I was recently subject to a bit of criticism over some of the documentaries I have made. I won't name the journalist as she got quite a battering on Twitter and I think that's quite enough. But sometimes things get said that take things further than a bad review, and on those occasions I like to respond. This is one of those occasions. Amongst her low blows she accused me of making a mockery of feminism, and on this I feel I need to say my bit.
The journalist's main beef was with a film I made called 'Dawn Gets Naked', where I challenged the media's idea of perfection and the pressure that it puts on women. This involved many things, but most memorably for her was the ending where me and about thirty other women jollied around London on an open top bus with no clothes on. She didn't like this, she didn't like it one bit. She drew the conclusion that I presumed that feminism is just about getting your tits out.
But I don't think that is all it is about, I really don't.
I am a feminist, a dedicated one at that. I guess I have been all my life but I have only really used the phrase 'I am a feminist' for about four years. Like most of us, I am proud to be a feminist for all sorts of reasons, so was disgruntled by her presumption that I felt I had nailed it just by wobbling my jubblies at the Houses of Parliament - which I have to admit, was oddly thrilling.
In the instance of Dawn Gets Naked, I was actually thinking a lot more one-dimensionally about the matter in hand. I didn't use the word feminism once in the film and that was very deliberate. I didn't want it to sound like I thought I was combating such a massive subject, I just wanted the women watching to feel better about themselves and for the industry to take note. I also wanted to have a laugh about a subject that really messes with people's heads. I wanted to trivialize perfection, and make body image fun again, taking the focus off the idea that we all have to look like supermodels to feel attractive.
In that particular film I wasn't tackling the broad subject of feminism. I wasn't tackling sexism, or the gender gap, or the sex industry. I was tackling the pressure put upon women by a totally contrived industry that tells us we should have perfect skin, no cellulite, straight noses and buoyant tits. The film talks very directly about this subject. It questions why this pressure is upon us, realizes why it is ridiculous and then pulls a mooner at it and tells it to piss off.
When I started doing what I do I didn't feel there was anyone out there representing me, so I thought I would just do it myself. I feel that I represent the view point of a lot of women my age. I feel I can say this without sounding arrogant because of the hundreds and thousands of emails, tweets and letters I have received from people thanking me for highlighting the subjects I have in my films. I never presumed I would appeal to everyone, but was pleasantly surprised to know that I wasn't alone. And that is the main focus of the films, to promote a camaraderie, a 'ME TOO' attitude. I think the word 'empowerment' is overused and has now lost its pelt, but I like to think I made some big subjects that affect a lot of women a little less awkward to talk about.
I am obviously not, and will never pretend to be an academic textbook feminist. I don't get upset when women who want to get laid post pictures of their labia on websites for all the world to see, if that is what they want to do. I have no problem with women being promiscuous if they genuinely say it makes them happy, and I enjoy good pornography. In other anti textbook feminist form I don't ever want a big hairy fanny. Right now I have my pubic hair fashioned into a perfect triangle that I adore, and I also get my bumhole waxed to keep it looking nice. Well as nice as it can look, it is what it is. On top of this I have my best nights out when I wear my 6 inch black leather thigh-high boots that make me feel like the Queen of Filth, and I sometimes get a real kick out of dressing up with the sole purpose of looking 'fuckable'. A huge majority of the women I know are like this, I don't feel I am out on a limb here and am pretty certain I am in good company. To those who don't feel this way it is as simple as this, women like me are not like women like you, does that have to make us enemies?
I wish judgmental women would stop telling other women off. It doesn't do anyone any good. Stop moaning and using the word 'feminism' as a way to undermine women who are not like you - lighten up. I don't mean write books about your sexual escapades (I did that), or experiment with lesbianism (I did that too), or flash your tits at the Houses of Parliament (whoops, that'll be a hat trick), as those were my choices and they don't have to be yours. But stop trying to push your often-outdated views onto me and all the other women like me. The focus should be more on the women who really have a problem - the ones who are victims of extreme self-loathing because of the media, the ones who are subject to aggressive sexism. It is the catalysts to those problems you should be telling off. Someone like me taking my clothes off to make women have a laugh about wobbly bits isn't a problem, why waste your breath making it one?
I don't think all women should get along, and I have no problem with women slagging each other off - I am no angel, I do it all the time. But I do think that as feminism is having a golden moment and there is a chance it might really go somewhere this time, women who want to attack others should pick their arguments more carefully. After all, different ways of going about it or not, most of us are aiming for the same thing. A woman can now smash another to the ground by suggesting she is not a feminist, the word is being used like a weapon. Some female journalists are creating more of an issue than they think by bringing old school values into a modern world and applying them to everyone, and I think that is dangerous and totally unprogressive. It's time to stop telling other women off and to stop judging them. And when it comes to me personally hear this, you don't have to like me but if you are going to slam me down why use the word feminism to do it? I think you would be in the minority to suggest that I am being harmful to women in any capacity. And anyway, it's really boring.
I grew up wanting to be Madonna, nuff said!
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