Friday, July 24, 2009

Erin Andrews and Consent

I saw this video over at feministing and I think Jessica asks an interesting quesion about the recent video that was released of Erin Andrews walking around naked:

I don’t know if I agree with the sentiment that this video is popular solely because it was taken without Erin Andrews’ consent. I think there are actually a lot of different issues going on here.

First, there’s the simple fact that Andrews is somewhat famous and people are interested in seeing people they “know” naked. In that respect this video is seen as interesting to some people for the same reason any naked pictures of celebrities are seen as interesting. It’s just the way things are. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other contributing factors. I just think it’s a bit disingenuous of us to say that all people who watch this video do so because they get off on the idea it was taken without Andrews’ consent.

Then there’s the issue of “purity” our society is so obsessed with. Andrews has long been considered "America's Sideline Princess" for not only being attractive, but for being seen as “sweet” as well. As usual, many people then decided that that sweetness must therefore equate into innocence and chastity. It’s this combination of “hotness” and “innocence” being defiled that makes this video so appealing to some people.

Classic "Madonna and the whore" complex.

There’s also the professional reality that Andrews has demanded respect and acceptance in a male dominated field. Not for being a hot woman either, but for the fact that she is a skilled reporter who has just as much right to be on the field as anyone else. As usual, the standard response for people in our society to combat these “professional women” is to turn them into sex objects. As one commenter said, “The men who don't like her now are able to say, "ok, fine, you can be where I don't want you, but I have seen you naked, and we both know it."

Unfortunately, this sort of fetishizing of women who are seen as “professional” or “innocent” is not surprising or new in any way (Sarah Palin is a prime example). Add the weird fetish for women who like sports - which is pretty ridiculous considering how many women really do like sports. It’s not some rare unicorn like some people like to think – and this video is bound to appeal to some people.

Now, the issue of consent; I do think these sorts of videos are indicative to the idea that since women are seen as the “gatekeepers” of sex, men therefore have the right to do whatever they must in order to “get it” from women. (The automatic victim-blaming in sexual assault cases is a symptom of this.) And for me, the lack of consent makes the situation unethical.

Simple as that.

So is consent the underlining reason people want to watch this video? In my opinion, not really. Does that make Andrews feel any better? Probably not.

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