Jasmine Fiore is dead. The young “model” was allegedly murdered by her former husband, reality TV contestant Ryan Jenkins — who was also found dead this past Sunday in British Columbia. You may know him from one of the worst reality television shows ever: Megan Wants a Millionaire, a program where certified skank Megan Hauserman has wealthy men vie for her love.
How did the concept for this reality show emerge? Hauserman was on yet another horrible reality show, Rock of Love — featuring that oh-so-desirable, washed-up musician Bret Michaels — in which she proudly stated that she wanted to be a “trophy wife.”
Unfortunately for Fiore and Hauserman, aspiring to be a “trophy wife” had dire consequences — the murder and mutilation of Fiore and the fact that Hauserman narrowly escaped “marrying” a man who would rather dismember his former wife and stuff her in a suitcase than allow her to see other people. I guess the producers of the reality show weren’t aware of Jenkins’ 2005 arrest for domestic assault, which was followed by a subsequent arrest for domestic battery against Fiore. That’s keeping it real, but I digress.
The idea of being a “trophy” wife is an outdated one because of many reasons, the most important being the type of person whom you invite into your life. Trophy wives are basically objects of desire. While many argue over the origin of the term and what it really means, it generally refers to a beautiful woman who is with a man because of his money and power.
She is supposed to be something lovely to look at — nothing more and nothing less. A man supposedly gains status from having this beautiful woman on his arm, who is present solely at his discretion. In exchange for looking good, she is “taken care of” financially by this powerful man. The only absolute is that she has to maintain her looks and not challenge her successful husband on anything. If everyone is clear on the rules, then what is the problem?
Men like Jenkins are the problem because in their twisted little minds, women are objects. Fiore was nothing but an object to be admired. Jenkins likely freaked out when someone else was “admiring” his possession and hit her. When that didn’t work, he killed her. Jenkins wasn’t alone. Unfortunately, Fiore was complicit in this, too.
Before you start the letter writing campaign, hear me out. No, I absolutely do not think that she deserved to be battered, murdered or mutilated; however, I do believe that perpetuating ideas about women through questionable actions leads to women being mistreated, abused and murdered by crazy men like Jenkins.
While it is tragic that her life ended as it did, this is a woman who made a living out of being objectified.
She was allegedly a Las Vegas stripper and a swimsuit “model.” There have been reports that she posed for Playboy magazine and made nude films. People can argue about what she did and didn’t do, but she clearly made money by exploiting her body. Do a Google search on Jasmine Fiore and you are hard pressed to find a photo in which she is not scantily clad.
Fiore clearly understood that if she had a certain look, then she would be able to get what she wanted out of life and out of men. In her defense, these weak men are out there and can be easily obtained. But living with them isn’t always easy, as was the case with Jenkins.
Jenkins was a successful real estate developer and investor. This was a guy who was clearly used to getting what he wanted. Fiore was undoubtedly an object that Jenkins had to possess. She was willing until he proved to be off-center. By then it was too late. She had already presented herself as a “trophy wife,” and he had already decided in his mind that she had little value other than that of an object to be possessed. When she decided she was more than that, he had to remind her that she was not, so he killed her.
I’m not sure why we’re still pretending to be shocked that this crime happened. It happens every day. We teach little girls that they are nothing more than their genitalia and little boys that they won’t be real men unless they have a ton of money and a pretty woman on their arm.
Why are we surprised that yet another young woman is dead? When women allow men to objectify them or when women willingly objectify themselves, it is not a far stretch to end up in little pieces in a suitcase. Jenkins literally dismembered her as if she were an object and put her in a suitcase to carry around, much like a trophy. She lived as an object and died as an object.
Women must stop being complicit in their objectification by engaging in behaviors that attract the wrong kind of men — weak, shallow and cowardly. Ryan Jenkins was lame — the big, bad man hung himself when authorities were closing in on him. He is symbolic of the type of man who desires a trophy wife: a man who is afraid of the challenge of dealing with a whole woman and the consequences of killing a confused, young woman. Unfortunately, Jasmine Fiore paid the ultimate price for getting “trophy wifed.”
This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing, where Nsenga serves as cultural critic. She is also managing editor of TheLoop21.com and an Assistant professor of Communication and Media Studies at Goucher College. Follow her on twitter @ntellectual.