Hey Grid Girls: Feminism Isn't Your Problem

Giorgia Davis, taken from her Facebook post
Call me oblivious to popular culture, but before reading Giorgia Davies’ Facebook post blaming feminists for her job becoming redundant, I did not know who she was or what a “grid girl” is. Nevertheless, after reading her words, now shared thousands of times, I was infuriated.

But not surprised.

It’s an all too familiar scenario; once again, a woman divides herself from other women and villainizes “feminism” as the reason why she will no longer be able to objectify herself for profit.

The issue, quickly stated, is that Formula 1 announced on last week that it would end the practice of sending models in tight clothes bearing sponsor names out onto the grid holding driver name-boards.

In Davies’ own words: “‘Feminists’ .. You're not defending women.. you're actually defending women who are threatened by other women who are in a career that you know absolutely nothing about other than what you see on the exterior.”

Giorgia, Giorgia, Giorgia. The evil feminists have not the power of the capitalist machine to rob thee of thy post. Does anyone really think that an $8 billion company would stop the use of “grid girls” to placate a group of hairy-pitted, stinky, ugly, angry, yelling feminists who feel threatened by you?


If there’s one insight from an education in the humanities that I would wish to pass on to the people who believe Davies’ identification of the locus of her problem in feminism is the following: when a company or governmental decision is made which appears to be of disadvantage to you, the chief motivation of this decision is probably not to fulfill the wishes of the small, activist or oppressed group which you seek to vilify.

I know that sounds self-defeating.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation to be an activist in a time period in which you don’t believe you will overthrow the structures which constantly reaffirm inequality and stifle opportunities for the underprivileged. As someone who believes in fighting for better pay and social programs for the poor, for the protection of the environment, and for a world in which women are not regularly objectified and interrupted in professional scenarios (although I don’t think I am active enough to be a proper activist (yet?)), I often feel like the most I will accomplish is a drop of clean water in the culture bucket full of contaminated oil. But sometimes enough water drops cause the bucket overflow, and a small portion of the oil begins to stream down its exterior.

The reality is that most feminists have been beaten down far too many times to be under an illusion that our actions will have immediate, grave consequences. Rather, most of us believe in sustained (often slow) work to change a culture which has a long history of oppressing women and denying us opportunities.

This is why something like the F1 ban on grid girls is appreciated by feminists in a bittersweet way. While the decision is not the direct consequences of "screaming bitches," it is nevertheless a signal that Formula 1 has likely concluded that it will make more money by refraining from mixing auto racing with the objectification of women. It signifies that women who parade between the cars and in service of male drivers alienates potential F1 customers.

So that slow culture shift I mentioned? Maybe it is happening in a way feminists can celebrate. But at the same time, let's admit the forces behind decisions such as this one are not feminists directly, but profit. Dollaz. Money. And the market is fickle. Its results, while they can embody elements of social change to appeal to customers, can also be highly oppressive.

By villainizing women, particularly feminists, for a culture shift in which her objectified body is deemed to no longer have a place on a race grid, Davies also alienates the men who support a more inclusive environment surrounding auto racing, or just feel uncomfortable watching the sport in a sexist environment. Davies thus contributes to the detrimental misconception of feminism that it excludes men. Those who have been in a historically dominant position in reference to any oppressed group are more often than not involved in their liberation.   

Davies’ post contains all kinds of other infuriating elements. Her invocation of not having a stable income to go back to after her maternity leave begs the question of why her redundancy would be more important than the far more insidious ways that one in seven women are made redundant after their maternity leave. 

But most importantly, the idea she thinks she “deserves” her job shows an entitlement based on the fulfillment of traditional beauty standards which is enough to make us question her latent feelings of superiority to women who do not fulfill those standards (an analysis of this point could draw on all kinds of research in intersectionality). Her direct claim that her body "offends" me, as a feminist, because of my "insecurities," underscores this entitlement.

Indeed, Giorgia Davies seems to think we all just want to be her.

This is a typical example of a privileged woman considered conventionally beautiful kicking and screaming the moment she can no longer profit from the system by simply existing (in tight clothes).


I didn’t know if I would address the “I. Can’t. Even.” part of Davies’ post in this piece, but I’m going to, because it underlines how deeply people like her internalize social privilege.

Davies draws an analogy between the unidentified feminist villain who thinks she does not “deserve” her job, and said villain’s assessment of rape victims. Her argument is that if we deny her the “fact” that she “deserves her job,” because at her job she self-objectifies (wears minimal clothing), then we must also make the analogous judgment that women who are raped also deserve their rape based on the clothing they were wearing at the time of the incident.


Why am I even addressing this shit? Oh right, narratives about privilege and entitlement. People who benefit from a societal system that discriminates among possibilities for individuals, such as employment and social status, based on race, class, gender, conformity to traditional beauty standards, and sexuality, often become convinced that they inherently deserve what they have. Therefore, Davies is convinced she deserves her job, and all of us who are not “deemed attractive,” to use her language, are just jealous of her.

The only language she finds to articulate the work on the basis of which she “deserves” her job is that she “promotes a healthy lifestyle” and looks after her body. I call bullshit on that logic. We all know plenty of people who eat healthy and “look after their bodies” and yet do not conclude, in material or idealistic terms, that they “deserve” any particular jobs based on that criteria. Not to mention that this exact language is often used to justify fat hate and fat discrimination.

So Giorgia – I’m here to tell you that no, you don’t actually deserve your privilege. It’s something you incurred largely by chance. Thereby, you also do not deserve your job.

Rape victims, on the other hand, never, ever, ever, deserve to be raped.