Friday, January 24, 2014

Can feminism and prostitution co-exist?

Over the past few years, I have become quite aware of Terri-Jean Bedford. For my work, I signed up for Google Alerts, so every time a “Terri Jean” is mentioned in the news, I receive an email. For the past year, there have been far, far more “Terri-Jean Bedford’s” than just plain “Terri Jean” me’s.  And while most of mine pertain to boudoir photography or female empowerment, I always smile when the other Terri-Jean pops up. She is Canada’s most famous dominatrix, known by her stage name Madame De Sade, who was arrested in 1994 for operating a common bawdy (brothel) house; she fought against Canada’s prostitution laws and recently helped strike them down during appeal. I’m actually flattered to share her name.
In a statement about her win, Bedford told reporters "Now the government must tell Canadians, all consenting adults, what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our home for money or not. And they must write laws that are fair."

When asked recently how I defined a feminist, Terri-Jean Bedford was the first person who came to mind. Why? Because for me, a feminist is a woman in control of her person, her image, and her life. She creates equal playing fields in the workforce, in her home life, and with her own body. Though I agree that the sex industry is full of exploitation, objectification, and male dominance over women, I also believe that providing a sexual service to clients is something that’s been around for centuries and will most likely NOT go away. Because there is so much violence, manipulation, and cohesion involved with those who engage in such a risky profession, wouldn’t laws and regulation help to eliminate this criminal element? Bedford certainly thinks so.

I’m not here to debate whether there should or should not be prostitution – that would be ridiculous, because prostitution already exists, and it will exist, as long as we remain human beings with functional sexual organs. Sex for trade is “the oldest profession” and probably one of the most dangerous. What Terri-Jean Bedford (and her partners) accomplished might improve (or even save) women’s lives, enabling women to take charge of their bodies and income, and to work outside of dirty alleyways, motels and cars. By legitimizing this incredibly dangerous profession, these women may gain some control over their work-lives, their home lives, their image and their own bodies. And isn’t that what we want for our fellow sisters? Isn’t that one of the goals of feminism?

It's one of mine.

Stay beautiful!


Terri Jean is an Ohio writer, photographer, anti-bully activist, and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of I Feel Delicious. She founded The Eye Candy Girls, a pinup model troupe, in 2008, encouraging -and empowering - women of all shapes, sizes, and styles "to feel delicious." Her 2003 book, 365 Days of Walking the Red Road, is available on

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