I’ve been a bit touch-and-go with this site for a while now – a combination of moving to a new city, starting a job, trying to figure out how to live a life that makes me happy (all that super pleasant quarterlife crisis stuff!) – but my love for the women I write about and for the gorgeous dolls who read this site has never wavered. I keep your energy and passion with me always, mixing in my heart with everything I’ve loved and admired about the great muses of yesteryear. Because of this, I take it intensely personal when someone tries to slag off on someone I adore. I’m used to it to a certain extent – there are loads of people who criticize these women, calling them ‘groupies’ (as though that’s a bad thing!) and worthless, and basically throw some sort of moral assessment on them that ignores everything else about their amazing lives other than whose arm they were photographed on forty years ago.
I was looking through my comments feed today and found a comment left about a month ago on a post about Bebe Buell. Bebe is a bit of a controversial subject for many in the classic rock fandom. Many moons ago on this site, I mentioned that I liked I’m With the Band better than Rebel Heart purely because Miss Pamela was so forthcoming with the nerdiest facts of her life (I mean, the fart list anyone?) whereas Bebe, who was always a dreamer (something I admire and relate to her about immensely), also has this supreme self-confidence and assuredness in herself that intimidated me when first read her book when I was fourteen and thought I was the foulest creature to ever roam the planet. In my pubescent mind, Bebe was not only on a different level than myself – she was in a different plane of existence.
My little innocuous comment led to a GIANT blowup in the comments section. Bebe’s fans are passionately dedicated to her and will not stand for anyone speaking ill of her, but in that case I was mortified because I always considered myself one of her fans – but in someone else’s eyes I was the enemy!
In the time between that debacle and now, I’ve written about Bebe extensively. Most feedback I’ve seen on these posts are positive comments from people who admire her, love her music, find her infinitely sweet (and she is! She is one of the few people who loves to interact directly with her fans). But the comment I want to discuss came from a post I did over two years ago called “How to be like Bebe Buell.” This is one of my favorite types of posts to do – half serious, half fun, it allows me to indulge in my obsessive behavior about muses and icons. The comment that caught my eye this morning was only two lines and sent by an anonymous poster (what bravery it takes to comment anonymously on the internet!):
I was struck by the ludicrousness of this comment for multiple reasons. Firstly, I like that this person thought I had never heard the term ‘star-fucker’ before. Yes, in my many years being obsessed with groupies I had never once heard them dismissed in a derogatory way with this term. I am enlightened now! I can only imagine the anonymous commenter somehow being led to this site, leaving their snarky comment, and then being horrified by literally EVERY SINGLE OTHER POST on this blog.
Secondly, the commenter ignores every other aspect of Bebe’s life that makes up her “great legacy” (which I use sarcasm-free). Apparently, a career as a top model, a writer and a recording artist as well as being a single mother and surviving an abusive marriage can be negated if you dated Jimmy Page for a few months when you were nineteen.
But what troubles me most is that this is yet another example of women being shamed for their sexual behavior. I am reminded of a recent piece on xoJane that discusses the public’s tendency to dismiss women due to their romantic pasts. In the article, the author cites the attacks against Mia and Dylan Farrow from defenders of Woody Allen as well as the recent treatment Joyce Maynard has experienced surrounding the release of the film adaptation of her novel Labor Day. For those who don’t know, Maynard had an eleven-month long relationship with J.D. Salinger when she was 18 and the author was 53, and that fact has been exploited by several critics to dismiss her work and her legitimacy as an artist in her own right.
I do not speak for Bebe, but I do speak for myself. For all that we have advanced in terms of a woman’s rights to her body, her sexuality and her identity, there is still a thriving pocket of humanity that thinks that a woman’s romantic choices are acceptable points of argument against her professional legitimacy. I cannot even articulate how troublesome this culture is to me. I feel like in recent months there has been a more open dialogue about female sexuality and the slut-shaming phenomenon – as well as the nature of feminism in general – and I am extremely thankful for that. I just hope that something comes of all this talk and people begin to change their minds and behavior.
I’d like to point out for the record that I know Bebe herself doesn’t consider herself a groupie – she has distanced herself from that term, especially in recent years, because of the loaded connotations of that tag. To close this post, I’ll include an excerpt of a quote from Bebe that was in Miss Pamela’s book Let's Spend the Night Together, from a conversation that revolved around the infamous G-word:
“I’m not upset about the actual word. I would be an idiot to say that I never hung around a rock band, didn’t date a rock star, or marry one, or see a lot of music in my life. Because it’s who I am, that’s part of me. But I’m not going to let somebody call me stupid, judgmental names either. […] Everybody’s a little bit of a groupie anyway. We’re all fans of something.”