The Provo­ca­teur: ‘#Metoo has de­stroyed my fe­male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try’

For­mer dancer and en­tre­pre­neur Emma-jayne Tyler, 39, says women are the real ca­su­al­ties now that events are too afraid to hire fe­male mod­els

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

an­other week, an­other group of women need­lessly los­ing their jobs as a re­sult of knee-jerk re­ac­tions to #Metoo. The lat­est vic­tims? Fe­male mod­els who pose next to art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. For years, they made a liv­ing out of be­ing at­trac­tive women help­ing to sell a prod­uct, in ex­actly the same way that any fash­ion model does. But last week, both auc­tion houses de­clared they were get­ting rid of art girls to en­sure they were ‘mov­ing with the times’.

They fol­low hot on the heels of many other in­dus­tries: For­mula One, which got rid of grid girls in Jan­uary as they were ‘at odds with mod­ern day so­ci­etal norms’ and darts, which ditched walk-on girls. Many busi­nesses have banned the use of fe­male mod­els, hostesses and per­form­ers since We­in­stein, #Metoo and the Pres­i­dents Club scan­dal in Jan­uary, af­ter reve­la­tions that hired hostesses were groped and ha­rassed at the men-only fundraiser.

But the real ca­su­al­ties from all this are the women. Lots of fe­male per­form­ers now find them­selves out of work, many of whom were happy and se­cure in their jobs be­fore. The world of en­ter­tain­ment and dance is fe­male-dom­i­nated and un­prece­dented dam­age has now been done. Isn’t fem­i­nism about giv­ing women the right to choose to do what they love? That choice has been stripped from them.

I’m di­rec­tor of The Ve­gas Show Girls and we sup­ply pro­fes­sion­ally trained dancers and show girls for events around the world. We house one of the UK’S largest se­lec­tion of cos­tumes and pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment for events such as Strictly Come Danc­ing and Danc­ing On Ice. Our dancers mainly per­form chore­ographed shows, but we also of­fer meet-and-greet ser­vices and work at char­ity events where dancers are in­stru­men­tal in help­ing to raise funds.

Fe­male guests are as ea­ger as men to have their photo taken with our show girls. They com­ment on their stun­ning cos­tumes and how beau­ti­ful they look. But it’s a wor­ry­ing time for a busi­ness like mine. Clients are scared of book­ing fe­male dancers for fear of be­ing ac­cused of sex­ism. We’ve no­ticed a sig­nif­i­cant down­turn in busi­ness as a di­rect re­sult of the re­cent scan­dals. I get emails from clients on a weekly ba­sis say­ing they want to can­cel book­ings due to the neg­a­tive press, and we can for­get about tak­ing on any new clients.

I trained as a pro­fes­sional dancer be­fore set­ting up the busi­ness 12 years ago. There are thou­sands of girls who fol­low this path – many of whom are in dance col­lege as we speak. I worry they’ll be grad­u­at­ing into a for­got­ten in­dus­try. I’m also eight months preg­nant and liv­ing in fear of the death of this trade, which I’ve worked so hard to build up. In all my years as a pro­fes­sional dancer and run­ning my busi­ness, I have never worked at an event where I have felt threat­ened or put my dancers into a sit­u­a­tion where they should feel un­safe or vul­ner­a­ble. We do it be­cause of our love and pas­sion for our jobs – this in­dus­try should be cel­e­brated and not sex­u­alised.

If any of our women are ever in an un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion they’re told to report it straight away and we wouldn’t hes­i­tate to pull dancers from an event if it seemed un­safe. It’s hard not to no­tice out­ra­geous dou­ble stan­dards too – on last week’s fi­nal of Bri­tain’s Got Tal­ent, the show fea­tured a per­for­mance from the new West End cast of Magic Mike, which saw more than 20 male dancers strip down to their trousers on prime-time tele­vi­sion.

Why are men al­lowed to carry on per­form­ing while it’s turn­ing into a dy­ing art form for women? The de­mand for equal pay and the fight for fe­male em­pow­er­ment feel con­tra­dic­tory when peo­ple are call­ing for women in my in­dus­try to lose their jobs. Just like men and women in fash­ion or mod­el­ling, their looks aid their ca­reers. Our girls are pro­fes­sional per­form­ers whose looks also play a big part in the roles they take – that’s the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

If a woman wants to use her skills and beauty for her ca­reer, that’s her choice and I see that as em­pow­er­ing. If we con­tinue like this, that choice will be taken away from us all. I hope peo­ple re­alise it’s OK to book fe­male per­form­ers, staff, mod­els and hostesses for events. You are not caus­ing of­fence. We need to stop pe­nal­is­ing women in these in­dus­tries while men carry on un­scathed.

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