Celebs In Trouble – The Thoughts Behind It

Last week I posted a half-arsed comic featuring three female celebrities. I’ve been criticised for this on several accounts and since I haven’t given any words on the post itself, here’s are my thoughts on the whole subject.

Let’s start off with what I am actually laughing at on the images.
a) The tables in society are suddenly turned and Madonna has to respond to the new people in power, The Feminists, and explain the reasons for her anti-feminism. I like this one the most and so this is the one I am more eager to defend.
b) Beyonce, in a continuing effort to appear smiling at all times, has pulled out a funny face. I make fun of the fact that she doesn’t seem to want to be seen non smiling, so much so that a funny smiling face which reeks of a pose is better for her than no smile at all.
c) Scarlett’s pose is, frankly, ridiculous. Her eyes are vacuous and her is mouth opened for no good reason in a good impersonation of “The Fuck Me Look”, her hair is floating and her bag is up in the air. Sheer nonsense in any normal life situation.

Now onto the wider topic of why I think it’s OK to laugh at and criticise female celebrities. In short words: because they hurt us all.
Let’s start with a quote I already quoted in what later became this blog’s most popular post for entirely un-feministy reasons.
It’s by Gail Dines, and I’m just gonna include the last bit:

“(…) When Madonna goes out, and talks about women and puts out the message that women are exactly as men thought they are (pornographic men), it’s all right for Madonna to say that, cuz’ you know what, she travels with beefy guys who protect her. It’s you and I walking in that fucking parking lot at night that have to deal with the guys who believe this. So that’s the problem when women talk about their choices is that every single one of us suffers in some level.”

I don’t think I can improve on what she’s said, but I’ll try.
First, I shoudl perhaps add that I have left out a small piece of Dines’ speech, seeing as she didn’t go on through that path. But her exact words were “when Madonna, in her “feminist” way, goes out …”. That detail is important to understand why I consider Madonna te be one of the greatest anti-feminist woman of our time: precisely because she dresses up her anti-feminism as feminism. But let’s go on.

This story is very old. People from oppressed minorities and groups sideline with the oppressor to obtain personal advantages at the expense of their own group. It’s a tactic that feminists understand very well. And it’s precisely the reason why feminists feel they can criticize blatant anti-feminist women like the worm who wrote that vile stuffed column about how women are really REALLY sucky. They have betrayed us, and the loyalty we reserve for each other is, thus, gone. And, I think, rightly so.

Now, why do I think that female celebrities, for the most part, have “sidelined with the oppressor to obtain personal advantages”? Well, because their entire “celebritiy” status, the basis of their career, is precisely that of “being there for the menz”. If you magically removed menz from the equation, this women’s status would fall to pieces. They are embracing and encouraging patriarchal attitudes which have and continue to hurt women everywhere. Namely that we, women, are a sexual tool for men’s fantasies, that we are all “gagging for it”, that the sole purpose of our existence is to have men come and take us. What I call “making men’s balls jingle”.
Madonna has based her entire career on it. Well, that and creating pointless controversy, but let’s leave that aside for the moment. She didn’t have a “point” when she started and she doesn’t have it now. Her goal wasn’t for women to be sexually confidence, or for sex to be less taboo. Because she continues to carry on with the same poisonous attitude today. Without her talent to make men’s balls jingle, she would have never gotten anywhere.
Beyonce and Scarlett are just smaller examples of the same thing. One is a porno-pop-star, the other is a porno-pop-actress. What do I mean by that? That their success is based mainly in their ability to sell “sex”. Like porn-actresses, though less explicit, their goal is the same: making men’s balls jingle. Without that, they wouldn’t have gotten far either.

All of this has many effects. The main one is to condone the prevalent idea that women are here for men’s visual pleasure. This, in turn, affects the conditions of women everywhere. From sexual assault to campaigning for president, the whole perception of what women are is shaped constantly by the depictions of women like these. And they are complicit, there’s no way around it.
Another effect is to literally boycott the careers of talented women who refuse to play into this game. See, making men’s balls jingle might bring you fame and fortune, but it doesn’t get you silly little things like respect from your fellow women, recognition for your hard work and the always undervalued sense that you are doing something worth doing. If I may be allowed a moment of boldness, Billy Holiday and Aretha Franklin didn’t work as hard as they did so that Beyonce could become famous for her legs and arse.
Yet another effect is to make mere mortal women feel like shite. They present themselves as an impossible ideal, the underlying assumption being if THEY can be like this, then surely everyone can. One could say that this is not the celebrities’ fault; that this is all the doing of big corporations selling junk. But lo and behold, celebs do profit from this inmensely. They lend their faces to the big corporations so they can sell the junk. In this they are complicit. And we also have to consider how celebrities themselves are made up to look like something they are not through entirely artifical means. From make up and lighting to photoshop and surgery. We rarely hear them complaining about all this. What we DO hear is their blatant denial that they’ve had anything “done”. Way to go.

One last thing. I believe that this siding with the oppressor happens in all areas of life and is perhaps the main reason preventing women from marching as a whole to improve their situation. Which is why I am not willing to give any woman, celebrity or not, a pass just because they are women who suffer under patriarchy. We all suffer under patriarchy. And some of us pay an incredibly high price when we refuse to side with men.

People may say that criticizing female celebrities is not very useful. And I give you that. It does have the unwanted effect of removing men from the equation. I wish I could be a more positive person and use my abilities to help advance the feminist cause by bringing the spotlight to the people who are causing the real damage. I am aware of this, and, for what is worth, you have my word that I will try my best to change this aspect of myself.

I hope all of this has made my position somewhat clearer. You can disagree and that’s fine. I think the only thing we should restraing from is shutting up.

26 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I get what you’re saying, but it is a very fine line between this and blaming women for men’s behaviour. Madonna may help reinforce undesirable conceptions of femininity than are bad for womankind, but she is not responsible if a man attacks you- he is. (Because if he couldn’t help it because he was culturally conditioned to think that way, then neither can Madonna be held responsible for her actions- she was culturally conditioned in the same way).

  2. 2

    marytracy9 said,

    Exactly. But just as it would be foolish to deny the existence of a culture that condones violence against women, we cannot ignore the effect that these women have in our culture. If a guy attacks you it is, indeed, his fault. But it’s not less true that there is a constant drumming in society that says that violence against women is “no big deal”. Feminists spend a lot of energy trying to raise awareness over that dreadful drumming. Because the drumming might not cause all men to attack women, but it sure as Hell poisons their attitudes towards women. With female celebrities who sell sex, it’s the exact same principle.

  3. 3

    Liz said,

    I also understand what you’re saying, but like the above comment says, I do think there is a fine line here. On one hand, I agree that celebrities DO have a lot to answer for, because they are role models and people supposedly look up to them. Especially if they are celebrities just for the sake of being famous and haven’t actually done anything in particular to warrant that fame (Paris Hilton, Big Brother contestants, etc etc).

    But the one things that really bothers me is the way that women, men and the media are critical of the appearance of celebrity women. The way that their appearance is criticised also affects all women because it is then seen as acceptable to criticise the appearance of any woman that walks past us and make assumptions about character and personality based upon that. What we see of these celebrity women is what the media want us to see, and what kind of ‘made up’ persona the celebrity wants us to see. They are not the actual reality of the person, what they are really like.

    Madonna is very intelligent with the way she manipulates the media. I think the issue is that a lot of women with the kind of economic and visible power that celebrities like Madonna have, and the ways in which they use this power. There isn’t a problem with analysing the power dynamics of wealth and affluence but women like Madonna have worked very hard to create a certain image and persona – whether we agree with the ways they use this or not.

    Like me, for example – I am what the media and society calls ‘overweight’ or even fat, yet I love fashion and make-up and stuff. I indulge in things that may be called ‘frivolous’ yet I also have a degree and am doing a Masters degree (in women’s studies). I’ve had my fair share of comments re. my appearance or of ‘scathing’ looks from other women (because I’m overweight/fat? because I like clothes/make-up??). A lot of women I know also love make-up and fashion and are smart, intelligent people, some of them feminists (even radical feminists). I’ve covered a lot of these conundrums on my blog – whether you can be feminist and wear make-up, why we have to feel guilty for doing things that other people think is not ‘feminist’ enough.

    Yes, certain celebrities have a lot to answer for when it comes to how much power they have over the media and what they DO with that power, but at the same time, I really think that if we are to get anywhere, criticising women for appearance should really be avoided. I think actions are more important than image.

  4. 4

    marytracy9 said,

    Liz, I understand what you are saying and I agree. I haven’t criticized any woman for her appearance and I’m not willing to do so in this life or others. I’m criticizing these women’s attitudes and actions. The “Fuck Me Look” is an attitude and an action, not a matter of appearance. All these women have to do is stop giving that look which says, as Gail Dines has pointed out, “Fuck Me”. It’s a facial expression. And when I criticize Beyonce’s smile all I’m saying is “Dude, there is no need to be smiling all the time, especially when you don’t feel like it”. Again, a facial expression.
    As I said, I don’t criticize women on the basis of their looks. It’s utterly pointless and completely anti-feminist.

  5. 5

    Liz said,

    Okay. Perhaps the whole thing is that you could clarify your intentions when doing stuff like that? I do think you have a lot of talent.

  6. 6

    Although equally, it is society’s fault that we interpret such as smile/outfit/attitude as ‘fuck me’. The problem is that wearing (or not wearing) a sexy outfit is not going to stop women being understood as sex objects; it will not stop objectification without a paradigm shift. In the past showing your ankles was ‘selling sex’, while now a woman showing her ankles wouldn’t make people blink. When Madonna started out, she asserted the right for woment to have an explicit and overt sexual identity- that was a big deal for feminists- because it was something that was denied women. Today, that same act of resistance is used to reduce women to little more than their sexual identity. In fact, can you actually think of an image that a woman could present in public that wouldn’t be fetishized by somebody? The problem is that a refusing to participate in one particular fashion or behaviour is not the answer- we would just fetishise something else (look at the way her blouse tickles her chin- wait, is that the bottom of her sole- what a slut!). We need to move past a system where women are reduced to little more than products.

    It is also very difficult to tell celeb women not to work for these companies or allow their image to be used for the media- because then we would simply have a return to a period where women are no longer allowed in the public sphere (another hard won right!). I guess celeb women could work harder to admit to air-brushing, cosmetic work etc, but, on the other hand, is this the same as saying ‘hey women in the public sphere you are a role model- act like it’- as opposed to ‘ you are a human being who doesn’t have to represent the whole of womankind- we will not expect you to be perfect and hold you to a higher standard than we would hold anybody else, than we would hold a man’. Unfortunately, expecting women in the public sphere to be ‘perfect’ (whether in body shape or in feminist values) just reinforces that women are good/moral/better, which denies them their humanity.

    I agree that female celebrities frequently reinforce the patriarchal system, but when we say ‘don’t behave like that; do this'; ‘don’t dress like that; dress like this’, so do we. It may be a stupid question, but what would your ideal women celebrities behave like anyway? And what happens when, say, hairy legs or being over-weight is once more the standard for beauty (as it has been in the past), do those women need to change (quick shave your legs)? Can we ever be one step ahead of system that constantly adapts to fetishise and oppress women? If we spend our whole lives trying to be one step ahead, are we actually changing the system or just reinforcing it?

    I realise that this means that it seems that we can make no stand or have no goals, but I don’t think that is true. I just think we need to be more cautious about how we move forward than to condemn women whose behaviours are currently the most fashionable form of femininity.

    Sorry about the rant; please take this as a compliment at what your post inspired, not an attack!

  7. 7

    I should also say that in the above comment I use clothing/ image as anaology a lot, but you exchange those examples with things like beyonce’s smile or other ‘sexy’ behaviours.

  8. 8

    Lara said,

    “If you magically removed menz from the equation, this women’s status would fall to pieces.”

    This is EXACTLY why I think the graphics you made of Scarlett Johanssen and Beyonce are indefensible. These women’s careers rely on men’s approval and support. That’s the condition of women today. Why you blame these women for men’s creation and perpetuation of the “fuck me” look is just unbelivable.
    The images and photos you see of the two women (I am excluding Madonna from this whole thing because your disgust with Madonna and her actions is something I share with you, and for the same reasons) are not images of these women so much as they are images of what men want women to be.
    Get it?

  9. 9

    Lara said,

    “People may say that criticizing female celebrities is not very useful. And I give you that. It does have the unwanted effect of removing men from the equation. I wish I could be a more positive person and use my abilities to help advance the feminist cause by bringing the spotlight to the people who are causing the real damage. I am aware of this, and, for what is worth, you have my word that I will try my best to change this aspect of myself.”

    So then why did you take up so much of the blog trying to defend the images. Stop making excuses and admit that what you did was straight up sexist.
    I am sorry for coming off as really terse and rude but I am just in shock by all this.
    Did you think these women pulled sexism out of their asses? It’s because that’s how they’ve been raised as women: to constantly try to gain approval from men. I hate their beliefs, I don’t like the way they live, and I certainly don’t think they’re “empowered” (as the folks at Natalia’s blog would like you to believe), but I know better than to blame them for the way men (ya know, the producers, CEOs, directors) use them or encourage them to perpetuate sexist beauty standards. Let’s put the blame where it really belongs: on men.
    Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick I can’t believe I actually had to write that at a radical feminist blog….

  10. 10

    D said,

    The very fact that you make this about “sides” rather shows what type of person you are.

    Feminism isn’t about “sides”. It’s not “us” and “them”, or “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us!”.

    ugh.

  11. 11

    Liz said,

    I completely agree with Feminist Avatar. If we put the blame (no matter how little blame) on female celebrities, it is just another form of policing women’s actions/image. Historically, what is supposedly modest/immodest has changed dramatically. I think in some ways, women feeling freer to wear what they want is good. As feminists, we are meant to be avoiding this policing and instead looking at why women feel they need male approval, particularly when you are a celebrity. I don’t know an awful lot about Madonna (because I gave up gossip stuff ages ago) but I get the impression that she has worked hard to get where she is. Especially in a male-dominated culture and industry – whether we agree with how she got there or what her actions have been. What does need overhauling is the attitudes that mean women have to police what they wear (or don’t wear), how they act in public, what they say, or don’t say, etc etc. I am fully prepared to notice someone say that I’m seeking male approval when I go out wearing a low cut top – when I’m not. Behaviour like this is learnt from somewhere, and that is what we should aim to look at and try to change.

  12. 12

    pisaquaririse said,

    I think your problem is more with the people designing the shoots, *coaching* these women, and posing them Mary Tracey. Plenty such people are men.

    It’s hard to give these females too much intent or known motivation because we only see the glossy surface layer. I don’t know how many times Scarlett has said in a meeting “yes, but can I instead do this?” and was ignored, or threatened the job. Or Beyonce has broken down and flipped her shit at all the acting coaches and image consultants. There is so much we don’t see and yet so much time put into the artificial for celebrity’s “image” that assigning the actual person responsibility for how they are postured becomes very messy.

    So I don’t think your original issues with the images are with the women themselves but how they are portrayed and that lens you are forced to see them through is not a female-centered one. *(not your fault or the celebrities’)

    However, I find this an extremely important point:
    “People from oppressed minorities and groups sideline with the oppressor to obtain personal advantages at the expense of their own group.”

    Yes. And I think one can say this and *still be against* the oppressor.
    What’s dangerous about this scenario here is that it legitimizes the oppressor’s actions. As in, “If *I* (oppressed) can gain advantages from the oppressor (advantages preset by the oppressor and thus accepted by a great many in society as such) then why can’t you?”
    It focuses everyone back on the *what the oppressed minority* must be doing wrong since some have made it through. I think that situation can snag revolutions for a looooooong time.

    And I believe one can point out when that happens without making it about the individual people. It’s hard–especially when people come out and say after everything that “they are in control.” It’s something we should work on–something we don’t have worked out yet since people are so afraid to get into the highly important gray areas–which are mucky, difficult, controversial, more picky and detailed. Much easier to simply critique those who venture those waters than to make the situations easier to navigate.

    Which brings me to my next point: You will note Mary Tracy that while you are getting heavily critiqued for criticizing women the posts of yours receiving the most responses and attention are those where women have found reason to criticize you.

    The microcosms are everywhere on every level depending on how quick your zoom in/out function is.

  13. 13

    pisaquari said,

    Your name is spelled “mary tracy” without an “e”! :/ !

  14. 14

    Arantxa said,

    I know that it takes force to make women smile constantly and strike ridiculous poses. Those pictures are evidence of that force. That is why I can only empathise with the women pictured.

    As for the ability of some women to obtain advantages: what are those advantages? Freedom from sexist oppression? Are these women no longer at the receiving end of male violence?

  15. 15

    Polly Styrene said,

    What the ‘patriarchy made them do it’ argument ignores though, in the case of media women and celebrities, is that there are media women and celebrities who DON’T go along with the anti feminist agenda. In the case of actors I can think off the top of my head Tilda Swinton, Meryl Streep, Brenda Blethyn, Imelda Staunton Julie Walters, all successful actors who don’t play along with male created images. Musicians – how about Amy Winehouse, (mega successful on sheer talent alone), Tori Amos, Pink – fifty percent of the time – she’s done some appalling stuff but also some good stuff. It isn’t necessary to play along with the patriarchal images, it’s just easier. As for anti feminist women in the Media – the list could go on for ever.

    And that is why I think it is legitimate to criticise celebrity/media women who yes – uphold the patriarchy. No they didn’t create it. But what they do is when a woman crticises it, it makes it much, much easier for the patriarchy to deflect crticism, and to portray that woman as wrong. “You’re just a bad unfeminine women – these good women are so much more acceptable/successful than you”. And to convince them that playing along with patriarchal standards is the path that will help them succeed in life. The collaborators become a stick that the patriarchy can beat non-collaborators up with.

    If ALL women refused to play along with the patriarchy it would lose it’s power a lot more quickly. But when a percentage of women collude with it for personal advantage, -not survival but wealth – that increases it’s power.

    The degree of free will that we all have is limited, but the truth is that in the case of wealthy western female celebrities and other women in the media, that free will is much larger than the average woman. Nobody is forcing Madonna, Beyonce, or Scarlett Johansson to do anything economically. They are all wealthy enough to never need to work again for the rest of their lives. And they can’t use the excuse that they’re artists who just want to work, because they’re hardly creating good art when they’re just pumping out faux porn. They ARE powerful and are excercising a huge degree of choice in going along with patriarchal standards. Plenty of the people behind them are women as well. They may not have created patriarchy, but while they continue to feed it for personal advantage, it will continue to grow.

    The one belief that I hold in common with the empowerfulmentness crowd is that women are adults and are responsible for their behaviour. Living under patriarchy is not a sufficient reason to uphold it and make the lot of other women worse if you have the choice not to. Oh and incidentally Madonna was a fun, nouveau poppy/disco artist with an alternative/punky image when she started out. How are the mighty fallen….

    We can compare the situation to living in a racist/capitalist global economy. To what extent are we justified in saying we live in a racist/capitalist global economy, we can’t do anything about it and continuing to buy goods produced by exploited third world workers? Or do we have an individual responsibility to do what we can to rectify the situation by say, choosing ethically produced goods -even if they cost more and it’s to our personal disadvantage? Are the wealthier people in third world countries justified in gaining individual wealth by exploiting their peers because they didn’t invent capitalism? Every bit of resistance counts. And every bit of collusion strengthens the system.

  16. 16

    Lara said,

    I have read both sides of the argument and I feel torn: yes, I agree that especially white western wealthy women collude in the patriarchy and it definitely doesn’t help. And yes, women are certainly adults and can (and many do) take responsibility for their actions and beliefs; but in the other sense this whole perspective is yet again making men’s power and play in patriarchy invisible. That’s how great their privilege is. We’ve literally posted more than 15 comments complaining about these female celebrities while male celebrities that constantly use the economy, our good-looks-obsessed culture, racism, and the patriarchy to their advantage are not even mentioned once. No one in this radical feminist blog has really addressed this. That’s very disturbing, honestly.
    I really think we need to call out male celebrities and men in power a whole hell of a lot more for their stupid shit if we really want to get anywhere: how about the fact that older male celebrities get away with marrying women a half or quarter of their age? How about the fact that male celebrities perpetuate narrow ideals of masculinity that teach boys to treat women like shit? How about the fact that many of these rich and lovely male celebs have been found to be physically and verbally abusive to their female wives and girlfriends (you know, those pretty celeb women we keep criticizing)? How about the fact that they are at the core of perpetuating a capitalist and unhealthy culture that bases people’s value on what they own and how they look? I could go on and on, but those are just a few things we need to consider when we look at male celebrities.
    And no, women refusing to wear high heels is not going to rid of the patriarchy or magically create healthcare and good pay and liberation from objectificaton for women. Don’t you realize who really pulls the strings here? MEN. They will just sexualize/objectify us in some other way. If it’s not high heels or red lipstick it’ll be flat shoes and green skin that’ll be the new fetish. They control the economy, the government, fucking everything.
    All of this wasting our time constantly criticizing other women on how they dress is not only a great example of “divide and conquer” (I do not by any means sympathize with the beliefs Madonna and Johansson have, but I am referring to the women-against-women culture we live in) but is letting men off the hook. And that is a grave mistake we cannot risk to repeat.

  17. 17

    marytracy9 said,

    YAY, Polly! That’s exactly what I wanted to say! Everyone read Polly’s comment, or better still, pop over to her blog!

    Lara I understand what you say. But I think we can criticize many things at the same time without having to compromise on more important or more urgent issues. Teh Patriarchy is very big and the best way to dismantle it is to attack from many places.
    I see what you mean by “divide and conquer” but, as I said in the post, it’s not me who’s making these celebrities a “them”. They themselves are doing it. Just like when anti-feminists criticize other women; their idea is “women are stoopid, but not me, I’m not one of “those” women”.

    Ultimately, I’m not criticizing these celebrities because I’m a mean b*tch who wants to see them packed in a box and sent to Abudhabi. It’s because I think about all the women artists who have resisted this pressure to appeal at the menz knowing that doing so would mean a great personal sacrifice. It’s way easier and far more profitable to go in the other direction. But they have resisted and that is admirable. And when it comes to women who on top of resisting the patriarchal pressure go out and become feminist activists, well, that is even MORE admirable. And we should recognize it.

  18. 18

    Polly Styrene said,

    The problem is that the dividing and conquering has already been done when women uphold the patriarchy (yes I’m going to keep saying it). That IS the dividing and conquering – get women to uphold patriarchal values and men don’t need to do it. Feminists criticising it doesn’t create the division because it’s already been created. You can read the rest of what I’ve got to say at (shameless plug)

    http://sizeofacow.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/the-handmaids-tale/

  19. 19

    rychousmama said,

    “I see what you mean by “divide and conquer” but, as I said in the post, it’s not me who’s making these celebrities a “them”. They themselves are doing it.”

    Riiight….kind of like how women who are in porn are “doing it for themselves.” :/
    Um, no, men are making these celebrities a “them.” Did they pull patriarchy out of their asses? Seriously? I bet you men are just LOVING these arguments right now, they have been absolutely invisible in this. And still neither you nor Polly have addressed the bullshit male celebrities dish out every day.
    That to me says a lot.

  20. 20

    rychousmama said,

    “Just like when anti-feminists criticize other women; their idea is “women are stoopid, but not me, I’m not one of “those” women”.”

    Right, you’re not one of “those” women, which was basically the whole point of those pictures you made.
    Unbelievable.

  21. 21

    Polly Styrene said,

    I posted a long comment which appears to have disappeared into the ether – but just to recap:

    I have criticised both male and female celebrities on my blog – the current count is one of each gender, Paul McCartney and Madonna. I have also criticised the misogyny directed at female celebrities because they’re women.

    But:

    1)The fact that women didn’t create patriarchy doesn’t excuse them promoting/prolonging it – patriarchy’s been around a long time, so it didn’t originate with any man currently alive either. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Patriarchy is however unique in systems of political oppression in that a huge number of those who are oppressed by it support it. Is a black person who upholds racism justified because they didn’t create racism?

    2)Upholding patriarchy isn’t just a matter of physical force. It’s a hegemony and depends on consent and active support. When women uphold/actively promote patriarchy it makes it much harder for other women to resist. Women upholding patriarchy discredits resistance to it. The support of women is actually essential to the survival of patriarchy.

    If we take not criticising women to its logical conclusion, we would never criticise Condoleeza Rice or Margaret Thatcher. If privileged women use that privilege to oppress other women they are accountable. Am I not meant to criticise Nadine Dorries (anti abortion activist) because she’s a woman? Or Anne Widdecombe? (list of crimes too long to mention).

    Every bit of collusion helps to prolong patriarchy. Every bit of resistance helps to destroy it.

  22. 22

    Lara said,

    Polly, it’s because of this shit that I do not waste my time whining about how other women are making things bad for a “smarter girl” like me or for other feminists. Do you see how much guys are just LOVING the women-on-women bashing??
    I know, men living today did not invent patriarchy but they are the ones who make the decisions and have the upper hand. If it wasn’t for men patriarchy wouldn’t exist, period.
    Have you ever asked yourself why women, as the oppressed group, support patriarchy so much? When I was younger I hated feminists and I used to uphold the patriarchy way more than I do now, does that mean I was absolutely worthless then or might as well have gone to hell? Was there some marketplace of ideas floating around and I just decided to pick the patriarchal mindset because I was a callous misogynist or just felt like it? No. I didn’t think I was sexist at all.
    In fact, if we constantly wasted our time criticizing women for doing what they only know then most women can go to hell. But I know that this is all a system. And I know who to blame. I am not gonna go trivialize patriarchy and men’s violence and power by blaming Scarlett Johansson for everything shitty that’s ever happened to women. Period.

  23. 23

    Arantxa said,

    Lara, I can relate to what say about not thinking you were sexist at all as I can say the same of myself – both now and then. We recognise acts of sexism after the fact. That’s how it works, isn’t it?

  24. 24

    marytracy9 said,

    Lara no one is saying that these celebrities are making things bad for smarter girls or for other feminists. We think that they are making things bad for all women everywhere. And we are offering sound, logical arguments as to why we believe this is the case. I wouldn’t call that bashing.
    It is true that we all support patriarchy in one way or the other. But it’s also true that you and me and most people have very little power in the grand scheme of things. That’s why we don’t have the same responsibility as more powerful people have. (ie: I have a blog and I write about feminism, and things remain fairly unchanged. If Madonna had a blog and wrote about feminism, the whole world would probably stop)
    I don’t think anyone has suggested that these women, or any woman for that matter, is absolutely worthless or might as well have gone to hell just because she upholds the patriarchy. We are merely saying that their actions make things bad for all women, even if they make things better for them.
    Let me make clear that I don’t think we should waste our time criticizing women. In the (admittedly short) life of this blog, this is the very first time that I speak about celebrities, and I don’t think I have criticized women in the past for no good reason. And I cannot think of many feminist blogs which have done so. We can point out the wrongs in some women’s attitudes and how they affect all of us without restricting our whole speech to that. It’s about adding, not replacing.

  25. 25

    [...] This comment from Lara does a good job of expressing my discomfort with any kind of woman-blaming (which is what those cartoons are).  It is a waste of energy and talent to focus on the victim in this way, and yes, “successful” in a patriarchal sense, women like these are victims of that patriarchy just as much as you or I.  Money and fame do not make them immune.  Reading Lara’s comment, I was reminded of two songs with the title, “Stupid Girl,” one by Garbage and the other by Pink; both sung by women; women who have at various times been held up as an example of feminism, although both Shirley Manson and Pink undoubtedly adhere to patriarchy’s requirements of women in the public eye.  Both attractive to men, outspoken but not too outspoken, with the impression given in both cases that they are just playing at this “feminism” thing to give them a bit of an “edge”.  Pink even confessed to having a strippers pole erected in her bedroom so that she could entertain her husband.  Hmmm, empowerment. [...]

  26. 26

    Mary Sunshine said,

    Thanks, Polly, and Mary Tracy, for your eloquent writing and thinking on this subject. I love hearing these insights expressed.


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