Backdoor Teen Mom: HeteroseXXXy Gone Wrong (NSFW)

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“I can’t believe the one time I have sex in the past year has turned into this #UNREAL”

Ever since her first appearance on MTV’s Teen Mom, Farrah Abraham has become an instant tabloid celebrity. Most recently, Farrah has been in the media for her sex tape released by Vivid Entertainment, “Backdoor Teen Mom,” staring opposite famous adult actor, James Deen. Following the film’s release, Farrah is set to expand her brand with a line of sex toys. Farrah’s Twitter is comprised of a combination of her parenting experiences and her business ventures in the adult industry. Such a combination has put Farrah under public attack, creating an image of her as an unsuitable parent. Her performance on social media brings up issues of heterosexy, grotesque, self branding, and feminism.

In her article, “The Grotesque Body In Young Women’s Self Presentation on Myspace,” Amy Shields Dobson discusses the difference between heterosexy and the grotesque. Dobson uses the term “heterosexy” to refer to the idea that femininity in contemporary culture is not just

 ‘sexualised’, but that it is aligned with a specific gendered and heterosexual aesthetic, derivative of both ‘traditional’ femininity (pink, delicate, cutesy, and so on) and mainstream heterosexual pornography (overly large artificial looking breasts, high heels, excessive make-up, revealing clothing or clothing which draws attention to sexual and erogenous zones) (pg 5).

Heterosexy is about looking good for the male gaze; women want to attract heterosexual men and also gain the admiration, or envy, of other heterosexual women. However, Farrah has taken heterosexy too far, making it grotesque. Dobson describes the grotesque as “images of debauchery, vulgarity, drunkenness and transgression,” such as “overt, public displays of seduction, open mouths, and licking… [and] images depicting alcohol consumption” (pg 7-8). There is no subtlety in her attempts to be attractive for men. Her sexual activity, a private activity that should take place in the back stage, has been brought to the front stage. And not only that, her sexual activity has become so rampant that it almost seems as if it is a case of hypersexuality.

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The fact that she is a teen mom already makes her the target of public criticism, but her vulgarity on top of that makes us cringe. We feel extremely uncomfortable about a mother who makes adult films. As a society, we have an idea that mothers are supposed to protect their children’s innocence for as long as possible. And when we encounter a public figure that steps out of this typical role, they become an easy target for critique.

Farrah’s publication of her scandalous activity on her Twitter (and other social networking sites) contribute to her self brand. Sarah Banet-Weiser argues in Brand Culture and the Practice of Self-Branding,

Work on the production of a branded ‘self’ involves creating a detachable, saleable image or narrative, which effectively circulates cultural meanings. This branded self either consciously positions itself, or is positioned b its context and use, as a site for the extraction of value (pg 13).

Nowadays with the rise of social networking sites, we all brand ourselves. We feel pressured to to have a consistent and dynamic brand. In Farrah’s case, she attempts to brand herself as an independent, entrepreneurial, and sexy, single mother. She is commercializing her identities as an adult film star and a mother. Along with her endeavors in the adult industry, she is also an author of children’s books and is working on writing parenting books. Farrah’s controversial self-brand can be seen as a statement about her views on feminism. Perhaps Farrah is a post-feminist in a society that isn’t quite there yet.

According to Banet-Weiser, post-feminism refers to a society in which “girls and young women are ostensibly ’empowered’ through public bodily performances and user-generated content” (pg 2). Farrah’s overtly sexual activity shows that she doesn’t care about what people think about her. She feels confident enough show her body and step out of the typical image of a mother and make herself into a known brand in order to create a career and support herself and her child.

 

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Even with all the negative publicity, it is clear that Farrah does have fans. There are people out there who consider her a businesswoman and admire her confidence to put her whole self out there. And though there are many who criticize a mother who does porn, Farrah appears to be happy with her choices and proud of the life she lives.

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