After reading Tanya Gold's article, 'Why we need to banish the bunnies' in Stylist magazine (June 15th), I was left confused and angry at her blythe remarks about the Playboy bunny girls and feminism in general.
What really stood out for me was that this is a woman claiming to be a feminist and female supporter, defamating other women based purely on their choice of job ( the word 'choice' being the key element.)
Gold comes across as bitter and cynical in the article which was written for the re-opening of the Playboy Club in London's Mayfair: Twenty years since it closed, the club is back, this time with an emphasis on the casino aspect and of course complete with obligatory bunny girls to lend their particular brand of vintage glamour and sex appeal, which according to Gold is a massive step back for the feminist cause.
Feminism is an ever changing concept. It has to be, to make sense of the times we live in. The sentiment remains the same; equality and respect for women, but the ways of putting this into practice can change.
It's outmoded to believe all feminists are big butch man haters, the days of bra burning are long over. Similarly the ideas that women working in a sexualised environment have succombed to the male dominated ideals of society therefore sexy = bad are just as outmoded. As the wave of neo burlesque has proven, woman can feel empowered, and gain a great sense of self esteem by being the object of desire, the sensual persona in the limelight. And this isn't just for the trim, tanned and perfect; Women of every shape and size have graced the stage to become, if only for a few minutes, an expression of sexuality in one form or another, not because they have to, or feel pressured into conforming, but because they choose to and therefore it must bring them some joy. (Some women make a living from this, others do it for pure pleasure, creative, confidence building or otherwise)
Gold seems set on demonising the bunny girl, and to me it seems she simply cannot seperate the woman from the costume. Her preconcieved ideas of objectification seem to have blurred her own abilites to see that the women behind the bunny has a choice. In fact she scoffs at it;
'Is that what our mothers fought for when they went to university and tried to smash the glass ceiling... So this woman could 'choose' to dress as a rabbit and serve me Diet Coke, while angry looking men watch and perv?'
Well, actually, YES! If being a feminist means NOT allowing women the freedom to choose to earn money in any way they see fit then what was the point of all the hard work? It's not reasonable to believe that equality can only be acheived by all women taking professional, sensible, straight roles. If women are to ever gain freedom and equality, then other women like Tanya Gold need to stop marginalising those who don't fit in with her one size fits all ideas.
What's more, the Playboy club is open to women as well as men, and even though some men might enjoy looking at attractive women dressed as bunnies (I still don't know why that's a bad thing, surely those same men can't ALL turn out to be male chauvinist pigs) then some women might also enjoy looking at other women dressed as bunnies. Again, it comes down to choice. Frankly, if Gold hated everything Playboy stands for, why did she even choose to cross the club's threshold?
I don't believe that every woman who works in a sexualised environment or industry is there through choice alone. Of course need, pressure, or force have been involved in some circumstances. But I do believe that in some cases, like those of the bunny girls, choice plays a large role. To mock that choice is just another form of generalising women and taking away their power. Gold could do with learning this before she spouts out another tirade of negativity in the name of feminism. Her views are outdated, and if anything, they set the cause of feminism back by decades.