An Open Letter to Cee Lo Green {and the other men who sexualize women}

Mr. Cee Lo Green,

I wish that you and I could just chat about this. Bringing it up publicly is uncomfortable for me. This is my first open letter to anyone. Be honored that I care enough to put words to my concern. After all, you’re relevant enough to warrant my attention.

Here’s the thing: Your ogling is making me uncomfortable.

I’m a big fan of The Voice and I was glad when I heard you were returning for this season’s show. In the past I’ve appreciated the way you’ve sought to honor and support artists in their attempt to release their creative good for others’ enjoyment.

Somehow though, when it comes to the women contestants you only seemed interested in objectifying them for your sexual enjoyment.

I see you when your chair is turned and you immerse yourself in the music. You’re a refined and skillful critic. I can see you taking in the beauty of the contestant’s musical interpretation. Sometimes I feel like I can see the wheels turning in your head, like you’re composing a business plan for how you can promote and improve the artist’s unique contribution.

But then your chair turns and it’s just plain uncomfortable. The minute you see that the contestant’s art form extends past her voice, I feel like I should look away. It’s uncomfortable catching your private moments go public like that.

And the things you say. Do you see how these women try to cover themselves up because your “Oh babe” and “I’d like to work closely with you” comments sexualize them in front of the thousands in the audience. It’s not being missed by them that now every other man is sizing them, checking them out, imagining how they would like to get closer to them too.

Probably in any other job you’d be having a friendly little visit to HR.

To think all these women wanted was for someone to recognize their talent, to really hear them for the first time, blind to their sexual quotient. This is one of the reasons I’ve loved this show—women need their voices heard, boldly and beautifully…yes, and even blindly, because sometimes men just can’t help but undress women with their eyes and remain deaf to their voice. The Voice has been helping women who have been figuring out how to be brave with the brains despite everyone’s interest in their boobs.

Many have said that the blind auditions are advantageous for the women who are aesthetically challenged. I disagree—I think that for the women who can’t help but wow with their silhouettes can finally find validation for their talent and not have to wonder if they are being applauded because someone’s got other plans for uh-hum later.

Cee Lo, one of the things I’ve admired about you as an artist is your desire to go against the grain. You’ve been unapologetic with your uniqueness. So why do you have to go and be so predictable when it comes to treating women like they’re eye candy?  You’d be their, and my, hero if you’d listen with your ears and recognize them for their art. Maybe you could even set an example for how men can welcome and celebrate talented women at the table for their contributions, rather than just for whetting the male sexual appetite.

Here’s the truth–there are not a lot of men who know how to do this well.  I know we women can make it confusing—sometimes it’s tempting and easy to just give in to the status quo, to just be simple, beautiful, and living for the men in our lives as a place for them to prove their vigorous virility and strength. It’s not the way women want it—really. We need more men who will esteem the strength of a woman’s intellect and talent. We really need to be welcomed to more “blind auditions” where gender doesn’t objectify us.

Sorry if it seems I’m piling on you. I know your comments about satisfying shapes and sexual compatibility are probably meant to be funny ha ha. It’s hard to sort this out when even pastors in our nation are bragging about their smokin’ hot wives. It’s a contemporary colloquialism of coolness to make sexual preferences and frequency so casually conversational.

But it’s boring. I’m familiar enough with your work to believe that you’re on a mission for something more than boring.

I’m tired of it. I’m pretty sure a lot of other women are too. Not because we’re feminists. Or angry. Or jealous. Or a prude about sex. I just know that women have so much more to offer than the worn out versions men keep perpetuating.

Maybe you could be a trendsetter and start a change.

I’m a big believer in the possibilities of change. Maybe while you’re cleaning up that little private matter related to sexual indiscretions you could work at expressing a better, more interesting you in your public life. There are a lot of live shows ahead. Show men how to really hear and honor women. Extol them for their bravery and art. Encourage them to be strong. Be so impressed with who they really are that you forget to notice how they look. You know, kind of like you do with the men you coach. Yeah, treat them like that—like artists and musicians who having something important to offer the world.

I’ll be watching and cheering for you.  Don’t be creepy. You’re better than that…and so are the women who’d be honored to have you convince them of it.



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