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Dita Von Teese and the Guardian… Another day, another discourse… July 7, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Feminism.
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Seeing as this is a week to present a critique of the Guardian and its attitude to women, how about an interview from last week by Hannah Pool with Dita Von Teese “queen of burlesque”? Is it me or was there a particularly censorious tone taken in the piece. Now I hasten to add I’m no fan of burlesque, and I loathe lap dancing and such like, but… I’m none too keen on prudishness dressed up in the language of ‘rights’ and this interview certainly wasn’t shy in posing questions such as:

Don’t you worry that while it might be liberating for you, there are lots of women who are not in nice clubs, who are not having a good time?

But a young girl looking at you won’t know about those bars. She will look at it as an adventure.

But you are encouraging people to see women as objects.

I hate the whole idea of burlesque clubs.

No. I don’t want to encourage it. [in response to the question ‘had she ever been?’]

I hate the women that go. I feel they are letting the side down.

There is no particular reason why these questions shouldn’t be asked, indeed quite the opposite. And yet…and yet. There doesn’t seem to be much effort to achieve some sort of engagment but instead a preformed, and perhaps somewhat ill-informed, viewpoint is taken from the outset. I haven’t seen quite such a clearly didactic approach adopted in questions say relating to women who wear religious inspired garb. And perhaps part of the problem is that all such manifestations of sexuality are seen as being part of a single seamless continuum, with stripping, prostitution at one end and burlesque close by. I’m not sure that the world works like that. But even if it does I think that it deserves a more serious appraisal than off the cuff editorialising by an interviewer, something that might bring in a broader range of voices to at least attempt to develop a more clear cut thesis.

Perhaps my dislike of burlesque is rooted in a dislike of the aesthetic, but… even still… I’m fairly sure it doesn’t encourage people to see women as objects in the way that lap-dancing objectifies women.

And also I cast my mind back to the Guardians treatment of The Full Monty, perhaps more objectionable in some ways than Dita Von Teese and all her pomps and works and we find it is described as ‘celebratory’…

Hmmm. It sure is different for boys.

Comments»

1. Wednesday - July 7, 2007

“I hate the women that go. I feel they are letting the side down.”

Interesting. I wonder who appointed her referee for “the side”?

I always think women like this really have a problem with sex. They fundamentally don’t like the fact that men are turned on by women’s bodies. I wonder how they manage to maintain relationships with men (for those that bother at all, of course). Somewhere there must be some sliver of resentment toward their partner for having such base, vile instincts. It’s quite sad really.

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2. Pidge - July 7, 2007

The interviewer comes across as a bit childish, doesn’t she?

Dita von Teese seems to give (fairly) reasonable answers and the interviewer’s responses become increasingly curt. It’s a piss poor interview.

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3. franklittle - July 9, 2007

“all such manifestations of sexuality are seen as being part of a single seamless continuum, with stripping, prostitution at one end and burlesque close by.”

Very aptly put. A very good female friend of mine, who’d fit nicely into the Guardian readership, and I disagree strongly on the issue of lap-dancing for example because in her view lap-dancing is synonymous with abuse of women and prostitution. My position would be that this is an argument for cleaning up lap-dancing, not necessarily an argument for banning lap-dancing, which I view as a legitimate form of entertainment for those with an interest in it.

The other point she makes is that the women who do it, and other forms of what one could broadly call sex entertainment, are ‘forced’ into doing it. Now while no-one would defend anyone being forced by threat of deportation or violence, to do anything, my friend also argues that people can find themselves forced to take up such work because they are financially forced to do so, and this is wrong. I don’t think this is deniable, but surely we are all forced to work for financial reasons. And I have no doubt there are women in ‘respectable’ jobs that pay less and that they possibly would enjoy less, than women involved in dancing or stripping.

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4. Joe - July 9, 2007

Strikes me that we could do with the views of a woman or two on this one. Does anyone know do any women read, contribute of comment on the Cedar Lounge?

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5. franklittle - July 9, 2007

Wednesday is a woman.

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6. Wednesday - July 9, 2007

my friend also argues that people can find themselves forced to take up such work because they are financially forced to do so, and this is wrong. I don’t think this is deniable, but surely we are all forced to work for financial reasons.

Yes. As I’ve argued many times before, most people around the world are only doing what they’re doing out of financial need. In some places, the women who are young enough and pretty enough to make their living in the sex trade are considered lucky by the ones whose only option is the sweatshop. The argument that all sex work is, ipso facto, coercion is a very western, middle-class argument, I think.

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7. Eagle - July 9, 2007

I’m none too keen on prudishness dressed up in the language of ‘rights’

What about prudishness dressed up in the language of prudishness? I’m very prudish and can never understand why a ‘quality’ paper feels the need to discuss such matters. The Guardian’s not as bad as the Sunday Times or Sunday Independent, but really I can get by without ever knowing anything about Ditte Von Teese – I never heard of her before reading this here – and it’s just another reason why I’m wary of bringing newspapers into the house these days.

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8. smiffy - July 9, 2007

The Guardian’s not as bad as the Sunday Times or Sunday Independent, but really I can get by without ever knowing anything about Ditte Von Teese.

Well, I don’t like sport so that’s why I don’t read the sports section of any paper. It’s a matter of taste, I guess.

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9. WorldbyStorm - July 9, 2007

Interestingly enough my reference point to Dita Von Teese was her relationship with Marilyn Manson. Contemporary burlesque has always struck me as a bit art college, chin-stroking and self-regarding… but, I don’t want to ban it. Lap-dancing annoys me intensely, if only for the pointlessness of the exercise on one level, but I don’t want to ban it either…

Actually Eagle it wasn’t accompanied by a lascivious photo or anysuch…

But I don’t have a problem with prudishness either. I think that can be an entirely natural response. My point is that the discussion could and should have been dealt with on a better level.

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