Ariana Grande, the Objectification of Women, and Our Culture

by Jim Geraghty

Apparently we need a national conversation on the objectification of women, spurred by a fan’s interaction with pop star Ariana Grande.

In Grande’s account, she was out with her boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, picking up food from a restaurant when an enthusiastic “young boy” told Miller, “Ariana is sexy as hell, man, I see you hitting that!”

Now, that’s rude. Gentlemen ought to be gentlemen, at any age. And no, the fact that Grande dresses in skimpy or revealing outfits in her performances does not give any male fan carte blanche to say or do whatever he likes without consequence. How you choose to treat people doesn’t make a statement about them and their standards; it’s about you and your standards.

But let’s add two other notes: Grande said “it hurts my heart that so many young people are so comfortable enough using these phrases and objectifying women with such ease.”

Indeed, but many of us on the Right feel like we’ve been making this argument about a coarse, vulgar public discourse for years and we’ve been dismissed as old-fashioned prudes. You can’t have people marinating in a culture that moved from Hugh Hefner to George Carlin to Madonna to Andrew Dice Clay to Howard Stern to Bill Maher to Marilyn Manson to twerking to rappers walking around with women on leashes and then be surprised that people say vulgar, sexual things on the street. (Fun question: How would the American society of a generation or two generations ago greeted Donald Trump’s more vulgar comments and moments? Would they have deemed it disqualifying for a president?) If you have a culture that is extremely open about sexual topics, you’re going to have people expressing thoughts about sex in ways that offend other people – i.e., “I see you hitting that.”

Grande points out that she is in a relationship with “a man who treats me with love and respect.” Wonderful! But if she’s wondering why one of Mac Miller’s fans might have thought it was acceptable to objectify her, she may want to peruse the lyrics to his “Break the Law” or “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty.” They’re way too explicit to print in NR. The first words of the latter are “Open your legs,” and I think you can get the idea from there.

Grande adds that she’s “felt really quiet and hurt since that moment.” She is 23 and has a net worth estimated to be around $25 million. Movies, television, music, concerts – the world is her oyster right now. It seems a little odd that one crass comment from one “young boy” is being treated as this major event that requires a national conversation about the objectification of women. If you become a celebrity, you accept the risk of running into an uncouth fan.

All across the world, non-celebrities endure way worse, with none of the comforts of fame and fortune to help them endure. Right now, there are folks on Twitter who are getting Nazis-will-put-you-in-the-ovens tweets from hateful nut-jobs. Show up at a protest, and counter-protesters on the other side will get in your face. If you really want to experience verbal abuse, try umpiring a Little League game. 

The Corner

The one and only.