If you are one whom rejoiced at the announcement of the grid girls removal in F1 upcoming season, then you may have an issue. Not being prudish or such, as I’m sure you’ve been accused of these days. No. Your is an issue of focus. You need to focus on what really matters instead of trivial issues (or no issues altogether as in this case).
I’ve been taught that feminism was about empowering women to be free of choosing whatever they wanted to do with their life. I stress the whatever here. And for decades it has been so. The advancements brought to the women’s condition by feminism cannot be understated. One of the biggest social changes in the western world was exactly the feminist movement. Truly astounding how much it has influenced our lives, both of women’s and men’s, in a myriad of ways.
Yet some feminists nowadays seem focused on telling other women what not to do. Going totally in the opposite direction of what the core movement was for. In the most recent case, if you really believe that wearing a miniskirt and holding an umbrella next to a F1 driver for roughly half an hour every 2 weeks is an issue of any sort for women, you seriously need to enlarge your horizons and look at the bigger picture. We live in a world where half the population is born in culture where feminism was either not heard of or has had still little impact. Think of all the rural areas of China, India, South East Asia, Africa, South America. Most of the women there conduct lives similar to their mother’s. They may have better access to information, thanks to the technological advancement of the Web and mobile phone industries mostly, so they are better informed about what’s happening in the more developed areas of the world. That is indirectly a benefit for feminism, but not caused by it.
Many women in these areas are still facing appalling levels of analfabetism, difficulties to make basic choices about their lives, like whom to marry or what career to choose, if any at all. They are regularly raped, and we are not talking about the being groped by an old man 20 years ago kind of “rape”, abused, considered mostly as bellies to be impregnated and so on. Indian women offer prayers for a gang rape victim at Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi, India,
Even if we focus only western countries, sex workers are still regularly exploited (but beware of the many lies in the extrapolation of datas), women earn less than men (again, debatable but let’s take it for granted), women are still raped and are underrepresented in most parliaments (for a huge array of different reasons that go beyond the scope of this article). It’s far from being a perfect world for women, clearly.
Any of these issues alone are worth fighting against one million times more than against grid girls. They didn’t hurt you, nor anybody else; they weren’t just a body, nor naked, nor in a bikini. They weren’t even being provocative at all. They were just smiling at the camera. Most of the men watching F1 grand prixs weren’t even aware of their existence. I wasn’t, for instance. I barely remember the face of any of the grid girls nor I remember any that became famous doing it. They weren’t of any influence on me, even as an heterosexual male. For all I care you could have swapped them with grid boys and I wouldn’t have blinked one eye.
Yet apparently they were an issue for some modern feminists to the point that they were removed. This reminded me of the campaign to remove Page 3 girls a few years back, dubbed No More Page 3. That one was also successful and removed a long-standing tradition of The Sun tabloid to have a topless model in their paper and online editions. That was a different case though as they were bare breasted and clearly there only to entice the male readers, but yet I cannot think of a single case of exploitation of them. Page 3 girls as grid girls chose their job, some even enjoying it, which is something that cannot be said for a lot of office workers around the world, male or female. If there was any force that exploite these girls into doing acts she weren’t willing to, we have the law to protect them. Surely we don’t need activists to make them all disappear, the willing as the not willing girls.
That is a decision that I would expect more from a totalitarian regime than a democratic society. I admit I have more and more doubts that we are democratics at all.
Is it that important?
In the end, what happened to the right to spend one’s time and money on what you prefer? As long as it is lawful, why do you care if I like to watch some girl before a grand prix or I idly browse a tabloid and have a moment of arousal at the sight of a young, topless, lady on the third page? Why do you care that a girl can choose to become a model and one day become a grid girl, a pretty easy and well paid job compared to the average salary of a girl of the same age? Why do you take so much care how others choose to live their lives, given that they aren’t preventing you to live yours and aren’t committing any crime?
Even if you consider yourself a feminist and care about the image of women all around the world and are totally against any use of women’s bodies, grid girls should be the millionth issue in the list of the issues women have today. Given that it is and issue, which I don’t think it is at all. The life of others should be of no concern to you. Let others choose their career, considering that most women in the world still can’t. There are way more concerning issues nowadays, one being the lack of jobs in general, that your priority, as a feminist, shouldn’t be removing jobs but creating more possibilities for women. Focus on what really has an impact instead.
If you’re still convinced that grid girls were an important issue and needed to be removed, you may actually just need to grow up.
Photo credit: Jordi Bernabeu Farrus and Wikimedia