Does Celebrity Feminism Cater to the Patriarchy?

| January 23, 2014 | 3 Comments

If the words of this blog post’s title confused you, just Google “Feminism” and “Patriarchy” and you’ll see a cache of articles that write about how feminism is the fight against patriarchy, which is a societal structure which places men in control and women are treated largely like second-class citizens. I might have some of that confused, but as a man, do I need to know this? I’m always gonna come out on top (if George Zimmerman lets me live). I kid, I kid.


Ain’t no shame, ladies, do ya thang. Just make sure you ahead of the game. – Work It (Missy Elliott)

I asked a question on Twitter and Facebook and got some interesting responses. The question was (essentially), “Is it a celebration of feminism and/or sexuality when a woman (in this case, a celebrity) chooses to cast off her ‘good girl’ image and start posing and dressing in an overtly sexual way that still appeals to men. When is the line between ownership and possibly subconsciously acquiescing to the demands of men crossed? Is there a line?”

Some feedback I received said that it was a challenging question, but in many cases it’s about the woman saying, “Sure, you might find this sexy, but only because I’m choosing to give it to you,” but my point about still falling to the man’s demands was understood. On the other hand, men are going to lust whether women wear a burqa or a bikini, so maybe it’s all blurred.


Not THESE blurred lines, tho…

You normally don’t see former male child starts casting off their innocence by posing in Speedos or naked in Playgirl. At most you’ll see them shirtless and buff, with some shorts on (or maybe the occasional ratchet “leaked” nude pic of them fully erect if they’re in Generation Y or Jamie Foxx), but when a woman wants to throw off her innocence, often her team has her pose naked for a publication or in some movie. If men can hide their nudity and still be seen as sexual beings, why can’t women?


Remember when Lisa Bonet left The Cosby Show and took off her clothes for Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke to prove how she wasn’t Denise Huxtable?

As I’ve said before, I’m a huge Mariah Carey fan and she’s my favorite singer. When she was married to Tommy Mottola and managed by him, the most she ever sported naked was a bare midriff in the Always Be My Baby and Dreamlover videos. After the divorce and taking over her own image, Mariah’s varied between random, oddly-placed strips of cloth napkins covering her frame to full ball gowns to go grocery shopping. To me, the sexier Mariah was the one before the clothes came off. But that’s just me. She’s since put on more clothes except when she wants to show y’all that she can be 43 years old and still have the body of a 25 year old even after having twins. And I am all here for that because I’d do the same thing.


Jessica Biel was on 7th Heaven, then left the show and got nearly naked in many places to show that she was an adult. I only remember men being excited about this, though. Did she win? Because she’s Mrs. Timberlake now – a title many women want(ed).

For whom is a woman being sexy if a man doesn’t seem to be required to do the same things to prove his sexuality.  Idris Elba stays clothed in bowties all day and women everywhere still get moist when he simply looks at the camera. Beyonce stayed clothed in Destiny’s Child, then started taking it off on her own, and is now wearing leather straps for her latest album. Fine – her life; her career; her choice. Do you all day, Bey. BUT are men doing the same to prove their sexuality if they’re trying to break out of an innocence mold? Is Miley Cyrus being used or is she using the system?


Look, whatever Miley is working through, I’d appreciate it if she’d do so less offensively. I’m ’bout tired of this…

I think that we look at singers and actors and think they control their image. Their input is considered to some extent, but there are normally people involved who dictate to them how they will dress, look, act, and even undress. Beyonce has more control over her image now, but I’m not convinced it’s 100%. I’m pretty sure that Miley doesn’t have 100% control.


Beyonce before and now. Her body IS nice.

Are the people who control these artists women who would celebrate their freedom of expression, or men who are dictating to them how to dress based on the frequency of their own erections when they look at them? If it’s the latter, then these women can be expressing themselves and controlling their destinies in their minds, but it’s still under the guidance and permission of a man, no? If it’s to send a message from one woman to another, that’s great. I’m not okay with it being a man’s idea or a man giving permission to do it, then they frame it like it’s something liberating for themselves and all women. Most men want to see (attractive) women naked, and my hope is that women know the difference between liberated expression and manipulation. Smart women know the difference.

Note: I don’t hate women or feminists, and I feel that women should have equal standing with men in society. I’m not implying that any of the pictured women are not smart. I’m just asking what is driving the requirement for women to be nude to show adulthood versus men not being given the same requirement. So, I ask you, does celebrity feminism cater to the patriarchy?

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Comments (3)

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  1. Jeni says:

    I think that it all connects with Respectability politics and Shaming. Is the Male Gaze a problem? Yes. But it’s not going to be combated by everyone covering themselves and being demure. That actually feeds into the Patriarchy more. Women being sexual and beautiful on their own terms is more empowering than the “Modest is Hottest” movement.

    That said, not every act of sexuality is sex positive or empowering. There’s “I feel sexy, and I own my own sexuality”, and there’s “LOOK AT ME, EVERYBODY, I’M NEKKED!!!” It’s generally pretty obvious when you look at it with a critical eye, but, regardless, 10,000 naked girls trying to be sexy to attract Male Gaze don’t negate those who are sex positive and own it. That’s my opinion, anyway.

    • jamin says:

      Do you think it’s the person owning the sexuality who holds the power at the end of the day, regardless of how it’s interpreted?

      • Jeni says:

        I don’t. I believe that, if a person becomes aroused or attracted to a person, the onus is on THEM to behave in a respectful manner. (Sorry this reply is so late. I didn’t get notification until I logged into my WP account.)

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