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Hard to believe, but apparently even feminists can be sexy …

By Audrey Apple - posted Thursday, 3 January 2008

Those cheeky monkeys over at Zoo magazine have done it again!

Pushing the envelope with his “dare to be different” competitions, Zoo’s editor Paul “Show Us Your T*ts” Merrill has come out with this response to those pesky (and, it has to be said, hairy) feminazis who got their big granny knickers in a knot over the Win A Set Of Big Ones For Your Missus competition advertised a few weeks ago.

Displaying the plucky can-do attitude we’ve come to know and love him for, Merrill brushed aside tiresome suggestions that his Boys Like Birds With Funner Fun-Bags comp was generally a bit insulting to women fat man-hating dyke lesbo humourless femmos. Once again demonstrating superior understanding of the female psyche, Merrill figured out that what we feminists are really upset about is not having our very own misogynistic competition that we can proudly be part of. But look! Now even those amongst us who favour “sensible shoes” (feminist = lesbian) and are too busy battling inequality to buy deodorant (feminist = smelly) can be assured that, when it comes to getting your kit off for a lad’s mag, possessing progressive politics won’t stand in your way.


The men’s magazine which sparked outrage when it offered a $10,000 boob job as a competition prize has responded to its critics by launching a search for Australia’s sexiest feminist.

“Zoo Weekly” magazine angered health and women’s groups when it urged men to “win” their girlfriend a boob job by sending in shots of her cleavage.

The lad’s mag today revealed its new competition - a search “for the hottest girl in sensible shoes” - promising the winner a year’s supply of deodorant and a sexy photo shoot.

“If you hate men, we want to see photos of you in sexy lingerie,” the ad reads.

The thing that really makes me furious about this pathetic stunt isn’t that it was syndicated to all News Ltd outlets yesterday as if it passes for real “news”. It’s not even necessarily the continued insistence of Zoo to disregard women’s outrage at the sexist and degrading way they both treat and promote femininity. What really gets me here is the predictable and tired joke that’s being had at the expense of feminism, and the slap-on-the-back encouragement that you know is coming from the greasy neanderthals that staff these kinds of offices.

Merrill’s response is indicative of the worst kind of disregard for women. I’m hypothesising here, but I would say that Zoo exists because it celebrates a particular kind of femininity dominant in the pr0n industry. Zoo would have you believe that these women are compliant, malleable, sexy, sexually available, sexually adventurous, sexually assertive, sexually willing and sexually explicit when it comes to their personal tastes. Their assertiveness is packaged in a strict space and is acceptable only so long as it isn’t being displayed negatively against men. The attraction lies in these women being so “sexually empowered” that they are willing to fulfil their audience’s every fantasy and desire.

There’s nothing wrong with having sexual fantasies that involve the complete submission of your partner. Men can fantasise about women crawling all over the floor waiting to service them all they like - I don’t think it’s any less valid a fantasy than any other. The difference is how some men respond to women who don’t behave in a coquettish and submissive manner in real life - that’s where Zoo irrefutably falls down. By virtue of the fact that it so vehemently seeks to desexualise any woman that expresses opposition to their practices, Zoo demonstrates complete and abject disdain for the rights of women to coexist outside of this fantasy world.

The message is simple - women are OK as long as they’re playing by the men’s rules (which basically amount to not putting up a fuss about being considered “f*ckable”). Dissent is possible, but only if expressed in a cutesy pie, not-really-serious, isn’t-she-hot-when-she-pouts-I-just-want-to-bend-her-over-and-give-her-one kind of manner.

Stray from these strict guidelines all you want, but expect to feel the full force of derision - and often violent attempts at humiliation - wafting from the Smoking Room. Worse, expect to be told that your very valid objections are indicative of a complete lack of humour, a determination to “spoil it for the boys” and a total absence of femininity and sexual attractiveness.


Indeed, “Feminist!” has become the rallying attack cry from the armies of men that refuse to acknowledge that a woman’s greatest aspiration isn’t uniquely connected to how much men want to f*ck them. Its hissed utterance has become ubiquitous for a host of inaccurate and lazy ideas that only serve to crudely mask the speaker’s own ignorance and disinterest in directly engaging with those he seeks to demonise.

Rebecca West really had it right when she said:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.

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First published at Audrey and the Bad Apples on September 4, 2007.

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About the Author

Audrey Apple began life as a student newspaper editor before discovering the addiction of blogging. She has worked as an English teacher in Japan, an assistant to a prominent Senator and a slave to the most maniacal man in retail. She laments the lack of opportunities for young creative types in South Australia, but is so utterly hopeless at financial planning that she'll probably be stuck there forever. She recently discovered Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Persepolis 2 and claims they, like the discovery of feminism, changed her life. She is giddy as a schoolgirl over the election of our dishy new PM and finally excited about Australia.

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