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Rashida Jones, Beautiful Tropical Fish, on Slut-Shaming Incident: A Pajiba Debate

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | December 6, 2013 | Comments ()


Rashida-Jones.jpg

As you may recall, a while back, Rashida Jones tweeted the following:

rashidatweets5.jpg

It led to a great deal of backlash, accusations of slut-shaming and misogyny. Now, Jones responds via an essay she’s penned for Glamour Magazine lamenting the “pornification” of women.

Let me say up front: I am not a prude. I love sex; I am comfortable with my sexuality. Hell, I’ve even posed in my underwear. I also grew up on a healthy balance of sexuality in pop stars. Yes, we had Madonna testing the boundaries of appropriateness, but then we also had Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Cyndi Lauper, women who played with sexuality but didn’t make it their calling card. And for every 2 Live Crew “Me So Horny” video girl, there was Susanna Hoffs singing tenderly about her eternal flame.

Twenty years later, all the images seem homogenous. Every star interprets “sexy” the same way: lots of skin, lots of licking of teeth, lots of bending over. I find this oddly…boring. Can’t I just like a song without having to take an ultrasound tour of some pop star’s privates?

I don’t want to fall into an apocalyptic swoon of “will no one think of the children?!” but there is a pervasive culture of hypersexualization that makes me uncomfortable. It’s the idea that this is what we have to give, this is what we are, this is what we’re good for, so shake it, and the idea that doing that by choice means we’re somehow in control of our sexuality. Why does grinding onstage have to be bad? But, why does it have to be good? Why does that have to be the benchmark of sexual freedom?

I’m not gonna lie. The fact that I was accused of “slut-shaming,” being anti-woman, and judging women’s sex lives crushed me. I consider myself a feminist. I would never point a finger at a woman for her actual sexual behavior, and I think all women have the right to express their desires. But I will look at women with influence—millionaire women who use their “sexiness” to make money—and ask some questions. There is a difference, a key one, between “shaming” and “holding someone accountable.”

So back to the word whore. My hashtag was “stopactinglikewhores.” Key word, acting. Like I said, I’m not criticizing anyone’s real sex life; as George Michael tells us, “Sex is natural, sex is fun.” But the poles, the pasties, the gyrating: This isn’t showing female sexuality; this is showing what it looks like when women sell sex. (Also, let’s be real. Every woman’s sexuality is different. Can all of us really be into stripper moves? The truth is, for every woman who loves the pole, there’s another who likes her feet rubbed. But in pop culture there’s just one way to be. And so much of it feels staged for men, not for our own pleasure.)

The next quote is the part that really spoke to me personally, as the parent of a daughter, as a parent who 19 months in is already concerned about how I’m supposed to teach my daughter to have a healthy relationship with her sexuality but how not to think that sexuality is all she has going for her. I don’t want my kid judging others for having sex or being sexual but I also don’t want her dancing on a pole for a guy’s attention. I don’t know how to find that line, and I don’t know how to find the between agreeing with Rashida and feeling guilty about it, feeling like I shouldn’t and not being able to pinpoint why.

And then there’s this: What else ties these pop stars together besides, perhaps, their entangled G-strings? Their millions of teen-girl fans. Even if adult Miley and Nicki have ownership of their bodies, do the girls imitating them have the same agency? Where do we draw the line between teaching them freedom of sexual expression and pride in who they are on the inside? Are we even allowed to draw a line?

I’m torn. I want a world where baring it all doesn’t make a woman a whore. I want a world where people shouldn’t have to feel bad for putting sexuality on display. But I also want a world where a woman’s body isn’t a commodity bought and sold by record companies, music video directors and Terry Richardson for the titillation of the public, used to make these women seem like naughty bad girls because all that does is make them seem like what they’re doing—what they’re being told to do—is bad and naughty. It’s a fucked up, weird situation and I don’t even know where to stand, and as soon as I think I’m standing I fall over because even when I think I know, I’m not standing at all, just leaning and wavering. And I don’t like that. It makes me feel like an awful feminist, like an awful person.

We’ve come to a point in the conversation where I don’t know where the line is or if it exists or should exist. And I guess I’m glad this point is here at all, that the conversation is being had. This is a good problem to have. But the conversation needs to keep being had, and shutting someone down every time the conversation begins or decrying anything less than a celebratory “you go girl” as slut-shaming is not the way to do that.

So, let’s have it. That’s what the comment section is here for.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Joseph Howe

    Can't have your cake and eat it too.

  • Maddy

    I might be biased because I think Rashida Jones is awesome, but I just think it's good to have this conversation without people pointing fingers and being all 'bad feminist!!!'. She sounds like she's honestly trying to unpack her thoughts on this issue, and I appreciate that. Intellectually, I HATE the whole slut-shaming thing, but I also know that I sub-consciously judge people (especially women) on how they dress and behave - maybe because it's societally ingrained for me to think that way, but maybe I also suck. This might sound really lame, but I'd rather people have an intelligent conversation about this than start yelling at each other.

  • manting

    Rashida's points seemed right on target to me. Don't get the whole "slutshaming" thing here.

  • Fletch

    I agree with Rashida, and even think she doesn't go far enough. I should start my comment by saying that I am a Christian and this will inform my opinion.

    What I don't understand is why being a "feminist" means putting your sexuality on display, or why this is supposed to be a good thing. Is it to attract men? To have sex? I don't think being 'feminine' means having to be overtly sexy. Look at women like Audrey Hepburn - could she ever be said to be a prude? Yet she was classy and feminine.

    A woman named Jessica Rey has started her own swimwear line in the U.S that is more tasteful and modest. She originally made the swimsuits for herself and then found that every time she wore one out, that women would stop and ask her where she got it.

    http://www.reyswimwear.com/

    She reports on a study that examined brain scans of men when looking at scantily clad women. It turned out that the area of the brain that lit up was the one associated with tools, like screwdrivers and hammers. Some men in the study showed zero brain activity in the medial pre-frontal cortex which is the part of the brain that lights up when one ponders a person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions. It’s as if they are reacting to women dressed scantily as though they are things, and not human; objects and not people.

    Is that the way women want to be seen?

  • Dumily

    You know, something remarkable just happened. I was all set to post a response about how patriarchal societies attempt to control women's sexuality in an attempt to control their reproduction, and that the study you mentioned actually applies to all women, not just scantily clad ones, and how encouraging women to cover up instead of telling men to respect women regardless of how their dressed just plays into the idea that women's bodies are always sexual. But then I remembered: I don't have to give a crap. You feel free to continue believing what you want about my sexuality, and I'll continue not caring. You, the Church, the Tea Party, Ann Perkins. I just can't care anymore what any of you think about me.

  • manting

    I think its that women want the choice. It's that simple. Women want the choice to act in a non-traditional way sexually since they WERE NOT ALLOWED TO for hundreds of years. Think of the Scarlet Letter, slut shamming is nothing new. Remember that until very recently women have had very few choices or power. Women couldn't vote, drive, be a doctor, Lawyer, architect, divorce, serve in the military, inherit, use birth control, prevent their husbands from beating them under the law, deny their husbands sex (as late as 1970 it was not rape to force yourself upon your wife in nearly every state in the U.S.), and so forth. Not to be a dick but Christianity was a big reason for every single limit on a women's choices. At least in the U.S. So in the past century women have greatly expanded their equality. It is perfectly natural to test the bounds of this equality which includes oversexualization(when compared to the more traditional sexual norms forced on women). Considering how long and how badly men have held women back I try to keep out of their way when it comes to matters of freedom and equality, since who would know better than a women about what a women wants/deserves. Abortion is a great example of this. I don't have a womb and cant carry a baby, therefore my opinion on abortion doesn't mean shit since Im not a women. Imagine how crazy it would be if our govt was 90% women and they were forever passing laws about vasectomies. When we could get them and under what conditions, whether a proctologist administered colonoscopy would be required for every man getting one. Would men put up with this? I know its not the same as abortion but its the closest analogy to it.

  • Fletch

    Men have held women back? Really? Perhaps in some ways, but I think that the women's lib thing and the pill were the biggest con-job's men pulled on women. These gave men the opportunity to have no-consequence sex with women out of wedlock as much as they wanted. No responsibilities. And women think they got liberated? I've noticed with young people that sex seems to be a meaningless, temporary, Friday night pleasure; akin to having a drink or a smoke. You don't have to be in love with the person; in fact, "love" has little to do with it.

    I think we need to really look at what sex is and why we do it. Is it purely for the pleasure? This could also be applied to other activities like eating: do we eat because food tastes good? For the pleasure of eating? . Food tastes good and we enjoy eating but is the enjoyment we get from the taste of food the real reason we eat it? No, the real reason we eat food is to nourish our bodies and keep them running.

    Likewise, I think that sex is being abused in today's society. The good feeling of doing it is trumpeted as the main reason for sex, but one of the main reasons (childbirth) is ignored.

    I know that people think that The Bible is stuffy and that prudes read it etc. Fair enough, but think on this: if everyone were to follow what the Bible and the Church teach - ie, not having sex until marriage, being faithful to your husband or wife in marriage and not cheating, etc - do you think they'd be any such thing as AIDS? or other sexual diseases? I doubt it somehow. There probably would not be a need for contraception or abortion either.

  • Anna von Beav

    So I guess those of us who don't want marriage or children are just basically shit out of luck, then.

    THANKS, OBAMA. >:(

  • manting

    If we followed what the church teaches (I assume you mean the Catholic Church) then there would be a whole lot of pedophilia going on (because, you know the hundred years of records that have come out concerning the colossal coverup of systemic pedophilia among priests in every country that church has a presence). Not to mention overpopulation (no birth control), a dramatic increase in poverty (no birth control meaning the poor would be forced to conceive at a rate of one child per year until menopause leaving poor families to raise somewhere between 15-25 children), and women in no positions of power(the highest rank a women can achieve in the Catholic Hierarchy is mother superior which is below a priest). I do agree that our society is a little over sexualized but that is a small price to pay for freedom and equality. There is nothing wrong with being a Christian, in fact I admire the philosophy espoused by Christ, but I have yet to meet more than one or two true Christians in my entire life. Nonjudgemental, forgiving, kind, charitable to a fault, these are the characteristics of a true follower of Christ. Most of the Christians I have met are xenophobic, bigoted, cruel, and greedy. Just look at the republican party (the party that invokes Jesus every ten seconds) and the tea party in particular. They hate poor people, gay people, brown people, and black people, and anyone of a different faith. Not very Christian.

  • Fletch

    Actually, there is less peadophila in the Catholic Church than there is in public schools and other institutions. The Church is only targetted because some people don't like it. Carol Shakeshaft did a report commissioned for the Department of Education in 2004 that found, "... the physical sexual abuse of students in [public] schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by [Catholic] priests." Newsweek also did a story, reporting that priests abuse no more than any other man (which of course they should not at all, but that isn't the point I am trying to make). http://www.newsweek.com/priest...

    By the way, the Church believes in *natural* birth control, which is just as effective as the Pill.

    Overpolulation is a myth that has been exploded years ago. But your points are the talking points of liberals, and they like to stick to them.

  • manting

    Also here is one of my favorite scenes from the Departed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... I think it sums it up pretty well

  • manting

    Nice deflection. Even though Shakeshaft study is totally flawed (she lumped sexual harassment claims numbers with sexual abuse numbers. This tripled her numbers.) since sexual abuse is not the same as sexual harassment that's not the point. Teachers dont put themselves forward as the representatives of god. They do not put themselves forward as moral authorities. the Catholic Church puts itself forward as the ultimate moral authority on the planet and the only path to eternal salvation. For the institution of the Church to cover up the pedophile priests, to move these priests from Parish to Parish where they continued to destroy the innocence of 10's of thousands of children around the world, and then to threaten the children who came forward (and their families) with excommunication if the accusations were brought to police, is one of the great moral betrayals in the history of humankind. Never has an institution so trusted and one that holds itself as the ultimate religious moral authority in the world committed such a heinous act of betrayal upon its OWN most innocent and helpless followers. The fact that you attempt to defend this is beyond sickening. Your answer should be simply - yes the church committed a series of grievous acts for which their is no defense. To do anything else is NOT CHRISTIAN.

  • chanohack

    Natural birth control is NOT just as effective as the pill, because when I was on abstinence I lost thirteen days a year to cramps.

    Also, no amount of abstinence is going to keep a woman from getting pregnant from rape. And the Bible doesn't exactly condemn rape, so that might be a problem in your new utopian Bible-based society-- maybe you'll need contraception and abortion after all.

  • Fletch

    Republicans hate poor people? Black people? That's leftist babble and completely untrue. Just because Obama is black and people say they don't like him doesn't mean they are racist. Lots of people I know would vote for Allen West or Elbert Guillory, African-Americans who actually love America (unlike Obama).

  • manting

    So explain the republican move of peeling food stamps off the farm bill. Republicans have caused, in the past six months, millions of women and children to go hungry in the U.S. What else would you call that but hatred of poor people? Your republican leaders routinely site their love for the philosophy of Ayn Rand which is odd since it boils down to fuck the poor. Not very Christian right? I mean Jesus was all about helping the poor wasn't he? Since 30% of repubs believe that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim I would say that covers the racist, xenophobic, and hating all other religions except their own. Allen West is so xenophobic its scary. He was a one term congressman and he hated anything and everything muslim. He was the black Sarah Palin/michelle Bachman, only he actually served his country through military service, which I admire, even if he was brought up on charges during his service.

  • chanohack

    Most of the terrible people I've met claim to be Christians. Of course that doesn't mean that Christianity makes people terrible, or that all Christians are terrible, but in my experience there seems to be a correlation. I think it's partially because peer pressure has less of an effect (and peer pressure can be a good thing): if you say something shitty, and a lot of people respond with "quit being shitty," you might think, "hmm, maybe I'm out of line." But Christians EXPECT to be "persecuted," so when they're met with a little or overwhelming opposition, many think, "Whelp, I must be doing something right! High-five, Jesus!"

  • manting

    being an American I always find it odd when Christians cry "persecution" here. They don't even know what persecution is. When was the last time a person was chained to the back of a pickup and was dragged to death for being Christian? When was the last time a person was lynched for being Christian? When was the last time a person was pulled over by the police for driving while being Christian? Because I say happy holidays instead of merry Christmas is not persecution, its out of respect for non Christians. If you are Christian than this neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg. I would add that out of 100 senators and 435 congressmen/persons there are exactly ZERO admitted atheists presently serving. Barney Frank admitted his non-belief after leaving congress a year ago. He came out as openly gay 25 years ago. Think of how hard it was to be openly gay 25 years ago and now think about that barney frank hid his non-belief. Atheists are (among many other groups) way more persecuted then Christians in the U.S.

  • Fletch

    That may be so in America, but Christians are being killed in their hundreds in the Middle East while the mainstream media refuse to report it. As far as Atheists being more persecuted than Christians in the U.S - you're kidding right? You must be. Oh, and just because a congressman says he's Christian, doesn't mean he is. Obama even says he is Christian but his actions say otherwise.

  • Dumily

    That's a lovely straw man you have there.

  • chanohack

    Atheists are far more persecuted in the US than Christians. That's WHY congressmen (and women) have to say they are Christian-- because if they don't, they won't be elected. If Christians were persecuted, congressmen (and women) would have to say they WEREN'T Christians to be elected. Maybe Obama isn't a Christian, but he has to claim it because atheism is unacceptable.

    I mean, YOU'VE got to be kidding, right? How can you not see or understand this?

  • manting

    "there is no more effective set of blinders than those fashioned from religion." - me

  • manting

    How are Christians persecuted in the U.S.? What actions of Obama say otherwise? I personally think Obama is an atheist but I don't pretend to know for sure since I cant see his faith. Real people of faith don't wear it on their sleeve and constantly reference it, just like real patriots don't wear a flag pin and call that patriotism.

  • Jezzer

    "Fair enough, but think on this: if everyone were to follow what the Bible and the Church teach - ie, not having sex until marriage, being faithful to your husband or wife in marriage and not cheating, etc - do you think they'd be any such thing as AIDS? or other sexual diseases? I doubt it somehow."

    Apparently stupidity would be at an all-time high.

  • Fletch

    Funny how some of the most famous scientists, poets, authors, musicians and artists are Christian then - and certainly weren't dumb. Was Lincoln dumb? He was a Christian. You might be surprised to know that the Jesuits have made more of a contribution to science than most.

    Some 35 craters on the moon, in fact, are named after Jesuit scientists and mathematicians.

    By the eighteenth century, the Jesuits had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents

  • Jezzer

    Yes. And they made those scientific accomplishments despite religion, not because of it. Ask Copernicus how receptive religious people were of the idea that the earth revolved around the sun. Ask Charles Darwin how well-received his ideas were.

  • chanohack

    He's not calling Christians dumb, he's calling YOU dumb. You're dumb to think that everyone following the Bible would solve all our problems.

    Also, Lincoln wasn't a Christian. He didn't believe in human souls or any kind of afterlife, which was a huge part of his personality and ambition, since he believed the only way to "go on" was basically to go down in history. He claimed to be a Christian and said Christian things for the same reasons that modern presidents claim to be Christians and say Christian things-- because it makes you a more attractive candidate (and in some cases, it's the only way you'll ever be elected) and it motivates the American people.

  • manting

    That's funny didn't the Catholic Church disband the Jesuit Order at one point? For over 100 years? Didn't the church view them as TOO LIBERAL? See, I went to Loyola of New Orleans, and received a degree in History from there. I was taught by a few Jesuits and they were, one and all, liberal to the bone. I would also remind you that the same catholic church banned the works of Galileo and imprisoned him for teaching the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around.

  • chanohack

    Most of your post makes me see red, but I will respond to your last point: I need the pill, not to have consequence-free sex, and not even to avoid getting pregnant, but because if I'm not on the pill I get incredibly debilitating cramps that take me OUT. I can't eat, sleep, walk, watch TV... I just lay around for about eight hours wanting to die. In fact, when I was a teenager and still prayed, I prayed more than once that if God couldn't take the pain away, could he please just kill me instead? My sister is even worse-- sometimes the pain is so bad she throws up or passes out. When I started a job and they told me I'd get thirteen sick days a year, I thought, "That's exactly how many I'll need." If I could be lucky enough to get my cramps on weekends, I could even build up a few sick days and afford to have a cold or something. I started the pill before I was having sex, and it changed my life. The idea that men somehow tricked women into embracing the pill for their own sexual ease is laughable. The idea that if everyone followed the Bible no one would need contraception is laughable. The idea that if everyone followed the Bible no one would need abortion because somehow all pregnancies would be not only within a (apparently financially stable) married relationship, but healthy and perfect and risk-free for the mother and ALL babies involved is ignorant. Seriously, you are ignorant on this topic; you need to educate yourself on reasons people (even Christian people!) choose abortions. Please read this: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com...

  • Maguita NYC

    Ah yes, The Bible. Are you talking about the part of being Christian, you know after one Jesus Christ, who not only flouted the religious laws of his time, saying that loving others is more important than adhering blindly to old laws, and yeah the same one who opened his arms to a prostitute?

    Or the Old Testament Bible where you're supposed to nail your slave's ear to the door, punish viciously your children, stone your daughters, and never shave your beard. Nothing to say of the begetting with your own children...

    “The greatest sin, and the one that is not forgiven is not believing God, and taking him at his word.”

    One cannot pick and choose. You take it all, or leave it all.

  • Fletch

    Jesus came to "complete the law" of the Old testament, not change it. In fact, He said, "Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen."

    Some of the Old Testament laws were only for a certain time though, during the Exodus etc.

  • manting

    unless you are an American catholic. Nearly all the Catholics I know are "Cafeteria Catholics," meaning they simply pick and choose which tenants of the religion they follow and ignore the others. Its very hard to argue with them since they disavow the more heinous aspects of the religion and say "Well I don't believe in that!" I inevitably respond with your final line, "One cannot pick and choose. You take it all, or leave it all."

  • e jerry powell

    I consider who Rashida's father is.

    For no particular reason.

  • Robert Sanchez III

    Hmmm... I get the impression that Rashida doesn't really like the sex trade. Does this make her a slut shamer if she feels the sex trade is wrong. does she feel this way? From the little snippets Courtney included I can't tell.

  • MJ

    Janet Jackson didn't make her sexuality her calling card??!! Um, WTF?

  • loo shag brolley

    The good news is that Cyndi Mayweather is here to save us all.

    http://media0.giphy.com/media/...

  • Walt Jr

    I enjoyed reading Rashida's opinions. They are simply that, opinions. She, you and I are entitled to them. No such thing as "slut shaming". If a male or female wants to sleep around, then do so. It's up to you if you feel bad afterwards, and no amount of "shaming" will make a difference unless YOU find shame in the behavior.

    If YOU got no shame in your game, then what does it matter what anyone else thinks? It doesn't. But, Rashida is entitled to her opinion.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    That's the same logic that bigots use to justify homophobia. "If LBGT people don't find their behavior shameful or wrong, why are they bothered by homophobia and hate speech?"
    Slut-shaming implies that a woman's worth and value are tied up to how much of her body she keeps unseen, untouched, and unpenetrated. It's this mentality that has contributed to victim blaming, depression and suicide among teenage girls, repression, and all kinds of violence against women and girls all over the world.

  • Tammy

    I hear you but shame isn't exactly voluntary. Shame is a thing one is made to feel. And not to get too heavy, but when someone in your life actually commits suicide because of shame they were made to feel because of people who come down harsh on sexuality issues, it becomes hard to dismiss the idea that shame can be a deadly weapon.

  • Belphebe

    I think it's great that her comments are generating discussion about what it means to respect self-expression while still expressing dismay that the only self-expression being championed by "taste makers" is one of generic and boring stripper fantasies. I feel the same sadness for Ms. Jones that I do for Ms. Allen. These two fierce women both tried to make a similar point in mediums that don't really allow for nuance (twitter and parody videos) yet instead of the message that they wanted to send being explored there is a big backlash because their message wasn't perfect, wasn't encompassing enough.

    It seems like the message that the feminist community likes to send to artists who clumsily try to challenge the status quo of the oversexualization of women in pop music is "careful we eat our young."

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I see a lot of comments criticizing #stopactinglikewhores hashtag because "whores are people too, and we shouldn't look down on whores"

    A whore is a person who trades money for sex. I don't personally know any whores but I can tell you for free that I do not want my daughter to be a whore. And I seriously doubt most people on this thread, as open-minded as they would like to believe they are, would like their daughter's to be whores either. I have similar thoughts on fast food work and retail but that's a different thread for a different day.

    Despite the gains made by feminism it is apparently not okay to criticize another female. We are supposed to nod and smile and pretend we agree with everything.

  • Dumily

    Whores are also women who have sex with lots of people or have sex before marriage or have oral sex withing marriage or have sex for reasons other than procreation or dress/ behave like they might do any of the above. Your definition of whore isn't universal.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    My definition of whore is the one I relay to my teenage daughter. Whore=prostitute. So you are right. I do not share that definition of "whore" that assumes a woman who is sexually active before marriage, likes sex, has lots of sex = whore. That is damaging and there has to be a distinction made.

  • Dumily

    Why?

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    why what?

  • Dumily

    Why is it damaging to to call women who fornicate whores, and why does there need to be a distinction between women who have premarital sex and women who do so for money?

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    You have to be kidding, right? Now you're okay with the word "whore"? And women who fornicate (???) and prostitutes are the same somehow? I guess I just don't get you. And I suppose that will just have to be okay.

  • Dumily

    I don't think of "whore" as a bad thing. I think it's a label that other people use to make women feel bad. And since I was called a whore before I'd even kissed anybody, I think it's based less on what sexual activity a woman has actually participated in and more on what sort of shame we can inflict on each other.

    And I think that making arbitrary distinctions between one type of sexual activity and another is a dangerous game. I think so long as a woman hasn't been coerced into prostitution and is of age then we should regulate and tax the industry. That's because overall I think, unless you can point to a direct victim, private activities (drug use, prostitution, gambling, etc.) should be legal. You think having sex before marriage is fine and being a sex worker isn't. I'm trying to figure out how you draw that distinction. Because plenty of other people think having sex before marriage makes you a whore, and they're then allowed to look down on you. I want to know your reasoning.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Maybe I'm old fashioned? And I am not religious or conservative. But I would rather have sex for fun than profit.

    And realistically it is not a respected profession in the U.S. It is not regulated or controlled or safe. And I still think that it is a last resort for women who believe it is the only way they can make money, which just adds fuel to the fire of women whose only confidence is in their sexuality.

    In some not-so-distant future sex workers might have 401k's and tuition assistance programs. But we're just not there yet. I think it's still dangerous for most women who do it for a living and until there is real regulation around it I think it is a bad idea. I think we can probably watch the progress of marijuana being made legal in more places to see how that plays out. That could be a guide to legalizing prostitution. But I digress.

    I suppose "whore" is one of those words that we could try to reclaim like "bitch". But I am not crazy about labeling women according to how they behave sexually in their personal lives. The word "prostitute" seems more respectful and professional if you are doing the work.

  • Dumily

    I'm not saying that prostitution as an industry doesn't have it's problems. But I took issue with the implication that it's acceptable to look down on whores.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    We will just have to disagree then. It is still not a choice I am personally fond of nor one that I would recommend. I am "that" person. I look down on a lot of people for reasons that have nothing to do with sex, believe me. Retail work. Fast food work. Bankers (all jobs I have done). I envy people who can go through life without judging others. I guess my heart shrunk three sizes or something.

  • Dumily

    I'm cool with agreeing to disagree. But you might actually be able to help me answer the question that I would ask Ms. Jones if I had the opportunity. Why do you care? What do you get out of judging other people? I'm not being bitchy, I genuinely would like to know.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Everyone judges whether they admit it or not. And, while I am not going to go on a weird twitter rant, if someone asks me my honest opinion I will give it. I don't believe there is any reward for judgement. It just makes people feel safer, like there are defined rules to be followed and people like to feel they are doing the right thing. So maybe judging people who we feel are breaking those rules validates our sense of right and wrong.

  • Tammy

    Good evening, I'll be Pajiba's Broken Record for this evening; aka the one waving the flag about how I don't think it's super cool to flatly say Whores Are Bad, because I happen to think sex workers are people. Because I happen to know actual sex workers. And they are, indeed, people, with complicated motivations and everything.

    I hear you. I do. No one is saying "Gee I hope my kid sells sex for a living; it sounds like a great gig!" I hope I never have a kid who feels she has to make that choice. What I am saying is that every "whore" is already someone's daughter, and I don't know what motivated her to go into the sex trade, so it sucks for me to pass judgement from the outside. If I'm super concerned with women feeling they have to make that choice, I need to work to change the conditions that created that crossroads for her (and her fellow sex workers)--if for no other reason than I've never known anyone to make a positive life change based on someone making them feel shitty. If anything, shame entrenches people in negative life choices. It's easy to say "Whore=bad," it's much more challenging to present valid alternate solutions for women stuck in shitty circumstances.

    Beyond that--if some crazy shit happened and a kid of mine found herself having to sell sex, or strip, or whatever, to put food on the table, she'd still be my kid, and my judgement would do nothing to help her.

    To your last point--I said this earlier and I'll say it again. Freedom of Speech does not equal Freedom from Analysis. Rashida's criticizing pop culture figures whose image is highly sexualized; I'm criticizing the derision of sex workers implicit in her choice of words. No one is smiling or nodding or pretending to agree with anyone, so far as I can tell; we're actually having a super interesting and, at least up till this point, pretty respectful conversation about ideas of sexuality and agency and accountability. So, not sure where you are getting the idea that anyone's saying it's not cool to criticize; we're criticizing all up in this place in a pretty useful and meaningful way.

    Tl;dr: No one's smacking you down for disagreeing; you'll find a whole big spectrum in this debate if you keep reading. It's cool. It's useful. It's Feminism at its best.

  • asherlev1

    I love you so much right now for defending people in the sex trade. Key word being that they are also PEOPLE. Thank you. You were so much more eloquent about it than I could hope to be.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Having read the whole thread before, I have already seen your comments so you didn't need to go back and copy and paste them for my benefit

    Freedom of speech means being allowed to say: "Some pop stars are acting like whores". Rashida Jones is an actress on a sitcom and it's amazing how a comment on twitter made so many people over-react. She used bad wording and a stupid hashtag which she clumsily tried to take back. And unfortunately her essay does not help because this tempest should have stayed in its teapot.

    Being a whore = Bad. That's my opinion. It does not mean the person who made that choice is a bad person. Sometimes people end up doing it because they have no choice. It is forced upon them. And I am talking about the dictionary definition of the word. I am not including women who are willingly, happily sexually active. Those women are NOT whores. I am not getting into judgments of why someone's life ended up with them selling their body for sex.

    My problem is people who immediately start with the buzzwords when a woman criticizes another woman. "slut-shaming" "fat-shaming" "body-snarking". And then you're not a good feminist because you disagree with the hive mind that says "every thing you do is okay because you are a woman and a special snowflake and we should all support each other's choices and be allowed to express ourselves any way we want". Some judgment is good, and it is necessary because a line has to be drawn somewhere. I am not even going to suggest where that line is because I don't think I am the demographic for the young pop stars. I'll let them figure it out.

    I can't imagine what the reaction would be if Justin Timberlake or Drake was flashing their twig and berries all over the place. "Maybe they are just expressing themselves. Stop dick-shaming them. We're not being good bros".

    "Tl;dr: No one's smacking you down for disagreeing; you'll
    find a whole big spectrum in this debate if you keep reading. It's cool. It's useful. It's Feminism at its best"

    I am not sure what that's about but it comes off as condescending. If I keep reading? Wow, thanks for the tip. And once again, another explanation of what feminism is

  • bat

    As you said yourself, Rashida Jones used bad wording and a stupid hashtag. She made comments that offended a lot of people. Those people commented on that and shared their thoughts. That's freedom of speech, too. I don't think it's over-reacting. And even if it is: freedom of speech! It works both ways!

    I also don't understand what you mean with "being a whore=bad." You just said that being a whore doesn't make you a bad person, and that it is often forced upon you. So do you mean that being a whore is bad because it means you are a person who is being exploited and forced to sell sex for money? Because I'm pretty sure that that's not what Rashida Jones had in mind as a definition for whore when she used it in her hashtag. Maybe she did. But it was indeed clumsily worded, and comes off sounding like she is shaming sex workers.
    I agree with you about the stupid buzzwords, and I do think it's a shame that almost no one explored what else she had to say outside of that hashtag, because she also had a lot of good points to make.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Being a whore (and here I mean prostitute) I believe, is a bad choice. It's dangerous, unregulated and I am not personally fond of the idea of women feeling like they should sell their bodies to make money as if that is all they can do.

    And sometimes it is a bad situation. So, yes, if you are forced into it it is a bad thing to be, isn't it? It seems there are other people on the thread who believe otherwise, which I just replied to on another person's comment. So, yes, I guess I am looking down on sex workers to a certain degree. I have no doubt that during the financial crisis, when people found out I worked for a financial institution people looked at me like I had eaten several babies So be it.

    So I am the judgmental person who doesn't believe it is a good idea for women to sell their bodies for money.

    Guilty.

  • Cowtools

    On what Jone's said about the homogeneity of 'sexiness' today - I was thinking of great female pop stars from the past who wrote their own songs or sung without autotune - people like The Supreme, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett - and I realised that they each expressed a very different version of femininity and sex appeal.

  • loo shag brolley

    But also from three very different eras. Diana Ross in 1977 is a far cry from Diana Ross in 1965.

  • Cowtools

    Yeah, but that kind of reinforces my point: that there used to be different ways to be 'sexy' as a pop star.
    And in 1977, Diana Ross was very different from, say, Debbie Harry, who was very different from Tina Turner, who was very different from Cherie Currie, and so on.

    Fast forward to now, and just about the only modern female pop star who's sexy without being exhibitionist (that I can think of) is Janelle Monae. Her video for 'Dance Apocalyptic' is about the heart-poundingest video I've seen in ages, and it's almost entirely skin-free.

  • Cowtools

    Jones seems to sum up my perspective on this issue.

    The thing that bugs me about this discussion of pop stars using there sexuality is what ISN'T discussed, which is the music itself.

    What infuriated my about the VMAs is that all the discussion about the performances had nothing to do with the music the awards were ostensibly celebrating, and that extends too all pop music these days it seems: Pop stars achieve their fame according to how they act and sell themselves, and it has nothing to do with the quality of their music.

    And people say that has always been the case, that sex appeal has been used to sell music since forever. But the music had to reach at least some baseline level of quality before it sold. Nowadays it doesn't seem to matter, and as a music fan that saddens me.

  • Zeus McGuinnes

    I hated how you interrupted her essay with your opinions, leave it until after. No one wants to read that conflicting mess.

  • loo shag brolley

    It's not a piece about Jones' essay, it's about Courtney's reaction to it. She hyper-links the full essay before the quotes and thoughts. To post the full essay would steal links from Glamour's site, and is my guess that it's blogger etiquette not to do so.

  • thebeardedlady

    I feel like there is something I'm missing with this. As a mother of 3 girls (17,12,5) and a boy (15), I can tell you the over simplification and "acceptance" of overly sexual behaviour is hard to negotiate as a parent. Have you ever looked at some of the clothing available for even toddler girls? To think it's as easy as "just turn the tv off" is to be terribly mistaken. I have never had a problem telling my kids that being a stripper or being "slutty" wasn't an option for them. Why? Well, for the girls it's because I want them to realize there is power in their sexuality and power doesn't need to be shown at every opportunity to prove it's there. There's lots of vaginas but only one "you", so be proud of being something someone else isn't. For my son, I wanted him to understand that a woman is so much more than just a vagina dressed up like a mother or whore.

    To just say that if you hate the act you hate the person isn't fair to those of us that are trying to find the middle road with our children's sexuality. It's hard to explain but my problem is that women being naked to get noticed, or to get money, is such old hat that it's time to make something else sexy and celebrated. It's not the choice or the act, it's just that there are other ways to be a strong female that I feel are more important right now. Sexuality and sensuality shouldn't be just the domain of the naked and pretty.

    No, don't hate on the stripper but maybe think about what brought her to that decision, is it fair to have that be a major option for women who need money? To think the majority of sex trade workers are in it out of unhindered personal choices is naive, and to compare it to someone making an informed decision based on a strong foundation is ridiculous. It feels like the blanket of acceptance is making it easier to ignore the inherent problems with all of this, so until you can be sure that these girls are being raised to know that their worth is in who they are and not what they have, it's a slippery slope.

    And responsibility on the behalf of these boys and men is sorely lacking in discussions. Just as my daughter has had her little heart hurt over boys who chose the easier option, my son has been hurt by a girl who didn't know what it meant to be treated with respect. It's hard to raise a boy to look at a woman's personality and achievements when boobs abound.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    I only had a problem with one thing that you said:"Just as my daughter has had her little heart hurt over boys who chose the easier option, my son has been hurt by a girl who didn't know what it meant to be treated with respect."
    Why is it that the girl who engages in sexual activity "doesn't know what it means to be treated with respect"? People can engage in sexual activity and express their desire and still be both respected and treated with respect at the same time, regardless of gender. And why do girls who want sex, whether they want it for the romantic commitment or just for their own pleasure and curiosity, have to be labeled as 'the easier option' or any less respectable?

  • thebeardedlady

    I got so long winded I forgot to say you are right about the labels and it was probably a poor choice of words on my part, again without context or explanation.

  • thebeardedlady

    I understand where you're coming from and how it sounds without context. My problem is not with the sexual activity or the desire, both of which we have made clear to our kids are nothing to be ashamed of. My issue is with the expected applause that comes with every "daring" aspect of how sexuality is expressed, especially the nonchalant attitude that kids are shown it should be treated with and the lengths they should go to prove it. Because my husband and I were teenage parents (and didn't want to create a cycle) we have always been open with all of our kids in regards to all aspects of sexuality and while we want them to wait until they're older,if it happens protection is mandatory.
    Keep in mind that these kids were in grade 8, so finding out my son had had sex was a little heartbreaking, we understood it happens. That was a fairly serious and calm discussion. When I found his phone and saw her messages begging him to not use a condom (among other things) and sending him naked photos and a graphic video of herself, I was definitely not calm. He begged me not to go to her parents and get her into trouble. My son, saying he loved and cared for her, didn't want to tell anyone what happened so no one would gossip about them. She had not only told everyone but when he didn't go back to her, she began to say he had been mean to her and then told everyone he confided in her that he was bisexual and laughed saying that's why he didn't appreciate the videos. And it only got worse. This is where the respect part plays in.
    If it had been any other boy, I can almost guarantee that it would have been all over the school and internet. Why? Because that's what's in style now. This might sound like an extreme example, but trust me it's not. When actual emotions come into play they don't always have the maturity or life experience to handle it, and if they do, the kids around them surely don't.
    Obviously, I don't mean every single kid or teenager but this is a new world where the allowance for being impressionable is vanishing. Adolescent years are not generally known for their confidence and clear thinking. Look at the controversy over the Lily Allen video and her commentary of the pressure on women to be a certain way. If an adult with power feels almost helpless to go against the sexualized grain, how are young people supposed to do it?
    As a woman, I applaud the changes that have been made in how women's sexuality is being recognized and celebrated. But as a parent, I'd like to see something other than a grinding, naked pop star being the example of it. To be made to feel as though you're not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough by society as a young girl can be crippling and makes it easy for a girl to fall into the trap of using sex for attention or connection and not for discovering her personal preferences. Combine that with a society that tells boys they're not a real man unless they go through girls like kleenex, and the results can be beyond messy. Top that with a dollop of far reaching social media and you have a parent's nightmare sundae.

  • One thousand percent. I'm reading all these comments because I think it's an interesting dialogue. And it's one, frankly, that none of my local buds would be interested in having.

    But as I'm reading all of this "don't judge people for doing what they want with their bodies" stuff I'm sitting here, the parent of two young boys, thinking how do I frame this for them?

    I don't care what Miley does. But this...

    "It's hard to raise a boy to look at a woman's personality and achievements when boobs abound."

    This I care about.

    Beautifully said.

  • I am probably going to gone for the rest of the day, but I did want to say this final thesis:

    Female sexuality isn't a bad thing in and of itself. I love hearing about moist lions and Pajiba 10 and all that. It is actually quite sexy to witness women express their desires. I didn't post that Idris Elba gif just for the upvotes. I truly enjoy seeing women all happy and squeeful and everything. So much pressure is put on women to be above such things and to handle their desires (unlike men, who are supposed to be rutting pigs with no self-control apparently). So when I see women getting all freaky-deaky, I enjoy it.

    The key part is "THEIR desires". I don't want a woman gyrating on a pole or making out with another woman (stay with me on this one)...UNLESS SHE ACTUALLY GETS PLEASURE FROM DOING IT. Seeing a woman "going through the motions", so to say, is so freaking depressing it hurts. It hurts so much it leads into other issues I have which I won't go into, but suffice to say there is a reason I am single.

    So ladies know this: if you simply must suck face in front of me (or do so in front of a camera and send me the pics, I'm not picky), do not do so just for me. Do it because you really, truly want to get into that woman's pants and/or know the state of her tonsils the fun way. This also goes for bikini pics.

    Thank you.

    (What? All this feel good stuff was starving my lizard brain. Rutting pig remember?)

  • John G.

    Courtney, the world you want then is a world without advertising agencies, or even more effective would be a world without Capitalism. This system of ours is about commodifying everything. So long as everything is for sale, then images of women will be part of it, and since half the world is male and most of those males are hetersexual, there is no way to have one without the other.

    A woman could be expressing her sexuality in a very positive way for herself and it can still be twisted into a male gratification selling point. Men talk about sexual things they'd like to "do to" a woman (because objects don't have agency) on the street who is fully covered from head to foot. Advertisers will use this to reach consumers on a primal level no matter how healthy the woman's view of her own sexuality.

  • Some Guy

    Sex was commercialized and commoditized well before the notion of capitalism was constructed, nay, before modern government in general was constructed.

    There's a reason why prostitution is the oldest profession. One that predates whatever notions of economics the world operates from today.

  • bat

    Of course sex was commoditized before capitalism. But it's only under capitalism that people try to use sex, or sexy images, to sell me everything from cigarettes to yogurt to music. The omnipresence of these images, the objectification of the people used to sell something, and the explicit message that one should aspire to be/become exactly like the "sexy" person are the problem.

  • John G.

    That's a good point, but prior to the Capitalist age all women were property, not individual agents in society. It's a fundamentally different relationship to society.

  • Tammy

    Which sparks a thought I've had a lot recently: Perhaps the way to chip away at objectification is not to cover women up (which puts the responsibility on the woman to protect herself from objectification, instead of asking the objectifier to change his/her behavior).

    Perhaps it's not about women's bodies at all. Perhaps it's about how we lump people together, and how easy it is to commodify and objectify those we don't think of as individual human people.

    The more we encourage each other to see each other as individuals, and not monolithic representatives of anything but ourselves, the better we do. When you really SEE a person, it's tough to objectify them. [There's an artist trying to do a small version of this with her work: humanizing the catcaller, to call attention to the humanness of the catcalled and potentially change behavior patterns: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codes...]

    The internet, of course, is terrible for this. But I'm endeavoring to try, and I hope I'm not alone. So, hey Denizens of Pajiba Who Are Engaging In This Really Interesting Conversation: I see you. If I disagree with you, it's cool. I still see that you are a person, and I hope you'll do the same for me. And for the next human you encounter. And on an on.

  • "I’m torn. I want a world where baring it all doesn’t make a woman a whore. I want a world where people shouldn’t have to feel bad for putting sexuality on display. But I also want a world where a woman’s body isn’t a commodity bought and sold .."

    THIS. It shouldn't be anybody's business to decide what other people - male OR female - can do with their bodies, or what qualifies them for reductive labels like slut, whore, prude, etc. The problem is people - women, in particular - feeling like they HAVE to make their sexuality part of the business plan, whether or not sex is what they're selling.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    And that some are pressured by people to do that even if they don't want to, like Selena Gomez, Charlotte Church, Sinead O'Connor, and one of those girls from glee.

  • boo

    I feel like there are two huge parts of this conversation not being addressed: one is context. It's not that these young women don't have the right to dress and act however they want; they certainly do. What tires me about so much of the sexualization of women is the context in which it is done. Madonna sang songs about sex, having sex, being naked, etc. etc. Does a song about heartbreak or sadness have to include naked bits? I don't know, but for me, at a certain point, it is simply irrelevant, not necessarily inappropriate. As a songwriter/performer, I have no problem being sexual for an audience. But I wouldn't sing a song about the loss of my father while shaking my tits, mainly because it just doesn't fit.

    The second part of the conversation I miss is the idea that everything must have a sexual sparkle. The sexual blanketing of things is what leads to the blurriness of these lines, in my opinion. When it is laid on hard and thick (ha), to everything a young woman does, I start questioning whether this person is multifaceted, whether they are being true to ALL parts of themselves, and not just the sexual part.

    For the most part, it is the lack of other aspects of a woman's life being visual and valid that leads to my feeling like women are overly sexualized, whether it is by their own choice or not.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    I think repression is one of the main causes of sexualization in the media and of pop stars. After thousands of years of sexual repression, it really isn't surprising to me at all that the cork has exploded off the bottle and now and we see this sexualization. I'm almost sure that the Miley we see today is the result of the Miley who was repressed, threatened, and slut-shamed as a young girl for expressing her sexuality in natural ways. The problem is that because of it, she wants to be mostly sex and shock right now, and you're right that that's a limited expression of womanhood. The question is, will she eventually get tired of the sex and shock and move on to something else? Maybe she will. Maybe she won't. Christina Aguilera has put on and taken off the sex and shock as she has pleased over the past several years, but that's not all there is to her or all that she has shown us.

  • I just want to say that I love this place. The fact we can have this kind of discussion and everything, with mutual respect and the earnest attempt to understand each other and the situation better.

    I know somebody usually has to say that whenever we have one of these pieces. I just wanted to be one of them.

  • loo shag brolley

    I'm not adding much to this conversation because as I read, it's all being said. To put it simply, it's a big, complicated issue, and the only way to the other side of it (if there is one) is to talk it out.

    But I will add: Courtney, I don't think you should worry about whether or not you're a "good feminist." Any feminist worth her or his salt became one by questioning things that didn't add up. Stick with it.

  • the other courtney

    IMHO, the issue is that the natural order of things should be:

    1. Repress
    2. Rebel
    3. Move on

    But it’s become:

    1. Repress
    2. Rebel
    3. Sell
    4. Validate

  • Leila in Wunderland

    Any abstract thing can be sold in the word of entertainment. Romance. Innocence. Beauty. The Supernatural. Religion and Spirituality. Youth. Competition. Why shouldn't sexuality be treated any differently? I've always felt that sexuality should be treated like the normal, natural part of human life that it is, rather than something that has to be hidden in a secret box for couples to enjoy.
    I'd see nothing wrong with us moving on from the repression stage to rebel, validate, and even sell. But the thing is that these things aren't happening in some sequential order. The repressing, the rebelling, the validating, and the selling are all happening at once in our world.

  • Right now it looks like the fifth step is up vote or down vote. How disturbing is it that it took me a minute to process that wasn't part of your comment?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    oooh. That is sharp, and pretty disturbing.

  • evica

    When I was a teenager I tried smoking because all the cool kids did it. I didn't even think about how disgusting it was, I just did it. And I thought I was soooo cool. I did not know at that time that beeing cool and looking cool are not the same thing.
    Sexing-it-up is the new smoking. Girls want to look extra sexy because it is cool. They don't see it as whore-like, just as I didn't notice the disgusting taste of cigarrettes.
    Should we tell them they look too slutty? Yes. Should we slut-shame them? No.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    "Should we tell them they look too slutty? Yes. Should we slut-shame them? No."
    There's no difference between the two. The world really needs to abandon the concept of slut/whore/tramp altogether. Changing 'slut' from a noun to an adjective (slutty) doesn't mean it's no longer slut-shaming."

  • Personally I'm tired of people having an opinion and it immediately is labeled as {blank} shaming. It's an opinion, if you don't like hers luckily you can get your own. Just stop acting like your way of thinking is the only 100% way to approach something. It's called Freedom of Speech for a reason. Rashida Jones isn't all right, and she isn't all wrong. No one is on anything when it comes to opinions. Stop trying to twist around something to make it fit your "But by saying x she implied y!" rationale.

  • Leila in Wunderland

    People grossly misinterpret what free-speech means all the time, using it as an excuse to dodge all accountability for what the express and it's societal implications for every group of people. Free-speech just means that the government can't come punish you for something that you say or write. It does not mean that nobody can criticize you and the things you say. Why? Because free speech works both ways. A person has the right to say what they want, and anyone else has the right to criticize that person and whatever bigoted, problematic things they say.

  • Tammy

    Just to clarify: Her OPINION isn't slut-shaming. But her choice of words ("whore" as a derogatory term) in expressing that opinion is super problematic, for reasons MaguitaNYC elucidated very well elsewhere in this thread. And Freedom of Speech doesn't mean Freedom from Analysis. She put words out there, and we are free to think that her choice of words both sucks, and is revealing of an attitude that, tacitly or explicitly, sees "whores" as less-than. Because she used it as a slam. If I call someone shit-for-brains, it implies I think "shit" is pretty terrible. It's not twisting the logic of anything to make that connection.

    To further clarify: I dig Rashida, and think she has solid points to make here, which is exactly WHY I'm disappointed in how lame her turn of phrase was. She's smarter than that, and I respect her enough to think she can handle being asked to examine just what her choice of words reveals about her thinking.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I hate phrases like slut-shaming and fat-shaming because they are lazy overused buzzwords. And I wish people would just form a sentence and tell what it is that's bothering them without resorting to a word that sounds like it was made up by someone on Jezebel.

  • What I'm getting from this is: it's okay for a woman to be as sexual as she wants, but we should also be allowed to question WHY she wants to be that sexual in the first place.

    I wonder how much of either side of the argument is really, truly, honestly from women. And how many of those women have be convinced or manipulated into accepting those stances. And I truly mean for both sides.

    It is complicated because whichever side you look at, there are those who are honest and caring in their opinions and those who use them to take advantage and enrich themselves. Either you unintentionally support sexual and emotional repression, or you unintentionally excuse away exploitation and abuse.

    A big problem with it is the commercialization of sex in general. Sex does sell, and does so for lots of money. And no matter how you treat it, whether by shaming it or exploring it, you engender more and more demand for it. We want to rebel against the Puritanical origins of American culture, but by doing so, we make such things out to be more prurient and salacious than they should be.

    I don't know if I'm making sense. All I know is, it sucks. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • VonnegutSlut

    While I agree that I'm glad we are having this discussion, it still drives me a bit crazy THAT WE EVEN HAVE TO HAVE A DISCUSSION LIKE THIS THAT HAS NO REAL EQUIVALENT FOR MEN.

    Logically, I know that frustration is as about as rational as shouting at the sky & demanding it rain sparkled unicorn anuses. However, I'm still rankled that there has probably never existed in the history of print a version of this post with the genders swapped.

    None of this frustration is directed at Courtney for addressing it. I supose it's something that still has a long way to go before these circumstances are so moot that we don't even have to talk about them.

  • asherlev1

    It's freaking mind-boggling to me that men having sex is the norm and women having sex is to be judged and dissected apart and criticized. HOW DID WE GET TO THIS POINT.

  • Tammy

    1. She has points to make but utterly lost me with that hideous hashtag. Just, no. When you use "whore" as a derogatory term, you say "I believe I am better than a sex worker; I believe sex workers are less-than." And you don't know fuckall about what choices lead someone into the sex trade, so you don't get to use a nasty word for them as your benchmark for what is bad. "#stopactinglikewhores" does NOT make the case you want to make, Rashida, and I'm sad that you can't see how that would be a problematic turn of phrase.
    2. I really wish we were discussing THIS article, which has way better analysis and looks a lot harder at the pressure ALL of us put on young women (misogynists, feminists, and everyone in between): http://www.newstatesman.com/me...

  • ellie

    It amazes me that on the comments of that article there are men complaining about their lack of a mention and how many articles there already are about the struggles young women go through.

    A direct quote:

    "Laurie Penny says "We do not care about young women" yet there are articles discussing the issue they face practically every single day in news media across the political spectrum. That is more than men get. It is time to call this exclusive focus on one genders problems only for what it is. SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION."

    Amazing.

    Seems like we discuss it more because it's more of an issue. And I'm sure if it was a male-centric issue we were discussing he wouldn't be standing up for the women who were so cruelly "overlooked".

    "You can talk about one specific group without implicitly invalidating the problems of another."

  • On this we agree completely. Thanks for the link.

  • Maguita NYC

    Thank you for the article. My problem, or rather discomfort, lies in extremes. An eye for an eye does not always work, and there is that feeling that we keep running around without actually hitting the nail on the head.

  • couch and pants

    Thank you so much for sharing that article...it is /fantastic/

  • Tammy

    It's been blowing up my FB feed all day and I'm so happy. Please pass it on; I think it says so much that I wish I had heard at age 19.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I think you and Rashida touched on the most salient points with these quotes, Courtney:

    "Why does that have to be the benchmark of sexual freedom?"

    and

    "This isn’t showing female sexuality; this is showing what it looks like when women sell sex."

    Unfortunately for Ms. Jones, she chose to express her concerns on Twitter, which requires a brevity of commentary ill-suited to this particular topic. It's not sexual expression that's the concern. It's the form that expression takes and the (growing) regularity with which today's pop stars presume this form of (frankly, obnoxious) expression to be somehow empowering.

    The expression of sexuality doesn't need to be an all-or-nothing scenario. More and more I believe society in general is trending towards the loss of nuance and subjectivity in this and many other facets of life. Over-simplification is rampant. Nobody is allowed to be on the fence or "in-between" anymore. You're expected to like something or hate it. To be or not to be (if I may borrow a phrase). Doing so has depleted our ability to discuss and compromise and it's troubling.

    Thankfully this site is generally an oasis from that desert of a trend and I look forward to hearing other thoughts on the issue.

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