An Open Letter to Jodie Marsh / by Dana Segal

Dear Jodie,

I really wanted to tweet you back when I saw your comments. It probably wouldn't have been very polite, articulate or persuasive if I did. Instead, I've chosen to write an open letter to you. 

The reason I decided to write this letter was so I could allow myself the time to process the blind rage I experienced whilst reading your comments about page 3. 

Now Jodie - my personal experiences of the feminism change and evolve on a daily basis - so I'm definitely not claiming to have all the answers.

I also haven't come up with a single argument to explain feminism that is so succinct and cohesive that every man and anti-feminist woman will suddenly go "OH THAT'S WHY! I TAKE IT ALL BACK NOW!". 

What I have attempted to do is to help people reading this who might have also felt a total outrage at your comments to better understand why they felt what they felt.

Feminism would no longer need to exist if we were "already there" with equality. We are not there yet. Actually, the fact that the feminist movement seems to be so strong right now, is also quite terrifying. Because what that suggests is that female oppression is now so present across our society, that people who would normally shy away from expressing their opinions and getting involved in the debate (such as you and I, Jodie) are now feeling compelled to say something, even if we aren't 100% sure about what or how we're saying it.

SO... 

In response to your comments, what I originally wanted to say was this:

"Jodie, how are we ever going to get men to support and campaign against FGM when they are too busy gawping at your tits? Yes, you did make your career choices and I respect that. The fact that you say didn't feel exploited when doing so is not because equality is there: it's because you have been privileged to live within a political system which allows you to make choices, unlike those experiencing FGM."

But when I really thought about it, what I want to say to you now is this:

"You see Jodie; it isn't a class problem. You are the problem.

Rather than respecting their choice and right to have a differing opinion to yours, by labelling women who do not agree with your career choices as "jealous" or "insecure", you are telling young women that in order to exude confidence and power, and therefore exude self-worth, you must do as you have done.

This should not be a culture that exists as the norm: and definitely not a culture which acts as an aspiration for the younger women over whom you are exercising your "power" by influencing them to make the same life and career choices you made.

Jodie, it is you who is being the oppressive and unequal force in this situation by forcing young women to measure their self-worth by their self-image. In fact, you're making them define their self-image using page 3 girls as the 'normal' and 'acceptable' standard - when in reality, they are very rarely a genuine portrait of what a woman naturally looks like. Even worse than that, you are making them define their self-image as a sellable commodity which, in your eyes, is acceptable to be both ridiculed and pedestaled on a daily basis by complete strangers."

And that's why I took my time to think about what it is that fucked me off about your response.

I look forward to a considered reply.

Yours (or should I say no ones except my own),

Dana Segal