When I wrote gay white and male still equals privilege, plenty of people showed up to tell me about the oppression of gay men, without ever once mentioning their ability to oppress. This is yet another example of this phenomenon. Hilton may be oppressed as a gay Latino male; however, that does not mean he is not walking around with a shit load of male privilege at his disposal. Consider that he regularly shames women and calls them bitches. Hilton makes his living from denigrating female bodies at every opportunity. In March, Hilton had this to say about Lindsay Lohan:
As per usual, she looks aAnd yet, Hilton is the first one to scream when any sort of homophobia is directed at him (note: I am in no way suggesting that homophobia is acceptable). Only his oppression matters.
cheap hookerHOT mess! Since when is underwear pulled halfway down one's ass or sexy? Or posing like you're taking a dump?!
Gross! Is Playboy next? She's getting closer!
I think that at some point we have all been there, thinking what the fuck when some gay guy goes one step to far. Some seem to think that because they don't want to have sex with you, it is perfectly acceptable to touch you wherever and whenever they want. The truth is, the slut shaming, groping, and out right sexism has nothing to do with sex or sexual desire; it has everything to do with them asserting their supposed right as men to have access to female bodies for the purposes of oppression.
Just because someone is facing a marginalization, does not mean that they are not an asshole, nor does it mean that they cannot engage in behaviour that is extremely harmful to others. Far too often, oppression has people grasping at straws, and they reach for a body to label as less than them to attack, because it is erroneously understood that this is the path to power.
Many commenting on this story chose to focus on the fact that Cryus is 17 years old, thus by-passing the outright sexism and assault that Hilton engaged in. Would this photo have been somehow less damaging if Cyrus had been 20,30, or 40? No matter what her age, the lack of consent makes this assault, and that is what should be the focus of the commentary.
Perez responded to the public outcry by releasing the following video:
Hey everyone it's Perez. I'm here wearing my fake fur to address a little controversy that the media is really talking about the last 24 hours. The little controversy involving a girl I love, named Miley Cyrus. Seems like the whole world is thinking I posted a photo of Miley's vagina without underwear on. Do you think Miley is that stupid to be out in public without panties? Sure I may nickname her slutty Cyrus but she's not a moron. And also do you think that I'm stupid enough to post a photo of Miley if she's not wearing any underwear down there? No. Sure I like to be controversial but I don't want to go to jail. People, snap out of it. If you look at other photos from that paparazzi set, Miley was clearly wearing underwear. Clearly. The reason I linked to this photo was because I thought that she was exiting this car in a very unladylike fashion. And you know, I like to encourage Miley to be ladylike.
There you have it, he was telling a woman to close her damn legs -- but he has no interest in female bodies right? He is a gay man, and so this is only about child pornography, and not another example of the deep seated sexism that he engages in. The fact that he refers to her as "slutty Cyrus" is of course incidental.
A failure to label this assault is directly based in the idea that women's bodies belong to males whether or not a sexual relationship exists, or is even possible. Because this is Perez Hilton many would like to dismiss this as just another one of his attempts to be a drama whore, but the fact remains, whether gay or straight, men assaulting women and engaging in predatory behaviour is a daily occurrence, for the express purpose of maintaining patriarchy. Perez is a symptom of a sickness that is far larger than him.