Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
The Washington Post had an interview with Jessica Cutler, otherwise known as “Washingtonienne”.
If you’re not familiar with the story, not too long ago Wonkette exposed a sex weblog based on a young woman’s sexual escapades with several Washington insiders. Within an hour or so after exposure, Cutler’s identity was disclosed and she was fired. However, lest you feel too badly for the now unemployed weblogger, she’s received deals to pose for Playboy, and a six-figure advance for a book on her exploits.
Michelle Malkin wrote a horrified diatribe about Cutler, calling her ’skank’ among other things:
I don’t usually write about such inside-the-Beltway gossip, but Cutler’s indecent conduct, glib rationalizations and in-your-face shamelessness, and the accompanying feeding frenzy over her, deserve a firm outside-the-Beltway lashing. This vulgar little episode reflects a larger, disturbing media trend toward normalizing and glamorizing sexual promiscuity among young working women. It harms those trying to succeed on their merits in the professional arena.
And it also harms our own daughters, who will be forced to fight harder to protect their dignity and credibility in a “Girls Gone Wild” culture.
When I first heard about Jessica Cutler, frankly I doubted the veracity of the exploits detailed (from the excerpts that have been quoted, she must have been screwing 26 hours a day), her proclamation of innocence (“Jessica’s blog … was the online diary she had been posting anonymously to amuse herself and her closest girlfriends”), and even the ‘accident’ of her exposure. As she says herself in the Post article:
“I was only blogging for, what, less than two weeks?” she says. “Some people with blogs are never going to get famous, and they’ve been doing it for, like, over a year. I feel bad for them.”
I know–if only I knew long ago that writing about my sex life could make me lots of money, I wouldn’t have bored you all with technology.
(Wait. What sex life? Did I happen to mention about being a 49 year old, non-Christian, liberal living in Missouri?)
Let’s do a reality check: here’s a woman who is very familiar with weblogging, Capital Hill gossip, Wonkette and what Wonkette sells – sex and politics – and she manages to take a weblog from Blogger to national TV in less than two weeks? “Accidental exposure” my ass…ets.
The play is different but the name of the game is the same: webloggers generate noise, and the media, ever on the lookout for a new edge, a new angle, follows that noise. People are beginning to notice this; the astute are even turning this to their advantage.
In this respect, Malkin is little different than Cutler with her entry into weblogging a few months back, just before she happens to release a book guaranteed to be controversial–writing in support of the Japanese Internment– and then spent time egging on webloggers who have written other books on the event.
The one screws politicians, the other screws history, and webloggers grease the way – in the end, it all comes down to someone being screwed.
Michele from A Small Victory, isn’t a newcomer and has been around for some time. She’s an A-Lister, though a quiet one – you don’t hear people reference her too much when they talk about the blogging power elite. I’ve found her to be one of the more thoughtful and open minded of the warbloggers. I respect her, though I may not agree with her. Of the Cutler incident, Michele also referenced her daughter saying:
I’m not a huge moralist and I don’t think there is no place for sex – or sexuality – in our society. But there is a big difference between promoting sexuality and promoting sex.
Perhaps my moral standards have changed as my kids got older. I see this blitz of breasts on even network television every day and it saddens me to think that my daughter is growing up in a media-crazed society that rewards most the women – and girls – who show the most. Maybe I’ve become a bit of a prude in my old age, but I cringe when I see women parading around in next to nothing because I know that teenage girls are impressionable and will emulate these women. What does a girl want, anyhow? Fame, fortune, Hollywood nights and hunky celebrities/rock stars dangling from their arms. No matter how”good” your teenage daughter is, it’s a safe bet that these are the things she’s daydreaming about as she stares out the window. Now, thanks to women like Jessica Cutler, the media that gives play to them and the people that open the doors to their virtual pink Cadillacs to pimp them, our daughters can further see how being a vapid, self-centered, materialistic whore can get you five pages in a major newspaper, a spread in Playboy, a book deal and a chance at fifteen minutes of fame.
With all due respect to Michele, society that is reduced to writing, movies, music, photographs, or other art ’suitable for children’ is too horrorific to consider. As for selling sex, this has been around long before we were born; and parents have been challenged by media’s influence on their kids since the first book was printed, the first song, sung.
I’m not that worried about teenage girls being exposed to Cutler when they’re bombarded with the likes of Britney. Best protection for kids is a good relationship with parents, and a fairly well defined set of house rules. Love is a better weapon in the fight to keep your kids grounded then censorship, or worrying about another sex kitten, scratching at a new kind of post.
I’m also not sure where this concern about decaying moral values is coming from; or the belief that standards are somehow worse than they’ve been in the past – that old and glorious past we keep bringing up whenever events such as this occur. If anything thanks to people like Howard Stern and Janet Jackson, who tease and turn sex into a commodity, we’re more uptight about sex than we have been in the past; a tension reflected in the glamorization of ‘bad’ girls like Wonkette and Cutler.
But I do share Michele’s concern with this …media-crazed society that rewards most the women – and girls – who show the most. I am less concerned with impressionable teens than I am concerned with the signals being sent us adults: that if you’re a woman and you want to get ahead, sex sells.
(Or, as Malkin so capably demonstrates, racism thinly disguised as patriotism works, too. )
Antigone, guest posting over at Feministe, might or might not agree with the harm of ’sex sells’. As regards to Cutler, she had this to say:
You may disagree with my take on this, but I’m glad young women are following their bliss when it comes to sex. And while I wouldn’t behave the way Jessica Culter did (especially with co-workers) what’s the the real harm she did (other than the fact that she blogged it and embarrassed some hypocritical, “family-values” Republicans)? What’s all the hullabaloo about?
By following her bliss, Antigone is referring to a new magazine, called Scarlet, which is … designed for intelligent women, who are sexually confident, but know that there’s always something new to learn. Open and frank, it’s the way that women speak to each other when men aren’t around.
Odd, but most of my female friends and I would talk about work, family, relationships, world events, medical concerns, funny stories, books, music, trips, hopes, and dreams. Has the relationship between women changed that much in the last few years?
But to return to antigone’s question: what is the harm? After all, we have Cosmopolitan magazine, Sex and the City, and now Scarlet–what can Cutler possibly add to all of this?
Frankly, not a lot. She’s just one more voice in a depressingly noisy lot.
Women are not only being told how we should look, we’re now being told what makes us horny. Men’s sexuality has been defined and constrained, packaged and marketed until I wonder how they can differentiate external stimulation from genuine, intimate impulses of sensuality. Are the markets now looking for a fresh new audience to exploit? Us?
If you look at what’s being promoted by Scarlet, you’ll find that it shares an amazing resemblance to magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse. From the magazine site:
Being a Scarlet Woman is about attitude, not looks. It’s about being fun, fearless and feisty. And Scarlet magazine aims to satisfy every part of you. You’ll find intelligent sex advice, features with a real women’s sense of humour and horny stories to help you get your rocks off.
Yeah, I only buy it for the recipes.
You want to know what turns me on? This rose. The color, the delicate scent, the silken touch of the petals constrasting with the sharpness of the thorns. Next week, this rose will be gone – brown and dying and dead–but I had the rose today. I took photo after photo of the roses and none would come out; not until this one, this picture that captured what I felt was the very essence of the rose. To me, this photo is erotica.
Returning though to Cutler and what this is all about. This is all about learning the game if you want to get ahead. Scarlet is looking for photographers: I think I’ll send them a picture of my rose. They’re also looking for writers. Here’s my chance; after all, it’s only words, it’s only sex.
And next to war, sex sells.
After all of this, I re-read this writing in my preview, and much of the hot air of indignation runs out of me in slow, wry puffs–brought about from the realization that the only change I’ve wrought in 3+ years of kicking this dog is a hurt foot, and a voice that echos .
I am an anachronism; worse, a moralizer, and not a very honest one, either. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I would like to have a little of the exposure that Malkin and Wonkette get for my own writing, and maybe even enough money not to worry so much every month. In this business, you need a gimmick to get ahead; rather than condemn these ladies, I should be grateful because thanks to women such as Jessica Cutler and Wonkette and Michelle Malkin, we women webloggers are now getting more exposure.
Any publicity is good publicity, I’ve been told. So why do I feel like we just took two giant steps back?