Any excuse to show Tracey Emin
Oh, Ada, Katie Roiphe’s anti-feminist enfant terrible persona is so tiresome. In almost everything she writes she blames puritanical feminists for making sex no fun. But it’s hard for me to take her celebration of Norman Mailer’s violent sex scenes seriously, given that Mailer famously stabbed and nearly killed one of his six (ahem) wives. When Roiphe talks about the bygone belief in sex that could change things, possibly for the better, I think: for whom?
Anyway, what Roiphe calls “postfeminist second-guessing”—on the parts of ambivalent male characters—we could additionally call “post-sexual revolution second-guessing.” Younger guys might realize that some of the stuff Mailer and Roth thought was so great actually has some fallout, emotional or otherwise. Roiphe should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Hearts of Men, which convincingly argues that the sexual revolution was always partly an attempt by men to escape the confines of stereotypical masculinity. For some, that meant the violent sex and threesomes that seemed incompatible with respectable marriage; for others, perhaps, it meant sex in which they didn’t have to be the initiators or always at the ready for. Some guys don’t want to be conquering heroes.
Jessica Simpson gets all Gender Trouble for Esquire
90s bisexuality! I wrote my undergraduate Women’s Studies thesis on it. And I actually think that sexual fluidity is a not-unimportant thing to bring up in this conversation.
But first: I was thinking about how Gaga/Beyonce is a feminist statement for 2009 (more than 1999 or 1969–though that’s when these conversations started) in part because technology has changed. One way for women to deal with a world of internet porn, HDTV, and video phones is to decide that instead of bitching about the male gaze (and I love bitching about the male gaze–Kathleen’s answer to it is a good one!) is to strategically use it (which I am into, too).
However: I’m not sure it’s just an ever increasingly visual mainstream culture that has made pop feminism embrace phallic symbols and bikinis that work like Medusa. I think it could also have to do with the emphasis on the visual aspect of identity and desire within queer culture, including trans culture. Continue reading
I still love Laura Mulvey
Ada, I’m not sure I’m going to get into a PhD program, because I have spent my morning watching Beyonce and Lady Gaga on repeat instead of working on my applications.
(But if I have to go back to my old job as a beauty editor, I have a lot to say about Beyonce’s hotness. Also, we might need to have a private conversation about Lady Gaga’s lingerie in the Bad Romance video.)
Anyway, yes, I am totally with you on the many layers of ‘90s feminism in this video and here’s why: As anyone who has read Our Bodies, Ourselves or “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” knows, ‘60s feminism has always had a totally undeserved reputation for being anti-sex. What ’60s feminism was, I think, was anti-visual–at least in bed. Kinky sex? Yes. Garter belts and bustiers and video phones? No.
I totally agree with you. And with that forgotten 90swoman Jewel. I saw the Polanski documentary on HBO last year and thought it was appalling how it insinuated that because Polanski has had terrible things happen to him, because the victim’s mother was a pushy stage mom, and because the girl herself had probably had sex before, that drugging her and raping her just wasn’t that big of a deal. Gross stuff.
I like what you have to say about Great Artists getting away with things the rest of us wouldn’t be allowed to. To take this to a weird place: It makes me think of one of my favorite 60s feminists, Valerie Solanas. Solanas is mostly known for shooting Andy Warhol–partly thanks to the awesomely 90s movie “I Shot Andy Warhol,” starring Lili Taylor, who was really great. According to various accounts, Warhol was a jerk to Solanas in a whole variety of patriarchal ways (yes, that’s right, I used the phrase “patriarchal ways”). Whether or not you sympathize with her, it’s interesting to note that she was totally demonized, put in jail and later in a mental institution. Most people don’t remember that she was an amazing writer: SCUM Manifesto is one of my favorite books of all time—hilarious, smart, totally prescient. Meanwhile, Norman Mailer, who called her “the Robespierre of feminism” for the attack, is remembered as a genius, not a sicko—even though he stabbed and nearly killed his wife. Louis Althusser, remembered as a genius—though he strangled his wife to death. Not to mention all the other 60s radicals that were bombing and shooting things. None of this is an exact parallel, of course. All I’m saying is: Men of genius seem to have a way wider margin for heinous crimes than women do.–Kara
Last month at the thrilling and important show Our Hit Parade, Bridget Everett ended a long speech about her sexual exploits with the line, “What can I say? I’m a 90s woman.” Kara and I cracked up and laughed for the rest of the show.
The 90s! What a maligned decade, possibly the least popular ten years in recent American history. Whereas EVERYONE has written a book about the 60s, the 90s might as well never have happened.
But they did happen! We grew up in them! And we’re convinced they were not a waste, but in fact ushered in a whole new and — contrary to public opinion — NOT entirely objectionable new phase of feminism. This blog will be our conversation about this woefully underrepresented era. — Ada