Thought Catalog

Courtney Stodden Is A Feminist Crusader

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Hey kids, let’s pretend it’s last summer and talk about Courtney Stodden. Blow a layer of ADHD off your brain and remember with me: she was that creepy, plastic, child bride of some 50-something E-list actor. We all spent a few weeks gagging about the implied sex they were conducting, and a few more weeks throwing our best side-eyes at their staged photo shoots that capitalized on Stodden’s abs of airbrushed glory, her jacked-to-Jesus bleached hair, and barely legal amounts of clothing. Also, none of us had ever seen a teenager who came in that shade of “aged leather purse,” so it was all pretty fascinating.

I woke up this morning and before the caffeine had even hit (read: I was not at all prepared), my eyeballs got raped by images of Christianity’s favorite adolescent lucite lizard doing some immaculate Easter bunny business. God, hos do love Easter.

As I was gazing at stunning images of her twerking her way to an Easter egg bounty, it occurred to me that while we’ve spent years lamenting the media validation of these specimens of watered-down, collagen-filled, cartoonish femaleness, we’ve been overlooking how really, really good they make the rest of us look. It’s true. Girls like Courtney Stodden, Heidi Montag, every chick who’s licked on Hef’s peen for E!’s cameras, those Jersey Shore tricks, their equally loathe-able “nice girl” counterparts on The Bachelor, and their venerable predecessors-in-plasticity (Google “Shauna Sand” and thank me later) are actually good for feminism.

Just hear me out.

By taking what started out as perfectly young, adorable (or at least human) bodies and pinching, dying, filling, bleaching, tanning, lifting and waxing themselves into weird, giggling, posing monsters, they’ve turned themselves into retch-worthy caricatures of a post-millennial ideal of female beauty. In other words, they took all the “correct” components of superficial appeal and executed them to such an extreme as to make men everywhere scream, “Oh jesus god, no. NO. This is not what we want!” Suddenly, real women are looking pretty damn good. Body hair, non-surgically scarred nipples, their uneven boobs and knobby knees and thoughts and opinions and post-graduated degrees, and absolutely nothing in their closet made of lucite — men are turning from the bleached-out beach bunny with a whole new respect and appreciation for the rest of us in all our soft, intelligent, gritty, genuine, carbon-based realness.

Outside of the approval of men (who needs it?), the presence of these pop culturally celebrated painted shells of women is good for the rest of us in all walks of life. With the absolutely lowest-grade variety of female eating each other alive to get in front of a camera (or under a rich douche — whatever), we are free to run the world on every other front. I don’t know where these girls sleep off their hangovers or apply their bunny ears, but I don’t encounter them in my daily ascent to awesomeness, and I’m thankful for that.

The issue of these girls’ usefulness cannot be discussed without noting one important fact: the TV shows, tabloid articles, and gossip blogs that are the lifeblood of relevance for this breed of, ahem, woman, have recently experienced an important shift. Largely, the media that was once accused of “celebrating” their empty, debauched, cheap lives is now unquestioningly mocking them. Way to go being 10 years behind everyone else in the world, MTV. Anyway, arguably the greatest damage that the Courtney Stoddens of the world could do was to convince impressionable young things that their intelligence was a hindrance to their sexiness, and that being vapid, dramatic, and bland as possible was the route to popularity, love, adoration, and fame. No doubt, a dangerous message for lady-babies to hear. But — thank god — we appear to be rounding a crucial corner where we go from rewarding these women for being sh-tty, to blatantly holding them up as entertaining examples of how to have no self-respect, nor be able to earn it from anyone else.

By relegating the dumbest women to tabloids and casting calls, the overarching state of feminism gets the benefit of having them out of our way as we conduct ourselves mightily and gracefully in the real world, and we get to hold them up as bimbolicious beacons of unbridled wrongness for the next generation to reject entirely. So go get it, Courtney Stodden, hunt those eggs; work those over-cooked chicken legs you got. Feminists everywhere thank you. TC mark

image – Courtney Stodden

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    • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

      So, the ability to put fellow women down as being worthless is somehow good for the rights of all women?  wow…

      • http://christophermluna.com Christopher Michael Luna

        Putting “fellow women” down is about as specific to this article as it would be to say that it’s bad for masculine solidarity for me to think Michael Bay is an asshole who makes bad movies and Dick Cheney is a wretched example of human life. Or, I guess more specifically, that the frat boy who refers to women as “slam pieces” is just expressing his masculinity.

        I don’t think feminism is about saying that possession of a vagina makes you worthwhile. I think feminism is about saying possession of a vagina doesn’t somehow count against your humanity.

        • Nika

          Oh god, LAWL.

          …to make this comment more constructive there’s a difference between criticising some THING negative a woman did, and insulting a woman for being fake, bitchy, catty, (insert other stereotype), …or effectively saying that possession of a vagina makes her fair game for derision.

        • http://christophermluna.com Christopher Michael Luna

          So you’re saying that the problem is that this article criticizes this woman (and others), not certain specific things that she (they) did/do? And, from the comment above that you dislike the fact that she uses the word rape as she does (which, sure, I winced at that).

          I’m really not seeing what’s bad about this, but it’s perfectly possible that I don’t understand. I’m not seeing how this article indicates that it’s her possession of a vagina which makes her fair game for derision. While this article is about a group of women, I don’t see anything to suggest that the author might not write something about a group of men (or other-identified people).

          So is it that you’re saying that no one should be derided, themselves, only their actions? Which, if so, is fine, but I guess I’d disagree. Is that what you mean?

        • Nika

          you can criticise Courtney Stodden’s appearance or behavior if you find it personally unattractive, but the fact that she and other like-minded celebrities take part in things rooted in patriarchy isn’t their fault, really.  Like if you call a woman out for having a breast augmentation, …well, even if she got it done to please a tit-obsessed boyfriend, for example… it’s still unfair to criticize HER since it’s our culture that imposed those beauty standards on her.  Furthermore, feminism  today emphasises a woman’s right to choose her path, even if that course of action stems from a male-dominated tradition.  Like, if a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mom instead of working, I gotta respect that–because it’s about having the OPTION to choose.  

        • Margaret Thatcher

          I think it’s pretty unfeminist to claim that women who get work done are doing so only because of the patriarchy. Men aren’t saddled with “Well, he couldn’t help that douchey facial hair. He is only doing it because chicks dig it.”

          It IS about the option to choose, I agree–but it’s also about respecting our sisters enough to admit they have some self-determination, even though they’ve made choices that we might find appalling. But part of being a full and equal member of the human race is personal accountability. Sure, Bailey Bimbo is entitled to get her tits pumped up to 38H if she feels like it, but as an adult, as a person with free will, she is also subject to ridicule by those who think she’s a moron.

          “They can’t help it” is a shield we place around children in Dora the Explorer crocs or lapdogs in sweaters. By applying this to women, you reduce us to the same subservient, helpless role we have spent the last 100 years trying to escape.

        • Nika

          a.  I never said that women who get plastic surgery are doing so ONLY because of patriarchy.  I’m just giving an example in connection with the real/fake dichotomy.   Just to clarify in case it didn’t come across that way in my original comment.  

          b. I completely agree with most of your comment.  Not sure how I feel about “accountability” though.  I mean, given free will, yeah you’re accountable for your own actions.  I just have a problem with other people qualifying your “realness” should you choose to get plastic surgery.  If you want to get plastic surgery, for example, the possibility of criticism shouldn’t DIScourage you from doing it (the same way beauty standards shouldn’t pressure you TO do it)

        • http://christophermluna.com Christopher Michael Luna

          I guess where I disagree is in ascribing a total lack of agency to the people who choose to do this. I mean, can’t we acknowledge the force that culture exercises on people and still hold them, in some fashion, accountable for their actions? I also don’t think the stay-at-home mother example is a fair comparison. A fair comparison would be to someone who was a stay-at-home mother because they were playing out and celebrating a role that a woman’s place is in the home.

          I mean, in good analytic fashion I think you and I now find ourselves far afield of the original article, which was done at least half in jest. When Blankenship says “real women” in paragraph  five, do you think she’s asserting that Stodden isn’t real in the sense that she doesn’t deserve the same rights that other human beings have? And if so, isn’t this undermined by her use of the phrase “carbon-based realness” at the end of the paragraph, which is a clear exaggeration.What I read this is as saying is, in a very tongue-in-cheek way, that the horror some of us feel when we see this particular caricature of woman played out so literally by a willing participant is kind of a good thing because it should inspire horror and it reorients us away from those caricatures.

          Of course Stodden can do whatever she wants, wear whatever she wants, modify her body however she wants. We have to respect her in the sense of allowing her to exercise her freedom, and even standing up for it if it was threatened (I wouldn’t vote to outlaw breast implants). Does that mean we need to respect her as a worthy example?I just don’t think it’s a good idea, ethically speaking, to totally disjoin people’s actions from their selves in favor of cultural forces. How does that not absolve men of responsibility for patriarchal displays of masculinity because of the cultural forces acting on them? We’re not _just_ culturally programmed machines running down, are we? In fact, lots of us resist culture in a variety of ways, don’t we? I’m just trying to understand. It’s still very possible that I’m not getting your point, and I don’t mean to be uselessly belligerent here.

        • Disha

          It seems pretty specific to this article, since the author did mention feminism specifically.

      • Michaelwg

        Putting individual women up on a pedestal by their virtue of vagina ownership so that they are above reproach no matter how they act, what the say, etc. Is antithetical to the feminist movement, the underlying theme of which is equality in all things social, economical, and political. Every male figure in the public eye is subject to scorn if they act, say, or do something retarded. Women are are now afforded the same equal rights.
        We don’t get to pick and choose how equality works, or what the definition of feminism is. If someone acts like an idiot, I get to use my freedom of speech to call them out on it. Their genitals do not factor in.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754495444 Michelle Falk

      Your understanding of feminism is misguided at best. 

      • http://www.grownunknown.com/ Jessica Blankenship

        Your understanding of the difference between lighthearted mockery and a serious analysis of the state of feminism is misguided at best.

        • Nika

          Funny, I don’t see the “satire” tag here anywhere.  You should have followed the tracks of other backpedalling writers here and used it to indicate how educated you are about “The state of feminism”

        • Michaelwg

          Funny, I didn’t need the tag.

        • Nika

          it was a joke.  I was poking fun at the tendency of some of the writers here to overuse the satire tag when their “satire” doesn’t come across in their writing.  See: backpedalling

        • Guest

          lighthearted mockery just seemed to be tc writers’ excuse for shitty writing.

        • Guest

          *seems to be. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754495444 Michelle Falk

          Wait, so are we mocking plastic ‘hos’ or feminists? Or TC’s readership? You’ll have to forgive me because I’m a feminist and therefore have no sense of humour and and am missing the satirical nuances… 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

        Not sure which one’s worse, the behaviour of the women depicted in this article, or “feminists” arguing semantics…

    • Bethany

      I’m not sure degrading these women as “hos” who “rape” your eyeballs is the best portrayal of Thought Catalog’s feminism. 

    • Bethany

      Also, in this article there seems to be a binary between these “plasticky” women and “real” women, but both are defined by the Male gaze. No matter how much collagen is in a human, they are still human and should be treated as such. This is… I dunno, trolling Feminism. Shameful.

      • Anonymous

        “Ugh, the Male gaze”. 
        “Yeah, they’re all a bunch of gays!”      
                                     
          – 30 Rock

    • Nika

      I will agree that the aforementioned celebrities are good for feminism.  They present an idea that I as a feminist really like: that even if a custom stems from a patriarchal tradition, a woman has a right to choose whatever path she wants.  That’s called choice feminism.

      However, the reasons you mentioned–plus your bullshit dichotomy between real and fake women–only serves to validate patriarchal definitions of “female” or “woman”.

      And your flippant use of the word rape… can you just NOT?  Rape isn’t a word one just throws around lightly.   

      This article is embarassing and kind of makes me want to slap you.

    • Nishant

      “…rounding the corner…” Really?

      I doubt it. I feel a very high majority of impressionable girls still buy into such stuff. Courtney Stodden may be one extreme example that gets most people gagging, but feminism’s cause isn’t much helped by people such as Snooki, Kim Kardashian and many others around the world.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

      lana del rey

    • Guest

      So, by your logic, you’re also helping the feminist cause because this article is so poorly written it makes most other women look smarter? 

    • Heather

      Yeah, I was done reading as soon as you described your eyeballs as being “raped”.  Not cool, especially in an article where you pretend to know anything about feminism.

      • GUEST

        i agree

    • http://philolzophy.tumblr.com/ phiLOLZophy

      Loved this!!!

    • https://twitter.com/#!/i/connect Tyler Woods

      Ugh I hate psuedo-intellectual facile counterintuitive arguments like this. There is nothing beneficial for feminism about Courtney Stodden. And the more people try to pretend like there is credence to stuff like this, (looking at you, Katie Roiphe) the worse off the women’s movement will be.

      • Jacqueline

        There is even less beneficial for feminism in this article. 

        • https://twitter.com/#!/i/connect Tyler Woods

          whut

    • Michaelwg

      Oh wow, two of my favorite things: Jessica B., and fake outrage in the comments section. I’m jumping into this bed.
      Let’s start with the need for a “Satire” tag: If you read the title of this article, and had the good fortune of seeing the picture that went along with it (is that a dog or a rat?) then you should have known immediately, without reading the 1st paragraph, that this was satirical and lighthearted. If you didn’t, you might be ever-so-slighty retarded. No matter what genitals you have, so if your a woman and you read that and got offended, be aware that you can have a vagina and still be the subject of derision based off what you say and how you act. you don’t get a pass. Similar to a satirical article about a woman like Courtney Stodden… or Sarah Palin, etc for that matter. I say “fake outrage” because somewhere guys like Scott Walker are repealing equal pay and limiting abortion rights, etc. and yet here you are on the obviously satirical T.C blog talking about feminism…LOL. A classic case of not seeing the forest through the trees. Don’t know who Scott Walker is and like to talk about feminism on T.C? You might just be a fake outrager.
      “Choice Feminism” comes with Choice Derision ™. Can you choose to marry a filthy rich senior citizen while in your teens? Sure you can. I can then make fun of you to my hearts content. True story. Running for VP and you think “I can see Alaska” is a credential on foreign policy. I can make fun of you. No really, I can, and I will. Genitals notwithstanding. Anyway, Jessica, darling, “God, hos do love Easter” 
      That just makes me want to brush your hair back.

      • Michaelwg

        correction “I can see Russia”
        ….god, she’s stupid…

      • Nishant

        I think you’re the one not understanding what satire is. If this article was satirical, it wouldn’t point out what Courtney Stodden was doing as something bad and would certainly not be calling her a “ho” or a “retch-worthy caricature”.

        Secondly, about this – “…and yet here you are on the obviously satirical T.C blog…” – I’d like to believe TC is not a place for just satirical articles. I don’t think you get to say that, considering the depth and beauty in so many articles I have read here.

        Thirdly, I don’t know who Scott Walker is. But that’s probably because I’m not from the USA. According to you, therefore, my not being from the USA leads to my being a fake outrager. Silly.

        Making fun of Courtney Stodden, for what she is doing, is absolutely justifiable and wonderful as is the case with Sarah Palin, as you point out. But here she (the author) is doing it with while wearing a feminist hat and it obviously doesn’t fit her. I sincerely doubt this article was meant to be satire. Light-hearted, maybe. And those ARE two different things, I hope you know. But the whole time, whatever its intended purpose and whatever the backpedalled defense, it remains a poorly written article as pretty much everyone in the comment section says.

        • Michaelwg

          1. sat·ire   /ˈsætaɪər/ Show Spelled[sat-ahyuhr] Show IPA
          noun 1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. 2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule. However, that being the case, let’s delve into it: When you read the the title, saw the picture,  did you think the author was writing her doctoral thesis on the current state of feminism around the globe? I sure did not. 2. I was refering specifically to this article, as many have not been satirical. However, you shouldn’t need a tag when it was obviously meant to be humorous.3. Only silly if you think that I word my comments to address the feminist issues around the globe in every country under every political system. I don’t talk about things I don’t know about, I don’t know where your from, but I’ll take a guess that things aren’t perfect for the ladies, and that there are people in power making laws to keep in that way. So you probably have your own version of Scott Walker to worry about.That fact that many people have negative comments doesn’t make them right. There is rarely truth or facts in numbers when it comes to ideologies, ask any theist. My points are simple:1: People seem to think feminism = irreproachable pedestal. Sorry, but that’s not the definition.2. There are actual bills moving through state congresses as we speak that will limit women’s rights (I don’t know where your from, but your geography doesn’t invalidate my points)3. given the style this article was written in, the comments are akin to Nuking an Anthill. Completely disproportionatewhich leads to:4. Mob (semi-)mentality, and fake outrage. <—this is what irks me.

        • Nishant

          I can’t do anything but agree with the definitions you have given here. For obvious reasons.

          And I think it would only be cruel to bash the article more than it deserves, nuking an anthill as you say, but really it failed as satire or humour. It could have been a light-hearted take on an important issue, but her phraseology condemned it from being that. I have read significantly better examples of satire and humor on TC and this only succeeded in angering a lot of people, as you can see for yourself.

          It’s good for you if you found it a useful read, I guess. Let’s call it quits? :)

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know what she is but one thing she surely isn’t, is 17.

    • Nika

      Tonight, we seek to understand how Courtney Stodden and feminism can fit in the same sentence.  Because, kids, they can and they do.   Actually, let’s take a second to ponder that phrase “they can and they do”.  Because isn’t that what feminism is about?  This will be important later, so remember that now.  Alright, so I wouldn’t call Courtney Stodden a “crusader”–of feminism or any sort.  But that’s not because she’s a bad representation of certain feminist values; simply …Being labelled as an activist of any sort requires one to be, well, active for a cause.There are some things Courtney Stodden embodies that definitely hold up patriarchal ideals.  For one thing, she’s a proud Christian who promotes her beliefs.  A majority of the religions that derive from the Old and New Testament traditions support patriarchal societies in which women are inherently weaker than and/or dependent on powerful men.  Second, because of her religious views, Stodden chose to save her virginity for marriage.  The idea of purity in the eyes of God and the virgin-slut dichotomy in secular culture are hardly the values help up by the pillars of feminism.
      Just because she’s had plastic surgery doesn’t make her any less “real” than a woman who hasn’t.  Putting the “real” or “fake” label on a woman only takes us backwards.  It puts too much emphasis on male approval and promotes the idea that “real” women have some right to judge their peers.   it’s also important to remember that the pressure for women to get plastic surgery or shellac the shit out of their hair is largely SOCIETAL.  I’m willing to bet Courtney Stodden didn’t wake up one day and decide to revolutionize western beauty standards when she went to the tanning salon that afternoon.

      And her marriage to 51-year-old Doug Hutchinson.  I don’t think I have to explain why the age difference between the couple (and Stodden’s sexy lip-licking during talk show interviews) weirds people out. Or that marriage is another patriarchal institution.BUT (and this is a major BUT) Remember that expression I asked you to think about?  They can and they do? Well, Stodden and plenty of other women who marry young, publicly express their faith or sexuality, dress in minimal clothing, or (god forbid) get plastic surgery… these women exercise the right to do whatever the hell they want with their lives.  That’s something women even forty years again couldn’t conceive of.  We think of the sixties as “liberal”, but watch just one episode of Mad Men if you want to see how little choice in life American women had back then.Look.  I identify as a feminist.  Which means that if someone I know wants to be a home-maker, I gotta respect that.  And if I want to undergo liposuction, or wear a push-up bra I expect the same of you.  Wearing or not wearing lipstick, marrying or not marrying someone doesn’t make a woman any more or less worthwhile.  Let Stodden and Snookie go their way, and you go yours. It’s not about whether or not you personally approve.  Because Courtney Stodden, as far as I’m concerned, can keep on rockin’ with her bad self.

      • Michaelwg

        So…does this mean you will NOT be making me a sandwich???

      • sister

        Thank you for writing this so I didn’t have to. As proven by our likely cis and straight down there, this thread definitely needed it.

      • Missy

        This comment is great! That is all.

      • Lindsey

        AMEN TO THAT! Thank you for this wonderful comment which should serve to set all this skewed feminism back on track. 

      • Anna Goodwin

        “My idea of feminism is
        self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to
        become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.”

         -Ani Difranco

    • Ainsley

      Women who tan and dye their hair and get attention aren’t less intelligent or more fake than women who don’t. People who believe that looks define women are the opposite of feminist. This article is embarassingly dumb.

      • Parliment

        while i agree with your point, women who tan and dye their hair are by definition, fake. 

        • Michaelwg

          And the World Health Orginization would debate their intelligence as paying for skin cancer is retarded.

        • Lindsey

          would the World Health Organization use that terminology? How ridiculous.

        • Guest

          i am absolutely disgusted by the reaction to “LINDSEY’S” comment, WHAT?!?!!?!??!!?!?!?!!?!?!?!??!

          WHY IS EVERYONE ATTACKING HER?!!!!!

      • Lindsey

         I’d like to piggy back off of that and say that I’m a die-hard feminist with a college education and as it turns out, a natural platinum blonde , size 4, with a C-cup and a tan in the summers. Where do I fit on your skewed feminist scale?

        This article and the other one written about Ashley Judd are entirely missing the mark in the realm of feminist “crusading”. 

    • tina

      I doubt this article was satirical. Not commenting on how feminist anything is, but… I did like the argument that these women do take everything that we’re told men like and literally blow them out of proportion to the point where it’s no long attractive! Boobs, tans, etc….  I don’t know how much of that is feminism, but if we could only use them as examples of how bad these things can be to young girls and boys… I don’t know, but I feel like the author at least has something there. Not commenting on the other parts of this piece. 

    • Anonymous

      I’ve decided that I quite enjoy articles in which people argue about the sincerity of. The comments are the best part. 

    • Gin

      amateurs.

    • Bealtaine6

      Nice-“lady-babies”. :{D

    • Jacqueline

      Eyeballs can’t be raped.  Using the term rape in such a way is trivializing and hurtful, but you would assume a “feminist” already knew that.

      This whole article in incredibly sexist, and supports pre-existing sexist mentalities.  Having to tear one woman down to feel better about yourself does nothing for feminism, or your own self esteem. Saying someone is “good for feminist” because she makes other less blonde, less surgically enhanced, and more dressed people look good in comparison does nothing but support the incredibly misogynistic idea that women are all in competition with each other and are to be compared and contrasted for male approval.  This also contributes to the very sexist way in which Courtney is already being treated by the media and public. While things about her public persona are problematic, tearing her down this way is in no way “feminist”.
      If this article was meant as satire or humour, it has failed greatly. It just sounds like a bitter, judgmental woman relying on the short-comings of others and the public vilification they receive to up your own self-esteem.

      • Guest

        Pretty sure the point of the article is not about tearing down “women” in particular, although that’s the subject of the particular example the writer came across.  I think it’s got more to do with the fact that, yes, although there are entire sectors of our society which idealize “Stoddenish” behavior, there is also an exponentially growing sector of society which, looking at this behavior from the outside, recognizes the blatant misogeny and sexism involved in the portrayal of the images from the outset. While of course not ever okay for this sort of sexism to exist in society, looking at the sexist portrayal itself from a perspective of ironic absurdity rather than genuine idolization is at least a turning point on the path to a less sexist society overall.

    • E.

      Since when did slut shaming become a tool of female empowerment?

      Feminism. You’re doing it wrong.

    • MortimersWindow

      Few things annoy me more than idiots who abuse & misuse the term “feminism”.

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