Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Can't We All Just Fucking Get Along?

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  • Russell Brown,

    Calling a woman who has too much sex a "prostitute", then cutely crossing it out? Hardly bloody original. It's not like she invented slut-shaming.

    Oh! I thought she'd used the word, been admonished by readers, and found a better way of saying it.

    But yeah, that's my take: some dazzling touches, but tried too hard elsewhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I don't know where to draw the line, what with half of actual feminists taking pains to tell everyone that they're not a feminist but they believe in equality, and half of non-feminists telling people they are feminist because they believe women's traditional roles should be embraced.

    God, yes. I find it all immensely confusing. (For some reason I am reminded of that Lollapalooza scene in The Simpsons, where one audience member asks another 'are you being ironic?' and he replies 'I don't even KNOW anymore.') So while we're in the midst of all this flux, I'm just going to stick with calling myself a feminist and trying to avoid calling other people not-feminists when they say they're feminists (even Sarah bloody Palin, which sticks in the craw somewhat), and not really knowing what I think about some of the Big Feminist Issues. Which is... not all that helpful, actually. (And if Gio's One Dimensional Woman author-person tries to take away my shoes and handbags, I am going to be *peeved*.)

    (Also: Megan, I love 'I Am Woman' too! In all its earnest, cheesy glory.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    So while we're in the midst of all this flux, I'm just going to stick with calling myself a feminist and trying to avoid calling other people not-feminists when they say they're feminists (even Sarah bloody Palin, which sticks in the craw somewhat)

    Nonetheless, the generosity of spirit you display in this makes others think well of you.

    (Also: Megan, I love 'I Am Woman' too! In all its earnest, cheesy glory.)

    I danced around the house singing it the last time it was on Radio NZ. Does this mean I'm gay?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I thought there were some notes she didn't need to strike, but in the context of SATC, that line strikes me as pure gold.

    Well, yes and no. In the context of slut-shaming through the ages "women who fuck aren't only bad feminists, they're but not even real women at all but fucked up degenerates like faggots" is right up there in the Hall of Shame. And kind of a weird dog-whistle to blow in an "alternative" magazine in-your-face sex columnist and caller out of homophobic bullshit Dan Savage calls home.

    And, yes, executive producers Darren Starr and Patrick Michael King are both gay men but a quick look at the actual credits reveal a show which, for all its faults, had a better record of hiring women writers and directors than most American television.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    And if Gio's One Dimensional Woman author-person tries to take away my shoes and handbags, I am going to be *peeved*

    I believe Ms Power intended to critique the view that emancipation equates to the freedom of consumer choice. Not that shoes or handbags are bad.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    'I Am Woman' too! In all its earnest, cheesy glory.

    At about 2:38, never been done cheesier.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    For some reason I am reminded of that Lollapalooza scene in The Simpsons, where one audience member asks another 'are you being ironic?' and he replies 'I don't even KNOW anymore.'

    I was kind of thinking of the star-bellied Sneetches after everyone's been through the machine a few times each way.

    I'm puzzled by the concept of being a bad [any ideology]. Ideologies are like colour charts - they come in different colours and intensities, but you don't talk about bad and good blues and oranges*. You might think it's silly to call your latest shade of off-white Dazzle or Blaze, but it's not going to fool anyone who looks at the actual colour.

    *Although I understand "Faded Red" was an insult in cultural revolution China.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And, yes, executive producers Darren Starr and Patrick Michael King are both gay men but a quick look at the actual credits reveal a show which, for all its faults, had a better record of hiring women writers and directors than most American television.

    Certainly, but that doesn't mean a joke about it being gay men playacting is offensive. It's pretty much the received wisdom about the franchise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Challinor,

    Being branded as (horror!) a feminist
    Turns Zen monk to fevered adrenalist.
    Of persons so labelled
    The fury is fabled:
    Of all bitter lemons, the lemonest.

    London, England • Since Sep 2009 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Applause

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Xeno,

    Sense of humour and liking of penises firmly established. They're adorable.

    I don't think being considered small and cute in that department would be a step up. :P

    Since Oct 2008 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Emma, ta for the links to Megan's review and follow-up - those are great! Now I feel as though someone else saw the same movie I did.

    The one point I'd quibble with would be the Miranda/Charlotte chat about how hard motherhood is, and their final exchange: "How do the women without help do it?" "I have no fucking idea."

    On paper, yes, it's totally patronising, and I was bracing myself to be offended. But in the theatre full of women where I saw the movie, this wasn't received as a kiss-off, so much as a saluary toast, and it was greeted with a palpable warmth and a scattered chorus of "Yes!' and "Amen!" and "Thank you!" And even I felt strangely affirmed.

    I don't pretend to know how this worked, but I'm interested that it worked that way... in fact, I wrote several hundred words on the film as latter-day commedia-dell'arte or indeed a Pantomime-with-slightly-too-many-dames ("OH no you didn't!" "OH yes you did!" "He's behind youuuu!" "Cheat on Big!") before deciding the world didn't need yet another SATC White Paper on the State of Feminism(s), and going back to tinkering with the dozen or so other unfinished blog posts that litter my laptop...

    On the subject, my clever sister did a nice job, I thought, of teasing out part of what was so very wrong with how the Samantha character was treated.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Oh well. I suppose I'll stick my neck out on this one. I'll start with the easy thing. (Emphasis mine.)

    also relevant to Deborah's latest post ... that I find usefully provocative

    Thank you, Gio. That's quite a compliment, and I appreciate it.

    Now the difficult bits...

    With regard to who is and who isn't a feminist: If someone claims to be left-wing, but runs a business, pays her employees the minimum amount possible, regards taxation as theft, and thinks that all those immigrants should be sent home right now, then I think we would be justified in saying that she is mistaken, and wrong to claim to be left wing. She might regard herself as left-wing, perhaps because her family are life-long Labour voters, but all the evidence is to the contrary.

    When it comes to feminism, and who is or who isn't a feminist, I'm prepared to say that feminists must be pro-choice. Not pro-abortion for themselves, necessarily, but pro-choice. They must recognise that other women are autonomous adults, fully capable of making decisions for themselves, and fully responsible for living with the consequences. In words that I've stolen from Stef, because I loves them: Feminism - free to fuck up. Your life, your decisions, your responsibility. Just because you are an autonomous adult.

    I've got a long post about it over at my place, from sometime last year: Why feminists must be pro-choice.

    That's why I don't think Sarah Palin is feminist. She's all too ready to tell other women how to live. In particular, she's happy to remove the ability to make moral choices from women, because she doesn't trust them to make those decisions the way she would like them to be made. Palin is a beneficiary of feminism, but I don't think that she herself is feminist.

    Why yes, I am making a judgement there. Deal with it. I think the way I understand feminism leaves masses of room for all types of feminisms. But not for people who deny women's agency.

    With regard to the "Bad Feminist" label: I don't care for it, and I try hard to avoid it, for myself, and with respect to other people. But I'm happy to describe particular actions or events or ideas or wev as not feminist. Who lives a life of perfect feminism, or progressivism, or leftism, or rightism, or wev-ism anyway? I'm no moral saint, and I don't suppose many people are, and if they are, I don't want to know them.

    With regard to calling myself feminist, well, that's what I am. If I eschew the label, then I leave it to be defined by the people who claim it. If I want the label to mean something, then I feel that I need to stay within it, and work to make it as broad and inclusive as possible, without losing that core commitment to recognising women as autonomous adults.

    And I keep on with the label, even though it's challenged, deeply, by people who argue that feminism is a movement of elite white women. (For an alternative view on why Sarah Palin really is a feminist, check out this post at Womanist Musings: Is Sarah Palin really a femnist?) I have no desire to deny the history of the term, nor to try to back away from my identity because it can be problematic.

    For the record, I'm married, with children, I support my husband's career and only work part time myself, I wear make-up and high heels ('though not outrageous ones, because I'm just too old for my feet to manage anymore), I am, in fact, a Bad Feminist (TM) in many aspects of my life. But still a feminist. Because I think that women are adults. And I treat them as such.

    Regarding SATC2 - haven't seen it, don't intend to, because I'm not interested in spending $40 on babysitting in order to see it.

    Time to stop now... just bear in mind that I don't get up as early as you lot back in NZ. Also, I am busy tomorrow, so if you want to dissect this, I won't be here to join in the fun. Also, this is now longer than Emma's original post, which is RUDE (I'm sorry, Emma) so I wouldn't be at all upset if it gets the TL:DR treatment. Fair enough.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    On the subject, my clever sister did a nice job, I thought, of teasing out part of what was so very wrong with how the Samantha character was treated.

    Writing fabulously is clearly a core heritable trait in the Gracewood family. That post was a pleasure to read. As were the other posts on her site. Kept me up past my bedtime, they did.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    Regarding SATC2 - haven't seen it, don't intend to, because I'm not interested in spending $40 on babysitting in order to see it.

    I am sure a truly pro-feminist husband would put the kids to bed while you went out and enjoyed this epic on your own :-)

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    the TL:DR treatment.

    I read all the way to the end, Deborah. I love your philosophical rendering of the question.

    Also, this is now longer than Emma's original post, which is RUDE

    I didn't read it as rude, but then it occurs to me that I might have missed a crucial memo about forum etiquette, despite having been online for eleventy-million years. In which case, I have graphomaniacally erred more times than I can count. I can only plead that each time, I was seduced by the luxury of actually finishing a thought all the way to the end (something that does not often happen IRL).

    Will fall silent for a bit and practise saying things in sentences rather than paragraphs.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Kept me up past my bedtime, they did.

    Oh, just spotted this. Yep, Gracewood Sisters: keeping people up past their bedtime since, ah, 1970-something. Ask our mum.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    OK, clearly I can't help myself, one more:

    If we agree about the dodgy bits of Lindy West's review, as Emma said...

    I not only found that repulsive, I found it try-hard. Most of the column is well-written, but that just clanged. It was like she was trying, really hard, to be offensive.

    i.e. all mouth and no trousers, then the more interesting question for me is, why was it so compulsively, reflexively retweeted? To get all jargony, what the hell cultural identity was being interpellated in that frenzied moment, both en masse and at the individual level?

    PS: another vote for One-Dimensional Woman as intellectual yeast (ta Giovanni!), but the book about feminism that really did it for me in the last couple of months was Virginie Despentes' stunning King Kong Theory.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • GemmaG,

    Yep, Gracewood Sisters: keeping people up past their bedtime since, ah, 1970-something.

    Speaking of bedtime, I just woke up to all this (the post & comments, not feminism... uh...).

    So, am I the only one who misread Emma's post title first off as "Can't We All Just Get Along By Fucking?"

    Now there's an idea. PAS: up for a mass debate about anything, anytime!

    (Sorry for taking it to the gutter. Lindy West started it.)

    [Points over there...]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Oho, so that's what y'all get up to at these "Great Blends" I never manage to make it over for.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    Sigh. I am torn. I identify as a feminist, and it bugs when other people don't. I've spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince people yes, in fact, they are. I feel like if we don't claim the word, we give away some of the argument, some of The Cause. And, despite what some people might tell you, it's a cause that still needs fighting for.

    But. My feminism is pretty much as broad as it gets. And it basically boils down to this: Stop Telling Me What To Do. I am an autonomous adult, with my own job, and my own money. If I want to waste that all on shoes, or whatevs, that's my business. Nothing *I* do is inherently Bad For Women. Stop telling me it is. Cos, you know, I am a child, and that's just going to want to make me do it more.

    And OH MY GOD, please stop trying to tell me what to do with my body. It is mine. and if I want to use it to screw half the All Black back line, I will. (Well, I won't, but you understant my point.) And if I want to wear a dress that shows off my cleavage, it's not your problem. And it most certainly doesn't make me a Bad Feminist. And of course, it isn't just all about shoes, boobs, and lip gloss. But those things are important to me, and I won't apologise for that.

    I had a conversation recently with a relative for whom I have enormous respect. A woman who has fought all her life for the right to work outside the home, to not have to shave her legs. She's like the poster child for the "second wave". And she is appalled by my lipstick wearing, cleavage-showing, be-high-heeled, sex-positive, 'drink with the lads', feel completely free to criticise Sarah Palin version of the dogma she holds so dear. She honestly believes my generation is selling out what she fought so hard for.

    Talking to her is harder than talking to a confirmed misogynist. Because I can't just dismiss what she's saying. And I don't know how to resolve that.

    Except, as Danielle said, they can prize my beautiful shoes off my cold dead feet.

    i.e. all mouth and no trousers, then the more interesting question for me is, why was it so compulsively, reflexively retweeted? To get all jargony, what the hell cultural identity was being interpellated in that frenzied moment, both en masse and at the individual level?

    Well, it was, for the most part, quite funny. Scathing and bitchy. It just didn't really stand up to more than one reading. And I read it a lot.

    (Sorry for taking it to the gutter. Lindy West started it.)

    Don't panic, I am here now. We can keep it in the gutter for ages.

    On paper, yes, it's totally patronising, and I was bracing myself to be offended. But in the theatre full of women where I saw the movie, this wasn't received as a kiss-off, so much as a saluary toast, and it was greeted with a palpable warmth and a scattered chorus of "Yes!' and "Amen!" and "Thank you!" And even I felt strangely affirmed.

    Yeah, I am not a mother, so I am perfectly comfortable being corrected on that front. It felt off to me, but if it worked for other people, then awesome.

    I danced around the house singing it the last time it was on Radio NZ. Does this mean I'm gay?

    No. But it is an image that is going to stick in my head for quite some time.

    (And now I've done a Deborah and written a novel, I will actually do some work)

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Certainly, but that doesn't mean a joke about it being gay men playacting is offensive. It's pretty much the received wisdom about the franchise.

    Sure, and we can't let easily checkable fact get in the way of "received wisdom" about how Teh Gay Borgz think and act, can we? I guess I need to "get a sense of humour" (bingo!) about being served up the same old bullshit that gay men not-so-secretly hate and degrade women (and vice versa with the dykes) just because they don't want to fuck 'em. You don't have to look very far to see how quickly that joke stops being funny.

    But, hey, to be Pollyanna-ish about it: King is an arse-hat who happens to be gay and, to be fair, Lindy West has got a looong way to go before she beats Armand White for toxic levels of critical WTF!-ness. But, seriously, I think West needs to take the same advice she was proffering to Patrick Michael King: Just have a think about the difference between being "usefully provocative" and being an arsehole shitting on people from a position of unexamined privilege. (Hey, I'm a woman, I'm writing in The Stranger it's "edgy and provocative" to lay down shit bridge-trolls like Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter would be eviscerated for saying. And isn't it interesting how often Ms. Malkin and Coulter respond to being called out on not letting reality, or common decency, get in the way of one of their rants with "I was just JOKING, why don't you get over your politically correct self?" )

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Sure, and we can't let easily checkable fact get in the way of "received wisdom" about how Teh Gay Borgz think and act, can we?

    But isn't it the fact that the creators of SATC are two gay men? They've written most of the scripts.

    I'm honestly not trying to wind you up, Craig, but I don't quite get the offence here. It's six years since an episode of The Simpsons had Marge describe SATC as"the show about four women acting like gay guys."

    There's a more recent story on the theme here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I'm honestly not trying to wind you up, Craig, but I don't quite get the offence here. It's six years since an episode of The Simpsons had Marge describe SATC as"the show about four women acting like gay guys."

    At the risk of inflammation: like it or not, most jokes are about stereotypes, in order to confirm the punchline or to offer the counter as a surprise. But you all know this, simply because PAS ends up having this discussion many times a year.

    So let's rewrite the joke: SATC (an acronym with wonderful onomatopoeia for such a show) is a show about four women who act like...?

    Remember, no stereotypes allowed and it has to be at least Simpsons-level funny.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    So let's rewrite the joke: SATC (an acronym with wonderful onomatopoeia for such a show) is a show about four women who act like...?

    At the risk of sounding like a humourless penis-hater, SATC is a show about four women who act like women?

    Well, it used to be.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

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