Titty calendars are sleaze, not a sign of women’s sexual freedom.

It still happens. A couple I know of work in a shop, and recently received titty calendars from a major supplier to give away to customers. The staff in the shop comprise two women and a man, although the bulk of the customers are male (it’s not a sex shop, btw). The couple, who are b’older and wiser than the other female staff member, and manage the shop between them, were both pretty miffed at the presumption of the supplier that sleaze is fine. The casual assumption that a titty calendar was not enough of a big deal to even be asked if they wanted them, and that they would also be comfortable at handing these out to customers, pee’d them off bigtime.

The sales representative for the Dutch supplier got a serve about it from a five-foot high bundle of fury. She could feel the shrug from him through the email wires. “They’re more comfortable about nudity in The Netherlands”, he said, the implication being that she was prudish. Prudish is not what this couple are. They have values and boundaries, and are critical thinkers – but prudish, no. However, values and boundaries stand in the way of the sex industry, and need to be shamed with ‘slurs’ of prudishness in an attempt to break them down.

Have the Dutch people got tricked into being de-sensitised about sleaze, because it has been presented to them in the guise of bodily and sexual freedom? Make no mistake, this was a titty calendar, pure and simple. This calendar had nothing to do with being comfortable enough in one’s own body and society to go without clothes. Every person in the calendar was a young woman, one of whom had no head, because who was actually going to look at anything except titties? There wasn’t even one picture of the supplier’s product in the calendar. Contrary to how we are pressured to conform to the concept, getting de-sensitised to sleaze is not harmless. It’s called grooming.

Men are groomed from an early age to be sex industry customers. Their sex drive makes them easy marks for this. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to exploit. The trouble is, of course, that exploiting men’s sex drive means exploiting women so that men’s sex drive can be exploited. Then there is the contagion effect, whereby men see women being exploited by the sex industry, which is everywhere, and spreads to become contagious beliefs and behaviour in everyday life.

“Those women freely choose to pose for a titty calendar, and get well paid for it”, is a popular refrain in defence of it. On the surface, it can seem like a freely made transaction between seller and buyer, but few women choose selling sex or sleaze as a career choice. It’s what they end up doing for various, and sometimes desperate, reasons. Getting leered at for money is not sexual freedom – the concept just gets sold to women that way. To be clear, though, this is not a diatribe against the women who do this, but against the sleaze and pornography industry, and the way they perpetuate the concept of women’s bodies being a commodity for sale or mis-use (no, it’s not only women, but I’m just keeping this in line with my complaint about the titty calendar).

If this was truly a calendar that was celebrating bodily freedom instead of sleaze, there would be young men in it, there would be older women and men in it, there would be disabled men and women in it, and they would be all shapes and sizes. But no, it was just young women’s tits. I know that it is a woman’s right (anyone’s right) to have agency and freedom over her own body, and what she does with it. When it comes down to women’s sexual freedom, though, it’s funny how that looks a lot like what appeals to the ‘man group’ in our world.

No-one wants to eliminate sexual frisson and flirting, nor cancel sex and sex play, nor be too censorious about art and erotic pleasures (admiring and appreciating, however, are different to leering), because these things are fun, creative, and thrilling. The sex industry knows this, and puts those things on steroids.  Getting a buzz from a ‘harmless’ bit of sleaze is the honey trap. Sleaze escalates into porn, and research tell us that amongst those who watch the most porn are the rapists. There’s very little that’s not harmful about the sex industry – the exploited are harmed, and the exploiters harm.

A titty calendar is not just about women’s breasts. It’s about the mess of disrespect and degradation that is the sex industry. It’s about grooming (primarily) men to be slavish to their sex drive, so it can line its pockets with the jizz – I mean, gold – from that. Not every boy or man who looks at a titty calendar will be ripe pickings for the sex industry, and evolve to be abusive of women – but the next one might be.

13 thoughts on “Titty calendars are sleaze, not a sign of women’s sexual freedom.

  1. Frances Sullivan

    RIght on (fist pump)! Well written/expressed. Touchy subject tossed onto the plethora of touchy subjects lately, but well done. The finer points, as you suggest, might be lost on many, but not all. I for one would be jump for joy if marketers etc chose to burn “sex sells” in effigy. Of course, that wouldn’t even touch the slime the rake it in with pornography. Sigh. Anywho, good post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this. A few years ago, I got into an online argument with another blogger (interestingly, from Australia) who wrote a rant after being told by a customer that his Playboy calendar, hung up over his desk for anyone to see, was offensive. His argument went along the line of 1) freedom of speech, or in his case, images, plus the rights of a property owner (“it’s my office, I can hang whatever I damn well like in there”) and 2) no harm done, I’m just looking, I’m not a rapist or sex offender. I told him yes you can hang up whatever you like in your office, but would you do so if the calendar featured a photo of your daughter? And before he could blow up at me, I reminded him to think about why he wouldn’t want his daughter featured on a calendar like that. Sexualizing anyone’s body means you don’t accept the person as a colleague or equal; s/he is just a thing you can look at and use as an object of fantasy.

    He also suggested because I was American, “you’re all prudes out there, due to your Puritan forefathers.” I laughed—I haven’t a drop of Pilgrim blood in me, and I wasn’t raised Christian.I used the same argument you forward—if it’s just nudity we’re talking about, then why aren’t there photographs of men as well? Or trans people? Anyway, we didn’t go much farther than that, because he blocked me from his blog. I was told he took the post and later the whole blog down not long after, apparently because other people also took offense at some of his comments. Which is too bad, in a way: I wanted him to think about his line of thought and its consequences, rather than just set fire to everything in a rage.

    I was surprised by a couple of young women who defended this blogger and agreed it was a matter of personal expression. They also threw in a “gee, what a drag you are, I bet you’re fun at parties.” I thought, and you’re the reason why sexual harassment complaints often die at workplaces and institutions: the people who file them get no support from coworkers like these women, who often use personal anecdote as proof that ‘there is no sexual harassment going on here.’

    Anyway, what a pity this garbage still gets printed and distributed. Many workplaces, at least here in the US, forbid these kind of materials to be hung up and displayed because it’s considered unprofessional. I wish they would do even more to create an egalitarian workplace, but small steps forward, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good on you for taking on that sleaze-bag – even though you got blocked for your troubles. If a person has never felt oppressed, exploited, or vulnerable, then it can be hard for them to understand how others might feel oppressed, exploited, or vulnerable. Some people can understand it, without needing to have experienced it first, but others are way too obtuse.

      I find that many young women who don’t object to the sexualisation of women, think that they’re showing their liberation, but they use young men as their role models for what liberation looks like – much to the young men’s delight. I can remember myself thinking that doing everything that men were allowed to do when I was young, was a sign of my freedom. The thing is, we still don’t have enough in the way of women role models who truly do live life according to their own interpretation of liberation, to see what that looks like. There are many inspiring women in the world, but we don’t always want to have to be exceptional to be able to live a life of liberation.

      Most workplaces here in New Zealand would also not tolerate a titty calendar hanging up in the workplace, either. Somehow, this particular company thought that giving them away to customers was an okay practise, though. Creeps!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Donuts and calendars. Ridge Tool Company, not too long ago, used to come out with two-year girly calendars. Seductive girls in bikinis holding pipe wrenches and such. I mean, when’s the last time a soft-skinned dainty in a two-piece picked-up a 36″ pipe wrench? We sell Ridgid tools. When the calendars came out, the guys would lose any semblance of self-control, self-respect, respect for their wives when they hung the calendars in their “man-caves.” This same dearth of self-regulation is demonstrated in a similar frenzy when a salesperson (typically a male) brings in donuts. It’s a behavior that assures me the human species will never evolve to govern their base impulses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is tragic, and amusing at the same time. Tragic because the guys are such douches, and amusing because the guys are such douches. In spite of the massive brains humans have, not a lot goes on in there sometimes 🙂 I’m in agreement with you about the human species – we have only evolved because a few bright sparks have dragged everyone else along with them.

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  4. Agreed; loved reading this because you’re so right. It shouldn’t be assumed that those sorts of items are acceptable to all.
    I came here because I noticed today that Peter Schreiner’s Crows Head Soup blog is…GONE! Do you know why he apparently deleted his site? It’s surprising, and sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I didn’t realise that it was gone! I had been thinking about him, though, and wondering why he’d gone quiet. I may ask someone else (whose name eludes me right now) who is a follower of both Peter’s and my blogs if he knows anything. If I find anything out, I’ll let you know. How did you know that Peter’s blog is gone? Did you ty searching for it, and it’s not there?

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      1. Yes, I went to see what he’d written lately and was totally shocked by the “blog deleted by author” notification. All that great work…gone?! I’m sure you’ve already confirmed that for yourself. Here’s hoping he is alright and maybe just starting a new blog, or something…would hate to lose his great company in here, and he had a lot of readers.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I emailed Bill, who seems to know Peter slightly better than us, and he’d just noticed that Peter had deleted his blog, too. Bill said that he will try and make contact with Peter, and will pass any info onto me if he can. If he does, I’ll let you know. Yeah, such a shame to see Peter and blog disappear – I was enjoying his Riker the Biker series 😊

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  5. Hi Laura, Bill emailed me to say that Peter is alive and well and still feisty, but he just felt that his blog had “run its course”. Apparently, he thought about it for a long time before pulling the plug. Of course, it feels like a shock to us, because we weren’t privy to the long thought process he went through. So, mystery solved, but a sad loss.

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