Feminist author Camille Paglia wrote an article last week criticizing pop stars Taylor Swift and Katy Parry for being successful young women. They’re just not successful in a way that does not please Ms. Paglia.
She finds issue with their music, even the timbre of Swift’s voice. She is displeased with the juxtaposition of their fashion sense against the lyrics of their songs.
These are not true examples of women. They are far too flirty, too overtly girlish. They are stuck in “wide-eyed teen-queen mode,” Paglia’s definition of sexy deems them unworthy of their fans and millions of dollars in royalties.
Paglia doesn’t use her column to explain why it may be detrimental to women in general for one’s fortune to be gained singing catchy pop tunes about the latest bit of drama, it doesn’t take the time to build an argument of why sexy for sexy’s sake isn’t necessarily a thing to pursue.
“Whatever sex represents to this generation of affluent white girls, it doesn’t mean rebellion or leaving the protective umbrella of hovering parents”
These girls, they are too white, they are not substantive, and they just aren’t a valuable type of sexy.
Paglia goes on to describe what is sexy. Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé. These women, they possess “authentic sizzling eroticism.” Rihanna is “the pleasure principle incarnate,” J-Lo has “ample buttocks,” Beyoncé is the only star whose strong, fierce, and defiant attributes she recognizes.
Paglia asserts that Taylor Swift and Katy Perry are the result of a Caucasian culture of “slacker white boys nagged by the PC thought police into suppressing their masculinity,” and that Beyoncé and other women of color gained their ferocity by defying “Urban rappers’ notorious sexism.”
I get why Paglia is concerned about the quality of role models being provided for young women (and men) in popular culture, and see that she is not directly criticizing Swift and Perry as much as she is condemning the culture that has made them rich and famous, I understand that there are some women who probably deserve fame and fortune more; but isn’t the whole point of the feminist movement that WE ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN SEX OBJECTS?!?!?!
Does it matter who is sexy and who is not, based on the opinion of one woman, when what is being judged is the very benchmark of worth feminists wish to abolish?
As a woman who has the opportunity to have her voice heard by millions, Paglia had a chance to make some meaningful social commentary; to speak of substance and intelligence, cleverness and business savvy. Instead she squandered away precious print space with talk of buttocks and what she finds sexy.