This is today's blog post, but I wanted to get Crimespacers both male and female to weigh in on this topic so I thought I'd post it here in the forum.
Yesterday’s encounter (at an MMA expo) with Fight Chix
sexy fightwear for women really got me thinking. While the old-school Catholic Madonna/Whore dichotomy has never really had much of an impact on my life, there is another more complex, modern version that vexes me daily. It’s the sexy/legit dichotomy.
It’s bad for female writers (or artists of any stripe) and even worse for female fighters. The idea that being appealing to men and being taken seriously are mutually exclusive. Sure, you’ll get ahead quicker if you’re sexy, because you’re easier to sell, but nobody’s gonna take you “seriously.” When I saw the Fight Chix booth, my first sarcastic thought was, “Yeah, that’s really gonna help female fighters get taken more seriously.” Then I stopped to question my own reaction. Why can’t a sexy woman be taken seriously?
Why do women feel the need to neutralize their sexuality in order to keep the focus on their art, craft or athletic ability? Why do actresses only get critical acclaim when they ugly down for a role? Why do people snipe at a beautiful writer like Mo Hayder or a gorgeous fighter like Gina Carano, claiming they only get ahead because of their looks? Why do I worry that being sold as a “curvy crime writer” and a former Times Square peep girl is somehow eclipsing the legitimacy of my work?
What do you think?