Last week, it was Pinterest that was killing feminism. Now, it’s Katy Perry and Taylor Swift who are to blame.
Well, that’s what Camille Paglia says. In an article written for The Hollywood Reporter, Paglia rips into both Swift and Perry for being too…well…nice.
It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest. Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee formed the national template — that trinity of blond oppressors!
As if flashed forward by some terrifying time machine, there’s Taylor Swift, America’s latest sweetheart, beaming beatifically in all her winsome 1950s glory from the cover of Parade magazine in the Thanksgiving weekend newspapers. In TV interviews, Swift affects a “golly, gee whiz” persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense. Indeed, without her mannequin posturing at industry events, it’s doubtful that Swift could have attained her high profile.
Oh no! A pretty girl who is nice instead of edgy? The horror!
Paglia goes on to dismiss Swift’s obvious talents as a singer-songwriter, saying she has a “monotonous vocal style, pitched in a characterless keening soprano and tarted up with snarky spin that is evidently taken for hip by vast multitudes of impressionable young women worldwide.”
Those foolish, impressionable young girls! How could they fall for such a blatantly oppressive role model? All Swift did was work her butt off honing her skills for years in order to be ready to take any chance that appeared. And when she got her chance, she made the most of it, working with other talented people to make the best music she could.
Yeah, I sure wouldn’t want my daughter following in her path!
Then M.s Paglia gives us her idea of a truly powerful woman: Rihanna.
Authentic sizzling eroticism does appear among the strata of high-earning female celebrities. Rihanna, who earned $53 million last year, was born and raised on Barbados, and her music — even with its chilly overuse of Auto-Tune — has an elemental erotic intensity, a sensuality inspired by the beauty of the Caribbean sun and sea. The stylish Rihanna’s enigmatic dominatrix pose has thrown some critics off. Anyone who follows tabloids like the Daily Mail online, however, has vicariously enjoyed Rihanna’s indolent vacations, where she lustily imbibes, gambols in the waves and lolls with friends of all available genders. She is the pleasure principle incarnate.
Yep. That’s what I want for my daughters. Forget being nice; strut your stuff for all the world to see! It’s not about being a good person; it’s about sex and selling yourself as a sex object so you can be just like the guys. I’m not sure how feminism came full circle like this; I guess I’m too old fashioned. Or is the ideal now that girls should be free to flaunt their sexuality, and boys should be free to not notice, on pains of sexual harassment lawsuits or accusations of rape?
I do know that Rihanna, who Ms. Paglia holds up as the very image of a thoroughly modern feminist icon, was beaten severely by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, and is now back in a relationship with him.
So, according to Ms. Paglia, a talented young woman who has worked hard her entire life to build a music career is not a good role model for feminists because she isn’t sexy enough, but another talented young woman, who after being beaten by her boyfriend goes back to him, is a better role model because she flaunts her body as an “enigmatic dominatrix.”
And you wonder why I don’t take most feminists seriously?