It’s #SexyALevels day again!
While sexyalevels.tumblr.com have decided to call it a day, the fact still remains that the media loves attractive 18-year-old girls jumping in the air, and, boys don’t do A Levels. It is often said that ignoring issues such as this can do more good than pointing at it and giving it attention — though in the case of the Everyday Sexism Project, I think the opposite effect is occurring here and the newspapers need to answer why they do it too.
The guys behind sexyalevels.tumblr.com gave a number of reasons for shutting down:
This thing has become a feedback loop. Cf. “We’re being ironically appalling”. As Chris Cook noted in the FT last year, this isn’t just something that newspapers do in isolation. The news agencies only submit the kind of pictures they think news publishers want; the photographers only take pictures they think their agencies are looking for; and the more publicity-savvy schools only pick and choose their most “beyootiful girls” to pimp out to the snappers. So it goes, right? Nobody is shocked, shocked by this stuff. But it’s sort of begun to feel like giving it a name and making it a big jolly media in-joke is only reinforcing that – what originated as a piss-take starts to feel like it’s become a pro bono branding exercise for the whole sweaty-palmed business.
Smash patriarchy, amirite? We’re dicking about here, obviously, but at the heart of this one-joke website is the tiniest, most serious core of fundamental truth: This weird boner that Fleet Street has for soft, female flesh is not OK and we all pay a psychic toll because of it. Now you’d be right to point out the psychic toll we pay is smaller than that which we pay for all the other sexist bullshit in the world, but that’s scarcely the point. It feels all enabley.
It’s likely that the attractive confident young adults who have received their results are more likely to want to post for the local press photographer, however this still does not explain the wanton need for newspaper editors to splash images of young girls all over front pages: It’s not what education qualifications/life are about.
In the news today: Sexy A Level girls:
And on the Mail Online’s article
The Sun also covered the girls:
Even the BBC:
As Steven Baxter of NewStatesman puts it: “It has just become a strange ritual, this yearly parade of young female flesh, a May Queen for the newspaper age. It doesn’t tell us anything about exams, or education, or anything like that.”
Not to be left out, the Belfast Telegraph also got in on the ‘girls jumping for joy holding A4 pages’ shot:
Plenty more examples are being posted on Twitter: #sexyalevels.