Ann Perkins is moving away from Pawnee, but the actress who plays her, Rashida Jones, isn’t moving past tsk-tsking Miley Cyrus’s vagina. Hey, speaking of terrible ledes, Jones led Glamour down a dangerous road, the road known as, Writing About Female Sexuality on the Internet (Road). It’s actually more of an intersection without stop signs, where everyone loudly smashes into each other and no one gets anywhere, but semantics.
Back in October, Jones got yelled at a lot when she tweeted, “This week’s celeb news takeaway: She who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular,” then added, “#stopactinglikewhores.” She recently elaborated on her point for Glamour in a piece called, “Why Is Everyone Getting Naked?”
I don’t know when the pornification of pop stars became so extreme, but as Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video played in the background—naked fantasy women bouncing around and licking things—I realized that the lines were not really blurry at all. They were clear. A new era had arrived.
If 1994 was the Year of O.J.’s White Bronco, 2013 was the Year of the Very Visible Vagina.
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? (Via)
1. “Every star”? For every one pop star that shows her “entangled G-strings,” to quote Jones, there are four who don’t. Taylor Swift, Pink, Icona Pop, Anna Kendrick, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde all had massive hits in 2013 without relying on their sexuality, to say nothing of arguably the most successful solo female star in the 2010s, Adele.
2. To be fair, Jones doesn’t stop at the problem; she lists some solutions, too.
Record execs: When you market young pop stars, can you please try to apply some of your own personal moral parameters? (I’m just going to assume you don’t take off your suit midmeeting and do a selfie with a whipped-cream bra.)
Women: Let’s at least try to discuss the larger implications of female sexuality on pop culture without shaming each other. There’s more than one way to be a good feminist. Personally, I loved the Lily Allen “Hard Out Here” video—a controversial send-up of tits-and-ass culture. She helped start a conversation. Let’s continue it.
Men: WHERE ARE YOU??? Please talk to us about how all this makes you feel. You are 49 percent of the population; don’t sit around and let women beat one another up while you intermittently and guiltily enjoy the show. Speak up! We care what you think!
And finally, pop stars: Please stop saying you don’t want to be role models. Because, guess what: You are. You want to sell millions of albums? You want to sell out a tour? You depend on the millions of people who adore you. So maybe just consider some sort of moral exchange program, in the same way that carbon credits make people feel better about driving an SUV. Go ahead and make videos in which your ass cheeks slap water around in slow motion; go ahead and tweet pictures of your undercarriage. But perhaps every eleventh song or video, do something with some more clothes on? Maybe even a song that empowers women to feel good about some other great quality we have? Like, I don’t know…our empathy, or childbearing skills, or ability to forgive one another for mean tweets? (Via)
A song like “Time After Time,” perhaps?