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.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.