Rihanna’s performance must be hyper-analyzed for evidence that she was failing all of humanity with her singing, dancing, and general fierceness (otherwise known as her gyrating mating call).
Complaints rang out from both the right and the left, all from people who seem to think that simply being sexy in and of itself is objectifying and naughty and not compatible with feminism/motherhood/respectable pop-culture stardom.
Strange bedfellows: predictable conservative hand-wringing and feminist” slut-shaming. If you find yourself agreeing with the right-wing modesty police concerned about “the children” (and, weirdly, also “old people”?), it’s usually a red flag.
It’s interesting–and telling–that every conservative critic I’ve seen who took Rihanna to task for “gyrating in a highly provocative manner acknowledged she’s a great performer. She’s talented, has a beautiful voice, and could be a role model if only she wore another outfit, perhaps without the crotch grabbing.
Another conservative feminist that humping the stage and flashing her lady bits to the camera was sad. Her performance was stunning and athletic, adding that it was also tasteless and unedifying.
Flaunting her sex appeal automatically undermines Rihanna’s talent and credibility as “role model” for these conservatives.
Since there seems to be some sort of superficial agreement between feminists and conservatives that “sexual objectification” is bad. For conservatives, it’s generally because of the sex. For feminists, it’s generally because of the objectification.
Importantly, objectification is not about presenting yourself as as sexual being or even as an object of sexual desire.
After all, that is a normal and fairly universal human urge–. Who doesn’t like to feel attractive sometimes? Objectification is about being dehumanized, reduced solely to a sex object.
These twin dynamics support a culture in which many people seem to believe that women sacrifice their right to dignity if they are at all sexual.
If there’s one thing we know about slut-shaming is that most women are guilty. Posted a picture of yourself on Facebook? Slut.
It’s a culture in which sexy and smart are considered mutually exclusive. One in which too many people seem to find it difficult to understand that it is possible to find a woman both sexually attractive and treat her like a full human being deserving of basic respect.
If sex is shameful and a woman is out there, on the stage, in the bar, on the street and being all sexy, she’s already given up her self-worth. This is crass, simplistic and conservative.
Feminists can be just as guilty of denying female sexuality and the public gaze. Women want to be desired. Capitalism takes this and commodifies it. rihanna’s sexuality has become a huge commercial profit-making product. That’s what’s wrong. Not her sexiness but the way it’s exploited.
Female Pop Stars Market Sex. When the Cock Doesn’t Crow.
Dykes Dry-Hump. The First Time. Lesbian Lovers Orgasm.
Fuck Before Party. Just What You Want. Desire in the Eyes.