Saturday, February 17, 2007

This One's For The Whores

As I was traveling last week, I picked up half a dozen magazines to keep me occupied during my 7 solid hours of travel between New Orleans and D.C. I was most disappointed to find that the cover of Newsweek featured a closeup of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears smeared with the title "The Girls Gone Wild Effect." A tagline inside the magazine reads "Paris, Britney, Lindsay & Nicole - They seem to be everywhere and they may not be wearing underwear. Tweens adore them and teens envy them. But are we raising a generation of 'prosti-tots?"

The sick sensation in the pit of my stomach could no longer merely be attributed to the terrible BWI sandwhich I'd eaten. Granted, Newsweek has always been only slightly more reputable than USA Today, but this is a whole new low. And since I've been home, every news station has been running stories talking about Britney being drunk, shaving her head, needing an intervention, etc. These stories infuriate me on a number of levels.

1) This isn't news. It's just not.
The fact that any news outlet would devote a cover, much less five minutes of actual air time is outrageous. This is the job of People, US Weekly, Star etc.

2) The tenor of the commentary seems more than a tad sexist.
I think if I one day I woke up and realized that a) I was married to Kevin Federline b) I'd ruined my vagina giving birth to his spawn and c) I'd just wasted the last two years of my life with him, I would at the very least, go on a month long bender in which I would imbibe anything even vaguely alcholic in the hopes of killing the brain cells that contained the memories of our life together. Honestly, I think the girl is entitled. Let ye who has not made a relationship mistake cast the first stone.

But more importantly, as my momma likes to say "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." That is - does anyone really believe that these 4 girls are the only people in Hollywood getting "trashed" on the weekend? I'm going to go with no. Sure, one could argue that if they continue a hard partying lifestyle in which they constantly drink to excess, they're laying good ground work alcoholism and/or substance abuse. But let's say hypothetically these girls are just doing some partying but haven't yet crossed the substance abuse line - are they really acting significantly differently from their male counterparts? Why is a girl who parties an "alcoholic whore", but if you're guy you're "awesome"? Let's not forget that the "lifestyle" that claimed Anna Nicole Smith, also claimed John Belushi.

That said, there is a 95% chance that this girl will imbibe many beverages tomorrow at Mardi Gras and get herself some shiny beads. I may also make a t-shirt that says "Alcoholic Whore." Just for the record, I will not flash. That is something that only happens on a) Bourbon Street b) by midwestern housewives who are cutting lose. Trust me, you don't want to see those boobs. Locals know you don't flash.

3) I think it's hillarious that every generation thinks they've discovered sex for the first time, and parents act like its a new worry.
Of course, sex is the oldest story in the world.
Probably as soon as someone invented the word for "sex", I'd imagine the word for "whore" was just behind. There's a theory about the male gaze that has been very influential in feminist film and art theory:

The defining characteristic of the male gaze is that the audience is forced to regard the action and characters of a text through the perspective of a heterosexual man; the camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and events which occur to women are presented largely in the context of a man's reaction to these events. The male gaze denies women agency relegating them to the status of objects. The female reader or viewer must experience the narrative secondarily, by identification with the male.

Case in point,
the picture I included at the beginning of this post is entitled Odalisque which is term for an "oriental" prostitute. These Odalisque paintings were very popular in the 19th century - they're the ones you've read about that were kept behind the velvet curtains in a man's study. These sorts of paintings are often the focus of male gaze theory because while they are often great art, it shouldn't be forgotten that they're also high class porn created to be tantalizing (and seriously, look at that woman's back - she's got like 900 vertebrae).

The Newsweek tagline "
They seem to be everywhere and they may not be wearing underwear" followed by posing the question about "a generation of prosti-tots" really made me think about the male gaze theory, that painting, and all those photos floating around the internet of these girls' business. I sincerely believe that your choice of underwear - be it thong, brief, granny panty, or commando -isn't really the "whore" dividing line.

Ladies, I'll wager that 99% of us have gone sans panties at some point for one reason or another. The difference: there was no one to shove a camera in our cooter as we were getting out of a car. I am completely bewildered by the fact that no one in the media seems to object to the fact that somebody is sticking a camera in these girls' respective crotches. Is this not the male gaze in action? Sure they could put on underwear, and that would certainly be more classy, but why the hell are you looking/photographing/and publishing that?

Ditto goes for those Girls Gone Wild videos. I understand that at this point those things are completely staged, but the first videos were of drunk girls flashing at Mardi Gras - their momentary, drunken midwestern stupidity captured on tape and sold -for which they did not give their permission, nor do they receive compensation. I really don't have a problem with porn, or Maxim or any of that shit, but exploiting somebody while they're drunk and unaware, yeah, that bothers me.*

*Except for those idiots in the Borat movie - they chose to get drunk and rant in front of the camera.

4) These girls are not role models.
If your kids' hero is Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, then you are a complete fuck up as a parent. If your kids think being cute and sexy is on par with say curing cancer, you completely failed to instill any worthwhile values in your children. I think that these girls are the dregs of society, especially Paris who, with all the privileges that race and class have afforded her, can think of nothing better to do with her time than be on reality tv, party, and
(as recent videos have revealed) make biggoted and homophobic comments. But as another writer pointed out (and I'd give him credit if I could remember who it was and find his entry) Paris shouldn't apologize for her conduct because she simply doesn't matter. To be outraged at what she says implies that what she says has any meaning in the first place.

Nevertheless, I think girls should feel free to get drunk from time to time, not wear underwear, and slut it up to our little hearts' content. And if she happens to cure cancer, her choice or complete lack of underwear shouldn't negate her contribution to society. Or in the immortal words of Tina Fey in Mean Girls, "You've got to stop calling each other sluts and whores because that makes it "ok" for guys to call you sluts and whores."

In the meantime, I'll eagerly await
the Newsweek cover story "Man-sluts: When will the drinking and whoring stop?"

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