NY Times/Nina Fineberg
Ha, I don’t think I’m having a mid-life crisis, unless Googling ex-boyfriends during lulls at work suggests otherwise.
I was going to post that same article, because it made me think a lot of things: 1. A.O. Scott is my age?! (Turns out he was born in 1966, so he’s a decade older than us, but still qualifies as Gen-X.) 2. Weird how I feel like Greenberg and Hot Tub Time Machine and all that have nothing to do with my teen nostalgia, even if I may be up for seeing them. (Did men and women really have different experiences of the ’90s? Maybe co-ed teen life is really a 21st century thing.) 3. The Vows section of that same Sunday’s paper was really the most Gen-Xiest thing ever, way more instructive about the demographic than the article explicitly about it. Scared of marriage because of parental divorce? Check. Outwardly hipsterrific but secretly ultra-traditional? Yup. The clincher: “My dream is for us to work together, to share an office. That way I never have to miss her.” At what point in time would that ever be a normal thing for a guy to say of the lady he’d just wed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral?
P.S. Tony Scott, Generation X wasn’t that bad a band!
buy it! this book will change your life.
Ada, Lisa Carver is totally one of my favorite writers, and thinkers, of all time, and your description of her as the “most cheerfully dangerous person in the world” is so right on.
I read Dancing Queen for the first time the summer after I graduated from college. Lisa’s exuberant attitude made me totally rethink–and re-feel–many things I spent most of the 90s being monumentally depressed about.
Like, for example, sex, a topic on which she sounds like a kind of 90swoman Walt Whitman—good-natured, optimistic, endlessly curious. In one essay, she says she doesn’t regret one moment of her lousy early sex life. (This is a topic you and I might want to return to….) In another, she writes with glee—not shame—about stuffing her bra, being found out, then lying about it. When she says she thinks going to the gynecologist is hot because she likes “rough and cranky men,” I am totally, thoroughly charmed.
important note: i actually really liked the SATC book. much darker than the movie or tv show.
Ada, those SATC girls should totally go read some Judith Butler, and perhaps some Karl Marx. I mean, I like shoes as much as anyone–I used to work at fashion magazines!–but the movie is really a perfect example of what happens when feminism meets rampant capitalism.
And you are right, I feel like my life was filled with SATC types sometime in the early 2000s. I remember sitting in my office at Conde Nast with a publicist who was going to St. Barthes with her boyfriend for a long weekend. She told me that she had packed 12 bikinis—3 for each day—then leaned over my desk and half-whispered, “This better be the weekend he proposes.”
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.
Tracey Emin might be the ultimate 90swoman. But in the spirit of her confessional art, I have a confession of my own: I’ve never been sure I’d like her very much in person. But at a reading last Saturday I found out that my skepticism could not have been more misplaced. She was hilarious, smart, self-aware, and complicated. She confidently read a short sketch about all the boys she fucked when she was 13 and 14 but refused to read the end of another story because she said she was far too embarrassed. (Even exhibitionists have their limits.) She brought a glass of wine up to the lectern—it’s true, her pleasure-seeking always gives me a little thrill—but she never took a sip from it. Continue reading
I think I know less than you, Ada—both about this specific instance and about this quandary in general. So let me first say: I only know the basics of about what happened between Letterman and Birkitt. But based on what I know, I have to admit that my response is the same as yours, ie. hot; what?; and who cares?
I agree with your friend that interoffice dating—especially between the boss and an underling—has all kinds of problematic repercussions, but bosses often play favorites even when sex isn’t involved. And what are you going to do when it is two consenting adults? Plus: Andrea Peyser is crazy.
And yet….also, like you, I have a little bit of a question mark. I am waiting for some Feminist Friend to give me some really good reasons about why this is totally wrong. But so far, I keep kind of shrugging my shoulders.
By the way, Neal has the best standards for a girlfriend I have ever read. Maybe he needs a blog called 90sMan. You are a lucky woman!–Kara
Okay, back to work. Kara, I don’t feel like I have any sense of cause and effect. Like, I know Gen-X men these days are way more likely to help raise their kids and Gen-X women are way more apt to have careers. I know there was a kind of tension and bitterness and resentment between men and women in the ’60s and ’70s that just doesn’t seem to be there nearly as much. Katha Pollitt once told me in an interview that she was discouraged because her daughter was one of only a couple of girls who raised their hands when asked by a teacher who in the class considered themselves feminists. But I said, and I think, that if you asked a typical class full of students if men and women deserved equal pay, if men should clean the house, if no meant no, then you would see that the younger generations are completely, unblinkingly feminist. My personal theory is that the reason this happened is because of Bikini Kill Fanzine #2, old school Sesame Street, and the fact that latchkey kid-dom was lonely and we learned that we need each other. Who do you think got us here?