Angry smoke is billowing up, as all over the world, people are burning Arianna Huffington in effigy.
PAY US WHAT WE’RE WORTH!
WE WON’T WRITE FOR FREE!
It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a demagogue who denounces the Huffington Post for not paying their writers.
Wil Wheaton waged war against HuffPost in this article. It was a shot heard round the world. The online writing community went WILD, tweeting in copious agreement.
I have mixed feeling about this issue, but here is a reality check: As of 2016, Wil Wheaton’s net worth floats somewhere around $2.5 million, depending on which source you check. Not all of us have Star Trek residuals rolling in. If he wrote about ass fucking his grandmother in Macy’s window, he’d still be set for the rest of his life.
This is just another issue for us to tear each other apart over, instead of uniting over the pervasive damage being done to women, right this moment. By women who post pictures of their naked bodies on their blogs, their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts – all their social media.
I understand that women who display themselves naked on their blogs are doing it to demonstrate their freedom. They feel they are making a strong statement of choice and power. They admit they crave the validation; that it’s a turn on, or that they do it simply because they can.
They point out that nudity is accepted in most other industrialized countries and challenge the stifling conformity of American prudishness.
America is flawed as fuck, but a whole LOT of European countries are based on eroding, unsustainable models. Europe is teeming with calcified labor laws, a negative birth rate, inflated government spending, expensive costs to businesses, and overly restrictive governments.
In the Netherlands, for example, wiretaps are 130 times more common than in the U.S.
So perhaps you should move to Germany or Spain, and romp around au naturel. Have fun dealing with archaic abortion laws that reflect stifling Christian values on reproduction. I’ll stay in the US, and deal with our anti-nudity laws.
Is showing your tits really “freedom”?
I know that story. I WROTE that story.
I worked at a Wall Street strip club in the 90’s, because I felt it was my right to display my body in whatever way I deemed appropriate. The money was flowing in an economy on steroids, and I loved earning $500 a day in cash, working 3 days a week. It left me plenty of time to get into trouble squandering all that money.
Today, if I had a daughter who wanted to climb the pole for a living, I’d chain her to the couch. It wasn’t “empowering.” Strip clubs create an environment where men can openly objectify women. They reinforce the notion that women are more highly valued for their outward appearance than for their intelligence or creativity. And I fueled that system, something I deeply regret.
To the bloggers who show their tits:
I understand that for you to love yourself, you need approval from men. All women have been taught that from the time we are little girls.
When you isolate and objectify your breasts, you are confirming the pervasive notion that the most important thing about us is how our tits look. Personally, I would much rather see a painting you painted, read your poetry, listen to you play a song on an instrument, read an essay you wrote about a timely issue, pretty much anything that tells me about who you are inside. Your body is superficial and irrelevant. Give me your mind.
The validation you crave from exposing yourself this way is in no way connected to any kind of “freedom.” It comes from a place deep inside you, a place thoroughly indoctrinated, since you were a little girl, into believing that our naked tits have more intrinsic value than anything else about us. You are not free.
You are simply brainwashed.
I think the naked female body is one of the most beautiful images in the world. I’ve even played around with that a little, on my own Instagram account, and have photos of my lower body posing in superhero underwear. That was intended to be a playful statement on how the nerdy girl has grown up, and isn’t so nerdy anymore.
I also don’t show any more of my self than I would show in a bathing suit – actually, I’m more covered up in my geek girl underpants.
But I don’t want people to confuse my writing with my appearance. I write anonymously, but that isn’t why I rarely show pictures of myself on this blog. I can certainly show pictures that hide my face. However, I’m not interested in gaining readers because of how I look, or don’t look.
The issue over getting compensated to write is so divisive, it may break apart communities that were created to nurture and support each other. I’m not ready to contribute to that by casting a vote in either direction.
In the meantime, why not think about a bigger picture? Let’s not fight about who gets paid, and how those who choose to write for free are scabs on the professional writer’s landscape.
Before we bludgeon each other to death over that first world debate, can we at least ponder the global disempowerment of women? Even in 2016, women remain more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate. We are marginalized socially and economically.
Let’s put aside our differences about paid writing, and embrace a conversation about how women have been subjugated, and the way in which that connects to domestic violence, female mutilation, higher illiteracy rates, forced child marriages, lower wages, and so many of the areas crucial to a gratifying existence.
Systematic disempowerment of women doesn’t affect only writers. It affects every single woman on the planet, and therefore every human being on the planet.
Today, I’m going to put aside my feelings about paid writing, and instead, focus on what I can to do raise awareness of an issue that has the potential to change lives all over the world.
I just hit “Publish.” Your turn.
Am I asking the right questions?
Talk to me. I’m listening.