On trusting people to know their own minds

I’m very bored and tired of hearing about this whole Miley Cyrus and Sinéad O’Connor thing.

But if that’s the case, why am I writing about it? The answer is slut shaming.

I’m an open minded person. I accept that some women like to get naked in front of others or be paid for sex or dance provactively. I don’t assume all these young (and older) women are being manipulated, because I am daring enough to think that some women have their own minds, and they are exercising their hard won right to do whatever the hell they want to do.

I found Sinéad O’Connor’s response condescending and patronising. She assumes that Cyrus is being manipulated, despite her saying recently in Rolling Stone, “I know what I’m doing. I know I’m shocking you.”

Slut shaming is pathetic and it reeks of jealousy. To tell women that they are embarrassing themselves is little more than telling them that they can’t think or make choices for themselves. If this is ‘feminism’, then I want no part in it. I believe all women are and should continue to be free to make their own choices, whether that be on how they make money, what they do in their spare time, the people they hang around with, the clothes they wear. All women are free to make their own choices: if they are being exploited, don’t blame the victim – blame the exploiters! Slut shaming and victim blaming is not very progressive.

Slut shaming pisses me off. It’s great if you’re holier than thou and don’t want to open your legs until your wedding day: fantastic. But don’t push your morality onto others. If people are having fun and nobody is getting hurt, is anything damaged other than your own values? Many things harm my values – namely the Daily Mail and trashy women’s magazines – but if women want to read them then I’m happy to let them. Maybe I’ll quietly disagree and push them onto something more to my tastes, like I did with my parents (who now read The Independent, hurrah!), but I wouldn’t dare to suggest that they don’t know their own minds.

Sex sells. I’ve noticed how nowadays it’s viewed as very bad to objectify women, but to objectify men? Fill your boots! Now I’m not complaining, as I like to see an attractive semi-naked man as much as the next straight girl, but I find it very amusing how it’s one rule for women and one rule for men.

I think feminism is a fluid concept. It’s not set in stone. To me, feminism is about equality: about women being given the same choices as men. Men who get their kit off for middle-aged women on a hen party are seen as right-on guys who are making money savvily. Women who get their kits off? EXPLOITED! But what if we took a step back and realised that – hang on – we could be wrong. Maybe that Chippendale is being exploited, and the woman is doing it because she goddamn loves it. We can’t assume to know people’s minds and to tell them that what they are doing is wrong and it will only be made better if they do it your way.

Why not, for a minute, trust that people know what they want out of life, and support them to get it?

As Amanda Palmer recently wrote:

“I want to live in a world where the internal dialogue of a woman’s brain has evolved to the point where a female performer can wear a sex-pot outfit and, instead of the all-too-common head-chatter chorus of “UNFAIR! MANIPULATED! WEAK! MANIPULATIVE! EVIL!”, she dons her sexy costume and hears internal voices screaming “FAIR! POWERFUL! PLAYFUL! BRAVE! SEXY!” You know…you go girl. But not “you go girl and be manipulated by the man, or manipulate the men in your wake”. just…”you go girl and wear whatever the fuck you want. And play smart.””

Maybe I’m just too forgiving. Or maybe others are too harsh.

Nikki x



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