Don’t stick up your heels, girls

((or, a young urban professional’s rant on the world’s oldest profession))

According to Reuters, the hottest headline from Wall Street is all about an intern who gave up her position in the world of finance to assume many new ones in that of porn.

Before you follow suit and trade your office pumps for stripper heels, you can read all about it.

Quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with quitting a soul-sucking job to pursue something more fulfilling and meaningful — something that you love and can truly define you. I don’t have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is the fact that this young woman — who is described as being “promising” in her field, clearly has some kind of ambition, and comes from a background privileged enough to afford higher education — feels that pornography is where she will find that kind of life-changing gratification.

Why does this incite today’s post?

It means we live in a world world where a young woman who has social and professional advantages feels that her true calling is to give herself away to an industry fuelled by people who don’t care. They don’t care about who she is or where she’s coming from: they care about her body and the fact that in her search for her own gratification, it’s ended up available on the Internet for them to use for their own gratification.

It means we live in a world where women who have never had to fight for women’s civil rights believe that they’re in the moral and social right to act promiscuously, either on a personal level through recreational sex or on a more public level such as through pornography. They think this because society places the wrong kind of importance on sex, because popular culture has made women’s liberation all about morally and socially legitimising the exploitation of women.

It means that despite being able to share in all the advantages and privileges that were once exclusive to our male counterparts at all stages of life, some women today still feel that their sexuality and their bodies are the things that will make them truly successful. That’s because the adult entertainment industry is worth billions, and makes those billions by twisting the ambition of bright young women to perpetuate business.

It means we live in a world where a line exists between a hooker on the street and an adult entertainer on the screen. In other words, ours is a society that looks down its nose at some forms of prostitution while simultaneously praising others. Because in the end, trading one’s body and sexuality for money is prostitution, and therefore porn is probably the highest rung on the career ladder of the world’s oldest profession. Young women who work in pornography think it’s alright simply because the porn industry has taken sexual exploitation off the streets, prettied it up, and marketed it as entertainment.

Before I step off the soap box, I’ll leave you with this: would any of you who support this young woman’s decision be so keen to do the same if the person in question was your sister, daughter, girlfriend, or cousin? Because that’s who every girl in the pornography industry really is, once the clothes are put back on.

Why being asked to make a sandwich (or any kind of foodstuff) doesn’t offend me as much as you think it should

“Wait, what?  She’s posting another entry so soon?  Didn’t she just post one yesterday?”

I know, I know – it’s weird for me to be posting a day after my last one.  But today something dropped into my lap and I felt like I should probably address this one in a timely manner.

If you’ve been keeping up, you know that my first post of 2014 was all about cinnabuns, and if you watched the video you’ll know that the reason why I did the tutorial in the first place was to demonstrate how I made the ones that I gave to a friend of mine for Christmas.  It just so happens that this friend was of the male variety, and that he is a connoisseur of cinnabuns (and most sweets and cakes in general).  It just so happens that his discerning confectionary palate gave the seal of approval to my recipe.

And somehow, this entire scenario sets feminism back 50 years – at least according to a message I received from an acquaintance of mine with whom I had a couple of courses back in the early days of the Classics half of my degree.

I’m not naming names – I’m not into the whole “shaming” trend that’s sweeping the internet these days – but I do feel I need to say something about this.  Now, before I begin, I do think I have to make a bit of a disclaimer:  I’m not going to put on airs and pretend I’m an expert on the entire topic of feminism, simply because I’m not.  I’m well aware that feminism has changed, and that today’s is much more variegated than that of yesteryears.  I am also very aware that, because of the different types of feminism running around these days, there are certain factions that are more outspoken and receive more attention than others.  And that’s kind of the entire point of this entire post, so hang in there, okay?

Whatever the case may be, and whatever your thoughts on the subject are, I’m pretty sure that feminism ought not put down the things that make women who they are.

I would – and do – consider myself a modern woman.  I am independent and well-informed of what’s going on in the world.  I have a university degree and I earn my own living.  I’m conscious of my gender’s social liberties in the twenty-first century and, on occasion, do partake in some of them.  I enjoy the company of both genders, and have a mix of friends from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, belief systems, and sexual orientations.  On occasion, I’ve been known to muster up enough courage and gumption to ask a fellow out for a drink – and as long as I don’t leave the pub on a blacklist for walking on a round or two, I really don’t care how the tab gets divvied up and paid.  I know there’s much, much more to being a modern woman than these mere superficialities, but I think you get the idea.

And despite all this, just because I baked a box of treats to give to one of my guy friends for Christmas, and because I called my cinnabuns “boy-approved,” a person’s entire opinion of me drastically changed:  verbatim,

“When we were in class together, you always struck me as a strong woman, one with character, who believed in a feminine ideal.  Now, it seems I was mistaken.  You’d probably make this guy a sandwich at his beck and call.”

So I read that.  Several times over.  And then, I got to thinking.  (“Oh, no.”)

If we women can spend much of our free time challenging the social (mis)conceptions of physical feminine beauty, why can’t we all just be “in for a penny, in for a pound” on femininity as a whole and celebrate the internal things that make us all beautiful and unique, that give us all character and depth and personality?  Because in the same way that there’s more than one face, body type, cup size, hair colour, and ethnicity in this world, there is more than one kind of woman.  And if we as women believe there should be nothing wrong with how different we all look, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with there being a variety to our personalities and the ways by which we express our femininity.

Feminism should not be about hating on men and hating on those women who still have a more old-fashioned or traditional way of going about our lives.  As one of my closest friends said, “It’s about equal rights and opportunities.”  It’s about being seen as humans, not as objects with purely ornamental functions and value in a barter-and-trade system.  It’s about having the freedom to do what makes us happy without fear of judgment, criticism, and ostracism.  Right?

So, if there’s more to being women than how we look, then we should celebrate, accept, and embrace those non-physical traits that make us human.  And if we live in a world were most of our daily routines are driven by out power to exercise the right to choose one thing over another so as to make ourselves happy, then why should any of us have to be subjected to lecturing and criticism from members of either gender for choosing to do the things that bring us happiness?  And if being a woman is truly not a competition (as a sign protesting a pageant states) then why should any woman take it upon herself to judge another woman’s femininity?  I do not pass unwarranted judgement on women – of any age – who are more career-minded, self-driven, and socially liberal than I am simply because I don’t think anyone has the right to pass judgement on anyone else who has a different mentality, set of values, or point of view.  Variety makes the world interesting and it keeps us all open-minded.

At least, it should.  

So what if some of my more outward expressions of femininity are more old-fashioned than another woman’s?  So what if I think there’s still joy to be found in cooking and baking, and sharing the results with friends?  So what if I choose to show people that I care about them and appreciate their friendship in a way that is unusually personal and strikingly heartfelt in the middle of the capitalist frenzy known in retail as “holiday shopping”?  Is it really so bad to spend some time putting thought into a present for a person whose company and friendship you value?  Pray tell, what exactly about being a modern woman with a few old-fashioned and traditional views and values is so incredibly detrimental to my gender’s overall social status?

Go chew on that for a while as I leave you now to make a sandwich…which I, myself, will eat tomorrow at the office.