Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Real-life women free to make mistakes

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Raunch culture is setting women in Western societies back more than 50 years, a visiting Australian feminist says.

She says we're raising our kids in a pornographic landscape and that women's liberation has now come to be seen as the ability to wrap your legs around a pole, flash your breasts in public and send sexy photos to your boyfriends so they can pass them round among their mates.

Melinda Tankard Reist says girls are developing physical and mental health problems as a result of striving to be sexually appealing to men.

She says a counterculture needs to develop to encourage more young women to say no to an airhead culture of celebrity and fashion.

It's true the days are gone when a lady only ever wished to see her name in print three times in her life - the announcement of her birth, the occasion of her marriage and her death notice.

The elevation of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears into tabloid stars is incomprehensible, it's true. But I don't think too much has changed.

Parents from every generation during the past 100 years have frowned on the sexually explicit songs being sung along to by the kids.

For millennia, women have tried all sorts of potions, some potentially lethal, to enhance their attractiveness.

Young women from the best families were groomed and schooled to be as appealing as possible to the largest number of suitors and married off from the age of 17.

In other cultures, girls are married off even younger. What the older feminists seem to be bemoaning is that women, having been given freedom of choice, are making bad decisions.

Not only are they following men into business and boardrooms but into bars and bedrooms as well. And while we might all wish that we could learn from the mistakes of those who've gone before, that's just not human nature.

I would far rather make mistakes than live an unblemished life, constrained and controlled by my husband and my community.

- NZ Herald

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