No pope-mockery allowed »« Revisiting difference feminism

No growing up to idolize Kim Kardashian

Caitlin Moran’s book sounds like a good read.

There are lots of things to love about Caitlin Moran’s “How to Be a Woman,” an invective against backsliding attitudes toward feminism that, this time last year, every woman in Britain seemed to be reading. There is the stand it takes against bikini waxes. There is its protest against the pornography and stripping industries. Above all there is its deployment of sweary British slang to remind us, in this era of manufactured outrage, what a truly great rant should look like: rude, energetic and spinning off now and then into jubilant absurdity.

Well that’s certainly always been my view of the matter!

Ms. Moran, who is 37, has two young daughters, and the book is, in part, a protective reflex against them growing up to idolize Kim Kardashian and spend half their disposable income on depilation. It also springs from her horror at the shuffling unwillingness of many women to claim a use for feminism.

“Why,” she writes in a section about the agony of walking in stilettos, “do we believe that wearing heels is an intrinsic part of being a woman, despite knowing it doesn’t work?” She blasts the ironic reclamation of strip clubs as somehow empowering to women and slams actresses and models as women whose careers are built on pandering to sexist stereotypes.

That sounds radical. Watch out!

 

Comments

  1. Sassafras says

    Well, I just read a very pissed-off review of this book from a very transphobic radical feminist, so I’m intrigued!

  2. says

    Sometimes I feel like the Kardashians are some kind of surrealist prank; I definitely think that anyone who’s a fan of theirs is getting exactly what they deserve.

  3. Happiestsadist says

    I was wanting a copy before, but after reading Sassafras’s comment, now I NEED one.

  4. Sili says

    Well, I just read a very pissed-off review of this book from a very transphobic radical feminist

    Tease.

  5. says

    Ok, we need to stop telling each other how to live, I think. Maybe turning off the freaking television would help her daughters more than body hair policing. And I LIKE heels, as long as I’m on my back. I also like sex. And, when I wasn’t doing it for mere survival — when I chose it over Mickey D’s or changing sheets @ tourist hotels or killing myself in a factory 10 hrs a day, I sincerely enjoyed sex work. I made my own hours; I had a flexible schedule; my clients were nice people whose company I enjoyed; I made decent money without killing myself; I was economically independent and I could afford stuff like decent food an health care, unlike now. I wish privileged women weren’t so down their noses at the rest of us. It looks kinda snotty. PS: I don’t know what a Kim Cardashian is. Please don’t tell me; sounds like I’m not missing much. My question is: why does SHE know? They must self-medicate with television. I’m too busy.

  6. amethyststarling says

    Ok, we need to stop telling each other how to live, I think. Maybe turning off the freaking television would help her daughters more than body hair policing.

    In this day and age, a parent can have no TV or internet at home, but their children will still learn things and be influenced by friends, school, etc. So short of keeping your child shut in from the rest of the world, they will be made aware of what society could expect of them and it can damage their self-esteem.

  7. LeftSidePositive says

    Rogi, what the fuck is up with telling us that you like sex? Do you seriously think we don’t?! The issue is not with pleasurable sex, the issue is with a culture that tells women that the way to be sexual is to invest absurd amounts of time and pain into our appearance, to focus on pleasing the man and hoping our sexual gratification will come incidentally, to self-objectify, to persuade ourselves that we really like facials and being degraded because it’s like totally edgy and not at all just the same old shitty misogyny in a shiny new wrapper, to be as obsequious as possible in expressing our desires, etc., etc., etc. Feminists are not objecting to happy times rubbing the squishy places, we’re objecting to all the baggage that our culture insists goes along with it.

    And I guess it’s not a problem if women are objectified and our sexuality is treated as a commodity, as long as the people doing it are superficially nice about it. Well, frankly, I think the world should be a metric fuckton better than that.

  8. Happiestsadist says

    Rogi, it’s awesome that you enjoy presenting in an approved feminine way. It’s a little sad that you have to defensively tell us all how much you like sex (with the practically audible “unlike those other man-hating feminist prudes!”). Do you even get how awful it is that there’s this need so many of us feel to add on how we’re totally fun and like sex and teh menz teehee any time a criticism of sexualization is made? Nobody is trying to take away your hair removal (or mine), your embrace of beauty standards, etc. What we are saying is that it would be fucking nice if that weren’t the only option. If people like you didn’t defensively grab onto it protectively the second anyone points out that there’s more ways to be than a Barbie. That there are a damn lot of women dying because of patriarchal bullshit and that actually matters. That it would be nice if sex work wasn’t the only option for a lot of women. But no, keep clutching your heels and smirking about how you’re too cool to watch tv, which is the only way patriarchy reaches us.

  9. Sassafras says

    Tease.

    I almost linked to it, but I don’t want to lead the trolls here. It wasn’t very entertaining anyway, just the usual blah-blah-real-feminists-hate-trans-women-blah garbage.

  10. says

    I’m always surprised when I see a picture of the Kardashians. They look almost human.

    (Keith, that’s “Cardasian”)

    Oh, there’s a difference?

  11. Maude LL says

    @ LeftSidePositive @amethyststarling

    I think you missed the point of what Rogi wrote. She’s not bragging about enjoying sex (her comment is centered around sex work, which is one of the topics of the book.

    The point is that the response to sexual stereotypes of women is not to impose a new one. Hence the “we need to stop telling people what to do” part. She’s right. We are dismissing a whole lot of legitimate experiences, and feminism is about women, not just upper-class-white-liberal-women-who-despise-porn.

    I’m not sure what’s so wrong about Rogi talking about her own experience, but if it bothers you so much, I’ll write broadly. Some women do like porn. Some women are into BDSM, it is not because they are trying to be accepted by men, sorry. Your attitude towards them is patronizing. I’m not saying this stuff *never* happens, but it’s no reason to make it a new generality. On the other hand, some women don’t want any of that, and that’s fine too. By socially shaming different women, they are encouraging them to do the very thing they loathe about the present culture (peer pressure to act as if you are into something under the threat of being a fake feminist).

    One example among many: Greta. She’s clearly pro kink/sex industry. She talks about her sex life regularly on her blog (not specifically, but we know she likes sex). Is she trying to please men? Oh wait… Uh, is she internalizing misogyny? Is she a fake feminist? Come on now.

    I would too want my daughter to not grow up to feel forced to follow the Kardashians in order to feel like an acceptable human being. I would want my daughter to feel like she can be herself. That implies that we should accepts people for who they are and quit blaming people of false consciousness when they are different than your own experience. We’ve moved on from 1848 now.

  12. LeftSidePositive says

    I think you missed the point of what Rogi wrote. She’s not bragging about enjoying sex

    Then why the fuck did she say she liked sex, not otherwise specified?! She said, and I quote, “I also like sex.” Sorry, but you can’t get around that.

    (her comment is centered around sex work, which is one of the topics of the book.

    And someone saying they personally feel empowered by sex work does not change the fact that the vast majority (but not all) of it is built on very, very harmful beliefs and social roles of women. Look, a lot of women feel empowered by Goddess Earth Mother Intuition woo, but their subjective impression does not negate the entrenching of negative stereotypes and limiting social roles for women on which this philosophy is based.

    The point is that the response to sexual stereotypes of women is not to impose a new one.

    And where exactly did we do this?? I think what we both said was that simply extolling the greatness of being patriarchy-compliant is problematic. I think Happiestsadist and I both said that the fact that our culture only gives a very narrow approved set of behaviors is a big problem, and that we can object to that without being opposed to sex. NOWHERE did we say that no one is allowed to involve themselves in those behaviors to a greater or lesser degree.

    Hence the “we need to stop telling people what to do” part.

    Except that no one actually told her what to do. We pointed out that there are misogynistic tropes and assumptions built into a lot of what women are expected to do in our culture. What you and Rogi are doing with whining about “telling people what to do” is actually a defensiveness that is really saying “I don’t want you to critically examine the cultural underpinnings of my choices!!” to which I call bullshit. No one makes their choices in a void, and pointing out that certain social patterns have misogynistic undercurrents is in no way forbidding anyone from navigating their way through the patriarchy the way they feel is best for them–it’s just not pretending that these compromises are fully-empowered-self-actualized-nirvana-of-sex-positivity-yay!!!

    She’s right.

    I love the smell of argument from assertion in the morning!

    We are dismissing a whole lot of legitimate experiences,

    You know, religious people say their lives are oh so very enriched by their respective religions. Does this prevent us from expressing why we think this attitude is mistaken?

    not just upper-class-white-liberal-

    And how exactly is saying “compulsory very very expensive beauty work with narrow standards of beauty is a really big problem in our culture” exclusive towards people who may not have the money to participate in this beauty work or have the genetic background to meet these arbitrary beauty standards? Rather the opposite, I should think?!

    women-who-despise-porn.

    This is a fucking bullshit strawman and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for making it. Here we have both Happiestsadist and I EXPLICITLY saying we’re pro-sex, and we have very clearly expressed our objection to the limiting, objectifying, and compulsory nature of sexual performance, and here you go trying to pretend that we’re just opposed to sexually explicit material. Bullshit. We have made our complaints very clear. If you want to argue them, then try to do so honestly. Say something along the lines of “women being obsequious in expressing their desires is totally great because…” (and good luck with that).

    I’m not sure what’s so wrong about Rogi talking about her own experience,

    Um, we never said she couldn’t–we just think her attitude is mistaken in several important points, and we’ve said why.

    but if it bothers you so much,

    “Yeah, so why does it bother you if someone else believes in a god?”

    Some women do like porn.

    Great job completely and utterly failing to distinguish between “consenting-adults-engaging-in-sexually-explicit-activity-on-camera” and “sexually-explicit-material-whose-stock-in-trade-is-presenting-tropes-that-degrade-and-objectify-women.” The latter is a SUBSET of the former, and for you to pretend that our very clear complaints about the limiting and compulsory patriarchal nature of sexual norms is a complaint about recording sexual acts in general is blatant derailing.

    Also, the existence of women who like mainstream, demeaning, sex-negative porn (focusing, for the moment, exclusively on those women who like such porn and NOT grouping all women who like any type of sexually explicit material together as a way to gloss over the problematic aspects of mainstream porn) does not mean that such porn cannot be problematic. People like all sorts of things that demean them in various ways (case in point: like, every diet magazine ever), and they internalize those messages.

    Some women are into BDSM, it is not because they are trying to be accepted by men, sorry.

    Some, maybe–but given the incredible mainstreaming of BDSM and degradation of women in our culture (including our social and political obsession with punishing women for sex!) and the fact that this postmodern demeaning of women seems all-but-indistinguishable from just plain good ol’ fashioned misogyny, I’m going to remain skeptical that all (or even a great majority) of these women just spontaneously developed their interest in BDSM in the absence of toxic cultural influences.

    And internalized sexism is a thing, sorry. It doesn’t go away just because we want it to. It doesn’t go away just because we identify as feminists. I could fill up paragraphs with all the ways I have internalized sexist attitudes from our culture, and yes it hugely affects what I’m “into” and how I present myself, but I try to learn from that and improve my self-image, not get defensive about cultural tropes that are close to me.

    Your attitude towards them is patronizing.

    Yeah, and telling religious people they’re wrong is “cultural imperialism.” This is not “patronizing”–it is having a difference of opinion and expressing the reasons for our reservations.

    Moreover, no human being in the history of ever has been completely free of the biases of their culture. So for you to act like it’s somehow beyond the pale to point out that people internalize their culture’s biases is pretty absurd, really.

    I’m not saying this stuff *never* happens,

    Yes, functionally you are, because when we bring it up, you throw it back in our faces and insist that we’re “telling people what to do” and being “patronizing” by discussing how this stuff masquerades as empowerment.

    but it’s no reason to make it a new generality.

    I think it’s pretty much an old generality that women are under vast amounts of pressure to conform to patriarchal norms.

    By socially shaming different women,

    I love how you blatantly ignore that Rogi was shaming US for implying that SHE “also like[s] sex” as though this were some kind of alien view among those objecting to the poor treatment of women. I love the fact that you think that saying “I think the world should be better” is apparently shaming but somehow telling women that they should just “turn off the freaking television” to raise their daughters is in no way telling others how to live.

    She’s [Greta’s] clearly pro kink/sex industry.

    There is no reason why being pro-kink necessarily means being pro-patriarchy, but I have noticed a disturbing trend of pro-patriarchal attitudes being smuggled into cultural narratives about what sexiness should be under the guise of being “pro-kink.” I don’t think Greta is in any way relevant to this concern, but you were the one who dragged her in as though one alt-sex person with a well-thought-out world view negates how kink is widely packaged in our culture.

    I also think there’s a lot more to unpack in being pro-sex-industry, which I do find a great deal more problematic, but if I ever have time for that I’ll take it up with Greta on her blog. Here, this is just a derail.

    She talks about her sex life regularly on her blog (not specifically, but we know she likes sex).

    JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A DILDO, what the FUCK?! Why is it so fucking hard for you people to stop preening about how more-sex-positive-than-thou you are to notice that objecting to the sexualization and objectification IS NOT THE SAME as not liking sex?! This willful obtuseness is mind-boggling!

    Is she a fake feminist?

    YOU brought this wording into the discussion. We did not. Neither Happiestsadist nor I said anything to that effect. Don’t put words in our mouths and then lambast us for what you made up. We objected to Rogi acting like her telling us that she “also like[d] sex” was like this big fucking revelation, but we never impugned her feminism, we just explained why we thought her attitudes were problematic. Identifying as a feminist is not a magic bullet against ever having a problematic opinion.

    That implies that we should accepts people for who they are

    Yeah, we should just never talk to people about why we think they might be wrong. We should never mention the macro effects of personal choices or look at how social pressures lead people to make certain choices and not others. It’s not like we’re on a blog network that exists explicitly for trying to show people why their deeply-held worldviews are wrong!

    and quit blaming people of false consciousness

    System justification is a thing, sorry.

    when they are different than your own experience.

    No, not just different. When they imply that their particular form of patriarchy compliance shows they “like sex” as though those who do not like being objectified dislike sex itself.

    We’ve moved on from 1848 now.

    This is the type of attitude from pseudo-sex-positivists that I just can’t fucking stand. The implication being that if you were really enlightened you’d be totally enthusiastic about all the same old male-centered sexual narratives and practices in our culture, and only prudes would be troubled by a cultural norm or point it out. Ugh.

  13. julian says

    Ok, we need to stop telling each other how to live, I think.

    Back at ya.

    She’s not bragging about enjoying sex

    Define “bragging”.

  14. says

    What kind of programming would be halal? Have they come up with guidelines for that? If we end up with a Muslin version of Brent Bozell I want to see them both on a talk show together.

  15. Godless Heathen says

    @amethyststarling,

    It’s not just this day and age. It’s always like that. Parents have never been able to prevent their kids from being influenced by others except by locking them away from society completely.

  16. NickS says

    Re: Rogi’s post…. Well, I guess there’s some sort of ethical trade-off… men and women, boys and girls alike work in inumerable parts of the economic supply chain sacrificing health, dignity, in some cases, years off their life, and for vanishingly little personal gain or growth; the feninist complaint – justifiably – seems to be why then do women allow themselves to be packaged and manipulated in the slipstream of one particular economic/leisure pursuit…. the argument obtains – and reminds me of Wynton Marsalis’ take on corporate (gangster) rap music and its wider social-cultural debasement:

    “I call it ghetto minstrelsy,” Marsalis said. “Old school minstrels used to say they were ‘real darkies from the real plantation.’ Hip-hop substitutes the plantation for the streets. Now you have to say you’re from the streets, you shot some brothers, you went to jail.”

    Marsalis continued, “Rap has become a safari for people who get their thrills from watching African-American people debase themselves, men dressing in gold, calling themselves stupid names like Ludacris and 50 Cent, spending money on expensive fluff, using language like ‘b**ch’ and ‘ho’ and ‘n**ger’.”

    Not a million miles away as arguments go perhaps ?

  17. S Mukherjee says

    Rogi, are you saying that because you did not have a bad time when you were a sex worker, therefore sex work is a nice and fulfilling career choice?

    I haven’t read this book by Moran, but I hope she does not attack the women who have to work as sex workers, or pole dancers or whatever. I incline towards Twisty’s stance (on her blog IBTP) that what we call ‘femininity’ is mostly something that women have to perform as a survival strategy, otherwise they suffer heavy costs in terms of harrassment, ostracism, loss of job opportunities, etc. But it also means that those of us who have a little more privilege and can flout the norms without much punishment should try to do so (flout the norms, that is).

    If you find that the things you purport to enjoy are the very things that maintain the status quo, then it is our duty to at least question why we like those things (boob job, torture heels, bikini waxing, etc).

  18. Rogi Riverstone says

    WOW! Y’all just made stuff up about me, got all mad at me and never even bothered to ask what I meant! ROFLMFAO I’m TOO POOR to wear heels or any other fancy femmy stuff; I’d never survive; my life is HARD WORK! And I’m a GenderQueer; I hardly EVER wear femme clothes, but I like heels in bed sometimes! Jees, y’all so self righteous and sure of yourselves! Y’all ugly for dog piling a sibling like this. No better than teh menz u mad @. You never MET anybody like me! Oh, go back to school, where you can’t hurt normal, poor people. I wouldn’t have known any of this, if FeministWhore hadn’t made a video about it http://youtu.be/vuus6VTsSg4 . And you know what? I agree with her: about the baiting, about the fear of sex workers, about the elite setting the agenda for Atheism+ without checking in with us rank and file. And I’m very sad to say: I agree Ophelia might have stepped in and requested folk back down. I don’t know why Ophelia didn’t have my back here and it hurts.

  19. Rogi Riverstone says

    this is a test. can I actually post on Ophelia’s blog? Thanks for your help, Ophelia. Pressing send with fingers xed.

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