Barracudas, Bunnies, and Vixens:
Contemplations on Feminism, Nudity, and Other Cool Things
by Vicki Kriner, Scarlet Girl
I recently had the opportunity to meet Oregon's own Sara Jean Underwood, 2007 Playmate of the Year, at a local event here in Portland, OR. And because most people ask me the same questions, I'll get them out of the way: she was even tinier and cuter in person; she was very sweet; and yes - I was a tiny bit nervous!
But this brief meeting - and the fact that there are some who can't understand why I'm such a fan of the Playboy empire - made contemplate the state of feminism in our country today. It's a hot topic right now, especially with the possibility of our first female VP - a wife, a mother, and a successful politician. Like her or not, Palin is one bad-ass chick, and an example of someone who has embraced the amazing opportunities available to modern US women.
I won't get all preachy on you, but the short sweet summary of my position on feminism today is that a woman must be empowered to choose her destiny - regardless of what that destiny is!
Camille Paglia (whom I find intelligent and compelling, though I don't always agree with her) recently penned an article on the shrill voice of some feminist groups whose ideology doesn't embrace the right of a woman to be a wife and mother instead of a career woman - as if it were somehow a lesser lifestyle choice.
Paglia's image of feminism as a tent, which should be big enough to house everyone who wishes to enter, was gorgeous! Her contention that feminism should be about breaking down barriers and creating equality - and that it should not require strict adherence to a particular ideology to gain admission - exhilarated me in a way that a column has not done in years.
There are those who think it's sexist or demeaning to wear lingerie, take a pole dancing class, or desire new ways to please a partner (And yes, you should damn well expect reciprocation!). Sex toys? Arousal enhancers? In the same boat.
This attitude leads to a the question I often hear, which basically boils down to, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a business like this?". As if a nice girl couldn't be a complete vamp when she wanted to - or a respectable business woman couldn't openly talk about better and safer.
And of course some think becoming a Playmate is a step back for womankind, but I have to disagree. Vehemently! It speaks volumes about the freedom we enjoy as women in this country that it's an acceptable career choice to become a model - clothed or not. It's not demeaning to realize that the looks you are born with have value, and take advantage of it. True freedom of choice allows a woman to pose for nudes when she is young - and let's face it; her body looks better than it ever will again - then move on to another place in her life, sense of self intact.
Before the hoots of outrage get too loud, I am a little bothered by our youth obsessed culture, and willingness to see people as one-trick ponies. And yes, a lot of it does still smack of a nasty, sticky double standard of women aging and men becoming distinguished. But it is better than when our mothers were our age, and it's up to us to see that the trend continues.
And as I creep closer to middle age myself, I am also more understanding of the choices young women make, and only wish to help guide them away from some of pitfalls that lie in waiting. My grandmother helped to instill this in me. And for the record, that fine lady was married to my grandfather for 64 years. She also had in her living room a pillow with the message "A dirty mind is a constant comfort" cross stitched on it. Now, what was a nice girl like her doing with a racy message like that?
Some women have posed in Playboy after a full and successful career - and considered in an honor to do so. Others have launched themselves into the spot light by appearing in the magazine, then with the wealth generated by this venture gone on to other careers. Or not.
Some go on to education, activism, a dream job, or to being wives and mothers. Some just do it for the momentary glory. But either way it's the hard fought battles of our fore mothers that have made such a world of choices possible.
While the decision to pose nude may not appeal to everyone, it seems critical to me that anyone calling herself a feminist be willing to accept lifestyle choices different from her own. Otherwise I fear we risk loosing some of the ground gained in recent generations. Divide and conquer ladies, divide and conquer.
And much the way women women of this generation have re-claimed the corset as a bit of sexy, naughty fun instead of the restrictive, proper lady's attire it used to be, it's time we reclaim the image of a feminist as an every woman - whether she chooses to be a bunny, a barracuda, or something in between.
copyright 2008 www.ScarletGirl.com
Vicki has worked with Scarlet Girl for over 4 years, and wears many hats in the company. She travels between Washington, Oregon, and California to do shows, consultant training, and networking. Recently she has begun presenting mini-lectures on safety awareness for business women and students in addition to her regular pleasure party presentations.