Everyone’s feminism is different. Just like every person is different. Some feminists want equal rights to men, some want greater rights than men. Some are pro-porn, some are anti-porn and some don’t have a strong opinion either way. I’m a small-l liberal (as if you didn’t know that already), and that small-l-ness influences my feminism. So when I see an article about women in bikinis running at the races, I don’t immediately saddle up my hobby horse of outrage. (Outrage is a good name for a horse. I could ride it with my fingernails that shine like justice. If I was into horse riding, which I’m not. On the other hand, who doesn’t like Cake?)
So, women in a horse race: Gold Coast bikini girls at the barrier:
THE Gold Coast Turf Club will lock bikini-clad women in barrier stalls and run them down the straight, to mirror a horse race, as part of a new novelty event.
The Australian first publicity masterstroke, which some believe will take the city to a tacky low, will become an annual event at the first race meeting of the summer season.
Under the plan up to 150 women, who must wear bikinis and running shoes, will compete through a knockout system for a first prize of $5000.
Masterstroke? Is that what the male audience will be doing while watching?
I’m not a fan of the way it’s written – women being locked into stalls, and run down the straight – but language is something I’ve blogged about many times. I think we can have a different discussion about this story.
The event is the brainchild of eccentric chairman Andrew Eggleston, and has been copied from America’s famed Hollywood Park racecourse which holds a similar event with success annually.
Um, how can it be his brainchild if he’s copying it?
Turf Club chief executive Grant Sheather acknowledged some may see the event as degrading, but declared it would become an annual race to spice up and promote the summer season of racing.
”It will be done in good taste and we are trying to attract some competitive runners, we want to see the sports stars, the surf lifesaving stars, it would be ideal if they took it out.”
Gold Coast based Women In Racing group last night said they would support anything which promotes racing, but conceded there could be better ways to market the industry.
”Any publicity is good publicity, but I feel using ladies jumping out of the barriers is akin to someone jumping out of a birthday cake,” said director Jennifer Bartels.
And this is why I started this post by talking about feminism being an individual thing. I’m not outraged by this, but I do think it’s dumb, and I certainly wouldn’t be running a race in a bikini top (ouch!). And it’s not just one race – the women will have to run heats before the final, so the club gets maximum perving value out of them. But no one is being forced to enter and I’m sure many women would think it was a bit of a hoot. (Yes, I know it gets into raunch culture, and women feeling they have to objectify themselves in order to be successful, but that’s a different post.)
However, I am shirty about one thing: Sheather says he wants female athletes to compete for the $5000. This is pretty much the only way that female athletes can get attention (and therefore media coverage and funding), and it’s a major problem. I don’t see male athletes having to parade their semi-naked bodies in front of drunken spectators in order to get funding and media attention. Now that is degrading.
Update: Mel Campbell at the Dawn Chorus has a great definition of feminism:
Here’s how I define feminism. It’s the belief that nobody should be denied dignity, respect or opportunities – personal or professional, in public or at home, as a citizen or in relationships – solely because of their gender. If you believe this, and you don’t like seeing people disrespected or disempowered because of their gender, you’re a feminist. That’s it. That’s the only rule. The only qualifier.
Most of all, feminism is not about consensus. Feminism is a personal commitment, and it’s worth pursuing even though individual feminists, and groups of feminists, may have vastly differing beliefs and engage in robust debate. Put it this way: men are not deterred from having convictions simply because not all men agree with each other.