As you may have heard (and how could you not hear about it?), adorable gamine Anne Hathaway accidentally flashed her vulva getting out of a car, and someone got a picture of it.
The female-celebrity-getting-out-of-a-car-pantyless photo is nothing new. Britney has done it. Paris has done it. In the world of celebrity, you’re nobody until somebody has taken a photo of your labia.
For the most part, Hathaway’s slip might have gone uncommented on. And then Matt Lauer commented on it. Like, on tv. He was basically all, “So, saw your vag, tell us about your new movie.” People were, understandably, outraged. Anne Hathaway is an Oscar nominated actress. Her work is lauded and respected by millions. She seems super nice and her smile is like sunshine (that’s not sarcasm). She has way more teeth than a person should reasonably have, but they’re so straight and blindingly white that it’s like looking into a virgin’s soul (some of that was sarcasm). She’s the closest thing we have to an official “America’s Sweetheart.” Some MAN can’t acknowledge that the whole country has seen her bare crotch. TO THE INTERNET OUTRAGE MACHINE!
Here’s the thing that I can’t quite get my head around. Accidental nudity photos have been an issue for years. There’s a scene in Spice World where Richard E. Grant blocks a paparazzo’s camera and admonishes him for trying to get an upskirt of the Spice Girls. Spice World.
I fear many of my readers won’t have any concept of who these women are, due to my old age.
The point is, this has been happening for a while. And yet, the collective anger only reared its head on a large scale when it happened to Anne Hathaway.
Look, I’m sure many people were as disgusted at the publication of LiLo’s beaver pics as they are at Anne Hathaway’s. That’s not the point. The point is that, collectively, we decide who is deserving of our ardent defense and who is not based on the same misogynistic bullshit that creates the marketplace for those pictures in the first place.
We live in a culture where we feel we have the right to see an actor, musician, or model’s naked body on display for our own gratification. Your first urge there might have been to correct me: “No, we live in a culture where we feel entitled to see women’s bodies.” That’s just not true. If that were true, True Blood wouldn’t have half the ratings it’s getting.
You are not watching this show for his incredible acting. Come on.
So, why are we so up in arms about the exploitation of Anne Hathaway, when we tolerate and even pay to see other celebrities being exploited?
Because Hathaway is a “good girl,” and as such she deserves our moral outrage. She’s never been involved in any scandals (at least, not any of her own making). She doesn’t openly use drugs and doesn’t get kicked out of nightclubs for being too drunk. But most importantly, she doesn’t trade sex as a commodity. Any time she’s done nudity for a film, it’s been “artistic” nudity that’s necessary for the role. When you compare her to Britney or Paris, she’s practically a nun.
Some have argued that since Britney and Paris have made their careers out of flashing flesh, they deserve what they get. That’s just stupid. If you break into a grocery store after closing time, you aren’t going to get very far with the defense, “Well, it was open this morning, I figured I could just go in at any time.” It’s like these people are saying, “My mom gave me twenty bucks for my birthday, so I emptied out her bank account. What? There’s nothing wrong with that, she was asking for it.” A woman dressing and behaving in a sexually provocative manner doesn’t mean we all have this all-access pass to see parts of her body that aren’t meant to be displayed.
Others have said that since Britney and Paris and Lindsey have made it a routine to go out and get plastered and fall all over the place with their skirts up, that’s the key difference. Hathaway doesn’t act like that, so we don’t feel she deserves the ridicule. This is also a completely fucked up and illogical way of thinking, and it’s akin to arguing that women who get drunk at parties should expect to be raped and don’t deserve sympathy. Intoxication is viewed as a moral failing, and it is extra, extra immoral when women are the ones who are intoxicated. But even though society now grudgingly admits that raping drunk girls is wrong, it still seems pretty comfortable saying that if you get drunk and flash your panties (or lack thereof), it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that someone will take a picture. Oh, and it’s all your fault.
What’s worse is, the women whose snatches are being mercilessly hunted are women that are culturally understood to be, well. Not very intelligent. Whether Paris is truly a dumb blonde, I have no idea, but that’s the image the media projects: “Here’s Paris Hilton. She’s a stupid whore.” Britney Spears is/was? under a court ordered conservatorship because mentally she was not sound enough to care for herself as an adult. Doesn’t it seem like these women, if they’re really, truly of a lower intelligence or functional capability, are more vulnerable than Hathaway? And therefore more deserving of our indignation? Aren’t they victims of the very culture that encouraged them to market their sexuality in the first place?
Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be angry about people with unscrupulous morals benefitting from poor Anne’s wardrobe malfunction, because we absolutely should. I’m just saying, maybe we should examine why we care, as a culture, more when it’s a “good girl” and not a “slut” or “trainwreck” being exploited.
Speaking of wardrobe malfunction… why did everyone blame her? It was Timberlake who exposed her titty, FFS.
Maybe you’re not guilty of any of these things, and you’re thinking, “But Jen, I always defended Britney!” Good, I’m glad you did. I didn’t, because I hadn’t wised up at that point. If this is you, then good, I’m happy for you. But the fact is, a lot of people don’t defend the Britneys and Parisii of the world and choose instead to defend a woman who is clearly more than capable of defending herself. And that’s fucking sick.