There are currently several debates going around the web about Steven Greenstreet’s “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” video and tumblr, his rape jokes posted on Facebook, and the rights of women (and men) to claim offense at such behavior. Now I want to contribute something more to the debate than simply rehashing on our rights to privacy in the public realm (both in the digital public space-in the case of Greenstreet’s Facebook comments and in the material public space-in terms of privacy while marching in the streets of #Occupy). I want to talk about the manic pixie dreamgirl.
What does the “hot chicks of occupy” have to do with the manic pixie dreamgirl? And what is the manic pixie dreamgirl trope? I think this short Feminist Frequency video encapsulates the trope quite well, as well as its connection to Greenstreet’s objectification of women at #Occupy.
In short, Greenstreet’s video and his preoccupation with the “sexy side” of protesting plays into an emerging cultural trope, that of the manic pixie dreamgirl. Simply observe how the quirky, young, idealistic, non-conformist woman is fetishized in contemporary film and media. Without getting into the political leanings of the most stereotypical manic pixie dreamgirls, I think it’s pretty safe that Hollywood fetishizes the progressive, non-conformist type; the type of woman that has visible tattoos and body piercings, yet exudes a childlike glee and excitement about life. Why? Because such women serve as muses for young men, men in power, or soon-to-be heirs of privilege. They are accessible as cultural objects, things to be gazed at and amazed by. They may even be listened to, but only when seeking emotional support, inspiration, or hope. In short, these women remain in subordinate and auxiliary roles. I believe Greenstreet’s video plays into these cultural trends in a potentially egregious way.
But do such stereotypes preclude the fair and equal use of the public space for civic expression? Maybe not, but there have been reports of women being gropped at #Occupy, and this should be cause enough for concern. In a culture that fetishizes young women as accessories, muses, or worse, as sexually available at all times and spaces (especially in public spaces), these sorts of behaviors are not acceptable. They play into an overarching rape culture that encourages predatory behavior amongst young men. I am not saying that Greenstreet’s video causes men to grope women, nor am I claiming that such women cannot defend themselves. All I am saying is that such behavior contributes to a climate that is largely inhospitable to women. Who says women at #Occupy want to be hit on? Who says these women want your voyeurism? I know that a lot of women are appreciative of the video. But lets be honest here. Is Greenstreet simply glorifying an emerging stereotype about a certain type of young women? Does the r0mantiziation of the manic pixie dreamgirl deflate the radical politics that these occupiers propose?
Big questions. I know. But what do you think?