Saturday, August 11, 2007

Porn stars, womanhood and the wallpaper of our lives

One of the great traditions in Britain is the long line of inspirational, strong female role models. Think of Boudicca, Elizabeth I, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Charlotte Mason and Beatrix Potter (her environmentalism was so far ahead of its time).

So, what has happened today. When the biggest role models are Jordan, Posh Spice, Britney Spears or the latest 5-minute starlet to get her kit off for Nuts something has really gone wrong. In a survey a shocking survey 63% of the girls surveyed would rather be 'glamour' models than have a real career (don't try and tell me that being glamour model is a career - you may earn money, but you contribute to the continued subjugation of women through sexual exploitation - choosing this makes you a disgrace to your gender - as reading would make me a disgrace to mine).

I remember catching a few minutes of a Christine Aguilera concert in which she writhed in her underwear with two male dancers, and the editing switched to an 8 or 9 year old girl in the audience watching with rapt attention to the floor show. All I could think was "what kind of message is this girl getting about what it means to be a person and a woman?" Is wanting to be shagged all there is to being a woman in the 21st century - is this really all there is? Naomi Wolf recently wrote an excellent piece entitled The Porn Myth in which she highlights the way porn has become "the wallpaper of our lives", that boys expect porn star looks and porn star sex, and that real women, unable to match up to this, have just become "bad porn". Here is a great quote from the article:

The porn loop is de rigueur, no longer outside the pale; starlets in tabloids boast of learning to strip from professionals; the “cool girls” go with guys to the strip clubs, and even ask for lap dances; college girls are expected to tease guys at keg parties with lesbian kisses à la Britney and Madonna.
So boys grow up with a twisted idea of masculinity and femininity, and girls grow up with the ambition to be either a porn star or (if they are really ambitious) a WAG. And we have the blind complacency to call it 'harmless fun'. God save us.


  1. "as reading would make me a disgrace to mine" - is that what you meant to say? - Reading makes you a disgrace to the male gender? Otherwise great post

  2. As the "The Lab spokesman Fraser Lewry said: 'Teenagers are witnessing the likes of Abi Titmuss and Jodie Marsh gracing the covers of their favourite magazines every day, so it is hardly surprising that they want to follow in their footsteps.'"

    Teenagers have always wanted to be famous and have fun.

    In 1981 Julie Andrews did a topless scene in the movie S.O.B..

    It's nothing new and has nothing to do with porn.

  3. The difference is that Julie Andrews did was incidental to her acting career and was shocking at the time. Abi Titmuss does a 'home made' porn movie and gets a slot on a reality show as reward.

    The point is not that teenagers follow famous people - as sad as that is - but that girls see pornography as a career choice, or even worse, as a lifestyle expectation. That needing to be seen as sexually desirable from such a young age is regarded as normal is a tragedy.

  4. "Is wanting to be shagged all there is to being a woman in the 21st century - is this really all there is?"

    No, its not "all there is". Our sexuality and occupations are parts of our lives, not all.

    You generalize about all the women who've considered doing porn. Did you mean to say 8 and 9 year old girls want to do porn? If not, why mention the Christine Aguilera concert if not to imply it and mislead your readers?

    The teenage boys who've watched, admired and copied Elvis Presley's gyrating hips in the 1950's aspired to Rock and Roll, not porn. Maybe you also believe being a rock musician is a waste of human life.

    People have different views of the world and what they think is worthwhile.

  5. I'm afraid you miss the point of this blog entry, and the Noami Wolf article that inspired it. Porn has become so embedded into popular culture that the activities of celebrities are influenced by activites previously the domain of the sex industry - lap/pole dances, strip, certain artificial sexual expressions etc. The problem then is that the drip down feed from these celebrities to those looking at them means that pornography has become embedded even into the popular culture consumed by pre-teens.


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