Friday, March 9, 2007

Tila Tequila and feminism?

I'll hesitantly admit that I bought Tila Tequila's recent single, "I Love U". It was featured on the iTunes frontpage and packaged such that the video came free, so I figured, "how bad can it be?" I'm really more of a rock person, by and large, so a few little baby steps outside my usual territory can be interesting. Apparently, being the most popular person on Myspace (which is quite a feat!) doesn't imply you're all too good of a musician. She can certainly wiggle well, as demonstrated in the attached video, but the people have spoken, and here's what one thoughtfulsilence had to say:
She sings that she's got no shame. But I think sometimes, people should have a bit of it, to realize the toleration meter of humans has a limit. This is so over the limit. So embarassing!!
Based on some voting procedure I believe is similar to that of Urban Dictionary, this comment is currently ranked third out of 538 reviews. On reflection, that may be about all there is to say on the matter.

But I'm still listening to the song. As with My Humps -- I couldn't say why, it's a curious thing.

I'm reminded of something I remember reading a few years ago, along the lines of, "Hollywood has embraced pre-feminism, post-feminism, and even post-post-feminism, without ever actually really getting the point of feminism." I could've sworn it was the late Molly Ivins -- not her biggest fan, but I read her stuff, which is more than I could say for her right-wing counterpart (interesting thread on the Least I Could Do blog, by the way), but now that I'm thinking about it, it may have been Ellen Goodman. Woman writes brilliant editorials, in my opinion, but too rarely gets the sort of attention some other columnists manage to bring on through sheer dumb force of quotable controversy.

More to the point, are Cup-o-Noodle instant celebrities like this, cashing in sex appeal for their 15 minutes (or seconds), advancing or hurting the feminist cause? Some people might say she's being taken advantage of by the Evil Capitalist Boys' Club; others might say she's fighting The Man by getting while the getting is good. The point as I see it isn't that Hollywood (or the media) are in favor of or against feminism, but more that they're quite fully aware of these two tenets: (1) sex sells, and (2) they need to make money. Aspiring starlets like Tequila, likewise, crave attention and have figured out a very direct way to get it. They're not thinking about the political or social implications, at least not in the long term -- talk about Smith's invisible hand.

So, the question then becomes: how do we, as a society, look at this? How do we deal with it?

I've long said that, as with racism, feminism should emphatically not be a question of men against women. It's a question of people who want empowered women on equal terms with men, and those who don't, and why they do or don't. The "Battle of the Sexes" metaphor is tired, done, and long overdue for burial. It's not about empowerment for superiority, it's about empowerment for equality and even ground.

Browsing around, I've realized that I consider myself every bit a sex-positive feminist. I don't think all porn is inherently evil and degrading women, or to society. I don't even understand how someone could think that. I don't think sexuality is evil. I don't think everyone has the same wants, and with that in mind, don't see why we should all be expected to make the same choices about what we do or don't enjoy. That's one beauty, there: your sexuality is yours, and it is what you make of it. I, for one, would hope that everyone enjoys it as they please.

So, at what point is a wiggling starlet celebrating her form, and at what point is she being objectified? The line, as far as I can tell, falls here: is she valued for other aspects, the admiration of physical beauty among them, or is a quick peek at her ass the sole value seen? Does she have a character? Do we care what she thinks? Do we know how she thinks, for that matter?

Ten people looking at the same picture will have twelve opinions on it. But I'd like to think that's a workable guideline. We can celebrate sexuality without letting it be the sole aspect of a person. At least, I'd like to think so.

And in the meantime, this brief experiment is over, and I'm back inside my musical shell, listening to some Supertramp.


Michael said...

I didn't mind Tila being famous for nothing until it spilled over into music. Her new song is awful. It just angers me as a musician to see people with no talent getting so much attention. I just did a lil story on Tila over at Highbrid Nation if anyone cares to check it out. Anyway, she should just stick to Myspace

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