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Editorial: Exploiting? I Wonder

By LC Van Savage

I want to assure you at the outset that I am enormously impressed and most positively affected by the womenís movement and all itís accomplished and with those who began it and struggled to make everything better for their fellow (?!) women.

Thus, having said that, would someone please explain the words "exploited women" to me? Now donít get your pantyhose in a snarl; I agree that in countless, often terrible ways, women and all humans have been negatively and horribly exploited over the millennia. I read history. But what Iím having a lot of trouble with are todayís women who donít seem to mind being "exploited" while their sistren carry on loudly that this is whatís happening to them. Itís not.

Want examples? OK. There are 2 sisters out there, heiresses to the Hilton hotel fortune. Their names are Paris and Nicky, theyíre very skinny and frankly in my sour grapes opinion, not so awfully beautiful. But theyíre obscenely rich and they pretty much do and have whatever and whomever they wish. Thatís cool, but every morning when I turn on my computer, do I really have to spend time clicking away Paris Hilton SPAMS of her in well-lit coitus with some guy, performing all manner of creative sexual activities with both of them in the altogether? Well, Paris is wearing earrings.

See, hereís the question. Are they "being exploited?" Or are the Hilton sisters exploiting themselves this way, as big career moves? Are those who scream "exploitation!" talking about women in general or women in particular, because many of the in-particular women seem to not have a gun to their heads and seem to really love the publicity, and doggedly go after it. If theyíre not, why does it look that way? Why donít they run away? Why do they seem to be getting in front of any camera anywhere and why do they begin to pout, preen and posture when that red light goes on?

Whoís exploiting whom? Because of women like the Hiltons, feminists cry foulóbut against whom? If women love doing this sort of thing, how can it be exploitation? Or even wrong, I mean at least from their point of view.

Do I think itís "wrong" for these luscious young women to do their thing on TV or the Internet? Well, I do know when that stuff comes on my computer without my asking for it and involves activities I personally think are fine for anyone to consentually do in private, but not in front of me, I fear my computer-savvy grandchildren might see it.

And what about those women on that late night Howard Stern show? Have I ever watched? Sure, sometimes. The women he has on; are they "being exploited?" They seem to be having the time of their lives. They strip instantly when he or his toadies ask them to. They stand naked in front Stern wearing nothing but earphones. They simulate sex acts with people of both sexes, with the camera so close you can see the pores in their whatevers. Are these frail, helpless doves being exploited? They donít look it. None look at the camera and say, "I sure hope Mr. Stern pays me because I have 3 hungry kids at home and the roof was torn off last winter." Does Stern go to the places these women work, hogtie them and drag them to his show? Doubt it.

See why Iím having trouble with the "exploit" word? Sorry, but those ladies Iíve just mentioned appear to genuinely love what theyíre doing. And doing. And doing. But, maybe they really hate it and are great actresses. Canít they say "no thanks"? Maybe not. Am I judging these ladies unfairly? Maybe yes. Iím missing something here. Oh, wait, I get it. Women should never be exploited, but if they exploit themselves, itís OK. Is that it?  

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Reader Comments

Name: Clara Email:
Comment: Basically, I agree with you, LC, about the Hilton sisters and the Howard Stern nymphos. And now we have Janet Jackson's already infamous "flash" at the Superbowl. But don't forget that there is still a great problem for many young girls and women that stems from low self-esteem and poverty. Education and jobs are key to keeping these women from trading on their bodies. In "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens warned of the price to be paid by ignoring "Ignorance and Want" -- this country needs to support and improve both public education and employment opportunities to stop the exploitation and desperation of women and men alike. The past three years have been a dismal misadventure in the wrong direction. As for the Hiltons and the Jacksons, some things may be hopeless . . .



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