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I don't really pay attention to celebrity culture, nor do I have social media, so it's been interesting to watch Ovarit discuss female celebrities like Ellen Page and Billie Eilish. Something that has really stood out to me in these discussions is that a significant amount of women on here seem to believe that female celebrities have a large or near-total amount of control over what they say and do.

I've been taken aback at some of the comments I've seen. In the case of Billie Eilish, a lot of people have been blaming her directly, making all kinds of claims about what she's thinking or why she would choose to sexualize herself in the way she has. It's being framed as some kind of failing on her part. That she's some kind of idiot, desperate to stay relevant, that she's brainwashed, that she genuinely believes this is empowerment, that she's doing this because she's insecure. To be fair, I have seen some people make comments about how so many other young female pop stars seem to go this same route, but then many just continue to assume that it's the personal fault, or decision, or choice, of these young women.

Why? Why are you so willing to believe that these women have any agency over their own careers? So much of it feels like blaming women for the decisions of men, but with extra steps.

We should absolutely be critical of choice feminism and of hyper-sexualization & objectification being framed as 'empowerment,' but I guess I'm just confused as to why people, in particular women on a feminist website, are content to stop there and not take it any farther? Why is everyone content to assume that the female celebrities saying these things--which conveniently enough, support the idea that women are (sex) objects to be owned and consumed by men--are in control of what they're saying? And before someone tries to quote her Vogue interview at me, do you honestly believe that celebrities, whose entire lives are managed by PR, are never made to lie?

It's been interesting to watch Ovarit users compare the Vogue cover to her previous style of baggy clothing and weird hair. Many times, on this site and elsewhere, I've seen her discussed as having a kind of authenticity because she wasn't dressing provocatively, and was making explicit statements about how she didn't want the focus to be on her body. As I've listened to people discuss her and celebrate her (old) style, I couldn't help thinking that it was such a brilliant marketing scheme on the part of whomever is controlling her image and career.

In a culture where everything is hypersexualized, and there's an obvious social reaction to that--the rise of identities like asexuality, for starters, and the fact that such social trends are easily observed because everyone posts everything to social media--creating and molding a young female celebrity who rejected that kind of hypersexualization would be almost guaranteed to become popular. I think the majority of people love to believe they are different than the rest somehow, and they want to see that reflected in the media they consume, the celebrities they follow. Whether they are aware of that or not.

I'm curious what everyone else thinks about these things. And frankly, I'm tired of seeing adult women on a feminist-run website personally blame a younger woman (whose entire teenage life and career has been controlled by others) for the actions of an industry that is run by men, bigger than her, and has already claimed her as its next victim. I'd like to have a discussion about female celebrities that specifically focuses on how they are controlled and managed.

I don't really pay attention to celebrity culture, nor do I have social media, so it's been interesting to watch Ovarit discuss female celebrities like Ellen Page and Billie Eilish. Something that has really stood out to me in these discussions is that a significant amount of women on here seem to believe that female celebrities have a large or near-total amount of control over what they say and do. I've been taken aback at some of the comments I've seen. In the case of Billie Eilish, a lot of people have been blaming her directly, making all kinds of claims about what she's thinking or why she would choose to sexualize herself in the way she has. It's being framed as some kind of failing on her part. That she's some kind of idiot, desperate to stay relevant, that she's brainwashed, that she genuinely believes this is empowerment, that she's doing this because she's insecure. To be fair, I have seen some people make comments about how so many other young female pop stars seem to go this same route, but then many just continue to assume that it's the personal fault, or decision, or choice, of these young women. Why? Why are you so willing to believe that these women have any agency over their own careers? So much of it feels like blaming women for the decisions of men, but with extra steps. We should absolutely be critical of choice feminism and of hyper-sexualization & objectification being framed as 'empowerment,' but I guess I'm just confused as to why people, in particular women on a feminist website, are content to stop there and not take it any farther? Why is everyone content to assume that the female celebrities saying these things--which *conveniently* enough, support the idea that women are (sex) objects to be owned and consumed by men--are in control of what they're saying? And before someone tries to quote her Vogue interview at me, do you honestly believe that celebrities, whose entire lives are managed by PR, are never made to lie? It's been interesting to watch Ovarit users compare the Vogue cover to her previous style of baggy clothing and weird hair. Many times, on this site and elsewhere, I've seen her discussed as having a kind of authenticity because she wasn't dressing provocatively, and was making explicit statements about how she didn't want the focus to be on her body. As I've listened to people discuss her and celebrate her (old) style, I couldn't help thinking that it was such a brilliant marketing scheme on the part of whomever is controlling her image and career. In a culture where everything is hypersexualized, and there's an obvious social reaction to that--the rise of identities like asexuality, for starters, and the fact that such social trends are easily observed because everyone posts everything to social media--creating and molding a young female celebrity who rejected that kind of hypersexualization would be almost guaranteed to become popular. I think the majority of people love to believe they are different than the rest somehow, and they want to see that reflected in the media they consume, the celebrities they follow. Whether they are aware of that or not. I'm curious what everyone else thinks about these things. And frankly, I'm tired of seeing adult women on a feminist-run website personally blame a younger woman (whose entire teenage life and career has been controlled by others) for the actions of an industry that is run by men, bigger than her, and has already claimed her as its next victim. I'd like to have a discussion about female celebrities that specifically focuses on how they are controlled and managed.

64 comments

[–] orchidea 8 points (+9|-1)

I get what you're saying, but I wouldn't go so far in the other direction to say that these stars have no agency at all. It's infantilizing and stops us from discussing or considering what responsibilities or principles women can aspire to for the good of other women and girls, not only themselves.

[–] ligaments [OP] 4 points (+4|-0)

I would argue that child stars in particular have very little agency. If they're starting when they're minors, then yes their entire lives and careers are being managed and shaped by others. And if they become very successful, why on earth would their managers (or whomever is making money off them, in Billie's case that's her parents and brother) why would they just suddenly give her complete control once she becomes an adult?

Look at Brittany Spears for instance. The same thing happened to her. Her image was hypersexualized and everyone blamed her personally. Come to find out years later, none of that was in her control. She still doesn't manage her own money.

[–] orchidea -1 points (+1|-2)

I will agree on child stars when they are children, but I do think it becomes a grayer area once they start to mature. I think there is a space to be disappointed in an individual's decision while also recognizing that they may have been strongly influenced or even coerced. I do not think it is mecessary to judge the individual and their character in order to judge the decision in this way. Barring extreme cases (e.g. Britney's conservatorship) these people can walk away or set limits, given that they are after all the "asset" and if they want to take their ball and go home then the whole show is over. So they do have leverage.