year after year, sentence by sentence, erica jong is an idiot, or whatever the next phase is beyond that. she purports to be disturbed that she's associated with softcore porn. then every observation has a little pseudo-sexy undertow. as always she can't make up her alleged mind actually to say something definite beyond incessant self-promotion and pointless preening. well, what else is there, her prose style? har har har. anyway, this oprah crap has got to end. oprah drives the whole culture forward or whatever, but has never said a damn thing that's challenging or even odd: i guess that's why she's an icon: she leaves you exactly where you are, only inflated like a helium/self-esteem balloon because of your brand-name purchases or whatever: the project is to make monsters out of mediocrities: a summary of her life.
for millions of females “you’re
too fat” are the three most terrifying words in the English language.
well, i think we could come up with a few more horrifying than that, even for oprah and wintour and daisy. it would be a pleasure to try out some material. perhaps eminem can help with the writing and the delivery. if those are your most horrifying words, consider yourself extremely fortunate. and eat me, idjit.
After reading these stories, plenty of parents will fault Waldman for something or other. Plenty more will be able to relate.
seriously, those non-sentences are the tag of a "book" "review." it is, i suppose, an assessment of the book's literary quality, its intellectual ballast, its prose style, its depth and precision etc. it's great to "relate." i'm glad you feel better. now pretend you can read.
She opens her leather agenda. To the date, that date, November Fifth. 730 Fifth Avenue. Ten p.m. circled in felt-tip pen. Under that, underlined, "espresso bar." Different pen, different handwriting. Now she has all the information. Candace Bushnell for Bulgari (Advertisement in the New York Times)
Our love was forbidden, but that made it all the more fashionable. The insatiable lust that pulled us together kicking and screaming until we couldn't tell whose limbs were whose was based on three things. Caffeine. Vulgari accessories. And the fact that neither of us could write. A complete sentence.
He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen, but in my girlish heart I knew it was wrong, so wrong. He was married. A Franciscan monk. HIV positive. And only twelve years old. I was working as a professor of pure mathematics at Columbia and moonlighting as a love slave at a mid-town bar.
We were so different. Yet we were the same too. Maybe it was the information in our Vulgari agendas. Maybe the leather. Maybe the diamond-encrusted felt-tip pen that he wielded like a rapier. I had one too. Maybe the fact that we both swilled espresso until we lived twenty feet outside our own bodies and could not utter a single coherent. Phrase.
Maybe our lives were incredibly empty.
But for whatever reason, we pencilled each other in. Or perhaps our secretaries made the assignation. It's hard. To remember. We came together that evening in the espresso bar like Antony and Cleopatra. Like a religious leader communing with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Like a tractor-trailer colliding with a Yugo. Like a felt-tip pen caressing an agenda. Like a sex columnist encountering a book. On grammar.
I remember most of all what he was wearing. Leather jeans. A ruby brooch that perfectly matched his corneas. An i.v. by Tommy Hilfiger. Jewel-encrusted latex. It was enough to make any professor of pure mathematics melt into a puddle of womanly desire.
Our Orphan-Annie eyes met over the demitasse. Uninhabited eyes. Eyes like pools of impure possibility. Pools that could only be filled by continuous conspicuous consumption. Eyes that wanted. That silently begged "please, please." That saw only designer boutiques, platinum cards, and each other.
We had no desire to talk or even to touch. We wanted only to shop, and we shopped with orgiastic fury. That night we bought things that it had never before occurred to anyone to want: fur toaster ovens; nose implants; cosmetics distilled from icebergs; smallpox; flawless appliances that did nothing at all; Elton John's tribute to Mobutu Sese Seko; full-body tattoos of the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo; computerized wigs; huge Eskimo girls; self-improvement books made of human skin; former Soviet republics. And still it was not enough.
We were living in a dream or perhaps nightmare of lust for accessories. We took cabs. We looted. We smoked rock caffeine. We dodged the paparazzi. We wept together for the homeless. Our passion was torrential, deranged, credit-worthy, postmodern as the next Calvin Klein campaign
But it was over as quickly as it began. Over the next few moments, I noticed that we were drifting insensibly apart. Soon he was wearing Gucci and I, I was working on a proof of Fermat's last theorem. His wife found out about our forbidden agenda. His home room teacher found out. God found out. The public health authorities found out. Then came the fateful moment when one of my sentences featured a verb, and I knew that it was never to be. I quit my jobs, traded my condo for a simple yet daringly bare Donna Karan burqa, and joined the Taliban.
But every time I open my agenda to the date, that date, I am reminded of the importance of effective accessorizing.
sometimes, one wonders about women. probably the most disturbing thing about women is women's popular culture, ranging all the way from cosmo to oprah. let's take this incredibly superficial and trivial, yet profoundly reprehensible "reading" of sex and the city, from yesterday's washpost. one would think that you can't really have a cultural critic named "ashley," and one of the remarkable things about the piece is that ashley congratulates herself throughout for being a "cultural critic" and having a sophisticated background in "19th-century literature," which enabled her to figure out the amazing squealing (she uses the more dignified "screaming") fandom that sex and the city engenders. and the sophisticated reading that she draws from her hermeneutics is this: carrie is "independent." so she's a "role model" who enhances our self-esteem! (unlike the pathetic heroines, i guess, of jane austin or george eliot). self-esteem, in certain reaches of female culture, is the only measure of truth and art.
As someone who has studied Carrie Bradshaw's
place in the pantheon of popular culture's depiction of single girls, I
thought I knew my own answer. Her outsized life is a fantasy, but an
well, i'm glad she's "studying." ashley's actual writing is precisely as obsessed with designer outfits and stiletto heels as the show was: these are the signs of empowerment, at least the only ones that ashley actually identifies, besides, i guess, singleness itself.
We couldn't afford Carrie's shoes, let alone ever really hope to
walk in them, but in her outlandishly expensive Manolos, she teetered
squarely in the footsteps of TV's independent heroines, projecting an
infectious kind of confidence.
My new friends in the crowd at the premiere had their own answers,
of course, mostly focused less on how Carrie fits in with the depiction
of feminine dependence in, say, 19th-century fiction than on good
congratulating herself on having read an actual book written in the 19th century, unlike her unsophisticated fellow screamers, is itself i would suppose, self-esteem enhancing and empowering, which would provide the criteria of quality for ashley's cultural criticism as well as television.
"It's inspirational. It's a dream world," said Sam Ramage, 19, echoing
what many said. "You want to live in New York. You want to have all the
designer clothes, but it's not just the clothes -- it's the way they
dress. Their confidence."
"it's not just the clothes--it's the way they dress."
"I was impressed," writes ashley. "My relationship with the series has always been more cerebral than
emotional. I first came across it seven years ago while researching my
master's thesis on single women." and i suppose that "it's not the clothes -- it's the way they dress" was the last sentence of that thesis. one thing about writing master's theses: it's empowering. it enhances your self-esteem.
"Sex and the City" continued this courageous -- if madcap -- tradition.
With conservatives pushing abstinence and pro-marriage programs, it was
an adroit form of protest to have a show where women questioned
marriage, made more money than their boyfriends did, and declared (more
eloquently than I can here) that they only give oral sex if they get
it. So what if it was over the top -- if we're going to fantasize, why
not fantasize about women staying out late and making tons of money?
well, i don't know. because "staying out late and making tons of money" are not exactly the deepest, truest human values? anyway, i could go on. but i shouldn't. maybe the show was well-written? well-acted? funny? all of that is irrelevant, i suppose. it was "empowering."
one thing to think about: your conception of power revolves around really great shoes; the very center or your empowerment as a gender is really fun television programs. what would your ultimate liberation really consist in? what would it mean? you know, there are real oppressions out there, real pain, real resistance. the only thing we could say about ashley-liberation: it must be a demonstration that there is no actual oppression. at any rate, if manolos and being really sexy are your idea of revolution, women will never be free.
if one were looking for the single most despicable magazine in america, one would do well to start with more, "the magazine for women over forty." it has only one concern - appearance - and tries to do for the middle-aged woman what, say, seventeen does for the teenager: induce total self-loathing. after that, it teaches you how to enhance your self-esteem. they are the most lookist and weight-conscious magazine in the world: they literally will not write about or photograph a woman who's even slightly overweight, however compelling her story or personality or accomplishment. what you get is a parade of surgery/photoshop cases, titled, impossibly, "this is what 40 looks like." they obviously hate what forty in fact looks like, as every single item is about how to look twenty. one of my favorite shots in this issue is cover girl sharon stone, who appears in a ball gown, with sycophants literally holding her hems. the caption? "just another day at the offices of planet hope, sharon and kelly stone's charity for needy children and their families." that's about as outward-looking as the magazine ever gets: it's not about anything but a kind of self-transformation that howls your inadequacy and ugliness, then markets products to cure you: namely, cosmetics and hormones. it does it all in this tone that is half therapist, half blithering idiot. at the top of this month's cover: "antiaging beauty: neck creams you can believe in." if you are the target audience for this magazine, you better believe in neck creams, cause you sure as hell don't believe in anything else.
"this i believe" is occasionally interesting, as long as it's not colin powell, who believes "in the promise of america." no one could have served all his life at the highest levels of government and believe in the promise of america; one might even get skeptical after awhile about the threat of america. it's hard not to see that most of what most people believe is a collage of cliches. this was just sad: half women's mag "this i do for me" self-esteem horseshit, half "jesus is my dr. phil." it has a fearsome aspect, though: there are hints that she writes things down and publishes them. my very selfhood is at stake every time my kids ask me for something to eat. really? then isolate yourself in a cabin in the yukon for a few decades or something; you'll never have an identity while there's anyone else around; you'll be their body servant or their spectacle; either way their glance will be more powerful than your self.
When bikinis were first introduced, they were scandalous, but over
time they have become less so. One-piece suits have been redesigned so
that some of them, with their cut-outs and strategically placed
adornments, are more risque than the average bikini. Still, the bikini
is forever associated with a woman's willingness to flaunt her body, to
strut her confidence, to revel in her sex appeal. There is liberation
-- of far more than just the bellybutton -- in a bikini.
understand. for many women, "liberation" seems to mean absolutely only exhibitionism, for which you certainly didn't need - indeed yould do better to avoid - feminism. this identification is all over the women's magazines: freedom = weight loss + mini-skirt. "confidence," "self-esteem" etc: these are not exactly politically transformative ideas: they're more like ways of expressing your enthusiasm for your status as sheer object.