Monday, July 23, 2007

Feminism = Pole Dancing?

--A guest post from Taylor, FFC staffer

On this past Monday's episode of the Colbert Report, Stephen gained back some of the love he had tainted and crushed by not mentioning our blog or wearing the Full Frontal Feminism t-shirt we at FFC sent him when Jessica Valenti was on the show. How did he do this? A little segment called "Difference Makers."

As a segue into the segment, Stephen noted that he believes women should have the same rights as men, and he publicized the fact that women only make $0.77 for every dollar a man makes for performing the same job with the same qualifications (incidentally, in his home state and ours, South Carolina, white women only make $0.72 for every dollar, and women of color make even less). Then he made a "note to self" to hire more women...

But the best part is the "Difference Maker" herself, Johnna Mink. Johnna would like to be "a role model for other women." How does she attempt to achieve this? Well, by teaching "pole dancing for the real woman" of course! Noting it's not your "typical feminism," but "if feminism is empowering, then pole dancing is feminist." Cut to Mink spinning -- "the most empowering" move--spread eagle on a pole.

One student of Mink's notes that classic feminist pursuits have been fighting for the right to vote and equal pay stuff, but pole dancing is better than classical feminism! It's "sexy and allows one to tap into their sensual creature."

So, thank you, Johnna Mink the "Susan B. Anthony of pole dancing." You have, as the manager of Larry Flynt's Hustler club said, "Put the feminine back in feminism." You have changed the idea that feminists are "hairy, butch, nasty lesbians," by reminding us to "point our toes," "use our hair" and "raise our hips" and allowed men not to "feel like pigs" for watching women spin spread eagle on poles.


Elaine Vigneault said...

OK, I like Colbert and the segment was funny, but how would you feel if you were Mink and you'd been edited so heavily that you've practically been misquoted? It's one thing to heavily edit interviews with politicians and celebrities, but it's quite another to re-stigmatize an already stigmatized group of people, strippers. And I'm sure you know that many women in the sex industry (the ones who've chosen the field themselves, not the ones who've been forced into it) do feel that their work is liberating.

I like the concept of this blog, but in order to be actual feminist, you need to do a bit more analyzing of The Colbert Report and less blindly following comedy writers.

WordsWithGrace said...

Hmm, interesting! I thought the strippers came off well in comparison (albeit represented by their male boss guy)--at least they're honest about what they're doing, and not trying to cloak it in pseudo-feminist rhetoric. I thought the juxtaposition of Mink and the strippers was brilliant--it took the piece beyond mere silliness to social critique.

Re Stephen's "note to self" to hire more women - here's a sad/happy fact from New York magazine and that I wanted to share with this blog: Of the 67 writers nominated for an Emmy as part of the writing staff of a Comedy/Music/Variety Show this year, only four are women - and two of them (Laura Krafft and Allison Silverman) write for The Colbert Report. (Rachel Axler writes for The Daily Show and Meredith Scardino for David Letterman.)

So you can say there's a lot of room for improvement in this field, or you can say the Report leads the pack. Or both!