Tag Archives: male gaze

“I Love Dick” by Chris Kraus

How had I never read this book before?

Chris Kraus’s 1997 book I Love Dick is part epistolary novel, part exegesis of itself. It’s basically feminist theory masquerading as a doomed rom-com.

The quasi-plot: Chris and her husband have dinner with a colleague of his, Dick. She gets a crush on Dick and she and her husband together start writing him letters expressing–and stoking–her feelings.

As Dick maintains a bemused silence, Chris gets more and more obsessed with him. She travels around the country pining for him and writing him long love letters from grimy motels. Somewhere in all this she leaves her husband. She goes and sleeps with Dick, who isn’t really into her but is doing some kind of very passive-aggressive “not saying no” thing. But then he gets mad and freaks out on her for turning him into an object and invading his privacy. Then she does a whole exegesis of the first part of the book.

It’s the strangest book I’ve read at least since last week’s Fat: a Love Story. (Both were recommended by my weird-book-connoisseur friend Asia.) I agree with nearly every review on Amazon, both 1-star and 5-star ones. It’s both enthralling and repellant. She’s both cool and intolerable. But I am so glad to have read it and wish my friends had too, because it’s relevant to a lot of different conversations, including: Continue reading

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What We Learned from Firemen about Objectification in 2010

Kara, last night we took a 90s Woman field trip to a Firefighter Auction. The City Reliquary, a nice Williamsburg museum run by neighborhood heartthrob and toddler idol Fireman Dave (Herman), needed to raise money, so Dave had his fireman friends stand up onstage at the Knitting Factory while ladies (and a couple of men) bid on dates with them.

A worthy cause! So even though we just came to window-shop, we did our part. We drank pink Manhattans that weren’t really Manhattans; listened to a 90s cover band (way to go, fireman drummer!) that played every 90s song you ever pretended not to like, like Collective Soul’s “Shine” or stuff by the Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots and Counting Crows; and you somehow allowed pictures to be taken of yourself with a fireman wearing a hat on backwards that said “Cross Bronx Expressway.”

It took a lot of work, but I talked you into letting those pictures be posted here, but not without the following disclaimer: Kara would like to apologize to her boyfriend, her parents, and to everyone with whom she studies queer theory. This is her in some sort of alterna-heteronormative universe.

And without further ado, here is our hungover g-chat about the event the next day: Continue reading

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jessica simpson and the butch-femme aesthetic

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


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Lady Gaga in Her Underwear

First off, I just watched the “Bad Romance” video and you are right about the lingerie. Which of the fifty ensembles is the best, do you think? I’m leaning toward this red number, but the black and silver one is up there. I like her more and more.

Asked if she’s boy-crazy, she says, “”Yeah. Well, I’m girl-crazy too. I really depends on where I am. I love men, I love women and I love sex, but I’m actually pretty introverted right now because I’m so enveloped in my work, and it’s hard to let anybody near that. People f— with your energy, and it’s very hard to find people that are supportive of your art and don’t want to take time away from it. A lot of times, boyfriends and girlfriends get jealous and want all your attention, and I really don’t have time for that.” Continue reading


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Chapter One: Did Someone Say Male Gaze?

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.

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