BLACHMAN: A TV SHOW’S CONTROVERSIAL DESEXUALIZATION OF THE FEMALE BODY

By Rebecca Benest
Staff Writer

If you live in Denmark, you might turn on the publically funded television station “DR2,” and find yourself faced with a naked woman accompanied by two men conversing about her various physical attributes. But in the event that you haven’t kept up to date with Danish television, this new show, “Blachman,” has caused quite the international buzz.

Named after the creator, the premise of the show is to bring naked women on screen where they stand silently, allowing Blachman and a male guest comment on their body. While this show is definitely a chauvinistic display, it also brings up several discourses on body image and sexualization of the female body in a new, although potentially offensive, method.

The show’s namesake, Thomas Blachman, was a previous host of Denmark’s “X Factor” and is commonly called the “Simon Cowell of Denmark,” known for his regular stream of negative comments. Blachman, however, has a different angle for his new show, as his stated purpose is to get “men discussing the aesthetics of a female body without allowing the conversation to become pornographic or politically correct.” To do this, he brings of women of all ages, shapes, and sizes onto the show, in order to “revise women’s view of men’s view of women.”

The purported message of the show, however, will probably never be seen amid the hailstorm of comments and criticism following the its start. Knud Romer, a Danish author, calls it “a claustrophobic strip club which only serves to cement classic concepts of male dominance,” while Dr. Christian Jessen responds, “are naked women that shocking and shameful? Lets have a debate!”

This is the main debate “Blachman” brings about, that while it appears to be a pornographic display of chauvinistic ideals, it may also be illuminating the unnecessary stigma we place on the naked body and political correctness.

The hypocrisy of the show itself adds to this debate. The introduction states, “between pornography on the one hand and politically correct puritanism on the other side, the poetry is lost.”

Despite this, later on in the show Blachman seems to lose this poetry he speaks so highly of, with statements such as, “Now, I’ve always been an ass man. Would you mind turning around for a moment? Very animated nipples. How does that pussy work for you?” Statements like this are exactly what angers viewers and shows Blachman to be a misogynist.

As admittedly offensive as the show is, it brings up interesting issues of body image. The women on the show are not embarrassed to be there, nor do they avoid eye contact with the judges—some even smiling overbearingly as the judges comment on their bodies. These women don’t view themselves negatively, which is a “requirement” to be on the show, regardless of age or weight.

The body confidence the women on “Blachman” seem to have is not seen often, and is something that many girls and women today seem to have a problem with. The Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which recently took over social media, thought up an interesting experiment: through drawings based on oral descriptions, see how women describe themselves in comparison to how others describe them. The results were shocking: the pictures, when posed next to each other, were drastically different, and in some cases the way the woman described herself was almost unrecognizable. The way we view ourselves ultimately dictates our lifestyle, and as feminist Laura Fraser writes, “we need to protest those standards more demonstrably, reassure ourselves that we’re good and worthwhile human beings.”

“Blachman” also brings up the sexualization of the female body, which is seen drastically differently across nations. When I was 16, for example, I was at a spa in Berlin with an aunt and was shocked when I was told that clothes were not allowed inside. Terrified, I wrapped my towel around me as tightly as I could and went outside. Men and women were sitting, talking, in the saunas and pools seemingly oblivious to their nakedness. While I was utterly embarrassed, I soon became used to the environment and was almost relieved at the way bodies were not judged or micromanaged. You did not have to cover yourself, you weren’t labeled; it was just a body.

While this view is definitely more common in Europe than it is in America, and while the crude comments made on “Blachman” are unmistakably offensive, it does start to take away the stigma of the naked body by talking about the women without sexual or pornographic connotations. The documentary “Miss Representation” takes on the sexualization of women in the media and offers a solution through education and empowerment. Filmmaker Jackson Katz states, “people learn more from media than any other single source of information,” and the representations in the media affect how we view others and ourselves.

The immense power held by the TV shows and movies we watch, the magazines we read, even the songs we listen to, can dictate our views of the world without us even being aware of it and, while “Blachman” is not necessarily empowering these women, there is something the message: it is just a body. We should be able to talk about them without having to worry about being too sexual or politically correct.

Photo by Charlotte Astrid

IS THIS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE?: REDEFINING THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT

By Sarah Tegenfeldt
Staff Writer

Feminism is an ever-changing and evolving ideology that is dependent upon on personal experience. There are those that see feminism as a beacon of hope for moving towards a world of equality, and there are others that see feminism as detracting from the instituted patriarchal values of our grandparents’, and even great-grandparents’, generation.

As a 21-year-old female, feminism to me is simply the idea that men and women should be socially, politically and economically equal. In a world ruled by misogyny, Dennis Prager would have you believe that feminism is destroying values instead of empowering women. And in the ever-changing rules that govern modern relationships, women’s desire to simply be equal is the root of the degradation of romance and intimacy.

Meanwhile we have extraordinary women, such as Abigail Rine, who now spends more time defending the word feminism than actually fighting for women’s rights. We hit a stalemate where the word “feminist” is no longer inspiring to women and where feminist stereotypes portray women as “shrill, angry, neo-amazons.” Women are no longer willing label themselves as feminists due to the increasing negative connotations associated with the title. So how, in a world of full Dennis Prager’s, do we take back feminism and redefine our generation’s movement towards gender equality?

In an article titled “Why Is There a Hookup Culture?” Dennis Prager uses his own special form of “mansplaining” to discuss Donna Freitas’ book “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.” According to both Prager and Freitas, the proliferation of a “hookup culture” is leaving women unfulfilled in relationships, but where they differ is in the explanation of the cause of this modern day issue.

Prager believes that “feminism, careerism, and secularism” are the reasons that our society is pressuring young adults into hookups over long-term commitment. Thus, in his analysis, Prager dismisses the feminist movement as idealistic and false. His condescending tone implies the idea that women cannot be truly fulfilled by career and casual sex.

Yet men, as they have been for centuries, are applauded for their steadfast career aspirations and their ability to not let a relationship interrupt them on their path to fulfillment. While Freitas’ book emphasizes a shared fault between both sexes of our generation and the previous generation, Prager focuses solely on women. He resolves that it is not only feminist teachings, but also feminists themselves that have destroyed relationships. In his conclusion, Prager even goes so far as to mock Freitas and her advanced degree stating, “I suspect that it is her very Ph.D. that prevents her from understanding either the roots of this human tragedy or its solution.”

This is the mentality that feminists such as Abigail Rine are currently trying to combat. In a recent lecture Rine gave in a college classroom, she admittedly spent the first half of the lecture trying to defend the word “feminism” and debunk the current stereotypes associated with a movement that has been around for numerous decades.

The idea of feminism is no longer helping to recruit young adults into its ideology. Instead it is now used as a scapegoat for people, such as Prager, who are desperately clinging to their archaic patriarchal values and need something to blame for the progressively liberal path that our nation is taking. Feminists spend more time now defending their work when that time could be spent trying to open lines of communication and establish new alliances in the struggle for equality. Yet this is the reason that the feminist movement exists and continues to persevere, and gives motive to women like Rine to continue to fight.

Earlier this month, she wrote, “it is the most insidious inequality that remains, the misogyny that is coded into our words and behavior, that fuels rape culture, and the sex trafficking pandemic, and the ‘pornification’ of sexuality.” As long as there are inequalities there will be a reason to continue the struggle for justice. Thus, in his judgment of the feminist movement, Dennis Prager actually renews the reasons for its existence.

I shamefully admit that I never identified myself as feminist, believing for some reason that feminists were innately radical. But upon reading Prager’s article, I felt a twinge of defiance—a desire to don a “this-is-what-a-feminist-looks-like” t-shirt and take to the streets armed with a picket sign. Our generation’s movement towards gender equality may not be defined as feminism, but it is certainly shaped by the people who propagate misogynistic ideas. Those that wish to tear us down only strengthen our resolve. This is what defines my struggle and my generation’s movement towards equality, feminist label or not.

Photo By The U.S. National Archives