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Nothing Sexist About ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’

Nothing Sexist About ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’

NEW YORK—I just finished reading a few articles about this brewing controversy over the Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street video, which I also just watched. The video is being criticized as sexist by some, and has inspired impassioned debate within the progressive walls of Salon.com and probably innumerable college classrooms, as well.

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But I have to say—what a bunch of hooey.

The only thing that could even remotely be construed as sexist about the video is the title, which, by the way, could lead to the creator, Steven Greenstreet, being sued for false advertising. Yes, some of the women he videotaped and interviewed are “hot,” as that term is understood by 99.9 percent of the male (and female!) population, but most are more along the lines of “attractive,” “cute” or “interesting looking.” And a few aren’t even that. (Now, that’s sexist!)

By my reckoning, there is nothing in the film that even remotely suggests that the women who appear in it are being exploited sexually by the filmmaker. I would actually argue that Greenstreet has consciously courted controversy, albeit subtly, by not making a leering video that amplifies his subjects’ sexuality, but which uses a title that makes is seem as if he did. Clever boy, and even more clever in that the word “hot,” though I ran it through the sexist wringer earlier, could be reasonably construed to define a woman who is so intellectually engaging that she becomes a hopeless object of desire.

Would there be anything wrong with that?

One slight irony here is that the original version of Occupy Wall Street takes place in New York, the same burg where Woody Allen made so many great movies that feature so many interesting, creative, and intelligent women who became the ultimate muse for his leading men. Sex was usually an element of those relationships, but that’s exactly the point. Sex begins and ends in the brain, with a slight detour through the genitals.

I would further argue that whatever outrage people are feeling about this video is as faked as the supposed exploitation of the women in it. If it is real, then the outrage springs from a deep-seated immaturity about both life and sex! Appreciating someone’s sexual appeal does not automatically dismiss their other fine qualities, but denying their attractiveness literally does. It may be inappropriate to express that appreciation in certain settings, but the idea here seems to be that even recognizing the fact that there are Hot Chicks that Occupy Wall Street is a denigration of them as activists fight for a cause.

A similar dynamic is in play with many people’s criticism of pornography: that it is by its very existence demeaning to women because it reduces them to sexual playthings. It’s an argument that gains traction with people because it sounds right on its face, but it actually is one of the more meaningless criticisms of erotic expression, which, let’s face it, runs the emotional and behavioral gamut.

All this just confirms for me that sex is the ultimate Rorschach test. Just as everyone interprets movies, literature, art and theater individually, they do the exact same with porn and sex in general. The problem for me with this subject in the context of Occupy Wall Street is that it would depress me no end if this movement, which has so much potential, turns out to be populated by close-minded and affected people.

You see, as an avowed activist in the burgeoning Occupy the Bedroom movement that has yet to … occupy a bedroom … I long to see a political movement in the United States that does not operate at a fifth-grade level when it comes to sex.

I guess I’m still waiting.

Photo: Three of Steven Greenstreet's "victims" in Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street






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Tom Hymes

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