- / -
Unacknowledged symbolism in relation to cleavage
Cleavage: metaphorical nexus of complexity and ambiguity
Attracting attention through advertising sexually
Subliminal promotion of a sex game: Golden Globes, Oscars and Red Carpets
Stars-in-the-shop-window game mirrored by Glass-ceiling game
Cleavage as a global psychosocial metaphor
Breast cancer as metaphor of global civilization vulnerability
Embodying global hypocrisy in models variously perceived
Appropriate post-attraction modalities?
Time for humanoid robot companions?
Much has been made of the feminist takeover of the 2018 Golden Globes celebration (Michael Schulman, The 2018 Golden Globes: Oprah leads a decisive feminist takeover, The New Yorker, 8 January 2018; Nicole Lyn Pesce, This is what happens when women take over the Golden Globes, Moneyish, 2018; Time's Up: Activists Join Actresses on Golden Globes Red Carpet to Call for Gender and Racial Justice, Democracy Now, 8 January 2018)
Missing from the feminist declarations and media coverage is any sense whatsoever that there are other forms of "harassment" which may or may not involve women. By framing harassment as being exclusively male-on-female, the attention accorded to the latter has distorted the debate and undermined the credibility of the case that was so appropriately presented there. This is consistent with the wider approach through the media to harassment, sexual and otherwise, as discussed separately (Reimagining Intercourse between the Righteous Unrightly Challenged, 2017) .
The concern here is to explore harassment from a complementary perspective. Feminists have successfully made a case regarding male harassment against females -- as they perceive it. How might males frame their understanding of harassment -- whether or not women consider this perception justified? The question is complicated by the manner in which perception may vary enormously according to circumstances, to situation, to culture, to place and to time -- especially historical time and periods of fashion. Any assumption, as now prevails, that there is a single appropriate conclusion to the matter is less than helpful.
As framed from a female perspective, the most offensive forms of harassment are physical -- whether unwelcome touching or more forceful forms of abuse, most particularly rape. Other forms include gesture and verbal harassment, especially when a pattern of dominance is exerted. This includes harassment in a domestic context -- within the family.
Clearly males experience analogous forms of physical harassment from other men, most notably in institutional settings -- work place harassment, military bases, educational institutions, and especially prisons. Much has been made of harassment of minors by the priesthood and in institutions of care. However the question here is how males may perceive harassment from females, especially outside the domestic context or where they are beholden to superiors in an institutional setting.
The primary focus of this argument is that, in contrast to the emphasis (or threat) of physical harassment -- as experienced by women from men -- in the case of men the harassment is primarily visual, with whatever effects this may imply. This may indeed be reinforced by verbal harassment by women, most notably in the form of taunting or explicitly disrespectful looks, but that is not the concern here. Nor is the concern with what may be recognized in terms of "predatory women" -- of relative insignificance from the perspective of women.
The argument here therefore contrasts the physical nature of the harassment considered unwelcome by women with what men may consider visual harassment by women. However the aspect explored here is how men may experience harassment by women as problematic rather than intriguing (as a potential come-on), and how this may indeed be considered "unwelcome". This aspect is of course readily considered irrelevant by women, just as men have a tendency to be indifferent to the complaints of women regarding their experience of some forms of harassment. Is harassment to be framed solely as "one-way"?
Given the historically unprecedented current investment of women in their attractiveness, a particular concern is with how men are expected to respond to this visual stimulus -- as questioned by the subtitle of the document.
Specifically, as the title itself suggests, it is appropriate to ask how men are expected to respond to the degree of exposure of breasts, exemplified at the Golden Globes, and notably featured in the media -- when accompanied by a widely hailed and publicized deprecation of sexual harassment by men. Those claims can be seen as hypocritical in that there is a subtlety to that event through the symbolism of the "golden globes", as may be only too recognizable by some, consciously or unconsciously, as well as as being deliberately intended by others.
Curiously the stars of Golden Globes embody prominently the only forms of globalization to which many can relate. However, in doing so, they also symbolize forms of globalization by which many are otherwise threatened. In a strange sense, through the drama of the media event, they are indeed attractive models of deep and unresolved cleavages in society.
Subliminal messages: Media coverage of the Golden Globes has made specific references to its symbolism -- but primarily with respect to the takeover by feminists and their dressing in black. The latter recalls the protests of the Black Sash movement before the parliament buildings during the apartheid regime in South Africa. Reference is also made to the more secret symbolism of wearing green emerald jewelry as a symbol of hope.
Missing is any sense of the symbolism that might otherwise be associated with the Golden Globes event -- potentially from a far more subtle and fundamental perspective of relevance to this argument. The point is usefully made by reference to even more prominent symbols worldwide, namely those of the hamburger chain McDonald's. As noted by Carly Ledbetter (There's A Subliminal Message Behind McDonald's Golden Arches Can you see it? The Huffington Post, 14 February 2017):
When McDonald's was thinking about doing away with the arches in the 1960s, they hired design consultant and psychologist Louis Cheskin. Cheskin wisely instructed the chain to keep the arches, for a very interesting reason:
He argued against completely eliminating the golden arches, claiming they had a great Freudian importance in the subconscious mind of consumers. According to Cheskin, the golden arches resembled a pair of large breasts: "mother McDonald's breasts". It made little sense to lose the appeal of that universal, and yet somehow all-American, symbolism. The company followed Cheskin's advice and retained the golden arches, using them to form the M in McDonald's.
The design has stayed relatively the same ever since. McDonald' didn't respond to our request for confirmation on this tale, but one thing is for sure -- you'll never look at those golden arches the same way ever again!
As The Golden Arches Are Boobs, this example is cited by Scott Hillard (10 Logos That Mean Way More Than You Think, ListVerse, 4 July 2013), and by others (George Harrison, Still Lovin' It? There's something strange -- and a bit rude -- about the McDonald's logo which you've probably never noticed, The Sun, 5 February 2017; Emily Hodgkin (Did YOU know? Fast food chain McDonald's logo has a hidden SEXUAL meaning... planted there by the man who designed it in the 1960s, Express, 6 March 2017).
Globes and breasts: As a media exercise in which the advertising industry is intimately evolved, would it be remarkably naive to assume that no equivalent "subliminal message" had been deliberately associated and cultivated with regard to "Golden Globes"? Is there every reason to suspect that any such message would be played down or denied? How might such denial be interpreted in the light of the following:
Cleavage: Separating the breasts there is of course the cleavage which invites further consideration of the symbolism of both and the process of cleavage enhancement and décolletage. Preoccupation with the associated physical proportions has resulted in a massive increase in breast enhancement procedures (Muhammad Adil Abbas, et., Cleavage Classification: categorizing a vital feminine aesthetic landmark, Plastic and Aesthetic Research, 2016; Maxine Kaye Heasman, Ultimate Cleavage: a practical guide to cosmetic breast enlargement surgery, 1999). Many have documented the shifting fashions of cleavage:
Weaponry? Despite the more subtle symbolic implications above, breasts are also recognized to be valuable weapons:
As implied by the remarks of Dean Burnett (above), the use of breasts as weapons by female comic and video game characters has been qualified by the term "pectukinetic combat". Modalities distinguished include:
As might be suspected, breasts are also used by some women to dominate other women (Gene Constant, Breast Envy and the Alpha Female, 2006; Jessa Schroeder, Battle of the Boobs: celebs show serious cleavage at the 2017 Golden Globes, New York Daily News, 2018). Arguably this follows from the great sensitivity of women to their breast size (Laura Dodsworth, 'Bare Reality,' 100 Women Share How They Feel About Their Breasts). This is clearly paralleled by the concern of men with their penis size. Size does matter, for both -- whether or not there are constraints on "more is better".
How are limits and boundaries to be recognized, given the constraints of political correctness with regard to obesity? How does attraction mutate into a "turn-off", repulsion or complete indifference?
Anticipating a future female leader of global society, as a consequence of activism at Golden Globes 2018, this could prove to be a significant dimension to tactics of global hegemony. The pattern has been established by Donald Trump (notably his taunting references to Kim Jong-un as "Little Rocket Man"). How would such dominance signalling be articulated in boob-language by the leader of the free world?
Metaphor? Given its very nature it is improbable that clarity can emerge from any conventional consideration of "cleavage" -- due to its fundamental implications as a metaphor of global significance (as discussed below). Dimensions of the nexus include:
Aspirations? Arguably the complex of associations with respect to cleavage calls for careful understanding of the associated desires and aspirations. These are potentially now to be framed for women as "what we want", as in:
Arguably the dynamics of civilization can be described in terms of an "attention economy" (Investing Attention Essential to Viable Growth, 2014). This follows from, and is exemplified by, the investment of plants in attracting pollinators -- as well as protecting themselves from abuse. Civilization itself has been described metaphorically in those terms (Flowering of Civilization -- Deflowering of Culture, 2014).
Advertising: Basic to the process of attracting attention in society is advertising. Presentation of a cleavage is readily recognized as a basic form of advertising (caricatured as "exposing one's wares" or "strutting one's stuff"). This is as much the case biologically as it is with respect to naming and acknowledging the cleavages in society.
For the individual the message can be recognized as "I am the advert" -- with the subtext "but the product is under wraps unless you pay the price". Models and actors, as at the Golden Globes, can be readily recognized as advertisements -- even though they are apparently not carrying an advertisement like a human billboard.
Packaging: Choices regarding degrees of "décolletage" versus degrees of "cover-up" are as fundamental in this context as they are in nature and in wider society. Aside from "trial runs", the message is "you only get to use the product when you purchase it". The challenge for all forms of advertising is "achieving buy-in". The mass media continue to explore an elusive commercially viable balance between free access and necessary purchase, notably with the marketing adage: sell the sizzle and not the steak. The parallel is especially relevant to the issues highlighted by sexual abuse.
As particular forms of advertising, image management and public relations can be usefully recognized as cosmetic surgery through which the client is provided with an uplift. Deodorants and perfumes are common metaphors in that context.
Sex sells: It is the advertising industry which has very extensively explored the associations between attraction and sex as a means of ensuring buy-in for any product or service -- fruitfully summarized by Wikipedia as sex in advertising (Tom Reichert et al, Sex in Advertising: perspectives on the erotic appeal, 2014) . There it is noted that the axiom "sex sells" is often used as a shorthand to encapsulate this phenomenon. Hence the relevance of the citation above (Sadie Whitelocks, Our Secret Weapon! Two thirds of British women use their cleavage to get ahead in life finds Wonderbra poll MailOnline, 30 March 2012).
Whereas it is a delicate matter to articulate the extent of this association in any text, it is widely presented through images which may be more or less explicit -- whether widely acceptable or evoking controversy, perhaps deliberately (Lisa Wade, "Subliminal" Sex in Marketing, Sociological Images, 11 January 2012; Gwen Sharp, Non-Subtle Sex in Advertising, Sociological Images, 27 June 2008; Lisa Wade, Ads Capitalizing On Our Obsession With Boobs, Sociological Images, 21 March 2010). Again, as noted by Wikipedia:
The use of sex in advertising can be highly overt or extremely subtle and, on some level, subliminal. It ranges from relatively explicit displays of sexual acts and seductive behavior aimed at the viewer, to the use of double-meanings and underlying sexual references. Sex in advertising relies on evolutionary processes and varies in effectiveness depending on the culture and gender of the receiver. The use of sex in advertising has been criticized for its tendency to objectify the female body and emphasizing stereotypes.
Advertising for lipstick or lollipops, for example, readily evokes an explicit association with sexual intercourse -- promoting lips as vaginal surrogates with lipstick to match. Visual emphasis on cleavage -- as the "Upper Nile" -- is clearly reminiscent of the "Lower Nile" and the attractive opportunities it represents.
Advertising harassment: Given the concerns of this argument, there is little difficulty in acknowledging the extent to which everyone is now harassed by advertising -- and experiences advertising as harassment. Telemarketing and billboards are obvious examples. Junk mail through the letterbox can even be construed as physical abuse. The challenge of ad blocking on web browsers offers a valuable metaphor. Given the concern of this argument, it is no surprise to discover that references to "harassment by advertisers" (or the equivalent) are difficult to detect among the profusion of references to "sexual harassment" by men.
Advertising is an institutionalized form of harassment -- accepted as such -- although that framing would be as readily resisted as are many allegations by women of harassment by men. The case has however been made otherwise by Cindy Gallop, stressing that: The biggest issue facing our industry today is not diversity -- it's sexual harassment, which prevents gender equality and diversity from happening (Cindy Gallop Declares War on Sexual Harassment in Advertising, AdAge, 3 November 2017). The wording is however completely misleading because it refers not to any understanding of how its techniques themselves constitute harassment, but rather with sexual harassment within the industry (More than 50% of Women in Advertising Experience Sexual Harassment, Study Finds, Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2016).
Given the emphasis in this argument on breast presentation as a form of advertisement, it is intriguing to note that one legal term by which advertising hype is excused is puffery -- to be recognized both in the enhancement of breasts by women and the manner in which men may "puff themselves up" in relation to others (as long done by animals in courtship rituals). However, questionably, its legal use is qualified as a promotional statement or claim that expresses subjective rather than objective views, which no "reasonable person" would take literally. Despite this excuse, and given its exploitation of sexual attraction, it can be readily alleged that advertising is the sexual harassment industry par excellence -- now to be recognized as including a strong element of "fake news".
Is the dramtic incidence of sexual harassment within the advertising industry a direct consequence of its professional mindset in promoting harassment of potential customers using sexual allusions?
How then to understand how puffery plays out in any encounter vulnerable to harassment?
What does the advertising industry expect others to do as the result of acquisition of their attraction-enhanced products? What does someone who makes themselves relatively more attractive expect those attracted to do about the experience?
A strange challenge at the present time is the extent to which male leaders of countries themselves make use of cosmetics (Macron keeps up appearances with €26,000 makeup bill since May, The Guardian, 25 August 2017; Emmanuel Macron's $30,000 makeup scandal hides a much bigger blemish, The Washington Post, 25 August 2017; Make-up is no longer a feminist issue -- thanks to Donald Trump, The Independent, 29 January 2017). With the emergence of females as national leaders, would they expect to be able to use their cleavage for the same purpose -- appealing to male voters rather than to female voters (as in the case of Macron)?
Media "orgy": The Golden Globes, and the Oscars which follow, necessarily offer every possibility of a media orgy -- whether directly or indirectly enabled by the organizers to the extent possible. Together they can be seen as the ultimate promotional venues for the participants, with particular media attention on the cleavage and coverage of females. From what perspective can such events be understood as a remarkable juxtaposition of symbols of intimate significance? Is the design of such an event deliberate (as implied by the McDonald's example above), or is it the fruit of a collective unconscious psychological need, as with the traditional collective enthusiasm for carnivals? Or both -- and does it matter?
Game design: As with carnivals, there is a sense in which spectators and participants embody aspects of the process and are reflected by it. The argument here is that the process as a whole may be understood as a form of sex game, or a game in which sexual connotations are essential to its dynamics. Various aspects are relevant to this framing:
Architecture: The existence of phallic architecture has long been recognized. A far lesser degree of recognition is accorded to vaginal architecture, for which the term yonic architecture has been proposed. Following widespread publicity regarding a World Cup football stadium, it has even been provocatively suggested that all buildings should look like vaginas (Holly Baxter, Qatar's accidental vagina stadium is most gratifying, The Guardian, 18 November 2013).
In relation to the architecture of the staging of the Golden Globes and Oscars events, of relevance is the argument of Andrea Branzi (Architecture and Sex, Radical Notes, 1975):
There has always been a relationship between architecture and the human body. It would be interesting to examine this relationship from inside history and to study its variations in relation to variations in current moral standards, or at least in relation to the importance given to sexuality in society and in daily life. W. Reich discovered that more than half of our time, at least until we reach middle-age (about fifty), is spent thinking about sex, about our own and other's people sex lives, imagining combinations and couplings, for sexual activities are not only a free kind of social communication but a form of physical energy that conditions all our experiences. Of these, I should say, sex most deeply influences our "experience of space" -- that is, our capacity to conceive the empty space lying between us and others (which is normally taken to be architectonic space) as a sexual medium, as a place for the free exchange or messages and for the possible or actual sexual experiences.
Proscenium design often has an extraordinary degree of suggestion of vaginal anatomy. This is reinforced by the phallic connotations of the microphone at the centre of the stage (The Vagina Monologues, PCC Proscenium Theatre, 2016). As argued by Nicola Pitchford: The vaginal "proscenium" is the site of the elaborate staging of male power (Tactical Readings: feminist postmodernism in the novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter, 2002, p. 173). Curiously one of the most basic options of stage design is improbably termed the thrust stage -- with the stage surrounded on three sides by the audience. A number of authors and playwrights have explored the metaphorical relation between the design of the theatre proscenium and the vagina -- with deliberately challenging enactions of the vagina and direct exposure to it.
As might be expected, such a design philosophy extends to phallic trophies (Ron Dicker, Fishing Trophy Looks Like A Penis And Nothing Else, The Huffington Post, 20 May 2004; Phallic-shaped trophy for beach volleyball winners, Challenge, 29 July 2015; There's No Easy Way To Say This, But: This Trophy Looks Like A Penis, Sports Grid, 2 May 2012 ). Is it credible to assume that the design of the Golden Globe and Oscar trophies be distinguished from such implications? As reported by The Huffington Post: This Year The Oscar Statue Will Have A Penis... It's About Time (21 February 2014; Why Has No One Ever Noticed The Oscar Has A Penis? Break).
Dramatic emergence: From such a perspective, a theatrical event functions in significant measure to enable the sexual fantasies which feature to such an explicit degree in the movies celebrated in the Golden Globes and Oscars events. However suggestive, the relation of their design as environments to the bodies in play at those events is perhaps necessarily implicit rather than explicit, as noted by Richard J. Williams:
It's odd how little architects have had to say on the subject of sex. If they're routinely designing the buildings in which sex happens, then you might expect them to spend more time thinking about it. Buildings frame and house our sexual lives. They tell us where and when we can, and cannot, have sex, and with whom. (Sex and Buildings: modern architecture and the sexual revolution, 2013).:
From such a perspective again, as well as from other connotations which psychiatrists interpret so skillfully, it is therefore somewhat extraordinary that Oprah Winfrey's much cited speech from the stage at the Golden Globes event should be followed by extensive commentary on the (in)credibility of her future candidacy as President of the United States:
Needless to say, Winfrey was clearly armed with a prominent cleavage -- a right affirmed by feminists in such a context, lending itself to comparison with the NRA's defence of the constitutional "right to pack" (Rick Schmitt, How the NRA Pushed the Right to Pack Heat Anywhere, Mother Jones, 15 November 2011). How appropriate to switch from the pistol-packing cowboy mythology embodied by former actor Ronald Reagan to a fashionable media personality engendered in this manner. A dramatically appropriate contrast to Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan?
Culmination and consummation -- the end game: More intriguing is the sense in which the ritual of the Golden Globes and Oscars events offers a pattern both embodied by the individual as well as echoing metaphorically the challenges of global civilization at this time -- a traditional function of such rituals. The relation between the two events is itself intriguing given the connection offered by the transitional "red carpet" and its symbolism. Is engagement with the feminine symbolism of the Golden Globes to be seen as a form of breast-oriented foreplay in anticipation of the more serious encounter with the "little man", as suggested by Sunil Makan:
Think red carpet glamour, beaucoup de champagne, and if they're lucky, a love-in with a little man called Oscar at the end of the night. (These were the cutest Oscars celebrity couples on the red carpet, Marie Claire, 3 March 2017).
Having invested heavily in enhancing attractive power, however this is achieved, what does archetypal woman "want"? Surrounded by admiring men, constrained and inhibited to different degrees, what should happen next under the new world order envisaged by feminists?
Metaphor for global society: Understood as a metaphor, imagined contrasting scenarios might then include:
There is a strange sense in which the dilemmas of cleavage exposure for men are mirrored by the case made by women against what is named as the glass ceiling. Both "games" are themselves metaphors of more general problems for global society.
Stars-in-the-shop window game for "models": To a curiously perverse degree, overt displays of attractive breasts can be seen as a very focused form of self-advertising. Clearly this can indeed be framed as a right. as with any desire to engage in overt display.
The perversity, if it is that, lies in the manner in which it models the experience of many exposed through shop windows (and on the web) to products they cannot afford. As a systematic challenge, this relative inaccessibility of what is presented as desirable is a disagreeable experience for many exposed to the reality of economic and social inequality. Is the nature of the globality of society to display powerful attractors beyond reach -- as with the carrot hung over the head of the proverbial donkey?
Is this to be deprecated as manipulative "passive/aggressive" marketing? (Rob Reinalda, A quick guide to passive-aggressive workplace communication, PR Daily, 15 September 2017; Carly Stec, Does Passive Aggressive Marketing Messaging Actually Work? Impact, 6 August 2014)
The cultural message would appear to be that men are to be encouraged to "press their noses" desperately against the "shop window" and experience the frustration -- potentially as a source of motivation. But to do what? The further message may be an economic one, namely the need to strive economically -- and competitively -- in order to have some possibility of achieving access to the products displayed. Of course, understood otherwise, women too indulge extensively in "window shopping" -- especially with regard to fashion accessories by which to render themselves ever more attractive, or to sustain fading attraction. The phrase "shop till you drop" comes to mind.
With respect to global civilization and its culture, is the message to the individual: I want you to want me, whether I want you or not? Are women inveigled into a role as uncritical purveyors of such a message?
Potentially more intriguing is the sense in which academic and strategic "models" to remedy the conditions of society are also effectively presented in the "shop windows" of conference venues, journals, and the like. Participants at those events are indeed able to admire them. However there is also the sense in which the models -- as ideals and abstractions -- are in effect unattainable as remedies in practice, however optimistically they are displayed.
Glass-ceiling game for "mannequins"? As a metaphor indicative of the invisible barrier that prevents women from rising beyond a certain level in institutional hierarchies, the glass ceiling is a focus of extensive commentary.
As noted above, for example, Two thirds of British women use their cleavage to get ahead in life finds Wonderbra poll (MailOnline, 30 March 2012), Again there is a perversity to the sense in which, by so doing, women transform themselves into "mannequins" -- enabled by aggressive fashion advertising. They thereby frame themselves in a manner frequently criticized by feminists. The complexity of the symbolism extends to the sense in which the Oscar trophy can readily be recognized as a "little man" -- a "mannequin" -- with all its connotations, whether or not these draw on the more abstruse symbolism of the homunculus.
However this perversity in society is also indicative of another which undermines effective response to the global condition. Again academic and strategic "models" purporting to address that condition can be understood as rising to a certain level of salience where they are effectively blocked. This process is usefully characterized by the acronym TINA -- following the slogan a slogan frequently used by the Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: There Is No Alternative.
The "glass ceiling" is then usefully indicative of the manner in which any alternative to "mainstream" thinking -- perhaps then better understood as "manstream thinking" -- are treated as of secondary significance, if not irrelevant. Lacking reality and substances, their deprecation as "mannequins" is then appropriate.
There is then no sense that the range of alternatives should be more fairly and appropriately considered, as discussed separately (Considering All the Strategic Options -- whilst ignoring alternatives and disclaiming cognitive protectionism, 2009).
Cleavage as a metaphor: In a variously divided society, much of political discourse and advocacy involves recognition of "cleavage" and the constraints this may imply with respect to making the society "great again".
With the prominence given to cleavage at the Golden Globes event, there is great irony to be recognized in the initiative of feminists to increase radically the cleavage between men and women in society. How this might make any society "great again" remains to be discovered. More challenging for any coherent interpretation is any implication that the current condition of society is one of male erectile dysfunction irrespective of any distinction of the infertility of either sex.
Perhaps significantly however, the use of cleavage as a metaphor is alleged to derive from the physical world rather than human biology. The case for the physical derivation is made by Zsolt Enyedi and Kevin Deegan-Krause (Cleavages and Their Discontents, 2007):
"Cleavage" is one of any number of starting points for understanding social and political phenomena. In the social and political realm, "cleavage" is a metaphor, an image borrowed from geology: the crack in the rock that is the first to emerge under pressure. As such, the metaphor of cleavage organizes social and political phenomena around "sides" and (because unlike rocks, people often fear, desire, abhor what is on the other side) around competition and conflict between sides.
Curiously, given the leading role played by the French fashion industry in defining cleavage, in French the emphasis in relation to breasts is on euphemistic use of décolletage. The term clivage is however used to distinguish many of the cleavages below. This preference could be explored with regard to the sense in which décolletage offers an emphasis on what is covered or uncovered when cleavage is used in a psychosocial context where "cover-up" may be especially relevant, as discussed separately (Vital Collective Learning from Biased Media Coverage, 2014). In the form of propaganda, advertising plays a significant role in precluding "transparency".
Cleavage in such a context triggers responses familiar to entrepreneurs in quest of a market niche and the possibility of imagining a creative means of exploiting it. This typically implies taking advantage of a situation -- whatever harassment that may imply for others in that environment, and whatever the complaints engendered.Ironically the "cleavage" between the physical and biological derivations is "bridged" in psychological terms in one of the most popular Christian hymns Rock of Ages -- itself an inspiration for many musical renderings. The first stanza of the hymn is: Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. This use of cleft is curiously consistent with a common male breast fantasy cultivated to their advantage by women. Ironically another is evident in the anatomical distinction of the pudendal cleft. This vaginal cleavage features extensively in literature and art (A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, 2001, p. 249; Vagina and Vulva in Art, Revolvy).
These connotations suggests a challenging strategic approach to the cleavages described below and how they may be addressed -- with the possibility of more fruitful modes of engagement. Here "address" could even recall use of that term in animal husbandry, whether with respect to use of bulls, stallions or camels. This would be consistent with (politically incorrect) language already used in closed-door decision-making environments and with how addressing the public may be framed (Backside to the Future: coherence and conflation of dominant strategic metaphors -- Worshipping the Golden Ass, 2003).
As a metaphor, cleavage in society is best recognized in terms of inequality and difference. Ambiguities in that regard might well be compared with the strange ambiguities regarding cleavages of the female body. Curiously this ambiguity is perhaps most evident in a degree of pretence that such inequalities do not exist, or are not significant -- being effectively "below the radar" (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003; Cultivating the Myth of Human Equality: ignoring complicity in the contradictions thereby engendered, 2016).
Usage of cleavage in practice: Examples include:
It is not too difficult to recognize the manner in which some may seek to explore and exploit one or more such cleavages to engender new realities -- however abusive this appears in practice, and however much it may be resisted. In this sense it is useful to consider the role of international bodies and multinational corporations claimed to have engaged in "raping" vulnerable emerging countries (Institutional "rape" as systemic equivalent to individual rape?, 2011). Accusations against the IMF in this regard can be usefully related to its appointment of a director with a record of abusing women (Pre-Judging an Institution's Implicit Strategy by the Director's Private Behaviour: remarkable parallels in the case of the IMF and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 2011).
Might more interesting ways of addressing these cleavages become apparent if they were framed metaphorically by sexual connotations? The cleavage between North and South? Brexit? Recognition of the Israeli West Bank Barrier (separating it from Palestine) as a "chastity belt" is arguably too extreme.
The central role of breasts in fashion, advertising and fantasy is reframed by recognition of their vulnerability, whether to ageing or more specifically to cancer. It is precisely this contrast with symbolism in relation to fertility which suggests that breasts may also serve as a valuable metaphor for the vulnerability of global civilization to its rise and fall.
Breasts have symbolized plenitude, nourishment and fertility throughout recorded history. The Global Globes event could be seen as a celebration of this recognition -- of all that is right in society and anticipated hopefully. As a celebration of cleavage, it also serve to reframe fruitfully the challenges of division and separation. The extensive possibilities of cosmetic surgery are also consistent with the uncritical confidence in technology as a reliable means of "fixing" whatever is problematic -- providing necessary uplift and enhancement as required. These can be seen as exemplifying collective confidence in the process of making society "great again" -- with all the questionable metaphorical implications offered by the use of silicone implants.
This confidence is challenged by the vulnerability of breasts to cancer, suggesting exploration of both breasts and cancer as a metaphor for the threats to an otherwise optimistic view of the world. With breasts exemplifying fertility of life on the planet, the threat to the planetary civilization and its nourishment can even be emphasized by recognizing the illusion they may reinforce. In contrast to the "reserve supplies" implied by two breasts, there is only one planet -- not two. Dreamers may indeed fantasize about life on another planet, but that remains a dream too far. There is no possibility of the scenario framed humourously by "one liddle brudder said to de udder little brudder, gimme de udder udder pleez". The challenge is one of non-renewable resources.
The threats to fertility in a nourishing environment are usefully suggested by the threats to the breasts of Mother Nature -- and to her survival. The complex of crises with which society is faced could be understood as a cancer eating away at all that is healthy. Terrorism is readily defined as a cancer on society -- now even to a greater degree than organized crime or corruption. The Huffington Post readily frames those with whom it disagrees in those terms (Trump is a Cancer on Society; the only cure is eElecting Hillary Clinton, 23 September 2016; Katie Hopkins is a Cancer on Society that we now need to address, 28 April 2015). The metaphor is readily employed more generally (Political turmoil is a 'cancer' on US society, Religion News, 12 March 2016).
Understood in terms of the breasts on display at Global Globes, the illusion they constitute is highlighted by Katrina Onstad (Boobs: a big deal for all the wrong reasons, The Globe and Mail, 26 March 2017):
Are breasts a big deal or are they just boobs? ... But celebrity breasts are part of the economics of scarcity: rarely seen, and more valuable for it. Any actress whose nude scene has been freeze-framed for eternity knows this, as do the institutions that profit from the peeping.... But for all their heady symbolism, the present-day reality of breasts is grim.... And yet, this stark reality gets cloaked when breasts are viewed as either a giggle or a taboo. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A noble cause, but often, breast-cancer campaigns pantingly play off exactly this mass of confused signals, fetishizing breasts or chuckling at them, and almost always wrapping an infantilizing pink bow around a serious disease.
In that light, is there a case for a Global Civilization Vulnerability Awareness month -- or is that role encompassed by Earth Day?
Disease as a metaphor has been remarkably explored by Susan Sontag, writing whilst a cancer patient (Illness as Metaphor, 1978). Use of metaphor to reframe cancer, notably other than military metaphors, is the theme of a number of studies (Richard T. Penson, et al., Cancer as Metaphor, The Oncologist, November 2004). Sontag had previously drawn criticism for using the metaphor to describe the white race:
The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone -- its ideologies and inventions -- which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself (What's Happening to America? (A Symposium), Partisan Review, 1967).
Clearly for radical feminists, as with those in the Golden Globes "takeover", the same could readily be claimed of "men" -- as with the reverse (Is modern feminism a cancer on society? GirlsAskGuys). More generally it could be said that such framing, to whatever end it is employed, is itself the more fundamental cancer. It is in this sense that the undermining of healthy society can be understood. The dynamic recalls only too well that foreseen in biblical end-times scenarios.
With the threat of "metastasis", "mastectomy" is not the solution. There is only one planet. Excising or eradicating a continent or a movement of opinion -- understood as a metaphor -- does not offer a way forward, as argued separately (Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014; Cognitive Implications of Lifestyle Diseases of Rich and Poor, 2010).
The Golden Globes event has evoked accusations of hypocrisy in various forms:
Specifically, as noted above by Katrina Onstad:
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A noble cause, but often, breast-cancer campaigns pantingly play off exactly this mass of confused signals, fetishizing breasts or chuckling at them, and almost always wrapping an infantilizing pink bow around a serious disease. (Boobs: a big deal for all the wrong reasons The Globe and Mail, 26 March 2017):
For Maureen Callahan, The post-Weinstein Golden Globes was an exercise in hypocrisy:
This year's Golden Globes were meant to be a defiant, vibrant celebration of a post-Weinstein industry, an awards ceremony about so much more than meaningless awards. We were promised a reckoning, the leveling of a male-dominated industry that institutionalized the rape, abuse and harassment of women for decades. (New York Post, 8 January 2018)
For Briahna Joy Gray:
But the enthusiasm around the mere specter of Oprah's presidency reveals an uncomfortable truth about the hypocrisy of Democrats: all the talk of competency during the 2016 presidential election, qualifications, be they ideological or political, are mere pretexts for their choice of candidate. (Oprah Winfrey for president? The idea reveals an uncomfortable truth The Guardian, 9 January 2018)
The hypocrisy has been framed otherwise by Denise C. McAllister (False Feminist Clichés to Hijack 2018 Golden Globes, The Federalist, 7 January 2018):
Don't be fooled by this rhetoric or distracted by their passion. Even if you're not, don't let those you know be duped, especially young people, who are more susceptible. Displays like this matter in our culture because they do have impact. This is a fact many conservatives often fail to realize or admit -- a grave mistake that has put them on the defensive in the culture war.
Hypocrisy of the critics? Most critical acrimony has however been articulated by feminists in reaction to those who called into question the campaign associated with their "takeover" of the Golden Globes event. This had been criticized as being excessive -- as a "witch-hunt" against men in favour of a questionable "puritanism" (Catherine Deneuve Joins nearly 100 French Actresses and More to Condemn 'Witch Hunt' against Men over Sexual Harassment, IndieWire, 9 January 2018). A particular focus was provided in furious international reaction to the collective letter in French by 100 women, of which the iconic actress Catherine Deneuve was the primary signatory:
As noted in French reports of the letter, the original in French contained a phrase relevant to the argument above, namely "la liberté d'importuner":
Une centaine de femmes, dont l'actrice Catherine Deneuve, ont défendu mardi "la liberté d'importuner" pour les hommes, "indispensable à la liberté sexuelle", dans une tribune à contre-courant de l'élan né de l'affaire Weinstein, s'attirant immédiatement des critiques de féministes. (Des femmes, dont Deneuve, à contre-courant de l'indignation après l'affaire Weinstein, AFP, 9 janvier 2019)
This was headlined in English by the French news agency as French star Deneuve defends men's 'right' to chat up women (AFP, 10 January 2018). Especially relevant to the argument above was the headlining of a highly questionable English translation of that phrase from the French version:
Psychosocial hypocrisy? The relevance to this argument is that "la liberté d'importuner" is the right typically accorded to advertising and telemarketing -- but currently without any sense that this constitutes harassment, whether or not it is experienced as such. Provocatively translated as "hit on" (especially in urban jargon and in North America), this implies the kind of harassment about which women appropriately protest -- given its physical connotations.
The translation would be strongly contested by advertisers as descriptive of their relationship with potential customers (even when otherwise framed as targets). Translated as the right to "chat up", as in the French news agency variant, this is necessarily understood otherwise. Appropriate non-jargon translations cited include "bother" and "disturb" -- which would presumably be acceptable to the advertising industry -- irrespective of whether the disturbance was unwelcome. Ironically this would be the position of the BBC in soliciting advertising for its own web site (despite its use of the highly provocative wording on this occsion).
It is appropriate to ask who was responsible for exacerbating the difficulties of a sensitive issue at this time by enabling the mass media use of the "right to hit on" women. Unapologetically the BBC has repeated its use of the inflammatory interpretation in describing the apology that Deneuve has been obliged to make as a consequence of its use (Catherine Deneuve apologises to sex assault victims, BBC, 15 January 2018).
As might be expected, understood as a betrayal of women, the response to the initiative by Catherine Deneuve has been described by some in terms of "self-hating". The term is extensively used pejoratively with respect to self-hating Jews who are considered to be anti-semitic in some way. When interviewed, Hillary Clinton is claimed to have framed many women in those terms (Hillary Blames Self-Hating Women for Her Loss, CNS, 12 April 2017). As that commentary concludes: If only someone at these media-elite confabs would ask how a majority of women can be smeared as hating themselves if they don't check every radical-feminist box.
Similar acrimony has subsequently been evoked by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood through her defence of due process for those accused of sexual misconduct (Ashifa Kassam, Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo, The Guardian, 15 January 2018; Margaret Atwood, Am I a bad feminist? The Globe and Mail, 13 January 2018; Allison Pearson, #MeToo? This indiscriminate hounding of men has gone too far, The Telegraph, 16 January 2018).
Biological hypocrisy? The earlier argument called for a degree of recognition of the advertising industry as the sexual harassment industry par excellence. Understanding of this function is nuanced by the Deneuve declaration that the liberty of men to disturb or bother women is indispensable to sexual freedom -- now vigorously contested by feminists.
The issue, framed by millennia of biological interaction between gendered species, is how do "bother" and "disturb" feature as processes in pre-courtship rituals?
Feminists would seem to deny that either should disturb the other -- whilst claiming the right to present themselves however they please, even to the degree of total nudity. They contest the right of men to engage with women in any but the most neutral mode -- of questionable viability in biological terms. This could indeed be understood as undermining sexual freedom -- as biological processes hitherto essential to the propagation of the species.The exceptional forms of abuse justifying their critique are deliberately used to confuse understanding of what is involved.
Curiously there is little criticism by feminists of the manner in which bothering men in sexual terms has been extensively outsourced to the advertising industry -- or of the right arrogated by women to bother men visually as they will. There is a strange sense in which the courtship processes required by biology are either called into question by women or allocated to the advertising industry as a supposedly neutral enabling technology. This is somewhat reminiscent of such a process in animal husbandry.
The issue can be explored otherwise through recognition that in biological terms both genders need to "advertise". In those terms the modalities selected by evolution are "whatever works". The forms of physical abuse considered unwelcome, highlighted by allegations against "alpha males", call for insight from the behaviours in biological species most closely related to humans.
The question merits careful attention given any (constitutional) distinctions made between the "right to advertise", the "right to inform", the "right to inquire", the "right to advocate", the "right to proselytize" and the "right to solicit" -- beyond the problematic connotations of the latter, as clarified by Melanie J. Martin (What Is Soliciting Business? Smallbusness.chron):
The term usually refers to directly asking potential customers to purchase goods or services, rather than using advertisements. Freelance contractors and other independent business owners often engage in solicitation to seek new customers. Solicitation also raises the profile of a business when it reaches a broad market base, which may generate future sales. Solicitors often approach potential customers in a public place or in their homes...
"Soliciting" is sometimes used in a negative sense, implying persistent or imposing attempts to gain business. However, solicitation is not always unwanted. Businesses and individuals can make valuable connections with goods or service providers who solicit their business. Entrepreneurs must consider the impression their solicitations will make. Coming on too strong may push potential customers away and appear desperate
Odour? Shifting from the more controversial focus on questionable visual stimuli and the questionable physical responses they may evoke, the argument could be taken further through the role of odour -- whether in purely biological terms or in psychoactive terms. Very extensive investments are made by women (and by men to a far lesser extent) in perfumes as attractants -- and to disguise odours which undermine attraction. Given the focus of feminists on actual physical abuse, how would their argument hold if the biological response to them by men was only the emission of a powerful odour experienced by women as attractive or as repulsive? As with dogs, is being "on heat" to be recognized as a form of harassment?
Clearly, in biological terms, men are exposed to just such stimuli from women through the release of sex pheromones to attract an individual of the opposite sex, encourage them to mate with them, or perform some other function closely related with sexual reproduction. As noted by Wikipedia with respect to human sex pheromones:
No study has led to the isolation of true human sex pheromones. While humans are highly dependent upon visual cues, when in close proximity, smells also play a role in sociosexual behaviors. An inherent difficulty in studying human pheromones is the need for cleanliness and odorlessness in human participants.
Much is of course made by the advertising industry of the role of marketed products in enabling attraction -- but not repulsion. Would it be appropriate to recognize the use of perfume by women as a "right to hit on" men?
The question acquires other dimensions through the little-known campaign against the use of scents in Nova Scotia (Perfume industry on the attack in Halifax, CBC News. 21 June 2000):
... the Scented Product Education and Information Association of Canada (SPEIAC) -- which represents the cosmetics, perfume and toiletries industries -- launched a month-long campaign aimed at clearing up what it calls perfume "myths and misinformation". The group chose Halifax for the campaign because the city launched a "no-scent encouragement program" in 1996, urging people not to wear fragrances to help reduce illness and discomfort suffered by those with scent allergies or asthma.... The perfume industry says the anti-scent campaign is a bad one. The anti-scent policies -- both formal and informal -- that are prevalent in the Halifax area appear to be based on an appalling lack of factual information.
To what extent might it then be asked whether use of pheromone surrogates, or excessive display of cleavage, is metaphorically "sickening" for some -- despite any vigorous denial that this is indicative of an "appalling lack of factual information"?
Whilst it is indeed appropriate for feminists to "create a stink" in reaction to physical abuse, at what point is creating a "stink" to be considered an abuse in its own right? This is of course an issue framed by taboos in many cultures.
Problematic indications of hypocrisy from "witch hunts" of the past: Apologists for the campaign by feminists have vigorously denied that their efforts to out abusers constitute a "witch-hunt" (Steven Spielberg says Hollywood sexual harassment scandal 'not a witch hunt', NewsNow, January 2018; It's not a 'witch hunt,' it's sexual harassment and we should call it out, CNN, 2 November 2017). This is despite allegations that that is indeed the case (Liam Neeson says harassment allegations are now 'a witch-hunt', The Guardian, 13 January 2018; Sexual harassment accusations have turned into a witch hunt, Chicago Tribune, 8 December 2017; Opposition mounts to sexual harassment witch-hunt, World Socialist Web Site, 16 December 2017).
For David M. Perry (No, #MeToo is not a witch hunt, Pacific Standard, 9 January 2018):
These bad metaphors, of course, exist outside the context of #MeToo. Last spring, Steve Cortes at Real Clear Politics described being called a racist as the "new McCarthyism." Donald Trump calls the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" Sam Altman, a Silicon Valley big shot, recently compared the social scorn experienced by anti-gay bigots in San Francisco to the plight of Galileo before the Inquisition. This is all nonsense, but nonsense with a purpose. Powerful men, mostly white men, are not Jews in Nazi Germany, black Americans in pre-civil-rights U.S., heretics and witches before the Salem magistrates or the Inquisition, alleged Communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee, or political dissidents in Soviet Russia.
It is nevertheless appropriate to name and explore processes by which particular groups and behaviours have been identified and isolated -- as requiring unquestionable condemnation -- whether in the USA or elsewhere (Indians? Witches? Natives? Jews? Islamists? ETs? Eradication as genocide -- now and then? 2017).
Is a measure of objectivity to be expected, or is that to be considered an indulgence under circumstances calling for a more urgent response, irrespective of any possibility of miscarriage of justice?
In dismissing a range of tragic processes, Perry in fact implies the need to clarify how any new process might be compared with them and with the reality of witch-hunts in the past and in various contexts at the present time, Whilst "witch-hunt" may indeed be a bad metaphor, as a process it does hold a degree of truth -- which is why reference is made to it. The issue is then how to distinguish from "witch-hunt" the psychosocial processes like those he names -- clarifying what characteristics of misjudgement they share and in what respect those processes are less legitimate than that of #MeToo. History may also come to consider the latter as a "witch-hunt":
Especially instructive is subsequent commentary on what is now considered excessive in the processes evoked. Is a degree of hypocrisy to be recognized in promoting justice for women whilst avoiding any reasoned discussion of the circumstances of those accused? The question has aroused the ire of the critics of Margaret Atwood in her argument for due process (as noted above):
There are, at present, three kinds of "witch" language. 1) Calling someone a witch, as applied lavishly to Hillary Clinton during the recent election. 2) "Witchhunt," used to imply that someone is looking for something that doesn't exist. 3) The structure of the Salem witchcraft trials, in which you were guilty because accused. I was talking about the third use.
This structure -- guilty because accused -- has applied in many more episodes in human history than Salem. It tends to kick in during the "Terror and Virtue" phase of revolutions -- something has gone wrong, and there must be a purge, as in the French Revolution, Stalin's purges in the USSR, the Red Guard period in China, the reign of the Generals in Argentina and the early days of the Iranian Revolution. The list is long and Left and Right have both indulged. Before "Terror and Virtue" is over, a great many have fallen by the wayside. Note that I am not saying that there are no traitors or whatever the target group may be; simply that in such times, the usual rules of evidence are bypassed.
Such things are always done in the name of ushering in a better world. Sometimes they do usher one in, for a time anyway. Sometimes they are used as an excuse for new forms of oppression. As for vigilante justice -- condemnation without a trial -- it begins as a response to a lack of justice -- either the system is corrupt, as in prerevolutionary France, or there isn't one, as in the Wild West -- so people take things into their own hands....
The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn't get a fair hearing through institutions -- including corporate structures -- so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids. (Am I a bad feminist? The Globe and Mail, 13 January 2018)
Given that Donald Trump has repeatedly qualified the campaign against him as a "witch-hunt", the controversy worldwide aroused by a highly controversial incident at the time of writing calls for comment. Trump is accused of derogatory language with respect to a number of countries (Josh Dawsey, Trump derides protections for immigrants from 'shithole' countries, The Washington Post, 12 January 2018). This accusation has resulted in formal condemnation by the United Nations (Patrick Wintour, al, UN Condemns Donald Trump's 'Shithole Countries' Remark as Racist, Information Clearing House, 12 January 2018).
The point to be made is that there is no "evidence" worthy of a legal process that Trump made such remarks, especially since he denies having done so. However hearsay is treated as "evidence" by parties with vested interests in his impeachment -- as in any "witch-hunt". The process bears a remarkable resemblance to that of allegations against prominent males by some in quest of "justice", as separately questioned (Reimagining Intercourse between the Righteous Unrightly Challenged, 2017). Is it increasingly the case that it is innocence that has to be proved in the face of allegations which are treated as factual -- especially those made against men?
Are allegations of sexual abuse by the UN Secretary-General to be treated as factual -- to the point of ensuring his resignation -- or is some solid evidence required by relevant authorities? The procedures with regard to UN peacekeepers are of relevance (UN peacekeepers hit by new allegations of sex abuse, Al Jazeera, 10 July 2017; UN Peacekeepers' Sexual Assault Problem, Foreign Affairs, 9 June 2017).
Provocatively it might be asked to what extent men could initiate a #ToMe movement in the light of the harassment to which they are subjected by women, visually or otherwise.
Depicting the nexus? The following is an effort to indicate the complexity of the process in which harassment is embedded
|Process context of harassment|
Comprehension of appropriateness? So how are males to respond appropriately to "golden globes" and "cleavage"? What do women want and expect -- having advertised their attractiveness? Indeed How Much Cleavage is Too Much (The Star, 14 May 2008)?
The question can be usefully framed in terms of its global implications. How is humankind -- especially when represented by "mankind" -- to respond appropriately to Mother Nature? What does Mother Nature want and expect -- having advertised her attractiveness? Is there an unexplored challenge to "appropriateness" (Comprehension of Appropriateness, 1986)?.
One implication is that women want only attention and to be admired -- if not adored and worshipped. Understood in this way, men should maintain their position as spectators and not approach the altar. The argument could be taken further in speculative terms (Beyond Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual harassment as a metaphor, 1996).
There is the complication that, by flaunting their physical attributes, women are consciously (or unconsciously) evoking a biologically programmed response in men (as they themselves are programmed to do as females). The male response may well be experienced as unwelcome to women (as may be the case in the wild) -- and potentially to men, when it is a distraction from other preoccupations and priorities.
In the case of Mother Nature, the response of "mankind" can be understood as framed by dominionism -- as derived from the biblical injunction to the Abrahamic religions:
And God blessed [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28)
An argument of women is that flaunting (and "strutting their stuff") should be seen as an expression of freedom to which they have every right. Men should simply master any impulses deemed inappropriate and restrict any response to admiration (and adoration) from afar. The implication is that women have no conscious need for more than that -- despite having invested heavily in their attractiveness. Whether they have unconscious needs is not be acknowledged in public discourse.
For men the situation is readily caricatured as one described in urban jargon as "cock-teasing" -- a biological process in which women have every right to engage, but with some associated risk, understood "naturally".
For women, especially the more radical feminists, presumably any biological response by men is strictly their own problem -- since any effect of attractiveness in men is to be held as being of little significance to women, being in the "eyes of the beholder".
Dress codes and precautionary processes: There is a strange lack of clarity and consistency to what clothing is considered appropriate in different settings, most notably with respect to décolletage and skirt length in the case of women. It is obviously the case that institutional environments may seek to impose dress codes -- although contravening unwritten rules may itself constitute a risk. Given the rise of political correctness, it is unclear to what extent institutions will continue to have the legal right to do so. The issue is extensively summarized by Wikipedia, notably with commentary on Violation of clothing taboos and Rebellion against dress codes.
Of particular relevance there is the indication that the nature of the clothes worn may lead to misinterpretation of the extent to which these signal characteristics of the wearer. Clothing can indeed convey a social message, even if none is intended: if the receiver's code of interpretation differs from the sender's code of communication, misinterpretation follows. This argument is clearly of relevance to the degree of cleavage or skirt length.
The issue has been controversially highlighted with respect to wearing clothing according to religious strictures, most notably those designed to minimize exposure of the female body, as discussed separately (Burkha as Metaphorical Mirror for Imperious Culture? 2009). The debate is indicative of the extent to which some cultures may be unduly challenged by exposure of the female body to a far greater degree than with respect to cleavage alone. This sensitivity is of course severely condemned by (western) feminists.
As noted above, this view has been formally echoed in France, for example (French Prime Minister suggests bare breasts are a better symbol of France than burkinis, The Journal, 30 August 2016). This does not however clarify what might be considered appropriate clothing in French institutions -- an issue highlighted in Australia (Australian senator breastfeeds baby while moving a motion in parliament, The Telegraph, 22 June 2017). It is naturally unclear what degree of cleavage would be considered admissible in a diplomatic reception, public transportation or restaurants -- or whether males could respond in kind with a cod piece -- as a form of high fashion from a previous era.
As discussed below, the situation raises challenging issues for a future in which any male response to females may simply be felt to involve too much hassle and therefore best avoided -- as has featured within a number cultural contexts.
Precautionary processed to be envisaged -- when interaction cannot be avoided -- include ensuring that any such encounter is appropriately "chaperoned" as has been the case in the past and continues to be a requirement in some medical consultancies. All such encounters might benefit from CCTV coverage as a precaution against allegations of abuse -- possibly decades later. This could include coverage of mixed seating in public transport -- where separate seating is not provided, as is now the case in some countries.
In the light of the parallels explored in this argument, there is the delightfully tragic question as to whether Mother Nature will in future require a "dress code" -- given the extent to which the natural environment is "abused" and "raped"? Arguably this is already evident to a degree in the definition of nature reserves and other forms of "protection" for the wild. Would Mother Nature benefit from a burkha?
Guidance from radical feminists? As argued in that respect in regard to anti-semitism, anti-science, and the like, there is a case for women to clarify how they would prefer men to respond to various forms of self-advertising by women, given its biological functions (Guidelines for Critical Dialogue between Worldviews -- as exemplified by the need for non-antisemitic dialogue with Israelis? 2006).
If affected and attracted by such signals (possibly "despite themselves") how should men then respond verbally or by corresponding physical displays?
How might such criteria be appropriately applied by men with respect to their own clothing and behaviour -- bearing in mind the cod piece as a high fashion accessory of the past? How is the offence engendered by "penis flashing" to be usefully distinguished from that of "breast flashing" (Caitlin Bishop, A man purposefully exposed his penis on the ARIAs red carpet; why is no one talking about it? MamaMia, 29 November 2017; Gemma Mullin, BBC accidentally airs footage of woman flashing her breast, The Sun, 7 August 2017).
Given any assumptions that particular behaviour would be experienced as "attractive", how is "repulsive" to be distinguished in a context of political correctness?
Clues from fundamentalists, orthodox and otherwise? Certain cultures have been especially sensitive over centuries in certain cultures to these matters. How are the arguments and criteria of the following to be elicited and adapted to the current concerns of framed in absolute and universal terms by feminists?
Especially interesting is how indecency and immodesty is distinguished from what is appropriate, and how these boundaries are defined and justified.Clarification of harassment: It is intriguing to note the existence of an extensive Catalogue of Criteria for the Classification of Sexist Advertising (Watch Groups against Sexist Advertising).
Missing is an equally detailed Catalogue of Criteria for the Classification of Harassment. Its elaboration might be as challenging as efforts by the United Nations to define aggression -- a seemingly simple matter. The process of doing so began in 1923 under the auspices of the League of Nations, finally culminating in a non-binding resolution by the General Assembly in 1974. It excludes processes such as structural violence, cultural violence, symbolic violence, or spiritual violence (see Defining Violence and Abuse, Violence Prevention Initiative).
Considered as a behavioural aberration, there is a case for an articulation analogous to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) -- perhaps as a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Harassment -- to include the complete spectrum of abuse, online and otherwise (as variously perceived).
The potential market for so-called "sex robots" (anthropomorphic robot sex dolls) has long been discussed. As a development of the current market for "vibrators" and "sex dolls", there is every possibility that such programmable robots will enable the investment in robots with other functions in relation to humans, notably in caring for the elderly and others variously handicapped. At the time of writing the latter are a primary feature of an event in Las Vegas (Machine Learning: an Artificial Intelligence for Health Care, 2018).
Another indicator is offered by the film industry itself, as celebrated at Golden Globes. This has now been the focus of controversy over the competitive assessment of virtual reality films and their generated actors -- some with impressive cleavages (Is 2017 the year of virtual reality film-making? BBC News, 19 April 2017; When Hollywood met VR: the rising impact virtual reality on the movie industry, 2017).
There is therefore a case for reflecting on the time when neither women nor men will bother to engage with one another as they do now -- a moment appropriately to be recognized as a psychosocial singularity. The relatively imminent possibily of this is indicated by the extent to which couples make use of smartphones -- even on a date, or in bed together. The emergence of ever more interactively sophisticated virtual assistants is another indication. These currently include Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana. Not to be forgotten are the possible future parallels with the subtle bonds formed between executives and their "personal assistants".
It is likely to prove far easier to design humanoid robots as companions -- irrespective of any sexual function. Clearly the possibility of "programming" them will accord with some sexual fantasies. However it is likely to open many possibilities with respect to other forms of interaction in addition to the care function. Most notable of these is entertaining conversation, if not flattery and flirtation, as explored separately (Forthcoming Major Revolution in Global Dialogue: challenging new world order of interactive communication, 2013). Given the possibility of incorporating sophisticated sound systems, music and song are an obvious feature -- karaoke to robot accompaniment? The possibilities may eventually challenge understanding of the ideals of companionship in terms of Goethe's Elective Affinities (1809) and Martin Buber's I And Thou (1923). Will humanoid robots restore the fun of interaction with another which radical feminists seem to be so intent on removing?
With respect to the sexual function, in the light of the current developments in artificial intelligence, one can only speculate how this capacity would be enhanced by exposing such companions to the vast resources of the porn industry (AlphaGo Zero: Google DeepMind supercomputer learns 3,000 years of human knowledge in 40 days, The Telegraph, 18 October 2017). Think of those of the Kama Sutra.
Humanoid companions may become a natural feature of the rental market -- think Hertz Rent-a-Robot. This could reframe the function of computer-dating and escort agencies, given the flexibility with which robots could be programmed to the requirements of a client. Especially intriguing, and of relevance to the argument above, is the extent to which such companions are accorded a liberté d'importuner -- namely will their capacity to bother and disturb be enabled (and to what degree), as is welcomed in pets, children and entertaining humans? Think robots with "attitude".
The care function is likely to be extended in a variety of directions, as illustrated by dependence of the blind on guide dogs (as with those susceptible to epilepsy). Rather than guard dogs -- also think bodyguards. Exotic pets (panthers, etc) may be replaced by exotic robots, as variously imagined in Star Wars -- think Wookiee. Whether restaurants, hotels and airplanes will permit them may be less of a challenge than in the case of dogs. Domestic functions may be extended to cooking and child care -- think more dependable baby-sitters than au pairs, with an infinite capacity for game-playing and educating. This could extend to concierge/house-sitter functions.
Potentially more amusing, if especially tragic, is when humanoid robots can be adjusted by men as preferable companions for an occasion, possibly beyond anything currently seen at the Golden Globes event. This could reframe the concerns highlighted separately with respect to meetings, international and otherwise (Women and the Underside of Meetings: symptoms of denial in considering strategic options, 2009). Being robots, it might be argued that minimal "coverage" could not then be framed as unseemly -- although this has not proved to be the case with mannequins in shop windows. There is the delicate question as to the point at which facial masks, with silicone-augmented breasts and lips, are as attractive on a robot as on a human being.
The challenge for women confronted by such competition for attractive power may be how best to respond to attributes far in excess of what they can currently manifest -- even following extensive cosmetic surgery to breasts and other genitalia. One response may simply be to make use of masculinised robots, duly endowed (perhaps for the occasion) with musculature beyond anything that males can currently manifest -- however enhanced by steroids and a gym regime.
Intriguingly feminists have already recognized the potential threat of sex robots and have sought to have them banned (Campaign Against Sex Robots). This logic is less than clear since they offer a way forward for both sexes and for intermediaries of any degree.
Francis X. Clooney. Divine Mother, Blessed Mother: Hindu Goddesses and the Virgin Mary. Oxford University Press, 2005
Gene Constant. Breast Envy and the Alpha Female. Gene Constant, 2006
Nora Jacobson. Cleavage: Technology, Controversy, and the Ironies of the Man-Made Breast. Rutgers University Press;, 1999
Wayne Koestenbaum. Cleavage: essays on sex, stars, and aesthetics. Ballantine Books, 2000
Tom Reichert and Jacqueline Lambiase, (Eds.). Sex in Advertising: perspectives on the erotic appeal. Routledge, 2014
Merril D. Smith (Ed.). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014
Florence Williams. Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. W. W. Norton. 2013
Marilyn Yalom. History of the Breast. Ballantine Books, 1998 [summary]
For further updates on this site, subscribe here