Messages from Wicked Clown Love’s Juggalettes!

I have been fascinated by juggalettes for a variety of reasons working on Wicked Clown Love and asked Michelle Dean and Bridie Coughlan, two of the monsters/onstage posse members in the show to write something about their experience of juggalette-dom. Here are their responses:

By Bridie Coughlan:
“When we first started talking about Juggalos at rehearsal, I wondered where women fit in to this seemingly caveman culture. Neal estimated that almost half of the Gathering attendees were Juggalettes and that surprised me. What could attract women to a festival celebrating music that is overtly objectifying and violent towards them? I’m trying to break it down as someone who is female and loves hip hop in general despite it’s misogynistic overtones. It occurred to me that I especially get into lyrics about “bitches and hoes.” I guess part of me thinks it’s funny in an ironic way, but another part of me gets this weird sense of empowerment from degrading my gender that I had never thought about. Perhaps it’s a way of taking it back. I started to understand a bit about the attraction of being a Juggalette in a Juggalo world. Maybe it feels like you’re in on the joke and if you prove that it doesn’t bother you or even that you embrace it, you don’t have to be one of those “bitches” they’re talking about.

One thing that fascinates me about the Juggalettes that I’ve seen in American Juggalo and various pictures is that they seem to be so comfortable with nudity. Obviously the best way to attract male attention is to “Show your tits!” — and they do. Yes, I know that a lot of them are on a lot of drugs and I guess that contributes to their loss of inhibition. But they have a sense of casual comfort in their nudity that you don’t see when it’s just a drunk girl getting naked at a party. It’s not as insecure. Despite the content of their music, they don’t seem to feel objectified. They seem empowered. I’m a woman who, like most, will go to painstaking lengths to ensure that every bodily imperfection is carefully hidden away. Because of that, when I see a Juggalette in all her glory, it inspires me. I want to start a slow clap for her. Juggalettes don’t wear Spanx. They just “don’t give a fuck!”

The book Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent is about a woman who lives as a man for a year and ends up participating in one of Robert Bly’s men’s movement retreats, which is paralleled to the Gathering in our show. Bly encourages men to drag up their “Wild Man” inside as a way to self-actualization and freedom. While the idea of “men’s liberation” might make a feminist cringe, her observations show how intense the pressure can be to be a well-rounded man in a post-feminist society. One of Vincent’s fellow retreat attendees says, “It is women who are paying the highest price for men’s dysfunction.” Maybe the Jugalettes are in on that. We want our men to be both masculine and sensitive. Maybe they realize that they’ve found a group of men who are working out their shit through crude masculine energy, therefore being set free emotionally (according to Bly’s philosophy). In the documentary American Juggalo, one Juggalo talks about how ICP changed him, that he grew up well because of this culture. “I can cook like a mother fucker. I want to find a skinny ass little bitch and make her fat and we can loose weight together and we’ll bond.” How sweet is that? One Juggalette says of her male counterparts, “They’re a special breed. I just love ‘em, so carefree and free spirited and don’t give a fuck.” Maybe the Juggalo is the perfect man?”

By Michelle Dean:

“So, I was watching Inside “Deep Throat” – a documentary about the notorious flick.  The documentary talked about how the Nixon administration came after the porn industry, even charging the actors with crimes.  Then it went on to state that the feminist movement was even more detrimental to the industry, as women picketed adult film theatres and made media appearances to exclaim the damaging effects of pornographic movies due to their degrading nature, more specifically that they were/are degrading to women.  And my gut reaction to this was, “Aw, man.  Party poopers….”

Then that made me feel guilty, like I was somehow a traitor to my gender for not aligning to the idea.

Then THAT made me angry.  Well…at least frustrated.  The idea that I have to evaluate everything I might want to do/say/watch against a criterion:  might this somehow be disadvantageous to some cause somewhere on the planet?  Who can live under that pressure???? A week later, Neal asked if I had any thoughts about ICP, Juggalos/Juggalettes, etc, from a female perspective.  So I re-watched American Juggalo to refresh my reactions and see what spurred me.   And I was jealous of the women in the documentary…..because THEY didn’t seem distraught about the potential social implications of their presence at the Gathering!!

So, I’ve decided.  I refuse to carry the weight of this any further.  Here’s how I’ve made peace with it all:

1.       Laws set aside, and accepted, for the purposes of this blog, who is the authority on what is damaging to females?  A whole S&M industry exists because there are people—male and female—who enjoy a number of activities that I, personally, would find VERY degrading.  I believe that there isn’t necessarily a list of items and actions that are demeaning.  I believe there is a spectrum from benign to irreparable.  And where one’s tolerance level falls along that spectrum differs by person.

2.       The cause/effect linkage between __X__ factor and the state of the female existence isn’t as clear as it would need to be to warrant weighing every single decision about what to buy/wear/say against a non-existent list (see item 1).

3.       Separate but equal has never worked.  Bridging differences only comes from exposure, and (potentially) conflict, which leads to changed perspectives. 

4.       All things social (ills, movements, norms, taboos) begin and end in the hearts and minds of individuals.  This is where change happens.

5.       How incredibly paternalistic for anyone to assume that the females at the Gathering aren’t smart or cognizant enough to remove themselves from a situation that is damaging to them!!  Setting aside the influence of drugs and peer pressure on individual behavior, can we not trust these women to make a determination about whether or not they LIKE the music, the men, the experience??  The assumption that they can’t….that’s offensive!

Ergo….I will continue to evaluate what to do/say/watch/wear/attend based upon a criterion:  “do I wanna?” I’m going to trust that I am, and others are, where they want to be and doing what they want to do.  And when faced with a situation/song/group that doesn’t feel right, then I/we will disengage as appropriate.  I’m going to turn on my inner Juggalo and “just don’t give a fuck” every once in a while.”

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