Hello my dear Minx lovers!
Today we shall be examining one of my favourite characters in film, and one of my first ever girl crushes: Grease‘s very own Betty Alexander Rizzo, known as Rizzo.
I’ve had a soft spot for bad girls for a very long time, and I think it can be traced back to watching Grease as a young girl and falling completely head-over-heels for Rizzo. Whereas other young girls were dreaming of being Disney Princess and Sandy, I wanted to be Rizzo. She had dark hair, amazing Rockabilly style, she was tough and funny and didn’t seem to give a shit.
I realised at a young age that she had something called a reputation which at the age of 6 I didn’t quite understand, but which quickly became clear.
I ached, yearned for that kind of confidence and gutsy attitude and as I grew older, Rizzo became lodged in the back of my head as a kind of role model. Rizzo liked boys and had absolutely no problem in telling them, hanging out with them, kissing them (more than one shock horror!) She knew what she wanted and she went for it.
She also had a reputation. I initially didn’t understand what this meant. She was doing exactly what the boys were doing: kissing, fumbling about in cars, and in her own words, “getting her kicks while she was still young enough to get them.” Nobody said anything about any of the male characters acting like this…so what was the problem?
Bearing in mind Grease was set in the 1950s and filmed in the 1970s, Rizzo’s character was quite progressive in terms of sex and sexuality. During the sleepover, her (albeit cruel) song Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee questions, mocks and challenges the ideas of being pure and remaining a virgin. She constantly makes jokes and references to sex, everything from asking if Danny is going to “flog his log”, to getting rid of the T-Birds by sarcastically asking “What do you think this is? A gang bang?” Frenchie reveals that she has had a previous relationship or fling with Danny, which she dismisses as “ancient history” as she is now involved with Kenickie.
She appears to not only have an interest in sex, but is comfortable with her own sexuality and needs. She talks and jokes about sex with friends. When invited by Kenickie to have some time with him in his car, she is happy and willing to go, especially as they seem to have a loving, if tempestuous relationship. Rizzo actually stops the action to ask about protection – proving that she has a good understanding of protection and that she is not afraid to try and look out for herself – before getting swept up in the heat of the moment.
Rizzo ends up skipping a period and believing herself to be pregnant, she emotionally shuts down. Although worried, rather than panicking, or wallowing in regrets or recriminations, she demonstrates her independent streak and courage when she tells Sandy she’ll look after the baby on her own if she needs to.
Rizzo’s song at the end is a open admission of the fact that she knows she is “no good,” but is also a condemnation of the flirts and teases she sees on a daily basis. It also reveals a much softer side to her: while she doesn’t care what most other people think, she has pushed Kenickie away to spare him the pain of seeing her hurt and scared.
Rizzo’s reputation is for discussing, enjoying, and having sex. Her openness about sex is what lands her a reputation as a slut. This is what upset me the most about Rizzo, especially as I got older, and began dating more and more. I easily identified with her, and didn’t understand why anyone else would care if she had boyfriends, or previous boyfriends, or had sex, or a lot of sex. Why is it such a big deal? Why was it such a big deal if I did it?
20 years ago, as now, the slut shaming and reputation labels were in full swing. I have no idea when / how this line gets crossed. Is it sleeping with one person? Three? Five? Fifteen? Fifty? Is it being open about sex? Is it talking and joking? What creates a reputation in the first place?
And why, once a reputation is created, is that the thing that everyone focuses on? That was what seemed to define Rizzo – she was perceived as a bad girl slut, nothing more, even though she is funny, brave, stylish, sassy, confident, a natural leader and underneath her teenaged sarcasm and rebellion, actually quite kind and caring.
Here’s the thing. I like Rizzo and like Rizzo, I’ve been slut shamed. I was slut shamed before I had done anything at ALL – I clearly remember being accused of having sex well before I had, and casually shrugging off my virginity – because at the end of the day – who CARES?
As someone with a reputation, let me set the record straight.
It is none of anyone else’s business who I sleep with, or how many, or when, or if there is break in between or not. Just like it is none of my business if YOU only ever sleep with one person for your whole life. It has fuck all to do with anyone other than me and the person (or persons) I sleep with at that point in time.
Slut shaming is a pointless and fucking stupid thing to do. You are reducing and defining someone to their sexual preferences and experiences, and therefore reducing and defining yourself by those things at the same time. What gives anyone the right to point a finger at someone else and demand a certain sexual behaviour or attitude? Nothing, that’s what. We’re all different, especially in the arena of sex, so stop with the slut shaming right now.
For some people, I am a big old massive tart. To others, I am unbelievably vanilla. Here’s the thing: it’s 2018. I don’t have the church or the local parish banging on my door demanding I wear a hood with a massive red A on it. I’m a grown women (with a very high sex drive) and as long as I’m open and honest about what I want and try not to hurt people, who gives an actual fuck what I’m doing? I do plenty that won’t make this blog for years that will possibly shock or annoy or amuse friends. But the world didn’t stop turning because I did it – go on – check outside. Still going right?
I do naughty, bad and twisted things as and when I can…because I have the chance and I want to. Reputation be fucking damned. This is who I am…right now, and I’ll keep doing this as long as I want to, until I meet a guy who can keep up, keep it up, and win my heart properly.
Until then, as with Rizzo, rather than throw my life away on a dream that won’t come true, I’ll kiss a boy or two and have a damn good time.