Most feminists would probably answer in the negative to the question I have posed but, interestingly, Pamela Anderson considers herself to be one.
The question was asked of her in the context of the nude photo shoots that she did for Playboy. Pammie replied, "Hefner has done so much for women's rights. I am a feminist because I made those choices to appear in the magazine. Also, there are much worse magazines out there."
Her opinion raises three issues:
1. Is posing for a men's magazine liberating because the woman who poses is in charge?
2. Did Hefner did do a lot for women's rights while devaluing women?
3. Is hard core porn the only issue sitting on the bottom line of women's nudity?
There will always be women who think that exposing themselves to men is liberating and who will line up to flaunt their assets for money. These women ignore the flaws in their argument of how what they are actually doing is serving a market driven by lust fuelled men who only want tits and bums. This market of male lust does not make a commodity out of women's autonomy. Being in charge might involve dressing up as a dominatrix but that is as far as it goes. If the women were in charge then why weren't they allowed to dress up in their favourite dress/skirt/trousers? Public nudity does not involve being in charge. It is about making money and that is fine but blurring the boundaries is self-denial.
Hugh Hefner actually has done a lot for women's rights and earlier this year wrote an editorial in Playboy in which he questioned Rick Santorum's promise to withdraw funding for birth control. He also chastised Mitt Romney for threatening to overturn Roe v Wade. I believe he is sincere in his thoughts but this is a man who surrounds himself with women dressed as bunnies who, no doubt, think they are in charge. Double standards will not win the war of equality for women.
Lastly, Pammie justifies her actions by referring to 'worse' magazines and, thereby, exonerates herself for not going down the hardcore path. To me, she seems to come across as someone who is rather unsure as time goes on about the merits of posing nude but still needs to justify it given her Playboy shoot.
Is Pamela Anderson a feminist? I actually do admire her for thinking that she is one even if I have my doubts. The concept of feminism has become quite objective in recent times and personal dimensions are often excluded. I, for one, am always carping about how feminist mothering is left out of the anti-porn, abortion rights and anti-cosmetic surgery debate. For Muslim feminists who wear veils their gripe is that they can still be feminists and cover their hair/faces.
Posing for men's magazines cannot count as a feminist stand but I think the rest of us feminists can take something from Pammie's confident self-assertion.