I remember the first time I ever felt the affect of sexy. It was while watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit and damn… as soon as that sexy little cartoon baby switched from a baby voice to a deep man’s voice, I was entranced. No, I’m kidding… it was Jessica Rabbit. I was just a kid. I was still wearing Tweety Bird t-shirts from Wal-Mart. And yet, I stared at the screen with my jaw on the floor just like all the men in that cabaret lounge. It was a powerful moment.
To this day, Jessica Rabbit is still the embodiment of sexy. That leg, that dress, that high slit, that attitude, those lips, that hair, those eyes, that figure – she really knew how to work it. But what made Jessica Rabbit sexiest of all was that she wasn’t bad… she was just drawn that way. (OK, sorry, I had to get that joke out of the way.) But, honestly, she was a truly good person! She loved Roger. She would do anything for Roger. She could have had any toon in Toontown, yet she stood by her hare. That was sexy. She was an empowering woman who just happened to be stenciled with good looks, but she cared about far more important things.
There has recently been a debate among women (and Glamour readers) about slut-shaming and sexiness. In October, Rashida Jones tweeted “Be sexy, but leave something to the imagination” followed by the hash tag, “#stopactinglikewhores.” The Internet exploded and an argument ensued. Many people agreed and many people didn’t. Some felt we should be blaming record companies and managers, not women themselves. Some felt we shouldn’t call women whores or sluts. Some agreed with Rashida that celebrities should deal with the fact that they’re role models and be held accountable for using their bodies and sexuality to sell records. And so on and so on.
As I read all the articles, comments and tweets, I found myself torn. But regardless how I felt, I was excited that the discussion was brought to the table. It’s important for those who are being coerced into getting naked for videos to have a voice, as well as a league of women standing behind them. But, it’s also important for women who are just simply doing their own damn thing to not feel ashamed.
The worst part is that it’s really difficult to pinpoint an exact problem. There are all types of women on the spectrum. For every Jenna Jameson, you have Dita von Teese and for every Miley Cyrus, you have Beyoncé. Beyoncé’s most recent album oozed sexuality and most of us loved every minute of it. The media erupted with praise! In her music, Beyoncé paints herself as a strong, confident, “damn fine” woman who “sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker.” When Miley does the same thing, she gets a huge eye roll and a stern talking to. It’s not exactly fair that Miley is defending herself in every interview while Beyoncé is saying “thank you.”
Society is warped, man! The worst part is, I fall into the trap. I watch videos of Beyoncé rolling around naked on the beach and flipping her hair on the hood of a car singing about having her cherry torn out and I think “Yeah, girl!” But when I see Miley come in like a wrecking ball without any clothes on, I think, “Oh, come on, girl.” Maybe I feel it doesn’t seem authentic. But maybe, either way, it doesn’t matter and I’m a hypocrite.
In my opinion, I think there’s more to being sexy than getting naked. I think that even though Beyoncé does use her sexuality – it feels natural. She also has a great voice, writes great music and is quite literally the independent, sexual woman she sings about. The moments where I consider Miley most sexy are when she’s being her goofy, Southern self – singing an acapella version of ‘We Can’t Stop’ on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, playing funny characters in sketches on Saturday Night Live or laughing with her family in her documentary. Girl can sing, dance, act and crack jokes! That’s true talent. I wish she would play up those assets far more than those assets. It’s not even about the fact that she’s walking around naked; it’s just that it’s seemingly all she wants to talk about. We get it, you’re not Hannah Montana anymore. There’s re-invention and then there’s forcing a new image down our throats.
I don’t think shaming women for their sexuality is fair, but I do think it’s time we open up the conversation and explore a new variety of ways to be sexy. Getting naked isn’t the only option anymore. Be goofy. Be serious. Be yourself. And then take your clothes off. Just kidding. Unless you’re Jessica Rabbit. Because I still really want to see those cartoon boobs.
Patty Barrett is a writer and improviser based in Los Angeles. You can read words she writes at BarrettAll.com, or even shorter words at @PattyBarrett.
Featured Image via Shutterstock.