Crimitism killed me again today with a laugh riot post that made some very strong points about how the Pussycat Dolls’ message of empowerment isn’t all it sounds like on the surface.
Note: the point here is not that “dressing sexy = bad” or any value judgment on what the Pussycat Dolls do per se. This is all about a show that sells you one message but delivers another.
He says the episode he’s reviewing is “all about confidence”. There’s much talk of the importance of confidence in being a Pussycat Doll. So far so good. Then one girl explains how she got her confidence: it seems she weight 190 pounds as a child and had no friends. Then she lost the weight, and now she’s qualified to be in a premier group of sexy women. Tying this statement back to earlier ones about “being comfortable in your own skin” Richie points out:
God, there’s no point in even trying to be sarcastic about this, is there? This is not a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin. She’s not even wearing her own skin to start with, for fuck’s sake. Her own skin didn’t fit a rigidly-defined idea of attractiveness, so she tore it up and stitched the remnants into a patchwork of fake tan and pre-distressed fishnets.
I know what you’re thinking: 190 pounds on a child is a worse situation than falling outside a “rigidly-defined idea of attractiveness”. True enough. But if you’ve never seen the same situation on a girl that’s well within healthy weight limits but still outside that “rigidly-defined idea of attractiveness”, immediately tell me where you live so I can move there, ‘kay?
Then the contestants have to dance without a lot of clothes on before the judges, and the show emphasizes that in no way are they doing this “in the service of men”. Sounds good, until one of the contestants is revealed to be too confident. The quote from the show – no, really:
Her confidence makes her dance like a striperella!
Pussycat Dolls are sexy but classy.
Richie’s poignant response:
Brittany’s dancing itself, which is hard to capture in still images, was more sexual than the other girls… The Pussycat Dolls are there to be looked at. They’re allowed to be sexy, because sexiness – Pussycat sexiness, anyway, not the good kind – is a passive thing that onlookers can get off on without engaging the Dolls themselves, but Brittany’s fucked it up by being sexual, if only just. The Dolls might have visible ass cheeks, fishnets, stilettos and bare midriffs, but are for all intents and purposes chaste, which is what they really mean by “Classy”. They danced in glass cases, for fuck’s sake; doesn’t that say it all?
Brittany, it sounds like, is a true example of a woman who’s being sexy for herself and loving it. Not just confident, but self-reliant. And that’s what’s so threatening to the marketers behind the Pussycat Dolls. They’re paying lip service to self-reliance, but what they’re really after is Hugh Heffner’s fantasy of a woman who has lots and lots of sex with you, yet remains somehow chaste. Know how to tow that line?
You’ve got to make the man feel like, yes, you’ll do everything in the Kama Sutra with him, but only with him. You must ensure his mind will never trip over the possibility that you’ve done these things with other men, or would. That’s your job, ladies. That’s why you need to keep your face bland – don’t let it reflect your life experience! He doesn’t want to know about that. You can have the sort of confidence a child may have, born of naivety and blissful ignorance of the wolves you walk amongst – but you can’t have the confidence that says, “Been there, lost my illusions, lived through it, got what I wanted sometimes, didn’t ask for help the other times. I was here before you arrived, and I will be here after you’re gone.” Because that makes men realize they’re not the only people in the world, and everyone knows that’s the leading cause of impotency, girls. /sarcasm
Anything that tells women they can’t have the second type of confidence – the one born of experience and wisdom rather than inexperience – is wrong, wrong, wrong. Whether it’s a show or a man who finds you attractive but “intimidating”, it’s/he’s wrong. What they’re really saying is that degradation and lack is what they find sexy in women. Ignore them. Life is worthless without self-reliance.