Monday, November 30, 2009

Duchess Camilla Bowles Does Not Want Beyonce or Lady Gaga On Her Video Phone

image It’s time to wring your hands again because rampant female sexuality is bringing about the ruination of the world.   Diana’s replacement, The Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Bowles  is horrified by the explicit nature of Lady Gaga and Beyonce Knowles video, Video Phone.

During a visit to a rape crises center, when asked specifically about the the work of Knowles and Gaga, Bowles stated:

'A lot of those videos are terrifying.

'I am sure they trigger a response in some of the young people. I can never understand how they can get away with making those things.'

'It has happened too quickly, values have changed so much,' the Duchess said.

'I suppose it's peer pressure, that's the problem. You don't want to look the odd one out.

But it takes a strong person to show that they don't approve, especially at that age. It's a breakdown of discipline. There doesn't seem to be any punishment for such behaviour. The teachers are too kind.'

The Mail Online, in which Camilla’s commentary was published, even had the nerve to refer to the above video as a gangster rap video.  Really?  This inflammatory headline only further proves a lack of understanding of what they are looking at.

Beyonce and Lady Gaga, are two highly talented women.  There can be do doubt that this video was created to satisfy the male sexual gaze but to deny their right to make it, asserts that women don’t have a right to be sexual or display their bodies at will.  Whether or not we agree with how their sexuality manifests itself is irrelevant in a culture which continues to attempt to discipline women into chastity.  The good girl keeps her legs closed, until her husband demands his daily access meme is still alive and well.

Camilla longs for the old fashioned days, forgetting that for women, many of the rights that we take for granted today did not exist.  Conservatives always reach for a mythical past of their creation because it effectively limits the rights and freedoms of others.  Part of recognizing the autonomy and agency of women is supporting choice, even when it is not a choice that we would personally make.

Women who make videos like this are often not seen as respecting themselves, as though these images amount to the totality of their being or experience. Even as we sit in judgement of their behaviour, we are supporting the idea that female sexuality is something that needs to be highly controlled and regulated.  When we legitimize control in one area, it is quite easy to extend that discipline to other areas of women's lives. 

image image No such censure exists when heterosexual cisgender men decide to be sexual.  When Lautner and Pattinson of the series Twilight, repeatedly pose for revealing pictures, they are celebrated and cheered. With the exception of full frontal nudity, they can prance and preen as they see fit, without being accused of bringing about an end to moral decency.   Heterosexual male sexuality is understood as normal.  Clearly, each photo that these men pose for is specifically aimed at a target audience.  There can be no doubt that they are trading on their looks, (though I don’t know what people see in the human bobble head Pattinson)  to achieve and maintain the fame that they have acquired as actors.  They are selling sex and they do so with full awareness. The constant double entendres in their interviews, are meant specifically to excite the imagination and promote a sexual allure amongst their fans.

How is the behaviour of the above two men, any different than that of Beyonce or Lady Gaga?  In an age when sex sells, we should be promoting the idea of women choosing when their bodies are being sexualized.  Beyonce and Lady Gaga are not just fixtures to titillate in the back of some  booty shaking rap video; they are the central subjects.  There is a difference between being the subject and object and such delineation needs to be recognized, if we are ever to validate women as autonomous beings.  Ignoring who controls the image is far more damaging socially, than a little booty shaking will ever be.