The walk of shame

Seatbelts fastened – and stand by for a swift flight from the political to the personal and swiftly back again.

A shameful clip

Our departure point this morning is a viral videa from Harvey Nicks, which asks that most pressing of christmas questions: “ever faced the walk of shame?”

It features, in case you couldn’t work it out, a succession of young, attractive women, wending their somewhat unsteady way home after the fairly obviously implied night out on the tiles.

The clip abounds with bad behaviour (untidily eating one’s breakfast at a bus stop), unfit women (out of puff after running about ten paces), unsteady gait and far too much leg and cleavage for early morn.

So what’s to say? Its snobbery pure and simple, since the obvious solution (take a taxi, as one spoof sugests – or carry a coat) doesn’t actually require the expense of investing in a Harvey Nicks outfit. Equally troubling is the implied picking up of Slutwalk in the clip’s title (both “walk” and “shame”) and the ever-so-slight suggestion that at least one woman may have had her dress ripped.

Rape porn? Surely not!

Goodtime Girl

There is a wider issue, though, for which, as illustration, i’ll take you on a tour of my own weeked. I atteneded a couple of events on saturday. The second, an xxxmas “Erotic Meet“, brought together writers, artists and creatives who work in the erotic sphere: much networking, much brilliant conversation; and wonderful live entertainment provided by the talented and very funny Eastend Cabaret (I’m still giggling at the lyric to one exceedingly bawdy song entitled “Is it in yet?”).

After, i stayed on for the after-party hosted by a delightful (and cute) young guy who works full time as a professional male escort. Now if i WERE going to fall for a bloke any time soon, he’d have to be high on the list – but sadly, he is very very gay and not the least interested in women, trans or otherwise.

Far too much vodka was drunk: pizza was hunted down and dragged back to the flat at 4 in the morning. There was a less than successful effort at playing Twister. šŸ™‚

At some point we dwindled to three guys, three gals, plus host, and i discovered then the sad reality of middle-aged womanhood: there is absolutely no rationality to who get hit on by whom: i mean, not that i was remootely interested; but it would have been nice to be chatted up, if only to have the satisfaction of saying no.

But nah: all three by-passed myself and a somewhat younger woman present, to make a collective bee-line for the youngest and prettiest of our female trio. hmmmph!

Then out onto the streets at around 7, mascara decidedly smudgy, hair ever so slightly in need of a wash. But otherwise, head held high and, if i say so myself, a good match, fashion-wise for the hordes of sunday moprning travellers on Kings Cross.

And in decidedly better shape from the three guys, who were, to a man, seriously dishevelled: unshaven and much ruffled.

Sexism and snobbery

Though i don’t much remember seeing many videos of late about the walk of shame as guys stagger home from the pub, shirt out, trailing gobbets of kebab in their wake.

Its all vaguely reminiscent of a recent piece in the Mail by writer and journalist Tanith Carey, which had me, by the end, in two minds. Yes: all very sad that some young women nowadays behave atrociously. Not at all like “young ladies”. And to be honest, i’d rather, in my personal prim and proper way, rather they didn’t.

But i’m old enough to know that this is absolutely not a new phenomenon – and alive enough to sub-text to realise that there is some pretty tectonic politics going down here.

Its snobbery. And its sexism.

After a night out, some women can look pretty shit. So, too, can men. And i’d hate to be asked to decide, between the two, which gender on average looks shittest.

At the same time, there is policing going on here: its about how women look and how women are supposed to look (which is why the link back to slutwalk is both ironic and provocative). Societal pressure for women to live “up” to certain standards and, if i am not missing a trick here, to live up to standards based as much – or more – on appearance as behaviour.

As for the latter, there’s another double standard operating here. Because men and women alike have the right to go out and have fun: to drink vodka, eat pizza and play twister at 4 in the morning.

That’s pretty straightforward.

So either the message here is that women shouldn’t: that maybe men should hark back to the gender-segrated symposia of ancient greece (and presumably, to the enragement of Mail readers, the gender-segregated sexuality that went with it): so on saturday night, the guys should have partied alone.

Or that its OK for women to have a good time…just so long as it doesn’t show.

Sorry, Harvey Nick’s: your campaign is appalling. It says nothing at all to the reality that i and my friends experience on an everyday basis: and while i am sure you’ll excuse it with a shrug and the usual “just a laugh” excuse, it isn’t.

Its nasty. Its sexist. And its about time you realised.



4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Bob said,

    From what I’ve noticed, it often seems to depend on how the person looks in the first place. I find society has far less patience for a pretty face disevilled due to the standards you describe. To hark back to the old song, “Keep young and beautiful / It’s your duty to be beautiful”.

  2. 2

    Natacha Kennedy said,

    Spot on. Like I said on FB. An account with Addison Lee is much more cost effective than shopping at Harvey Nix. And, as you say, on average blokes are much more disheveled the morning after than women, who often are prepared for this eventuality anyway. Maybe our culture regards it as acceptable for men to be disheveled and not women.

  3. 3

    Agree on most parts with you, but feel its worth pointing out slutwalk was recent and I first heard the phrase walk of shame 5 years ago now….

  4. 4

    PooBar said,

    Harvey Nick’s is crap anyway.

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