Newsweek bemoans “slutty” brides


Shoulder-baring brides with jaunty hats are clearly strumpets.
Calling young women who are getting married “MySpace generation brides,” Newsweek complains that brides today are “like a virgin no more.” (I’d be outraged, but this is just too fun for me to post about to be all that angry.)

Two decades ago, when young girls wondered how brides were supposed to look and behave, they’d most likely conclude–with some prompting from Cinderella–that on their big day they’d be a princess. They’d be blushing, virginal and wrapped from head to toe in tulle and lace.
So why is it that these days, some brides seem to be taking their cues more from Jessica Rabbit than Cinderella? More vamp than virgin, they’re having bachelorette parties that are as raunchy as their fiancés’ sendoffs. They’re selecting cleavage- or lower-back-baring bridal gowns that might get a gasp from conservative relatives.

Are we seriously supposed to be scandalized by back-bearing dresses and cheesy bachelorette parties with penis straws? Come on now. But apparently this article is less about how immodest brides are, and more about moral panic over women in general.

This is, after all, is a generation that is comfortable with “sexting” and posting provocative pictures of themselves on Facebook and MySpace.

Wow, MySpace and sexting in one sentence – impressive! The article goes on to point out (smugly) that women are getting married later, having raunchier bachelorette parties, having their ceremonies in locations other than churches, and living with their significant others before getting married. And we’re supposed to think, I guess, that these are all bad things.
What’s really interesting to me is how the media is able to frame anything as women being slutty. Fun.
(Naturally, you can find out more what I think about sex and sexism in The Purity Myth.)
TaraK on the Community blog has more.

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59 Comments

  1. Jen Carl
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I thought the same thing… though I was born in 87, from everything I’ve seen it was when women first started to seize upon their new found liberated sexuality, and cast OFF the image of the blushing bride. What’s even funnier to me is that the author quoted Madonna when saying we were “like a virgin no more.” I thought, hello? Madonna = raunchy sex symbol = 80s = the time you were talking about? Maybe she she really is confused about what year it was 20 years ago.
    It seems to me that we are having “a return to traditional values.” Barf. I can’t think of one traditional “value” women used to have that they no longer have that I wish they DID have. (Maybe they exist, I really just I can’t think of one now.)
    Sadly I think the mag knew exactly what it was saying and what it was doing. As the poster said, anything women do can be construed as “evil,” “immoral” or “wrong” unless it’s knitting sweaters for their third child and yelling right-to-life slogans. The media may be “liberal” as the Right (and my father) so often point out to me, but it is certainly NOT feminist. As Lumix stated, I too lament how subverted sexism is now, not because I want blatant sexism, but because the subliminal kind is far more dangerous. However in my studies of sexism in the media… I’ve found a whole stack of modern examples, where, newscasters primarily, flaunt their sexist views blatantly and unabashedly. What scares me about them is that they weren’t even AWARE of how terrible the things they were saying were, most of them just thinking they were being funny.
    Reading the article and the comments below, the funniest thing to me is that the pictures that they posted were NOT that raunchy (save the one girl in her wedding UNDERWEAR – NOT her dress.) Actually I thought most of the dresses shown were very elegant and very beautiful. The comments said that they were focusing on sex in their wedding because of their need to “have sex to keep their man”, and that this was the opposite of empowering. A) Hmmm wonder who put that idea into their heads? B) Again… um, none of those dresses were “slutty”? C) The article says that we shouldn’t be focusing on just the sexual part of our marriage — helllooooooo? The dress, the veil, the white – it’s ALL a symbol of sex, or their lack there of. If this trend is a rebellion against that? Kudos.

  2. Jen Carl
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    The sentence: “More vamp than virgin, they’re having bachelorette parties that are as raunchy as their fiancés’ sendoffs.” I say, wouldn’t be sexist if not for the context of the article in which it was found, and for the “more vamp than virgin” part.
    Vamp insinuates that the woman is a whore, and the connotation of any vamp v. virgin paring (in our society) is that virgin is positive and that vamp is negative. While I find both words to be proof of a lexical gap that we have in our language, that being that we have no word for a woman who has not had sex that doesn’t insinuate “purity” and we do not have a word for a woman who has had sex that doesn’t insinuate impurity or promiscuity.
    Therefore the sentence is saying, within the context of the article and our society, that it is a negative thing that their bachelorette parties are as raunchy as their fiance’s sendoffs, and that this in fact, is whore-like behavior. As it is, there is no way to change it to make it not sexist, as any sentence that reduces a woman to her sexual experience or lack there of is a sexist sentence.

  3. Jen Carl
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I realize I said two different things here – what I meant to say at the end was that I realized after writing this out, that there IS no way to convey the same idea and have it not be sexist since it reduces the woman to her sexual status. Leave out the ‘virgin or vamp’ part and simply state that women’s parties have become as raunchy as their male counterparts as an objective observation that does not condemn this as positive or negative in and of itself, only that it shows equality to men, and you would have yourself a non-sexist statement.

  4. aleks
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    You didn’t actually answer, so I’ll ask again. Does the article say that the trend towards raunchier bachelorette parties is something to “be afraid of”? It reports that they’ve gotten as raunchy as men’s have traditionally been*, a statement of equilibrium that hardly sounds like fear mongering. It paints the people who might be offended as “conservative”, rather than implying that people in general are taking offense. It’s Newsweek’s job to report on things that are new. I’m actually reasonably literate, thanks for asking, yet I don’t see and no one seems to be able to point out within the actual article this extreme sense of oppressive judgment and condemnation you’re complaining about.
    *I think we’re doing paintball at mine, unless I can convince enough of my friends to take a week off for the BWCA. My lady’s probably going to have something wilder, and I hope she spares me the details.

  5. Alphanista
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The article does have some relevance regarding how marriage is viewed today in general. With shows like Bridezillas and these VH1 dating shows, everything now is a spectable and not as “pure” or “honored” as it should be. The sacredness may be gone. Brides today are different, but the core value is still the same. Now, if we could talk about how the feminist movement has hurt single women, then we have something!

  6. Pantheon
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I thought we were against scare quotes? Seriously, I usually see them used in the articles that blogs like Feministing are complaining about.
    It really does bug me when people use quotes in this type of context without being clear that they aren’t quoting the original article. The title of this post is Newsweek bemoans “slutty” brides which REALLY makes it sound like Newsweek used the word “slutty.” There are other ways to phrase it if you want to use the word slutty in quotes without making it sound like you are quoting Newsweek. It might require slightly more thought, but its worth it not to seem like you are blatantly misquoting someone.

  7. Pantheon
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    The title does make it sound like Newsweek used the word “slutty.” There are better ways to phrase it if you just want to convey that you don’t think they’re slutty. Or, you could use a word that the article actually does use, like “vamps”.
    Try:
    Newsweek bemoans “vamp” brides.
    Newsweek bemoans “vamp” brides; clearly implying that women who don’t want to look like Cinderella are slutty and dangerous.
    Newsweek complains that modern brides are “vamps,” clearly meaning that they are “slutty”
    Newsweek complains that modern brides are “vamps,” avoids saying that they are “slutty”
    Honestly, the whole scare quotes thing is annoying. If you want to use scare quotes in general when not quoting another specific source, then at least its clear what you mean, but if you use them in a sentence where you’re examining some other piece of writing, you should go out of your way to make it clear that you aren’t quoting that other piece. Otherwise it is bad journalism. I get how you might not have thought of that at first when you wrote the title, but I’m not sure why you’re so defensive about it as to tell people to leave your site rather than inform you that your title is unclear.

  8. Pantheon
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your points in the original post, but how would you like it if some other site linked to this article with the title Jessica at Feministing complains about “asshole” journalists ?

  9. onemorefeminist
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Ah, this reminds me of my sister’s wedding last year. A virgin when she got married, she freaked out one day worrying if her dress was white enough because she didn’t want anyone to think she was unpure. This was really shocking to me because I thought the white of the dress had lost all meaning decades ago (like at least the 80s) and was just a relic costume. I thought everyone would know she was “pure” by her obsession with religion and her behavior. And more than that, I thought wow, you’re getting married and this is your concern?
    Needless to say, should I ever get married, I’m definitely not wearing white. Because the last thing I want anyone to think of when they think of me is sexual purity. After all, my partner and I (the one I now live with) started as a one-night stand, you know the type you were told would never ever work. I’m proud that I’m a sexual being, I think it makes me a well-rounded woman. But to be my own devil’s advocate, maybe I’m just as concerned as my sister, but in the opposite direction.
    Wrote in to Newsweek, had to join to post… wow their comment section was frightening.

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