people like jill filipovic are spearheading a revival of classic second-wave feminism; she's amazingly appealing in a way just by being foursquare where ms. was in '72. but she definitely is writing in a different era; she has to deal now with her own love of fashion, which when you feed it through second-wave feminism just comes out as false consciousness. she takes a traditional line: women have to care about their appearance so much and engage in these consumption patterns and so on because the expectations on women's appearance by the patriarchy are so throrough and extreme; you can't survive an office job without carefully calibrating, etc.
this is a complete misunderstanding of where we are as a culture, i think. the fashion world is an aesthetic coalition of straight women and gay men that has developed autonomously for decades and which surely cannot, at this point, be plausibly regarded as sub-altern. (you have to think about these identities as combinations of privileged and deprivileged elements: gay, but male (and also, er, white); female, but straight (and white, etc.). they are not exactly only oppressed minorities.) we heterosexual guys for the most part have no idea what is happening or why and we don't care. perhaps straight women theorize that we have very fine-grained expectations about their appearance. not by their standards, we don't. so look, let's take the common obsession with shoes. if you think your 60-year-old het male boss at the real estate company is evaluating your shoes every day, or has any idea what the styles or brands or prices may be, or can distinguish a manohla or whatever it is from a target store brand, you're just wrong. 'aren't those boots from last year?' or 'i wonder whether those are knock-offs,' say, are sentences that simply cannot appear in the idiolect of people like me.
maybe straight women just stopped being subordinate to straight guys and started being subordinate to gay guys. if so, i think that was your call, not ours, though perhaps you were sheltering together against the storm of us. on antm or on the pages of vogue or seventeen: who is taking the pictures, designing the clothes, working the images over in photoshop, selecting the models, judging or training the contestants, doing the make-up? you might compare the images there to those in maxim, for example. the images that come from the het-wo/gay-man side are much more relentless, much more processed, and the models are skinnier. what the readers of maxim want is pretty straightforward: pretty girls in lingerie. on the other side is a gigantic fantasy world of images and identities that we just didn't build for you, that we could not possibly have imagined.
it would be worth exploring how far one could go with the speculation that the way the images look has less to do with what straight men want to do than with what gay men want to be. they are hard to explain on any other terms, i believe. that might be the overriding source of the repertoire. this could plausibly be extended way backwards to when fashion designers and people who were dressing movie stars were still at least nominally in the closet. people like camille paglia or david halperin have looked back for the slightly-concealed gay sources of all sorts of arts and culture; what they say is plausible. but, it has got to be plausible for better and worse. finding the impetus in gay men probably gives straight women too little agency in the whole thing (as little as second-wave feminism attributed to them with regard to the hetmale gaze), and whatever the source, the images obviously work very powerfully on many straight women. one thing to consider: gay men are men, and straight women are women. the exercise of patriarchal power is possible, or indeed structurally inevitable, between the two groups in patriarchy, even if the story gets complicated after that. the gaze of a gay man is the gaze of a man.
at any rate, i'll tell you this: straight guys could not possibly have invented this repertoire; it corresponds to nothing we ever knew or envisioned. maybe it wasn't straight men who conveyed the message that you should stop eating and disappear, after all. (really, we never did want you to disappear. we needed your bodies with us, even if we didn't always want to have every piece of the subjectivity.) then think about the inextricably intertwined fantasy and shame that a gay man might have experienced in 1970 or whenever, and think about how images of what gay men wanted to be might really have come out. that is a rather brutal diagnosis. but...is it clearly false? that would need showing in the details of the history.
so first of all, maybe you shouldn't feel bad or wrong or anti-feminist for literally buying into that world. one thing it actually is is a sphere in which oppressed minorities have found power and self-determination (others have found there only prejudice and exclusion, however). but if you do feel funky about it, for god's sake you can't blame us (though we have plenty of actual oppression to answer for); the whole thing is internal to a culture that is closed to folks like us or is explicitly designed to extrude us and that we basically find incomprehensible. the standards of beauty it enforces really have very little to do with anything we ever thought or wanted. take some responsibility.
we definitely are reliving the 80s; we are in a second pc golden age. now, however, i don't think there's anyone left who might express skepticism. so, for example, according to everyone everywhere, the most important qualification to be a cabinet member is having certain sorts of pudenda. really i think the interview process could consist entirely of groping. as maureen dowd points out, there's more to y'all than ankles.
the basic idea is that a country or a company or a university should be run by checking boxes. i feel this is going to get more complicated as there are more boxes to check. indeed, lgbtqia takes half your cabinet right there. by the time we get to the santorum administration, people will be launching protests to get more octoroons in positions of authority. bring me binders full of octoroons.
see the trouble with romney's binders full of women was that it just cut to the chase and showed the dem-types what they were actually doing; it was a too explicit endorsement of affirmative action, without all the obfuscating bullshit.
it's possible that i'm blogging to avoid having to face that last leeettle bit of the free will problem. so i do propose this idea that heterosexuality could be better if it could lose its normative status and just be one of the things you might...choose haha! and also if we could allow ourselves not to take the stuff too seriously and just say words without worrying obsessively about who could possibly be offended under what circumstances. only the thing is if someone says we live in a rape culture or starts figuring out what most pornography means, she is not wrong, and what a terrible weight that is. but i think the situation was always more complicated than this indicates and also that the taxonomy and status of sexual identities is shifting very quickly, in a way that could itself begin to life some of that weight. i think if you just reject or repress all indications of even the problems of heterosexuality, you are in danger of getting twisted up and subject also to the lure of the forbidden, the eroticization specifically of real male dominance, a la fifty shades of grey. oops wait a sec, that's a novel, not real male dominance. there certainly can be forms of heterosexual love, even some that definitely put into play the conceptions of masculinity and femininity, or play with power, that are wildly more equal or power-reversed than the tradition would suggest: they've always boiled beneath the patrarchy, because really you can't deal with these folks (women) very much without it dawning on you that they're fundamentally your equals, or are just kicking your ass. anyway: here's how to play: somehow bonnie raitt and people like that sort of released themselves from the legacy of heterosexism without de-romanticizing heterosexuality long about 1971. well all us little boys had an unbelievable crush!
tell me that's not sexy. or tell me bonnie's not fully the agent of her erotic. i would think its sexiness would be palpable almost no matter what your orientation. if you're a certain sort of gay guy, imagine yourself singing it. if you're a lesbian, imagine yourself...oh never mind. this might show you how widely compelling these little hetero tropes are, how much everybody's erotic configuration owes to...us! we rock. well it helps that this is an old sippie wallace song, because you never know what the gender relations might be in some particular sub-cultural space. oh that is her drinking buddy the awe-inspiring junior wells on harp.
anyway, it's not my fault. i went het because women are so cute and men are so gross. surely anyone can see that. it had nothing to do with me at all. maybe i had that deep insight into reality right at that bonnie raitt show in 1971, and came out right there. bonnie still looks great.
i'm good with a new cohort of young feminists emerging, and the republican approach this year has stoked the fire. but i'm going to object a bit to some of the gender polarization. sarah fluke characterized a republican america as "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." now i want to say, first of all, that men often use birth control on our very own nads. also, right, i'm not going to get pregnant. but i have always thought of or at least wanted to think of birth control of whatever kind as something my partner and i were doing together: decisions we were both making etc. you know, men can be ridiculously irresponsible about such things, but i am not willing just to turn over reproduction to women entirely: we're in this process together, along with its decisions and its difficulties and its effects. men's lives are changed by having children too. ok we're not quite engaged in precisely the same way as women. but we are extremely engaged. i say birth control, abortion, etc are men's issues too.
the gender gap, if you ask me, is a bit disturbing and it is increasing. it would be very weird to have men vs. women as the basic political structure. actually i think we're just not all that different, and that we're all in this - whatever this is - together. believe me i know tha the basic problem with this is presented by patriarchy and a history of politics and economics that controls women's bodies. there is something to fight for/about. but sweetie, we are your fathers, your brothers, your sons, your friends, your partners.
[is 'sweetie' too condescending? what term could i use to express affection?]
11:06 only one sentence is permitted on gay marriage: 'people can love who they love,' and variations. you can do better than euphemisms and stuff.
11:04 very, very good.
11:04 both parties tell exactly the same american-dream story, over and over.
10:48 the dems always frame it in terms of people who do what they're supposed to, play by the rules, do what they were told to do etc. that's the way they think about life, or about us.
10:47 i got my ph.d. in 1989 with about 60k in student loans. i've paid monthly ever since. i still owe 40.
10:46 plus she's just straight-up good.
10:34 speaking of african warrior queens, i definitely crush on michelle. put her in a tight fro, and i'd be groveling.
10:26 americans still love their mommies.
10:25 orioles tied with yankees for lead in al eastern division.
10:19 'everybody should get and stay in the middle class.' this is conceptually impossible.
10:16 this castro guy's ok. he's not absolutely inserting a grenade in me and pulling the pin, though.
10:15 i'll vote democratic, but i want a check every month.
10:13 my great great etc came with the pilgrims, and ever since my direct antecedent jemima sawtelle was captured by the indians (for real!) we've been victimized by afffirmative action programs for waves of yucky minorities.
10:11 julian castro's grandmother came from nothing.
10:23 orioles and yankees tied for al eastern division lead.
10:10 if i was in danger of fogetting the presiden'ts name, i'm good now.
10:09 there's something strange about being introduced by your identical twin.
10:07 'we seek a future of more opportunity, not a future of less opportunity' (o'malley). they've hired the scriptwriters from sesame street again. forward. not back. not not back, not not not back.
10:00 kind of a parade of future possible vice presidents. i just wish they were gigantic macy's balloons. o'malley's sleep-walking through everybody's speech.
9:51 patrick, among others, is going all libertarian and 'individual rights' on abortion and marriage. aww throw in marijuana, and then just keep going. everyone believes in some liberties. you can see why patrick has been a star; kind of rubio-esque.
9:46 orioles 12, blue jays 0
9:43 they are completely ready to nominate a woman. but the bench seems a little thin after hillary? napolitano is an impressive person. it'll be john edwards's turn, though.
9:37 they have to be psyched that they're not nominating mitt romney. not to mention john kerry. "now we're expecting a video on pay equity." man they're just trying to create disgruntled male loners.
9:34 barack's family is funky and obscure. he's such an alien!
9:20 i do like rahm's kick-assedness, though.
9:16 sibelius is a very dull speaker.
9:10 i'm not sure the merriest way to frame michelle's contribution is as a 'character witness.' that's when you've been convicted and they're moving on to the sentencing phase.
9:00 it's hard to deny that rich people know a lot about the way the economy works.
8:57 orioles 7, blue jays 0. rays 4, yankees 2.
8:11 the democratic convention looks like america, or like america will look when everybody is a unionized government employee. i'm afraid i can't help you with that. that's neither my job nor my problem. i don't make the rules. eventually, everyone will be an administrator in the dc public school system. then we'll all be in the kiddle mass.
7:54 anonymous should really concentrate on seizing control of the video system. retain absolute calm.
7:46 oh hell, more kennedys. what is he getting up to after the show, i wonder? ooph this one looks like a ginger jack.
7:40 ken salazar's parents came from nothing. ex nihilo, baby: the slogan of the moment. but while the ancestors of republicans made it by initiative and entrepreneurship and sheer ploxie and muck or by reading ayn rand novels, the ancestors of democrats made it because of new deal social safety-net programs.
7:34 i'm glad they included carter. there have been worse human beings. as long as i don't have to hear him on npr on another book tour.
7:13 humanizing people is boring. caninize them or something. woof!
7:07 and now...the electrifying harry reid.
6:40 i don't think anybody should, or really does, vote on the sheer question of whether they themselves are better off than they were four years ago. am i better off? hard to say, really; i'm in a completely different situation. if i was making more or less or i was unemployed, how confident would i be blaming or crediting the president of the united states as opposed to myself, my boss, or sheer luck? people are more likely to vote on a vague vibe of where the country's at than on whether their divorce settlement worked out.
6:30 looking at the crowd in charlotte, i have to say i'd be more comfortable hanging out with them than the reps. on the other hand their opinions would drive me apewire. white guys are under-represented. hey wait isn't this our country? remember when we ran everything? we did great! we can go back. republicans might re-think women's suffrage while they're at it.
5:06 one thing we can agree on. after all, we aren't red or blue, we're black white and brown, male and female. the middle class, if any, sucks and must be destroyed. what a pathetic little second-class class it is. and plus have you seen their lawns and suvs? they are destroying the planet. the only group worth dealing with at all is the second 1%, which i feel can be peeled off the 99.
5:02 wow debbie wasserman-schultz is really dolled up. no doubt she's trying to transcend mike huckabee's image of her. if huckabee's in the next room again, she might want to call security.
4:36 nevertheless, i'll blog through the dem fog this evening. forward!
12:25 my god now they're saying that michelle's job tonight is to humanize barack. i guess the basic gender split is that we dudes put our humanity in the hands of women, or place it in a blind trust with a woman as executrix.
surely the next logical step is to ban heterosexual marriage. anyone who's actually been stuck in a house with a person whose gender is apparently different from one's own will agree, of course. now, you may argue that god, while opposing gay marriage, positively requires straight marriage. but son, we are free, proud americans, not god's little goddamn slaves. god gave us free will in order to make it possible for us to sabotage his wacky totalitarian schemes. for though god has always been confident in his sheer power, he - like the rest of us - has had severe misgivings about his own benevolence. thus the great bellow of the god of monotheisms: "oh fuck, what did i just do?"
i'm glad the mississippi personhood thingummy failed. probably, what is and what is not a person is not a matter best left to voters. on the other hand i'm not sure it's best left to philosophers or scientists either: it's a wickedly difficult or impossible question in various cases. to tell or remind you of my views on abortion: i am pro-choice. but i am queasy. i think it has been central to the progress of women in some ways, and specifically i definitely agree that every woman ought to control her own sexuality and reproduction. on the other hand, how much a fetus in vitro counts morally is a serious, and perhaps an impossible question. not nothing, and the question of whether abortion is an exercise of the autonomy of the person on whom its performed or the worst sort of violation of another person is just a really hard question. i was pretty clear when i was 16 and my 14-year-old girlfriend had an abortion. i got queasier, i must say, after seeing a number of births, and having some children. so if ron paul is pro-life obstetrician, i can respect that and understand it.
really it is a relief not to be a lobbyist, an activist, or a politician. in other words, if the head of naral were queasy, she couldn't say so. and she probably couldn't get queasy. her commitment is immune to revision or experience. obviously, so is a fundamentalist pro-life position. in a way, the extreme and absolute nature of the positions reflects the deep obscurity and difficulty and ambiguity of the question: you need subjective certainty - an absolute rigid faith one way or the other - precisely because the questions of objective truth are impossible to answer. it has to be an absolutely clear answer, precisely because ther is no answer. well, i have the luxury of living with that, because it does not matter what i think.
now if it faces me again with one of my daughters, or god forbid a hypothetical pre-menopausal lover of my own, then i will leave the ultimate decision to her, of course. and i do think that's where it belongs. but i also won't feel exactly right about it.
hey so long poly styrene.
this, brought to our attention by lisa, is interesting. and it's worth saying that, like the whole of the american left, feminism has mutated from an assertion of individual rights and a vision of individual liberation into a collectivist discourse (which always proceeds in terms of rules and restrictions accomplished by coercion). but the original impulse of american feminism, as expressed by figures such as elizabeth cady stanton, lucretia mott, susan b. anthony, voltairine de cleyre, emerged from the same world that produced radical abolitionism and the american peace movement: a discourse of liberty and self-sovereignty, and the idea that a husband can't own a wife any more than a white person can own a black person. (stanton: "We ask no more than the poor devils in the scripture asked, 'Let us alone.' In mercy, let us take care of ourselves, our property, our children, and our homes.')
i think one thing we should say, however, is that if yale males are out there chanting 'no means yes and yes means anal,' you're well within your rights to stage a counter-march and to confront them with their stupidity and extreme wrongness, or to ask them how they'd feel about having such notions applied to themselves, by other men, say. oh no! bruno!
that there is country music. the arrangement is based on billy sherrill's work with tammy wynette.
the man crisis is everywhere. and it's true, i think: we're becoming unnecessary and we're mediocre, and we will soon be subordinated. one factor in this is that we have a bad conscience about our own power, and there are a thousand mechanisms by which girls' self-esteem is nurtured to gargantuan proportions. but i'll say this about the self-esteem monsters that are taking over the world; we'll be back. the fragility is almost incredible, probably because the whole thing is pretty impoverished and jive-infested. so a woman will spend hour after hour for years telling herself how valuable she is: how smart, how beautiful, and maybe invest thousands on plastic surgery or absorb infinite consumer goods because she's worth it, and then she'll feel better about herself, if that is possible. she will express an unbelievable quantity of self-confidence, and roll over everyone around her because no matter what she does she's a good and valuable person. cock an eyebrow at her, though, and it collapses like a house of cards. any criticism or resistance is completely intolerable, because underneath the jacked-up pneumatic self-love is a seething mass of extreme insecurity.
one reason for this is that the idea that every woman should esteem herself a good and beautiful person is not actually based on reality, or is a program for irreality. y'all should, i suggest, seek to understand yourself, seek to have an accurate self-image, cultivate self-reflection and even self-criticism. you are exactly as attractive and smart as you actually are, and you should maybe spend a moment facing up. i know it seems like that might be debilitating or a barrier to your conquest of the world. i know you think that if you believe you're incredible, it's true. that's false. reality is actually the only secure basis for going forward, the only way to construct a self that is not always threatened with collapse.
and i just want to point out that the therapeutic idea that no no matter what you do, you're good, does not help you be good. it helps you be bad; it is a formula for moral impunity. well, girls just want to have fun.
i have a funny feeling that the patriarchy will endure until y'all take this in, because you're actually still giving us incredible power: any edge of criticism is an existential threat. you can't run the world from that extreme fragility, and you can't run it without knowing it and yourself within it as it and you actually are.
watching cnn or msnbc in the daytime is disturbing. a few moments on libya, then exhaustive coverage of charlie sheen. a number of times every day, cnn puts up a psychiatrist to diagnose charlie sheen, as the network sifts in detail through his every utterance. now i feel that the 'lifestyle' and celebrity-culture emphasis of these networks in the daytime reflects the fact that they think their audience is mostly female. that is something they would know. but either they horrendously misconstrue what women are interested in or the whole thing is a devastating indictment of the gender for extreme superficiality.
here is my prediction for the future of our amazing species. it is not based on mere speculation, but on a careful and systematic and strictly scientific application of astrology, tarot readings, crystal gazing, and the reading of human entrails.
we white men have had quite an amazing run at oppressing everybody: we bitch-slapped you if you were non-white or if you were a non-man: we fucked some shit up.
now due to a variety of factors, including the liberation movements of the fuckees, we found that it was adaptive to develop a bad conscience. we've reached the point at which we at least have to mouth the various platitudes that result from regarding non-white people and non-men as our equals.
so preternaturally powerful are we according to these movements that we oppress people unconsciously or autonomically. every sentence we utter, however apparently innocent or irrelevant, constitutes a possibly oppressive act. we make people commit suicide or murder just by slapping each other on the back and jovially using the word 'gay.' try to kiss a woman today and you open yourself up to universal loathing and interminable legal proceedings. our merest sniff subordinates the entire third world, etc.
so we portray ourselves publicly as chastened by reflection on our own evil. we're never sure when we are expressing our freakish, loathsome power, so we simply try not to say anything with any content. we pay more lip service to racial and gender justice than do our victims. we are mellow benevolent universalists as we appear in public, though what we actually think in the privacy of our own heads is none of your damn business.
while we've been trying to be extremely agreeable lest we set a foot wrong, our immense oppressiveness has been addressed from the other side by the recreation of girls. boys have to be persuaded to ameliorate or conceal anything smacking of power, lest our profoundly unfortunate history be repeated in future generations. but girls of course need to claim their power: they have been taught assertiveness now for a couple of generations. whereas we keep our actual judgments and opinions to ourselves, knowing they are evil artifacts of injustice, the hyper-aggressiveness of girls is a blow for human liberation. the self-esteem of boys, so central to a monstrous history, must be suppressed. the self-esteem of girls must be encouraged to the point at which they glow like blinding suns.
in brief, we are entering into an era directed by the female. the "fair sex" never had to deal with white man's burden, never had to listen to the careful critique of their hormonal essence, never had to learn to regard their own history as a vicious human degradation, at least not as the degraders. instead, it is the history of an amazing rise against all odds that by all means must continue to and well beyond full equality.
this era will make colonialism, the slave trade, the world wars, gay-bashing, etc look like minor moral miscalculations. with the courage to be themselves and a capacity for self-reflection roughly equivalent to that of the tree sloth, women will run everything and devise means of competition with one another and oppression of us that will consume the world in a storm of fire. this i have seen.