Meme number one was the lingering phenomenon of the neofeminist Slut Walk. These events are a response to a particularly stupid and ignorant comment made a while back by a law enforcement officer in a rape trial, who suggested that a victim of a sex crime shouldn't have dressed provocatively. Typically, the marches involve young women who are standing up against that completely unacceptable statement by affirming that women have the right to dress as hott and sexyyyy as they want. Many of the march participants wear intentionally sexualized clothing, showing that they are empowered to do what they wish with their own sexuality. They're also trying to make the point: Wearing clothes that are designed to draw sexual attention...or even being sexually forward...does not constitute permission to assault or violate.
And they are right. Nothing excuses sexual assault. Ever. Period.
And here's meme number two. Today there was another droplet from the endlessly spewing firehose of pop culture irrelevance circulating the interwebs. In a pitching-the-movie infotainment industry interview with Chia LaBeef, star of the latest round of Michael Bay summer blockbuster Transformer loudness, he shared that one of the reasons that co-star Megan Fox may have bailed from the series is that she'd grown tired of being used as flagrant eye-candy to draw in adolescent or perennially-adolescent males. To quote:
This is a girl who was taken from complete obscurity and placed in a sex-driven role in front of the whole world and told she was the sexiest woman in America. And she had a hard time accepting it. When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk. We're on the run. And the one thing Mike lacks is tact. There's no time for 'I would like you to just arch your back 70 degrees.'
The "article" goes on to dish over the actress selected as the replacement lump of womanflesh, calling her...apparently as a compliment...a "sexy, delicious piece of meat."
These two things are related.
The problem I have with the SlutWalks is not with the point they're making about sexual assault. It's that the new and sexualized version of feminism feels like it has uncritically embraced the mass-marketization of women's sexuality. The point they're making is fine. But the reason the events get media attention is the same reason that Michael Bay dangles succulent pulchritude in front of the slavering permadolescent American masses. And I ain't down with that.
Women do not derive their value as human beings from their sexual desirability. Being able to present yourself as sexually aggressive and desirable means exactly nothing.
What gives a woman value as a person is her intelligence. Her warmth of heart. Her insight. Her thoughtfulness. Her life-gained wisdom. Her independence. Her musicality. Her creativity. Her depth of spirit. Her way with words. Her kindness. Her gentleness. Her tough-as-nails resilience. Her ferocity. Her hard work. Her boldness. The wisdom of King Lemuel's mother may be several thousand years old, but it remains an excellent metric of what bold, empowered women really look like...and what, if they are wise, men should admire in a woman.
None of those things correlate with the firmness and desirability of their young, exposed, marketable flesh.