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Cheerleaders of The Roman Empire

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I am so dorky I actually surf book reviews on a regular basis. :blink: Bumped into this one earlier this week and found it interesting enough to post here.


It's a review of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs by feminist author Ariel Levy.


5 stars. Cheerleaders of The Roman Empire, October 17, 2005

Reviewer: Sunshine Green "Striates into the sky on outward spires reaching" - See all my reviews

"Naked words and stripped naked smiles

Concealed faces are the same behind repainted masks of lies

Buried reasons can't stand the test of time

Don't trouble the waters because foul waxworks faces stare in your eyes" ~ Wall of Sleep, "Time of The Goblins"


Some of us raising daughters in the convoluted mess of corporatized culture surely have our work cut out helping them to differentiate between parody and authenticity. The culture's repetition of lies eerily leads to broad veracity and a favored wink and nod to the profitable former while scarcely acknowledging the latter. Within the past five years alone there have been so many mind boggling political and cultural shifts that it does indeed give ample need for pause and reflection.


Ever notice how the word "chauvinist" is always preceeded by "male," and that the word "conspiracy" is immediately followed by "theory," as to imply that chauvinism isn't found in varied guises and is strictly congruent with men, and that all conspiracies[any two or more people doing something immoral or illegal]are merely "theoretical?" Do you really believe such strategic skewers are adhered to randomly?


When you think about it, aside from a few variations, doesn't it seem as though, in principle, "stripping" is not so far removed from "cheerleading?" Scantly clad young women shaking their booties for purpose of arousal and elevating the crowd's testosterone level. The true difference is in the degree of societal acceptance based on situational context and intent[acknowledged or denied], which is why the more "wholesome" objectification of young women is euphemistic within the community because they're shaking their goods for the "gladiators" and many schools rely heavily on athletics to bring in money. So the bottom line remains; be a good girl, shake your bottom, show us your crotch, hands exchange money.


Unlike sexual exploitation, true sexual liberation and exploration of sexual expression requires no counterfeit media ideal to be sold for mass consumption and immitation by the naive whose supposed "liberation' manifests in a risque, cookie-cutter slut costume, with an emphasis on prostrating themselves to "one of the guys" mentality, "Hooters" shirts, and soulless sport sex devoid of inner bonds. It's the ultimate "extreme" sport; the greater degree the debasement of women, the more "extreme" and cool it's considered. The strange thing is, now it's often the women who are enabling this mindset, much the way a kidnapped victim comes to identify with and aid his/her abductor. It's the result of conservative repression, yet that perversion of sexuality which is innate, healthy, progressive, is laid squarely at the feet of social liberalism, thus conning women into justifying abhorrent ideals as believing it is liberation instead of self-imprisonment.


The upshot is, at least some of those who walk a counterfeit path eventually wise up, and who among us hasn't had to live through the consequences of a not-so-bright move in order to find a better way? For the fathers reading this, how often do you look at a woman who has clearly lowered herself in a way that would make you cringe if it was your own daughter, knowing you wouldn't want that for her because you'd want what's best for her, so why then condone the exploitation of any woman or man? It's difficult. It's a very powerful culture, none of us escape or unlearn it entirely, and the biological animal in all of us, woman or man, can act on impulses we'd perhaps not care to admit. Culturally, these varied trends keep on recycling.


Ariel Levy's book is a critical and impeccable dissension on a subject few[aside from fundamentalist right wingers]dare to call by name: women's role in the "frat party of pop culture," the "raunch culture," how it denigrates humanity, sexuality, and has been embraced by scores of enthusiastic girls and young women who are eager participants in humiliation, sexual exploitation and degredation as a sometimes tacitly, other times outspoken preference of genuinely deviant gender role, expression, attraction, loveless sexual interplay and ambivalent entertainment.


Naturally, as soon as you say that, it sounds typical of 'old talk;' how one generation sees the next, ignoring their own generations faults, low points and wild benders while hypocritically lambasting the sins and folly of the current one. Fair enough, cause I know I didn't look at things the exact same way years ago. However, this latest phase of women exploring the extreme margins of their sexual roles is bizarrely unique, although perhaps somewhat expected, and likely transitory as more girls wake up to their self-prescribed, corporatized affectations and realize they're not really the cool, conquering sluts or apathetic, detached butt-kicking "above-it-all" humanoids they thought they had wanted to be, and that it's not necessarily a matter of competence, gender ability or winning at any cost, but of attainment and fulfilling what every heart and soul eventually demand. That's when it all becomes real and messy, no costume or affectation required.


Levy examines possibilities of why the framework of the earlier feminist movements have been discarded and civil rights perverted and taken for granted by some young women of today, many of which disavow or ignore a rich 'living' existence colored and shaped through existential insight, civic obligation, intellectual curiosity, and longing and striving toward loftier ideals in favor of mindless consumerism, follow-the-leader sexual appeasement, overt and covert debasement, social status and fleeting gratification.


Given the scope of media influence and its deeply seated impact, Levy isn't condemning as much as she's correctly perceiving an unprecedented gravitation of women toward something far more ..peculiar? ..sinister? ..than the usual degree of disaffected American mediocrity, but in fact, as with many of the problems our species face, has further deteriorated by leaps and bounds because of long ignored drifts toward such mediocrity, desensitization and depoliticization, resulting in a frightfully weak democracy and diminished culture of colonized minds and impoverished spirits that, despite the glaringly obvious diminution[or perhaps due to it]is largely imperceptible by average denizens. Very similar in how the right has foisted the deception upon us that our mainline media structure has a "liberal bias" even though since the early 1990s it has marched in unconstitutional lockstep with the rightist agenda.


No doubt Levy is smeared as a "traitor" by some: often times, those who most accutely perceive social ills are exiles in their own time and land, vilified by those who laud the structures and attack any dissension, and further discredit samaritans as being guilty of "oversensitivity" to that which plagues us - which in itself speaks volumes about a mass society's cultural perscriptions and directives. If sensitivity is uncool, imagine how unseemly oversensitivity is! "DON'T THINK OR FEEL OUTSIDE THE LINES!," society demands.


Gender role fluxuations within our warped consumer culture is nothing new, it's the resolute reversal of former feminist ideals regarding gender roles, sex and relationships that makes this particular transition to the right[exploitation isn't progressive minded]seem so alien. Young women are conditioned toward competition, which requires aggression, and could be argued, has resulted in something far removed from feminism's basic tenets, namely, an overall cultural encouragement for a required lessening of ones empathy and sympathy for others[in action and deed, not rhetoric]in order to be considered successful, "with it," or popular in the fast-paced, cut-throat society we've devised. Girls are conditioned to aspire toward male stereotype[not reality], to take on those perceived characteristics and values. Simultaneously, a portion of them still wish to be more traditionally feminine, so as the drift toward mimicking masculine stereotype increases, so does its polar opposite backlash. The result is the woman/child/cheerleader of artificial love, conditioned within contradictory positions and impulses, who feels entitled to it "all;" paradoxically, because she's been *instructed* and 'shamed into being' as such which is a far cry from spiritual impetus which compells individuals to forge a path less traveled.


Given such grim days of late, more of us are awakening to what's happening: "reality," and a fabricated, media-induced "unreality" have merged, overlapped, switched places, so to speak, and as the murky waters of this strategically-offered-yet-individually/collectively-embraced "unreality" deepen and widen, the threat of an utterly brainwashed and schizophrenic populace, in lockstep with empty, cold corporate directives, imbued with the superficiality of inumerable cosmetic measures and priorities accepted and condoned as apparent humane ideals, shaded with a spiritual darkness accepted as 'normal', begins to feel ever more solidified as seemingly greater numbers succumb to the acquiescent lunatic mass movement, taking cues from the lowest common human denomenator of exploited desires and longings, completely ignorant of, imperturbable toward, and unwilling and/or incapable of acknowledging the degree of human frailty and malleability under the ominous shadow of the indoctrinating mass media apparatus which directly impacts existence. Yet, to a sleeping third eye, it can appear tranquil on the surface. And that's exactly what those who exploit you want everyone to believe.


Imagine the old sci-fi flick, "The Blob," in how the beast grows exponentially with each new victim absorbed into its mass. As Ariel Levy demonstrates, the crowd isn't exactly perceiving the blob as a threat to resist, but are happily, if not mindlessly, hurling themselves headlong[or perhaps "butt-crack cleavage-long"]into its maleficent sphere which manifests in any number of ways. While understanding their chosen and favored unresponsiveness and shallowness, some women in turn will use hypocritical, conjectural spin to deflect what they instinctively realize is their own choosing of that which is substantively 'less' by defending their adherence to traditionally male-driven, pornographized concepts of gender roles and sexuality as 'claiming it for their own' as a means of empowerment and demystification.


People are complex, and for some, that fits the bill. However, the average person simply isn't that bright, doesn't make much time for deconstructing the great human puzzles of their time[i know plenty of them]so overall, I don't buy the justification. It's way too convenient. It says, "I'm only so shallow because I'm actually so deep," not wanting to *appear*[for appearances mean EVERYTHING to happily exploited people] empty, or guilty of wrong thinking["wrong" meaning, outside and away from favored, unquestioned cultural indoctrinations], of warped prioritizing, or of being culturally conditioned toward greed, and wanting what is seen as the benefits one may believe come with opportunistically playing every side of a societal role.


It's as if there's this portion of the latest generation of young women who are missing some essential internal radar that should sound warning bells and alarms when confronted with being encouraged and coerced into mimicking some of man's more loathsome traits and characteristics[our roles and values have changed a great deal too]rather than thinking how much fun it would be to adopt a similar mindset and behave equally as piggish and barbaric.


Young women willingly participating in demeaning, abusive acts of dehumanizing exploitation as entertainment bespeaks a pathlogical trend toward cultural right wing sadomasochism, as is revealed in some of the popular clothing/costumes, with a predominant focus on girls and women "presenting" their rear ends - the new eye-catching cleavage prominant in relation to thong underwear, low cut, butt-crack revealing pants, shorts and cheerleading underwear with jingoistic terms printed across the bottoms["spank me," "spoiled," "pornstar," etc], the ever popular lower-back-attention-on-the-butt tattoo, the emerging popularity of anal intercourse, the prepubescent-emulating removal of pubic hair, and other submissive roles akin to pornographized sex and giggly pseudo lesbian exhibitionism. It's all blatantly submissive yet is offered and spun as "assertive" because some of the airheads have realized how airhead-ish they appear in sexually subjugated roles, and will justify their cheerleading of brute chauvinism irrespective to which side of the fence of ignorance they're on.


It's little wonder why young women have happily adopted the "voted off the island" mentality which makes scarce room for humility, sympathy or basic common empathy. The Establishment Powers would have you believe that the masses of screwed up people are a result of what they propagandistically espouse as The Great Evil of our time: LIBERALISM!!! [..gasp..willikers..] when in reality, it's because our youth are geared to be cogs in a soulless machine of corporate fascism, and our educational systems do little early on to encourage individualism as essential for healthy democracy and civic interaction.

We don't have enough progressive-minded people like that, or, who, realistically, are going to be hired for positions of social engineers, and naturally, despite the efforts of many decent teachers out there, the kids are herded through a system which emphasizes the values and beliefs that result in the social breakdown we're now experiencing.


Right wing power is fundamentally anti-woman. This explains their slavish reliance to fundamental religion, their desperate want of rolling back abortion rights under the ruse of "sanctity of life"[while being pro-war and pro-death penalty] and explains the increase in young women aspiring to be "one of the guys."


The cornerstone of homophobia, with homosexuality and gay marriage a favored right winger projective target as well, is misogyny. Militant, opposed-to-the-openess-of-democracy, right wing power disapproves of one, the traditionally 'softer' feminine traits, and two, conversely, what it perceives as the "threat" of women who don't abide those traits i.e. "don't know their place." Women run in endless circles within right wing influence, and that's the whole point: it's a rigged game, and the perpetrators deflect and obfuscate, coaxing women into roles they in turn condemn, ensuring that every coerced option benefits the broader right wing agenda.


If a woman chooses to be a "teamplayer" for corporate power, this can still be spun as "liberal;" wonderful, "it's the liberal's fault!" If a woman's chosen lot in the culture is genuinely liberal, it will be spun as weak-minded, too critical of exalted corporate power, a relic of that horrible "soft" 1960s counter culture. This is why many right wingers despise any perceived 'soft' traits in men[why many men grew their hair long in the 60s] and explains the broader cultural dilemma of how young boys are indoctrinated into such perceptions, resulting in attacks against those who display lesser amounts of brute power[which benefit corporate and state power]often by calling such boys a "girl" as means of an insult. You now find girls actually doing the same, and on many different levels. Don't want to play the role of slut? "Stop being such a GIRL!," it effectively implies.


What's happened now is that this right wing influence has naturally manifested in our young women, who have likewise and erroneously come to claim fascist tenets for themselves[without direct acknowledgement of course], and see the earlier feminine ideals as being too "soft" of traits because such ideals require instinct, spirit, passion, organization and intelligence, which requires reflection, time and focus, and let's face it, such qualities aren't condoned in thought, deed or example in our society, and most of it must sound pretty BORING to most young people who are spoiled rotten and whose lives are surrounded by the din of statist propaganda media, corporate values, likeminded family, peers and institutions shifted to the right yet still claiming "liberal,", the encouraged and favored cultural passtimes such as TV, consumerism, athletics - which promotes a "gladiator" mentality, and focuses, as does the entire culture, on profits over people.


All of this darkly pressing them downward toward this pseudo sassy n' savy, rough n' tumble Barbie ideal. As the thonged "girls gone wild" roles have increased in popular virulence, so has the rise of violence among young women, as has a long list of lurid hazing incidents which are usually violent if not staggeringly grotesque, always premeditated[often are annual traditions]and sometimes even sexually abusive in nature. Some of them post online hundreds of pictures of these vicious rituals, revealing an inclanation for emotional/spiritual deficiency to manifest in group sadism and dysfunction as the new twisted "reality" entertainment for the current dystopia. This was also seen in the infamous Abu Ghraib scandal where, due to the propagandistic efforts of mainline media, the full truth of what occurred wasn't made know. However, female troups were directly involved with things far worse than what you saw in those pictures, including beatings, murder, actual sexual torture and rape, including the raping of children in front of their mothers. Big Brother sure had a quite a time figuring out how to spin that travesty, which, unfortunately is still ongoing, with our un-elected administration threatening to make it's first use of veto power in five years by striking down U.S. policy of refusal to torture POWs, or, in the case of Iraqi's, mainly innocent families, according to the Red Cross and international civil rights groups.


We're all complicit to the messy culture we've created and allowed for by taking a little here, leaving a little there. Generalizations are applicable, yet ideology tends to break down on the individual level, and addressing these issues in day to day living shouldn't be about pointing fingers. It's not that any of the sexual-by-nature specifics addressed in Levy's book, or that Ive commented on, are necessarily either 'good' or 'bad,' it's the prevailing context in which they are acted out and chosen by a majority as representing far less than their wide potential for good and bad experiences. As the strategic framework of America has been shifted to the right, young women are presented with powerful mixed signals which offer many ruses of independence which seek to ensnare existence. Political thinkers of the early twentieth century, as pointed out by leading dissident, Noam Chomsky, realized that in order for this democratic experiment to work in Power's favor, the citizenry would not only need to be controlled at work, but more importantly, outside of work as well if democratic 'interference' is to be kept within a certain framework, kept to a controlled minimum, which has enabled a bastardization of all things "liberal," and that speaks directly to how the aberrations originate under repression, and are then used as examples of condemnation by the right to dissuade true liberation and free thinking. Ariel Levy's book is must reading for those raising daughters.

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