It feels like a tiny step forward when an A-list pop star (and not an overt, flying the flag for feminism pop star) is willing to come out to say some stuff about the objectification of women. It is a tiny step because it comes from a person deeply embedded within a system that uses the objectified body of woman as a form of marketing, a tool with which to maximise profit. And it is a tiny step because at 23, Ariana Grande is yet to experience the point at which the objectification of her body ceases to be an issue (and at which point she may, or may not, choose to undergo certain procedures, ensuring a prolonged objectification of her body, paradoxically). However, it seems that Ariana Grande’s recent outburst, vis-à-vis the “not a piece of meat” business, has the potential to mark a new chapter in the History of Stupidity of gender relations.
A myriad of approaches awaits anyone choosing to engage with such a topic. One might choose to lend one’s support to Ms. Grande, no questions asked, like Ashley Edwards Walker, who views Grande as being “totally right” in her actions and words w/r/t the Mac Miller fan who applauded Mr. Miller for “hitting that.”
Or, one might take the view that Ms. Grande is complicit in the ongoing objectification of women in popular culture, like Ben Shapiro does when stating that “when Grande isn’t implying that all women are bad girls, she’s participating in the pop music trope of offering herself to the world at large. Her songs aren’t about love with a particular fellow – they’re general propositions.” For Shapiro, Grande is moaning about behaviour that she helps to promote – she’s merely a heteronormative-pop-princess-prostitute in Shapiro’s opinion.
Or, one might adopt the @PiersMorgan approach of just shutting down a conversation by simply stating that the person in question is merely pissing and moaning for reasons to do with self-promotion (a marketing stunt). Admittedly, we’re straying slightly, here, because the Morgan stuff has to do with @Madonna and @LadyGaga, but the general approach adopted by Morgan applies equally well to Ariana Grande’s experience of a culture that views women as less than equal to men.
But, and here’s where the story gets a bit less pop-princessy, what if every instance of a young guy growing up thinking that a person like Ariana Grande is a “thing” whose sole purpose is to be “hit” ends up with that guy taking the Brock Turner view of women that if they’re there, they are there to be fucked: whether conscious at the time, or not (excuse the language).
Applauding another man for “hitting that” while the “that” in question (Grande herself) is sitting right next to the man being congratulated is, perhaps, on the lower end of the rape culture spectrum, but it is on the spectrum, and it does speak of a rape culture that seeks to dehumanise women’s bodies in order that the Brock Turners of this world can continue their rapist activities, and that the Aaron Perskys can continue to absolve the Brock Turners of their rapist ways, and that the Commission on Judicial Performance can thus clear the Perskys of any wrong doing in what would otherwise be viewed as either gross incompetence, or just plain bias.
So, what next for Grande? Get tagged with the feminist label? Get shut down by her record label? Suffer a backlash like that of a Kesha Sebert type performer? Or, flick the bird to all who would have her shut her pretty little mouth, and keep raging longer, louder, and harder? Let’s hope for the latter.