The threats we face come from all different places and all different angles. The Pubs like to talk about them all the time. “Fear” is their favorite topic of conversation. This isn’t too surprising given that conservatives are often conservative precisely because of their fears–they want protection from everything.
- They’re afraid that someday the poor will rise up and invade their homes, throw them into the street, and then relax in their barca-loungers, change the settings on their wall-sized flat-screen tv’s, eat everything in the fridge and then criticize the drapes.
- They’re afraid, because Islamic terrorists exist at all, that bevies of them must be hiding under their beds waiting to spring out at them and slit their throats and rape their children and put low-grade gasoline in their SUV’s (a variation on a theme: for most of the 20th century they were afraid that Communists were hiding under their beds waiting to spring out at them and slit their throats and rape their children and put low-grade gasoline in their Cadillacs; it’s what you might call a “theme”).
- They’re afraid of change–any change.
- They’re afraid of anybody who doesn’t think the way they do or believe what they believe.
- They’re afraid of gays, immigrants, foreigners, anybody who betrays more skin color than your average tanned Hamptons’ beach bunny, and funny accents, especially the ones that sound vaguely French.
- They’re afraid of people who have more money than they do and terrified of people who have less.
- They’re afraid of dissent, disruption of the status quo, conjugal visits and chaos–none of which they can separate into its individual and unconnected piece.
- They’re afraid that liberals will take their guns way, tax them into the poorhouse, make them drive little Toyotas that run on barley and wheat germ and couldn’t slam down the highway at 100mph if a Ferrari got behind them and pushed
- They’re afraid that we’ll force their children to sing ‘Kumbaya’ every day and attend compulsory classes in prancing.
- They’re afraid of art that isn’t commercial, sex you don’t pay for, and anything that’s done for love instead of money.
- They’re probably afraid of the dark.
But what they fear more than anything else in the world and have since the dawn of time in almost every culture they’ve poisoned with their presence is the one thing they never have and never will be able to control (“control” is a Big Thing with conservatives; only when they have absolute control do they feel relatively safe).
Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to Jenna Jameson–
–porn star extraordinaire and mega-successful businesswoman in her chosen field: sex. How did we get here from there, you ask? Stay with me on this for a bit longer.
Conservatives are afraid to the marrow in their bones of female power and those who aren’t afraid to use it. That’s why they frothed at the mouth over Eleanor Roosevelt and why they hate Hillary Clinton. Really, it’s no more complicated than that. Look at pictures of the women at the recent RNC, at the carefully-quoiffed Stepford look and Lane Bryant wardrobe. Listen as each one interviewed patently believes herself to be a free and independent thinker who just happens to agree with her husband about everything except who should take out the garbage or pick up the dry cleaning.
Now scroll back up and look at Jenna. This woman is an industry all by herself. She is a prime example of the Pubs’ favorite mythological character, the ‘Entrepreneur’–somebody who started at the bottom, literally, and worked her way up to fame and riches. She owns her own film studio, markets her product, and reaps the profits. She’s a dynamo of commercial energy. She could be the poster-child for the Ownership Society.
But wait– What’s wrong with this picture? Why, the Pubs aren’t celebrating her success at all. In fact, they’re denigrating her, saying “She did it on her back” (well, mostly on her knees, but let’s not quibble). They’re calling her a “disgrace” and one of the reasons our society is disintegrating. They are saying she is the enemy of “family values” and an institute-of-marriage assassin. And these are the same people who have a huge collection of her videos tucked into a recessed wall panel behind the living room bookcase for when the Stepford wife’s not home or peacefully asleep upstairs. Why are they being so mean in public to someone whose work they so appreciate in private?
No, not the sex. And it isn’t because she’s crossing into the mainstream. They weren’t nearly as nasty to Traci Lords when she came out, so it can’t just be that. So? What? So this:
Her flouting of convention is what Neil Strauss, Jameson’s co-writer on her memoir, believes is at the core of her appeal. “Society has so many rules for everybody, but especially for women. All the do’s and don’ts, the rights and wrongs, and what’s a bad girl, what’s a good girl. The fact that Jenna can break all of society’s rules for women and still have the respect of the mainstream to some degree,” he says, makes her someone that women look up to.
The night at Book Soup makes Strauss’ point. A group of 18-year-olds from Manhattan Beach are among her new fans, and they giggle when asked about their attendance. Sarah Balagia, who has seen only part of one Jameson movie, says, “I just like her because I want to be like …”
“A porn star!” interjects her friend Bridgette Bayley, in a jeweled brooch and purple sweater.
“No. Sexy and confident,” Balagia continues. “Just, like, a cool woman.” Later, she adds, “Throughout the book, there’s different instances when she knows what she wants, and she goes after it. I’m not like that and I wish I was. I’m more passive, and I want to be like Jenna — powerful.”
Uh-huh. Jenna is a conservative’s worst nightmare: a woman who controlled (and controls) her own financial destiny and a woman who is neither afraid of nor apologetic about her sexuality; a woman who is passing that picture of womanhood–“sexy and confident”–to a new generation, a generation that doesn’t buy the conservative notion that you can be one or the other but not both, that no longer sees sex as automatically demeaning, and that is gravitating toward models who embody (no pun intended) a new paradigm in human history (or maybe a very old one being re-awakened): that there’s nothing wrong with a sexual woman. She isn’t a demon or a bad seed or the source of all evil. She’s just a complete human being who is what she is without shame, and for a conservative, there’s nothing worse than a woman without shame.
Jenna is in a unique position to have a significant effect on the thinking of young women in this country, on the way they define themselves and the world around them, through no more complicated a tactic than being honest about who she is and what she does. That can’t be good for the average conservative’s self-esteem, especially since she’s also rich. I imagine that’s going to be a difficult dichotomy for them to resolve, and anybody who can tie conservatives up in their own illogical and contradictory belief structure is a rare bird indeed and OK in my book.
You go, girl.