As long term LPA readers will know, from time to time I do
rant talk about subjects of a non sartorial nature. When half the world lost it over Miley Cyrus twerktastic VMAs performance I joined in the conversation to argue my bit about the grossly unfair standards female stars are held to in comparison to their male counterparts. Well, since then good old Miley’s had the Daily Mail readers tearing their hair out by swinging butt naked in her Wrecking Ball video (which, might I add, promptly snagged the Vevo record for the most views in the first 24 hours after its release and for being the fastest clip to reach 100 million views) and then, just last week, for lighting up a spliff on stage at the EMAs. Naughty. I’m not particularly about to defend Miley’s antics or weigh in on her feminist fued with Lily Allen because to be honest, sex, drugs and who’s-the-bigger-feminist aren’t the issues that really get my goat here. The thing that’s been driving me nuts of late, and has only been further exacerbated by this whole situation, is the fact society seems to have the expectation that every remotely high profile woman should be some kind of role model. This was a subject raised brilliantly by the Dawn O’Porter in her Glamour Magazine column this month. Dawn questioned why the HELL any of us expect or even want Rhianna to be a role model rightly asking, “why can’t some women just be rock stars?”
Plenty of male celebs have, and continue to behave badly in the name of rock n’ roll and while it may cause a few raised eyebrows here and there, no one’s accusing them of being a bad influence on all boys ever. From what I can gather, Justin Bieber’s world tour has thus far consisted of him running around drunk and shirtless, visiting brothels, getting chucked out of hotels and bailing on performances yet while we collectively label him an idiot, no one seems to be suggesting that he should be setting a better example to impressionable young boys. Even when Chris Brown beat Rhianna to hospitalisation it was her who was lampooned for condoning domestic violence when she decided to take him back. Do you remember Brown ever being labelled a “bad role model” or anything much being said about his responsibility to his fans? Admittedly this is a very extreme example. Brown committed a violent crime and the last thing I would argue would be that his actions are in any way condonable but it just serves to illustrate the huge disparity between the expectations placed on male and female stars.
Personally, I don’t feel that being a performer automatically gives you the same degree of responsibility as a politician or a parent but if we’re going to decide it does, then that can’t just apply to women. I would go so far as to argue that condemning female celebrities in this way is not only deeply unfair but harmful to the feminist cause and in many ways, frankly, insulting. Isn’t the implication that women are less capable of mediating their own behaviour than men, or more easily influenced? The response to Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy was the final straw in this matter as far as I’m concerned. As noughties teen I’ve watched the first film at least once a year for the past decade and was beyond excited for the release of book number three regardless. I was gutted to hear it had earned some pretty rubbish reviews but my dismay swiftly turned to rage when I read a couple and learned that much of the criticism was focused not on shoddy plot lines but the fact Bridget had shaped up to be a poor “feminist role model”. Sorry but WTF!? When was Bridget Jones ever meant to be a feminist role model? And are we seriously now going to extend the demand that famous women set a good example to fictional characters?!
As is always the case with spur-of-the-moment opinion pieces, this isn’t going to be brought to a tidy conclusion. You’ve heard my opinions on the subject, what do YOU think?
Love Ella. X