Bad-Girl Culture Goes Chic

By: Carey Roberts

Halloween is around the corner and honestly, girls, that rhinestone-studded “I love Rosie O’Donnell” T-shirt should just stay in the closet. Plus this year, prison pink is all the rage.

So show your solidarity with Paris Hilton by wearing a pink-and-black striped prison suit — complete with jailbird cap. Get some smudged bat-wing eyeliner and become an Amy Winehouse-wannabee. Or help Lindsay Lohan deal with her issues by strutting a black mini-dress emblazoned with “Rehab Reject.”

Kyrra Rankine of New York plans to go trick-or-treating as “bald Britney” this year. “She’s given me too much material to work with. ‘You go girl, work it out!’” exclaims the 30-year-old social worker.

Retailers can barely keep pace with the demand, USA Today reports, as sweet young things flock to buy bad-girl costumes and temporary tattoos. Ricky’s NYC, a chain of beauty stores, is devoting a seasonal section to this profitable niche. [source]

Most of us, of course, are appalled by lip-glossed celebrities who turn their legal escapades into just another photo-op. But we shouldn’t claim to be surprised. “Rehab Reject” outerwear is only the latest example of a growing trend of evincing ridicule and disdain for traditional notions of law and order.

How did this come about?

Back in the 1980s Gloria Steinem and her Ghoulish Gals issued a curse, claiming that long-held notions of due process and judicial neutrality are part of a broader patriarchal plot to protect male privilege. So nothing less than a complete transformation of the legal system would suffice.

To accomplish that goal, definitions would have to be broadened, standards of proof relaxed, and the presumption of innocence eliminated. The decades-long effort to revamp our legal system is detailed in the Cato Institute’s must-read report, “Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism?” [source]

Under the new regime, “equal treatment under the law” would no longer carry the day. Instead, the justice system would employ “an asymmetrical approach that adopts the perspective of the less powerful group with the specific goal of equitable power sharing among diverse groups,” as Martha Chamallas baldly declared in the Texas Journal of Women and the Law.

Rape had long been treated under Anglo-American law as a capital offense. True, the prosecution of these cases was sometimes as weak as watered-down cider. But advocates went too far by insisting on rape-shield laws, changing the definition of consent, and shifting the burden of proof to the defendant.

Then new categories of crimes with broad definitions and subjective standards of proof were invented, namely sexual harassment, stalking, and hate crimes.

Sen. Joseph Biden was one of the earliest proponents of the hate crime theory. Arguing for passage of the Violence Against Women Act, he claimed that “rapes are hate crimes committed against women.”

Thirteen years after the passage of VAWA, domestic violence courtrooms have been turned into a House of Horrors. Husbands are evicted from their homes on the sole claim that their wives are “afraid,” and men under a restraining order are thrown in jail because they sent a birthday card to their children.

And long-standing laws that prohibit false allegations and perjury are all but ignored. As we’ve been repeatedly lectured, prosecuting women like Crystal Mangum who make false allegations of rape would only discourage future victims from coming forward.

VAWA also cemented an emerging sex-based double standard. “We adopt the perspective of a reasonable woman primarily because we believe that a sex-blind reasonable person standard tends to be male-biased and tends to systematically ignore the experiences of women,” the Ninth Circuit court famously held in Ellison v. Brady in 1991.

Then speech codes were introduced in the name of eliminating a “hostile” school and workplace environment. As these restrictions took hold, it became necessary to simultaneously deny their existence. “We forbid any course that says we restrict free speech,” explained one Bowling Green U. feminist.

As if revamping the laws wasn’t enough, persons began to argue that self-proclaimed victims “should be spared having to take legal action,” according to a 2001 article in The Independent. In other words, a woman should be able to by-pass the legal system and send the accused directly to jail.

And if that doesn’t work, vengeful women should simply take the law into their own hands. “Get them jailed or get them killed … When the law fails us, we cannot fail each other,” misandrist Andrea Dworkin once advised.

But come to think of it, maybe we’re being too judgmental. I’m sure Rosie has her good moments. And who can say for sure that Lindsay, Amy, Paris, and Britney should be held accountable for drinking the spiked punch? Probably the Wicked Witch put them up to it.

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Carey Roberts is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. ( The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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