Feminism. Feminists. Feminazi. Blimey, three years ago I would have snorted and said something along the lines of:
“Women have the vote; what on earth do they want now?”
Then I grew up. I opened my big green eyes and took a look around.
Feminism is dressed up through the media. Usually using strong women who don’t and won’t conform to certain mannerisms that society expects of women. Women who don’t wish to remove their body hair, or don’t wish to have long hair, or women that decide make up isn’t important. Women who are far stronger than I am. This doesn’t MAKE a feminist, it doesn’t lay down the template for women to conform to and if you wear make up or wax your legs you can’t “be one”. Feminism, to me, is a set of ideologies that I am trying day-by-day to break. Ideologies set by the patriarchy. I don’t hate men. I’m not a lesbian. I don’t wear dungarees. I do however think that women get a pretty shit deal sometimes. I’m not talking about the right to vote, maternity leave or the equal pay saga. I’m talking about being allowed to be a woman and just get on with it. Being allowed to not be exploited. Being allowed to walk down the street and not have my breasts ogled by several different men. You see women are exploited left, right and centre. Magazines, catwalks, television, make up counters and that’s without touching on the sex industry. The next misogynist to comment to me on Twitter and say any of the following will get a kick in the face:
“Women choose to go into the sex industry”
“I know lots of prostitutes who enjoy what they do”
“You can’t moan about women being exploited in the media if you BREASTFEED your children in public”.
Let’s talk about these three things, because it seems all the misogynists are quick enough to use them as some sort of weapon.
“WOMEN CHOOSE TO GO INTO THE SEX INDUSTRY”
Do they? Do they CHOOSE? Let’s change the scenario. Most washing powders and toothpastes and household cleaning items are owned by two companies. In the interest of not plugging them we’ll call them A and B. You go to the supermarket for washing powder and see 300 different types. 300 different names, 300 types of packaging, 300 catch lines, 300 adverts. All owned by one of two companies. You CHOOSE one of the 300. Have you chosen? Or has your choice been pre-determined? Could you really have gotten around putting money in one of these two companies’ pockets? No, you couldn’t. You THINK you’ve chosen, but really you’ve chosen one answer out of a set of two. This is similar to women. They “choose” to go into the sex industry. They are usually at the end of a drug and abuse trail. They have usually had an unsettled upbringing. They usually have huge debts or mouths to feed. They usually have the men in charge telling them they’ve made the right “choice”. Eventually she’ll catch an STD, or have an overdose, or be spiked, or be no good to the industry and be killed. Sometimes the women, when at the end of their (porn industry) working life, are SOLD to a group of men who abuse her until she dies. Men also PAY to watch this type of assault. Do you think she CHOSE to end up like this? Do you think growing up she said, “When I grow up I want to get addicted to drugs, and be gang raped in order to make £200 to feed my son for a fortnight?” Really? Don’t you see that the drug dependency ensures she goes back to what she’s doing? Some women are blackmailed with the threat that the films they have made will end up with their parents or their children. Some women die from internal injuries due to alien objects being used to penetrate them while they’re high on substances.
Some men (and women) like to call women that dislike the sex industry “prudes” and “denying sex workers a voice”. On the contrary. The few women that get out of the adult film industry have made documentaries, written books and articles and most are now working with charities to rescue women who are still there (because they “choose” to be). Rescue. Let that word sink in. Rescue. The word ESCAPE is banded about very often with these documentaries. Would they really ESCAPE from something they have chosen to do?! I think men make excuses for women in the sex industry because they gain from it, either financially or through sexual gratification and if you need to degrade a woman to get either then you’re a sick individual.
“I KNOW LOTS OF PROSTITUTES WHO ENJOY WHAT THEY DO”
I find this very hard to believe. I’ve only ever seen a few (real life) prostitutes on a late night home. Women standing in the cold, in the dark and alone. Women who don’t look in the best of health. Women who are thin and exhausted, and usually high. Women who’ll HAGGLE what she’s worth (sexually) to make sure she makes some money. Women who end up raped and murdered. That’s ok though, right? She enjoys the sex. She deserves what she gets because she CHOOSES WHAT SHE DOES. She becomes devalued because she is a prostitute. Many of my male friends won’t let me get a taxi home alone after a night out, let alone stand on street corners for hours on end. So why do we find it acceptable that these women do it? Do you think she enjoys being sexually exploited because due to circumstances unknown to me, and beyond her control, she has become so desperate that she has to sell her body to random passers by?
The media has a huge part to play in the dressing up of prostitution. The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the books by Belle Du Jour and anonymous articles written by so called “high class escorts” have all glorified this industry. Making the man seem like the backbone of the country, just wanting to get his leg over, and the beautiful, highly paid, living in the life of luxury, 20-something year-old being only too happy to oblige. Louis Vuitton bags, penthouses in Mayfair, clients who whisk them away for weekends away. Very nice.
It isn’t like this. The majority of prostitutes that work alone are usually substance abusers. The are usually abused and raped. They sometimes end up dead.
The minority (but still a large number) of prostitutes that work with a “pimp” are usually trafficked women. Sex slaves. illegally smuggled into the country. Sometimes legally entering the UK on the premise of a job involving waitressing or au pairing, then finding out that no such job exists. The majority of pimps and brothel owners usually move in drug circles. Controlling the women with a mixture of blackmail (we’ll injure your family/children/tell your family what you do) or with substances (forcing them to take a highly addictive drug and offering it freely if they continue to work).
And you wonder why I won’t FIGHT for their RIGHT to stand on a street corner and sell THEIR body? SHAME on you for finding it acceptable for women to live like this.
“YOU CAN’T MOAN ABOUT WOMEN BEING EXPLOITED IN THE MEDIA IF YOU BREASTFEED YOUR CHILDREN IN PUBLIC”
Ah. This old gem. Mainly used by men but alarmingly more and more women are using this excuse. It’s mainly connected to the likes of Page 3 (please visit #saynotopage3 on Twitter), the Daily Sport, FHM, Nuts and Zoo (etc). “Lads’ mags”. Lovely. The arguments go like this:
“Wimmin like you only hate page 3 because you’re jealous”.
I kid you not. The ones who have a better grasp of the English language tend to say things like this:
“Women CHOOSE to do it, stop trying to control women”.
I think it’s clear to see that it isn’t me (or womankind) that is attempting to control women. It isn’t on OUR demand that these images keep cropping up. It isn’t WOMEN that keep these publications in business. It isn’t WOMEN who want to exploit women and the dirty seedy backgound that goes with these magazines.
“It’s just BOOBS, what is your problem?”
My problem is that I don’t wish to see breasts. I have my own should I need to re-evaluate what they are. My problem is I don’t think everyone else in the supermarket needs to see breasts. My problem is this whole “glamour” (how ironic) imagery shouldn’t be celebrated. There is NOTHING glamorous about Stacey, 21 from York, baring her breasts on the front of a magazine because men aged between 18 and 42 need something to masturbate over. I do not wish for my children to see it. I don’t deem magazines like that to be appropriate for children.
“You BREASTFEED in public, that’s THE SAME THING”.
Now you don’t need me to tell you what the differences are.
In case you do, my sons don’t see me in lingerie with my back up against a wall sucking my finger. Not that I’m not sexually liberated, but that there are some things I don’t deem appropriate for children and soft porn is one of them. Breastfeeding doesn’t involve me being stripped to the waist. It doesn’t involve me sitting with my back arched and my hands on my head. It involves me lifting one of my layered tops and feeding my baby and if YOU have a problem with my using my breasts to feed my child as INTENDED then I suggest YOU turn away. I can’t turn my (nearly) three year-old away from newspaper stands as I fill up with petrol. I can’t cover up 50-foot billboard advertisements.
I would. But I can’t. Times are changing. You don’t need to see women naked in newspapers anymore. Stop buying silly little rags and liberate these women to get on and do other things in their lives. They may “choose” what they do but usually when there is little else to “choose” from. You want to support women and claim you’re not a misogynist?
Don’t fight for the right for them to be exploited.
Give @UKfeminista a follow and her incredibly successful hashtag #saynotopage3 #saynotopagethree. Let’s stop exploiting women, once and for all.