delve a little deeper....
You may remember this post where I mused about feminism and I summarised that:
My version of feminism, if I had to sit in a feminist camp is that is means that women are free to make the choices they want to make.
I've discussed before about my anger that there are certain groups (usually those who call themselves feminists) who detest prostitution because they believe its is abusive and harmful to women. I've banged on enough about how I really really don't like that I am told how I should be feeling about my sex work, (see this blog about why I don't feel exploited and abused if you want to know why) so I don't really need to reiterate it. What I want to tell you about today is a story about a friend of mine who was attacked on Mumsnet for taking part in a campaign for Nivea.
The campaign was called 'Dare To Dip' and the premise is that if you feel good in your own skin you have the confidence to do anything. Of course, it's a marketing campaign. Nivea don't really care about this, it's just a tool to promote their products. Which is fine, every commercial organisation tells us our life will be incomplete without their product so I'm not crisitsing them for that!
Part of the campaign was to have a giant fish tank (minus the fishes obviously) in Covent Garden in central London where women would don their swimming cossies and have a swim.
My friend took part in this. Here are her reasons in her own words:
"I am finally healed from my horrific pregnancy and birth, and want to reclaim my body from medicine. I am making a stand to get healthy so that I can keep up with my amazing 2 year old, and wanted this to be a very literal splash into my project. I don’t care about corporate definitions of beauty, but I want to keep my fabulous spirit for the next 40+ years, and I cannot do that in this body. So, I need to make a healthy change, and that begins today."
So, it was something she wanted to do for very personal reasons. She knew it was a marketing campaign, she got some free products, she chose to do it when Nivea asked her, she didn't feel exploited, she did feel empowered.
However, many women on Mumsnet did not. The person who stated a thread about the Covent Garden event claimed she was disgusted at it because all these women were being letched at by men, that the women were objectified, that she should have been paid and all with total incredulous that she could possibly find it liberating or empowering. The refusal to accept my friends more accurate summary of the event and that yes she enjoyed it and did not feel exploited.
You can almost hear the following Mumsnetter use the same pseudo innocent voice Caroline Ahern used as Mrs Merton when she asked Debbie McGee "So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?":
"I must be a bit dense, but I still don't get it. What power do you and the other women have now that you didn't a couple of days ago?"
The refusal of these women to actually read what my friend was saying and comprehend where she was coming from was remarkable. It very much reminded me of the way the anti prostitution brigade like to shout over us sex workers who are happy and not exploited. They have their hands over their ears and their eyes tightly shut as they SHOUT and SHOUT about how we are doing all women a disservice. My friend was told:
"So is the idea that when I was a teenager, and felt disempowered when men stared, groped, or made lewd comments, the empowering response to that would have been to take my clothes off?"
"But to say this stuff is "empowering" is really very silly indeed. And a measure of how the media brainwashes all of us."
My friend summarises by saying:
"I was really, really insecure post baby about my very large size and physical issues (really, really traumatic birth that did a number on me internally as well as externally), but screwed up my courage and did something I loved to do but haven't been able to for quite a long time, take a dip in a pool. And, I got to do it in a grand, supportive environment. So, for me, that was a great big 'Hell yeah' to what I've gone through the last 2 years.
For someone else, it was an entirely different reason. For some, it may have been (gasp) just a fun thing to do. It's almost as if each one of us came to it with a different reason, and took something distinct away from it. Crazy, I know! It's almost as if we're all different beings with different needs and choices."
When she finally gave up with reasonable explanations of the facts of the event and why she felt good about doing it she stated that she didn't really care what these people thought, so of course the pack started on the attack by saying how awful it was that she didn't care about other women:
"You genuinely literally don't care about anyone else, just about you and yours?"
Sound familiar my sex work sisters?
Just because we're happy we're kicking the teeth in of those women who don't have a free happy choice to become sex workers. Yes, when our logical reasoning, explanations and examples of the very positive sides of sex work becomes too much those on the other side of the fence start to tell us we are uncaring bitches who don't give a toss about anyone else.
The irony is that women's toughest battle is not with men but with other women.