Jodie Marsh, ex glamour model, current world-famous weight-lifter and all around badass has long been a critic of No More Page 3, for obvious reason. It’s what kick-started her career.
This is why I’ve avidly followed her on twitter for a while: she is experienced, insightful, and often aware of the class dynamics of the campaign and page 3 more broadly. But one of her tweets struck a chord with me earlier, and it’s left me feeling somewhat despondent.
“The real oppression”. Because women here aren’t oppressed. We aren’t raped, beaten by our lovers, incarcerated and driven to harm and suicide, struggling to feed our children, grossly underpaid or turned away from abuse shelters or anything. No, real oppression only happen in places where women are at the mercy of brown men.
It also plays into another very racist, very damaging, and sadly very common ‘feminist’ stereotype that women who wear the burkha, (or indeed any Muslim dress- the nun’s habit or Orthodox Jewish woman’s wig never seem to make the cut) are brainwashed- either by abusive brown men, their government, or their religion. It’s just another way of telling women that they do not have agency.
But, wait, isn’t this what No More Page 3 say about models? They don’t know what’s good for them? They’re only there for the male gaze? They might think they made a choice but they didn’t really? They’re just brainwashed by patriarchy? It’s not their fault if these poor women think their only value comes from sexualisation, but we have to save them anyway…
We’ve found a rationale for our racism: feminism. And it’s not new. Bush used the liberation of women as justification for the war in Iraq. We continually see war justified because ‘saving Muslim women’ – even though, in reality, civilian women and their families just end up slaughtered.
We convince ourselves that Muslim dress is so disgusting it must be stopped at all costs- even if that is *actually* a ban. We are willing to give the state the power to control the clothing of women because we hate brown people just that much. Because the state doesn’t already control our lives: the benefits our children get, our access to abortions, the availability of shelters, the convictions of rapists.
There is no real and non-real oppression of women. We are all oppressed- but we are all also different. As white women we can not delude ourselves that we’re free and the brown woman isn’t because they are too weak, too stupid, or the brown man just too barbaric to fight. Our feminism has to resist racial and religious stereotyping.
Get your tits out, Wear your Burkha. Rock your favourite pair of jeans or sit in your jammies. I don’t care as long as you don’t.