Cher Public

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Danielle fires back

The leading lady of the Bayerische Staatsoper’s production of La Calisto has taken to the Twitters to respond to the recent discussion of her comments about Miley Cyrus.

@Danielledeniese tweets:

Hi @parterre, I just received a link from one of your fans (and my friends) to your readers comments on my recent article. To answer some q[uestions]:

Can you tell your readers from me that indeed it was the Times that brought up Miley asking for my reaction.

[T]hey were writing a piece based on those released pics about how opera is modern/relevant/sexy–all things I agree wholeheartedly w[ith],

but of course they asked some provocative questions & so it wasn’t me who was “slamming” as the Mail put it.

[T]o answer more of the q[uestions]s posed, the staging was also not me rolling around by choice. My role/house debut was a revival.

[S]how was done/dusted. I was able [to] bring my interpretation into the role through expressions/reactions

but the movements/rolling/writhing were all part of an already staged show.

My point about artistic integrity was only that as an actor playing a part, your choices [are] made in name of the character [you] play.

[I]ndeed I did have to wear the leotard as it was the costume, whatever my shape was I would have to wear it,

but for a love performance where I’m Danielle de Niese being Danielle de Niese I wouldn’t choose to wear a leotard just to shock.

[H]ope you can convey these answers to your readers & thank them for engaging in a discussion about it. Love to all. DD

Photo: © Wilfried Hösl

128 comments

  • armerjacquino says:

    Good for her. Suspected as much.

    Didn’t stop everyone piling in then, of course, and suspect it won’t now.

  • armerjacquino says:

    [these additional tweets incorporated into the main story - thanks Armer!] -- LC

    • armerjacquino says:

      Pleasure!

      I must say, I think she comes across very well here. Calm, good-natured and sensible in the face of some heavy-duty slagging.

  • MontyNostry says:

    She could always have exercised her right to diplomatically undertaking not to comment on the subject, even though journalists know how to pressurise.

  • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    Being misunderstood. Being mischaracterized. Receiving over the top criticism for even the appearance of a misstep. These are kind of the consequences of global celebrity. I know I was guilty of jumping the gun. But dammit, its not like the possibility that she might say something wacky is all that far fetched. I mean, this is what celebrities are for in a way. They entertain us on stage/screen and off. Danielle’s fame in part relies upon her wacky statements, also known as “personality.” So I think a few unfair ribs aren’t so out of line.

    Now, I will say that the internet makes it more likely that a performer will read the opinions of the fans who have objectified him or her. But their fame in part relies upon that objectification, so perhaps a good emotional self defense mechanism would be to not read forums were it is likely are being discussed. Twitter is definitely one of those places. But whatever Danielle does (and provided people aren’t just revolting in their shade) people should be able to be ever so slightly unreasonable towards her. Or towards any opera celebrity.

    • armerjacquino says:

      I’ve never read so many defences of cruelty as I have on this site.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        Every day you wear a piece of clothing made in a sweatshop (which I guarantee you is over 75% of your wardrobe) you are engaging in a defense of cruelty. So if I make a little fun of global opera celebrities sue me. But in the grand scheme of things, we all countenance *actual* cruelty and violence every day. Look, call me boorish, obnoxious, tired, lame, derivative. These are all fair criticisms of someone who takes cheap pot shots at celebrities. But “cruel?” You need to ever so slightly bump your brakes.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Ah, the lesser-spotted defence-of-defence-of-cruelty.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

            Followed by the ubiquitous refusal to acquiesce to a patently rational position.

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            Fergeddit Jake, it’s the internet.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              AJ’s position is that he can stridently defend the honor of someone he objectifies (in ways pretty similar to the way her critics do) but disagreeing is cruelty or something.

            • armerjacquino says:

              More projecting than your average multiplex.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              No. That’s just cutting and pasting your use of the word “cruelty.”

            • armerjacquino says:

              If you can show me any (a) stridency or (b) objectification, I’m all yours. But you won’t be able to, so instead you’ll no doubt come back with something snappy you’ve borrowed from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

              If you’re happy arguing the point that being unfair and unreasonable is a good thing, then good for you. Just don’t feign surprise when someone disagrees.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              Girl, bye…..

        • CwbyLA says:

          You are being unnecessarily defensive OpinionatedNeophyte. But I guess thar is fitting to your screen name. Instead of trying many ways to defend yourself, why not accept that you made a mistake and move on? This is not the first time you are doing this, though. You dish out criticism easily but don’t accept responsibility when you make a mistake.

    • ianw2 says:

      I’m fascinated by this idea that because someone does promotion for their work (SOMETIMES SHOWING SOME LEG THE WANTON HUSSY), they should be grateful for all the attention they receive.

      I looked at that photo you did to promote your album therefore you have to let me say whatever I want provided I’m not too revolting by some undefined scale.

      It’s not surprising that DDN sees an over-compensation for a Disney style start for Miley considering her own start, and different subsequent path, as a teenager on TV.

      • armerjacquino says:

        This.

        I wish I could make points as clearly and eloquently as you do.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        I’m fascinated by this idea that because someone does promotion for their work (SOMETIMES SHOWING SOME LEG THE WANTON HUSSY), they should be grateful for all the attention they receive.

        And I’m fascinated by this naiveté about the nature of celebrity in the West. When you promote yourself, you seek the attention of as many people as possible. Seeking attention is not the same thing as demanding their disciplined response to your promotion. Our response forms the economic foundation for celebrity, so yes celebrities should be grateful when they receive a response at all (no bad publicity). I’m not saying that being a celebrity is easy, but like all professions it comes with risk and reward.

        And again. This is not equal opportunity kindness on your part. You countenance violence and exploitation to non-celebrity strangers every day of your life. You want snaps for kindness? Protecting celebrity strangers isn’t exactly the most selfless thing you can do.

        • armerjacquino says:

          You have no idea what anyone here does to engage with third-world poverty and exploitation. It’s the most desperate attempt at whattaboutery I’ve ever seen: ‘it’s ok to be unpleasant about opera singers because sweatshops exist’. Laughable.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

            No AJ. It isn’t just the “sweatshops exist.” Its that everyday you assemble and parade around in an outfit that represents unspeakable inhumanity, violence and cruelty. Given that, perhaps you could have some perspective before describing mild internet shade towards celebrities--who again required our response to rationalize their income--as “cruelty.” And also? Perhaps given that, you may want to reconsider setting yourself up as the saintly defender of the besmirched honor of celebrity strangers.

            • armerjacquino says:

              All this talk of ‘saintliness’ and ‘honour’ and ‘besmirching’ is a little grand when my only real point is to wonder why anyone would be proud of being a nasty little shit.

              But you’ve grabbed hold of your sweatshop idea like an overexcited terrier and you’re clearly not letting it go. It’s just that most of us realise by the age of about 12 that the presence of a greater evil is no reason to ignore a lesser one. You’re obviously still struggling with that, like the people who say that governments shouldn’t be wasting time on equal marriage until there’s zero unemployment.

              Carry on guessing at my motives and defending your own right to be (again, your words) unfair and unreasonable, though. I haven’t had such a good laugh in years.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              No dear. You haven’t put aside opposing a greater evil in favor of a lesser one. You have misrecognized what “cruelty ” is.

            • armerjacquino says:

              Cruelty is taking a sweet from a baby. It’s telling someone they look fat in a party dress. It’s also running a sweatshop. We don’t deal solely in absolutes in this world, which is why the words ‘more’ and ‘less’ exist.

              I mean, it’s embarrassing I’m even having to explain this.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              Look, “cruelty” in the mode of Blanche Dubois might include swiping candy from a baby (though really, its unlikely the child would even remember it a day later) or telling someone they look fat (though don’t our friends often ask us to do that). I suppose its fair to describe mild attacks on celebrities as cruelty in that context, but your tone lacks the whimsy that might indicate a tongue firmly placed in cheek when defending Dancin Danielle’s honor by accusing her detractors as “cruel.”

            • armerjacquino says:

              Oh, find a fucking dictionary instead of writing your own. I’m done with your obtuseness/stunning thickness (delete as applicable)

        • grimoaldo says:

          “When you promote yourself, you seek the attention of as many people as possible.”

          Actors and I would guess opera singers too are often contractually required to give media interviews in order to publicise the play or movie or TV show they are appearing in. DDN was not just promoting herself but the production, the opera house, Cavalli’s opera and opera as an art form.
          The reporters often have no interest in the play or book or whatever and imagine their readers won’t either so focus on some trivial thing such as the interviewee’s sex life or the skimpy costume they wear in the show or what they think of some current political controversy.
          The celebrity can’t really say “I’m not here to talk about some irrelevant teenybop pop singer, but about my forthcoming appearance in a 17th century Venetian opera” and these interviews never make it clear that the celebrity only started talking about abortion policy in Virginia or whatever instead of the movie they are in because the journalist asked them. Once the interview appears, other sections of the media often jump on it “Why does this bimbo starlet think she knows anything about Sudan” for example or as we have seen here “Why is this old guy /woman criticising modern opera productions, s/he should just shut up” when they were just giving truthful answers to questions journalists asked them.

          • Grane says:

            No one would have mentioned Miley Cyrus had Danni not posed for a photo in which her ass is the focal point. The pic borders on caricature. It’s like a burlesque take on Laura Petrie coasting out of a closet full of walnuts.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Posed for a photo? Do you mean the production shot of her doing what she was hired to do, ie the blocking of an existing production first conceived with a different soprano in that role?

            • Grane says:

              CK, based on this photo, however it came to be, the publicity is playing up not 17th century opera but DDN’s booty, so it should come as no surprise that that’s what she’s asked about. Do her supporters here really expect journalists to ask how she comes up with the ornamentations for the da capo sections? I agree she’s handled the Parterre remarks in a gracious, not to mention savvy, manner. I just think when you release provocative publicity shots like that one--whosever idea it was--you can’t expect to pick and choose which reactions get provoked.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Point is, you accuse her of posing for the photo -- she was performing or rehearsing the role, in the costume of the production, as directed to do so. Meanwhile, somebody took a photo. If she has to take flak for that, she just can’t win.

            • Grane says:

              OK. I didn’t mean to accuse her of anything, and I should not have said she posed for the photo when I have no knowledge of how the photo was taken. I’m only pointing out that questions about Miley Cyrus were in response to publicity in which DDN’s hot bod and skimpy costume seem to be the main message. If she had no control over any of this and is trapped in the role of baroque sex kitten, she is indeed coping very graciously.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I think the celebrity **can** (graciously, and in a suitably non-elitist fashion) say “I’m not here to talk about some irrelevant teenybop pop singer, but about my forthcoming appearance in a 17th century Venetian opera”. DDN is first and foremost a soprano, not a social commentator. And, to judge from her well-judged Twitter response to those **wicked** Parterrians, she is media-savvy -- or at least well-advised. Sometimes, it can help to keep your mouth shut.

        • ianw2 says:

          Presumably, if you publish an academic paper that gets written about in Slate or, god help us, becomes a TED talk that would be seeking attention and, as it burnishes your own academic reputation, would give us license to say whatever we like. Because there are sweatshops.

    • DonCarloFanatic says:

      It’s too easy to slam these public figures. Doesn’t make it right.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      ON, this attempt at self-justification is the most ridiculous stretch, as you know. Also, what wacky statements does Danielle De Niese make? I thought her fame relied on her on stage career.

      • armerjacquino says:

        You’re not allowed to question bitchiness about opera singers unless you’ve personally solved poverty, CK. Everyone knows that.

        • Evenhanded says:

          Well.

          Armerjacquino, I am astonished that you kept on with that conversation as long as you did. (And did so with such balance and patience.)

          OpinionatedNeophyte: That was easily one of the most wrong-headed, embarrassingly futile attempts at “self-defense” (I guess that’s what I should call it) I’ve seen in a good long while. It is one thing to occasionally blurt out a nastier-than-necessary comment. For this, you apologize, recognize the error, and get on with your life. Taking the opposite strategy and strenuously justifying “a few unfair ribs” is just ridiculous. As your mom might say: “Stop it.”

  • phoenix says:

    ???? In consideration of the wretched performances many other singers are currently giving at such esteemed venues such as the Met, Royal Opera, etc. de Niese is a much more skilled & reliable commodity. She, like we here, is also entitled to her own personal opinions. If she was a dreadful singer, I could understand an attack on her, but whether you like her voice or not, she IS a talented and accomplished singer. I, for one, am grateful she is around.

  • Signor Bruschino says:

    I gotta say, I am impressed with her calm and dare I say, dignified, responses, especially in comparison to someone like Debby Voigt who has taken the very low road in her twitter feed when it comes to Parterre. I’ve never been a big de Niese fan (the NYTimes style section piece from a few years ago comes to mind), but this moved the needle in the other direction for me.

    • ianw2 says:

      What was interesting about Voigt was after all the things said about her the rate of pearl-clutching once she said some unpleasant things back was astonishing.

  • shoegirl says:

    Good for her. Twitter at its best.

  • grimoaldo says:

    I think it is very nice of her to reply to what was said here in such a friendly and dignified way.

  • Camille says:

    Good for Danielle de Niese! May the best booty prevail!

    A woman’s career is a funny thing…as we all know…and in addition to that she has real responsibilities as lady of the manor and is a stepmother to several children from the spouse’s former marriage. Cut her some slack, gentlemen, the girl is working hard at what she wants to do and what she has prepared to do her entire life, and seems to me a rather appealing decent young lady. She only has these looks for so long and then—pfffft!—it will all be over.

    Looks a lot to me as if there is a lof of envy over the fortune of one most blest. Give it a rest. There’s always world hunger to worry about.

  • antikitschychick says:

    OK, as someone who had a lot to say on this matter in the previous thread, I should first like to apologize for assuming that the article was paraphrasing her when it stated that Miley’s “performance” at the VMAs was “an example of a singer using her sexuality for the wrong reasons.” It seems this is not the case, and I do appreciate that Ms. Denise took the time to address the rather negative slant the article presented. Kudos to her. However, I do think it is an unfair generalization to state that “everyone was piling in” as armer suggests. I gave my opinion on the matter (as respectfully as I could) because the issue of sexuality (and its various manifestations) relating to women in the music industry is an important and topical issue, at least for me. As I said, I have nothing against DDN, or her wearing provocative outfits to suit a production or what have you because at the end of the day its become expected for us women to flaunt our assets, and again, it takes work to stay fit, so to then criticize her for partaking in the flaunting would then be posturing on my part. I think all women utilize their sexuality in a highly exploitative manner in one form or another, largely because society conditions us to, but this conditioning still doesn’t excuse our continuing to partake in the exploitation even though there comes a point for most women of western culture/origins in which we realize that this type of behavior promulgates objectification. Thus, I do think it is hypocritical when some of us try and put ourselves above the rest and claim that we are dressing scantily solely for “artistic” reasons, when really its no secret that we also just want to look and feel sexy, because that is the means through which ‘sex appeal’ is manifested. In that sense, Miley is no different than most (though not all) women in her desire to feel sexy and present herself as such to the public. Just sayin.

    • armerjacquino says:

      You’re right: it was a generalization. Apologies.

      • antikitschychick says:

        Thanks for that armer :-D. *Blows kiss*. Now, on to a more pressing matter: where are all the hot tenors in leotards??? The absence of sexy tenors of late is becoming quite troublesome. Whatever shall we do??!!

    • oedipe says:

      Antikitschychick,

      Like you, I think it’s an interesting subject and I am frankly curious: what are some examples of someone using her sexuality for the right reasons?

      • antikitschychick says:

        I mean, I dont think there’s really such a thing as using one’s sexuality for the right reasons. You might say that in some in some situations, the ends justify the means (i.e. female celebrities wearing pink dresses on a red carpet in support of breast cancer awareness), but ideally, no one should have to exploit their physical attributes in order to gain agency and ‘empowerment’. (I don’t entirely agree with DDN’s views about Beyonce either but I dont want t get into that now). One might say that certain artists can convey sexuality, eroticism and femininity in a form that is not as exploitative or objectifying as wearing a tight leotard though. One example that immediately comes to mind is this:

        another is this:

        this as well, because she is wearing a tight leotards dress:

        and finally, this:

      • Cicciabella says:

        If I may respectfully jump in: here’s an example of a woman expressing her sexuality freely and without imposing or reinforcing socially acceptable ideas of female attractiveness:

        I’m not sure Beth Ditto is using her sex appeal for any particular reason except being herself. Of course, her strong, idiosyncratic image helps to sell records, but she projects a genuine, unapologetic persona.

        Depressingly, opera singers get wrung through the body image mangle just as
        much as pop artists these days. Just read some of the comments on parterre. Some posters won’t tolerate first-rate singers on stage because of their girth. Tenors are run down for not being tall enough, sopranos for having wrinkles. Only this week an young, talented soprano was found wanting because she has “no boobs”. This focus on looks is reflected in mainstream media, where opera singers are mostly ignored unless they look reasonably attractive. If they are gorgeous, Like Ms De Niese, they get asked inane questions about using their sex appeal as part of interpreting a role.

        By the way, full points for Danielle De Niese for media savviness and grace under pressure.

        • Spen says:

          Only this week an young, talented soprano was found wanting because she has “no boobs”.

          I’m the one guilty for saying that, but I didn’t mean it in a bad way at all. She is very beautiful and I’ve never seen someone like her. The lack of boobs is something interesting about her look, just like her big forehead, big blue eyes, round head, posture. She isn’t a standard sexy woman with big boobs and big lips and perfect shaped nose and that’s why I like to look at her. It had nothing to do with her talent and if she would have been fat and ugly I wouldn’t care ;)

        • Spen says:

          I know it sounds superficial, which it is, but those are just things I look at. I’m interested in faces and bodies, especially when they are not standard looking. I like Bartoli’s appearance for her big nose and epic hair and big boobies, just as I like Lezhneva’s for her big forehead, beautiful eyes and no boobies. I didn’t mean it disrespectful, I just mentioned it as a random fact.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Lezhneva looks like a little bird. Not sure those strapless numbers are the best choice for her, though! Though her singing isn’t really to my taste, I appreciate that she sounds and looks different from most other young sopranos out there -- she isn’t from the Russian equivalent of Stepford.

          • Cicciabella says:

            f that’s what you meant, Spen, then I applaud your attitude and apologise for quoting you to support my rant, although a phrase like “trim, boyish figure” would have conveyed your admiration less equivocally.

            I believe we are all superficial when it comes to physical appearance. We all respond to the halo effect of physical beauty and none of us is immune to sex appeal. I just can’t accept the current trend that an opera singer has to be “the full package” to earn the right to do staged opera. “Full packages” are few and far between, and I suspect we are missing out on some spectacular voices because they do not come conveniently wrapped in camera-ready looks. For example, the idea that an ample-bodied singer is unsuitable as a romantic lead contains so may wrong-headed assumptions: that people with larger bodies can’t be the object of someone’s passion, or be as believably in love, as thin people. Opera is not film, where everything needs to be completely realistic (although, there’s nothing realistic about forty-something actresses with wrinkle-free frowns, but that’s another matter). An evening at the opera is hell for someone who can’t suspend their disbelief and accept a myriad absurd artistic conventions and traditions, starting with the fact that, as one of my baffled friends puts it. “everyone has to sing everything all the time”. This does not excuse wardrobe departments from costuming singers as flatteringly as possible, or singers from honing their acting skills. But these “total package” casting managers, like that jury member at the last Cardiff Singer of the World from Staatsoper Unter den Linden (http://tinyurl.com/pmc5d4r) need to clear the scene for people who are able to give audiences the best vocal performances possible.

  • Grane says:

    Here is Katherine Jenkins’ take--the voice of age & experience, she says. (I posted this already, but it’s too good to miss.)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/10585261/Katherine-Jenkins-why-classical-music-snobs-are-wrong.html

    • La Cieca says:

      Welll, no one can dispute that she sounds like the voice of age.

      • MontyNostry says:

        Love the way that she ends by saying: “You can’t pretend you’re something that you’re not.” (And the term ‘crossover’ has been around at least 25 years, Kathy, dear.)

    • Cicciabella says:

      Crossover, circa 1958:

      By the way, Lanza also came from a “normal” family, but there is nothing average about his “crossover”, and he did belong to the singing elite.

    • PetertheModest says:

      Jenkins represents the triumph of looks over singing talent, but she does help introduce people to classical music, though she is derided by some opera singers.

      • oedipe says:

        but she does help introduce people to classical music

        No Peter, she doesn’t, I’m afraid. What she sings is a SURROGATE of classical music, a pale, watered-down copy of it. And people come to believe it’s the real thing… Sort of like the printed copies of great works of art that people buy in supermarkets: they may never get to see the difference between those and the originals. What good does it do to the art form?

        • PetertheModest says:

          Katherine is a member of the caterwauling chorus, together with Nadja Michael, Simone Kermes and, yes, Poplavskaya.

        • armerjacquino says:

          oedipe: I couldn’t agree more. Singing covers of 70s powerballads with cod-Italian lyrics in a cod-operatic voice doesn’t represent ‘introducing people to classical music’.

          Meanwhile, to pick up on monty’s point, she may want to look at the wiki page for ‘crossover’, which dates the term back to at least 1960.

        • luvtennis says:

          I think it has been fairly common for great music to be purveyed to the masses in watered down form. Since at the least the days of Mozart, nu?

      • Porgy Amor says:

        I don’t follow KJ’s career and pronouncements closely, but I’ve seen enough to know that she dishes out as much or more derision than she takes. Here is a direct quote it took me less than ten seconds to find:

        There are a lot of people in the classical music world who absolutely loathe me. The critics slate me because I’m not what they consider the real thing. People expect a classical singer to be big and fat with Wagnerian horns on her head. Sorry, that’s not me. It never was and I always knew my looks would be my advantage. I’m totally aware of how to market myself, totally aware of the effect of the way I look. And personally I’d rather see an attractive man playing Romeo than a big fat old man. Why can’t opera singers look good? I don’t get it.

        I could let that stand for itself; this being Parterre Box, I don’t need to provide a list of female opera singers, past and present, who are as conventionally pretty as Katherine Jenkins and are not “slated” by critics as less than the real thing. I don’t know think it speaks well of her as a gateway to the appreciation of authentic classical singers when she uses her platform to peddle specious received wisdom about people who are more gifted than she is and have worked harder at developing their gifts than she has. Really. Wagnerian horns? Big fat men cast as Romeo? The woman is 33 years old and she thinks this is the state of the art form?

        • PetertheModest says:

          She seems to be talking about stereotyping here but glosses over the reason why critics do not regard her as “the real thing”. That is because her voice is not really good enough to be an opera singer, and, she has not actually sung in an opera production. But some people, who would not usually be prepared to listen to classical music, might watch a Jenkins concert and like some of the tunes, if not the singing, and might go on to seek better singers and more classical music.

          • MontyNostry says:

            She is just taking a media position -- doing a bit of an Alfie Boe -- playing to prejudices and stereotypes and positioning herself as some kind of spurious heroine of the people. No doubt it will work for her in terms of her fanbase -- and give further fodder to people who would never dream of going near an opera house anyway. Parallel universe stuff, really. Bugger all to do with the state of opera in 2014!

    • Spen says:

      Kiri te Kanawa should have left out Hayley Westenra. The New Zealand girl is the first person ever who made me love music so much and I will always love her for that. Haley is different from other cross overs in my opinion. I can’t remember her singing aria’s, just pieces like Ave Maria and Pie Jesu. Also, she doesn’t sing opera style, more like angel-style, often without vibrato. She isn’t as well known as Jenkins, Church and Evancho but her carreer is still alive after 10 years.

  • jackoh says:

    The puritan sensibility underlying most of this discussion is too evident. ON starts this by criticizing DeNiese for calling out Miley Cyrus for a blatant display of sexuality and noting that DeNiese does the same thing in her career, implying that that is hypocritical on her part and, perhaps, she shouldn’t be doing it either. Then others point out that DeNiese is being paid to do what she is doing in displaying her sexuality in this production, so that because she is paid to follow the direction of others she is excused from what she does. Then Anti says that the display of sexuality by women is caused by the imperatives of the society in which they exist, so they are ultimately not responsible for what they do. But what no one wants to say is that sex is a part, a very important part, of the human condition. And that its affirmation in the public realm does not need to be apologized for, excused, explained, or exhonorated by some academic acrobatics, let alone banished entirely. Have we learned nothing from Henry Miller, Harvey Milk, or Robert Mapplethorpe?

    • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      *record scratch* pump your brakes. I most certainly did not call DeNiese “hypocritical” nor did I shame her deployment of sexuality. Perish the thought. On the original thread I said that in contrasting herself to Cyrus, Danielle actually aligns herself with the object of her scorn in that she reached for the most immediately available and crass pop culture reference as an illustration of her relevancy “to the kids.” I suggested that a more intellectually exciting (and pleasing to the ear) reference point may have been Beyoncé, a woman whose recent work powerfully calls for the right for highly visible women to claim their right to motherhood and raunchy sexuality (everyone really should buy her new album, it is stellar).

      Now my failing (if you can call it that) was that I didn’t read the whole article and didn’t notice that Danielle did try and link herself with Queen Bey. And while the BeyHive part of my brain wanted to shout out “she could never!” I had to backtrack and admit I was wrong on that original thread.

      Now as for other posters, I think you are 100% right that a puritanical impulse (led by AJ and the Temperance Brigade) is seeking to keep poster passions within the bounds of respectability and what they call “tasteful” commentary. For the mere act of working towards being a celebrity demands our respect, or something, and should caution us to watch how/what we say about our betters. To call it puritanical is, perhaps, being a bit unfair to Winthrop and crew.

      • armerjacquino says:

        Project project project. Nobody said anything about taste, respect, betters, or whatever else you’ve pulled out of your arse. I mean, it’s all still there for people to read, so it’s pretty self-defeating for you just to make stuff up.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Shouldn’t double post, but the idea that kindness= puritanism just has me reeling.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

            The puritans were convinced of their own providential kindness….even as they engaged in genocidal violence against indigenous people. “Kindness” is by no means a neutral good. To suggest such, regardless of the terms of our immediate disagreement, reflects a broad ignorance of human history.

            • armerjacquino says:

              Once again, you’re replying to points you’ve made up in your own head. I didn’t say kindness was a neutral good. I said I was reeling that you equated it with Puritanism. You surely can’t be as stupid as you’re presenting yourself, do you need a lie down?

    • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      I do agree with you that the above post which asks if there’s a “right” way to “use” one’s sexuality is definitely not in the queer spirit of this blog.

    • antikitschychick says:

      jackhoh, nowhere in my above statement does it say that women are not responsible for what they do. I am saying the exact opposite actually. What I said was, and I quote: “this conditioning [by society] still doesn’t excuse our continuing to partake in the exploitation [correction] because there comes a point for most women of western culture/origins in which we realize that this type of behavior promulgates objectification.” I don’t think anyone has said that sex should be banished entirely either. The issue for me here is that the way sex is being manifested and presented in the public realm can be very demeaning toward women. Women going around in scantily clad outfits simulating sexual acts has become a very widespread manifestation of female sexuality but this doesn’t make it a definitive depiction of female sexuality. It would seem that way because mainstream culture has assimilated said practices to the point where they seem like “normal” representations of sexual expression to us.

      • jackoh says:

        It seems to me that the notion that an overt and public display of sex is a function of exploitation and that it is incumbent on society to regulate, to minimize, and to eliminate (as far as possible) any sort of exploitation of its members, that that notion is essentially the Puritan aesthetic reembodied and disguised as liberal consciousness.

        • armerjacquino says:

          an overt and public display of sex is a function of exploitation

          Depends, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. A trafficked woman in a red-light district window is being exploited, Madonna in the Erotica video isn’t.

          • jackoh says:

            As I’m sure you realize, I was not the one to introduce the term “exploitation” into this discussion. I was extrapolating on Anti’s use of it. And you are right: it “depends.” But the critical question is who gets to decide and by what standards what is and what isn’t “exploitation” in this regard. (Which seems to be the crux of this whole discussion.) That question is just as important as to who got to decide who would wear the scarlet letter.

            • antikitschychick says:

              Yes I did introduce the concept of exploitation into the discussion, but the “Puritan aesthetic” bit was all your doing, moreover, my position is first and foremost a feminist one, not necessarily a liberal one. But I do agree that who gets to decide the standard of exploitation is indeed a very important component of this complex issue. You make a very incisive point there.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              To be accurate, you are articulating a very particular second wave feminist claim. Since then many feminists have resisted the sex negativity of the second wave and allow for sites where women are in charge of how their sexuality is deployed. Their argument, and it’s a persuasive one, is that women shouldn’t have to monitor themselves based upon whether or not viewing makes will get sexually excited or (and this is relevant to AJ) whether society at large tries to shame them. In other words feminism isn’t of one mind on these issues and Puritanism can often masquerade as “protecting” women from themselves.

            • antikitschychick says:

              yes I am very well aware that feminism isn’t of one mind on this issue ON and that’s fine. We all have a right to our opinions and mine is simply that nothing exists in a vacuum and so we do not always have the means or the power to not only feel liberated ourselves but to convince others of that because they are still viewing the world, and consequently our actions according the the pre-conceived notions, ideals and parameters set forth by the good old boys club. This is surely not just a problem that women face, its a problem that any ostracized sector of the population is subjected to as I’m sure you know.

              Moreover, just because a singer says that they feel liberated and empowered, doesn’t mean that their image/brand necessarily signifies one of liberation and empowerment to the rest of society, especially if its an image largely associated with sex appeal. It pains me to say it because she is very talented but Beyonce for instance, wouldn’t have attained the level of success she has without the provocative outfits, the raunchy dancing and the songs alluding to sexual acts and sexual parts of her body and, most importantly without the clout and influence of a male figure like Jay Z. Just to be clear, I am not condemning her for her actions. I think she is extremely talented and handles herself with much less vulgarity than some of her other female counterparts in the music industry. But she just isn’t emblematic of female sexual liberation or empowerment to me, though I respect your right to disagree.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Brava, antikitschychick.

            • oedipe says:

              just because a singer says that they feel liberated and empowered, doesn’t mean that their image/brand necessarily signifies one of liberation and empowerment to the rest of society, especially if its an image largely associated with sex appeal.

              Indeed. But then, if someone doesn’t feel exploited (because, let’s say, she is doing certain things by choice), does it mean she is not exploited? Or, is the most important thing to not feel exploited?

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              Antikitsch, I do think it is important that you join us here in the 21st century.

              It pains me to say it because she is very talented but Beyonce for instance, wouldn’t have attained the level of success she has without the provocative outfits, the raunchy dancing and the songs alluding to sexual acts and sexual parts of her body and, most importantly without the clout and influence of a male figure like Jay Z.

              Girl what? Beyonce’s first 4 albums were, by the standards of pop music of the last two decades, quite sexually conservative. Her lyrics almost never referenced sexual material except in the vaguest metaphor and her dancing while suggestive was right in the mainstream of pop dancing style. Prior to her current work she was no more sexually explicit than the mid-century pin up girl (and indeed she has always modeled her public persona on that). To describe her as sexually exploited is to reveal the depth of your own sexual conservatism.

              Her new work explodes all of that, and in really productive ways. She recently pointed out in an interview that the reason she decided to show more of her body in her recent videos is because she had worked so hard to get her body (read her life) back after giving birth. Its a metaphor for the notion that motherhood does not have to end a woman’s career or her access to sexual pleasure. A message profoundly liberating for many women in America.

              Of course Beyoncé doesn’t have to represent sexual liberation for you, but to not recognize why she does so for millions of American women is being a bit obtuse.

              As for the fact that she relies upon her husband…I just can’t. You don’t know enough about her career for me to point out the numerous ways this is 100% flawed. But I find it a bit lame that you would attempt to reduce her by attributing her success to her marriage…how are you a feminist again?

            • armerjacquino says:

              I share CK’s brava to antik’s post in general, but where Beyonce is concerned I am in total agreement with ON. What she owes her success to is talent. With that voice she would still have been a success in full niqab.

            • Grane says:

              Just for clarification, antikitsch, “join the 21st century” means “acknowledge the superiority of my views over yours,” the same way “women’s empowerment” means “prancing around in scanty little outfits.”

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              No Grane, it is to push back against an outmoded form of feminism, one that tended to shame working class and women of color who were more likely to make their living in sex work industries ( from porn to pole dancing). The second wave was great in articulating the unfairness middle class, educated white women faced trying to break into politics and the white collar workplace. It also tended to appropriate the cause of. “Women’s” rights to those relatively narrow concerns. For Anti to reproduce that movements approach to sexual exploitation as “feminism ” is either inaccurate or intellectually dishonest.

            • Grane says:

              I’m sure pole dancers and sweatshop workers everywhere are as grateful for your advocacy as they are for their empowerment by Beyonce and de Niese, ON.

            • armerjacquino says:

              But would you not prefer it if the working class women and women of colour you mention had more viable options open to them? How many people choose the sex industry for itself rather than out of economic necessity? I don’t see how antik’s position in any way propagates a narrative of shame against the individual women concerned- more against a society which commodifies women’s sexuality.

            • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

              AJ: I think that the biographies of most sex workers reveal circumstances that Anti’s version of feminism have little control over. They have everything to do with the way capitalism demands limited opportunity for most, and expansive opportunity for a minority of elites. So we can point out that sex workers are exploited, but its a puritanical impulse which says they are *more* exploited than, say, your average Walmart employee. In fact, sexual puritanism encourages us to locate “prostitution” and “exploitation” upon the bodies of women in sex industries and not on those who give up their bodies in sweatshops or behind the counter at McDonalds for minimum wage labor. Given the intractability of capitalism, I think its more productive for feminists to work to demystify and de-stigmatize sex work than to purport to offer women “more opportunities” and “more choices” when few exist. Feminists need to work to decriminalize sex work, because it is misdemeanor and felony convictions that keep women who want to “escape” that life from getting loans for education or finding other kinds of work. Feminists need to work to decriminalize drugs, because drug addiction and its attendant criminal penalties also limit women’s ability to leave those jobs. And de-criminalizing prostitution does much to decrease the power of pimps who *truly* exploit women in their employ.

              Notions of “choice” are attractive, and they have migrated from the abortion debate into other realms of feminism. But in this society they just don’t mean that much to women who recognize that they don’t have very much of it. Middle class people tend to universalize their own access to “choice” and second wave feminism is a great example of that.

              Grane: Girl, bye.

            • grimoaldo says:

              I don’t suppose anyone cares very much, if anything at all, about the opera for which the publicity photo and interview set all this off, but I would just like to point out that the character DDN is playing is a naive and innocent nymph determined to maintain her chastity, not a pole dancer or prostitute or pop singer wiggling and jiggling various body parts about.
              Famous production from Glyndebourne from many years ago, Cortrbas/Janet Baker/James Bowman, very old-fashioned now musically led by Leppard but still very enjoyable --


              More up to date musical performance, a clip with Maria Bayo as the virginal, ridiculously naive and innocent heroine of this wondrous, funny and touching opera.

            • Grane says:

              Grim, I saw the Cotrubas/Baker version too on Youtube and listened to a little of it. What marvelous singing! I’m looking forward to hearing the whole thing. Thanks for posting here.

            • oedipe says:

              I don’t suppose anyone cares very much, if anything at all, about the opera for which the publicity photo and interview set all this off

              Ha ha, Grim, I’ve noticed that too! (Well, it’s only Italian baroque, who gives a damn?)

              And here’s the charming and funny Cavalli Elena from the Aix festival:

            • armerjacquino says:

              Well, grim, David Alden posts here from time to time, so you can take it up with him.

            • grimoaldo says:

              I haven’t seen the Alden production aj so I wasn’t trying to criticise it just pointing out that the character in the opera is exactly the opposite of a woman trying to capitalize on her sexuality.

          • luvtennis says:

            An argument could be made that the trafficked woman is being exploited. But Madonna is the one doing the exploiting (and her act has far more wide-ranging consquences.)

            I wonder if Madge looks at what she has wrought and wonders if far too many missed the point of her decade long physical and emotional striptease.

            Surely, she must have cringed at the Miley Cyrcus.

    • manou says:

      « Le nez de Cléopâtre, s’il eût été plus court, toute la face de la terre aurait changé ».

  • bobsnsane says:

    O Neo
    R U now
    our holy judge & arbitrator
    aka Hall Monitor ?

    In that spirit
    may I add that
    feminists aka Femi-Nazis
    whether surfing either
    the crimson wave or
    your “second wave”
    R “definitely not in the queer spirit of this blog.”

    “To suggest such,…reflects a broad ignorance of human [beings].”
    I M just repeating what U wrote…do U see the absurdity?

    • Krunoslav says:

      “In that spirit
      may I add that
      feminists aka Femi-Nazis
      whether surfing either
      the crimson wave or
      your “second wave”
      R “definitely not in the queer spirit of this blog.”

      Well, given the polluted source (I have not a clue who this person is in real life) it’s not surprising, but this HAS to be among the ugliest statements ever made on Parterre. As for me and (I imagine) for most here, the kind of pre-Stonewall, woman-hating troglodytism that can ignore what the GLBT movement owes to feminism and can divorce feminism from queer goals is alien and repellent.

      • bobsnsane says:

        Y thank U Kruno, I guess…um…

        While it’s always important
        2 make an impression -
        whether good or bad…
        I can NOT take any credit
        4 your ‘righteous indignation’.

        The key words being
        “In that spirit” of a glorified Hall Monitor & these
        “I M just repeating what [Opinionated Neophyte] wrote…
        do U [ & Krunoslav] see the absurdity?

        I hope this helps.

        • Krunoslav says:

          Maybe if you didn’t write in texting babble and learned to punctuate your posts would gain in clarity?

          Just a thought.

          • bobsnsane says:

            I was certain
            I had submitted my comment
            as a response 2 jackoh’s…
            certainly, that would have helped 2.

            Any way -- the territory is such that
            the nail that sticks out gets hit the hardest.

            And just look @ all those adjectives U used:
            “ugliest” “Pre-Stonewall” “woman-hating”
            [now that's a knee slapper] “Alien [AND - italics mine]
            repellant”.

            I M amused 2 observe that U evidence my point.
            U can NOT see the absurdity
            because of your own rage.

            There is no substitute
            4 taking a deep breath
            & reading carefully
            before
            U
            ignite.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        Indeed Kruno….

  • Poison Ivy says:

    Ok off topic rant: I have no idea why Miley Cyrus’s twerking went viral. Maybe because she was a child star and is still young? But pop stars incorporating “pelvic” moves into their acts is as old as … I don’t know, anyone heard of Elvis and the Ed Sullivan show? The pop beat generally has a steady rhythm, that lends itself well to accompanying pelvic movement.

    Think the real issue is people don’t like Miley Cyrus because they don’t find her very talented and don’t like her music. So they make fun of her twerking. Which is sort of akin to how some on parterre (not all) don’t like a certain diva so they’ll make a comment about the diva’s hair and clothes. It’s just human nature, to generally dislike people after you dislike a particular thing about them.

    • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      Why did Miley’s twerking go viral? For the same reason everyone thought it was adorable to see Bill Bojangles teach “Lil Eva” how to dance.

    • armerjacquino says:

      Simple answer : it went viral because it was designed to.

  • manou says:

    I see that quoting Pascal was probably too esoteric, but Aristotle can do better: “Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference”. It seems that Adam has neglected to tweet about Eve, as I cannot find quotation from him, but it does seem to me that since time immemorial, women have “used their sexuality” (it pains me to type this lieu commun) and will continue to do so. Trying to put a stop to it is a Sisyphean task, as is attempting to censor one’s reactions on watching a diva, a starlet, someone crossing the road.

    • jackoh says:

      No, it’s not that your reference was too esoteric, it’s that we haven’t been talking about noses here.

      • manou says:

        I thought we were talking about the importance of physical attributes and their influence in all spheres.

        Profound apologies.

        • jackoh says:

          No apologies necessary. What is obviously too esoteric was the intended humor in my remark. (I detest, in spite of their ability to signify intent, including emoticons in posts. Pace, Anti.)