U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) to GOP opposition to climate science: “Time to Wake Up”
With the advent of “big media” in the current climate of consolidation, commercialism rules. Because of huge consolidations in media ownership and production, independence in both media and contemporary culture fails to survive. What is being produced in terms of gender, sexuality, celebrity, and advertising is no longer a diverse picture of modern life, but one, hegemonic portrait: a conflated, raunchy image of sexuality mistaken for feminist independence.
According to musician and feminist, Meredith Levande, in her article titled “Women, Pop Music, and Pornography,” the connection between media ownership deregulation and the mega-media companies that profit from adult entertainment have pushed “pornographic imagery” into the mainstream. Sexually-suggestive images are becoming increasingly acceptable because the imagery is becoming increasingly corporate. “Raunch” culture is owned, managed, and produced by everyday companies. “Fewer and fewer media conglomerates own more and more of the public’s media outlets,” writes Levande. Because of this trend in “big media” ownership, the type and quality of imagery produced by these few companies has become increasingly hypersexualized and homogenized.
Although sexuality has always been a part of human nature, the dominance of “stripper chic” and sexually-associated trends in exhibitionism such as the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon began to appear and to identify themselves with feminism when larger media mergers and acquisitions took hold. According to Ariel Levy, author of “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” this all began with the Spice Girls. Having traded independence for high heels as a form of rebellion, the Spice Girls coined and co-opted the slogan “girl power” in the early 90’s, nursing the generation of women who have come to promote and exhibit raunch culture in today’s world. In discussing the trend of using the “rhetoric of feminism” to endorse sexual commodification, Levy argues that there has been a miscommunication and thus, a related disconnect among generations of women. The current, “incoherent” brand of raunch feminism being exhibited across print and visual media sources alike, stems from what Levy refers to as conflicting generational ideologies. Women today are conflating sexual freedom and expression as both a rebellion and a distorted attempt to continue the work of the women’s movement of the 60’s and 70’s. However, “raunchy” and “liberated” are not synonyms, just in the way that “radicalized” is not the same as “enlightened” or “sexually charged.” “Just because we are post[feminism] doesn’t automatically mean we are feminists,” writes Levy.
“I think we have lost consciousness of the way our culture demeans women,” says Erica Jong, a renowned author and sex-positive feminist, in “Female Chauvinist Pigs.” We should not confuse raunch sexiness with real power and according to Jong, we should “not kid ourselves that this is liberation.” As Levy rhetorically asks her readers, “How is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women?” Using terms such as “strong women,” “Liberation,” and “empowerment” in fashion and celebrity biographies makes us feel that we have accomplished the ultimate goals of feminism and have achieved as women in society, but according to Levy, we are simply wishing for feminist justification where none exists. “The truth is that the new conception of raunch culture as a path to liberation rather than oppression is a convenient (and lucrative) fantasy with nothing to back it up,” writes Levy. Since fewer companies own more media, and now distribute pornography, there is an economic interest in promoting certain ideals. According to Levande, programming is now “given the power to dictate culture,” not reflect it. Media outlets are mainstreaming raunch culture not only in the name of feminism, but also in the name of journalistic legitimacy. Companies are benefitting from the production of a hegemonic, pornographic rendering of sexuality because in order to compete, they must conform. This is not “new feminism” or old feminism in new action. This is a corporate takeover, the commercialization of female sexuality, and a regeneration of a homogenized, raunchified, portrayal of women in society. Being perceived as sexy and powerful on the cover of a fashion magazine, legs sprawled, does not endow you or the entire female sex with real-world power or independence.
“Ozma” - Shannon and the Clams
There’s nothing in all the world I want but you – and your precious love. All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence – because you’d soon love me less – and less – and I’d do anything – anything – to keep your heart for my own – I don’t want to live – I want to love first, and live incidentally – Why don’t you feel that I’m waiting – I’ll come to you, Lover, when you’re ready – Don’t – don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me. You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all – and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had.Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter dated March 1919