Pornification of International Women’s Day?

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The poster above does not promote the Rocky Horror Picture Show, nor Rocky Horror Picture Pornography. It promotes International Womens Day, March 8.

It was forwarded to me by a former student, and fabulous feminist Heather Busby. With Heather’s permission I am sharing her reaction to the poster here:

The organization I work for is participating in this event, sponsored by KOOP & some very feminist women, on International Women’s Day and there’s been some debate around the flyer for the event. I’m curious to see what others think about it.

Here are my thoughts: I hate it. This is not the image that comes into my mind at all when thinking about International Women’s Day, women’s empowerment, women’s human rights and feminism. to me, these are porno lips and even worse, the woman has been erased from the image completely and reduced to a sexualized image. It’s objectification and it’s even worse because it’s coming from feminists, and therefore it sends the message that “Hey, we’re all about women’s rights and we think it’s okay to reduce women to nothing but a set of pillowy, red fuck-me lips!” Maybe at 34 I’m too old and stodgy, but to me, this isn’t about reclaiming a sexist image. It’s about validating the objectification of women.

And I think there’s a huge difference between “sex-positive” and objectification. Just becomes it comes from feminists, I don’t think tha magically makes it okay or less demeaning. Why does International Women’s Day have to be about sex anyway? Why can’t they use an image that shows women in a position of empowerment, rather than taking away the woman entirely and leaving nothing but BJ lips? Do we have to be reduced to the “sex sells” mantra for every single thing? I think it’s entirely inappropriate and I don’t think it’s because I’m not “third-wave” enough. I speculate that they didn’t think very critically about the image they selected. And I really don’t feel I’m being all Andrea Dworkin-esque in my unease with this image, considering the event it’s promoting. Considering the amount of sexism that’s reared its ugly head regarding the Clinton campaign (go to and do a search for “Hillary sexism watch” to see many examples of this) and also the way other so-called liberal groups like PETA use women as sex objects for their cause (also do a search for PETA on – you WILL be appalled), I don’t think it’s okay for feminist women to further objectify themselves for no apparent reason. I think there’s a difference between the Vagina Monologues, which is all about reclaiming and celebrating our bodies, and just using a hyper-sexualized image without any other context for it for an event that includes more serious issues like female genital mutilation, illegal abortion, rape as an instrument of war, forced prostitution, etc. I think they took it too far.

And no, I’m not some giant prude. Several years ago I took part in a women’s erotic writing and performance group called “Gynomite” and I have on occasion, written some rauchy feminist porn for fun and expression. I love Susie Bright. I embrace my vibrator! I feel that I’m very sex-positive, but this image is still offensive to me.


-Heahter Busby, via Kathleen Bergin
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0 Responses to Pornification of International Women’s Day?

  1. Ann Bartow says:

    Good gravy. Thanks for sharing this, Heather and Kathleen. Yeesh.

  2. Pingback: International Women’s day…porn style… « Sparkle*Matrix