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.