Update: Read Sabrina Jalees' original posts on marketing topics here:
Most in blogland know by now the provocative tale of the Canadian coed dubbed the "Saugeen Stripper." Last week, the first-year University of Western Ontario student stripped nude and gave lapdances to freshmen boys in a bedroom at Saugeen Hall. Someone took pictures, and the images have been blogged, e-mailed and otherwise transmitted around the globe and back ever since. For the young woman at the center of the controversy, it was "personal branding" at its worst.
Sabrina Jalees of the Toronto Star has penned a remarkable column, both humorous and insightful, about the Saugeen Stripper case -- in which she questions the new "Era of Skank" and the media's role in its emergence. (Update: apparently the article is no longer available on the Star's site, which probably explains why so many visitors come here to learn about the story.)
Here are excerpts from Sabrina's brilliant piece:
No one pays to see Girls Gone Mild
Last week, some photos taken at a University of Western Ontario dorm room surfaced on the Net. Old people around the nation were shocked to find the photos were slutty ... seriously slutty...
Now, I'm a feminist. Womyn, do what you want: Go home with him on the first date, join the army, get your nipples pierced, loop fishing wire through the rings and hang anti-propaganda posters from your chest ... but the line between "liberated female who is strong enough to sleep around" and "slutty ho" has been blurred...
It could be argued that this Western student, now the star of blog search engines and a photo-heavy e-mail that has spread wider than, well, her naked thighs in the pictures, is a liberated female... But let's be honest here people. If you're old enough to read this and young enough to have pushed on past the words "slutty ho" without starting your complaint letter to our Public Editor ..., you've been exposed to enough situations similar to this romp to have a sense of what level this girl's self-respect is at.
I'll give you a hint: here's betting it rhymes with "Nero." Comparing this girl to a powerful female, then, can probably be ruled out...
Not to get all "I'm-burning-my-bra" on you here but if you don't wanna blame the girl or the Smirnoff you can go knock on old Mama-Big-Media's door. But make sure you keep knocking for a while, she's very busy ... making whores! The media were occupied glorifying humiliatingly ho-ish female behaviour and packaging it as "liberation" long before Christina Aguilera learned her first word (which was "g-string").
As a result of these efforts, we are now living in the Era of Skank. Just in the past few years, we've had Madonna lesbian makeouts, Angelina and her brother smooching, online sex videos involving everyone from Paris Hilton to her dog (and inevitably, Paris Hilton with her dog, no doubt), with every sexual act possible performed and pontificated on by Carrie Bradshaw and Co. Lesbian cheerleaders are no longer just an innocent dream of 13-year-old boys. And there are enough Girls Gone Wild videos to keep rural Saskatchewan occupied for at least the next three years.
We're moving in this creepy direction where one day our kids will buy Teen People with a naked Dakota Fanning on the cover, smile and say, "Now that's a liberated woman!"...
However, something you may want to explore, Saugeen Stripper (I'm sure you don't mind the new nickname), is how far you want to be taking this "you go girl" attitude toward skankiness in your daily life. I suspect you're learning the hard way -- maybe not so far next time...
"But all the stars are doing it! Paris Hilton was in a video." True. But when Paris Hilton winds up in a scandal like that, she's working her public image.
If Media Orchard might interject -- and at the risk of objectifying women in a very literal sense -- we'd like to put this in a marketing context:
As a woman, what is your brand? In other words, how do you want others to perceive you? Will the image you present help you reach your goals?
Anyone with direction in life should think about these questions. The current trajectory of the Saugeen Stripper, we would suggest, is similar to that of the inner-city kid who pins his hopes on becoming a professional athlete. She might idolize Paris Hilton in the same way that the kid looks to Allen Iverson. But for most of us, these are media-generated fantasies -- not constructive life paths.
Would-be Saugeen Strippers should already know this, but just in case: flaunting sexuality often hurts women in the real (as in, business) world.
We'll let Sabrina have the final word:
Why am I being so hard on you, S.S.? ... Now that you've gone buck naked, insecure young women the nation over are challenged to match your dirtiness...
Yes, a new standard of skankery has been set. But there's good news, S.S.: How many minutes do you think it will take for someone to break your record?