Freak in the street and a lady in the bed

I was reading Nick Catucci’s Village Voice review of Nelly Furtado’s Loose today and I had to laugh. “Pop music is a lot like Halloween,” he writes. “It gives women an excuse to pretend they’re sluts.”

It occurred to me the first time that I saw the “Promiscuous” video that the only reason Nelly gets away with embracing her inner whore is cause it’s all an act. Let’s be honest, in real life she’s a pretty conventional, family-oriented girl. She’s got a man and a baby at home.

Her flirty charade raises one of the more bizarre contradictions of North American culture.

In day to day life, we don’t like it when a woman dresses too provocatively or talks too graphically or puts herself out there too much. We expect females to keep their sexuality in check.

When it comes to pop stars, though, the reverse is true. Mainstream culture seems to fiend for public displays of sex—lots of skin on stage, stripper dances in music videos, whorish photo shoots.

But only so long as the star concerned isn’t actually living like that.

Beyonce is the perfect example. She does a remarkable job of playing both sides of this coin. She’s Sexy Sasha in public and Wholesome Church Girl in private.

Others haven’t navigated as well. Look at Britney. She sang “I’m a Slave 4 U,” unleashed an orgy of a music video on prime time TV, and demanded that the world see her as an all-grown-up sexpot. Yet, she insisted in the press that she was a virgin, simultaneously satisfying America’s appetite for titillation and puritan prudishness. However, when her sex life made a splash in the tabloids—with the drunken Vegas wedding and her
Chaotic escapades with K-Fed pre-marital bliss—her approval ratings plummeted. People started wondering if she actually was a slut. And people don’t want to wonder that about pop stars.

Same goes for Christina. She unveiled her new, nasty dirty girl image but failed to assure the public that she was keeping the chastity belt on, leaving the public uncomfortable. Of course, now that Xtina is happily married, she can act as trampy as she damn well pleases.

Jessica Simpson was safe to bust out of her tops because she was married to Nick Lachey. Now that she’s single, expect her to lose the Daisy Duke short-shorts and tone down her soft porn image.

Then there’s the Paris Problem. Paris Hilton’s sex tape confirmed the public’s suspicions about her. She dressed scandalous, looked scandalous, and…turned out to actually be scandalous. Which is obviously a no-no. Ditto Superhead. Both have weathered a shit-storm of negative press.

The moral of the story? North America loves to see its good girls get down—but only if they’re just pretending.

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  • Bol

    There’s nothing wrong with looking good (I should know), but no one wants a girl that’s been passed around like a joint at a Grateful Dead concert.

  • 2chéLupe

    good read … but miss henley … where would u fall in this

  • lar

    ^ haha
    fresh she is…

  • Tru Wanksta

    Thanks for stating the obvious… do you get paid to write this shit?

  • Rey

    It’s an interesting dichotomy, but I agree.

    It’s the whole “schoolgirl” thing. Innocent on the surface, wild underneath. A good woman’ll do all that for ya.

    …not that Bol would know anything about that. That boy’s put more miles on his hand than the pace car at the Indy 500. (um..nullus)

  • exo

    the only thing worse than a real slut is a fake one. . . or something.

  • silva

    fuck that article. all hipsters should be rounded up and put in internment camps. that whole NF cd is hot fiyah

  • gluvnast

    blah, why not just be real and just said he last album flop and sex sells?

    end of story

  • 911

    I’m conflicted, in way I agree and in a way…..this is America sex is everything to everyone.


    Wow you are the queen of obvious, non thought. Did you have to sit down to write this.

  • Larry Akambe

    Yo, I’m looking at the photo of Tara and she looks all conservative in her Woolrich jacket… little do you know that she’s actually naked underneath and what is she doing with her hands? We’ll never know–I love you TARA! Let’s get greasy-freaky!

  • suckitmarshall

    It’s too bad this post had nothing to do with hip hop, there might’ve been some interesting ideas to explore.

  • Chi-Town Representor

    I hate it when a girl says that she is innocent when people hear about what she did. Beyonce is definately a classy female 2 me.But Britney and Christina are hypocrites. They sayin that they innocent and r virgins when people somehow find out about their sexual escapades.Its bad enough that u a hoe. But When u lie about it and say that u a virgin and the tabloid exposes ur sexual adventures, then ur gonna make urself look like an ass. The point is, in entertainment, sex sells. So it wouldnt matter if a pop singer was fakin or not to the public. They want 2 see some ass.

  • nocal

    Your examples suck. Check the bible for the original contradiction: the Virgin Mary. Even in child birth, she can’t have dirty filthy disgusting sex. I mean shit, discuss with people the mere fact that *GASP!* some women have sex during their pregnancy! Disgusting!

    Of course it then becomes a simple task in pop music to emulate and reinforce the tired old stereotype, which does nothing to advance the rights of women. The male equivalent is something like a TI, doing the “jigaboo” dance to make a buck.

  • Kevin

    Third-rate Candace Bushnell crap. Quit trying to be Carrie Bradshaw, Tara. I’ve read your columns (Dose, Georgia Straight, etc.) and they’re all the same crap. “Holla”, “my girls,” “New York, New York” blah blah yawn. In fact, I’m a little surprised it took this long for your supposed “hip hop” column to descend to this drivel. Yuck. How hard did you cry when Sex and The City went off the air? I bet you own all the DVD sets.

  • Malik Shabazz

    What on Earth does a cracker from Canada know about hip-hop or anything else for tht matter

  • Darryl Williams

    In my mind, White girls that aren’t open with there sexuality are boring and “same old.”
    The opposite goes for latinas and ebony women. Why? Because white women are 99% of the time low self esteem having d-bags.
    Would you rather have a white girl that gets shy when you start talking sex, or a white girl that tells you about her sexual escapades? Either way you have to reassure her that she’s sexy, but your getting more out of a slut.

  • UnFaded Disciple

    Rey Says:

    July 6th, 2006 at 3:08 pm
    It’s an interesting dichotomy, but I agree.

    It’s the whole “schoolgirl” thing. Innocent on the surface, wild underneath. A good woman’ll do all that for ya.

    …not that Bol would know anything about that. That boy’s put more miles on his hand than the pace car at the Indy 500. (um..nullus)


  • e

    Not to say that the gender issue isn’t critical in virtually every respect, the real issue is parents and pop music marketing.

    In all the cases mentioned, the artists in question are competing in a difficult pop market. Pop is marketed largely to children: ‘tweens,’ teenagers, et al. Rebelliousness in pop has long been an effective marketing tool. Whether that means Elvis swiveling his hips or Madonna playing up her sexuality, you cannot underestimate that power of parental disapproval in sales. Artists and labels certainly don’t. They’ve been pushing the envelope for years.

    In pop, it’s understood most of the rebelliousness is marketing, not reality. The artists and their labels know the line and understand damaging their images can destroy their pop careers. Real rebelliousness by major artists is bad press, bad press ends up on parents’ newscasts, and parents don’t want to buy the records for their kids. The artists’ choice: aim for a more mature less-mainstream pop audience or change the image and keep making money. If you’re Neko Case or Beth Ditto, how raw you are doesn’t matter and can even enhance your sales. Your target audience is mature and they’re discerning enough to look beyond marketing. In pop, where you’re selling largely to white, suburban, church-on-Sunday, two-kids-and-a-dog America, it’s far more difficult to sell an adult image to kids that their parents will pay for — no matter if you’re Justin Timberlake or Beyonce.

    You have no argument from me that American culture is very sexist in lots of respects.

  • Global Macro

    this blog post would make a great editorial in a high school newspaper

  • chelsea j.

    u would be surprised about how much canadian crackers know about hip-hop, and other music and culture and politics for that matter, cuz why? cuz we edumacated whoadie.

  • bama


  • alleyeCNtower

    this is an interesting revelation, one which we knew parts of already. but to parallel all the main pop star women, all their stages of sexuality, and how their marital status affects their ability to be sexual is interesting.

    the men (and women!) who help perpetuate this dichotomy and double standard are all fucked in the head. nobody really thinks very much about their contradictions, so let’s just state the facts:


    women want to have sex too.
    it takes two to fuck.
    stop judging women as sluts and whores you fucking hypocrites!!!