Posts Tagged With: Lindsay Lohan

Halloween Costumes of Girl World: Sick Trick or Sweet Treat?

Hopefully you all remember the scene from Tina Fey‘s 2004 comedy, Mean Girlswhere it’s Halloween, and Lindsay Lohan’s character, Cady, says:

“In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”

Well Cady, I’m not so sure there’s any real separation between so-called-“Girl World” and the real one we’re all living in today. In fact, there’s really no division when you account for all the influence one ideological realm has over the other. Young girls watch television where beautiful, busty women fill out their costumes like Playboy Bunnies with seemingly effortless ease. Likewise, young girls interact with one another, in such cliques as those displayed in Mean Girls, learning how to perform their gender properly via socialization in “Girl World.” When I refer to Fey’s construction of “Girl World,” I am indeed referring to that social landscape in which certain young ladies of a certain socioeconomic status inhabit, one from which I, in many ways, came from: having grown up a white, middle class girl in Long Island, New York.

Long Island was a lot like you what think of when images of suburbia enter your mind: freshly mowed green lawns, white picket fences, trees (instead of skyscrapers). And I remember one particular October 31st, it was a beautiful autumnal afternoon and my friends and I were all dressed up for trick or treating. It was our freshman year of high school, so we were smack dab in the middle of Girl World, which I conceptualize more as a temporal location (as well as sociocultural) rather than a physical place. Our costumes were short, tight and what some might call scandalous. A middle aged woman passing by my front lawn, with her ten year old daughter in tow, said with shameless disgust,

“See? No wonder someone was raped on this block not too long ago. Those SLUTS are gonna get it!”

My freshman year of high school: Christine (me, top left) the “army brat,” Amanda (bottom left) the “pink fairy,” Emily (center) the “red devil,” and Ali (right) the “1920’s flapper girl.” Long Island, NY.

And I can remember the sting of her words. I can remember the instant guilt I felt in snapping this photo (above). Was I dressed like a slut? Was I a [Halloween] slut? How had Girl World suddenly collapsed with the real one? Why were my friends and I not accepted as the army brats, pink fairies, red devils and 1920’s flapper girls that we were trying to emulate? Instead, we were branded sluts, and according to my former neighbor, worthy of one such heinous crime as rape. This type of mentality is the direct offspring of an entire culture of ignorance, known as rape culture. Rape culture refers to that patriarchal society in which we reside (within which Girl World and the real world simultaneously dwell). It is a social environment that accepts rape as normative – even natural – thereby placing blame and responsibility on victims of rape, whom, according to rape culture, did not successfully avoid the so-called-inevitability of asking for it.

Some popular ideas surrounding this notion of rape and rape culture include (but are not limited to):

…Don’t dress too revealing…

Don’t walk/drive alone late at night…

Always watch your drink at parties…

The implication always being that if s/he failed to comply with any of these regulatory rules, then they stupidly put themself at risk for having their body violated.

If I could go back in time, I would tell that woman about the powerfully dangerous ignorance she was perpetuating to her daughter by calling us sluts, and by forewarning her daughter about the invitation to bodily violation via Halloween costumes. What a terrible, terrible thing to do, to teach young girls that there is shame attached to the body, and that they alone carry the extraordinary burden of responsibility. How dare we teach children: “don’t get raped,” as if that is ever any person’s intended goal. It is time we begin targeting the source(s) of violence in and around rape culture; it is time we begin to teach the rhetoric of, “don’t rape,” as stranger rape is far less common than familiar or familial rape.

For information on SlutWalk and its mission(s), check out this NY Mag article.

This blog post is not to occlude those pressing realities surrounding the hyper-sexualization of girls and self identified women in society, namely surrounding the American Halloween season in which underage girls dress like (well, let’s face it) Playboy Bunnies. This blog post is specifically targeted at the rape culture which I, myself, experienced in Girl World, where to my shock & dismay, ‘I was not allowed to dress like a slut, since other girls did say something bad about it,’ Tina Fey! This blog post is intended to interrogate rape culture and to challenge its debilitating rhetoric.

No matter who you are, No matter where you work, No matter how you identify, No matter how you flirt, No matter what you wear, No matter whom you choose to love, No matter what you said before: NO ONE has the right to touch you without your consent.” –SlutWalk NYC

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LiLo the Monster: Biopower Hard At Work

French social theorist Michel Foucault first coined the term “biopower” in his 1978 three-volume study of sexuality titled, The History of Sexuality.  Foucault was referring to the national-State practices of policing, regulating and moralizing bodies according to constructed ideals of so-called-good health and the ideal bodily form, that is no doubt racialized as it was gendered.  Furthermore, Foucault attributed such deployments of hegemonic discourse to the national-State desire for control over populations: “an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies.”  Today when we talk about biopower, it is often not in reference to the governmentality of national States, but rather to the societal policing of one another and of selves.  Indeed, we are the mechanism by which hegemony gets produced and reproduced.  Need some evidence?  No problem!  Look no further than celebrity gossip blogs, magazine articles and news coverage of Lindsay Lohan (LiLo) and her infamous struggles with addiction.

Editor Jeffrey Jerome Cohen would have us believe that the public rise and fall of LiLo is nothing new.  His Monster Theory details numerous case and points in which cultural perceptions and expectations of transgression are imprinted onto the body of the monster.  In his article, he attempts to read cultures by and through the “monsters they engender” – meaning we designate the boundaries of what passes as acceptable and what gets demonized as monstrous.  Monstrosity has taken many forms throughout histories and throughout cultural contexts but one truth remains the same, Cohen warns us, that: “Monsters are our children,” in that they are our creations produced through our imaginations; “They ask us to reevaluate our cultural assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, our perception of difference, our tolerance toward its expression.”  Monsters are telling in this way.

I have no doubt that we, as a society, have transformed celebrity identities into dialectical Others: embodying a larger than life quality and simultaneous monstrosity all at once.  It is against these constructions of monstrosity that we regulate ourselves.  We punish transgression in the form of public, online condemnation.  Celebrity online blogger, Perez Hilton, details [his take on] the chronology of LiLo’s various court dates, familial interactions and Tweets to fans – facilitating a forum through which his followers can then partake in comment wars, in which they contribute their own opinions and advice surrounding LiLo’s ‘addictions’ to “partying,” “drugs,” and “drinking [alcohol].”

from PEREZHILTON.COM

Guest lecturer and Sociologist, Rebecca Tiger, traces public insistence upon two dueling conceptions of addition: 1.) “that addiction is a disease that should…be fixed” by punitive measures (i.e. incarceration and/or institutionalized rehabilitation), and 2.) “that addiction is a disease that…can’t…be fixed.”  So therein lies a paradox for those transgressive (i.e. addicted) bodies.  There is a simultaneous construction of addiction that embodies both badness as well as sickness.  These two manifestations of deviance work together in order to strengthen the call to biopower; the desire of knowledge and to control deviant bodies is what drives our online obsessions to ridicule the monster and to ultimately justify her imprisonment, as consequence of her wasted self.  Juxtaposed to these images of deviance are certain fetishized images of ‘good health’ as both a physical and moral state of superiority.  Indeed, we fetishize the so-called-natural body and, ironically, strive for it.  If something is natural, then why is it so darn difficult to obtain? Hmm…

These reproductions of biopower feed into the system that which exercises its surveillance power over populations.  This is the very same [American] system which has successfully incarcerated more people than any other industrialized national-State in the world, but has rather unsuccessfully done much of anything to STOP drug use.  Perhaps by punishing individuals, it has lost sight of those much larger, structural factors of society that are more truly to blame.  And of course when I say “it,” I mean that mechanism which we occupy – by which we govern.

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