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SEXIST BEATDOWN: Fake “Boobies,” Hot Girl Jobs, and Megan Fox Edition

Ladies, let me rap at ya. For starters: I am broke. So broke. “Let’s try not to throw ourselves out of our kitchen window and instead come up with more creative financial solutions” broke. And, as a broke person, and/or a lady, I think it is time we all face up to the following:

  1. People need jobs. Preferably, jobs which pay them well. The better the pay, the better! Sort of. Because
  2. Many, even most jobs involve some level of ethical compromise, personal unhappiness, danger, or discomfort. Therefore,
  3. The process of getting and keeping a job is a constant negotiation with oneself in which one weighs the pay against the level of ethical compromise, personal unhappiness, danger, or discomfort (hereinafter referred to as the “yikes factor”) involved, and determines whether or not the money-to-yikes ratio is acceptable.
  4. Both Yikes Factor and Pay are subjective, really. Some people put up with a high Yikes Factor in exchange for Pay that other folks would find laughable. (But that Pay is probably higher than what they could get elsewhere!) Other people are Yikesed by specific situations to such an extent that no level of Pay will make them acceptable. But no-one, anywhere, with the exception of a very few, very privileged or very stupid people, is not making this compromise.
  5. Somehow, this ends with a sixteen-year-old extra putting on a bikini and six-inch heels and doing a sexy dance in a waterfall for a whole FIVE HUNDRED EXTRA DOLLARS from her employer.
  6. And thus Megan Fox is born.

Yes, it a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman in possession of good boobies must be in want of a fortune. Or, you know. A job. And to that girl, the vast range of Professional Hot Girl Jobs – Hooters waitress, regular waitress, clothing retail, makeup retail, car-show model, naked model, regular model, professional dancer, professional naked dancer, actress, naked actress, Michael Bay giant-robots actress – will be at least somewhat open. And some of those girls will take those jobs, despite the fact that they often involve – yes – ethical compromise, personal unhappiness, danger, or discomfort. Why do they take them? Why do people take jobs on OIL RIGS, Jesus. Because the pay outweighed or was equal to the yikes factor. Because we live in a world where there is an entire set of jobs, at a variety of pay levels, for people who are both objectifiable and willing to deal with being objectified. Because other sorts of jobs might not pay as well, or be as attainable. Because people need jobs. Trust me on this one.

Anyway, seeing as how  my kitchen window and I are still intact, it is our NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE COVER STORY ENABLED PHENOMENON OF MEGAN FOX DISCUSSION HOUR, featuring: Amanda Hess of The Sexist! And, me!

Picture-26ILLUSTRATION: The hands are a metaphor. Also, OMGWHORE!

SADY: megan fox has ARRIVED [Ed. - You know! To the extent that she had not arrived already! She had arrived already, though]! PRAISE THE LORD!

AMANDA: and she has fake “boobies”!

SADY: I feel that I am not meant to like Megan Fox, based on this NYTM piece, which is all about how she is clearly (and candidly!) a market-tested persona product in the midst of rebranding. But (a) how many celebrities are not, and (b) how many public PEOPLE are not, and (c) the fact that she talks about the fact that she IS makes her weirdly seem to be less of one than, let’s say, Zac Efron, and (d) BOOBIES! SHE TALKS ABOUT HER FAKE BOOBIES IN FRONT OF THE INTERVIEWER! SHE DEBATES WHETHER OR NOT TO INSERT THEM IN HER BRA! CAPSLOCK! I like this!

AMANDA: i like this, too. but i’m left wondering what the point of this piece is. half of it seems like a disingenuous way to get around the low-brow celebrity scoop on megan fox while still cashing in on that scoop. NYT isn’t going all Us weekly and making the headline “MEGAN FOX USES FAKE BOOBIES,” but i’m not sure this form of pseudo-intellectual celebrity gawking is really that different from the tabloid version.

SADY: fair enough: the article does seem to hold her at a weird distance. like, it is supposedly about The Spectacle Of Megan Fox, and how she’s got all this weird projection-based hate and love and whatever around her, but also invites us to take part in that and deplore her for her fake booby usage or frequent anti-”middle-america” statementing.

AMANDA: and her affinity for Hitler jokes.

SADY: she is fond of a hitler joke every now and again! it’s true! but i also thought, after reading stuff like the Rolling Stone cover piece a while back, that it was kind of refreshing to read an interview that was not just asking her whether she drinks human blood during sex or which celebrity penis she’d prefer to keep company with.

AMANDA: yes. i agree, and i don’t think this piece is bad. i just think it’s barely there in terms of transcending the tabloid thing. but one thing i found really interesting in this piece was the idea of Fox manufacturing a persona of “female empowerment” for men’s magazines. it’s an old trick to give an interview to a men’s magazine next to photos in your undies that talks about how you want to eat Robert Pattison, and how you’re an empowered woman, and how using your body in Hollywood and being frank about it is better than the alternative, but it’s interesting to see her quote at the end that, actually, she doesn’t like men looking at her body.

SADY: well, i am kind of unclear on megan fox’s personal philosophy of female empowerment. like, it seems to be not that well-defined! projecting myself into the head of megan fox, which i know only through interviews, and in which (as you note) she is always only saying what she has chosen to convey to the world at large, i THINK she thinks that being all sexy boy-eatery is not in and of itself the empowerment? that using that image to your own benefit and being a canny manipulator of that image is the empowerment? BUT, as you say, she does seem pretty sick of it and is maybe kind of trapped by that image to a greater extent than she once expected to be. in the Golden Years! when she put her underage self in a bikini and did a waterfall dance for Michael Bay’s cinematic vision and got a whole FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS in extra pay for so doing!

AMANDA: yeah, and more than that, she fucking loved it! she felt that she belonged dancing in the waterfall.

SADY: like a bikini-clad nymph dancing in the fountain of Underage Youth.

AMANDA: but, since you are perhaps a more studied Fox scholar: is Fox’s version of female empowerment any different from Joanna Krupa’s statement that posing for Playboy is feminist? That, because this activity makes one super hot woman super rich, that means it’s empowering?

SADY: well, that’s the thing, right? that’s the reason we get all pissy about this? because this is actually the divide that I most frequently fall into and die a thousand intrablogular deaths. there’s one school of thought that is like, “no, it is not actually empowering,” and another school of thought that is like, “no, it is not empowering, and also any woman who participates in it is BRINGING FEMINISM DOWN and must immediately run straight to the consoling zombie arms of andrea dworkin and claim that she was brainwashed into doing it whether or not this was actually the case.” and i am of the “no, it is not empowering” school myself. i think the only people who think it is empowering are people who don’t get structure, and are kind of libertariany and weird.

AMANDA: yeah. “i do something, and i am a woman, so that thing is empowering for women” doesn’t really make sense

SADY: but i also think yelling at the actual women who participate in it is kind of weird, because: as a person without a steady paycheck, I get that you do what you have to do in order to get by. and one of the options open, if you look even vaguely Fox-like, is to do the Hot Girl thing.

AMANDA: and on the other hand, “i wear bikinis and hang out around cars” is not empowering to women, but “i wear bikinis and hang out around cars and point out what a skeevy hack michael bay is, and how weird it is that this is my job” is better, i think. and that’s something Joanna Krup totally fails to recognize.

SADY: yeah, exactly. i mean, fuck the michael bays of the world. who come in many forms and at many pay levels. i’ve known girls whose main source of employment was dressing up in kind of sexy outfits and going to bars and convincing dudes there that this one specific kind of beer was superior to all others. the michael bays of marketing! but, yeah, obviously, part of our fantasy around those women is that they’re totally thrilled and turned on by jobs that are about selling their sexuality – compliance is the biggest part of the fantasy, like that policy at hooters that you have to engage in “friendly banter” that is most likely about your titular Hooters – and so when girls complain, you know, they’re subversive. and subject to the typical blowback. even if they’re only doing what everyone else in the world does, which is bitching about the uncomfortable aspects of their jobs. sorry, SPEECHIFYING.

AMANDA: THATS OK. so, moving on to the virgin-whore aspect to all of this … i think it’s really interesting that Fox has been able to be in more control of her tabloid stories because of the fact that she dates boring Brian Austin Green and they’ve been boringly dating for five years. all the tabloid stories are like, “megan fox SAID THIS,” not “megan fox fucked some dude.”

SADY: yeah. BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN. a compellingly boring choice! because if she were out actually having actual sex, she’d be portrayed as a train-wreck.

AMANDA: it’s really sad.

SADY: yeah, but it’s another part of the narrative about Hot Girls: that they’re out behaving like trollops and possibly crazy and messed-up and lost and blah blah whatever. like, female sexuality can’t exist without us feeling the need to punish it, or see it punished. and i don’t think women feel that need to the same extent that a lot of men do, or in the same ways, but i think it’s disingenuous to say that a lot of us don’t feel it. basically, I am using the word “lot” a lot, in an attempt to parse this. but Fox can always fall back on the old, “I have a BOYFRIEND! My sexy sexiness is merely an ACT” thing. which brings us to this whole Meta Fox level where admitting that something is an act may in fact be part of another, overarching act.

AMANDA: METAFOX. well, it’s interesting, because we all know that the Jennifer Aniston Act about her being a hopeless spinster who can’t find love is created by the tabloids. and we know that the Jessica Simpson Is A Stupid Bitch act is created by the tabloids. But whether or not those narratives are based in truth, those celebrities will not be able to escape it, no matter what, so it doesn’t matter. with Megan Fox setting herself up from the get-go as being entirely fake, it may give her some more power to control that fakeness later on.

SADY: yeah. i mean, i think that coming from someone who was basically hired as a cinematic boner dispenser before she was even old enough to vote, and who really hasn’t been hired for jobs outside of that context, she seems remarkably in-control.

AMANDA: well-said

SADY: but i do question how in-control anyone hired to be a cinematic boner dispenser actually is, in the long run. i mean, the weight of The Patriarchy and all of its various Deep-Rooted And Contradictory Sex Issues does not rest lightly on one’s shoulders.

AMANDA: that’s certainly true, but at the same time—and i really don’t mean to insult megan fox here, because i don’t know what she’s capable of—what is she going to do, become a senator? be a mid-level manager? write? she has always wanted to be an actress, she says, and she’s noted that the only reason she can do that is because she’s hot. Fox isn’t going to be getting many Oscar-bait roles (although Jennifer’s Body was an improvement), but does she have to do that kind of acting in order for her to be acceptable?

SADY: uh, probably? i mean, i’m trying to think of someone else who’s made this kind of transition. and, weirdly, the only people i can think of who have made the transition from Object of Desire to Serious Actor are men. like: johnny depp! he was once a mere hot dude! or brad pitt! he was that also! or george clooney! those dudes all started out being valued primarily for their hotness, and then later we were like, “oh, ACTING!” marilyn monroe tried it, but it didn’t really happen. angelina jolie, maybe? oh, hey, here’s an option for megan fox: retire at the age of thirty-four, and spend your entire life rolling around on a bed of cash money.

AMANDA: right. marry someone more successful than brian austin green. is it mean that i keep making fun of brian austin green?

SADY: uh, NO. fox needs someone with an eye for investments, and fewer anecdotes about that time he was on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” it got CANCELLED! it was AWESOME!

AMANDA: it sounds awesome. but some women do do that. Halle Berry did that, and then she just kind of receded back into the boobie rolls. there’s a short window of opportunity for Hot Girls to be Oscar-Worthy Hot Girls, and then they must retreat to the Elder Hot Girl Processing Area. I know what it is! Megan Fox hasn’t gotten to her “purposefully ugly” stage yet. then she can really be an Actress

SADY: right? she needs to talk to Mariah Carey’s people! they can de-Glitter her! i just used the phrase “talk to [X]’s people.” without shame. that is a sad thing i did. i think i must leave now, and contemplate my sins.

AMANDA: haha. well i need to go put on my knee-pad leggings myself. dont tell the blogs about that one

17 Comments

  1. Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This is wonderful.
    “Why do they take them? Why do people take jobs on OIL RIGS, Jesus. Because the pay outweighed or was equal to the yikes factor.” By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  2. Scott wrote:

    I’ve always found the “push a particular brand of liquor” profession to be kind of fascinating.

    I got to watch a couple of women prep for it one night. It reminded me of athletes getting ready for a game. Psyching themselves up for battle, pretty much.

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Cha-Cha wrote:

    But also, some of us take jobs as sex workers, models, strippers, what have you, AND we enjoy our work for more than just the money (which is sometimes good, sometimes not), AND sometimes, these jobs do not involve ethical compromise, for feminists such as myself, for example.

    Doesn’t happen all the time, but happens a lot more than I think people realize.

    So yeah, a job is a job, and sex workers shouldn’t be bitched out for taking one… but also, getting a job as a sex worker is not necessarily a “compromising our ethics” moment. Sometimes, it is a “yay I love my job” moment. Just sayin.

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Kathleen wrote:

    the Elder Hot Girl Processing Area.

    this is genius. I am waving cables around in a lightning storm, cackling, over this.

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  5. elle p. wrote:

    “Why do people take jobs on OIL RIGS”

    Helicopter rides!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 12:52 am | Permalink
  6. FW wrote:

    ” SADY: [...] i think the only people who think it is empowering are people who don’t get structure, and are kind of libertariany and weird.

    AMANDA: yeah. “i do something, and i am a woman, so that thing is empowering for women” doesn’t really make sense ”

    It doesn’t make sense because you are trapped in the twisted glorification of women’s sexuality. It’s about libertarianism, because it’s about freedom. Sexual freedom and reproductive freedom. All at once, together, forever.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 2:05 am | Permalink
  7. Odette wrote:

    Off-topic, but I think Fox hit the nail on the head when she said that the only reason she can be an actress is because of how she looks.

    The thing is, “bimbo”-stereotype actresses aside, even women who have generally played ‘serious’ roles rather than ‘boner generator’ roles are all still really ridiculously sexy or pretty. And it’s not the same for men, despite the Johnnys and Brads of the world. There are plenty of marvellous male actors who aren’t considered particularly ‘beautiful’. (Bill Murray is one who springs to mind.)

    I just looked up the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar winners for the last 8 years, which is pretty interesting.
    Men:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Actor#2000s
    Sure there are a few Regulation Hotties (Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe) but also a lot of Not Conventionally Attractive dudes (Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Adrien Brody).

    Whereas with the women:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Actress#2000s
    ALL of them are impossibly beautiful! Sure, Helen Mirren is older than the rest and Charlize Theron was de-prettied for her role in ‘Monster’ they are still exceptionally pretty women.

    And people are often like ‘oh it’s so great to see beautiful actresses proving that they’re also really talented’ which, I guess, yeah, it is. But where are all the not-as-beautiful actresses proving they’re really talented and that their looks aren’t as important as their amazing talent? (I’m sure there are at least a few, but none come to mind. Plenty of men, though.)

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 3:19 am | Permalink
  8. jfruh wrote:

    Ha ha, “purposefully ugly stage”! Can I tell you how mad Charlize Theron’s Oscar for “Monster” made me? It’s like, “Oh, here’s an actual juicy role for someone unattractive! Surely there are many people out there who are good at the acting, but are ugly, and who don’t get good parts as a result, because people generally want to see pretty people in movies! I know, let’s hire CHARLIZE FUCKING THERON.”

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  9. susanita wrote:

    Jane Austen reference, FTW!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  10. Isa wrote:

    “Why do they take them? Why do people take jobs on OIL RIGS, Jesus. Because the pay outweighed or was equal to the yikes factor.”

    That is pretty much it. I live in an oil patch city. Even the guys doing crap work like digging holes and painting pipes are making pretty decent money.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  11. Citizen Taqueau wrote:

    Here’s something:
    1) Having control over one’s own finances provides one a measure of control over one’s circumstances.
    2) Working at a job one enjoys is fulfilling.
    3) The idea of a job of any sort being “empowering” is really more of a privileged lady thing, since unprivileged women have always, always had to bring in an income.
    4) We don’t hear about any job of any kind being “empowering” for men of any stripe.
    5) Some ladies like their sex jobs. We know this. But why is that line of work supposed to be “empowering” when you don’t hear that word used to describe any other kind of job.

    Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  12. amellifera wrote:

    @JFRUH

    totally agree. see also Nicole Kidman for The Hours

    Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  13. snobographer wrote:

    Virginia Woolf was rather conventially attractive, actually. I didn’t think Kidman was far off.

    Citizen Taqueau wrote:

    4) We don’t hear about any job of any kind being “empowering” for men of any stripe.

    Well men don’t need to be empowered. They have all the power.
    Or, second thought, there’s the fact of men of color breaking into industries and positions they’d previously been excluded from – say investment banking or aeronautics. I seem to recall some talk of that being empowering to their race. But not the male half of their race specifically, just the race, because the male half of any race is the only half that ever counts anyway.

    5) Some ladies like their sex jobs. We know this. But why is that line of work supposed to be “empowering” when you don’t hear that word used to describe any other kind of job.

    To make excuses for the fact that for every one woman in the industry who likes it there’s about a million women and girls in the industry who are trapped and hate it.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink
  14. GATECREWGIRL wrote:

    As a new reader to your blog, I have to say you had me at the J.A. reference. Great piece on Ms. Fox. I also enjoyed your oil rig metaphor. As a young woman in the sciences who works for an oil company, I’ve been called a “whore” by more than some. In actuality, it is a great job, I get to think creatively and my work is valued by my peers (who are mostly old men). It is FUN. Cannot the same be said about Ms. Fox?

    By the way, I drive a high MPG vehicle (the SR-500 gets ~75mpg) and recycle. Which is not a government requirement here in Texas. I guess that is the equivalent of dating Brian Austin Green…

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  15. Citizen Taqueau wrote:

    @Snobographer: OK, I guess my comment was interpreted that I was trolling?

    What you say is correct, and I left it out of my OC due to obviousness and not wanting to belabor points already agreed on in this space. My point was not made well, I guess. Here’s what I mean: can we not get rid of this term “empowering” once and for all? It’s insidious at worst and meaningless at best, is my point.

    On another note, where does one hear/read “empowering” used about job fields and men of color? I just haven’t ever, just maybe that “credit to the race” chestnut that I would hope is not used anymore. Gah! More things to cringe about.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  16. snobographer wrote:

    I didn’t take you as trolling, CT, and I thought you made your point well. I was just commiserating. I’m sorry I was unclear.
    Re: men of color and job fields. I haven’t heard the exact word “empowering” a whole lot. At least not in the last 20 years or so. But I’ve seen the general idea employed. The idea that more POC in science and academia for example empowers black and brown communities, which I think is probably true. Even if one is coming from the pov that the master’s house can’t be destroyed with the master’s tools, the idea of people and communities of color being empowered by assimilation into historically white institutions is at least not nearly as ridiculous as the assertion that sex work “empowers” women. That’s just something people say to maintain the status quo.

    Monday, November 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  17. Citizen Taqueau wrote:

    Snobographer: Aha! Yes, I understand what you were getting at now. Thank you for explaining. Yes, it’s like there is this idea of increasing “retention” of POC in fields like engineering, but the thing that isn’t discussed among provosts and such is the culture of majority-white universities and research facilities, which tends to discourage POC maintaining an active connection with their home communities, if those communities are marginalized. That can mean anything from the Hall Advisor giving the hairy eyeball to friends who visit from home, to firms passing over resume’s from people with African-American or Spanish-sounding names. And yet (I have observed in higher education) POC are supposed to strive to assimilate into those institutions, leaving their communities behind and counting themselves lucky. This is not the same thing as (Hawt) women being encouraged to enjoy being treated like objects, of course, but I catch your drift. The nasty slippery language that disappears oppression. That’s what I think both of us are talking about.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 7:38 am | Permalink

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