The mile-high club just got an app.
I had hoped my first feministing post would be something encouraging and empowering as I regularly trawl the internet and books for new inspiring figures and campaigns. Yet here I find myself on a Friday night sitting on my sofa, constructing a strongly worded letter to the complaints department of RyanAir. For those of you fortunate enough to have never encountered this seemingly good-natured cheap flight company, that claims to help those in our current hard times to get away from the depressing weather of this time of year, I have to say you are indeed lucky. What appears to be a regular cheap airline (apparently the “world’s favourite” according to its webpage), is in fact so much worse. Not only are its ticket prices cheap, but also its view of women. Just over a month ago, the company’s CEO Michael O’Leary announced plans to launch an in-flight porn app.
Porn on an aeroplane? Really? And I thought the company had crossed the line with its annual staff charity calendar that included some rather…revealing…images of company air hostesses. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against the profession but ladies please – I thought we were starting to get over selling ourselves as big-boobed blondes who serve sandwiches upon request!
Had RyanAir considered the implications of such images for these young women as they tried to carry on with their job of ensuring safety and service? Frankly I feel sorry for miss September as she gets spotted by a group of lads on a weekend away as she attempts to show them where the lifejackets are stored… I’m getting distracted, my blog today is about the porn app available to passengers once the flight has commenced. Mr O’Leary stated that the videos would not be on screens on the back of chairs but instead on handheld devices…well that makes it fine then doesn’t it? Just so long as we can’t directly SEE the portrayal of women as sex objects in degrading scenes purely for pleasure, that’s ok? It’s almost as bad as the interview in 2008 (at the launch of the first calendar) when Mr O’Leary said that business class would have “beds and blowjobs” to make long-haul flights more pleasurable, arguing “what a better way to spend 5 hours across the Atlantic”. (I think I’ll just leave that one there, no comment required).
The logistics of said handheld porn app devices have flaws and its estimated it would take around a year to be rolled out across all of its long-haul flights. Nevertheless, whether the idea goes ahead or not, the fact remains the company has an image that is becoming more and more tarnished with every outdated and degrading policy towards women it proposes. Porn and the depiction and exploitation of women in the sex industry are incredibly serious issues that as feminists we should be standing up against. OBJECT (a UK based feminist group) is committed to “challenging the sexual objectification of women”, and I think it would be wise to take a leaf out of their book and start to say no to porn and big industries (such as RyanAir in this case) using sexual images of women to gain a profit.
So, if like me, you are appalled and downright disgusted by porn on planes, then write a letter (or send an email) to their customer complaints department (details on their website). Let’s show RyanAir and Mr O’Leary that not all feminists are “bitter old women” (interview 2008), and that we object to selling sandwiches and sex on “the world’s favourite airline” (yeah….right).