Colette Browne: Young women are debasing themselves by accepting crude branding of club
WITH sexist slurs being hurled across the floor of the Seanad, perhaps it should come as no surprise that young women are now being branded with misogynistic slogans.
A Dublin club night, aimed at young people in their late teens and early 20s and called C U Next Tuesday, has begun stamping patrons' arms with its charming acronym, C**T.
This is not a small stamp, unobtrusively located on the inside of the wrist, but large, looping letters that run from wrist to elbow.
"We mean it in a light-hearted way. We want to desensitise people to this very commonly used word," tweeted the organisers when an outraged mother posted a photo of the logo on her daughter's arm on Twitter yesterday.
So, if you're offended by a large brand on your teenage daughter's arm describing her as a C**T, you're clearly a prude suffering from a sense of humour deficit.
When did this become acceptable? The casual objectification of women and the pornification of popular culture, where it's impossible to escape pervasive hyper-sexualised images of women on everything from billboards to the front pages of tabloid newspapers, is nothing new.
But this stamp will surely shock even those who have become immune to the casual debasement of women by a society whose interest in them seems to extend only to their tits and ass.
This is not the first club promoter to be embroiled in such a controversy. Last year, Midnight Productions came under fire for a poster that depicted a drunk woman in a tiny skirt bending over and pulling up her knickers, with the caption: "If you're not up for it, don't cum."
The implication was that every woman who attended the event was "up for it" by virtue of their attendance, effectively giving a licence to cretins to grope, paw and sexually assault every woman on the premises.
The same promoters also previously championed a "knickers for liquor" event in a Dublin club, where women who handed their underwear to the bartender were given a free shot.
On that occasion the gardai got involved and, after an undertaking to a district court to abandon the "inappropriate, undesirable and demeaning" promotion, the venue was allowed to retain its late licence.
While the court of public opinion will be the only one to censure this latest club, perhaps the most depressing aspect of the fiasco is that many young women who attend the event have defended it on social media and decried the furore as manufactured outrage.
Having become so inured to the degradation of women in popular culture, some evidently find nothing objectionable about having the most potent and offensive epithet for women writ large on their arms.
If young women spend the first 18 years of their lives being socialised to accept a stereotype of themselves as sentient porn puppets whose primary purpose is the gratification of men, they apparently graduate to being happily branded as such when they reach early adulthood.
This malaise is not something that solely affects young women. The sexualisation of young children is wreaking massive damage that ultimately feeds into the blithe acceptance of this crude abuse.
Last year, Children At Risk in Ireland (CARI) reported that the number of calls to its counselling service from parents concerned about their child's sexualised behaviour – which included inappropriate touching and masturbation in public – had increased by 70pc in 12 months.
"It is a younger generation having a different set of norms around sexual activity. There is a bigger risk now with the availability of images that young people can access and do not understand," said CARI's national clinical director, Dr Niall Muldoon.
Parents can try to protect their children from accessing inappropriate material at home, but there is no way to cocoon them from the ubiquity of grossly inappropriate pornographic images that assault them on a daily basis – the children's T-shirts in department stores with sexually suggestive slogans, the push-up bras for pre-pubescents and the near-naked women in provocative poses that adorn advertising hoardings.
C U Next Tuesday has taken the debasement of women to its nadir, but their branding is just an extension of a culture that champions demeaning caricatures of women.