I’ve considered writing a thinkpiece on what it means to be an ’empowered woman,’ and the apparent conflict between this and dressing provocatively, for a while now.
Following controversies surrounding Emily Ratajkowksi’s LOVE Advent Video, in which she seductively eats and plays with spaghetti whilst wearing lingerie, (you can find the video here) I felt a surge of inspiration to discuss my thoughts on the topic. The thing that really spurred on the debate surrounding the LOVE video was the comment that Emily made in the video’s caption.
She stated that, to her, ‘female sexuality and sexiness, no matter how conditioned it may be by a patriarchal ideal, can be incredibly empowering for a woman if she feels it is empowering to her.’ In my eyes, a highly impactful and truth-fulfilling claim. But in the public eye, it has awoke the age old question of what it means to be a feminist, and (for some) the juxtaposition of being a strident feminist, whilst at the same time being sexy and dressing provocatively.
Personally, as both a fan of LOVE Magazine, and of Emily herself (she has wrote several thought-provoking pieces on female sexuality such as ‘Baby Woman’) I found the advent video to be fun and light-hearted, in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I was apparently in the minority, as the video sparked international controversy, with it’s own segment in Good Morning Britain in which serial misogynist, Piers Morgan branded Emily a ‘stripper’. For me the whole debate resurged the basic need for men and women to respect each other’s choices (I’m referring to those that do not harm others obviously, I certainly don’t respect anyone who purposefully hurts others).
A woman exerting her sexuality is a powerful force. In the case of the spaghetti video, yes the concept was rather ludicrous, it was meant to be fun, but Emily is not devalued and made void of a personality for rolling around in her underwear. Just because her physicality may be pleasing or sexually potent, doesn’t mean she’s asking for it, nor is she flaunting her body for others. From Ratajkowksi’s comments we can see that she enjoys being sexy, and she’s allowed to, there’s no need to apologise for that. Nor does she deserve to be objectified or labelled a stripper.
Being objectified and subject to misogyny is never the intention nor the deliberate result of ‘being sexy’.
Opting for a shorter skirt when getting dressed on a morning doesn’t warrant a larger dose of sexual harassment, not even an assumption from passers by that said girl is ‘easy’ or that she enjoys the male gaze. However some still ask, who wouldn’t want people to tell them they’re sexy or beautiful?
Well I have great empathy for the most beautiful amongst women. Those who envy them argue that the beauties have nothing to complain about, after all good looks can pay the bills and ‘open more doors in life’. But what is not regularly discussed is whether many of those doors women would rather keep closed, barricaded even. Some of those doors open to animalistic stares, wolf whistles and lack of respect or professional treatment in the workplace; “You only got it because he fancies you” “You were only picked because you’re pretty”.
Being beautiful often devalues other, more valuable and impressive, personality traits.
These issues incoherently affect ALL women at some stage in their lives, no matter the scale.
Nevertheless, we can’t sit around all day blaming men. Other women are often largely responsible for putting down other girls for their choices to dress provocatively; jealous is a bitch. Literally.
In light of the @emrata video, it can be seen that the vast majority of negative comments on and around the video, have came from the mouths, or rather keyboards, of other women.
I’ve never been a keyboard warrior, but I have been guilty of channeling my own insecurities into putting other women down in the past, even if just in my own head. I’m terribly ashamed of it, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised the true importance of sisterhood and letting our differences bond us, rather than cause austerity.
I know that it is printed on every other top on the British High Street recently, but “Girls must support Girls”. Lifting each other up is the only guaranteed way to progress and unite against sexism and work towards equality.
We need to eradicate any sneering at other girls’ outfits/looks. Whisperings in the club of “She only wore that so everyone looks at her tits.”
So what?! They’re her tits, attached to her body, just like your nose, which by the way you shouldn’t be shoving in to all situations!
You should never give a comment on a woman’s appearance, unless she asks you directly.
I feel very passionately, particularly when it comes to fashion/beauty choices that your body is your own. The body is the vessel that carries you through life, whether you wish to dress it in a muumuu or a pair of Brazilian Knickers and some sparkly nipple tassels is up to you!
Empowerment and the choice to be sexy aren’t conflicting ideas.
Your body, your choice.
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