On Saturday, Bluebird TV posted a job on DirectGov, a Government-run website allowing users to access information about public services, including jobs. The advert was for “Females (sic) Presenters required for home internet work for internet babe chat” for Loaded TV, an offshoot of the lads’ mag of the same name.
A quick look on either website suggests that the chances of this being anything other than soft porn at best are slim. This job comes with the implicit approval of the Department of Work and Pensions. This is what the government would rather women be doing than claiming benefits.
I’m sure that by tomorrow morning they’ll have come up with an explanation, but I find it hard to believe that there are no checks in place for prospective employers who want to advertise on the site. If that’s the case, it’s negligent. If it’s not then someone, at some point, decided that this was OK. That exploiting women was fine, because that’s one more woman who won’t be claiming JSA this week.
You can argue that women who want to work in this industry, who are doing so entirely uncoerced and of their own volition, should be able to find employment the same way any other prospective employee would.
I am so fucking sick of the pornification of our culture. Of normalising the exploitation of women, of promoting rape culture. I want to see Page Three of The Sun taken up with what they laughably call news, not with pictures of naked women. I want to walk into the newsagents and not be afraid to raise my eyes above a certain level because I know I’ll end up with magazines like Barely Legal in my sightline. And I don’t want companies like Bluebird or Loaded given legitimacy by getting advertising on a Government-funded jobseekers website.
There’s a reason there are no adverts for gigolos or Chippendales on DirectGov. It’s not that women don’t like casual sex, don’t like looking at men. It’s that men’s bodies are not commodified in the same way that women’s are. Men are lauded for intellect, for physical fitness. Women’s are valued for how fuckable they are.
I’m under no illusion about how hard this recession is biting, especially for women. It sickens me that women, made vulnerable by financial hardship – especially in the run up to Christmas, for fuck’s sake – might see this ad, think it’s an easy way to make money and swallow their pride and their disgust and that last bit of self-esteem and go for it. Because they can’t find another job, because their benefits are being slashed, more women are going to end up in some variant of sex work. And the Government aren’t just allowing that to happen – they’re promoting it.
Strangely enough, on the drop-down menu of reasons for not applying for the job ‘because this demeans women’ is not listed.