Before founding Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg created facemash.com, a website that loaded pictures of a pair of female Harvard students and asked viewers to choose the “hotter” of the two. Recently, a British website went viral by duplicating this idea. But instead of college students, sexymp.co.uk asks viewers to rate the “hotter” Member of Parliament.
From BBC News:
A Westminster source told Newsbeat that there’s been a buzz among politicians about the site.
He added: “I don’t think people are taking it too seriously. ‘It’s a bit of fun’ seems to be the consensus.”
Steve Brine, Tory MP for Winchester, who’s number eight on the list, tweeted: “The results on sexymp.co.uk released today are causing great amusement in Westminster. Heaven help us all.”
But when 18 of the 20 “hottest” MPs listed on the site are women, we have to wonder whether this newest viral internet indulgence should be taken more seriously than a simple amusement.
It happens in the U.S., too
The sexualization of politicians is nothing new. In the 2008 U.S. election, images of Hillary Clinton’s cleavage and Sarah Palin’s photoshopped bikini body were all over the media.
But while female politicians receive the majority of this sexual attention, the men are not off the hook. The “Obama girl” video was one of the most popular YouTube videos of 2007, while images of Obama at the beach will still grace the front-page of many American tabloids.
Women MPs “rated” far more often than men
The sexymp website claims to gage the attractiveness of all British MPs, and British media has treated it as such, but the reality gages something different: the attractiveness of British female MPs.
Although the website has different sections for male and female Members of Parliament, the “mixed” section (which pools all the results together), shows that women are the focus of the site.
As mentioned, 18 of the 20 “hottest” MPs are women. When we consider that women make up only 22 percent of the British parliament, this disparity becomes even more striking.
More serious than “a bit of fun?”
Clearly, female MPs are being rated — and, therefore, being sexualized — far more often than their male counterparts. In a country where women are still seriously underrepresented in government, perhaps this viral phenomenon should be regarded as more than just “a bit of fun.”
Photo credit: Caroline Kitchener
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