When a group of hairdressers called The Hair Bares phoned the Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) to inquire about making a £600 donation (that’s nearly $1000 USD), they received something of a shock. The organization refused to take it. SWA Spokeswoman Jacq Kelly explains:
We are a feminist organisation and of course we are happy that these women feel empowered by what they are doing. But, we are opposed to the sex industry and we have an issue with women removing clothes. There are underlying reasons for why a calendar of naked women sells so well and we as an organisation are not comfortable with this.
Okay. Point taken. Except that I can’t help but find the SWA’s rejection slightly hypocritical given their recent awareness campaign advertisement, which features actress Keira Knightley, who has routinely appeared nude in films and media, including the cover of Vanity Fair:
So if a group of domestic violence survivors offer their assistance it’s anti-feminist, but when a world famous actress does the same it’s cool?
The Hair Bares were taking cues from the 2003 film Calendar Girls, in which eleven middle-aged Englishwomen strip down to their birthday suits in order to raise money for a local hospital. The film was based on an actual calendar produced by the Women’s Institute that features each woman demonstrating a skill she’d learned from her participation in the organization. The media caught wind of the story, and the Women’s Institute ultimately raised over $3 million for the hospital, so it’s not difficult to see why The Hair Bares believe this type of fundraising to be effective. Group member Morag Hill is offended by SWA’s comments:
I had eight years of domestic abuse and I have always wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds…I don’t see how our calendar has any sort of resemblance whatsoever to something selling in the sex industry…and I am deeply offended by what they have said. This calendar has been very tastefully done and I think that, rather than demeaning women, it empowers them…We will be going ahead with the calendar regardless of what they say as there are lots of women out there who need this help.”
Unfortunately, Hill is right, and I’m sure their funds will find an appreciative home elsewhere.