Monday, October 24, 2016

The Mostly Sexist Agenda of Nasty Nicknames for Female Celebrities

I'm reading Sady Doyle's amazing new book Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear...and Why and I remembered this list I made back in 2013 (when I had a lot more time to think about about the plight of female celebrities then I do now). It was up online somewhere then, but I'm reposting it here. With the passage of time, there are a few things I would change about what I wrote-- but there are also plenty of new nicknames I could add to list.

It's a societal disparity as old as the hills, women are reviled for the same things men are celebrated, and the evidence is in the pop culture pudding. For every one Wacko Jacko there are ten Parasite Hiltons, but not all of these nasty nicknames for female celebrities can be traced back to the media, and an editor out to craft a catchy caption or headline.  Both #1. and #3. came courtesy of on- and- off friends of the starlet, while #8. was coined by the star’s fans as a term of endearment-- she's actually embraced the moniker, and sometimes uses it to describe herself.

An especially nasty nickname can attach itself to a celebrity for time eternal-- the implication the nickname makes becomes the association the public makes with the celebrity, and that implication can become impossible to shake. The majority of these nasty nicknames just reiterate what the public has come to expect from its famous females, and the designee has been slapped with the moniker for not living up to those ideals: Fergy fug, for ascending to fame while being in some nameless, faceless, editor's very important mind, unattractive; Hanoi Jane for being so vocal and visible with her anti-establishment views during the Vietnam War; and the Portly Pepper pot, because who would ever believe that the leader of the free world would risk everything for a chubby girl?

A few of the ignoble nicknames originated with Perez Hilton, who in the early years of his popular gossip blog, seemed to create them daily for sport. Since becoming a father, he has publicly resolved to be less "mean-spirited" towards the celebrities he covers. It’s a testament to the entrenchment of some of these nicknames that they still remain in active use despite their creator's disavowal.

Below is a list of famous females who nasty nicknames may live on in infamy:

1. Fire Crotch

This nickname for Lindsay Lohan came from the mouth and mind of brat scion Brandon Davis, who imparted it upon the world while being videotaped by the paparazzi, in the company of Paris (Parasite) Hilton. The prurient interest of the part of Lindsay's body that it purports to reference, combined with Brandon's Mr. Jeeves- style patois as repeatedly enunciates "Crotch" like "Crutch" in the TMZ video of the encounter have contributed to the moniker’s memorability.


2. Sexual Napalm

Not a nickname per se, but pretty much, considering how often "Sexual Napalm" is mentioned when Jessica is. "Jessica Simpson, Weight Watcher's new spokeswoman, Sexual Napalm!" "Jessica Simpson gives birth to daughter, Sexual Napalm!" This description for Simpson’s sexual explosiveness came courtesy of musician/pro boyfriend John Mayer, who kisses and spills more often, and much more graphically than Taylor Swift, but gets light scoldings for his disclosures, not unfunny award show parodies. (Mayer also informed the world that Jennifer Love Hewitt's body was "Wonderland," and Jennifer Aniston was "clingy.")

3. Bimbo Summit/ "The Animal"
 


 For a short time in 2006, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton appeared to be friends; they engaged in friend -like activities, such as entering and exiting clubs together, and carpooling. Photographic lenses everywhere were kept in a constant state of contortion as paparazzos followed their every move, and clamored to get shots up their skirts as they made them. The tabloids had a field day with the threesome, concocting headlines like "The Three Horsewomen of the Apocalypse" and "Bimbo Summit." The neat & tidy celebrity package didn't last long, and after the friendships fractured, sources close to Paris leaked her private nickname for Britney: "The Animal," because according to Paris, Britney never thought before she acted. (I would like to note that I think most animals think a lot.)

4. Mushy Fartone

Let’s do some free association with Mushy Fartone. Mushy: soft, like a bowl of potatoes, or maybe squishy, like the belly of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. It’s impossible to free associate with Fartone. It’s just “Fart one.” When you put “Mushy” and “Fartone” together, what’s the implication? “Fat Gassy Girl?” When I was in junior high, the bane of my existence was a boy named Leonard Reebe. Whenever I saw Leonard in class, or crossed paths with him in the hallway, he would intone loudly enough for everyone to hear,"Beee-Owna!” a parody he’d contrived of my own name, Fiona. The insult was in how he said the name, and in the visual it conjured. "Bee-Owna!" was slovenly, and bred parakeets in fetid cages.  “Bee-Owna!” never left the house, and ate TV dinners while watching The Price is Right in a muumuu. “Bee-Owna” was my Mushy Fartone. If we think of Perez’s website like a movie, Mushy Fartone is the equivalent of Perez casting Mischa to play the role of a Garbage Pail Kid, when, by the nature of her being a young starlet in Hollywood, she tried out for role of the ingĂ©nue.

5. Hanoi Jane

This is a real patch. Snoopy won't forget. A Google search will bring up pages and pages of these Anti-Fonda images, some calling for her execution as a traitor, and many of them handcrafted. (It’s interesting to think of dudes getting the craft bug inspired solely by their hatred of Jane Fonda.) Though Jane stands by her opposition to the Vietnam War, she's apologized numerous times for the infamous photograph of her sitting on an anti-aircraft battery and has since said she feels that the picture was staged as a photo op by the Vietcong.

6. Waity Katy

Kate Middleton earned this disparaging moniker for the eight years she dated Prince William before he proposed, the implication being that:
1.she withstood the wait because of her want for the crown.
2. she withstood the wait because as a smart, attractive young woman from a wealthy family with a Master of Arts degree from the University of Saint Andrews she had nothing better do.
3. she withstood the wait because she's a pathetic doormat.
After she and William became engaged in 2010, the nickname changed to Lazy Katy because Middleton left her job to prepare for the round the clock job of being a monarch.

7. Wino

 In the same way that identifiable, one- word celebrity names like Prince, or Madonna, are often considered to be the height of fame, nasty, one- word celebrity nicknames could be considered the depths of cruelty. In the excellent 1962 film, Lilith, Kim Hunter’s character says to Warren Beatty’s, "Insanity seems a lot less sinister to watch in a man than a woman." If the sentiment‘s true, it's a sinister inequality that the media relishes chronicling.


8. Glammy Skank

In the late nineties, Courtney Love started a website called kittyradio.com. It became one of the most popular websites on the net, and for a blink and you missed it moment, Courtney was heralded by the media as an e-entrepreneur. By the early aughties, Courtney had fallen out with the administrators of the site, but during that brief window when everyone was getting along swimmingly, her fans at kittyradio gifted their queen with this honestly affectionate nickname. "Glammy skank," for glamorous skank.

9. Horse Face

Women love Sarah Jessica Parker for her sartorial flair and film and television roles, while men despise her, possibly because they felt ignored all those Sunday nights during Sex and the City's six season run. Routinely ranking in the top three in those vile online "Ugliest Women in the World" lists (as did Amy Winehouse, before her death), there is even a web site called sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com, which bills itself as "a loving tribute to the aging style icon," and whose webmaster refers to themselves as "the stable master" and asks for donations to the site to "protect aging NYC carriage horses."

10. Fergy Fug

Sometimes I wonder, if, at a tender age, young boys are taken aside, and told a secret by older men. Actually, what they are told isn't the secret; it’s that this multi-generational information-sharing actually occurs. "Quickest way to wound a woman, young man? Tell her she's ugly."  Hurt people, hurt people, blah, blah, I get it, but why the special relish when it comes to lobbing looks-related insults at famous women? Does it feel like some kind of power equalizer? Maybe you'd never give me the time of day, but I can still tear you down physically. How come women don't come up with nicknames like this for famous men we find to be unattractive? Or annual "Ugliest Men" lists?

11. Miseralba

At one time, Jessica Alba, was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, she starred in films like Honey and Sin City that showcased her sexiness, and was voted number one on AskMen.com's list of the "99 Most Desirable Women." Then she got married, had two children in quick succession, and the media decided she was miserable. Why the sudden change in good feeling? Subtle indictment on the fuckability factor of married moms? Are the kids and the ring a wrench in the wet dream?

12. Super Head

Actress and model Karrine Stevens received this nickname for her purported superior oral sex skills from the rappers she worked with and dated while appearing as an extra in music videos for the likes of Jay-Z, L.L Cool J and R. Kelly. Segueing her industry experience into a successful writing career, Stevens has written three New York Times bestsellers and owns her own publishing company. Still, websites like Bossip.com default to adjectives like “slorebag” and “Hollywood jizz-bucket,” over “resourceful” and “industrious” when describing her accomplishments.

13. The Portly Pepper Pot


In 1999, Monica Lewinsky was the most famous twenty-two year old woman in the world. President Clinton would infamously go on television and lie about her, saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and the populace would come to learn in John Mayer- worthy detail just what the commander in chief considered to be a sex act. Feminist leaders were hesitant to publicly lend their support to Lewinsky, because of the risk to the liberal- leaning Clinton administration. There was a locker-room undercurrent to much of the scandal, and the flat-out disbelief from bros in the media that the most powerful man in the world would risk the presidency for a chubby girl in a beret. (Paula Jones had received much of the same ribbing about her looks, and would go on to have plastic surgery, paid for by right-wing donors.) The New York Post came up with "pepper pot" moniker, and used it interchangeably with Monica’s name in its coverage of the debacle. Interestingly, Urban Dictionary defines a “pepper pot” as  1. (noun) - An assertive person who shares opinions or acts in ways that are stronger than the extant social power structure might predict. Especially women, since men often wrongly expect women to be weak, acquiescent, or void of certain types of knowledge. Monica has said that she dealt with the stress of the media onslaught by knitting, and in 2000, became a paid spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.

14. Nauseating Nancy

Usually, in a last act of crass politesse, a nasty media nickname is retired after the designee's death, especially when the death is a tragic one, as was the case with Amy Winehouse and the vile "Wino." Not so after the death of Nancy Spungen, the drug addicted, and mentally- ill girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Even after her gory murder in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel, the press kept it open season on her character. The ante was upped even further when Malcolm McLauren and Vivenne Westwood began selling t-shirts poking fun at her murder that read "She's dead, I'm alive, I'm yours," above a picture of Sid.

15. The Dragon Lady/ "Yoko Ono" as insult



Asked how she felt about the racist nickname bestowed upon her by the British media, Yoko Ono turned "The Dragon Lady" on it's head, saying, ""I'm kind of honored to be a dragon lady. The dragon is a very powerful, mythical animal . . . well, probably they think I'm powerful, thank you very much." Blamed for the break-up of a band "more popular than Jesus," Yoko Ono is that rare breed of maligned celebrity whose own name has become institutionalized as an insult. From Courtney Love, to Kate Moss, to Demi Lovato when she dated a Joe Bro, any woman who gets up close and personal with a guy in a band is at risk for the moniker. About Ono, feminist writer Germaine Greer once said, "Her enormous wealth can be no consolation for the knee jerk assumption she encounters a hundred times a day that she destroyed Lennon's gift and broke up the best band there ever was." Her name may have become an insult, but I doubt with her music, film making, and activism, Yoko Ono has ever let the insults define her. I agree with Greer that money is of no consolation to Ono. I think her art is.

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