It’s been a proud year for Christina Aguilera.
After messing up the lyrics to the American national anthem at the Super Bowl in January, Aguilera upstaged herself at the Grammy Awards a month later when she nearly toppled off stage during an Aretha Franklin tribute. Now, the thirty-year-old performer has once again taken centre stage in the theatre of embarrassment.
Yes, Aguilera is back in the spotlight, and it seems that she’s more eager than ever to show the world what a strong, emancipated
women Marilyn she’s become.
On a live episode of “The Voice,” a new American-idol-like reality TV show, Aguilera told contestant Patrick Thomas that he should “take off his pants.” Thomas had just performed Lee Anne Womack’s “I hope you dance,” a song he dedicated to his sister. He stood before the panel of judges, eagerly awaiting their feedback, when Aguilera told Thomas that he was a cutie pie, but she was still waiting for him to “take off his pants.” The audience laughs, applause sounds, but Aguilera insists—”No—seriously,” she says, “when are you going to take off your pants?” (she batts her lashes and bites the corner of her lip).
We all know the Marilyn. She’s the over-sexualized blonde in red lipstick and heels; the so-called “liberated feminist” who wants to sleep with every Tom, Dick, and Harry just because she can. She thinks that “gender equality” means she should act like a man, and she thinks acting like a man involves a care-free sexual attitude and treating men like pieces of meat—because, after all, she rations, men treat us as sexual objects, why shouldn’t we do it to them?
I’m not so much taking contention with Aguilera as I am with the specific brand of sexism she represents—that is, the kind of sexism that victimizes men in the name of gender equality. I’m also not condoning Aguilera on her overt display of sexual interest—after all, it’s the prerogative of every Aguilera to act like a Marilyn—but I can’t help but wonder if feminism failed because of the very attitude that Aguilera-types are enacting.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the gender roles playing out in the scene between Aguilera and Thomas were reversed: let’s imagine the aspiring contestant was female, and let’s say it was Donald Trump sitting in Aguilera’s place. What if, on The Apprentice, Trump leaned over the table and told a female contestant that her business plan was great, but he was still waiting for her to “take off her pants” ? Surely, there would be public outrage and a frenzy of media attention. The internet would be a-tweet with condemnation, and feminist’s words would be quoted and circulated through the internet
But because Aguilera is a woman—and a specific brand of woman at that— no one saw anything wrong with her comments; her words went, for the most part, unreported on in mainstream media. The lack of attention paid to Aguilera’s inappropriate attitude goes to show how women are less likely to be accused of sexism, and how so-called “liberal feminism” can victimize men. The woman’s mistreatment of man often goes unnoticed—or, if it is noticed, it’s tolerated under the guide of “third-wave feminism” or “sexual liberation.”
And this is where feminism went wrong.