My Problem with Rashida’s Tweet: #stopactinglikewhores

Rashida Tweets

I really like Rashida Jones as an actress and comedian… I love Parks and Rec, think she’s very funny, but these tweets really rubbed me the wrong way.

My first instinct after reading these tweets was pretty immature; I immediately went on Google and performed a Google Image Search of “Rashida Jones” and thought to myself, “HA, Gotcha” when I came across her GQ spread from 2011. But then I realized that simply proving Rashida Jones has at some point in time posed in a revealing way, thus, making her tweets hypocritical, didn’t get at the crux of why I found these tweets so disturbing.

In some ways, I sympathize with her argument that we need to question the norm; we need to examine the images put forth of women, often by women, in popular culture. We should be asking ourselves, why it is that we readily accept such sexualized images as the norm? Think Miley or Rihanna or Nicki Minaj. Jones does have a point when she jokes that it seems popularity depends on who is most revealing. Often these risque images, especially in the context of popular music, lead to more media hype and more media hype leads to more album sales. These images are what gets publicity and isn’t this type of free publicity necessary to the survival of musical artists? At least female artists…

But Jones ends this initial thought with #stopactinglikewhores. I don’t think her tweet meant to outright call these unnamed women whores; I think Jones intended to reveal that female bodies have a currency in popular culture and the more sexualized body makes for the more valuable artist. I think #stopactinglikewhores addresses the problem too simplistically, making it seem as if the problem lies with women, themselves, when really it’s much bigger, something Meg expressed well at the conclusion of her recent post “Whose Agency Is It, Anyway?” about females in the music industry. Also, we’ve talked a lot about excess and I think her use of the term “whores” speaks to the power of excess. For me, the term is already so loaded, especially in regards to its gender bias, that there is no way Jones could use it without being hurtful or offensive to many women. At least, I was personally offended.

Additionally, Jones follows up, arguing that she does not shame anyone’s lives or bodies, but this isn’t true. Her first tweet did just that. Whether or not it was her intention, Jones’ first tweet shamed women who reveal their bodies and then asked them to stop acting like whores. She then tells them to be SEXY, but wants them to adhere to her brand of sexy, which leaves something to the imagination. This all sounds a lot like Rashida Jones trying to tell women what to do with their bodies. I assume as a joke, she concludes with:

Also, calling on all men to show me dat ass

Again, she could be saying this in an effort to draw attention to the discrepancy between revealing images of females vs. those of males, but the joke doesn’t sit well with me. I think again, Jones addresses the issue too simplistically (I get that there is a limit to characters on twitter), but by ending the twitter rant the way she does, she normalizes the behavior of sexual objectification, almost as if saying, if it were equally done, it’d be fine.

What are your thoughts on Rashida Jones’ tweets? Do you think her twitter attack brought important issues into discussion? What do you think is her underlying message? Do you think her message was effectively conveyed? What was your gut feeling after reading the tweets?

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8 thoughts on “My Problem with Rashida’s Tweet: #stopactinglikewhores

  1. As a fan of Jones’, I’m really sad to see these comments that she made. In particular, when I was looking at the first tweet [she who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular] I thought of how people (including Jones, who say as she might that she isn’t) shame young female celebrities for going out without underwear on (which is a perfectly valid choice), but don’t seem to have any words of wisdom to share about the photographers who take such shots, or the toxic celebrity culture that makes these photographs desirable, commanding a high price tag. But why engage in cultural criticism when you can judge other women?

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    • Thanks, Meg. And this is why twitter is probably not the right place for Jones’ argument. Her essay was definitely sensitive with language or at least more explanative in a way that her tweets couldn’t be. I really liked her point at the end, “There’s more than one way to be a good feminist.”

      Her main point comes across well here, “But in pop culture there’s just one way to be. And so much of it feels staged for men, not for our own pleasure.” I don’t think this was effectively expressed in her tweets.

      After reading her article, I completely sympathize with Jones’ frustration–that there only seems to be a single formula for female success within the music industry and that the predominant imagery is essentially porn. But it’s hard when she gets into setting limits, that there is measure and we’ve overstepped, that women are taking it too far. When Jones says this, it seems like a matter of taste, where she decides and knows just the right amount of skin to show, but other women do not…like sexuality can be rated on a universal scale, in which sexual expression can be wrong (“overkill”) or right—that’s how I read her bit on “tonnage.” It especially bugs me when she asks pop stars to “just consider some sort of moral exchange program” as if sexual expression is a question of morality.

      I’m not trying to derail her argument, because I agree with a lot of what she’s saying, especially her emphasis on dialogue (including men). I also know female sexuality in pop culture is difficult to talk about without blaming or shaming (sorry for the rhyme). So I guess, in general, I am really happy Rashida Jones wrote this article; it was a responsible move for her to follow-up her tweets. Whether or not I agree with Jones’ attitude or every specific point she makes, I think she should talk about it, and that we should all keep talking about it. And that agreement isn’t necessary to benefit from this discussion.

    • Thanks, Mariah. I think this article gets at some of my concerns that remained even after Jones’ follow-up piece. Why can’t “whore” and “feminist” be the same thing? Why is there a type of woman that we can and cannot be? Jones seems to have a very firm idea of what the empowered woman looks like and this idea is very exclusionary. I have to disagree with Jones and say that the empowered woman should look however she wants.

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