Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Kobe Bryant Case: Why is sexual deviance okay for celebrities?

I was at the gym being exposed to both Fox News and CNN, when I heard that a judge moved to identify Kobe Bryant's accuser in the civil case against him. When I got home I searched the New York Times, and found the article, which outlined the judges reasoning for releasing her identity. The article mentions that the woman has already received death threats because her identity was leaked during the criminal trial. The criminal charges were dropped after the defendant said she no longer wanted to participate in the trial. The civil case is seeking damages for "ridicule, pain and suffering" since the alleged rape.

Will this discourage other rape victims from coming forward, especially if the person they are accusing is high profile? If this woman was raped, she has had to endure threats and unwanted publicity as "punishment" for trying to bring her rapist to justice. On the other side of the coin, if Kobe Bryant did not rape this woman, he had no protection against having his name plastered all over the newspapers and TV.

Which brings me to the title of this post: I suppose what is most disturbing is not the actions of Kobe Bryant or the defendant, but the actions of people who would threaten this woman, without getting any facts or hearing a verdict. Has Kobe Bryant received any death threats? I doubt it. What message is this sending? This also brings to mind when various male celebrities are caught with prostitutes (I'm thinking of Hugh Grant, but there are others). It makes the news for a day, these men are seen as "playboys", and everyone moves on. The public deems what society would categorize as "deviant" sexual behavior for themselves and their peers as somehow "okay" for celebrities. Why is this? And, what are the gender differentials for the acceptance and endorsement of celebrity deviant sexual behavior? I am trying to think of an A-list actress or female celebrity who has experience with deviant sexual behavior in the media, but I can't think of a counter-example. Except for Madonna, who used her sexuality to define herself for a period of her career, which is not quite what I mean. If anyone has any female examples of deviant celebrities, please post them. To wrap this up, I guess my point is that male celebrities are seen as being more macho or masculine by having experiences with deviant sexual behavior, but female celebrities do not experience the same pay-offs. Kobe's career will be just fine.


At 2:35 PM, Blogger G. Chandler said...

Paris Hilton, Pamla Anderson, I am sure there are more.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger heather said...

Well I disagree with the examples of Paris Hilton and Pam Anderson because their "deviant" (and I think that you can argue that, however strange, sex with Kid Rock and Aaron Carter, isn't necessarily deviant) sexuality has only been used to promote their images as attractive women. When Ingrid Bergman had an affair, Congress passed a law that banned her from the United States! (Imagine if every man who ever cheated on his wife was asked to leave the country!). Now that was in the 1940s. Today we criticize female celebrities for being "skanks" (Christina Aguillera) or for being married too many times (Jennifer Lopez) but has a modern female celebrity ever had her career threatened by actual deviant sexual behavior? I can't think of any examples.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Goesh said...

"Why don't you come up and see me some time, big boy?" - Mae West - but, maybe her 'vibrancy' wasn't deviant

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

I was thinking more Julia Roberts level as opposed to Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. Would Julie Roberts career suffer is she was found to have participated in some form of "deviant" sexual behavior? What if she was found with a prostitute? Would this hurt her career or be seen as acceptable?

At 11:19 PM, Blogger heather said...

No. I don't think that Mae West's vibrancy is deviant sexuality. Sure her attitude towards sex was scandalous for the time, but not necessarily deviant. Plus Mae West's attitude mirrored the evolving attitudes about female sexuality in that time period. (yes, good girls want to have sex too - but it doesn't make us "deviant")


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