So Joe Francis, the founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” series, surrendered to federal marshals this morning. He is facing a citation for contempt of court. Apparently, he threatened the plaintiff’s lawyers and the judge in charge ordered the case to be settled or Francis to go to jail. Negotiations broke down on Thursday, and a warrant was issued. Francis had refused to surrender initially.
This thirty-four year old makes what is estimated to be $29 million a year from videos of young women baring all and getting into sexually explicit situations. The seven girls that are suing him were underage when they appeared on camera during their Panama City Beach spring break four years ago.
This whole story is tragic. The worst part is, of course, that people buy these videos, and that Joe Francis makes money off of crudely objectifying women. You can only blame Francis for his entrepreneurial recklessness so much; after all, for all supply there is demand.
The only way consumers like this can separate themselves from everything that is reminiscent of their mothers is to dirty it all. Breasts are an obvious example.
Women are taught, be it by people they know or the society they live in, that their primary role is as a sex object. So, that is how they seek approval. Maybe if lift up my shirt and bra than people will think I’m really cool.
So while I think it’s unfortunate the plaintiffs felt the need to get themselves into the situations they did get themselves into, I don’t feel sorry for them. I want to shake them until they realize what idiots they were in the first place. I understand it’s Spring Break. I understand how fun it is to get drunk with your friends and do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do while sober. I’m most certainly not a teetotaler. But everyone should know their limit, and when you get to the point that you’re taking your shirt off for some creep with a camera and making out with your friend, you’re not having fun, you’re being stupid. And the point that people seem to keep missing: if they were too young to bare all on camera, they were definitely too young to be drinking alcohol. I wish that I could have woken up the morning after a wild night and sued someone for my lack of maturity and common sense.
I wish I could have gotten millions of dollars for associating myself with some of the guys who went to my college and thinking better of it down the road. But my naked body wasn’t put onto thousands of tapes and commercials. I somehow avoided that. Maybe I should feel left out. After all, no cameraman ever approached me. No one ever offered to immortalize my college girl antics. But then again most of the time my antics consisted of taking shots and playing Uno with my friends.
This is not to say I think Francis is being victimized. I think that he is a slimy, despicable creature. I think anyone who makes a living off of someone else is a waste of space, especially when it’s something like this. I think he should lose all of his money and be forced to spend the rest of his life apologizing in some constructive way or another to women the world over. I think every buyer of every “Girls Gone Wild” product should be forced to do the same. Mel Gibson and Isaiah Washington went to rehab for saying offensive things about various groups, why can’t people go to rehab for perpetuating the vicious cycle of anti-female imaging?
We have come so far in the course of feminism, but it seems like that can’t be appreciated and we as a society feel the need to take giant leaps backward. Only in the past hundred years can it even be argued that women have been seen anywhere in the midst of being equal to men. Feminism is a hard, dirty word to most people, and women are afraid to associate themselves with it. Feminists are man-haters, people think. Well, we can hate the men who objectify us the way that Joe Francis does, but we also have to hate the women who stand by and let it happen. Young children learn their place in the world from male members of their family and community, sure, but they are also shaped even more by their mothers or other females. Nature and nurture.
This case will be written off as an argument between a sleazebag and some naïve girls. But the story will continue on in American society. Even if Girls Gone Wild is no more, some slick, despicable person will start up a bigger, better version. And in a nightmare-ish way, I feel like eventually I will have to make the choice between a proverbial apron and curlers or a push up bra and crotchless panties. Which sounds better?