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Why do we celebrate Bettie Page?

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Bettie Page

Bettie Page may have been the poster-girl of every man’s fantasies back in the ’50s but we as a society should be well aware that women who allow themselves to be exploited sexually are often the victims of sexual trauma.

Page was no exception. As a child she was sexually abused. As a teen, she was gang raped.

Bettie Page in a different kind of pin-up.
Page in a different kind of pin-up.

That might explain why Page, later, divorced three times, abused drugs and reportedly lived a tormented life. But we (see today’s NYT story) continue to glorify her as a sexual icon. This is what we can expect in the age of Paris Hilton.

Even more disturbing is the Times crediting her with setting “the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious ’60s.” The sexual revolution was NOT about freeing ourselves from sexual inhibitions, althought that was much-needed in our puritanical society; it was about freeing women from the narrow confines of gender roles that our patriarchal society thrust on us.

Rest in peace, Bettie. I’m sorry that you never got the real love and respect you deserved.