Jones

In Glamor Magazine actress Rashida Jones elaborated on a recent Tweet that made her catch a lot of heat. A tweet about “whores.” Specifically about pop starlets who she believes dress, act and mimic whorish tendencies in their pursuit of fame and riches.

The offending tweet said: “This week’s celeb news takeaway: She who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular. #stopactinglikewhores”

She was targeting the Kim Kardashian backshot selfie having, Miley Cyrus twerk-a-thoning, Nicki Minaj booby pasty rocking, Rihanna booty gyrating and pole worshipping and “Blurred Lines” naked chicks licking things of the world, and she has a point, but the target is somewhat skewed.

The target is mostly the thrusting, gyrating singers, rappers and reality stars rather than the fact that we live in a “sex sells” society and by “sex sells” people clearly mean “lady boobs” and “vagina.”

Wrote Jones:

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.)

I understand that owning and expressing our sexuality is a huge step forward for women. But, in my opinion, we are at a point of oversaturation. It’s like when TV network censors evaluate a show’s content. Instead of doing a detailed report of dirty jokes or offensive words, they will simply say, “It’s a tonnage issue.” One or two swear words might be fine; 10 is too many. Three sexual innuendos is OK; eight is overkill. When it comes to porn imagery and pop culture, we have a tonnage issue.

But the true issue at hand here is a “chicken and egg” question. Which came first? The naked pop star or the audience and record executives who shouted “take your clothes off?”

I’m not saying that the likes of Kim, Miley, Nicki and Rihanna don’t have agency and didn’t consciously choose their choice of dressing and acting like they’re on the stroll searching for Johns on a Friday night in order to expedite their careers, but clearly, a choice was made. This is especially obvious when you consider that Kim was once someone’s spoiled daughter of LA wealth, Miley was Hannah Montana, Nicki used to have a much smaller behind and used to wear much more clothes and Rihanna was a good girl before marketing told me she’d “gone bad.”

Basically, all these women started out with their clothes on, looking fairly ordinary (although slightly more attractive than average) then suddenly the clothes came off and the checks started rolling in. It doesn’t really matter if they decided this or an agent or producer or Kris Jenner. So who’s truly at fault here? In economics there is no supply if there is no demand. If woman boobs and butt did not sell, I guarantee there’d be a lot less of it in the marketplace. Cocaine never made anyone snort it, but you do have someone willing to sell it and a plethora of party people willing to buy.

The fact that entertainers take this to the extreme is because Americans are still largely Puritanical in what they find offensive (violence is OK, but women enjoying sex is bad), therefore if you’re going to push buttons and raise eyebrows (but still make money) the go-to is always going to be a woman acting overly sexual, but still playing it somewhat safe and appealing to the male gaze. Appealing to the male gaze is “important” in the sense that if all this gyration was only for the benefit and self-actualization of the woman perpetuating it, society would largely want to shun that kind of “whore” instead of this pretend, commercialized “whore,” who only gets a semi-pass because dudes like to look at it. A woman’s sexuality for her own sake is still considered threatening to a lot of people.

But a woman twerking on water, singing about strippers (because “dudes like it”) is just fine.

Jones isn’t wrong when she writes that there is a problem when all young girls are seeing are near-naked pop stars gyrating as their examples of what sexual agency looks like, but she is wrong to put all the onus on Kim, Miley, Nicki, Rihanna and their contemporaries. I really liked Madonna’s music as a kid, but I had no desire to go out in fishnets and pasties, no more than listening to “Rhythm Nation” era Janet Jackson made me want to wear black combat boots and shoulder pads. The reality is if your kid is confused as to what is and is not appropriate, the onus is – and always was – on the person who’s supposed to be spending the most time with the kids, their parents. If you’re waiting on the recording industry, Madison Avenue and Miley Cyrus to give a rip what your kids are learning from their “outre but man-friendly sex sells” mantra, you’re doing it wrong.

Jones has a point, but she should be aiming for a loftier target. You don’t stop pop culture prostitution by targeting its alleged sex workers, you target the pimps and johns.

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  • I totally agree with your takeaways here. I wrote a similar piece on my site.

    I think you are dead on about the responsibility parents have for these young children. But, I also think prominent artists/stars like those mentioned should be cognizant of their influence. They can present a nuanced, multidimensional image as opposed to a one-dimensional shallow persona.

  • Mona

    she is absolutely correct, these woman are an embarrasement of what real woman should be. They are the reason why children are thinking its ok to do whore-ish things like this and they are the ones tht end up having babies at 13 smh. Be a positive role model and have some damn class for God sake. smh