Rashida Jones Says Looks Are A Depreciating Asset, So Invest In Your Brain

Rashida-Jones_WITW

Rashida Jones is not your average young Hollywood beautiful woman. Not only does she posses enough talented genes to go around an entire city (her father is music producer-maestro Quincy Jones and her mother is actress Peggy Lipton) but she has a brain, an opinion and is not afraid to use either of them.

Last year she was raked across to social coals for tweeting about how sick to death she was of seeing young pop stars flaunting their vaginas in ever public performance, and was even asked to write an article about the “pornification of pop culture” in Glamour magazine. She was accused of being an anti-feminist and for “slut-shaming”. But there’s more to her comments than meets the eye and she has some important thoughts about these topics.

At the recent Women In The World summit held in New York, she was part of a panel about how sexuality is viewed in the media, and was joined on stage by psychologist Tomi-Ann Roberts, 16-year-old high school junior Winnifred Bonjean-Alpart, actress in Slut: The Play (we are featuring some exclusive blog posts by some of the cast members this week and next!) and co-host of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ Mika Brzezinski, who moderated the panel.

Mika first asked Rashida to clarify her comments, and the actress was quick to point out she was specifically talking about pop stars who have a public platform and a duty to their fans, not every woman who decides to wear skimpy clothing.

“I’m just concerned about the homogeny of it,” she says. “It’s not just Miley [Cyrus] and I don’t blame anyone individually for their expression of themselves, I’m just worried about the collective message that’s happening for girls who are still forming.”

Of course they talked about Miley Cyrus’ infamous twerking performance at the MTV awards with Robin Thicke, and mentioned how sex becomes the only headline for female performers, as opposed to their actual talent.

“Female sexuality is a beautiful thing, but it is also something that has destroyed empires. It is a very powerful force and nobody’s saying don’t enjoy it or use it to get attention, but don’t let it be the only type of attention you get,” says Rashida.

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Tomi-Ann then talks about the difference between healthy sexuality and sexualization.

“Sexualization is when we take a person’s person and we separate them from their body and their sexuality, which is used as a commodified, consumable product. When we dismember the body and only focus on certain parts (the tongue, the ass etc) what we’re doing is saying those parts of this person’s body can stand for who they are. That’s sexualization and it is very different from sexuality.”

Wow! That certainly puts it into perspective and makes us all look at this trend in pop culture a little differently.

“It’s obvious [girls are] going to try to recreate that because that’s what they’re seeing gets attention and is attractive.” says high-schooler Winnie.

“It’s conflicting because when we’re hearing from our mothers and teachers or role models, ‘You need to get a really good score on an SAT or graduate with at least a 3.8’ and then we’re seeing around us not that, but tongues and Kim Kardashian getting a lot of money for her looks, it’s hard to distinguish — clearly that’s not as important as they’re saying it is, because I’m not seeing that I get attention for that or for who I am.”

“And the problem is those girls are so successful!” chimes in Rashida on this point.

So what can we do to change this? All of the women collectively say that media literacy, having honest conversations about what girls are seeing in pop culture and even bringing men into the conversation can be steps toward a solution and taking the power back from negative messages.

“I just feel like we’re teaching an entire generation what to expect and what to like. Men need to be part of the conversation because they are the reason a lot of women do this stuff which is not addressed,” says Rashida.

Why is twerking and the like equated with “power” in our culture? Why is being sexy considered “empowerment”? This question was put forth by the panel and it is something to ponder. Why can’t being intelligent and kind be considered more powerful? Is it because there aren’t any popular reality TV shows about these topics?

Finally, Rashida’s call to action to us all is to continue the conversation and keep challenging what we see in the media. She also imparts some wisdom that was given to her many years ago by a family friend:

“You can’t really invest in your looks as your only ‘thing’ because it is a depreciating asset. Put your money, put your effort, invest in your brain and talent which will appreciate and get better as you get older,” she says, to which the room erupts in applause, and so are we as we write this!

So the takeaway from this is that sexuality is not wrong, embrace it, don’t commodify or objectify it. However, investing in your talent and your brain is going to yield a bigger return in the long run, so take that advice and don’t ever let it go girls!

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