Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 01/14/2011
Snooki: An Emblem of Female Polarization
There is probably nothing that depresses me more than walking into a bookstore – to me, a sacred institution – and coming face to face with the most recent attempt of a starlet to write a book (because apparently literacy is now the only requirement for authorship). First there was Nicole Richie with The Truth About Diamonds, who, even though she wrote a “novel,” couldn’t help but put her own image on the cover. Then Lauren Conrad (who I still don’t get. Like…as a person) wrote L.A. Candy. After those two made their way to shelves across America, my eyes would always travel in bookstores from Twilight to these winners and a sob would inevitably rise in my chest. I considered wearing black and prostrating myself on the ground in the “YA” section at Barnes & Noble, surrounding myself with candles and incense to properly mourn the decline of literature and ultimately society’s faith in our generation. But I held off, somehow sensing that these books weren’t the end of the random celebrity-dabbling-in-writing phenomenon.
I was right: the end is apparently not in sight. In case you haven’t heard, Snooki wrote a book – “A Shore Thing.” Haaaaa. Shore. Get it? Because she’s on the Jersey Shore. *Julie bangs head against wall repeatedly.*
Obviously, when I first heard this news I felt the need to shuffle through my closet in the hopes of finding something suitable for literature’s funeral. But then I took a second to think about it (as I often do for all decisions with the exceptions of those involving food).
It would be obvious to point to Snooki as an example of a less than positive role model. We could easily hold her up as the epitome of, to put it bluntly, the dumb whore of society. I mean she’s orange, she’s got huge boobs and her makeup rivals that of a two cent pirate hooker. She has admitted to only having read two books in her entire life (Twilight and Dear John…*feigns shock*). She is famous for getting irresponsibly and disturbingly drunk and hooking up with guys who consume steroids like they’re gummy vitamins. From a feminist perspective, it’s easy to say, “See, there really aren’t any suitable role models for girls out there. Just look at Snooki!”
But, on the other hand, I just can’t help but ignore how Snooki is a great example of how they way we evaluate women in the media is still polarized and stereotyped. Though I disapprove of a lot of Snooki’s actions and worry that girls will start to replicate those actions – if not because they admire Snooki and want to be like her then because they believe her behavior is normal / what they should be doing because, well damn, they’re doing it on the Jersey Shore – there’s still a lesson to be learned from the way we see her.
For one, people slut shame the hell out of Snooki. Just look at the treatment she got while being interviewed for the Today Show. When it comes down to it, I think it could be legitimately argued that Snooki’s just expressing herself sexually. And while the taste level involved of doing so on TV is questionable, and I have always had a problem with TV shows depicting sexually active characters without making some reference to protection, who are we to judge Snooki based solely on her number of sexual partners?
Of course, when somebody has a lot of sex, it’s easy to jump to the “low-self esteem” or “lack of self-respect” conclusion. And yeah, I don’t know Snooki. But it’s pretty hard to deny that at least from what we see on T.V., Snooki is just thoroughly being herself. She seems to be self-aware (to some extent) of her own ridiculousness and embraces it. She seems to have high self confidence and is comfortable with herself despite certain physical aspects mainstream culture would put down (her height, for example). And isn’t that something to be admired?
And Snooki does have some redeeming qualities, even by a socially acceptable definition. To defend the book that I just insulted, it’s being said that Snooki actually tries to accurately depict the guido culture that she comes from, which has even elicited comparisons to Jane Austen. We could also consider Snooki an entrepreneur. Of course, who knows how much of her opportunism is forced on her by MTV, a company that I’m sure is more than willing to take their share of the profit, but if she’s able to milk these 15 minutes, in all honesty, why shouldn’t she?
So do I think the culture of drink-til-you-black-out, (possible) unprotected sex and admitted ignorance Snooki promotes is a good thing? No. Do I think the world would continue to exist without “A Shore Thing”? Absolutely. But I also happen to believe that our society’s tendency to polarize famous female figures (virgins or whores, classy or trashy, etc.) and deny them the multidimensionality that is, in fact, a human quality is possibly just as damaging as boozing and whoring – our puritanical society just has difficulty recognizing that.
Snooki may not be the greatest role model, but I think it’s unfair to refuse to recognize any of her other qualities, because in effect we’re telling girls to choose a stereotype – one side of a full person – and that not only sucks for America’s favorite Jersey Shore cast member, but for all of us.
Read other posts about: A Shore Thing, double standards, female role models, Feminism, feminist role models, Jane Austin, L.A. Candy, Laren Conrad, MTV, Nicole Richie, promiscuity, role-models, slut shaming, Snooki, teenage feminism, television, the Jersey Shore, The Truth About Diamonds, virgin-whore dichotomy, women in the media
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