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Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Bob Jones: Assume brace position - it's time for moral outrage

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Photo / Peter Meecham
Photo / Peter Meecham

University philosopher and feminist Deborah Russell recently came out swinging, feigning outrage at the new Air New Zealand safety video. "I object to the use of highly sexualised images in a safety video. As a woman (this mentioned to distinguish from when she's sometimes a man) when I get on a plane to go to a business meeting, say - something serious - and I'm confronted by women in bikinis in highly sexualised images; that jars."

We can assume from this that if Deborah gets on a plane for a frivolous purpose, such as coming to Wellington for drunken lunches with me, as she has on occasions, and indeed in today's mail, plans to do again soon, then the video is okay.

Deborah added: "I want to be taken seriously (this is a helluva way to go about it) but it seems that suddenly they are saying my sexuality is all that matters about me." For God's sake, Deborah, the video's not about you. But if you're genuinely offended, which I don't for a minute believe, then don't watch.

Deborah aspires to become an MP and will be an exceptionally good one. But coming across as a prude, which she is not, will kill off any political career. Remember Graeme Lee who was a prude and thus a laughing stock, who I once teasingly described as a condom on the penis of progress.

Then newsreader Hilary Barry climbed on the bandwagon with an ungrammatical outburst. "I'm absolutely incensed. I think it's highly inappropriate - sexualises, objectifies women, demeaning, it's just appalling". One's initial reaction was to marvel that a TV newsreader actually has opinions.

Several points arise. First, no regular air-traveller watches safety videos. I wear headphones to avoid this claptrap and also the pilot's inanities whereby they relieve their boredom by ear-bashing their captive audience.

The Economist opined on this absurdity a few years back, writing that it was long overdue for them to end. That said, when the bikini video appears, given the publicity, everyone will watch. But unless Air New Zealand subsequently shows one with naked girls, men will stop looking, for what's novel about girls in bikinis?

But mark my words, the women will continue studying them avidly. It's women, not men, who watch beauty pageants, women who choose to flaunt themselves in skimpy bikinis, that is those of a flauntable age and shape, women pop singers who can only perform in their underwear and women athletes, Muslim and some others excepted, who now wear little more than a G-string. It's women who buy halfwit magazines comprising photos of cavorting bikini-clad, brain-dead starlets and pop singers; I could write a set of encyclopaedias on this subject.

Hilary Barry's cliched utterance wearyingly included the words "sexualised" and "objectified". Well who did the sexualising and objectifying, Hilary? As always it was the females. No one forced them.

Consider the recent cat-fight between three senior women politicians, accusing one another of buying Adrienne Winkelmann attire. So why are they spending thousands of dollars on each item? To impress women? I don't think so. I hasten to add that whatever Adrienne Winkelmann charges is too cheap. She's a genius. Her extraordinary creativity and beautiful designs are mind-blowing. Hopefully she might visit our architectural schools and teach their professors some function and design principles, at least as it applies to office towers.

In the 1980s I assisted the Women's Refuge movement to become established, persuading the Government to fund it and arranging celebrity fundraising cocktail parties for refuges across the land, flying in the celebrities in my jet. In many riotous trips David Lange, Winston Peters, Richard Hadlee, a smattering of All Blacks and suchlike folk willingly came along. It was a very successful exercise. At the time many refuges had a hard core of aggressive, often lesbian, man-hating women running them. Still they got stuck in and sold the tickets.

But what broke their hearts was their feminist friends' reluctance to pay, which hesitation instantly vanished as soon as one guest's name was mentioned whereupon these angry feminists melted gooily and snapped up the tickets. That guest was Lorraine Mexted, as she was at the time.

Today, bikini-clad girls are commonplace, so much so really clever girls maintain modesty to achieve mystique, and none more so than Anna Kournikova. When Anna emerged, the global fascination with her was unprecedented, yet on face value she was just another Russian girl. But my word she was clever.

Here's why. In England and chatting with some satellite pay-per-view television producers at a mate's party, conjecture arose as to the pay-per-view potential of Anna playing a set naked.

They became so excited at the possible riches they arranged a survey. Back home I spoke to Chris Lewis on their behalf as he knew Anna's management, so he called them with their US$20 million offer. They thanked him but pointed out it was chickenfeed as Anna was absolutely creaming it with an opposite strategy, namely extreme modesty in her behaviour and attire, thus her mystique and enormous appeal, a lesson lost on modern girls. Once retired, only then did Anna revert to type, whereupon photos of her cavorting in skimpy bikinis duly appeared.

But note this. What that survey by the pay-per-view producers showed was a phenomenal buyer response, only almost entirely from women. The men were ho-hum about yet another female flaunting herself. So henceforth whenever women complain at the sexual objectification of women, let them direct their protest at the culprits, namely women.

- NZ Herald

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