Rihanna & Chris, Kristen & Rupert/Rob, And ‘Legitimate Rape’: A Woman’s Body Is Clearly Not Her Own

But What If That's Not A Bad Thing?

PITNB’s NEW popCULTURE CLUB: theoretically putting the “culture” back in “pop culture,” one post at a time…

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Nowadays most of us know where babies come from (although some of us, like ‘legitimate rape’ politician, Todd Akin are still a bit foggy on the details), and while I think women, IMO, totally run the world many of us believe that a woman’s body is no longer her own. But is a woman’s body (or a man’s for that matter) ever her own? Three major pop culture stories have been buzzing about (especially in my own brain)– Rihanna’s interview with Oprah and her confession of undying love for Chris Brown, Kristen Stewart’s cheating scandal (and the subsequent, often ridiculous Kristen-bashing) and Representative Todd Akin’s horrific statement about how a woman’s body can totally decide whether or not to get pregnant by a rapist. All of these stories, to me, reflect a society’s unwillingness to allow a woman’s body to be her own and I wonder if the reason our society doesn’t believe a woman’s body is her own is because it isn’t.

In an amazing interview with Oprah, Rihanna recently revealed some very honest, very telling things about her relationship with former abusive boyfriend Chris Brown. Lots of PITNB readers responded with differing opinions. I think we all agreed that she was very forthcoming, but some felt that she was also, clearly functioning under a set of delusions when she claimed to be ‘friends’ with Chris Brown, simultaneously admitting that she still loved him, laughing as Oprah referenced butterflies in her stomach, for her Chrissy-poo. You can probably tell how angry I was about all that, much as I appreciated Rihanna’s candid approach.

One especially interesting moment came when Rihanna told Oprah that the abuse she experienced was hers, and not anyone else’s. She was attacked by Chris Brown, we were not. Another way of putting it is to say that her body was attacked by Chris Brown, and no one else’s. Which means that our attempts to defend, or police, or protect that body might be out of place in a conversation about a woman’s body being her own.

But here’s the thing. Rihanna’s body is not her own. She went on to say in the interview that when she first got signed one of the biggest adjustments she had to make had to do with being an artist and a product for her management. She became an image to market, as opposed to a person or a woman. Her body was not hers, alone. In a way she signed some part of that body over to Rocafella and agreed to share it with us, which is why many of us feel like we can judge that body or be angered when that body is harmed (and when the body is, perhaps, put back in harm’s way).

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Part of intimacy (with a lover, or with your fans) requires the great risk that is sharing. Any celebrity will tell you that their life is not completely their own. Just ask ya girl K-Stew.

I’ve been wanting to write something about the Robsten madness for some time. I thought I would write about pop culture’s obsession with cheating; AKA how much we all, secretly (or not-so-secretly) like it. I planned on using all sorts of examples from movies we love where someone is cheating. For example, Rose cheats on her fiancé in Titanic—we love it; we love the cheating in The Notebook; I couldn’t wait for Vera Farmiga to cheat on Matt Damon with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed; the list goes on). Cheating implies passion and we love that! Cheating (in the movies and therefore, in real life) reflects a strong desire to be with someone; so much so that you’re willing to risk it all! This is obviously, the glamourized side of cheating, but don’t we just love it?

Cheating also grants us a villain and we all luuurve a good villain. Enter Kristen Stewart. Kristen did something with her body. Her body. And if we were completely okay with women doing whatever the eff they want to do with their bodies (and if we really believed that what one person does with their body only effects that one person) then what she did wouldn’t have been a problem. And people wouldn’t be obsessing over that effing McDonald’s cup that was in her hands when she was finally spotted the other day and whether or not that cup made her a slut (it totally did, in case you were still wrestling with that).

Kristen Stewart’s body, like Rihanna’s, is not entirely her own. What they decide to do with their bodies—and what other people do to those bodies—is eternally newsworthy and absolutely affects the world of pop culture– a world that consists of real, live people who are looking closely at celebrities (to judge them, to love them, and often, to model themselves after those celebrities).

Here’s the thing though. Rihanna and Kristen aren’t the only women whose bodies are not their own (and please note—I do not mean to align these two based on their stories but based on our collective obsession with their stories which I see as related to a certain interest in the bodies of women). Although they gave up a certain amount of control when they became celebrities, this pop culture obsession with the femme body is not specific to celebrity.

***

Millions of women who are not celebrities are demanding control over their own bodies and are expressing outrage over the fact that others refuse to relinquish control over a woman’s right to an abortion. Most of you have, by now, heard or read this quote, but in case ya missed it:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

So that happened and then this happened on Jezebel:

I LOVE. THAT. PICTURE. And I loved the article that went along with it, titled ‘Rape Fatigue And You: When There’s Just No Anger Left.‘ It took me quite some time to read the actual Akin quote (and the Jezebel article) because I, too, was suffering from rape fatigue. Which is another way of saying sometimes you just get tired of hearing people say awful ish about women and then having to actually address those awful things, further legitimizing them, in some way.

But I finally got caught up on the bullshit ‘legitimate rape’ comment and, although I loved the article (passionately and intelligently written by Erin Gloria Ryan), I disagreed with some of the points.

I’ve said before that I struggle with the abortion question and the idea that every woman has a right to abort whenever and how often she chooses under whatever circumstances. So let’s not go there right now.

Let’s just talk about the idea of autonomy over the female body. A woman, like a man, does not exist in a vacuum. A woman’s body is, I’m pretty sure, the very thing that makes the world go ‘round. But it doesn’t do this– it doesn’t create life– alone (much as I hate to admit this, lol).  The reason I am ultimately pro-choice is because I would never tell anyone what to do with their body. I don’t even make my own kids hug their Grandma if they don’t want to, lol.  But I understand ‘the other side’ because I do believe that when a woman is with child she is not the only person involved and her body is not entirely her own. The act of getting pregnant itself requires that a body be shared.

Rape is the exception to this idea. Rape means, among other things, that a body has been taken. And rape is not a sexual act; it’s a violent act and an act of power. Incidentally, it involves sex. And yet, the sexual nature of the crime changes everything, in terms of how we understand it.

A woman’s body is too big of a deal to be her own. Plus there’s the part where it can become a home (essentially) for a whole other human being. As usual, I’m talking about baby-making. People who want a woman’s body to be hers alone forget that women control the population and the family (and, well, men) and so women control the world. And when we ask that a woman have complete control over her body we forget that no human being is an island and part of being human is sharing that body. Sharing, my friends, is a public act even when it’s done in private (P.S. ‘sharing’ means ‘sex’). This is more true for celebrities, but it is, in a way, true for everyone.

So what do we do? First of all we say EFF Chris Brown, EFF Todd Akin, and EFF whoever made these shirts:

Eff ‘em!

And then we accept that our bodies are not our own entirely, and we still say eff em! And we still fight for the illusion of complete autonomy. But more than anything, as a feminist and former dabbler in lipstick lesbianism that I once was, I want for women to recognize that their power lies outside of the body. Yes, I read Vagina Monolgues and I effing loved that book when I was 15, and still love it now and can’t wait to read it again when I finish writing this—but the fact that women’s bodies are shared, the fact that every one of us is capable of sharing our body literally with another human being (a baby)– even if you never have a child or never want to or have perhaps lost that ability the fact that you are born with that capability IS magic and is effing crazy!!! I don’t know what to do with idiots like Akin or Breezy but I kind of know what to do with women, and I do believe that if more women took great pride in their intellect and in their energy and– yes– in their vaginas, then the world would be a better place.

When I watched that Rihanna video I couldn’t help thinking that there was no way Rihanna really, truly thought highly of herself. And I bet that somewhere, Kristen Stewart is sitting around, not thinking too highly of herself. And I’m not saying that I always do; what I am saying is that collectively we have a lot of work to do and (in this conversation) it has nothing to do with men and what they think of us, or conservatives or liberals and what they think. It always starts with the self and our selves. Bottom line: we (women) all need feminism. Badly.

*I remember learning that many years ago, people believed women were gods based on their ability to give birth. Before people understood the correlation between men and women and doing the damn thing in the bedroom, people thought women just popped up pregnant. And so they were worshipped as gods. I like that story :)

A woman’s body is not her own, but that doesn’t make it less awesome or less divine or less deserving of respect and protection. In fact, I think it makes it more of all of those things.

P.S. There is no direct correlation between this video and the post. Or is there? Shouts-out to my bff Michelle, for showing me this vid.

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  1. I saw this Will Smith quote, and I REALLY thought it was profound.

    “We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”

    • Oh, and can I just say that I LOVE these types of posts? I posted the Will Smith quote because you have given me so much to think about, and perhaps my views are evolving after reading all of this. I don’t really know what to say right now, but your words made me think, and for that I say THANK YOU! Especially something like this, I think it is worth it to our society to think long and hard about these matters. I have known so many women who have been victims of sexual assault (the number is really high and horrible and shocking). For so long I have wondered “why does this happen in our society so often”, and this has given me something to mull over.

    • Lol, I’m now seeing your second post. And you’re welcome… and THANK YOU for making me feel comfortable to share these kind of thoughts. All of the readers at PITNB make me feel like we can have interesting, intelligent discussions about anything which is so amazing– and unique to this site. Thanks, as always, for commenting Krissy.

    • Krissy, thanks for commenting! I saw that quote and I remember it got all sorts of negative AND positive interpretations. I think I first saw it on a website called Feministe.us

      And yes, I always loved it and thought it made a lot of sense. There are SO MANY ways for a person to feel and experience agency. Best to start encouraging that at a young age, too.

    • fmx

      aww @ good parenting

  2. Matthew

    I think the idea that a woman’s body is not entirely her own is problematic since it raises the question of who else can claim ownership of it.

    In a way, it’s almost an anti-feminist argument. I’m sure I probably just need to re-read your post Shannon, because I don’t think that is what you’re trying to say. I’m just a bit confused.

    I do think a woman’s body is entirely her own, and the choice to have an abortion is completely her choice, regardless of the fact that it took a man’s sperm to start the process.

    This is the case even among animals in nature. The female decides when she is ready to mate. She chooses which of the males are acceptable. She chooses to mate with one or to mate with more than one. And if any of her offspring shows any sign of deficiency, she will often choose not to nurse it and let it die (I think they would have abortions if they had the tech).

    Someone who does not have complete ownership of their body, does not get to make these choices by themselves.

    So it would seem to me that if you are pro-choice, then it would follow that you would believe that a woman’s body is entirely her own. Therefore the choice is entirely her own.

    And if you are pro-life, then it would follow that you believe that a woman’s body is not completely her own, and that she has a duty and responsibility to her mate, to society, and to pop culture, to go ahead and carry her child to term, whether she wants to or not.

    • Matthew, thank you so much for commenting. You read the post perfectly and you’re right: my thoughts are ABSOLUTELY anti-feminist, depending on how we define feminism. As I said, abortion is a topic I have MANY thoughts on; like some people I am pro-choice AND I do not necessarily see abortion as this amazingly progrssive, natural right to women. I do like how you brought in nature– interesting, but always complicated because we are animals but, allegedly, social and civilized beings. So there’s a difference.

      But I stand by my argument– I don’t believe any person’s body is entirely their own. I just don’t think that’s possible in a world that consists of societies and communities. If that makes me anti-feminist I’ll wear the label. But I consider myself to be a feminist and I consider feminism to be a vast, complicated space that many of us can occupy even if we disagree.

      Again Matthew, thanks for weighing in on this!

    • Karen

      I agree with you, Matthew. The critical issue is who gets to determine with whom, when, and in what way a woman will share her body. If I become incapacitated, there are two people whom I have chosen to have power of attorney to make medical decisions for me. Barring that, the suggestion that my body is not mine, that it somehow belongs to anyone other than me, is disturbing. During slavery, neither men nor women had ownership over their bodies if they were black. It took a war for blacks to achieve that ownership. Bodily autonomy is a fundamental marker of humanity.

    • Karen, thanks for joining in. “…the suggestion that my body is not mine, that it somehow belongs to anyone other than me, is disturbing.” Believe it or not, I agree. I didn’t make the suggestion because it’s a comforting thought, I made it because I think in many ways, it’s true.

      I like that you’re bringing the concept of slavery into this discussion. I’ll throw out another arguably disturbing idea. Far more damage was done to the minds of enslaved blacks in America than was done to their bodies… or maybe even that neither form of abuse is worse than the other. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t believe the bodies of enslaved blacks ever completely belonged to white slaveowners; nor do I think our bodies completely belong to us now, even though we are free.

      What I’m trying to stress here is that saying someone has autonomy over their body is like saying someone thinks entirely for themselves. Neither is completely possible. Even you, Karen, admit this in the beginning of your post when you talk about power of attorney. What you are saying is that it is important that we have the right to CHOOSE who we share our bodies with. I absolutely agree with that.

    • Kristy

      Matthew, thank you for articulating your careful response to this very odd, disturbing post. I don’t think many definitions of feminism incorporate the idea that women control men therefore they control the world. And anyone who believes that this is true has a very narrow worldview, in my opinion. This is a GRRL PWR idea that is not an accurate reflection of the world we live in, or the world that feminists are fighting for. Equating our fascination with Hollywood scandals to very real, very scary political decisions has left me at a complete loss. This post was the most WTF editorial I’ve read in a long time.

    • Kristy, if you’ve read half of what I write on this blog you know that I’m always interested in the relationship between pop culture and culture itself– these are not binary oppositions in my world. I ABSOLUTELY believe that how we look at celebrity women is related to how we look at women everywhere and the social policies we create as a result. Of all the things I said in this post, I’d think that one would be the least radical or disturbing.

      I really want to know if my definition of the body as an inherently shared or shareable entity boils down to GRRL PWR, lol! Personally, I have no problem with the concept of GRRL PWR (I know a little about the Riot Grrrls) although it has gone quite pop but I never implied (I don’t think) that women should be TRYING to control the population and men. I see women at the nucleus of it all– that’s what I meant by control, if that makes any sense. These are not new ideas for feminism or womanism, I’m just embracing them and thinking about how they apply in other situations. The one thing I don’t like about notions of girl power is that the goal seems always to make women ONLY feel awesome (even if that feeling is based on problematic statements like, ‘your body is completely your own’ or ‘all women are inherently sexy’); I’m interested in thinking about what these things really mean, even if in the end the answer isn’t something I really want to hear. For example, knowing that I don’t completely own my body and that I can’t do whatever I want to do with it (without consequence) is not completely comforting to me either.

      And if you’ve read my other posts here then you know that I care about what you guys think, especially on topics like this. I know you addressed your comment to Matthew so I hope you don’t mind that I replied. Even as I defend my thoughts, I’m thinking on ways I might have better-articulated myself and I’m questioning the ideas and thinking of new ones, so I really do appreciate you commenting Kristy :)

  3. Akili

    Despite our magical child bearing abilities, a woman’s body *should* be her own, but I agree that its not. As the great philosopher Lil Kim once wrote: “Here’s something I just can’t understand: if a guy has three girls than he’s the man. He can even give her some head and sex her raw, but if a girl does the same than she’s a whore…”

    To me the very definition of ownership is the ability to self-determine–to name and define oneself and in my opinion women have never (and probably will never) have that kind of ownership.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve had conversations with male friends about female sexuality. Men can’t handle female sexuality and/or sexual empowerment. Its like when it comes to sexuality, boys will be boys and girls will be whores. Whenever a woman does something to assert ownership over her body and/or her sexuality she is quickly slapped with a negative label: bitch, whore, slut. Rihanna is an excellent example. Rihanna’s first post-CB album “Rated R” was pure unapologetic sex and violence. She was clearly screaming out for some control over her body, her image, her life. I thought it was brilliant. It was her least successful album.

    I say ALL this to say, I still think the conversation regarding female’s bodies and sexuality is largely controlled and dominated by men. The conversation about contraception, abortion, and sexuality in general is a male dominated conversation. Roe v. Wade was decided by an all-male Supreme Court. Its disturbing and discomforting but I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    This is a man’s world (but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl). ;-)

    • Akili, thanks so much for these thoughts. And MAJOR points for quoting that great philosopher! “I still think the conversation regarding female’s bodies and sexuality is largely controlled and dominated by men” YES! And that is something I think we can change, as we engage in more discourse and come up with NEW ideas… I think this can change.

      I know why people say it’s a man’s world (the reasons are obvious) and I absolutely think women (with ‘our magical child bearing abilities,’ lol… among other things) have FAR more agency than we think. And I believe that agency is not always synonymous with autonomy; it’s not concrete. But I’d def love to see women taking more responsibility for our own images and overall remaining positive about the possibilities for change.

      Thanks again for commenting Akili!

    • Matthew

      I think this issue is one of body vs image, and I think that is an important distinction.

      If the definition of ownership is being able to define yourself and who you are to the word, then we are talking about your image. Image is important- it determines someone’s conception of you before they can even see or hear you. And if this is what Shannon is saying, then I completely agree. Women don’t have complete ownership of their image. I don’t think anyone (man or woman) does.

      Does not having complete ownership of your image also mean that you don’t have complete ownership of your body? That is where I disagree with Shannon. Women may not have complete ownership of their image, but they have their bodies. They are not helpless. They can go out into the world and affect change and possibly even begin to shape their image into something all women can be proud of. They do this by taking action, by using their bodies to try to shape their image.

      As Karen said earlier, bodily autonomy is a fundamental marker of human civilization. There isn’t a court in the world that would accept the defense of a murderer whose excuse is that he shouldn’t be held responsible for the crime because, after all, he does not have complete ownership of his body.

      We are completely responsible for our actions, because we are in complete ownership of our bodies. We are not in complete ownership of our images, but we can begin to shape the way we are defined by using the one thing we have complete ownership of: our physical bodies.

  4. cutitout

    The simple fact that human beings share dna makes it impossible for anyone, man or woman to truly be their own. Half of us come from either of ourt parents. We are literally derived from the flesh and blood of our mothers, so yes, you are completely right.

    As far as women go in particular, without men, there would be no women so to some degree, women will always be in some way at the mercy of men and I suppose vice versa. There has to be a meeting of the minds and a compromise that will rarely ever leave both parties totally satisfied or in control. However, this exchange is only really neccessary for a small portion of our lives in the larger scheme of things, you can do/be who/what you want the rest of the time.

    As far as womens “images” in particular, you can present yourself however you want but every decision has consequences, positve and negative. Everyone has an opinion and you being you true, realized self may not get the reaction you wish from everyone so as long as you are ok with that, have at it…But don’t get mad when you can’t be on the cover of vogue when you decide that your ideal self is 300 lbs overweight, bald in the head and hairy in the armpits and no one co-signs on you.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is being yourself, being in total control of your image, saying what you want to say, and doing what you want to do is hard and it takes an enormous amount of bravery and and being OK with possibly being on you own—all alone sometimes and that last part alone is terrifying for most of us because we are at our core connected, of one flesh, and communal creatures. So we make concessions.

    • cutitout THANK YOU. I love your entire final paragraph.

      “we are at our core connected”

      Yes! That is, essentially, ‘all’ I was trying to say. Perhaps you said it better ;)

  5. Paul

    “I don’t even make my own kids hug their Grandma if they don’t want to, lol.”
    What? Now you have stepped over a line with Grandmas everywhere.

  6. Susie Ruth

    Kristen has done nothing wrong. Yes, Robert was hurt but she broke no laws. She was not engaged neither was she married. I say this even though I am one of the Rossessed. The condemnation of her is criminal. Women should defend her.

    • Ella

      @Susie Ruth-Um, Kristen did indeed do something wrong. The big issue is that people are acting like she is the only one who cheated. The guy she cheated with did something wrong too. If cheating weren’t wrong there wouldn’t be any point to labeling relationships or making big deals about it.

    • Ella, I agree that Kristen definitely did something wrong.
      Susie Ruth, I agree that much of the condemnation is wrong as well. Considering all of the people doing horrible things in the world, Kristen Stewart’s love affair is, ultimately, the least of our concerns. But I do think the public’s reaction points to some bigger issues out there.

  7. kat :)

    Such an interesting article. I know that I personally, as a mother of almost 3 (going to pop any day now!) that my body is NOT my own when I am growing and feeding a baby/child. That is something I found out the second I got pregnant. Interesting to hear that I never really get it back….

    • kat :) Congrats!!!!!!

      I think being prego definitely highlights this body-sharing thing, but I think it’s inherently true for all of us, with or without children. We share our bodies before we give birth and before we get pregnant and– as cutitout pointed out– our very existence is also a result of shared bodies. BUT maybe that doesn’t mean your body is ONLY shared and NEVER yours; IMO it’s just never only yours or yours alone. If that makes sense, lol.

      Congratulations again. Don’t tell anyone but I’m crazy jealous of pregnant women everywhere. It’s such a cool time in your life, even as you are about to pop, lol! Enjoy! And find an excuse to comment on one of these posts when the baby arrives!

  8. This is an interesting topic. Of course a woman’s body is hers, otherwise who decides what’s done with it? The fact that other people might have influence is obvious, but she still owns it, makes decision and limits the influence of others…

    • José Antonio Sánchez, thanks for commenting. I guess I just don’t think that anybody can ‘own’ their body, strange as that sounds. I’m not sure bodies are to be owned; I’m not sure my body is completely mine forever and always and I am in complete control over this body. I really think it’s more complicated– and more interesting– than that. But that’s just me, lol!

      Thanks for commenting! ‘Influence’ is a great word… but that’s a whole other discussion…

  9. I think therefore I am

    This is a really dangerous post. By publishing a piece on how a woman’s body is not her own, you have essentially said, “you don’t get to control it.” Trent, I have been an on and off again reader of your blog for years and I usually have no desire to comment, just enjoy the gossip. However, I have never been more disgusted or disappointed in that quality of your content.

    This article is misogynistic. There are too many misogynists controlling our society from government to corporate to confuse the issue that women control men (a notion common in our early history where the thinking was that “behind every good man was a great woman”) and use that as a basis for taking away our control and our accountability. Please.

    You confuse the issue of image versus ownership, as well as ownership with the ability to evaluate consequences and decide whether to take action.

    Do celebrities have the responsibility to be more aware of how their actions (or image) will impact society? In a culture that favors the salacious scandals over investigative reporting or solving any of our societal problems – sure. However, Rihanna’s statements are objectionable because of her celebrity or position in society to influence other women who may be in similar circumstances. We don’t want to encourage women to stay in a cycle of abuse. So, perhaps its more of a First Amendment issue more than anything else. Should celebrities be held to a higher accountability for the statements they make and things they do in their public life – should they be required to censor some of these behaviors based on moral objections or public safety? Should Congress? How far do we go? Or perhaps it is the responsibility of the media to be more careful about what to print and what to follow. Regardless, you don’t get to say that women don’t own their bodies, contort a few feminist arguments, and make it so.

    Regardless of your personal beliefs, women have fought for generations for a chance at equality. And women all over the globe have a long way to go in terms of RECOGNITION OF THE FACT that we are a full human beings (i.e. have the right to control our bodies/lives/vote/..etc.), equal pay, that we have brains (and know how to use them), and to generally overcome a paternalistic ethos.

    I don’t expect a gossip blog to deal with all of these issues or even help solve them, but please don’t add to the problem by publishing your opinions as facts and telling your audience, especially the young women in your readership, that the women among them don’t own (and as an extension of that argument therefore don’t have a right to control) their bodies.

    Really disturbing.

    • @I think therefore I am — I didn’t author this post, Shannon wrote the post. I haven’t even commented on the discussion in the comments.

    • I think therefore I am, this is my post! And no piece of theory that I write is entirely based on facts; it’s mainly theory and theoretical and driven by ideas.

      Many readers felt like you feel; I understand. I thought cutitout’s comment summed up what I was trying to say best– women are human and therefore not in complete control of their bodies. Again, I don’t think this is a revolutionary/shocking statement. In fact, of all the things I said I thought it was the more basic idea– we as human beings don’t have control over everything our bodies do or everything that happens to our bodies and that’s okay, on some level.

      Again this is theory; in theory, I don’t believe that we as women or as human beings have control over our lives completely, either. We cannot do whatever we want, whenever. We all have limitations (many are imposed), so I wouldn’t even make the argument that you make– that women have right to control their bodies/lives (I do think we have the right to vote, lol).

      This IS a dangerous statement to make; again, I didn’t say it because I find it comforting, but I also don’t find it disempowering to acknowledge that my body is a shared space. I’ve also never suggested that men have a right to control a woman’s body or that abortion should be illegal or anything like that. Not sure where the misogyny lies, but I can certainly see how it might be read that way. Still, I think it’s sad that all a person has to say is ‘a woman’s body is her own’ and that statement is completely and totally feminist. I think feminist theory is MUCH more complicated than that.

      I think therefore I am, I really hope that you can continue to enjoy PITNB. My pop culture posts are not always welcomed with open arms, in part because I’m interested in generating a discussion with ideas that I haven’t completely and perfectly worked out. They’re just my opinions, based on some thought. I’ve defended Nicki Minaj and argued that you are who you sleep with (among other things), and it doesn’t always go over well. But I welcome honest comments and critiques and, as a result of many of these comments, I’m definitely thinking about other ways to have an honest discussion about ‘the body’ that doesn’t lead to accusations of misogyny. But for now, this will have to do. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this one.

    • I think therefore I am

      Trent, I realize that Shannon wrote that article. My message was for you as someone who presumable controls the content and direction of the blog (perhaps this is incorrect?) and as someone whose clear writing and opinions I respected.

      Shannon, there is a huge part of me that doesn’t even want to respond to your message so for the substantive issues, I will just leave it at my original comments. However, in terms of your last paragraph, if you are looking to generate an honest discussion about controversial issues – start with the facts and develop clear arguments. Do some research and develop your ideas rather than contradicting yourself sentence by sentence and posting ridiculous claims without any facts or anecdotal evidence to explain your position. With respect to the media industry, there are many organizations that deal with gender and race issues (including employment and image). For example, check out the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (www.seejane.org) or http://www.missrepresentation.org. As author/activist, Alice Walker is quoted in the documentary, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

      When you are looking at gender issues on a more global scale, public policy organizations and even government provide information and research on important issues impacting women across the globe (for example: http://www.state.gov/s/gwi/).

      Pop culture is an interesting backdrop to examine a lot of the issues that we care about today, issues that are not exclusive to gender but also include race, sexual orientation, energy, voting rights, access to infrastructure… or any other public policy patterns that we care about or want to change.

      In the information age the individual voice matters. Blog articles and social media can impact how we perceive people, events, issues, and even influence elections. So, when you are ‘thinking’ and developing a theory about any social policy issue, please take some time to do the research, think through the impact you could have on your target audience, and develop your arguments clearly and concisely.

    • I think therefore I am,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and to engage with me. I’ve thought about lots of what you wrote– before I wrote this post, even– but I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m writing a blog post, not a research paper. The two aren’t mutually exclusive but there IS a difference. This is a thought piece, this is about how I FEEL about women and bodies and men and all that. However, you are right: facts and research ABSOLUTELY have their place on a site like this and on a post like this and I will be more careful not to express my opinions as facts, since that’s how it came across. While I don’t think I absolutely need to research a subject as if it were a paper or a dissertation (when writing a pop culture post), I hear you.

      I especially appreciate the links. I’m checking out Miss Representation now.

      In Trent’s defense, he is a very supportive mentor in that he lets me decide what I want to write about every single day and does not exert that kind of control over my content. All that he asks is that I do not post on The Kardashians :)

      Thank you again, I think therefore I am. Please know that your words do not fall on deaf ears! As I said, I’m thinking of better ways to get my ideas across and to have more honest discussion. The thoughts in this article were my honest thoughts and feelings… although looking back at it (especially after reading your comments) I only wish I hadn’t used the word ‘control’ so much. That’s the very idea I’m working against. As you say, I contradict myself (very well then), but it’s certainly not the last word. Here’s hoping we get to keep a powerful thinker like you in our midst.

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