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LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE

Posted by pocochina on January 27, 2008

I’m not really a celebrity-watcher (I hadn’t ever read Perez until the tragic news about Heath Ledger earlier this week), but I am oddly a watcher of celebrity coverage.  By which I mean, I don’t know or care Lindsey Lohan is up to, but when I see her on CNN, I read and wonder why we feel so free to speculate on whether she suffers from bulemia or a cocaine addiction; I search for meaning as to why a starlet’s pain is such big news.  I realize that it’s because women who are young and beautiful – and doing exactly what a patriarchal society insists they should – must still suffer, or they will get all uppity thinking they are people and stuff.  And because our faux-“free market” worshiping society relies on unnecessary competition as well as healthy competition, else we will stop all hating each other, and women are required to compete on the Hetero-Fuckability Scale, or else we will, I dunno, remember we are good at other stuff.  But I want to think it’s more complicated than that.

Which brings me, of all fucking things, to Britney’s period stain.

I am so, so disgusted.  Not by the fact that OMG, an adult woman menstruates, but by the cultural narrative which says that women who menstruate are disgusting, that periods are something of which we should be ashamed – and by the way in which this particular shame crossed ways with this particular starlet.  Americans are crassly fixated on Britney’s sexuality.  We have been since her debut.  She was the queen of the virgin/whore dichotomy, and now she’s suffering in that very same construct.  Now that she has had kids – now that that our perceptions of her sexuality have changed (not a Virginial Girl, nor a Modest Mother), we must continue to recreate the Used-Up Bad Girl.  And what could possibly be a better tool to put her in her place than her period?  We like to think of it as the ugly, dirty side of our sexual maturity; the idea that despite the way our bodies are so terribly commercialized, they are still bodies, and they do the things human bodies do.  They make babies, and they bleed, and sometimes they betray our fraying emotions and our frantic minds.

And then the fucking moralizing, when Margaret Cho dared to stand up for her!  Margaret’s point, if I may speak for the Great One herself, was that it is seriously fucked up to humiliate someone for something so normal as a period stain.  “You should use hydrogen peroxide!”  “You should get new sheets!”  “You should buy a DivaCup!”*  Way to prove her point, jackasses.  Period stains happen all the time.  We are only ashamed of them because we are taught to do so in a world which a) hates women and b) makes enormous amounts of money off of our shame.  Period stains are embarrassing because they mean we are women who have failed to hide our physical femininity, and therefore failed at our societal performance of femininity.

Britney was, in her heyday, the height of emphasized femininity – shockingly young, taut and curvy, with her blonde hair, and bright eyes meaning as much as her conservative Christianity and professed virginity. Whatever she thought, all that she suffered, she hid it from us with a megawatt smile.  She straddled the virgin/whore dichotomy, and then she dared to become human – she admitted her sexuality, she fell in love and made bad choices and had beautiful children and then crashed, forcing the toll of her life on our cannibalistic celebrity press corps.  She reminded us that the product of Britney was not a person.  It’s one more tiny crack in the wall between what a capitalist patriarchy demands women be, and what we actually are.  She’s crashing and burning, in front of all our eyes, because she has nowhere else to be.

*I want Margaret to have a Diva Cup now too, and not just because it was probably named after her badass diva self, but ’cause it could make that part of her life less annoying.  Definitely not because then Margaret, like me, could then be So! Morally! Superior! to poor period stained Britney.

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