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On the Rampage: Stop Using Feminism To Justify Your Ego Boost

Posted September 19, 2012 by Catherine in Ramp Specials
Rosanna Davison

Last weekend, Rosanna Davison exclusively told the Sunday Independent that she ‘can’t stand stereotyping and labelling’, declaring “I’d much rather be a non-conformist than live my life based on what others expect of me”.

Last week, the Irish corner of the internet was splattered with opinions on Davison’s decision to pose for German Playboy. Apparently, Chris de Burgh is big in Germany and while most of them probably had zero idea who Rosanna Davison was until her gravity-defying breasts were featured on the front of the infamous magazine, the German population was apparently jazzed to oogle de Burgh’s daughter’s goodies. A former beauty pageant winner posing provocatively for Playboy – oh yeah, that’s the textbook definition of non-conformist.

Why, Rosanna? Playboy is where women attempting to boost faltering careers or garner some media attention go for one last hurrah. Davison never really had a career that could falter, so was she just feeling particularly needy? Apparently not. According to The Sunday Times, Davison said that she felt a responsibility towards other women and regarded the shoot as “more of a celebration of woman’s body – it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to hide”. Well it’s refreshing to know that I have Rosanna waving her breasts at a camera for my benefit. Now that I think about it, I actually do feel liberated. Shhhhh, listen. Is that social equality I hear coming? Oh my God, Rosanna, you’ve cured society! There’s no need for feminism anymore – Rosanna Davison saved womankind… with her boobies… while straddling a horse.

Like a lot of women, I had hang-ups for years about aspects of my body. Posing for Playboy helped me to face my fears and get over my silly insecurities. Now I’m much more confident in myself — I was empowered by doing it.

The girl paraded around on stage in beachwear and we’re to believe that she was crippled by insecurity? And that Playboy made that better?

Davison has a degree in sociology. I’m not an expert in the field, but I’m fairly certain that gender roles and gender equality is probably something she would have covered in her many hours spent attaining an Arts degree from UCD. So how can she claim that she ‘was empowered by doing it’? Has she cracked open a history book EVER?

I don’t particularly care if a woman decides to strip off and pose for a magazine that teenage boys can explore their bodies over. If it’s what she wants to do, and it makes her feel wanted or pretty, or simply boosts her bank account, then fine. Who am I to judge?

But don’t – don’t you dare – claim you’re doing it for other women or for empowerment or equality or whatever rubbish you’re spouting off about. That is complete BS and shame on Rosanna for hiding behind such an important issue. She might think it’s a harmless justification for the ego boost she needed, but all she’s doing is hurting the cause. Women (and men, it should be said) fight for equality so that we can be paid the same, be given the same respect, afforded the same opportunities  - not so that we can strip off in public without being called sluts.

If Rosanna actually wants to help women, how about putting a jumper on and hauling herself to a domestic abuse shelter or the Rape Crisis Centre? It’s doubtful the women there will shake her hand for turning herself into a sexual object for a ‘gentleman’s magazine’, thereby contributing to the undercurrent of societal misogyny.

To the Sunday Independent, Davison says:

I see posing for Playboy as an honour and now I’ve joined the list of amazing women who have also posed for the publication — Bo Derek, Marilyn Monroe, Charlize Theron, Cindy Crawford to name a few. It certainly didn’t do them any harm. I mean, it’s hardly pornography.

To use a device favoured by secondary school debate students around the country, Oxford Dictionary defines ‘pornography’ as ‘printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement’. Consider yourself schooled, Rosanna.

About the Author


Catherine often dreams about living in a tiny Parisian apartment and penning the next great novel of her generation until she remembers how impossible it is to get a decent cup of tea in France.

  • Tara

    Damn right. I don’t care if a woman drops trou for the attention or good money but claiming to be doing womankind a favour is insulting beyond measure. Being a feminist means valuing what’s between your ears, not whipping out your chesticles for the lads.

    • http://twitter.com/notRuairi Rú Hickson

      Unless she’s on the next crewed exploratory flight to Mars, I think she’s unlikely to be doing womankind any favours in the near future.

      • Jennifer_McShane

        Amen to that! Great piece Catherine, my eyes were also working over time with their constant rolling. She posed as a statement to empower females like I started to write for financial purposes. Both of these statements are utter lies.

    • http://twitter.com/SerialBlogamist Catherine C

      Ha, ‘chesticles’ – I should’ve used that in the post, damn!

  • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

    I think posing topless can be personally empowering, as it can empower your bank account. If a woman wants to expose her breasts for a paycheck, absolutely no problem with me. Sure, topless models and adult stars aren’t helping dissolve the inherent misogyny in our culture, but this is the society we live in, and it’s tough to judge women who need to play the game in order to get by.

    Just be honest about it. Claiming that posing topless is a celebration of women’s bodies is insincere nonsense. Pandering to the boys never has been and never will be valid feminine celebration, and it’s stupid to pretend otherwise. It’s also a very cynical attempt to invalidate criticism by employing a preemptive “haters are the real misogynists” argument. The sad thing is that so many numpties fall for it.
    The funny thing is, in the vast majority of these “porn is empowering” arguments, the intent is to stir up controversy and therefore more attention. It’s trolling at its finest. But – and this is going to sound mean – Rosanna Davison has always come across as being genuinely… naive A bit silly. Childlike. It’s entirely possible she hasn’t a clue that posing for Playboy isn’t empowering. I mean, stating that Playboy isn’t porn is so, so trolly, because no one is stupid enough to think that. But with Rosanna? I don’t know. She really does come across like a right brain blimp.

    • http://twitter.com/anspideog Eilish Burke

      Straight up. You did it for the money Rosanna and stop trying to turn it into a feminist crusade.
      Also, I agree that she might not even appreciate what she’s doing – our generation (<35 year old women) have become so used to sexual exploitation repackaged and sold back to us as liberation that many of us have lost any kind of critical thinking on the matter. Sad, but true.

      • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

        Yeah, it’s almost seen as aspirational, isn’t it? It’s true that confidence = sexy, but it’s not necessarily true the other way around. Being overtly sexual isn’t a prerequisite for confidence. Being a strong, glamorous icon doesn’t have to include getting your kit off for a soft porn celebration of your boobies.

      • http://twitter.com/SerialBlogamist Catherine C

        I do agree she comes across as being quite naive as a person, but she’s grown up in that ‘showbiz’ world and again, has a degree in sociology, so I honestly can’t believe that she believes her own excuses.

        • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

          Good point. Well, the other option is that she’s just trolling us all, which is worse again – to muscle into the public eye, using a stance you don’t particularly believe or adhere to but know to be actively harmful, is really something else. Not even Jordan was so fame hungry enough to declare she was baring her breasts for the good of society.

  • Sinéad

    “Explore their bodies”

    How delicately put.

    • http://twitter.com/SerialBlogamist Catherine C

      I had a few options – that seemed best. Nobody wants to deal with that kind of imagery :s

  • mawsy

    its all so clear to me now… its not the media or our cultures misrepresentation of women that gives me insecurities about myself and my body… its that i’m wearing too much clothes! In order to embrace my insecurities about my body I need to strip off for money! thank you rosanna! you’ve some me the way! thank god for such progressive feminist role models (excuse the pun!) like yourself! ….eh…..not.

  • David

    Sorry Catherine, breasts aren’t sexual organs so technically by your (and Oxford’s) definition Rosanna is correct. Sorry for schooling you :-)

  • Lily

    Feminists slut-shaming? What a bunch of hypocrites.

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      Slut-shaming refers to denying a woman’s worth because she deviates from the sexual norm, e.g. she has too many sexual partners, or she dresses in such a way to “excuse” violence visited upon her. It does not refer to the criticism of a woman who uses feminism as an excuse to make money from pandering to straight male fantasy. The author of the piece has said that it is not the choice of the model that she’s criticising, but the excuses she used to justify her actions. One could argue the model’s own excuse is, in itself “slut-shaming”. She’s distancing herself from glamour models, sex workers, etc, by claiming she’s doing this for “empowerment” and not money.

      Calling it “slut-shaming” is nothing more than an attempt to derail a valid argument. The oldest trick in the book is suggesting that women who criticise other women are only doing it because they’re jealous.

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