Women for Sale!!!!
by Laura Green
I hear $500,000 over there, $750,000 from
the gentleman in the back. Anyone for a million
? Anyone? Going once, going twice . SOLD, to the
millionaire in the back row. Congratulations Darva,
you've been bought!
Welcome to the year 2000, when nothing says
I love you like a fat chequebook. The Fox networks'
recent program Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?
has caused quite a stir. If you haven't heard
by now, the Fox special selected 50 women to audition
to be the bride of millionaire Rick Rockwell.
Much like a beauty pagent, the women paraded in
swimsuits and gowns and answered a variety of
questions. The show pulled in huge audiences,
and surprisingly, much of the commentary following
the special was positive. Both men and women liked
the show, and Fox planned to rerun the episode.
That was before it was revealed that their millionaire
had had a restraining order placed on him for
having threatened a previous girlfriend. Lucky
millionaire bride Darva Conger is now applying
to have the wedding annuled and is making appearances
on all of the top talk shows.
"I thought it was hilarious,"said second year
UWO student Matt Smith.* "I figured it had all
just been set up anyway, so I didn't really have
a problem with it."
Smith's friend Tammy Graham agreed. "It's
all entertainment,"said Graham. "We have all of
these shows now on TV like Judge Judy and Jerry
Springer and they have huge ratings because they're
funny . I don't think people take them seriously."
But student Caitlin Bouchard was stunned when
she stumbled onto the show by accident. "It was
kind of sick actually," sais Bouchard. "I couldn't
believe that women would put themselves in such
a degrading position, they might as well sell
themselves on the corner ... I really don't have
any sympathy for Darva."
And that's the problem. None of the women
who appeared on Millionaire were forced
to be there. They willingly volunteered to sell
themselves, and it's not hard to see why. Even
though Conger is now applying for an annulment,
she'll still go home with quite a loot. A Fox
network spokesman said that Conger has received
prizes worth a total of $100,000: the honeymoon,
the $35,000 engagement ring and an Isuzu Trooper.
It may not be a million, but it's not a bad consolation
But the question remains, is it OK to use
women to sell a television show, or any other
product? If you think that it's an issue that
doesn't affect university students, far removed
from the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, think
again. Images of women are used daily on campus
to sell anything from vacations to cars. Even
our free campus newspaper The Gazette uses
images of women to increase their circulation,
which, after all, sells ads.
This manipulation of women was particularly
evident in a recent issue that had a photo on
its front page of two women kissing. The cutline
below the picture indicated that these women were
enjoying a moment at the Charity Ball.
The photo was a smart move on the Gazette's
part. It did exactly what they hoped - stir up
some controversy and get more people reading the
paper. Almost a month after the photo ran, letters
to the editor are still being printed on the subject.
It's not that there is anything wrong with
the photo itself. Some readers suggested that
the picture was pornographic. Actually, the photo
is quite tasteful. It's the way it's used that's
the problem. How does the photo represent the
Charity Ball? What is newsworthy is how much the
Ball raised, but the reality is sex sells.
For what reason, other than to increase circulation,
would the Gazette print it? To have a good piece
of art on its cover? If so, they should have changed
the cut-line accordingly. More likely, it was
the sensationalism of having two women kissing
on the cover of a paper in a largely heterosexual
campus community. Also, the connection of lesbian
activity with male fantasies would increase circulation.
Unfortunately, the idea that it is OK to use
women to sell is well established in our society.
Even within the pages of the Gazette's classifieds
an escort service ad appears regularly looking
for applicants that are "responsible, attractive
Intrigued by the ad that they say was "vague
at best, misleading at worst" journalism students
Michelle Rember and Stacy Pembrooke decided to
do a bit of investigative reporting.
"There was no indication that sex was involved
except for the fact that applicants had to be
We wondered what that meant,"said Pembrooke.
It was difficult for them to find out. At
an interview with a representative from the service,
Rember tried to establish whether or not sex was
part of the deal. "When I asked him if male clients
were required to wear condoms, he replied "of
course." He also admitted that dinner was rarely
involved on these 'dates,'" said Rember. But the
representative would not answer the question of