I got into an argument over this issue some time ago with a woman on the Internet. I can’t remember which particular slut she was defending but her basic argument was the same – that the woman had chosen to express her sexuality in a particular way and that it was the reality of being able to choose that made her powerful and praise-worthy.
I admit that I don’t get it. Was a time that being considered feminist was antithetical to anything remotely slutty. Traditional feminists have historically condemned anything associated with the sexual exploitation of women, to include pornography, prostitution, and adult/child sexual relationships. They argued that such relationships were based on a power differential that disempowered and invalidated women. I had always thought that the message of traditional feminism was that women could be all that they could be, and not feel that they had to allow themselves to be defined or limited by their sexuality.
So you can understand my surprise over the popularity of “The Girls Next Door”. Three sluts move in with a rich old man who has made a fortune over the sexploitation of women – and they end up hailed as modern-day feminists exercising their right to choose.
Honestly, I thought they were just three common sluts.
But in nouveau-feminism, being a slut no longer means that one has relinquished one’s power to a man. On the contrary, like G.I. Jane, one can build up one’s muscles, endure all kinds of hardships, and end up having the financial last laugh. This business of having the financial last laugh is key. That’s the evidence of choice, of true empowerment.
And so it is that I am trying to wrap my mind around a new feminism that is able to embrace figures like Paris Hilton [an independent business woman!], Demi Moore [Ashton is her boy toy!], and Madonna [she sang on a cross!] as feminist heroes. What do they have in common? They worked hard for the money and are fully in control of it.
I suspect that this might all have started with Camille Paglia. I think she got us all confused, what with her strident self-promotion as an antifeminist feminist and antiliberal liberal. When she first burst on the scene, Miz. Paglia accused the women’s movement of betraying women and alienating men. In a 1995 Playboy interview, Miz. Paglia compared stripping to “a sacred dance of pagan origins”. She said that the money men stuff into G-strings is actually a “ritual offering.” That modern professional women hate strippers because sluts could outweigh all of their hard-won accomplishments just by flashing their tits and ass. She felt that “women should be free to choose”. “I want a revamped feminism”, Paglia once famously declared, “Putting the vamp back means the lady must be a tramp.”
Well Paglia’s dream has come true. We now have a new generation of independently wealthy feminist sluts who have become the models to which many girls now aspire. Is this really all that we can be?