The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Calendar Girls Again, And Again, And Again…

Posted by Cate on November 13, 2008

Airline Ryanair have hit controversy with its publication of a calendar of bathered female staff, designed to raise money for homeless charity Dublin Simon Community, according to UK rag The Daily Mail.

Of course, being the Daily Mail (publishers of the infamous page 3 women) they couldn’t resist publishing pictures from the calendar. All the women are (predictably) young, thin and high heeled in bathing suits.  The calendar features only women and heavily airbrushed women at that.

The Daily Mail reports that

The Institute for Women in Spain is considering legal action and intends to complain to Irish and EU authorities that the publication is sexist as it only features female models.

The institute further contends,

“It is significant that only women are used, in a sector in which there is a considerable percentage of men.”

Calendars created to raise money for charity have been around for ages with everyone from older women to farmers getting their kit off to raise money for various charities. I find it ridiculous that the Institute contends that the sexist imagery would be okay if it also featured men. I would like to think that both women and men should be protected from sexism in the workplace (as is detailed in law). I’d like to think that the women in the calendars are there of their own will. But when the calendar comes from a large commercial enterprise already notorious for sexualised imagery and discourse about women (the idea of the mile high club, the preferencing for employing women who look a particular way), I get a bit concerned. Particularly when the boss of the Airline contends that the calendar

” …will remind us of all the gorgeous girls you can meet on board Ryanair”.

Thus, reducing professionally trained and  employed staff to be judged (again) on their appearance. I’d imagine those who choose not to participate in the calendar would be similarly surveyed and assessed by peers and customers alike for whether they fit the criteria for such a calendar. And another opportunity for women to compare themselves to the images features and find themselves sadly lacking. Hardly makes for a comfortable, sexual harassment free work environment.

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