Monday, September 15, 2014

The Ugly Side of Beauty

beautyandmisogyny


Breast implants for 18-year-olds? Hymen reconstructions? Rape-themed fashion collections? Don’t tell Sheila Jeffreys these are signs of female liberation. The radical feminist talks to Julie Bindel.

“Shoes,” Sheila Jeffreys says, “are almost becoming torture instruments. During a woman’s daily make-up ritual, on average she will expose herself to more than 200 synthetic chemicals before she has morning coffee. Regular lipstick wearers will ingest up to four and a half kilos during their lifetime.” We are talking about Jeffreys’ latest book, Beauty And Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices In The West, and she is in full flow about the horrors of what she calls “the brutality of beauty”.Jeffreys, a revolutionary lesbian feminist, is pursuing her 30-odd-year mission to shift women out of their collective complacency. Beauty And Misogyny is her sixth book. Like the others, its central theme is an exploration of the use of sexuality by men to dominate women. Much of it is spent arguing that beauty practices – from make-up to breast implants – should be redefined as harmful cultural practices, rather than being seen as a liberating choice.Jeffreys’ introduction to feminist campaigning began in the early 70s when she joined a socialist feminist group (she was later thrown out for suggesting men were to blame for the oppression of women). Sandra McNeill, who met Jeffreys in that group, remembers her as “the Andrea Dworkin of the UK. She was, and still is, seen as an extreme, man-hating feminist”. Dworkin, as it happens, lived with a man, whom in 1998 she married.

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