I was baffled when I read a flurry of Facebook posts, Twitter messages and, subsequently, national media coverage of the decision of one West Yorkshire Council to refuse a burlesque festival the use of one of its buildings.
Hebden Royd Town Council ruled that it was ‘inappropriate’ to host the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival event at the town’s picture house next year.
The town council sub-committee refused the application, stating: “The Picture House Committee does not feel that it is appropriate for Hebden Royd Town Council to be associated with the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival.
“Burlesque arouses strong feelings, and many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality.”
I really object to the term ‘arousing strong feeling’ – do they think it’s purely a sexual art form intended for people to get their rocks off? If so, they are completely missing the point.
The few times I’ve been to a burlesque show it’s been a female-dominated audience who are celebrating the beauty, confidence, creativity and showmanship of these women.
In terms of ‘demeaning’ do they mean the performers themselves who choose this career path or the women, like me, who freely choose to purchase a ticket and attend the event?
Have we somehow all been duped into being demeaned? What about actresses who choose to perform sex scenes on screen, are they being demeaned too?
It all sounds a bit too Mary Whitehouse for my liking….
In response to the news burlesque star Heidi Bang Tidy, a co-organiser of the festival, insisted that burlesque is a legal and legitimate art form.
She told the Hebden Bridge Times: “We object to being told that the people of Hebden Bridge are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to purchase a ticket for a burlesque show, that our show is not ‘appropriate’ use of a public building.”
Understandably the council’s decision has baffled the wider vintage and burlesque community who have taken to social networking sites to share their views.
So if you, like me, appreciate the talent, beauty and creativity of these fabulous women who choose to perform, make your voice count.
Hebden bridge picture courtesy of mrrobertwade via Flickr, with thanks