I find this column hilarious --and make some economics senses, too. Let me tell you why --by quoting what the author wrote in it.
#1."What if a woman spends hours in the gym to create a body she is proud of? Is that a waste of time, time she should have spent in a university library? No."
In economics term, if, for this chick, marginal utility of the former --to become, err, sexy-- exceeds the latter --to end up being, well, nerd; so what? Go for the former, stupid
#2."Look at lads' mags from a different perspective and you see that what's being exploited are men's sexual responses, to give money to women"
Yes, market clearing, efficiency, Pareto optimality, and, everybody's happy.
#"Why is labouring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering?". Reply: "For younger women, raunch is not about feminism, it's just about fashion."
You're too serious. Nothing's politics --or morality-- here. Look at #1, and you know, it's merely about making choice --individual choice.
I know, by now, some of you may want to kick my arse already, but make no mistake, I am not saying that I, using economics tools, set a value judgement that raunch is good --well, a title should be eye-catching, no?--. In fact, I can make otherwise case based on the very same tools --by including social norms into my utility function, for instance .
What I am trying to say is that economics can help to tell how one makes rational choice --to be raunchy or to be conservative. But not whether it is bad or good.