Coventry has just welcomed its giant 2012 Olympic puppet mascot of Lady Godiva back into the city, wearing her Zandra Rhodes designer dress.
Which I find disappointing. The story of Lady Godiva is that she rode naked through the city in protest at the imposition of additional taxes on Coventrians. The story behind the story is that this was as an invention many years later to discredit a wealthy and successful woman landowner – a political smear to make her appear cheap and tawdry. The citizens of Coventry decided she was a hero to be celebrated.
I like my heroines dirty. Forget princesses and virgins. One of the reasons for writing erotica is seeing sex and sexuality as potential sites for resistance, revolution, redefinition. A battleground for pleasure and empowerment, sex positive reimaginings in a world of increasing commodification and fetishisation.
Godiva is still a powerful narrative, whatever the true story. A naked revolutionary using the political power of her sexuality and gender. The Pussy Riot of her day.
It seems such a shame to cover her up. I want a naked puppet with huge wooden nipples defiantly on display. She looks quaint but powerless. She could be anyone.
Today, London demonstrates against Russia’s latest homophobic laws as Sochi prepares to host the Olympics. How brilliant would it have been if Coventry’s Olympic mascot had ridden naked in support of her Russian sisters and brothers, defying a convention that worships the Olympic Ideals of corporate commercialism above human rights.
In my mind, she did. Here’s to the true revolutionary spirit of Lady Godiva, and dirty heroines everywhere.