Mar 01 2013

Miss Popularity

Sexy lipstick blog or feminist politics? You decide.

Sexy lipstick blog or feminist politics? You decide.

As part of IBTP’s ongoing (as of yesterday) casting-of-the-aspersions at the vagina ghettos with cutesy chick-identifying titles in which mainstream publications bury women’s opinion, let us turn today to the Washington Post’sShe the People” blog. See how the word “she” is cleverly underlined in lipstick? This tells potential women readers that a tawdry smear of carcinogenic cosmetic is suitable as a symbolic representation of their other-y identity, while simultaneously warning potential dude readers to avoid this boring chick content at all costs.

By the way, let me clarify that I in no way cast the aforementioned aspersions at the bloggojournalists themselves. They’re (mostly) doing some fine writing. It isn’t their fault that their views are widely considered “special interest,” a designation that legitimizes their segregation behind a lipstick smear.

It is through a narrowed eye that I perceive a persistent journalistic obligation to categorize women’s issues separately from regular old human rights issues. This is dumb. Why is rape, for instance, a woman’s issue? It’s men who are doin’ all the raping. Look, rape isn’t a “women’s issue.” Rape is a global humanitarian crisis. So how come it is always relegated to the status of a niche cause (or, as I point out below, used as the basis for oh-so-hilarious fratboy tweets)? Because deep down in the collective consciousness, rape is still considered to be consistent with the essence of women, and as we have seen, in a patriarchy women are not fully human.

Heck, I’ve digressed again. I beg your pardon. I seem to be a little rusty. Moving on.

Teen beauty queen porn. What WaPo reader can resist its sweet charms?

Teen beauty queen porn. What WaPo reader can resist its sweet charms?

So where was I? Oh yeah. So, one of the posts from the She the People blog heads today’s “Most Popular” list in the WaPo politics section. Has the subject of this popular post anything to do with, perhaps, VAWA passing the House? Or, perchance, was Aly Neel’s excoriation of the rampant rape jokes in the Twitter frat house getting a lot of clicks?

Sadly, no. The most popular post is summarized thusly:

“Teenage beauty queen surrenders crown after release of porn video”.

The public humiliation of a beauty queen: was there ever a more cherished subject in all of journalistic history? In the above-referenced piece, “Dear Melissa King, I wish you the best,” She the People blogger Bonnie Goldstein mercifully plays down the prurience. Which is not to say that she doesn’t have a little fun at the expense of Ms. King, the 18-year-old Miss Delaware Teen USA whose pageant career was cut short by the inevitable emergence of a sex tape. After mocking King’s official Miss Teen biography (it is painfully mockable, sadly), intimating that she is a bimbo, and characterizing teen pornulation as one of life’s little “character-building challenges,” Goldstein opines magnanimously that, despite her public shaming, King “can still have a satisfying and productive life.”

As the 1968 Miss America Sheep-Crowning Incident referenced in yesterday’s post suggests, it’s pretty easy for enlightened feminists to cop a condescending tude toward pageant girls. What might be less hilarious, but more useful, would be copping the tude toward the all-pervasive misogynist cultural forces that permit and encourage the ritual humiliation of girls, both pageant- and non-, to begin with. On the spectrum of women’s oppression, beauty pageantry and its fetishization of feminine perfection is only a click or two removed from pornulation and prostitution.

If, as Goldstein says, Melissa King made the video because she “thought it would be fun” and she “needed the money” for college, two things are pretty fucked up. The first fucked up thing is that a teenage girl could ever equate fun with sexploitation; only in a pornsick society that rewards self-denigrating appeasement behavior could such an idea be entertained by a young kid. The second fucked up thing is that self-denigrating appeasement behavior pays so much better than get-your-hands-off-me-you-perv-I-am-a-human-being behavior.

One thing Goldstein gets exactly right is her observation, based on watching television (yay TV! You go, Bonnie Goldstein!), that self-denigrating appeasement behavior seems to be the norm these days.

“I’ve seen enough episodes of “Girls” to understand that uninhibited sexual experimentation is not so uncommon in schoolgirls today, and tolerating humiliation is a healthy sign of an independent spirit.”

It’s funny ’cause it’s true. I don’t mean that tolerating humiliation is a healthy sign of anything. But it’s true that all media, everywhere, at all times, send the message that it is.


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  1. Joey Stern

    I am just so happy every time you post. You’re wonderful, and what you do is important and great.

  2. Kali

    I’ve seen that teen beauty queen porn story on several popularity lists. I don’t think I could stomach reading any of those articles – the title itself makes me sick. There’s so much that is wrong with it. First there is the parading around of women and girls like cattle, then there is the convincing of women and girls that this is something to be proud of, then there is the pretense that beauty pageants and porn are not related at all, then there is the chewing up and spitting out of women and girls in porn, then there is the contempt and disgust for the chewed up and spit out while those doing the chewing and spitting are excused or even admired. How many men have had to give up their titles for consuming porn?

  3. Megwind

    I am so very glad that you’re blogging again!

  4. wendy house

    Obvious and a real pleasure to read because its so rarely said – “Rape isn’t a “women’s issue.” Rape is a global humanitarian crisis.”

  5. Maria L

    Love your blog, Twisty! I am so glad that you are back!

  6. M.K. Hajdin

    Only tangentially related, but I had to get this off my chest.

    Some dude cries censorship because he wants to paint with his own jizz but his school says it’s a biohazard, boo hoo:


    I know, I know, fuck art. But I like art, and suspect art would be much improved, possibly even made tolerable by feminists, if dudes weren’t allowed to make it.

  7. skeptifem

    I am so glad you are back. I’m dealing with some nasty anti-feminist bs in my life right now so its good to read IBTP. It makes me feel sane.


    Hear hear!!

    Plus I would like to reiterate Kali’s comment for excellence:

    “How many men have had to give up their titles for consuming porn?”

    One of the things that is sadly missing from the conversation, that WAS present at the dawn of the second wave, is the concept of such parity. I seem to remember, that in the seventies there was a national feeling that Thing Weren’t Fair, and we should make them fair! Now, the general consensus seems to be, Yeah, Things Aren’t Fair, Sux to be Female, Put on your Big Girl Panties, how dare you want to make them more fair? or some such.

    I have also been VIOLENTLY OPPOSED to the ghettoization of the female perspective since SALON put up BROADSHEET….and then took it down, at which point I quit reading SALON….

  9. ptittle

    Yeah, glad you’re back too!! (Lard knows, my attempt to establish a back-up SDI was a dismal failure!)

  10. Zora

    Along the same lines, why is “violence against women” a women’s issue? Every single time that phrase is uttered it creates images of women being violated by some unnamed, faceless force in the minds of listeners. Yet another form of fetishism.

    The real problem is “violence by men” but don’t expect that to get any media play…

  11. Maris O

    Wow, that popular headline is really illuminating. I didn’t read the article (because I really don’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole) but the fact that a woman engaging in a man-pleasing activity (beauty pageant) had to give up her “honors” for participating in ANOTHER man-pleasing activity (pornography) struck me as strange. And it is, until you realize that men consider porn actresses to be public property, while beauty pageant entrants are private property. Yay, Ye Olde Madonna/Whore Dichotomy! When men watch beauty pageants, they are not actually thinking “who is the most put-together person on that stage?” (which is, I guess, how women try to wrap their minds around this whole shitty phenomenon) but rather that it’s “which of these women would I like to be my personal toy?” It’s an audition for entry into their mental harem.

    So what really happened to that teen beauty queen, then, is that her sex tape ruined the dudely fantasy that she could be one man’s private, untouchable personal property. She’s not longer for and only for the individual dudes that watched and judged the competition. And she got punished for it.

    Sick shit. IBTP!

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