Monday, April 16, 2012

My Thoughts on Porn, Parenting, and Patriarchy.

Last week I learned a new and awful term: mommy porn.  Because it is no longer insulting enough to infantilize female readers of mainstream fiction by labelling books as chick lit? Am I suppose to be charmed by a term that stereotypes all women as inconsequential breeders who are too simple to comprehend the term erotica?

If publishers really want to develop a genre of porn-related books it should be series of parenting books authored by the parents of porn "stars."  It could be called "Learn From the Awful Mistakes I Made That Led My Child Into the Depravity of Performing Sex Acts For the Gratification of Strangers." The impetus for this idea came to me while reading a wikipedia article about Sandra Bullock's ex-husband's ex-wife. I spent a diverting and disturbing hour reading profiles of other porn "stars." By the way, some of the photos on those wikipedia pages are rude so make sure your kids are not around. The narratives all share a common theme: none of those people grew up aspiring to work in pornography. They fell into the industry because of bad choices, awful luck, and piss poor childhoods. Hence my idea for the "What Not To Do: Parents of Porn Stars" manuals.

You know who should NOT write parenting manuals? People whose children are still children. Unless an author's child is over the age of 22, has completed some post-secondary education, is not addicted to anything, AND values monogamy, I am not going to read their book. Or in the case of Alicia Silverstone: her blog.

I don't care that Alicia Silverstone (aka, that girl from some Aerosmith video, the woman who named a human Bear in the Big Blue House, an underemployed actress who authored a vegan cookbook) feeds her kid from her mouth. I'm more offended by:
1. the way she manufactured the controversy to plump up interest in her lifestyle blog, and
2. how she defended her actions by declaring "people have been feeding their kids that way for thousands of years."

I am weary of attachment parents justifying their choices by saying it's a traditional behaviour or technique employed in a pre-industrial culture. So what? Paleo Indians (for example) didn't co-sleep or carry their kids in slings or breastfeed because they thought more advanced forms of technology made them less authentic or more in tune with their children's needs. They had no other choice. If Silverstone and her fans want to perpetuate this post-modern Noble Savage concept, they should stop cherry-picking cultural components and completely shun industrial, western society. Buh-BYE!

If Alicia goes away, I hope she takes Ashley Judd with her. As with Silverstone, I give Judd partial points for cultivating media attention on her own terms. Everyone had forgotten about Judd's March appearance on Marilyn Denis' show, until Judd authored a wordy treatise about people's reaction to her appearance. It was published just in time for the premier of her new tv show.  Isn't that manipulative serendipitous?

Let me save you some time and give you the Coles' Notes version of the piece:

"Women made rude remarks about my appearance because patriarchy promotes misogyny."

I assume Judd was aces with our patriarchal society when her good looks were securing media attention, acting jobs, endorsements for cosmetic companies and the love of Michael Bolton:


Judd is a very smart woman, but I think her matriarchy-will-rock! group-hug failed. Partially because she came across as smug. Also because you can not simultaneously shame and inspire. It didn't help that she couldn't resist bragging about her weight (8! 2! She's not fat!) and her skin (flawless! unwrinkled!). Should I cut Judd some slack? She was writing under the influence of patriarchy.

Of course this begs the question: would I enjoy a parenting book authored by her mother? That Naomi Judd does look like a hoot.

9 comments:

  1. The thing about that article she wrote? It couldn't be written by an ugly person, either. It would have seemed like sour grapes. I thought she made some good points that are worthy of consideration, but she WAS very smug. Smugness of any sort, in any conversation, is a total turn-off.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for pointing out what bugged me about that Ashley Judd thing. One of my friends re-posted it on Facebook with all kinds of praise and I said nothing, because I couldn't figure out why it set my teeth on edge.

    As for Alicia Silverstone, seems like she's trying to build a Goop-esque empire. Whatever. Her career nadir was Clueless, which was admittedly awesome, but was also OMG SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agreed about the parenting books. Part of the down side of parenting is the feeling that I will have no idea if I've done a good job or royally screwed up until my kids are grown ups. Since they are currently 9 and 2, I've got a hell of a lot of years to go before I know and by that point it will be too late.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Heh. This: "Paleo Indians (for example) didn't co-sleep or carry their kids in slings or breastfeed because they thought more advanced forms of technology made them less authentic or more in tune with their children's needs" is very funny. I love the word "authentic". I need to use it more.

    This is a very authentic rant. I'm drinking a very authentic cup of coffee right now. I hugged and kissed my children this morning which makes me an authentic mother.

    It's awesome. I am going to refer to my awesomeness as my authenticness.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think it is possible that Alicia Silverstone confuses birds with people. A little research and I've yet to find a group of people either industrialized or primitive that has or had ever fed their children that way. "Clueless" has seemed to stick like glue to Alicia Silverstone. Great blog post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've also yet to hear a single adult -- from a western, industrialized, traditional or emerging society -- publicly say, "Yea, I was mouth fed by my mother as a child and I'm not embarrassed about it. I only wish she'd shared the footage with the world."

      Delete
  6. Great, now I need to block out a few hours to look up porn.

    Thanks a lot.

    Well, I'd better get to it...

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm not sure WHERE exactly I stand on the whole Ashley Judd thing (I just totally forgot her first name and had to scroll back up to find it, so clearly I'm not TOO emotionally invested). I actually didn't think it was smug, and I do agree that something isn't automatically not patriarchy because women participate in it. But I do have some difficulties with the fact that she's participated in the commodification of her beauty and now is taking aim at that same commodification.

    That Paleo Indians thing? LOVE that. Honestly, I couldn't give a crap whether the APers want to breastfeed til their kids are ten and sleep in a spider-woven hammock with all their relatives and everything - I just wish they'd stop hollering about how much BETTER it is than anything anybody else does. A popular phrase in Attachment Parenting is 'natural consequences', as opposed to time outs or punishment. So, if your kid runs into the street, do you let them get hit by a car? That's a natural consequence, right?

    Sorry. This subject really brings out the superbitch in me. I'm not writing any parenting manuals yet - my kids have purple hair and Eve still has a tendency to show up in random places half naked, so...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would read a how-to-not-to book from a porn star's parent. I think you should shop that one and try to hook them up with a publisher! It's a brilliant idea.

    Love that you've got an OPINIONS ARE NOT THE SAME AS FACTS label. Again with the brilliant. I would read a parenting book from you, I think, even though your kids are still kids.

    ReplyDelete