Cock Mobster:  the Girls Gone Wild Essay

        5/18/07

 Girls Gone Wild Pool   ggw2
This is in black & white and I love their hair,
so it's charming!
This is in color and I hate their hair,
so it's deeply wrong!

   

I'm an internet pundit specializing in gender issues now, so I'm pretty sure it's the law that I have to write an essay about Girls Gone Wild.  Otherwise, I'll just suddenly die for no reason, like in that old Friday the 13th Nintendo game that made no sense.

The thing about Girls Gone Wild is, since there are so many different reasons for people not to like it, anyone who’s writing an essay about it needs to—

Ugh!  Damn, that game sucked!  It was like, “Ooh, I’ve got the fucking flashlight, so I guess I’ll just walk in circles around the lake and oops I’m dead.”

What?  Oh, okay.  The thing about Girls Gone Wild is, since there are so many different reasons for people not to like it, anyone who’s writing an essay about it needs to spend most of their time distinguishing their particular reasons for not liking it from all the others.  With an issue like this, the terms “for” and “against” alone are essentially meaningless — it’s all in the explanation.  And since this is a conversation we are joining very much in progress, let’s run through some of what’s been said so far.

On the right, you’ve got the Conservatives who are against GGW just because they’re against all porn, or even against anything that’s sexy at all, be it technically “porn” or not.  You’ve also got those even-bigger-asshole Conservatives who are all about the “Good Girl / Bad Girl” dichotomy, and secretly don’t give too much of a shit about traditional porn because it only draws bad girls into its shadow, but lose their shit about GGW because it reaches beyond the pale to involve “normal” girls — for them, the problem is not porn per se, but rather porn “in my backyard,” as the saying goes.

And that’s about it for the right — an open-and-shut case.  A stupid open-and-shut case, as usual, but an open-and-shut case nonetheless.  For the left, things have been a little more complicated — as they tend to be when you’re not stupid, or at least less stupid. 

For starters, you’ve got the Liberals who are also against all porn, but for feminist reasons instead of religious ones.  And it’s probably already clear that 1585ers are not them.  I’ll go on the record again here and say that 1585’s official position on porn in general is that it is fucking awesome.  But a discussion of Girls Gone Wild, as most Liberals realize, cannot simply be a discussion about porn in general.

And this is where the difficulty comes in for that segment of Liberals used to defending porn-in-general from attacks by both the right and by far-left feminists:  we have to explain why GGW is different enough to warrant being “against.”  It can’t be the young ages of the girls involved (at least, the ones who are actually over 18), because there are any number of girls that age who do regular porn; it can’t be the fact that there’s usually drunkenness and/or substance use involved, because ditto with regular porn; and it can’t be the fact that GGW goes searching for participants rather than waiting to be approached, because shit, Playboy does that, and Playboy barely counts as porn at all.

Matters are complicated even further by the fact that, if you let them talk long enough about it, you begin to realize that many Liberals simply don’t like the type of girl that Girls Gone Wild favors:  GGW videos are all about the squeaky-voiced, blonde-haired, orange-skinned sorority girl, rather than the “badass bitch” type more common to “normal” porn, and it’s harder to defend something as empowering when it avowedly idealizes girls who are, well, stupid (yes, regular porn doesn’t exactly celebrate female intellectual achievement either, but the relevant fact here is that in regular porn you are dealing with women who have actively chosen to do porn, rather than the trope of girls being “tricked” during a “weak moment”).  I’m sure that I would find a GGW video too fucking annoying to jerk off to if I ever tried, but I also realize that a simple disagreement about aesthetics isn’t sufficient cause to ban something, or whatever it is that the people who are “against” GGW want done about it.  I realize that many women — and many men, including me — would prefer it not to be the case that lots of guys are attracted to squeaky-voiced blonde sorority girls, but something can’t be made illegal just for being a tangible reminder of a fact that you don’t like.

Honestly, suppose if, instead of orange blonde girls with high-pitched voices who act like they’re nine years old, Girls Gone Wild featured sexy female PhD candidates with pale skin, dark hair, and cat’s-eye glasses, who were just as young and just as drunk, but theorized about Finnegans Wake to the camera while sixty-nining in the shower, in lieu of simply giggling and going "WOOOOOOOOO!!"  Would people be just as mad?

And don’t say no-one would buy that, because I would totally buy that.  Seriously, if someone starts making videos like that, then I will not only buy them, but I will link to your site and be your best friend.

But regardless of whether anyone would ever actually do this (seriously though, please, someone do this), I get the sense that it wouldn’t piss people off nearly as much.  So what does that mean?  That the exact same thing should be illegal if it’s with dumb girls, but legal if it’s with smart girls?  That would require giving smart people and dumb people different status under the law — which, normally, I would be all for, but it seems trivial to do it just in this one specific case.  If we’re going to roll like that, it should apply to a whole bunch of different stuff.  Oh, and it should also involve smart people getting to wear capes.

But no thorough discussion of Girls Gone Wild can be limited to an analysis of “the thing itself,” as we say in the analysis biz.  Just as is the case with a surprisingly inexpensive pair of sneakers, there are also many important questions relating to the process of how “the thing itself” got to you in the first place.    

Any idea can be defined two ways:  by itself, or by the history of itself.  The word Christianity can refer to the tenets of that religion and the things its practitioners believe, or to the history of the things its practitioners have done in its name.  The first definition includes only the teachings and example of Jesus, and the second includes the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Jerry Falwell (who dropped dead a couple of hours after I typed this sentence; powers — I have them).  That’s a pretty big difference between two possible ways of seeing the same word.

Similarly, the first definition of Girls Gone Wild merely denotes young women removing their clothes on camera of their own free choice (albeit while drunk).  The second definition includes a handful of hushed-up rapes, and numerous threats — and occasional actual instances — of physical violence against people who stood in the way of the fratty juggernaut.  The first definition is basically synonymous with the definition of a good time, and the second is basically synonymous with the definition of the fucking mafia.

This brings us to a point that isn’t complex, and doesn’t require a whole lot of clarification — to the one fact in this debate that anyone who deserves to be listened to agrees on.  Namely, that Girls Gone Wild impresario Joe Francis is a flaming asshole to an extent that eludes all efforts at description.  Here’s a link to a recent L.A. Times article that details Francis’s various crimes (up to the time of its publication, at least) more extensively than I have time to do:

         "Baby, Give me a Kiss" by Claire Hoffman

Okay, the thing here is that —  wait, his lawyer really said that?  The “he has a big dick” defense thing?  Wow. 

Okay, the thing here is that, at this point, this isn’t really about whether someone has a problem with sex.  It’s about whether someone has a problem with psychopaths.  And you’re supposed to have a problem with psychopaths.  All articles about GGW from now on should be about this guy, not about whether it is okay for girls to flash their tits if they want to.  At this point, that is immaterial.  If someone else made videos where girls flash their tits, it would be a totally different story.  It would be possible for someone to do basically the same thing in an acceptable way, but Joe Francis himself does not.  If I made videos where girls flashed their tits — which I’m not saying I want to do, necessarily, but also not saying I don’t want to do — everything would be totally fine.

Seriously, it's not like you have to be an asshole to like tits.  Everybody likes tits.  They're tits, for christ's sake.

But even when a Girls Gone Wild essay moves from “Girls Gone Wild is terrible” territory specifically into “Joe Francis is evil” territory, there are still problems, mainly due to the male distaff of the virgin/whore dichotomy, which I have dubbed the asshole/loser complex.  In short, it refers to the worldview in which all males are either aggressive, self-centered dickheads who only care about getting laid (assholes) or pushover dorks who can’t get laid, and who are even more pathetic than the aggressive dickheads because they wish they were aggressive dickheads but are unable to be (losers).  In short, any guy who talks shit about Joe Francis (or someone like him) leaves himself open to the accusation that he is only pissed off because he isn’t Joe Francis (or someone like him) and secretly wants to be — the risk of eliciting these accusations is exponentially increased, of course, if the shit-talking takes the form of a long essay published on the internet, which can only mean that the author is obviously a nerd, because otherwise he would be out getting laid instead of writing essays and posting them to the web.

The reason more guys don't openly oppose guys like Joe Francis isn't because they like him — it's because they're afraid to be accused of being the opposite of him.      

I'm not pissed off by Francis’s statement about how “the guys with the greatest sexual appetites are the ones who are the most driven and most successful.”  In fact, I agree with it.  It’s just that I also realize that being horny and driven can take a lot of different  forms besides simply running around with a camcorder and screaming “show me your tits.”  The Norton Anthology of Poetry is chock-full of extremely horny people, a great many of whom got laid like madmen.  So I don’t think the difference between me and Joe Francis is that he is simply more horny — and therefore more manly and successful — than I am.

Rather, I’m calling him out on the fact that there’s some rhetorical sleight-of-hand going on in that statement, because GGW isn’t just about across-the-board horniness — it’s about a very specific type of horniness, centered on the figure of the “girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

A girl can “not know what she’s doing” for many reasons:  she can be young, dumb, drunk, insecure, or all of the above.  But regardless of the explanation for her state, the male state of attraction primarily — or possibly exclusively — to the “girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing” isn’t more manly.  It’s decidedly less manly.

Attraction to the “girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing” is rooted in the fear (that’s right, fear — i.e., totally not macho) that if she did know what she was doing — if she were just as sexy, but basing this on her own desire for pleasure — then either she would not want anything to do with you, or you would not be able to satisfy her if she did.

And this is not manly.  Manliness, as it relates to the sexual arena, means being a “ladies’ man” — a term that was once seemingly incompatible with feminism and social progressivism, but which obviously now needs to be brought back.  And being a “ladies’ man” means that you know how to please women, not that you know how to trick the weakest of them into pleasing you, and can only even manage that when they’re drunk. 

What that means is that you are a fucking pussy.  And guys who act like they’re the shit but who are secretly fucking pussies have a burning desire for the entire world to be transformed into Junior High, because that was the last time in life that any representative number of women actually thought guys like this were cool.

Have you ever heard James Bond refer to the female genitalia as “taco?”  No, you haven’t.  This is because James Bond is not in Junior High.

When the camera cuts to a post-coital Bond in bed with his latest paramour, the woman always says the same thing:  “Oh, James!”  To review: that’s “Oh, James!”, not “Oh, I was so drunk I was nearly unconscious, I have no memory of signing your stupid release form, and I’m suing.”

What is most important to remember here, in a dynamic where manliness is at stake, and at a time when the very definition of that term is so up in the air, is that Joe Francis is not Bond — Joe Francis is a Bond villain.  Joe Francis is the evil, rich megalomaniac bent on world domination whom Bond beats at baccarat in the beginning and later rescues the girl from, and who flips his shit at the end and is last seen running around his fucked-up lair with an AK-47, indiscriminately mowing down his own henchmen, while a disembodied voice intones “T-minus 10… 9… 8…

And this is totally where Joe Francis is headed.  If you work for him, then now would be a good time to begin exploring alternate career options, because you don’t want to be inside the fucked-up lair when it blows.

The reason it has been so hard for people to figure this out is that most of the anti-GGW rhetoric out there has been academic-feminist — and as such, it could make no distinction between horny guys who don’t care about women, and horny guys who do.  It had to take the blanket stance that being a horny guy is bad, period.

But if all men swallowed the line about horniness being bad, period, then there would be no reason for guys who aren’t already doomed to be losers not to become just like Joe Francis, because the simple fact of not being losers would mean that they have nothing to lose—they would perceive themselves as already having crossed the Rubicon in terms of being a “bad person,” so what the Hell.  If wanting to see tits is simply bad in and of itself, then there's no reason for anyone to distinguish between different methods of getting to see them.

What Libertarians, or Sadeans, or Realists, or whatever name we're currently using for “people on the internet who think that every horrible thing is awesome and that the only explanation for not liking it is butthurtedness” is the fact that, even though Joe Francis’s empire does in fact speak to deep, dark undeniable truths about humanity, that doesn’t mean you can’t think he’s an evil son of a bitch.  Because he is an evil son of a bitch.  Yes, it is true that there is a part of every woman that wants to be the center of attention at any cost, and yes it is true that there is a part of every man that wants to be the guy who can order girls to disrobe and have them instantly comply.  But so what?  There is also a part of every guy that wants to be the world’s biggest asskicker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dislike someone who goes around punching people in the face.  Condemning a thief does not require you to deny the fact that people desire money, and so on. 

I don't hate Joe Francis because he is horny, or because I’m jealous of him, or because he offends me, or because he is too tough for me.

I hate Joe Francis because he's a pussy — the only insult that matters to guys like Joe Francis.

But to what extent can Francis’s evil mean that his product should or can be banned?  If the CEO of a widget-manufacturing company raped someone, then that would only mean that the CEO himself should go to jail for the rape, and that someone else should be named CEO and continue overseeing the manufacture of widgets.  Even if this rape took place in the CEO’s office at widget headquarters, this would still say nothing about the morality of widgets themselves.  To make a case against widgets themselves, it would need to be established that rape is somehow necessitated or made inevitable by the widget-producing process, and this seems impossible. 

People say I don’t know shit about economics, but look how many times I just said widgets.

Anyway, if the root problem with Girls Gone Wild — apart from Joe Francis himself being evil — is the apotheosis of the dumb girl who “lacks agency” or whatever, then this begs the question:  is GGW the disease itself, or only a symptom?  Did Girls Gone Wild actually cause the present dominance of the dumb girl to any significant extent, or is it rather that a groundswell of dumb-girl nostalgia resulted in Girls Gone Wild?

I’d argue the latter, but suggest that it’s not so much dumb-girl nostalgia originating with boys, but dumb-girl defense originating with girls — and that the new epoch of dumb-girl defense was ushered in not by ideas from the right (as in the past), but by the mutation of well-intentioned ideas from the left into oversimplified and nearly opposite forms.

Examine recent pop music.  People always talk about how so much contemporary Top-40 music is “about sex” — but that’s kind of vague, so let’s unpack it a little.  Try comparing the number of recent songs by female artists that are about simply liking sex to the number that are about using sexuality to get stuff (fame, gifts, etc.).  It feels like there have been way more of the latter, doesn’t it?

It’s starting to seem like, if you asked a group of teenage girls which was “worse,” having sex with an older man because you just thought he was hot and would enjoy having sex with him, or having sex with an older man because he was buying you shit, a lot of (most of?) the girls would say that the first thing was worse.  Somehow, the definition of the word “whore” seems to have gotten reversed somehow:  literally, whore means prostitute — someone who exchanges sex for money or goods — but this definition has been contaminated via use of the term against women (mostly by other women) who have sex because they like it, and who are sexy enough to get lots of it, outcompeting other women in the process.  Memes of female solidarity have been somewhat successful, but obviously they lacked the power to do away with the very existence of sexy women, who obviously still dominate pop music and the media in general.  The solution was for sexy women to start singing not about liking sex, but about using sex to exploit men financially, thereby mollifying less well-adapted women with a veneer of Lysistrata-esque sexual socialism.  Ironically, this sexual-Robin-Hood mentality permeates the ethos of Girls Gone Wild itself as much as the feminist antithesis to it:  a woman who exploits men does so on behalf of all women, just as — in the mind of Joe Francis — a man who exploits women does so on behalf of all men.     

How has this happened, when the official position of all feminists and various other “strong women” on the subject was that it was fine and good for women to have sex just because they like it?

I’ve never heard Richard Dawkins posit the existence of meme mutation, but I think the situation just described may provide strong evidence for its existence.  By meme mutation, I mean the successful dissemination of an idea that, apparently, no-one has ever actually explicitly voiced or advocated — i.e., a collective misunderstanding, occurring because the mutated idea was better adapted to its society than the actual idea was.

If we had to guess, I’d say the mutation here was due to a weird intermingling of messages from the right and the left.  For years, rules about sex were fairly simple:  authority figures on the right (e.g., pretty much any adult) told kids not to have sex, ostensibly because of religious shit, and the kids had sex anyway.  Oppressive, yes, but phenomenally simple to comprehend; no confusion possible.

Now, kids have got the same message coming at them from the right, plus a much more nuanced stance on female sexuality coming at them from the left, which seems to be something like:  Theoretically, sex is great and natural and there’s nothing wrong with it, but at the same time boys are evil, so if you have sex with one it’s because he tricked you, but remember that you are also supposed to like sex or it means that you’ve been brainwashed by the right, so you need to have sex at some point, but only if it’s something you’re into, only you might just be getting tricked into thinking you’re into it by boys, so to make sure you’re actually into it and don’t just think you’re into it, first you need to write a thesis about it, and then once it’s been peer reviewed, you need to…

But the one message coming from the left that’s been easy for young girls to understand is that it’s “empowering” to use one’s sexuality to control, take advantage of, exploit, or get revenge on men — so this becomes the path of least resistance in terms of how much thinking it requires you to do.  Figuring out whether you “like” sex in the “correct” way is a huge headache — but if it’s all about the Benjamins, then what could be more cut-and-dry? 

The problem is not, as many on the right would suggest, that terms like slut and whore have lost the impact they once had as pejorative terms — anyone who spends any time around young women can attest to the fact that they still use those words to describe women they don’t like every ten seconds — but rather that there is now a huge divide between having sex and liking sex.  Many young women are still quite worried about being “sluts,” but feel that it makes them less of a “slut” to appear in a Girls Gone Wild video than it would to simply go home with a normal, non-camera-wielding guy whom they just happen to find attractive.  The latter would mean that you want sex, which is still a no-no, but the former only means that you realize you have the power to make boys want to have sex with you, which is, by definition, “empowering” — because, duh, it involves power — regardless of whether you yourself are actually having any fun.

The problem is exactly the opposite of what everyone on both the right and the left seems to think it is.  Pundits of either stripe will go on about the ever-increasing hypersexualization of the culture (though they are allegedly mad about this for different reasons).  But is today’s culture really so sexualized?  If you look at it in terms of what people are or aren’t allowed to say on TV, or in terms of what sex stuff a kid of a certain age knows about, then yes, sure.  But if you were to talk to a representative sample of young people, and ask them what they think about all this, you would discover a startling thing.  Despite what they know about, or have been exposed to — or maybe, in fact, because of these things — today’s teenagers are “against” sex in numbers not seen since the days prior to the counterculture revolution of the 1960s.

This is due in part to the specious consubstantiation of patriotism and traditionalism that has held sway since 9/11 and its effect upon a generation of children terrified enough to believe anything:  a child who is eighteen today was twelve when she or he saw the Twin Towers collapse, and if the next thing that child heard out of an adult’s mouth was “This means you’re not supposed to have sex,” then that shit is going to take one uphill fucking battle to reverse.

Due in part, but not in whole.  The seeds of the problem were planted before this, during the Hot-Girls-vs.-Not-Girls Wars of the ’90s, when, among women, the figure of the desire-driven sexual competitor became anathema, leaving victim and prostitute as the only two acceptable roles.  Party girls had to become the know-nothing party, first feigning and eventually actualizing ignorance, either of the ramifications of their situation, or of their own capacities for real pleasure beyond the rote acting-out of their assigned role.

Do not take these extrapolations as excuses, or accuse me of not admitting that Joe Francis is an evil scumbag — I have admitted this plainly and will continue to do so.  I hope Joe Francis is convicted of any or all of the charges being brought against him at this moment and that he goes to jail for a long time.  Why wouldn't I?  But I also urge you to remember that getting rid of Francis will not fix the problem because, as Dylan soberly sang of the filthy assassin Beckwith, “he’s only a pawn in their game.”  We could send Joe Francis to the freaking Phantom Zone, but the fact that people want to see tits isn't going anywhere.

The next move is for young women — both those who choose to whip out their funbags given the slightest opportunity and those who choose not to whip out said funbags alike — to figure out whether they do, or would, truly enjoy doing so.  If they do, then that’s awesome, and I personally look forward to seeing their tits.  If they don’t, then I guess that’s fine too.  I'll just go look at someone else's tits.  It's a big world, and more than half the people in it have tits.

The only unacceptable answer is “I don’t know.”  To paraphrase Mr. Miyagi, “Show your tits yes, okay.  Show your tits no, okay.  Show your tits guess so?  Squish just like (g)rape.”



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