Sexism is not 'all good fun'

January 24, 2010

A nightclub in Singapore held an event on January 16 encouraging women to have their breast size judged in exchange for alcohol. Material for the event titled Fill my Cups invited women to "step right up to the Boobie Booth and flaunt what you've got".

Two judges visually assessed the breast size of the women. They gave them one free drink for an A cup, two for a B cup, three for a C cup and a bottle of vodka for a D cup.
Cheryl Ho, spokesperson for The Lo & Behold Group, which runs the nightclub, said the promotion "was really a play on the guest DJ's name. When we heard that it was DCUP, we decided to give the event an added spin."

In response to widespread criticism for the event being sexist, offensive and dangerous, she said, "our stance is that it's all good fun, not sexist, not sleazy. No girls are going to get touched and we are not asking them to flash themselves."

Of course, sexism and sleaze don't require touching or nudity to do damage. An event that rewards women in relation to their breast size both reinforces the idea that large breasts are more beautiful than small and that women should be judged for their looks. It tells women that mainstream ideas about what is beautiful are a demand that they must try to satisfy.

Moreover, sexual bribery — the solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behaviour with promise of reward — blurs the lines of consent. It amounts to a form of sexual harassment.

A 2002 study by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre pointed to the fact that highly sexualised environments lead to increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Indeed, when the Saint Hotel in Melbourne promised women a $50 drink card if they hung their knickers over the bar, sexual assault counsellors and the Melbourne Centre Against Sexual Assault came out against the promotion for the increased risk of sexual assault it posed.

The idea that women's bodies should be judged, that women must try to look a particular way and that access to women's bodies can be bartered or owned, are not unique to these events.

We are all bombarded with material with this message. Women are pressured to pay to have body hair removed, for plastic surgery or to lose weight. Women are told that they have to pay to have the right outfits, make-up, perfume, haircut, underwear and jewellery.

This one aspect of women's oppression tells them their place if they are to be acceptable to society at large. And those who profit most from it generate this message.

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