth in her words I would have to see independent evidence.

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