Are These Things 90s-Womanly?

Kara, as we have established, the 90s are a very misunderstood time, even by those of us who lived through and paid a lot of attention to it. As we have discussed, there are many things that people think are 90s woman-ish, but seem like maybe they kind of aren’t. Here are a few candidates for ’90s woman faux amis. What do you think?

  1. Suicide Girls
  2. The Spice Girls
  3. The movie Secretary
  4. Female Chauvinist Pigs and all the to-do about “raunch” culture
  5. Ally McBeal and all those petite lady stars of legal dramas.


Filed under Ada

10 responses to “Are These Things 90s-Womanly?

  1. I think Secretary is ’90s woman… The scene where she sits in the diner, drinking a milkshake and listening to a book on tape about coming out as a submissive is just so beautiful. There could be a negative message there about needing a man to tell you who you are- but I think, really, the message is more that you need to know who you are to know what you want. And that’s ultimately what she does. There’s certainly some problematic stuff going on, but overall it’s a far better than most movies about women.

  2. I loved the movie Secretary and hated the Spice Girls. I can see why some people would interpret Secretary as a totally non feminist movie, but I agree with NIckey–it’s about knowing who you are and what you want. That sub/dom stuff can be easily misinterpreted. Her character gained confidence and self-awareness from that.

    What’s number 4 about?

  3. theadventureclub

    So funny I was gonna say the same thing! I think everything is fake except Secretary, which came out in 2002, but seemed very 90’s to me in the best of ways.

  4. Okay, maybe I should watch Secretary again! I didn’t like it when I saw it a few years ago, but I may very well have missed something. Melanie, here’s some stuff about the “raunch culture” critique:
    I wrote something about it a few years ago here:
    And Jezebel did something in April:
    Enjoy the raunchtasity! -Ada

  5. i never thought of Secretary as 90’s probably because it came out in the 2000’s. It’s one of my top 10 faves though. so…ya know?

    the spice girls are definitely 90’s woman to me. i didn’t like them BUT they are a pop culture representation of everything that was happening at the time. we may not LIKE them but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have an affect on women who weren’t in a subculture OR girls that were too young to understand anything else.

  6. I was way too old for the Spice Girls, but I always thought of them as “90s woman,” or maybe “90s woman in training.” Not every girl had access to the underground bands and their explicitly feminist songs, but most could turn on MTV and see the Spice Girls with their “girl power” message, even if it came a little prepackaged. I can see how they would have been someone’s “gateway drug.”

  7. i dunno about Secretary, the film, which I liked but had issues with, but the short story by Mary Gaitskill is *totally* 90swoman. as is being open about your kinky desires in general.

  8. puddleglums0

    1. Secretary, absolutely, at its heart belongs to the 90s woman. When she tells her mom to leave so she can walk home, the snow globes, the bathtub scene, the overbearing mother, the drunk father. 90s! Oof and the mental hospital hoo ha is so 90s (think girl interrupted). She became more assertive as the movie progressed, finally moving out of her parents home and embracing her body, scars and all.

    2. Suicide Girls might be 90s on the surface, but below that it’s an organization run by men that has a history of disenfranchising its female models. Boo ya! Not 90s

    3. Female chauvinist Pigs is totally 90s. what a great book.

  9. Pingback: Rebecca Traister’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” «

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