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Feminist org declines nude calendar cash

'We have an issue with women removing clothes'

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A group of Alloa women who got their kit off, in a charity-fundraising "Calendar Girls" stylee, are a little miffed that Scottish Women's Aid has declined to benefit from the proceeds.

Domestic abuse victim Morag Hill and business partner Katherine Cram decided to emulate the famous Rylstone Women's Institute 2000 calendar, which raised £2m for charity and spawned a movie in which Helen Mirren cemented her reputation as "least clothed British actress of all time".

Of the 11 women who appear in the "Hair Bares" initiative, "five have suffered domestic abuse", the Scotsman explains. However, when Hill approached Scottish Women's Aid offering £600, she got a bit of a shock.

She explained: "When I phoned... to tell them we had a calendar and I needed to know how we could get the cash to them, the woman on the end of the phone said they would not be associated with it.

"She said that they did not support women taking their clothes off to raise money and that they were a feminist movement. It made me feel really angry."

Jacqui Kelly of Scottish Women's Aid explained: "We are a feminist organisation and, of course, we are happy that these woman feel empowered by what they are doing. But we are opposed to the sex industry, and we have an issue with women removing clothes."

Hill said: "We are not members of the sex industry; we are just trying to help."

Opinion on Scottish Women's Aid's stance is divided. Sandra Brown, of the Moira Anderson Foundation which "helps victims of violence and sexual abuse", described the rebuff as "incredible", given the current economic climate.

She said: "If some of these women are survivors [of abuse] they know exactly what it's all about."

She added: "It's a strange overreaction, because these women are making their own decisions. It's about being assertive, and if these women have the self-esteem, then I would say 'go for it'. Unless something is abusive or deeply offensive, people will see it in the spirit it is intended."

A spokeswoman for the charity Zero Tolerance, though, described such calendars as "not the right way to highlight feminist issues".

She elaborated: "We would not take money from a calendar like that. We should be showcasing women for their talents and aspirations. Anything that focuses on women's bodies is not helpful.

"We live in a culture where female nudity is everywhere and there is too much female nudity… and not enough celebration of women's brains. It undermines our work to achieve gender equality."

The Alloa Calendar Girls hope to ultimately sell 2,000 copies of their fundraising product, although who will now benefit from the proceeds is not noted. ®

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