Six times when misogynistic bullshit was sold to us as ‘empowering women’

Six times when misogynistic bullshit was sold to us as ‘empowering women’

Written by Jessica Taylor


It’s one of those blogs. And it’s been one of those days. Hold tight.

We have to call time on misogynistic, sexist bullshit being peddled to women as ‘empowerment’. More and more companies, activists, organisations and even governments are latching on to the concept of ‘empowering women’ and then using that concept to flog their wares. Even worse, we’ve seen a move towards misogynistic, sexist, hate-filled language as a way of ‘empowering’ each other as women.

We need to stop. Step back. Take stock – and start to wonder why lots of approaches to ‘empowering women’ actually continue to oppress, objectify and exploit us all.

So here’s six examples of misogyny and sexism being sold to us as ‘empowering women’.

1.Empowering women through boudoir or lingerie photoshoots

This one has throughly annoyed me this week, and inspired this entire blog. So let’s unpick it. A woman has grown, been through the trials and experiences of being a woman in the world, maybe had kids, maybe had traumas, maybe had loss in her life, illness, miscarriage, abuse or operations.

Maybe all of that has worn her down, made her feel tired, unhealthy, unattractive, unworthy.

And what’s the answer to how she’s feeling and everything she’s lived through? By empowering her again. By building her back up. By helping her feel worth something again. And how should we achieve that?

Why, by encouraging her to take her clothes off for a photographer of course!

What more could she possibly need than pictures of herself in awkward poses in lingerie with stupid props to help her feel ‘empowered’ as a woman?

And this is literally the central issue with the boudoir and lingerie shoots as a way of ‘empowering women’. Why is this approach not applied to men? Poor 40 year old Barry, having a midlife crisis, recently lost his Dad, struggling with diabetes. You know what he needs to do? Strip down to a thong and let some bloke take pictures of him on a fluffy blanket.

Yeah, sounds fucking stupid, doesn’t it?

There is absolutely nothing empowering about the assumption that women will feel better and more powerful by being objectified and sexualised. This is literally the opposite of female empowerment.

2.Calling each other ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ is empowering

Oh, if I had a penny for every time I heard some woke youth saying ‘We call each other bitches, sluts and hoes, because we are taking back ownership of the words and it’s empowering us.’

Lemme tell you a little something about how language constructs reality:

If the oppressing class is still using those words to oppress you, you can’t take them back and use them to empower yourselves as the oppressed class. If men are using those words to construct you as less than them, as sex objects and dogs; you also using those words to describe yourself and your friends is COLLUDING with the oppression, not fighting it.

Women and girls being encouraged to call their friends ‘my bitches’ and ‘my hoes’ and telling each other ‘I’m a slut’ is not empowering at all. It’s constructing and describing your friends and yourself in the exact same way misogynistic men see you and perceive you. All we are doing by adopting this language is supporting and reinforcing our inferiority and objectification.

We are not ‘taking it back’ when the people using it against us are using it in exactly the same way we supposedly are. It’s one of the reasons you will never ever catch me using misogynistic slurs or female cuss words to talk to or to describe women. We’ve got enough shit on our plate without calling each other hoes and bitches. Don’t play into their hands.

As a bit of evidence that we have already played into the hands of the misogynists, there was a study in 2011 by McMahon and Farmer who asked undergraduate university students to help them to review a rape myth acceptance psychometric scale. One of the items, written in the 90s used to say:

Women who wear revealing clothing deserve to be raped

The undergraduate students told researchers that it wasn’t modern enough and that it needed to be changed to make it *more* socially acceptable in 2011. You know what they changed the item to?

Women who dress like sluts deserve to be raped

Because apparently, that language is *more* socially acceptable and recognisable than the original. Go figure.

3.Pole dancing and lap dancing for exercise and fitness empowers women

Ugh. Just no. It never manages to stop shocking me just how long the tentacles of the sex industry are. Women are looking to lose weight, get toned, feel good about themselves and build fitness.

So what should they do? Run? Swim? Cycle? Weight train?

Oh no, no, no. That’s man exercise. Of course, the way to ‘empower’ women during exercise is the make the exercise about sex. Then it’s super empowering and gets them fit at the same time. Bloody genius.

Years ago I used to work for a children’s charity, upstairs was a pole dancing fitness company that allowed children from the age of 8 years old to take part in pole dancing lessons. In the years I went to that office to go to work, I never forgot the misogyny, objectification and sexualisation of women (and girls’) fitness. Every day I walked up the steps to see the huge poster encouraging little girls and women to feel confident, sexy and empowered by learning to pole dance upstairs.

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but can you imagine ANYONE advising poor 40 year old Barry (from before) to take up pole dancing or lap dancing as a way to empower him again after all he’s been through?

There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason men’s interventions and approaches are not based around their sex appeal. Have a think. Keep reading.

4.Rape self defence classes are empowering to women

No they’re not. They’re a way of pushing the responsibility of rape and sexual assault back on to women and girls because no one has yet figured out how to stop sex offenders from relentlessly attacking women in some sort of genocidal madness we’ve been witnessing for centuries.

Rape self defence classes are the opposite of ‘empowering women’. They are directly saying to women: ‘Let us teach you how to fight off the inevitable sex offender who will probably attack you multiple times in your life because we live in such a misogynistic world, you are better off prepared for rape than just hoping men won’t rape you.’

Women have a 1 in 3 chance in the lifespan of being raped or attempted to be raped. Rape defence classes are the ultimate admission of a society who are no longer interested in stopping male violence against women. It’s also in many cases, futile. As most women and girls will tell you, the shock and trauma they go into during an attack will prevent them from fighting back (Moller et al., 2017). Further, even women who are martial arts experts, MMA cage fighters and in the military report freezing during a sexual assault or rape. Even further than that, the majority of all rapes and sexual assaults of women occur in a relationship with someone they love, and they often don’t even know they are being raped (because they have been fed the myth that rape is from a stranger attacking you in an unfamiliar environment at night time). If you don’t know you are being raped because your partner has guilt-tripped you, coerced you or blackmailed you, you won’t fight back.

Rape self defence classes don’t empower women, they force women to shoulder the responsibility for a massive global issue so no one has to deal with it on a systemic level.

Instead of it remaining a societal problem of male violence towards women, now it’s your problem and you need to learn self defence. Clever, eh?

5.Make-up and contouring empowers women

Last week, I read a national news article about a school holding contouring and make-up classes for girls who needed a confidence boost or empowerment. My blood boiled. Whilst I can see that approaches like this are well intentioned (ugh, all the worst shit is, isn’t it?), this is not the way we should be helping our young girls build their self-esteem and feelings of power.

Further, Julie Bindel recently wrote an article about the way make-up has been oppressing women for so long – and she quoted a statistic that 15% of women wake up before their husbands to go and ‘put on their face’, meaning their husbands and boyfriends had never seen them without make up. I’m sure you know a woman or girl who even sleeps in make up, I know I do. We’ve created a world in which women are supposed to look flawless at all times, even when they wake up.

So what’s the issue with make-up, contouring and cosmetics being sold to us as empowering?

Well, it’s not exactly empowering to sell products to women and girls to make their faces look artificial, is it? Make-up to make our noses look smaller, skin look browner, eyes look bigger, lips look bigger and shinier, skin look smoother, cheekbones look more defined, eyebrows look darker and thicker.

How exactly is making ourselves look nothing like ourselves ‘empowering’ us?

*throws major side-eye at Snapchat and Insta flawless filters*

6. ‘For her’ products to empower women.

So finally, the ‘for her’ products invented (or usually just turned pink) for our ‘empowerment’. Like the pink toolkits that hardware stores sell. You know what I mean, the pink hammer and the pink screwdriver set meant to empower us to do our own DIY with our pretty new tools. Or the ‘for her’ Bic pens for the ‘feminine hand with a manicure’. That’s right, Bic invented pens ‘for her’. Fuck knows what we were using before they made these. Feather and ink, I think.

And what about the ‘for her’ laptop created by Toshiba. It’s a laptop with less power, less memory and less capability – but it does have special keys for long fingernails and it even comes with horoscope software! I mean. Wow.

What more could we possibly need? We’ve got laptops for her so now we can finally use the internet and our computers. We have pens for her so we can finally write things. We even have toolkits for her so we can finally tighten that loose dining table chair with our new pink screwdriver kit. We are literally so empowered now.

Take away message from this blog:

Not all that glitters is gold, my sisters.

Empowering women is about us taking back actual power in the world. Leadership. Research. Money. Property. Politics.

Empowering women is not about us being further objectified, sexualised and discriminated against.

Empowered women are not those who are duped into calling their best friends ‘bitches’, whilst they all go to their empowering pole dancing class to get fit, buying their pink toolkits for a spot of DIY whilst they google rape self defence classes on their new ‘laptop for her’.

Wake up. We are being manipulated.

This year for International Women’s Day 2019, be on the look out for these sneaky, disingenuous approach to ‘empowering women’ and call them out where you find them.

Written by Jessica Eaton

Dedicated to challenging victim blaming and misogyny

You can get books, resources and e-learning on these topics from:

Tweet this: @JessicaE13Eaton


92 thoughts on “Six times when misogynistic bullshit was sold to us as ‘empowering women’

  1. Wonderfully articulated. How long is it going to take to deconstruct the sexism which is built into the very fabric of our society? I heard an alarming piece on the radio the other day, where women who worked in construction were ridiculed and objectified daily, so much so that they had to leave their job. Shockingly another lady rang in and this happened in a law firm too because of the ‘boys club’ mentality, women always asked to make drinks etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perfect explanation of what is wrong with ALL of these bullshit empowerments. At last someone has articulated my thoughts. Thanks!


  3. I agree with much of this, and the pink stuff and the boudoir pictures are somewhat silly. I agree with everything except #4. As an advocate and activist for women, I deal with the same sharp reality as all women and vulnerable people do. The reality is that men are violent and we are not being protected. We must learn to defend ourselves. Call it empowerment, call it taking control, whatever you want, but there are violent men out there and nothing is being done about it. Perhaps if men had a curfew, we wouldn’t have to be on the defensive, but the way predators, murderers and rapists often go unpunished… I would rather go forward knowing some self defense, than not.


    1. I agree, although I also accept that in many rape situations (and even less “serious” situations), women freeze. However, my own daughter (who has taken up boxing for all round fitness) now feels more confident in dealing with street harassment and has confronted men in situations where previously, she wouldn’t have felt able to.
      Women’s self defense has to go hand in hand with teaching men how not to be a sexist or a rapist. We need to spend much more money on making guys take the onus of this problem.


      1. We need to call it Self defense, instead of women’s self defense, and that may start a conversation. We also need to educate boys and men about what rape culture is and what that really means. I think training women may help them not freeze, though none of know until we are in that scary situation what we may do. Love all the comments!


    2. I agree with this because it’s fun to learn self-defense moves. I did this way back in the 1970s with my sister and we had a great time with a fat guy who could touch his head to the floor while sitting cross-legged teaching the class (I was obviously impressed by this which is why I had to share it). Learning karate or self-defense helps you to clarify your own boundaries and helps you NOT to freeze if someone intrudes upon your space or tries to assault you. I’m sure some other old women remember the days when we were told to just lie still and endure rape, and then of course it was found that women who screamed and threw a fit were much less likely to be raped than women who submitted. This is NOT blaming the victim, this is learning to take care of yourself, something women are often short-changed in learning to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your work! Thanks for this article. I know it’s very serious but I was crying with laughter, re Barry. Sometimes you gotta laugh. That is empowering…when you really see how ridiculous it all is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What about women who call themselves sluts, who take their own damn boudoir photos, who want to do poledance cause it’s fun, who want to be sex workers or who enjoy self defence classes?

    I wouldn’t dream of calling out another woman for doing pole dance or showing off her body for International Women’s Day in 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think what you are critiquing is better described as ‘post feminism’: The neoliberal discourse which says ‘women are liberated now so everything a woman does is cool and empowering as long as she freely chooses it’. This is the discourse that enables companies to appropriate terms like ’empowerment’ to sell us crap.

        Third wave feminism is mostly about intersectionality: acknowledging the different ways oppressions and privileges operate simultaneously in peoples lives. For example, black women’s experiences of sexism are racialised in ways that white women’s aren’t and their experiences of racism are sexualised in ways that black men’s aren’t. Likewise, wealthy and poor women’s experiences of sexism are different, and trans and cis women experience misogyny differently.

        The question of whether stripping for money is empowering is kind of beside the point. Its a job. Some people enjoy their jobs, others don’t but they do them because its the best option for them at the time. Sex work is the same.

        I agree that marketing a poledancing fitness class as ’empowering’ is a misuse of that word though (see my other comment about empowerment being a three dimensional process). But I also feel that if you enjoy it, if it makes you feel strong and sexy, then more power to you! The important thing is that we know that our worth is not determined by how ‘sexy’ we are according to the male gaze.

        Third wave feminism gives us tools to critique bullshit branding, gender norms and the complex pressures under which women perform femininity without having to police each others sexual autonomy or shame each other for our choices. Whether you are into wholesome lesbian erotica or stripping for cash at a titty bar, your body, your rules.


    1. If you want to be a sex worker in a vaccum then fill your boots. But we do not yet live in a vacuum. Your choice (generic you) to be a sex worker affects ALL women, primarily those who are forced into it and do not have a choice, but also those of us who live with the after-effects of men being encouraged to buy women and see them as sex objects.


  6. “Rape self defence classes are the opposite of ‘empowering women’.”
    I am going back and forth on this one. NO – we shouldn’t have to take responsibility for men’s actions, but the reality is that if some women are able to protect themselves, then they will obviously think it’s worth it.
    You could also argue that arming yourself against something is the opposite of accepting it. Especially with sexism that isn’t physical, you’re saying – Hell no, I’ve had enough of this BS. I’m fighting back.”

    Liked by 3 people

  7. woop woop! …. one thing i would like to say, as a photographer who takes photos of women, for women…The women i photograph, out in nature, au natural without photoshop in anyway DO come away feeling empowered. Many women have been so long told they are not beautiful as they are in all their glory hide themselves away beneath layers….taking those layers off is liberating for many women. Here I am, this is me and i will not hide. ps, i also do this work with men too…its about accepting yourself for who you are and knowing that all your lumps and bumps, scars and wrinkles are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t agree with the photographer. Women should not have to be told they are beautiful to feel good about themselves! I’m so over the Botox and stupid fat lips on the young ones. The patriarchy is deeply entrenched and every time women look like they are taking steps forward in breaking their shackles, they are pushed back into their place by being told they are not being attractive and men won’t like them! Ooooo hairy underarms, not attractive! Oooo hairy genitals, not attractive! Oooo ageing face, not attractive etc etc etc. your job is to be attractive and if you are not you are useless shit. That is the message given and sadly accepted by too many young women who struggle every day to please the male gaze so they won’t be ignored. I would rather be ignored do that I can get on with my life without wasting it pandering to a fantasy


      1. What makes you think you’re so special that you are in a position to judge what makes someone feel good about themselves? It’s not about telling them that they look good despite all of these things. It’s about being able to see yourself from a third party perspective and feeling great about that rather than staring in the mirror and sucking this in/ pushing that out and getting into your head and feeling awful about it all. Glad you’re so perfect you don’t have to worry about that though! Instead you spend your time putting women down on a post about how to really empower women. Makes perfect sense!


  8. I share your frustration with the way that the word empowerment is used these days. The roots of the concept come from radical pedagogy and social work theory where it was reserved for processes through which oppressed groups develop skills knowledge and confidence to overcome barriers, reclaim power and correct systemic injustices. It involves personal, collective and subversive dimensions which are equally important and mutually enhancing. Today, it is often used to refer to individual personal power only and has become a guise for things that place individual responsibility on to people for risks and problems generated by a society which is still profoundly unequal in so many ways. I am working on a doctorate about empowerment in the context of feminist self-defence programmes in Aotearoa (New Zealand) which looks at how we can simultaneously challenge victim blame and responsibility while also learning, sharing and practising skills that can increase our chances of stopping an assault. This is what happens in Feminist Empowerment-based Self-Defence Courses.
    I agree it would be problematic if we focused solely on teaching women self-defence as a strategy for ending sexual violence. It is only one piece of a complex puzzle. We need all the other approaches as well, support for survivors, accountability for perpetrators and help for them to change, education for people of all genders especially young men about consent and respectful relationships. However, Feminist Empowerment-based Self Defence programmes are the only educational interventions into sexual violence thus far which have been shown to effectively reduce the number of assaults women experience. They have also been found to reduce participants levels of agreement with victim-blaming statements. This is because they are based on evidence about the most common kinds of assaults women experience and include discussion about the social and emotional barriers we face to fighting back, including freezing, the psychological impacts of relationship abuse and victim blame. They offer simple options for all abilities based on evidence about what works and focus on acquaintence attack situations. They affirm women and all marginalised genders’ rights to safety, respect and to move through the world free from violence. It is complicated work because of the minefield of harmful and contradictory messages we get (many of which you have identified here) and it involves carefully treading a number of tightropes between affirming our ability and right to stand up for ourselves while at the same time maintaining focus on the perpetrators as the only people responsible for the assaults they commit. It’s important not to paint all self-defence programmes with the same brush. There are some really problematic ones out there, for sure, which is why I am passionate about defining and defending what is involved in facilitating empowering self-defence learning processes.
    If any of you want to learn more about Feminist Empowerment-Based Self Defence training I have written about it here:

    Liked by 3 people

  9. A brilliant article! I really enjoyed reading it and it made me think. The Toshiba laptop made me choke! however I couldn’t find this product, was this a joke or does it really exist, or am I not looking properly? (quite likely)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great article. I would also like to add burlesque to this. I have been appalled at how it has become so celebrated… It is essentially ‘posh’ stripping. When ever I go to artsy events to see interesting performances you can bet there will be musocians(usually men) circus performers (usually men) a comic MC (always a man) illusionists (always men) fire eaters (always men) and then a burlesque stripper (always women)
    The change in the male audience from entertained to titillated is disgusting to watch. There is nothing empowering about taking your gear off for men no matter how artfully you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely get where you’re coming from, but who are you to say what empowers who? Some women feel empowered by their sexuality. Who are you to tell them they shouldn’t?


    1. Right?? God damn you’re on a nice high horse.

      How about you let each woman decide what’s empowering to them? You have ZERO CLUE in what ways a woman has been affected in their life with certain things. When she’s finally feeling empowered she might want to celebrate her sexuality because she was told to FEAR her sexuality her whole Christian life…maybe being in “awkward poses” is exactly what she needed.

      Maybe you should not do any of the things you listed because those things don’t empower you…but maybe you should also mind your own damn business 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also, you can save your “please research” answer. I think 2nd vs 3rd wave is bullshit. It’s called progression. Period. Trying to break it up into categories it’s just another way of dividing us from the cause.


      2. No it isn’t, it’s two completely different philosophical positions on female empowerment. So yes, researching more before commenting WILL actually help.


      3. Yeah but I DID. And for you to just keep assuming we haven’t researched the topic is giving us a special insight into your pretentiousness. The same way you got offended that someone commented and ASSUMED that you should try these things without judgements. 🤷‍♀️

        Try responding to people with an actual argument.


  12. I have never read something so awful and completely misses the mark. You’re telling women they are stupid for embracing their sexuality and loving theirselves and their bodies. If a woman chooses to do a pole dance class to workout and reconnect with her own body, who are you to shame her for it? If a woman wants a boudoir shoot because she feels less than desired, has been through a nasty divorce, feels maimed after fighting cancer ect. Who the hell are you to shame her for it? A woman wants to take a self defense class so she can feel in control of a situation, be better prepared for the possibility of an attack, rather than just being told to piss herself. Again here you are shaming her for that as well. You are what’s wrong with female empowerment. Maybe you should quit being a judgy Judy and actually try one if these experiences before you put others down for doing them. The ole saying don’t knock it until you try is very fitting here. And if it still isn’t your cup of tea, find something that is but leave the shame and judgment at home in a closet. Because putting women down like you are just makes you misogynistic.


      1. Ok done, my point touches on a little of both waves actually…now go have yourself a few experiences and report back. Seriously, you’re hating on the women who choose to express theirselves in these ways. I vote you try them and not like in a sarcastic way but really open your mind to the experiences.


  13. The amount of shaming you’re doing here isn’t exactly empowering either. What happened to women being able to do whatever the hell they want without being judged for it? Seems like you have a problem with a woman taking control of their own life, safety and sexuality. I’m sorry for whatever experiences you’ve had that make you such a bitter person.


  14. Speak for yourself
    i disagree with most of these. What empowers one woman will not necessarily empower th next. We are empowered by different things. If taking off all your clothes makes you feel empowered then no one has a right to tell you that you are not empowered.
    whoever wrote this must mention that this stuff doesn’t empower her but she must not take away the empowerment from those who feel it.


    1. I think you might need to read up on the difference between second and third wave feminism to understand this article better


      1. I think if this is your main answer “read up on the difference between second and third wave feminism to understand this article better” to most of the comments maybe you should have pointed it out at the beginning of your article?


  15. that has been your response to each and every comment that disagrees with you. I mean don’t you think you should just spell it out by bow?

    either way, you and anyone else has no right to tell women what certain things must make them feel. Feminism is about women having a choice to live a life they feel happy. as long as they are not forced, feel limited or have no other options.

    your article is taking away the woman’s choice to live the life she chooses, but instead is projecting your feelings and how you view the world, thus telling women to live according to your standards. Feel empowered only by the stuff that empowers you.

    That is wrong, stop it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you would go away and do the research I’m asking you to do so you understand the angle the article takes, you wouldn’t be making these uninformed comments.

      Also. Please take a step back and consider the irony of you telling a woman she can’t have an opinion on the sexualisation of women because your feminism is better than their feminism. LMFAO.


      1. Asking someone to go and READ the research and approaches to feminism so they are more informed …is the opposite of dictating what feminism is. Think before you comment.


    2. Jessica wasn’t telling you how to feel about things, but arguing that they aren’t empowering. And she CERTAINLY isn’t taking away women’s choices; she was expressing her opinion. Her words, no matter how critical you find them, cannot take away your choice. YOU are the one telling people how to feel if you’re saying that the things in this article – like boudoir photography – are empowering. Because you are saying that people’s estimation of you increases with these activities, which you have no control over.

      If you want other people’s opinion of you to improve, then you have certain options available. And if you don’t care about people’s opinions and just want to do what you want to do because it’s fun or whatever, then do it, but don’t do it with the goal of impressing people and then get disappointed when it doesn’t work. And if you want something to be empowering that currently isn’t (say, porn and prostitution), then you have to change people’s minds FIRST, not just paste an empowering label on it and barge ahead as if it were. If you had really done it for fun rather than “empowerment,” then you wouldn’t have gotten so upset over this article.

      Feminism isn’t just about choice, but about healthy choices that are good for you and those around you, which is not as subjective as you like to think it is. For example, people may claim that social media is good for them, but studies (and common sense) show that it absolutely and demonstrably is not. And people who claim it is are trying to rationalize their excessive social media use and are just kidding themselves. Or saying that smoking in enclosed spaces should be allowed everywhere, when it affects not just smokers but everyone in the room. I mean, can you honestly say that calling women b*tches is empowering as long as SOME women feel like it is? And the ones who don’t have to just tolerate that? And you’re acting like whether or not it’s empowering is dependent only on individual women’s opinions, rather than how it affects people’s perception of women.

      Regarding boudoir photography, sexualization negatively affects women by reducing their self-esteem, teaching women to objectify themselves, and making them more passive. It trains men to objectify and have contempt for women. Women are further impacted in their livelihood by this, because men who are sexist will stifle and derail women’s careers. Sexist language and imagery also perpetuates the Madonna/whore complex, because it both creates the category of “whore” and singles them out as being acceptable targets for violence, and women as a whole are then driven to extremes in their desire to be treated like a lady and not a “whore.”


  16. you can have an opinion, just don’t force your opinion to be the standard for everyone else, especially people who are just living their lives and minding their own business.

    my feminism is no better than any other as there is no set book that all feminists must follow and no score card for “better feminist”.

    I am talking to you as a fellow woman, seeking for ways to make the world bearable for everyone and not limiting anyone. And more especially – not shaming people for their life choices

    Had you said “here below are things that do not empower me” i would leave you alone. But now i cannot leave you alone because your opinion affects how other people conduct the business of their lives and you are shaming them and allowing your followers to call them stupid all because you disagree with their lifestyle. It is not right.


    1. My article clearly shows 6 ways we are sold misogyny and sexism and sexual objectification as ‘empowerment’ by companies who are profiting from us.

      If you don’t think companies are profiting from us all in this way, and you think all six of those examples are empowering women, you’re in the wrong blog.


  17. I wholeheartedly disagree with your “Opinion” on 95% of this entire article. I wanted to fight back with frustration, but then I reminded myself, we all have opinions and that’s all it is. This measly article will eventually be lost and buried and will have zero long lasting effect.


  18. You know, I’m a boudoir photographer. I don’t ask women to do anything that is beyond what they’re comfortable with. Some are comfortable with nude portraits, some prefer to wear an evening gown, some show up in jeans and a t-shirt. I lift them up no matter why they decide to do a shoot with me, their size, ethnicity, orientation, religion, gender identity, ability, or age. Some do it to celebrate a birthday, others to embrace or even celebrate their changing body after a baby, some just because it’s a fun day for themselves. All of them cherish the experience no matter their initial reason for doing it. Maybe it’s the very first time they’ve felt beautiful, desirable, or feminine.
    Who are you to judge photographers for providing a service that empowers so many women? It’s not for everyone, clearly it’s not something you would feel empowered by, but to say boudoir photography is sexualizing women is far off. There’s nothing wrong with women embracing their feminine power or their sexuality, and if they choose to do that through a boudoir shoot, it’s not necessary for you to tear that experience down for them. What empowers some women doesn’t empower others and that’s okay. Regardless, what does empower women is giving them autonomy over their own choices and not judging them for how they choose to empower themselves or the people who provide empowering services to them. Am I empowered by pole dancing or pink razors? No, but that doesn’t mean another woman isn’t, and it certainly doesn’t mean I get to look down my holier-than-thou nose at her, her pink razors, or her pole dancing instructor for it either. Perhaps you and every other “enlightened feminist” could use a good hard look in the mirror, check your judgemental, insecure, opinions, and ask yourselves what it really is that bothers you so much about what other women choose to do for themselves and others. I sincerely doubt it has anything to do with women being sexualized by these choices.


    1. ‘I sincerely doubt it has anything to do with women being sexualised’

      I mean, have you noticed the world you live in? Pay attention to what we all live in. Men are powerful because they don’t need to be sexy to be seen as worthy or confident.

      How many men come to your boudoir shoots to feel sexy for their ‘empowerment’ versus how many women?

      Don’t worry, I know the answer to that and so do you.


      1. Did you ever think that maybe men are also missing out on their sexuality and that it is the patriarchy who makes all these divides?
        Everybody, men included, should be able to explore their sexuality if they feel like doing it without feeling bad about it. People who don’t want that are as good and should respect those who do.

        This prudeness is dangerous and makes me puke!


      2. You’re mixing up ‘being prude’ and making sure our sex lives and sexuality isn’t being used as a commodity.


      3. Then why are dude-oir shoots a thing? And I’m not talking about humorous ones done in jest, but actual boudoir photography that helps men achieve their own empowerment and body acceptance? Sure, they’re not as common, but is that because men don’t need to feel sexy or because the patriarchy shames them for not feeling like irresistible studs?


  19. You didn’t talk about feminism until the comments yet all your responses have to do with reading about feminism. I’m married, happy, healthy, a boudoir photographer, a forklift driver. I don’t do any of these things listed for my husband, I do these things for myself. I’ve had 6 boudoir shoots and my husband hasn’t seen any images except my first session. I do those shoots because they make me feel good about me. I pole dance strictly for exercise. I’ve never pole danced or stripped for anyone in my life.
    There are zero reasons to talk over “waves of feminism” when are talking about what empowers you. What empowers me does not have to empower you. Yes, I’ve read and know about the waves of feminism.
    So if your comebacks are read about feminism this blog should talk about it specifically not empowerment. You have no reason to say what empowers another person. Because we are all trying to make people stronger and confident, right?


    1. If you had read about the waves of feminism you would know that second wave feminism doesn’t support the exploitation, sexualisation or commodification of women as a ‘choice’ or as ‘empowerment’.
      The reason I keep bringing it up is because a lot of these comments are conflating sexuality with empowerment which is a third wave concept.
      But you would already know that. Right?


      1. K but you never brought that up till after the fact. If you want to make a blog post about feminism and the different waves and how you stand with wave two and not grow with society into the third wave go ahead and make that clear in the blog not make that your sole response after the fact.


      2. My entire blog is about feminism. Can you please stop trying to explain my own blog to me. This blog is over 50 articles long. I think I know what it’s about. You’re clearly new to it.


      3. The trouble is you see these things as exploitation, sexaualisation and commodification but somehow can’t accept that others don’t feel that is the case. You don’t hold the power to draw those lines in the sand. Those lines are fluid and different for every person, so all you’ve done is judged, put down and insulted everyone who may have different feelings, thoughts or beliefs than you.


      4. Is that really true? If someone enjoys something (such as sex work) but it negatively affects womankind as a whole (and indeed doesn’t do mankind any favours either) should they just shrug and think, oh well, it doesn’t matter?


      5. Respectfully, Jessica, I think you need to read up on the different strands of feminism. Third wave feminists do not equate sexuality with empowerment. That doesn’t make sense. The ‘everything goes if women freely choose it’ stance is actually more of a liberal feminist or post feminist stance. Your stance seems to be in line with certain (sex worker exclusionary) strains of second-wave radical feminism, but there were plenty of liberal feminists during the second wave, just as there are still radical feminists and liberal feminists in the third wave. The third wave is really about taking a closer look at the intersections between different kinds of oppressions than first or second wave feminists did.


      6. Third wave has been absolutely decimated by the ‘liberal feminist’ philosophy and we both know that.


  20. #1. Spoken as someone who has never done a boudoir shoot. Likely not a woman who has birthed a child, either. I think you need to get over yourself and stop trying to tell women what is and isn’t acceptable. Boudoir photography isn’t just for women, either! It’s for couples and men, gay and straight.


    1. Heyyyy! Mother of two kids here, survivor of cervical cancer, did the consensual photo shoots when I was young and uninformed.

      Focus on the facts and not personal attacks.


      Liked by 1 person

  21. This is the absolute WORST article about feminism I’ve ever read. This author seems to be very insecure and judgmental. There is nothing wrong with any of these and in fact, they CAN be empowering 😊 Every person is different and what is empowering and uplifting to some may not be to others. Women, do whatever the fuck you want. Sincerely, a boudoir loving, booty shaking, makeup wearing sexy badass who knows self defense against rapists/attackers 😁


    1. The meaning of empowering is that it gives you power in society – and if something doesn’t increase your status in society or other people’s eyes, then it’s not considered empowering, regardless of how you feel about it or if you wish it were empowering. Empowering doesn’t just mean “makes you feel good.”


  22. I am a fan of pole-dancing if it is done in a closed non-sexual environment. It is elegant, beautiful and demands great strength. It’s very good for the core. it is possible to perform it without it being sexualised, but the minute the teacher starts teaching you how to flip your hair or try and look sexy walk out.


  23. Totally disagree, empowering women is about choice, if a women chooses to have sexy photos because it makes them feel good, great, if they choose to exercise using a pole because they love dance fab, if they choose to learn how to defend themselves, right on! Who are you, I or anyone else to judge. You are oppressing these womens choices by writing this article.


    1. If you think a woman writing an article about her own research and opinion is ‘oppression’ you need to take a HUGE step back and take a look at the world pal


  24. I see posts like this, and I am appalled. First of… I am a man, so many would think my opinion doesn’t matter.

    Next, I am a photographer and have done boudoir photos of women. The first was of a young woman who lost 100 pounds after high school. She wanted to celebrate, wear something cute and sexy, jeans and sweater, some lingerie. I saw photos of her before, and she was attractive and beautiful to start with! It is sad that society made her feel so uncomfortable and think that she wasn’t beautiful or that she couldn’t have photos done before. I saw what it did for her self image, it make her feel better about herself. Regardless, it was her choice. To me, that is what feminism is about – the ability for a woman to make choices and do as they wish, without regard to gender.

    I was raised to be a gentleman, and do simple things like open doors for others. A woman berated me because I opened a door for her, saying that she didn’t “need a man to do it” for her! I open the door and hold it for women AND men out of courtesy. Self defense classes? They ARE empowering for both women AND men. Knowing that you have the ability to defend yourself in certain situations, be it robbery or rape. And yes, men freeze in life and death situations as well. My wife wears makeup. My wife has had boudoir shots done to give to me as a present. She stayed at home to take care of the kids, and later decided to work outside the home and even go back to college. As partners, we talked about her desires and I supported her choices.

    You are 100% right that empowering women is about taking back actual power in the world. Leadership. Research. Money. Property. Politics. But it starts with a choice – even with boudoir photos, pole dancing, makeup, it doesn’t matter – it is a choice. Empowerment IS the ability to make a choice. If you say someone can’t or shouldn’t have photos done, be a pole dancer, take a self defense class or wear makeup – then you are part of the problem because you want to take their choices away.


  25. Your blog is always amazing!

    Unrelated question but my mind immediately went to this: What are your/anyone’s thoughts about those in the wlw community identifying as a “dyke”? Or the many younger people identifying as “queer”? (if you have thought about it…)


  26. This article was great, agreed with some, completely disagreed with alot. It’s not empowerment to decide what other women can or cannot do. Perhaps consider this before throwing negativity at anyone who holds a different opinion, I enjoyed your writing until I read your comments – engage in conversation, you can’t decide what’s right and wrong. Also, as someone who has been attacked multiple times in their time, as well as the ‘usual’ sexual harassment that pervades most aspects of life, I am a little disappointed that someone who claims to be an advocate could be so dismissive to the voice of others.


  27. Feminism-opening up choice and freedom for women as long as the matriarchy approves of your choices.



  28. Sexualized behavior is, at heart, ingratiating behavior – an attempt to curry favor with men by appealing to their sexuality in order to pre-empt male aggression to keep themselves safe.


  29. Bullshit and biased blog who delete contrary view points 😉 that’s your take on equality. All the bs and the special treatment the feminism move are trying to politically impose is because naturally, that won’t happen, and that makes you wonder why 🙂


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