It doesn't take a tabloid hound to be in on the celebrity gossip these days. There has been a load of discourse in the recent weeks on the split between Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, on accounts of the former's "theft" of Marc Anthony, with headlines like "Jada steals J Lo's Man!"
Whether or not this information is factual is still under speculation, but regardless of the unbeknownst facts, must publications such as Life&Style, and UsWeekly, subvert to man-stealing media ploys, alluding to 50's neo-puritan ideology?
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Vagina Dentatta that Murdered a Marriage!
Is America not sick of such a demonizing narrative? It was just a few years ago that the country was babbling about Angelina Jolie seducing Bratt Pitt out of his marriage to Jennifer Aniston.
These narratives that are often constructed by the media in order to create an appealing story to a mass readership, end up relieving the husband (Marc Anthony in this case) of any responsibility whatsoever. In fact, they seem to be purposely pitting the two women against each other to create a "cat fight" spectacle.
While most people do not take celebrity news entirely seriously, as it is meant for mindless entertainment, these narratives re-instate ideas that perpetuate the dualistic "virgin/whore" complex that has been rotting in the social subconscious of this country for just too many decades.
During the Brad and Angie media blitz Angelina was constantly being compared to Jennifer Aniston as the seductress, who was known for her hyper sexual relationships with previous lovers. Thus just because she appeared more "sexual" than girl-next door Jen, she must have used her gorgeous looks and alluring nature to seduce Brad out of his marriage.
This idea also associates sexuality with appearance, toting the usual "sexy = slutty" cliche instead of realizing that sexuality is individual and also an inner phenomenon.
Leora Tanenbaum makes note of this in her work "Slut: Growing up Female with a Bad Reputation," a book that seeks to end what has been dubbed the term "slut bashing," and level out the sexual playing field for men and women. She mentions the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, stating, "Even as her name fades from the limelight there is no doubt that Lewinsky will spend the rest of her life in the shadow of her tarnished reputation." She then goes on to mention how for Clinton, his sexual "problem" was spun to seem out of his control.
The female-blaming twists on these stories just serve to keep women's sexual freedoms confined, upholding the image of the innocent/monogamous/virginal female as the ideal. This implies that the supposed "whore" is the only one to blame for ruining a marriage.
It also reinstates the falsification that identity for a woman is compiled only of her sexuality and sexual history.
Trust me I am not condoning cheating on either end, but can't help but label this story a rollback, as it demonizing solely the female, thus condoning the idea that men are not responsible for their decisions when it comes to sex, but women are.
After all, it takes two to tango.
Tanenbaum, Leora. Slut!:Growing up Female with a Bad Reputation. Harper Collins. New York, New York: 2000. 74,75.