So hello there showbiz pigs, here we are back at the trough again, ready to nuzzle another helping of celebrity reclaimed meat. This week it mainly seems to be about that old staple; sexual assault. Rape is the new black. It’s just not daring, without some vaginal tearing. How times change? Do you remember, back in the day, when any starlet worth her FHM front cover had at least one tale of a teenage eating disorder? Then it was “my secret coke hell”, now all that seems rather twee and taken for granted, like Vera Lynn hinting that it was a dram of sherry that got her through the Blitz.
Jack Tweed, in the most inevitable story since Kerry Katona last did something really stupid, has been arrested on suspicion of rape. The alleged event took place at his Essex bachelor pad after a particularly strenuous night on the tiles at a West End nightclub. I think we’ve missed a trick here. If sleaziness could somehow be turned into renewable energy, that sentence alone could fuel the greater area of London for about two years. Jack has occupied a special place in British culture of late, being the first male WAG, a male z-list celeb famous for whom he went out with. Naturally a man in such a glamorous role attracts attention, girls would mutter-“I must have him, he married someone who died of cancer, if I bag him Mahiki nightclub is my kingdom” And strangely this heady mixture of sudden notoriety, money and a young man with a history of criminal violence proved to be less than successful. Let’s hope Jade’s Mum’s psychic doesn’t fill her in on this latest development.
Meanwhile, Katie Price has revealed that she herself was raped more than once, via that age old oracle her OK advice column. Her new man Alex Reid is currently filming a movie that newspapers alleged featured a scene glamorising sexual assault. Katie hit back at the claims, arguing that the photos were taken out of context. Call me old fashioned but I think, even if a scene just looks a bit rapey, it’s never a good sign. It’s not like a trick of perspective or a weird way the light fell at an odd angle. Nobody has ever complained about a picture and then suddenly realised that if you hold the picture back a bit, he’s making her a cup of tea, how silly! She says she revealed this episode from her life to prove Alex’s innocence, as someone with her history would never stick by him if it was true. This vague reason for revealing such a traumatic experience from a woman who has already released two autobiographies and who, at the moment, has never been less popular, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Without revealing what actually happened to her or how she overcame it, or even how it made her feel, she’s not offering any help or guidance to similar woman in her position. She is however requiring us to feel sorry for her, to care about her; you can’t be mean about a rape victim and come out feeling like Audrey Hepburn. People don’t like being forced to feel sorry for someone, it’s like the attention seeking girl at school who had a panic attack every time you stood up to her. Her shrill appearance on This Morning to discuss the story had all the non blinking paranoia of Heather Mills in her prime. Now, nobody minds being cynical about vegans, they’re fair game (tofu game of course…) but she’s doing an active disservice to similar women by revealing this portion of her past in such a tactless manner. The very fact that she isn’t discussing it as a separate manner, independent of her celebrity, her divorce, her Jordan persona is inappropriate in the extreme. The doubt she has stirred, albeit unintentionally, has helped perpetuate that most revolting suspicion and terror of victims of sexual assault, that the verb “claimed” cancels out the harrowing word at the end of that sentence.
The awquard, hesitating way the press is reporting the story is also disquieting. The use of “allegedly” and “apparently” suggesting that she hasn’t quite proved her story yet. But how do you report the sexual assault of a woman who personifies for many the notion of women as sexual objects, there for the taking? Jordan was always up for it, gagging for it, loved it, the willing wink to come and get it. The porn industry, be it, hard, soft, or the onmipresecent flash of flesh that has spread through our everyday mental landscape is based on the sexualised image of the submissive, young woman. Beauty has always been used to sell things, but a society jaded by extreme images from the internet, filtering through to every aspect of our visual lives, needs an extra kick to keep things interesting. The promise is that you can have that doe-eyed page three girl or that pouting teenager in the jeans ad, whether they like it or not.Also in the news this week, in a story almost ignored by the press, was the American fashion designer found guilty of raping at least fourteen young aspiring models, whose careers he had promised to help .The trial reports are heartbreaking with tales of sobbing teenage victims holding each others hands in solidarity. It’s the hypocrisy of this story that I find revolting. Anand Jon Alexander was sentenced to fifty nine years for attacking them but the industry that was going to sell those very same girls, at the very same age as sexual objects doesn’t wonder if it’s morally any better? If our media encourages us to imagine dominating, controlling,taking, young beautiful girls, no wonder it feels uncomfortable reporting when someone takes them at their word. How after all, can you be a sexual fantasy and a human being as well? How can you be a sexy teenage temptress and a scared fourteen year old child in a courtroom? Katie Price created her Jordan persona so that it would be easier to sell herself as a guilt free sexual fantasy devoid of feelings or respect. So it’s Katie when we’re supposed to like her and sexy Jordan when we’re allowed hate her. Maybe, all women are going to need their own double indentity soon.