Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hairless Pinkish Scapenannies In More Beloved Familiar 'Toons

It gets progressively worse; at least Bellafante in Time correctly identified the producer of Ally MacBeal. But each time this complaint is recycled in recent decades, women, feminists and feminism are more openly demonised and increasingly isolated as scapegoats to absorb blame for misogyny, women's exploitation and objectification, and men are increasingly pictured as powerless, though ever willing, to rescue us. The ever less veiled implication is another mass culture style re-telling of the Fall, as lately in von Trier's Antichrist: that men's loss of mastery - the loss of the noble "breadwinner" role - is the result of (and also invited) uppity, selfish women's ill-advised revolt, the current predicament of feminism and women being the self-inflicted degradation that has always been that inevitable fate of which the patriarchs warned should women insist on refusing the benevolent protection of the natural ruling class. Eventually this descends to: "What Walter and others miss is the fact that the old categories we used to try to explain the oppression of women: misogyny, patriarchy, objectification and so on, do not exactly capture the more complex logic of self-exploitation," as alleges Nina Power, ambassador to women from Zizneyland. One could call this David Simon Feminism or Michael Medved Feminism.

Feminism: It's all about me! Time Magazine 1998

What a comedown for the movement. If women were able to make their case in the '60s and '70s, it was largely because, as the slogan went, they turned the personal into the political. They used their daily experience as the basis for a critique, often a scholarly one, of larger institutions and social arrangements. From Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex to Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique to Kate Millett's Sexual Politics--a doctoral dissertation that became a national best seller--feminists made big, unambiguous demands of the world. They sought absolute equal rights and opportunities for women, a constitutional amendment to make it so, a chance to be compensated equally and to share the task of raising a family. But if feminism of the '60s and '70s was steeped in research and obsessed with social change, feminism today is wed to the culture of celebrity and self-obsession.

...much of feminism has devolved into the silly. And it has powerful support for this: a popular culture insistent on offering images of grown single women as frazzled, self-absorbed girls. Ally McBeal is the most popular female character on television. The show, for the few who may have missed it, focuses on a ditsy 28-year-old Ivy League Boston litigator who never seems in need of the body-concealing clothing that Northeastern weather often requires. Ally spends much of her time fantasizing about her ex-boyfriend, who is married and in the next office, and manages to work references to her mangled love life into nearly every summation she delivers. She has fits in supermarkets because there are too few cans of Pringles. She answers the question "Why are your problems so much bigger than everyone else's?" with the earnest response "Because they're mine." When Ally gets any work done, how she keeps her job, why she thinks it's O.K. to ask her secretary why she didn't give her a birthday present--these are all mysteries. Ally probably wouldn't seem so offensive as an addition to the cast of Seinfeld, but because this is a one-hour drama filled with pseudo-Melissa Etheridge music and emotional pretense, we are meant to take her problems more seriously than George Costanza's. "Ally McBeal is a mess. She's like a little animal," notes Nancy Friday, a sex-positive feminist if ever there was one. "You want to put her on a leash." And what does Ally's creator David Kelley have to say about Ally as a feminist? "She's not a hard, strident feminist out of the '60s and '70s. She's all for women's rights, but she doesn't want to lead the charge at her own emotional expense." Ally, though, is in charge of nothing, least of all her emotional life.

As if one Ally McBeal character were not enough, America is discovering another, the heroine of an enormously hyped novel called Bridget Jones's Diary, by British author Helen Fielding. The book, a best seller in England for months, is a sometimes funny but ultimately monotonous chronicle of a year in the life of an unmarried thirtysomething London editor whose thoughts never veer far from dating, the cocktail hour and her invariably failed attempts at calorie cutting. A typical Bridget reflection: "Cannot face thought of going to work. Only thing that makes it tolerable is thought of seeing Daniel again, but even this is inadvisable since am fat, have spot on chin, and desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials." Few women alive haven't dwelled on relationships or their appearance, but most manage to concern themselves with other things too. The problem with Bridget and Ally is that they are presented as archetypes of single womanhood even though they are little more than composites of frivolous neuroses.

While we were shopping, Guardian 2002:

It is, perhaps, not surprising that a myth of equality has developed in recent years - an assumption that everything has been won. New Labour flaunts its female-friendly credentials while women everywhere enjoy the fruits of feminism's efforts: they do brilliantly at school and university, get on the board, are paid the minimum wage or more, feel good about sex and contraception and abortion, are aware that they don't have to take violence or sexism or abuse from men. Furthermore, we now talk of liberation in all sorts of ways: we "take care" of ourselves with ever more indulgent products; we give ourselves "me time", whether it's shopping or pampering; we take responsibility for our flaws with cosmetic surgery; we embrace pornography and stripping as liberation.

But perhaps we need to look at how liberating these "freedoms" really are. While many British women have been sitting back, convinced that enough has been won, have we been taken in by a huge con trick? Has feminism been hijacked by people with something to sell?...

Destiny's Child's 2000 chart song Independent Women might sound like kick-ass liberation ("The shoes on my feet, I've bought it/ The clothes I'm wearing, I bought it/ The house I live in, I bought it/ The car I'm driving, I bought it"), but really, it's women's lib by credit card. Shopping itself has been fetishised into women's greatest pleasure, and the most empowering thing you can do for yourself is to go to a beauty therapist. A woman recently quoted in a television report about New York nail bars said, "New Yorkers have more respect for themselves than women in London: they spend time making sure they have their nails right and so on." She had been sold the story that manicures were not about dodgy cuticles, but self-respect. As L'Oreal would say, it's "because you're worth it". I must respect myself; after all, I wash my hair with Fructis.

Similar justifications lie behind the rise in cosmetic surgery (up 50% in the past five years in Britain): that it makes women feel better about themselves, complete, free from their flaws. While women flock to surgeons to have gruesome operations with often calamitous consequences, while cosy Boots the chemist offers injections of poison to paralyse expression muscles in the face, the surgery spin meisters sell it as a quasi-feminist act to take control of your body. "If implants make a woman feel better about herself, why not?" wrote Jan Breslauer in Playboy.[sic]

When feminism went nuts. The Times (London) 2009

These are truly boomtime girls, part of that first generation to beat boys at A level, outnumber them at university and often out-earn them in the workplace. A decade of national prosperity won them that feminist ideal: economic equality. But, as Professor Michael Sandel argued in his recent Reith Lectures, we have allowed expanding markets to define our moral limits. Certainly with lap-dancing clubs, as with 24-hour drinking and liberalised gambling laws, the question for new Labour was never whether these were desirable to us as a society, only do people want them, is there demand? If the answer is yes, they must be good. And those who oppose them must, by definition, be anti-populist fun-suckers.

And during the boom years, the language of women’s liberation was ransacked by companies trying to flog us stuff. Suddenly feminism wasn’t about rights or social advances, but shopping. Self-worth now came in a shampoo bottle — “Because you’re worth it”.

Liberation was brunch and designer bags as in Sex and the City. As Maureen Dowd, the US columnist, put it: “Feminism has been replaced by narcissism.”

The most unlikely things are now classed as “empowering”: buying shoes, taking a pole-dancing class, having a boob job, sending a snap of your breasts to Nuts magazine, entering one of the beauty contests newly revived across British campuses. That these are the kind of dumb-ass submissive practices long performed for male view, is, it seems, coincidental. Feminism 2009 means acting out male masturbation fantasies — because you want to.

Feminism is mindless hedonism. The Telegraph 2010

But there is a serious problem with the mindless hedonism that grew out of Girl Power and learnt its morals from Sex and the City, a problem which Natasha Walter examines in her new book, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism.

Walter, for those not up to speed on the feminist canon – and who is, these days? – wrote The New Feminism, published in 1998, which delighted in the progress that had been made towards an equal society. ''Here's feminism as phoenix, as blazing torch lighting the way to a new century,'' wrote Michele Roberts in a breathlessly enthusiastic review. Now all that optimism has turned to dust. Living Dolls analyses the increasing sexualisation of feminity and the extent to which young women are led to believe that their bodies are their only passport to success.

Far from relations between the sexes flourishing emotionally and physically, against a backdrop of mutual respect, understanding and equality, a generation of young girls is interpreting liberation as the right to behave like top-shelf models. These women, interviewed by Walter, are also committed to no-strings sex, celebrating one-night stands as notches on their designer handbags. For them, STDs are almost a badge of honour, eating disorders commonplace and men who talk of love and commitment are sneered at for "going soppy".

... "It's my choice," is now an argument-clincher for any kind of louche behaviour.

Ouch. Was this what their mothers fought for? Of course not. Freedom, combined with economic independence, may have proved a poisoned chalice, one that has made women more unhappy than ever before. Is it all feminism's fault, some are asking – among them Martin Amis, whose new novel, The Pregnant Widow, is based around the wretched story of his late sister Sally, who was unable to control her own drinking and promiscuity. To him, she was a victim of liberation.

A few years ago feminism was dismissed as boring and earnest, something espoused by women in dungarees, that sartorial symbol of a movement that felt the need to hide women's femininity, not celebrate it. These days, the very word feminism has become so besmirched that is is now referred to as the f-word. But, with the turn of the new decade, a slew of books is attempting to recast, or revive, the almost-deceased debate about women's place in society, among them Ellie Levenson's The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism and Kat Banyard's The Equality Illusion. These books will be lucky to find any kind of readership, when even intelligent young women choose Katie Price as their role model.

Price is unashamed of surgically enhancing her body in order to make herself more sexually and commercially desirable; she epitomises everything Walter bemoans. Price hasn't got a good degree, or a stable marriage, but she has made a pile of money out of her grotesquely exaggerated charms. This, it seems, is where feminism has led us: down a cul-de-sac lined with lap-dancing clubs and the right to pole dance.

("Because you're worth it" - the pros really do know what they are doing.)

Now Zizzneyism seeks, as part of it's Yerosupremacist praxis, to present these white solipsist, clichéd venemous, reactionary assaults on women and feminism as radical leftist "critique of consumerism" and despicably "upbeat feminism" just as it seeks to sell white solipsist, venomous, reactionary assaults on poc, anti-racism and anti-imperalism as radical leftist "critique of liberalism" or "liberal multiculturalism". Because these absurdities are vulnerable to accuracy of reportage and historiography, those genres of intellectual product are attacked as degraded positivism, egoist obsession with "the body", particularism, risible post-colonial post-modernism, and Hegel's idea of the "primitive" (African fetishist) stage of the human prior to Islam. What is promoted in their place is a kind of "theorising" that consists of looking arduously pensive, like Jane Fonda and Richard Nixon, as if lifting mountains with one's mind (so weighty are the thoughts and ideas being produced behind that brow), and then intoning. banalities. and. mass. culture. references. very. slowly.


  1. "the more complex logic of self-exploitation"

    Complex is certainly one way to put it.

  2. You know, in these articles there's all of this conservative hand-wringing and moralizing going on about the prevalence of naked women on newstands and how it's turning all young women into somatic narcissists who "tend to their bodies" above all else. But this simply does not jibe with reality. Women are more accomplished than ever, more independent (socially, financially), and by many measures more confident than they've been since we've been recording these things. One author mentions that mental health is worse among women now than it was 30 years ago, but fails to mention that female mental health issues are still completely dwarfed by the magnitude and degree of male mental illness, which has made even steadier gains over 30 years. And in fact, the study she refers to (I assume, since she didn't cite her source) is actually a study about women self-reporting less happiness today than they did in 1960, which is a different can of worms.

    We're supposed to believe that lad mags with exposed breasts will be the ruin of women, that it's utterly damaging to women's psyches to see other women naked on magazine covers. There is probably some truth in this- I'd prefer to see women depicted as sexual and intelligent in equal measures, sophisticated, etc., rather than diminutive and sexy and eternally sexually available. The assumption is *always*, without hesitation, that women are univocal in their insistence that they do not enjoy any kind of sexually explicit materials or "porn"-like images. Unfortunately, this is simply untrue- sexologists have proven it over and over again. First, women are not even close to being in agreement over how much explicit imagery is too much. But second, women respond to visual stimuli, and especially porn, much faster and with a stronger physiological component than men do. IIRC, they even experience far less anxiety along with their arousal than men do, and tend to sexualize anxiety less. (See the Kinsey Institute webpage.)

    I don't read lad mags- the aesthetic of them is beyond shallow and uninteresting. And I don't go out of my way to porn. But I'd like to see one of these Bindel types ponder the possibility that women are freer with their sexuality these days not because they are being forced into it unwittingly or unwillingly, but because, as they gain more and more economic independence from men, they experience their sexuality with more of a sense a freedom rather than obligation. Perhaps it's possible that when women do not have to choose between getting married or starving to death, sexual play and experimentation is no longer experienced primarily as a mode of oppression/coercion. Perhaps women feel less apprehensive about expressing themselves using existing sexual codes and signals as they are increasingly allowed to do so without fear of (total) social recrimination.

    I'd be truly interested in reading some kind of serious consideration of this hypothesis in the mainstream media. But alas, sex & boobs & sensationalism still sell papers.

  3. Nominally, Power espouses sex radicalism, really. Here's her opening from an article on films by Makavajev, "Sex is boring: Michel Foucault’s claim in an interview from
    1983, from around the time of his History of Sexuality project,
    is as good a summation as any of our current predicament.
    What was once seen as a force for radical change—political,
    physical, social—is now nothing but a tacky consumer addon:
    “sex appeal” is smeared on everything from shoes to
    from models to cars, and one buys it as one would
    a cauliflower or some toilet roll. At the same time, despite a
    general atmosphere of permissive hedonism, the very idea of
    questioning the sanctity of one’s “private life” is unthinkable:
    the couple, straight or gay, forms the only acceptable goal of
    human sexual behavior, even if one sleeps with hundreds of
    people on the way. The current obsession with “the One,” the
    perfect lifetime partner—a key motif of supposedly emancipated
    television shows such as Sex and the City and Ally
    McBeal—demonstrates that in fact desire is indifferent to
    whether its object is another human being, a handbag, or a
    pair of shoes."
    so we've got another version of the rad-fem distress over people having the wrong kind of sex.

    Politically, she's convinced that no progress within bourgeois society on bourgeois terms is positive in any way. A metaphysical, idealist position.

    Like ultra-leftist opposition (or at least refusal of support) to gay marriage. Because marraige is a bourgeois institution, and who cares if there are people who want to claim it as their democractic right. They are jsut so lame, and not as forward-thinking as us real radicals.

    To Power, I'm sure, a claim like "Women are more accomplished than ever, more independent (socially, financially)" would prove how right she is, not how wrong.

    Although if we assmbled a picture gallery opf the world's most accomplished women, I suspect it pose an empirical difficulty to her premise that all that accomplishment corelates with sexualization and display.

  4. just that she mentions ally macbeal clinches it - she's just patching together reactionary shit from the msm, then vending it in this pose of radical commitments, but it's really the same as Glenn Beck - this is her act, she's trying to make a career as a pundit and she hit on this idea of selling right wing garbage as left wing, and she'd be the only stall in the "left wing feminism" part of the market selling this vile right wing misogynist crap. Aznd she can also then fiurther this backlash right wing zizzy fasho agenda by as anodyne mentioned earlier what butler described as "speaking for the speak against"

    "Because marriage is a bourgeois institution, and who cares if there are people who want to claim it as their democractic right. "

    yes, and also she has to only imply, without saying outright, the same stance about anti-miscegenation laws. But thisanti-marriage anti-family radicalism is for the advanced pink race, mind you - if we are talking brown folks, muslims, of course marriage or any traditional family relation is suitable. The reactionary essence of monogamy and marriage would not be introduced into a discussion of family unification in Jerusalem. One assumes. Really white supremacism is the key to her whole posture, it's just a little submerged, though it juts up in many places. But all the seeming contradictions and incoherence become consistent once you recognise the white supremacist framework.

    also there is this exceptionally submissive personality presenting itself as liberated and daring. she insists that "the only acceptable goal of
    human sexual behavior, even if one sleeps with hundreds of
    people on the way. The current obsession with “the One,” the
    perfect lifetime partner—a key motif of supposedly emancipated
    television shows such as Sex and the City and Ally
    McBeal—demonstrates that in fact desire is indifferent to
    whether its object is another human being, a handbag, or a
    pair of shoes"

    acceptable to whom, nina? your parents? alain badiou (yes). well screw them, grow up! but her own inability to disobey daddy - who communicates his orders to her through the television too - is put forward as a social problem.

    yes, there is the "new victorianism" among the elites, to be sure; but there is a very great difference betwee these new victorians and the old ones. when nina power lambastes women for becoming hussies when working outside the home, for heads full of chocolate and princess clothing - the princess is negatively compared to "tomboy" and "scholar" (Nina's own self-portrait, as it happens, whereas princess doesn't suit her) - she has far less power to harm. The recycled chesterton "ironies" don't have the same relation to apparatus of domination. Women came together to defend themselves and we remain so now - Nina Power, or a a Gill speaking through Kpunk speaking through Nina Power, would like to have Abi Titmuss forcibly controlled, punished and straightjacketed, and move on to the Frances Farmers and Kate Millets of today. The intensity of the hostility, the desire to gaga and obliterate (bell hooks even more than Valenti) is undisguised. But the capacity is lacking.

  5. so many typose - speaking for to speak against

  6. How inescapable could this norm of he couple really be if even romance novels now can have happily ever after threesomes?

    It's like Power is so proud of herself for being able to detect some norms and traditions on television and in magazines that she's decided to complain at an implausible level of alarm and emotion about them, just as the pretext for saying she noticed. Like the little kid who says "don't you hate when...." when she really means "I noticed that..." but doesn't feel she can just say what she noticed, since she rightly suspects its not very interesting. So her exaggerated emotion becomes the purportedly interesting thing - her rage and outrage about chocolate, handbags, vibrators, .....

  7. "she'd be the only stall in the "left wing feminism" part of the market selling this vile right wing misogynist crap" oh man, you beat me to it. This morning I was thinking, 'slut-shaming sex positive feminism.' That's a mouthful. A truly unique niche.

    "Like the little kid who says "don't you hate when...."'. dto. on this one. She cuold just use the default version of this argument, "The world is full of idiots! I hate ideotis.!" Why deosn't everyone buy dvd's of obscure movies.

  8. sex positive but female-body-loathing - breasts are disgusting, toothless yapping dogs? "the holy body" is the concern of vile "consumerist" narcissists who masturbate while "impersonal projects" (Christianity I guess) crumble around them? male fraternity/soldiarity is destroyed and replaced by competitive, unproductive female narcissism and nailpolish? ...

  9. Saint Paul is of course the founder of this "universalism". He really doesn't improve over the centuries.

  10. We're not the only ones who see through this rhetoric, apparently. I noticed this today at Tiger Beatdown:

    Ah yes, the old "Feminism turns women into bitches, and then, finally, whores" bit. How in the world this stuff is passing for feminism is just beyond me.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. "Nina Power, or a a Gill speaking through Kpunk speaking through Nina Power, would like to have Abi Titmuss forcibly controlled, punished and straightjacketed, "

    I went and read that "feminist manifesto" after it was mentioned. It made a lot of (really obvious) positive statements about feminism, but this one caught my eye:

    "To control their own lives, women must control their own bodies and sexuality."

    Well- quite. I can't even believe how obvious the command and control subtext is within the Barnes & Noble new media feminism I'm coming across lately.

  13. "I suspect it pose an empirical difficulty to her premise that all that accomplishment corelates with sexualization and display."

    Condie Rice is a good case in point here. Did she get to the upper eschalons of the American power elite by pole dancing and advocating vibrators for all?

    Today as ever, women in positions of authority are expected to be much more "buttoned up" and sexually controlled than men are.

  14. notice too rusbatch does exactly the same thing with whiteness and its other as Power with toni morrison - an excerpt from a morrison interview (after beloved won the pulitzer) is presented, without comment or engagement, just exhibited, and her "simplicity" is gushed over (twice).

  15. Yep, AL. Given my proclivities Angela Merkel was at the top of my list, but Condi was #2.

    Now the newsmagazine Jeune Afrique did have a bizarre sexualized shot of her a couple of years ago. But that's fantasy stuff and not her.

  16. Apropos, women depicted as sexual and intelligent in equal measures, sophisticated, etc., I don't know if anyone is familiar with Sahra Wagenknecht. Member of the German parliament for the party The Left party and effecgively the leader, at least the public face, of the left wing in that party. Ph.D. economist, articulate and forceful.
    Pardon me for not transcribing and translating this address, her first after taking her seat in the current session of the Bundestag. but I think just watching and hearing her you get an idea what's going on. I so wish we had leaders like this here.
    I hope this monstrous long url comes through in usable form:

  17. Oh and how Condi played into all of this expertly when she announced that the Gaza War signaled the outset of "birth pangs" of a new era in the Middle East. I.e.: she could bestow a sacramental blessing by "womanhood"--who else could have used such a metaphor?--upon the massacre.

  18. "wow"

    Yeah, the even creepier part about that whole Feminist Art Fair is that activists associated with the UK-based group Object showed up in the comments at Tiger Beatdown to defend the Rusbatch piece. Then someone from Amsterdam came on and reported how Object is now some kind of sockpuppet for Sky TV, one of Rupert Murdoch's brain children.

    Why am i not surprised?!?

    The problem with leftist factions that primarily focus on objectification is not that they question normative imagery, it's that they so easily slide into those idealist positions we were talking about- their message slips from being "this type of imagery objectifies women and infantilizes women" to "women in sexual situations are turned into objects" (Magically, of course- poof their subjectivity's gone as soon as men get an eyeful). Which basically puts them squarely in the camp of conservatives who think sex is inherently dehumanizing for women.

  19. Take a look at some of the comments on this page (a compendium of MRA pearls of wisdom- bear in mind that these are activists on the extreme right in the U.S.) and see if you can distinguish their points from something you'd hear from a Badiouian leftist. Here are a couple of my favorites:

    "Empowering women to have unbridled sex through lowered moral standards and birth control, has reduced the vagina to a commodity product.

    They’ve been slowly losing their allure over the last 40 years. It’s so common and easy to come by that it has lost it’s “specialness”. It’s everywhere and its free. Gone is female modesty and restraint. The porn star is idolized."

    "...I’m the classic beta. A guy who has gained financial stability, can afford to support a family on my own yet does not date and is pretty much isolated from the dating scene. A guy who looks around and sees what’s happening, repeatedly told I’m a loser and I NEED TO CHANGE BECAUSE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME. No, something is wrong with the slut culture."

    "Feminism is all about female sexuality and its gratification. The permission to flaunt it in order to satisfy the female ego; and to do so without any repercussions or being subjected to advances from men lower on the hierarchy; the ability to go for the best men and not to be called sluts even after taking a mutlitude of cocks in different orifices; wearing rags that leave their asses and bosoms hanging out, but “hey don’t objectify me bro”."


  21. i like the first ones best:

    JANE wrote:
    I love this peice!!!!Whats wrong with you people?

    and you all seem to be taking the shocked cliche feminist shock view!!!

    can no one see the irony?


    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5:16 am | Permalink
    OH DEAR wrote:
    Oh dear. You guys do not get it was a fucking JOKE! The idea that feminism or ‘empowerment’ is now perceived to have the freedom to get fucked for money! Now to be overtly sexual is now perceived as ‘power’.Get a fucking brain and have a sense of humour!

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    this is the mark of all the astroturf stuff, like the zizzians.

  22. pinkerton, yes, it was amazing how the Condi image worked - she was there to have her image be heaped also with the corruption fo the regime. She cleansed bush and cheney.

  23. what this work achieves with its "cawfee tawk" question to is distracting from how bad and stupid it is, how hackeneyed and simpleminded. that's more of the astroturf techniques shared with zizneyism

  24. and its just this exhibit in white supremacist affirmative action this way

    because its so bad, its such crap, only white people would get away with selling it

    like zizz and his monkeys, who just say the dumbest, most hackneyed, most simpleminded things - Violence is not always bad it depends on the circumstances! Feminism should pay attention to women on the ground in other countries! Sometimes you could call someone a fanatic just as an insult! - relying on their whiteness to make this seem adult and professional and to fend off anyone who would notice out loud how what they say is a combo of wrong and obvious.

    Just imagine someone not endowed with whiteness having written zizz' Violence book. Reviewers would certainly be like: "this is affirmative action gone too far. it's not even coherent. he lacks capacity to reason and logic. the writing is vague and evasive to disguise lack or content or to produce an illusion of provocative effects - hitler wasn't too violent! Hitler was NOT too violent! (note, I used violent in a very special sense to mean "musically gifted".) its riddled with errors of fact and absurd fantasies passed off as history...

    this would not be publishable except by a white man; indeed his persona organizes a whole mythology to make this stuff saleable.

    same with that feminist postcard.

    As a 50 Cent album cover it would be so different.

  25. whiteness is really the subtext of all this - white proprietor individuality, with its superpowers, its transformative ironies, its mastery and impunity. No existing meanings can contain its individual will, its individual instrumentalising for its own purpose - it has all the powers of capital to own and exploit. It can use signs however it wishes - gaga's steak dress "critique", the "messages" sent by the white house to its enemies,

    and to mean, to be complete, these discourses require those desginated inferiors to impose them on, the act is to force the inferiors to accept these discourses . these discourses are the praxis of white patriarchal domination.

    and uppitiness will not be tolerated. you become the enemy, the ressentimental slave underman, if you dislike it, disagree, fail to laugh and admire. Failing to do so signals your mental illness or evil. Even silent respect will not to - the white purveyors of "critiques" demand applause. You must not criticise as if this were any of your bizniz, what's public discourse to do with you, slave? If you are not "collegial" - if you are not devoted to maintaining the whole clerk racket - you can only be a malicious interloper, driven to emerge from the audience by evil destructive irrationality. You have to laugh and embrace the white Master of Signs the white Lord of Meaning and Ambiguity and say yes boss "now you can call me a n*****"

    There were many times when I had to exercise a great deal of ingenuity to keep out of trouble. It is a southern custom that all men must take off their hats when they enter an elevator. And especially did this apply to us blacks with rigid force. One day I stepped into an elevator with my arms full of packages. I was forced to ride with my hat on. Two white men stared at me coldly. Then one of them very kindly lifted my hat and placed it upon my armful of packages. Now the most accepted response for a Negro to make under such circumstances is to look at the white man out of the corner of his eye and grin. To have said: "Thank you!" would have made the white man think that you thought you were receiving from him a personal service. For such an act I have seen Negroes take a blow in the mouth. Finding the first alternative distasteful, and the second dangerous, I hit upon an acceptable course of action which fell safely between these two poles. I immediately--no sooner than my hat was lifted--pretended that my packages were about to spill, and appeared deeply distressed with keeping them in my arms. In this fashion I evaded having to acknowledge his service, and, in spite of adverse circumstances, salvaged a slender shred of personal pride.

  26. Jane and Oh Dear, the commenters from tigerbeatdown, could also claim their comments were parodies and there would be no proving otherwise.

  27. you mentioned MadMen

    its interesting - both my parents and all their friends were part of the atmosphere that is supposed to be portraying (and missing in a big way, but capturing superficially. Missing principally is their culture consumption - these people went to the theatre, read novels, went to galleries and talked about it.) and its interesting also to see what knd of discourse of sexual politics came next - Network. A great movie in many ways but unbelievably misogynist and white supremacist. there is the character spoofing angela davis, and there is the faye dunaway character,w ho was based on a real person, lynn bollin. but "Diana - you are television!"

    now it's, young lady, you are new media!

  28. Here's Naomi Wolf:

    Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer. Our younger sisters had to compete with video porn in the eighties and nineties, when intercourse was not hot enough. Now you have to offer—or flirtatiously suggest—the lesbian scene, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene. Being naked is not enough; you have to be buff, be tan with no tan lines, have the surgically hoisted breasts and the Brazilian bikini wax—just like porn stars. (In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.) Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up. By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high “exchange value,” as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale. All mainstream porn—and certainly the Internet—made routine use of all available female orifices.

    Isn't that fascinating how Marx is namedropped there? In New York Magazine?

    I don't deny there is a fashion, a cultural trend, that is as bewildering and repellant and surprising to me as to Naomi Wolf - I am still kind of amazed by all this strip-club going and whatnot. It is so unappealing to me, and to just about everyone over 35 or so I know, men as well women. about the same percentage, that is, of people i know like this stuff as liked it in the 80s.

    and i don't think it is prudery; this stuff just seems vulgar and boring, now as ever.

    From what I can tell of the porn teens watch now, its wierd too. The old mainstream expensive porn - two days shooting, $50K for the negative, stars like tracy lords - was all kind of 70s in sensibility, and even "feminism" in that often the story was a woman's erotic journey of self-rxploration or the 9 to 5 plot of a woman giving an oppressive and exploitative male in authority his comeuppance -all cutsey though, both his domination and their revenge. Devil in Miss Jones, Scent of Heather - its not feminist in my view, but its not the kind of vicious misogynist sensibility which both the pro and anti "pornification" camps share now - it's not the misogyny of AAGill/Fisher/Power. also it was pretty clean well paid business. Power is turned on watching films of prostitutes in the age before penicillin. This is very sick but typical of her zizzianism - that's real porn because those women were really harmed and used in the worst ways. And this makes it enjoyable for Power to watch them, whereas porn stars today are not prostitutes and are paid pretty well and have some leverage and don't have to suffer and die of stds. Uppity. All they are are threats she has to oblierate - the threats of better looking more successul women who enjoy more male attention. She works on getting male attention by offering herself as a surrogate to abuse these rivals (porn stars, fashion models who come in too many different types) with/through - they get to abuse these women but through a woman who offers herself as their feminist rubber glove, so they can feel righteous while they denounce the disgusting sluts.

  29. "also it was pretty clean well paid business."

    i mean, union crews working on their weekends with false names; production people paid at the same rates as studio features (though no union contributions). there's really no comparison to the conditions of the 1920s, for the seamstresses or the women actors.


    See, a lot of men complain, and say that they can't be "feminists" or join in the cause because women won't let them.

    But then THIS is what happens when men "participate"...well, men and Kate Nash. Pictures of extreme bukkake porn with what looks to be the most forlorn and unhappy 15-year-old girl on the planet.

    All of this talk about "exchange value" and how pussy is losing its commodities exchange value is beyond tasteless, but even Wolfe goes for it in her piece. I mean, this is what the MRAs are complaining about- they're suddenly realizing that many, many women aren't forced into sex and domestic servitude anymore, and they have the nerve to *complain* because the market for pussy is a supply-side economy. As if they are entitled to sex when they want it, on their terms, so their rights are being infringed. I agree with Wolfe to a point, and I think mainstream porn is just terrible- but then, I'm surrounded by young people (18-25) every day, and not a single one of them I know is into pole-dancing. None of them dress or look especially porny or sexy- most of the girls don't even wear makeup, and usually walk around in sweats and athletic wear. When I still lived in Brooklyn, nobody, but nobody was dressing like a pornstar or flaunting fake breasts, etc.

    I really want to know- *who*, in reality, not on TV or in films, are these young girls who are going in droves to strip aerobics? They don't exist, it's just not happening. Suddenly 150 bored trophy wives in L.A. is "girls these days!" It's a fantasy that's been cooked up to justify a bunch of strange backlash against feminists who happened to have succeeded on a lot of fronts.

  31. It really does seem that, more and more, to be truly included in the culture industry as a woman, you need to first be "jumped in" by pummeling all other successful women on the planet, just to prove your allegiance to the dominant gang.

    I mean, Kate Nash- a mediocre singer/songwriter who writes cheeky songs about being a pretty girl in the world- is the type that's almost always the White Male's foil of choice. She is given the chance to contribute something to a feminist art project, and what she contributes is a statement that reads like a condemnation of all other women who've made it in show biz. "Promote my single and I suck your cock." Well, Kate, are you speaking from experience? The tone seems to be snide and condescending, as if no woman but her has figured out that powerful men try to force women to give them sexual favors in order to get ahead. What a deep, feminist insight. Then there's some guy ragging on Amy Winehouse, the slutty slut drug addict slut.

    It's stuff like this that worries me as much, if not more, than the idea that some 20-year-old guy is watching completely unrealistic sexual scenarios play out in his dorm room. He'll learn that porn is fantasy, not reality, in time. But will these women ever extricate themselves from this BS and the nonsense they're spouting to get noticed and recognized by men, etc.? Sometimes I wonder.

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  33. "I really want to know- *who*, in reality, not on TV or in films, are these young girls who are going in droves to strip aerobics? "

    Yeah - the figure of the consumerist narcissist slut is an illusion, like the welfare queen. I know a young woman (late 20s) worked for CosmoGirl and then Self Magazine, you would expect that would be the heart of pole dancing in NY. She never met anyone who did any poledancing.

    At university, I knew one young woman, a botanist, who was an exotic dancer to put herself through grad school. It was a job. People in my crowd eventually learned not to call her "the stripper" and eventually she became a professor. I don't think too many women I knew would have done that job even if they could have (this woman was beautiful and also a good athlete) but would have taken lower paying but less humiliating work even had they the option. But it wasn't a huge thing to learn to stop calling her "the stripper" and to take up a saner attitude. That was not to say my friends did not consider this a political issue, but really no more so than other less headliney, tabloid debate friendly stuff.

    Now it's just poledancing is a debate to which pundits are invited to contribute because of the pictures and film it invites for the newsproducers. It's that simple - "pornification" is that. Not to say that social media hasn't altered peoiple sociality - it has, enornmously. "Playbor" and people creating themselves as the UGC definitely effects this segment that does all this tweeting and facebooking and blogging and commentisfreeing, the minor Zizzians astrotuf celebs plastering the toilet wall of cyberspace with their image at every opportunity. Nothing to say just signing the wall of every stall with their bios, their favourite movies - this film reminds us how great movies can be! this film reminds us how horrible the apocalypse is! (I loved this "reading" of a Gaga video where the telephone is identified as an allegory of Althusser's ideological hail. Why? Well, its a phone, it rings, someone says its for you. So it must be standing in for other things that call. right? that's "Marxist critique" on the wall of cyberspace, in the "tradition" of kpunk).

    But this playbor self-producing the users as ugc has not just had imapct on sexuality in the narrow sense (that is, on how and when goils get nekked) The focus on sexuality is dictated by the old strategies of attention attraction for these same media enterprises and older ones.

  34. Wait, sorry, I misquoted Nash. She said:

    "Download my new single and I'll suck your cock for 79p"

    Which is worse.

    Chuckie, my German is pretty rusty, but I do like her style. She seems like a good orator.

  35. The overuse of the word "sexualisation" really bugs me. It's getting to the point where it's used so much that there's no room left in the world that's proper for sexuality.

    The idea that the music industry is *becoming* "sexualized" is just ludicrous. It's always been sexualised, from the very beginning. In fact pop music from day one has been all sex all the time.

    It's just a buzzword and it's getting old even hearing it.

  36. thanks for posting all this stuff. it's been educational.

    "I don't deny there is a fashion, a cultural trend, that is as bewildering and repellant and surprising to me as to Naomi Wolf"

    i think i can see why you object to this article - the misunderstanding concern leading to the weird nostalgia for exotic forms of patriarchy and their extreme manipulation of sexual scarcity. still, i think it helps to get as specific as possible about what is significant about the 'pornification' trend (a more accurate term i think than 'sexualization' for reasons anodyne lite just brought up). i agree the fringe elements like recreational strip aerobics and the like aren't very important, and the idea that porn has made men suddenly blasé about the prospect of live nude girls is unconvincing. but the main thing wolf is talking about is the effects on mainstream sexual culture of universal access to unprecedentedly extreme porn, far more watched and influential than pole dancers or the goofy '70s stuff. there might be something to her claim that (hetero, mainstream) porn drives this kind of sexual arms race and the heightened insecurity and cynicism about interaction between the sexes that goes along with it.

    i also spend a lot of time around the college-aged, and while no one's dressing like a pornstar a good number of them talk about sex and 'dating' (though that hardly exists anymore) like one. at the very least they THINK they're living in a 'raunch culture'; even if they 'grow out of it,' 12-25 is a lot of one's life to be so illusioned.

  37. and if some people want, wrongly, to blame all of this on feminism, that doesn't mean it's not coming from actual experience.

  38. 'their message slips from being "this type of imagery objectifies women and infantilizes women" to "women in sexual situations are turned into objects"' - thanks for this, I hadn't thought this confusion through as an erroneous generalization via a category error. Notably, *the* category error that continually recurs in the production of the Zizzian Mysteries, tje failure to distinguish 'image' and 'reality.'

    Just for the record, I work with college students, so I too see them and their dress, and hear some of their thinking. Pole dancing? Well, some of the frat houses have poles in the basement. Porn dressing? Porn talk? Nope. Athletics, musical performance. Yep

  39. thanks traxus - yes, I concede these points...


    "What is striking about Elle, Vogue, etc., apart from the relent-lessly contentless writing, was just how confusing they are. Far from whacking you over the head with some specific set of physical ambitions, they create a far more complex set of
    anxieties and conflicting demands. Take the 15 pages or so of‘this season’s fashions’– if you were to ‘follow’ all of the trends equally, you’d be a corporate-goth-bohemian-neon-native-American-Indian-casual-office girl." -(ODW)

    I think we can recognise this adoreably brainless pliant girl who has tried to please too many men at once right, from the postcard?

    Are we to believe this exists, this personality that receives every ad in a fashion magazine as a decree from emperor daddy that must be obeyed? At first it just looks like she's trying to be chic lit clever, but then you realise its of a piece with the rest -( she cannot understand how tens of millions of women can dress themselves sanely. The magazines confuse us, endanger our sanity and by implication our virtue. She can't fathom how millions of women can read magazines and not be driven to madness by the desire to obey every hint of a suggestion of what men desire from them. She offers herself as proof - In desiring to have the mystery and fascination of figure one (Kahlo) she ends up the sad cum-soaked girl, because "its expected".

    But is this real? is she really that sad cum-drenched girl? Doing anything any man suggests he wants her to do - buy this dress and that and that and that, all at once?(While being raped with a tin opener in the mud too I suppose, that being an important authority's idea of love now?) Could she really not assert herself a little, exercise some judgement and consult her own preferences even in this structurally analysable world? And take up some kind of less passively obedient, fan(atical) - some kind of critical- relation to these suggestions?

    I'm sure this bad fashion anbd these bad messages about sexuality and sex exist; I bet its worse than its been since feminism, and worse than the bad fashion and values and bret easton ellisism in the 80s too even though we didn't give up our flat shoes hwoever ardently Versace begged us!

    And I concede there's more than bad fashion and bad attitudes being hawked. The social media are doing something seriously new and scary. I don't want to trivialise - but I think the strictly sexual aspect of the effects of social media;, of these new ways of mediation, can't be isolated from the rest.

    chuckie - that category error is the whole zizzian production. Just that same error over and over and the lint that comes off just making that same error over and over. With "feminism" and "fanaticism" its like knitting itchy sweaters of reactionary sophistry with that one stitch.

  40. the self dramatization as helpless and hapless, from chic lit:

    is everywhere and not that trustworthy. It sells and I think young women copy it, to talk about themselves, hwo they feel all these burdensome expectations they can't meet:

    Power gets into here, even doing a kind of new age whispery california sex therapist voice to mock ariel levy (who doesn't have one) to signal her distance from and also loathing of any reasonably mentally healthy woman on the self-esteem question. It's not only unattainable, it is evil and reactionary for a woman to like her own body - it is some kind of effrontery to men.

    This rhetoric seems all about gestures of submission and accepted subordination, for safety from attack. But I don't think ti can really be trusted as a description of real sexual experience. I think a lot of women talk about "being expected" to like chocolate and cum in the face just to voice their knowledge of cultural trends and to sign a submission to it, whereas their disobedience is a kind of open secret then acceptable since they don't actually frankly and overtly reject the "demand". But I think many really do rehject any such demands, don't feel a very pressing need to obey every suggestion.

  41. I know what you mean, Traxus. People are no longer really worried so much about getting married and traditional romance. But I've actually known and been around porn stars and you may be surprised to note that most of them are in monogamous, hetersexual relationships that resemble your average 9-5ers. I grew up with Savanna Sampson's family just down the street.

    That's just it, isn't it? There's this reliance on a dichotomy between what "normal" women are like in relationships, what they want out of them, and what "porn stars" are like, and how now all women are like "porn stars", emulating them, today... and it just doesn't make sense. Almost any adult woman will tell you point blank that it doesn't, since women generally don't buy into this notion that there's some essential difference between "real", average, or "normal" women and sex workers- that's why it so outrageous to hear this stuff coming from women, and especially feminists. Porn stars are paid actresses playing roles in films. They go home and many of them have families, husbands, lovers, boyfriends. In fact, most of them do. Of course they embody their "roles" to some extent off the clock, like any performer does, but many of them ultimately consider themselves entrepreneurs. I know Savanna considers herself one.

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  43. "Notably, *the* category error that continually recurs in the production of the Zizzian Mysteries, tje failure to distinguish 'image' and 'reality.'"

    Chuckie- I wish I could remember the direct references, but Zizek does this repeatedly. I believe it happens in Violence a number of times- he describes the way in which blacks in the American south, because they were socially indexed as "inferior", became *actually* inferior.

  44. thanks anodyne - this was one of my last fights at the tomb, and I admit I thought I would just have to quote the poassage and everyone would agree on its insane racism, but no, it was very stanchly and tirelessly defended

    Here's his extraordinary reading of Simone de Beauvoir:

    de Beauvoir writes: "many racists, ignoring the rigors of science, insist on declaring that even if the physiological reasons have not been established, the fact is that blacks are inferior. You only have to travel through America to be convinced of it."

    Clearly SDB is describing racist views, but Zizek, treating her as if she were using his own usual techniques, reads the passage as if de Beauvoir is citing "many racists" as her Authorities, as Zizek does (a convenient sock puppet, used to disguise the origin of the statements at first, when they are introduced, which will later be treated as established facts.)

    Zizek writes "her [SdB] point about racism has been too easily misunderstood...." He then quotes a critic of de Beauvoir and continues "She [Sandford] is aware that de Beauvoir's claim about the factual inferiority of blacks -"

    (he has made de Beauvoir's description of racist claims about the inferiority of blacks into de Beauvoir's own claims supported by "racists" as Authorities.)

    Zizek continues: SDB's

    claim about the factual inferiority of blacks aims at something more than the simple social fact that in the American South of (not only) that time, blacks were treated as inferior by the white majority and in a way, they effectively were inferior.

    In other words he read de Beauvoir as affirming the racist view that it is not just that blacks are disadvantaged by racism, thus de facto "inferior" socially, subjected to racist oppression, but inferior in the way racists claim - "something more" than mere disadvantage at which she aims:

    But her {Sandford's] critical solution, propelled by the care to avoid racist claims on the factual inferiority of blacks, is to relativise their inferiority into a matter of interpretation and judgement by white racists, and distance it from the question of their very being.

    Zizek here claims that fear of seeming racist discourages the critic from acknowledging the truth of black inferiority and then, typically, he goes on to boast that he is the real anti-racist for acknowledging real white superiority and those who don't acknowledge the truth of the claims of "many racists" he takes SDB to agree with are the real racists:

    But what this softening distinction misses is the truly trenchant dimension of racism, the "being" of blacks (as of whites or anyone else) is a socio-symbolic being. When they are treated by whites as inferior, this does indeed make them inferior on the level of their socio-symbolic identity. In other words, the white racist ideology exerts a performatice efficiency. It is not merely an interpretation of what blacks are, but an interpretation that determines the very being and social existence of the interpreted subjects. We can now locate precisely what makes Sandford and other critics of Beauvoir resist her formulation that blacks actually were inferior: this resistance it iself ideological.

    Political correctness by refusing to acknowledge the truth of white supremacy is the real racism.

    He exploits the vague and protean nature of the term "inferior" to weave this fabric of sophistry with the category error stitch.
    He says "blacks are inferior in their being" (which is "socio-symbolic") due to being treated as "inferior" by white racists. His insistence that SDB agreed with this view is really the most amazing and I think actually does the most to grind away at the foundations of rationality in his readers.

  45. "really worried so much about getting married and traditional romance."

    well one might get this from watching tv and videos made for boys and men,

    and it is true that women no longer see these as self-esteem and self-worth issues as much, there is not the same kind of fear

    on the other hand there is growing financial fear about being alone, head of household,

    and less reluctance to look at that squarely

    fantasies of marrying coolheadedly for financial security are common in women's fiction now

    its a bit like the fifties women's books on their heads -

    another look at dona flor and her two husbands

    in the fifties it was a heroine who could any time she chose marry a dull dentist for comfort and money (this is naomi wolf's object of nostaligia - she is of course bourgeois, educated, very good looking), the difficult thing was finding passion with soul mate

    now i think the pop culture says passion is easy to find, the difficult thing is the provider who will also be reliable, kind attentive.

    an increasingly used solution to this is that the hero of romance is some kind of magic beastie - vampire, werewolf, angels are in fashion lately evidently. Or the setting is fairytale austenland overrun with dukes.

    one really doesn't get a picture of women's culture looking just at boy's/men's tv and porn. Sex and the City was for men as well as women, the model was these R rated cutesy sex romp cable shows Red Shoe Diaries or Dream On; when you look at stuff for women exclusively you do see changes in "empowerment" cheerleading but a lot of this "pornification of culture" just drops away. tens of millions of women have no relation to that culture except distant spectators and perhaps a slight influence on their clothes.

    our knowledhe is naturally skewed toward culture industr workers, whose sensibility and moeurs appear in their products, but a much broader picture is give by romance novels and "women's fic" which sell better than ever and which fascinatingly all the Jamesonians hunting utopias completely ignore.

    these books are preoccupied with men's feelings and their attraction to the heroine, but the heroines are not so much. It's funny that the chic lit heroines, who are supposed to be more independent of men, think about themselves more as human capital- the romance heroine is all superhuman degrees of agency.

  46. the main function of zizek's screed there about white supremacy's truth is that he is reassuring his fellows of the efficacy of their praxis....since white racism actually makes white people superior, there are guaranteed benefits for those who help zizz in the practise of racism; they are not only imagining themselves superior and acting as if they are, their aggression is always actually producing their real (intellectual, moral) superiority, thus in a loop providing its own justification.

  47. the theme is the omnipotence of white ideation

  48. "Political correctness by refusing to acknowledge the truth of white supremacy is the real racism."

    This shit is exactly, almost word for word, the kind of thing Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck made their careers on.

    "on the other hand there is growing financial fear about being alone, head of household,"

    Very true. What I think is actually distressing to people is that women are now sort of coolly able to switch between sleeping around when they feel like it, maybe even recklessly, and then one day decide, ok, this prospect looks good, I'll have a decent lifestyle with this person. Sold! And it's really for some reason treated as an awful affront to men, and to feminine decency/delicacy, when it's simply the kind of very basic choice men have always had when it comes to sex and marriage. It's really, bottom-line, deeply hypocritical when men whine about this and act like the sky is falling because young girls enjoy casual sex. When women do it, I can only ever imagine that they're doing it to parrot men and you know the centuries of deeply ingrained double-standards. Maybe I'm being unfair? But I just can't imagine any other reason why women would find having options and sexual freedom (even if they don't want to exercise it) so distressing.

    It's interesting to think about women's fiction. Hadn't really thought of it that way... If you think about the fact that Twilight is a huge sensation at the moment, and it's a romance with an abstinent leading lady, the whole "pornification" of teens idea does seem oversold. I remember when I used to take the subway every day, there were all of these women reading this new genre of romance novel, gritty urban dramas, based on thuglife and women getting involved in dangerous escapades- sort of updated noir, I suppose. Escapism, in a certain sense, but also probably with an element of realism- you have all of these women today who are professionals, in white collar jobs, but who can't find a date within their social circle because the men are earning below them, in trouble with the law, etc. I remember that being a subplot on Sex & the City- can a woman date below her tax bracket? Can a man's ego take it? And there's all kinds of research that says no, relationships last longest where 1) the woman makes at least 20% less than the man (but not nothing) 2) men are more likely to cheat on women who make more than they do 3) the heterosexual relationships that last longest are ones where the man is at least 7 years older than the woman. (Of course, just because a relationship lasts longest doesn't mean it's the healthiest one...or that it's healthy at all.)

    Anyway, tangent, but for a while there, that was the big media scare- will all of these super successful feminists find husbands?!?! It's maybe not so surprising that as soon as you saw the "sexualization" buzz begin, those sorts of articles and op eds about feminists inevitably dying spinsters died down. Now it's all about how "unhappy" women are, based on crap surveys and bad data that's being misinterpreted by journos as they are wont to do.

  49. thanks, good points, I don't know what the romance subgenre is, I think maybe christina dodd? or the vampire detectives((Laurell K. Hamiton)--- i'm just seriously learning about this stuff now. I am fascinated by the post-Austenmania changes in "regency", merger of regency romance with the porny historical genres, for the "regency set historical" which is very dominant. the kinds of problems that are dealt with in this merged genre are different from the pure cinderella fairytales of the earlier forms; but I remember klaus theweleit in male fantasies saying well people scorn this as fiction and look at what bad brain food it is but don't think about what happens in a woman's body reading what he called in the 70s these "nurse novels" - harlequins basically. And that one sentence changed my whole head about literature - we forget the lessons of mediology and treat it all as didactic messages one way or another. And I don't think the old iser-jauss-fish reception stuff helps much because that too imagines the reciever as decoder. When I realised that accounting for rculture products requires really not just "cnsidering them in context" but considering there is no real division between the object and the context - these things are consumed, this is consumption and it is also production - whenthat sunk in I thought I understood everything better.

    and part of what allows for the way all this reactionary propaganda can still function is the failure to understand "culture" as this constant reproduction; the tendency of the vendors of reaction is to present everything the way sunday school exegetes would. The way Badiou reads Beckett like its one of the gospels with the lord's wisdom for anyone who reads it with the right key. and the lessons work by explaining. there is no consumption and production of a reality, of relations, of emotions and thoughts, no narrative sequence, no experience. There is just this mind like a tablet and the wise authorities writing on it, and it gives orders to the body which is a (pink!) pig.

  50. sex and the city....the working class guy, or really the non intellectual. Did I tell you about these brooklyn friends i had in the 90s, new brooklynites from places like louisiana and virginia, except my friend who linked to me to them who was from alphabet city via the catskills; the women were all university educated intellectuals doing some kind of professional or arts work; the men were all entrepreneurs but in hands dirty businesses - contractors/ cabinetmarkers mainly, buying and renovating real estate. Now in fact the guys didn't make that much less money but there was a difference - their wives had prestige, as academics or actors or executives or lawyers. And they all had these tensions in their marriages, and they got into these retreats that had a kind of jungian theory to them, archetypal men and women, these lessons of how the women have to look sexy and make life smell good and be malleable and seductive, and the men have to be allowed to be men, moody aggressive, nonverbal, dictatorial etc etc.. And this worked for them. It was one thing that put a lot of distance between me and them (apart from the east river) and I lost touch with them. But I realised that if people want to accept these formulae - whether they use a norse saga or kabbalah or whatever to describe it - and find comfort and reassurance in it, and a rule for living, you can't say it's destructive necessarily. The problem is when its imposed, but here there is this fine line because they all believed or seemed to believe in the genuine truth of this, this is human nature, kind of like the way evopsych people believe their craziness. He needs to kill and bring home meat and she needs to know how to make him feel strong and in charge manipulate him without his feeling it. He is in essence from the stone age she is in essence a flapper from Paris in the 20s. All the work seemed to be done by the women in these therapeutic schemes, but they did get their promised payoff. But of course none of this would have been possible for the women, practically or psychologically, if they didn't have their jobs and prestige, the material of their independence.


    very funny line:

    Before we get to that, though, let me admit that I, too, find young feminists a bit trying on occasion. I'm tired of their constant use of teeny-bopper words like "amazing" and "awesome", the lazy use of obscenities and the way they refer to themselves as "girls" and "chicks."

    What's wrong with "woman"? Is "woman" too fat for them?

    and this too is not unreasonable:

    I don't get their obsession with ads and women's magazines and pop culture and celebrities – to me, feminism is about getting that stuff out of your head, not coming up with yet more reasons to object to it while remaining in its thrall.

    but unfair to blame the younguns, since it was as much radfem ellen willis, and no spring chicken psoodfeminist Camille Paglia of course, creating the terms for full time tv watching and celebrity gossip as revolutionary politics. but even more, it was guys! old white men working at tv networks! yes, they were the ones who really had the most influence on how people justify their crap cocaculture consumption.

  52. Reading Power, I was struck by how the media-controversy-repackaged as-critique suffers from the rapid change in media presentation.

    The little rant on "pink" I cited earlier. You just don't see that much pink these days. I wear more pink that the co-eds on ours tudent staff. There is that one woman (not an employee) who has the pink laptop with the pink sticker that says Barbie in cursive on the cover.
    Or last week for Breast Awareness Week when the weely health feature section in the local paper was printed on pink paper.

    But what I really wanted to comment on was this, "ut don't think about what happens in a woman's body reading." I don't think she was talking about nurse novels, but I recall prettty vividly, an ex of mine referring jokingly to the generic practice of herd an her friends of spending an afternoon lying on the sofa, reading a romance and masturbating. The many ends of writing.

  53. Chuckie- even stranger, the only really notable "trend" in merchandising w/r/t pink in the past ten years has been in clothing made for (drum roll) black men! I think it was Cam'ron who started the fad. Seriously, most women don't wear magenta and fuchsia either, but you see it very often in the inner city on men and boys. Of course, this is stateside, I don't know about Europe.

    About the couples therapy- oh god that made me laugh. I feel the same way, though: I'm all for people working out arrangements that work for them in relationships, but it's always sort of funny how the people who rely on hyper-traditional gender roles go on a crusade to prove how no relationship can work without them. When I was a kid, my father worked with this guy whose family were some kind of ultraorthodox Mennonite-ish Christians. A huge family with 8 or 10 kids. Very nice people, the wife was an intelligent lady. But she had to wear this thing to cover her head all the time, and dress as if it were 1880, all based on obscure Bible verses. They were constantly quoting Paul about wives, how women are to submit, etc. Rather predictably, this woman ruled her husband with an iron fist the likes of which I have never seen before, anywhere, and I've been to BDSM dungeons. It was kind of cute, even, that they even bothered overcompensating.

  54. "I don't get their obsession with ads and women's magazines and pop culture and celebrities"

    Hear hear- this is a source of constant frustration for me since you may have guessed I spend most of my time on much dorkier things. To a certain extent it's an internet age thing- there are all of these blogs like Perez Hilton and the Superficial that are meant to skewer celebrity culture while also kind of buying into it. I notice a lot of young media feminists give this stuff too much attention.

    But then, I used to get really annoyed on the train about how many women were reading People Magazine- for the articles, ostensibly, not just the pics. They'd sit there for 30 minutes, poring over 4 inches of graph as if it were real reading material. Bogus stories some celebrity's publicist fed someone about infidelity or secret weddings or baby daddies. I didn't get it. I don't think these were self-identified "feminists" though, and they spanned all ages.

    On the other hand there were a lot of men reading self-help books on how to get rich quick.

  55. " I don't think she was talking about nurse novels, but I recall prettty vividly, an ex of mine referring jokingly to the generic practice of herd an her friends of spending an afternoon lying on the sofa, reading a romance and masturbating. The many ends of writing."

    exactly; and that's a clear case, but the thing it points to is not less relevant to the tv serial; moreover no less relevent to consuming texts of "theory". It's just not as obvious.

    "On the other hand there were a lot of men reading self-help books on how to get rich quick."

    but that's not "naked greed"; that's for the commonweal! Male acquisitiveness is very healthy and socially salubrious, and of course men always change their kids diapers and clean their own condos - not like women who exploit other women...

    that "manifesto launching" oped has this convoluted description of a disturbing vision:

    So while mothers work outside the home, often full-time, they are also often expected to shoulder the needs of shopping, feeding and caring for their children. This is on top of sometimes long journeys to work, and of the demands of shift work for many. Whereas the old sexist dichotomy of the 50s was that women could either have looks or brains, now we are expected to have both, plus cooking skills at least to the level of Come Dine With Me, and an all-seeing eye to ensure that children behave at all times.

    Women are expected to juggle all aspects of their lives and are blamed as individuals for any failing in their work or family life. The only people who can begin to succeed in doing this are those who can afford to pay others (usually women) to carry out some or all of these tasks. So an army of working-class women cook, clean, care for children, do ironing and washing, work in supermarkets, wait in restaurants, perform personal services, all to ensure the easier life of those women who "have it all".

    It's so that Women can "have it all" that exploitation exists and persists. Eve, the insatiable consumerist female sex, female nature, female egotism and greed are responsible for capitalism.

    An interesting kind of feminism, that's for sure.

  56. "Whereas the old sexist dichotomy of the 50s was that women could either have looks or brains, now we are expected to have both,"

    this is so zizzy, a lowbrow chesterton-

    "plus cooking skills at least to the level of Come Dine With Me,"

    wtf? seriously? is this a whinge from some MadMen episode? What kind of discourse is this, this image of "the Modern Woman" and "the Ideal Woman" and this whole retro mood, the bizarre terms, and again that inability to distinguish image and reality, Donna Reed from Rosa Parks. Really shouldn't it be at least updated so that "the Modern Woman", "juggling" her roles as Wife, Mother, and Entrepreneur, can be complaining of being expected to be able to teach her son or daughter to hit a line drive, to use Final Cut and to manage her own asset portfolio?

    "and an all-seeing eye to ensure that children behave at all times."

    It really sounds like something delivered by the fashion mag editor, played by Kate Hepburn, to her masseuse.

  57. Male Fantasies is on google books, I've just discovered...

    Why don't people write more books like this? Or would that be too much like real historical analysis?

  58. and i have to add,

    " all to ensure the easier life of those women who "have it all"."

    is really disturbing and creepy because it deploys the figure of women working as domesytic servants as an indictment of women who hire them at the same time utterly denying the women who are supposed to be the objects of solidarity any mind or point of viexw, because of course the point of view of women working as cleaners etc takes in both men and women exploiters, and men very importantly. The point of view deployed here is that creepy reformer moralizer, focussed on the depravity and selfishness of the figure of the woman exploiter of women, and just instrumentalises without the least solidarity or even a moment's empathy the woman domestic worker.

    How important men, male exploiters, are in the experience of women domestic workers cannot be underestimated in the UK especially; agencies supplying cleaners that exploit people without papers and asylum seekers and other people in precarious positions are all run by tough guys who hold pay typically for months and take terrible advantage of the women who work for them. They humiliate these women and make them kind of go through a search of their handbags and coat pockets every time they leave a job, and the fact that they are mostly men is no small feature of the ease with which they intimidate and dominate women, often alone in the UK, very often illegal, can't call cops. So to evoke their experience but edit it for this scene of pathos and the portraiture of the wicked selfish female is really a lot of contempt behund a mere pretence of awareness and solidarity and "giving presence and vboice to"'s quite disturbing. It just exposes the enterprise as dishonest and operating an antifeminist, reactionary rhetorical operation in the guise of repairing a bourgeois slant of which it (ironically) accuses "feminism".

  59. "Male Fantasies is on google books, I've just discovered..."

    That's EXACTLY what I thought when I read it. It really changed the way I think, deeply.

    I have some disagreements of course, but I picked it up after a few years in which everything I read on this kind of topic was some kind of hipster theory...and I read that and I thought jesus I'd forgotten what it was like to learn and think seriously in this area.

  60. "and an all-seeing eye to ensure that children behave at all times."

    It does seem sometimes that there's a resurgence in "competitive" motherhood, a la Donna Reed, but that whole marketing shabang died down quite a bit when Martha Stewart went to prison. (Speaking of women getting punished for being successful and not demure at all- there was a completely lame case against her for insider trading, and they weren't ever able to convict her of the major charges IIRC, yet she gets locked up, while the douchebags at Goldman Sachs and all of those firms get a FEDERAL BAILOUT when they commit largescale worldwide economy crushing financial fraud...god I remember the MS media spectacle, and being the only one at dinner tables defending her. As with Valenti, this wasn't an entirely pleasant thing to have to do, but no one could see the witchhunt elements of that case.)

    Am I supposed to feel sorry for privileged people when they are "expected" to do things to maintain the illusion of their superiority? I mean honestly, just don't do it. Don't make perfectly frosted cookies and spend a week decorating for Halloween and don't wear an apron around the house catering to expectations while your kids drive you nuts playing loud video games and making messes if you don't want to. Who's stopping you from doing what you'd really like to do? Is the pull of the Joneses' expectations really that strong?

    File this one under: why is it always attractive, slim white girls complaining about how horrible beauty ideals that glorify attractive, slim white girls are in the "Sense of irony/Severe lack therefore" political category.

  61. sorry, "lack thereof"...

  62. Speaking of irony.... I've had this conversation with a lot of people under a lot of circumstances, but I'm beginning to see how it fits here, too. It strikes me as odd how today we live in this "information" age, we have more at our fingertips than ever, and should we want it, more and easier access to historical documents, in-depth historical research, huge library exchanges that allow you to get books for free, google books, etc. We have literally no excuse for not writing with the utmost rigor on any given topic- historical, mathematical, scientific, sociological, etc. And funnily enough, nobody wants to do this anymore. It's almost impossible to get people to read rigorous material, let alone write it or produce it.

    It's really something. The left is in no way innocent on this count, either, and it seems a little shocking to see just how far the pendulum is swinging from rigor and hard analysis to infotainment and straight up confabulation-as-history. I almost think there must be some psychological or cognitive component to it- it's as if the flood of information is just making it more difficult for people to focus and do labor intensive cultural production, rather than easier.

    This isn't exactly counterintuitive, or some sort of grand insight that no one's thought of yet, but more and more I wonder about it. Maybe it's going to take time for people to learn how to deal with information again since its dissemination has been so thoroughly restructured and globalized. Let's hope it happens quickly because this is just awful, what's passing for history, especially.

  63. "focussed on ... the figure of the woman exploiter of women" Like the "black on black crime."
    An implicit essentialism in which the individual subsumed into the category supercedes the social relations. A truly ubiquitous 'ideologeme' as the German hypertheorists like to call them. The sublime revulsion, "How can the do that to *each* *other*?"

    I just picked up the German paperback of Theweleit, since he's been turning up in the discussion so often of lately. The illustrations alone are an education.

  64. "How important men, male exploiters, are in the experience of women domestic workers cannot be underestimated in the UK especially"

    I don't think people are *consciously* denying male involvement in female exploitation when they go on these spiels about "women exploiting women" (or, I hope they aren't), but it sure does *sound* like what they're doing is excusing men from their own culpability and responsibility in the oppression of women. Given that there are still only a handful of female CEOs in the world, and even fewer female heads of state, the idea that "gynocapitalism" is responsible for the exploitation of, say, female illegal immigrants in the UK is just totally laughable. First, it assumes that women weren't involved in capitalism and weren't producers before they hit the corporate workforce (but have only *become* important to capitalism as they've started buying heels to wear to their office assistant jobs) which violates probably the most obvious and BASIC feminist/Marxist tenet. But second, the idea that it's some woman's lust for a handbag that's the main driver in the stratification of society is just, well, getting the cart before the horse, and it's also obviously misogynistic in ways you've outlined. I'm all for seeing women as agents, but this is a kind of warped view of female agency that would have it that women are both entirely beholden to men and their institutions (e.g. the "expectations" crap) while also, curiously, being entirely responsible for their own and other womens' economic problems and exploitation.

    That we're even having this conversation is not encouraging. It's really depressing, actually.

  65. re - superficiality, incoherence:

    the tolerance for the pseudohistory and the bullshit anecdotes is very really still startling to me sometimes.

    "Like the "black on black crime." "

    yes that's what made me think of it and inspired the comment. Just like that - so behind this pose of concern there is in fact the vilification of the (black, woman) victim by association with the perpetrator, because the whole argument is only used to construct these figures of "violent black men" and "selfish exploitative women" - (indeed not interested in recognising reality and agency in the "victim" of the pairings, but rather in putting them on display for the pleasyre fo the audience, the sadistic pleasure,n the self righteousness of pseudo empathy and the pleasure of condemning the selfish woman who has it all and violent black man - righteously, because the provoked loathing is justified by its alibi, that it is compassion for the victim, who is conveniently blank and focussed on the evil figure, thus producing no requirements for anything other than loathing of that evil figure, recognition of that figure as the problem. The exploited woman's point of view is blank so the artile doesn't require the reader to consider exploiters and exploitation, a class of exploiters, and men; so ythe black victim of violence is left blank, the point of view that would have to take in white perpettrators of violence is simply off limits.

    The resulting figures of wickedness - woman/exploitation, blackman/violence - are defined and used to define the types that are used against the groups and members of the groups, that is, against those whose proxy the righteous theorizer is supposed to be. This gives rise to the project of "saving them from themselves" as well.

  66. i read Power's complaint against beautyf as a complaint about the devaluation of whiteness actually. She's very catty; in her book not only are women's breasts "disgusting", fashion models are described as deformed and inhuman, looking like "their limbs were put on backwards." But her big complaint about them is they are too diverse - they are not all one type, like the fashions; that is, it's no longer no longer enough to be pink. This seems to be the source of the indignation.

  67. "the same goes for the models - certainly, the one thing they have in common is thinness, the weird kind where you look like your limbs are on backwards - but how different they all look, yet how strangely they all look like a foodstuff."

    fraternité? or Frat Boy?

  68. "not all one type" She doesn't have any other recourse, if the argument builds on the assumption that shared phenotypical features underwrite reciprocal ethical/social obligations.

    The self-righteous, sadistic pleasure normally comes from the smug, imlicit comparison, between the deficient category whose members feail to realize their obligations despite their shrare phenotype and the judger's category, where everyone measures up.

    Except in the girl-on-girl criticism. Their failure would undo the possible pleasure of categorical membership.

    So the logic leads straight to denying the phenotypic features to the models. Ethical failure? What do you expect from "women" whose limbs are on backwards?

  69. "no less relevent to consuming texts of "theory"

    In my days of scientific training, I red a fair amount of the 'ethnography of reading.' Empirical studies of situated reading. A socio-culturally variable practice. With no inherent foundation in semantics and inference.

    Medieval religious texts are a good example. Some of them ritual objects to aid ceremonial recitation. Others aids to meditation. A cleric enculturated in those practices would be appalled at the way today's clerks read.

    Appalled in a way altogether different than the dissent expressed here.

  70. So the line goes now on the Object camp that Rusbatch isn't being misogynist because he's simply making a statement about the "reality" of how women now aren't feminists and they are all lining up to participate in markets wherein the male buyer controls the "message", unequivocally, every time... I keep forgetting that men control everything. Jeez, when will I learn to remember that?

    I realize now why I never used to waste my time with these types, or even listen to them. It really is a gigantic waste of time and effort to think you can reason with people who don't see through things this flagrantly misogynistic. One can hope, I suppose, but it doesn't justify completely waste one's time.

    And that's saying nothing of the way color works in that piece. It's sad when the average scientist I meet has a million times more of a clue about what constitutes misogyny and racism than the culture industry's "feminists" and armchair sociologists do...

  71. And can I just put this out there for people who may be a little naive and historically maybe uninformed?

    If you think our fetish-themed porn is bad, you certainly haven't seen the murals that were painted all over public spaces in Greece, Germany, India, Babylon, you name it. The cradles of our civilization.

    We have certainly imported themes from some of Japan's fetish porn into our own of late, but it's still nowhere near what passed for simple decoration in a lot of cultures in the past.

    It's as if Victorianism and the 1950s nuclear family post WWII race to tie women back down to domesticity just erased thousands of years of human sexual history from American/European memory. And even Victorian porn was pretty damn fetishistic and extreme.

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  73. chuckie - not only misshapen, but lower on the foodchain....

    edited for brevity:

    "rusbatch likes this"

    "dominic likes this"

    so it must be virtuous and educational.

    dominic's post is startlingly simpleminded. everything is a personficiation, that's all he knows or understands - this signifies that, this stands for that. even a seventh grader in art class would be expected to consider the simultaneity and juxtaposition of the images, the painting's composition, as well as the left to right sequence of the figures, which itself is more than just the visual signal of chronology, but also obviously implies relations of development and causality.

    really, what an idiot. also the way he introduces "post-feminism" personified, unable to find things, a character who thinks and does and fails to do things. Like Nina Power's "feminism" which is so ditzy it is always "getting distracted" by trivia, and being "too happy" about bad things and not paying enough attention to those women "on the ground" in "other countries".

    it's like a psychotic hyperindividualism, resulting from too much kids-n-dummies cocaculture. This aspy fragmentation is the same as the way he "read" their "multicultural alternative" too. It could be just inability to grasp a complex whole but it could be dishonest bullshitting.

  74. perhaps it needs to be explained that "the history of feminism needs to be considered diachronically"?

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  76. this artist by the way refers to "the female species"

  77. "one really doesn't get a picture of women's culture looking just at boy's/men's tv and porn.

    but women's culture isn't solely determined by products designed exclusively for women. one would have to find the numbers to prove it, but i don't think the male viewership of sex and the city is much more (i'd guess less) significant than female viewership of teen boy-oriented horror and action movies. both do take their minority viewership into account. even if the models are male-oriented shows, even if some of the creatives are men, it doesn't make much sense to me to say it's not a touchstone for those who watch it and read about it. lots of women watched it; it was made for them; it was (still is) extremely popular.

    but anyway when women like ariel levy and others complain about porn's effects on women, or like that guardian article you quoted, lcc:

    "I'm tired of "body issues" getting so much more emphasis than economic and political ones, and the endless fetishising of "choice" where anything a woman wants to do is sacrosanct, including stripping, prostitution and porn, which are simultaneously obscurely troubling and perfectly OK!"

    it doesn't make me want to start blaming feminists for all my problems, but it does make me want to understand the ambivalence that i'm hearing from what seem like real feminists.

    "the strictly sexual aspect of the effects of social media;, of these new ways of mediation, can't be isolated from the rest"

    don't quite get what you mean here -- what i don't want is to cut sexuality out from the possible effects of 'new media' -- why should the consciousness of intellectuals be strongly affected by omnipresent corporations like google or time warner, but their sexuality not be affected by an omnipresent, 14 billion dollar industry, regardless of what gender it usually targets?

    i guess what i'm trying to defend is that the way sexuality is imaged strongly determines how it's discussed and even experienced for the segment of the population that consumes those images on a regular basis. not that everyone's gone sex crazy and can't talk about anything else. or that there's much about the content of contemporary porn that's so uniquely terrible - it's the power of the industry and the intensity of the medium that make it troubling. also, 'hardcore' porn's fake disillusionment about sex jives perfectly well with 'neo-victorianism' and stuff like twilight, as two complementary forms of (voluntary) censorship. how they coexist is probably the most alarming thing about either.

    isn't there something similar to the problem posed by the tea party going on here? as a leftist you want to resist all the hyped-up liberal hysteria by defending their right to be angry, maybe some aspects of their political praxis, and some of their populist rhetoric, but then you have to ignore how they're a product of Fox NewsCorp and that their actual ideology consists of everything you despise. or maybe you want to downplay their significance, since they're 'just part of the spectacle,' except their effects on opinion polls couldn't be clearer.

    i sort of think the rest of 'popular' mediated culture, including but not limited to the sex-oriented kind, presents a similar conundrum.

  78. whoops, looks like i exaggerated porn's size - 14 billion's a little big. but with the internet it's got a huge reach, however undermonetized (like everything on the internet).

    also i don't know if anyone's seen this, but it and it's response are kind of instructive/hilarious. i found it pretty innocent, but naturally a lot of people are trying to tag it with 'reverse sexism' and she's being forced to act all contrite.

  79. i agree with you traxus completely, and of course about the viewership of the products - every demographoc watches everything.

    my point only about romance novels and all that is that if this argument is being constructued as a what is 'expected' of women, about dominant ideas of feminity that can be understood to oppress women today the way deference, corsets and sexual innocence/ignorance oppressed women over hundred years ago, then it has to be understood this too has taken in the wisdom of the spagetti sauce. there are a variety of ideals so no one of them actually has that power

    i liked faludi's article actually, though I just think she is for humor's sake making extra chunky spagetti sauce seem like all there is. at the extreme (German and Power in the Guardian) this ridiculous "before feminism we only had to have either looks or brains, now we are expected to cook and be smart and gorgeous all the time"'s just fashioning a disturbing feminine "we" - the very thing it aims to criticise, because this is the voice of Booth's "the Women" in the nail salon, "he expects me to look like a fashion model, make partner at the firm and outdo felidia in the kitchen while the kids.... - to replace a useful one.

    Of course Sex and the City is popular - it's huge. It's significant. But most women in the world never watch it and don't give a damn about it.

    We have to know this about the top shows - most people never watch them.

    As you say, it's the coùbination that is signficant, and the combination involves lots of encouragement to both sexes to buy stuff.

  80. About porn and sex - I think there probably is something to this worry that such ubiquitous porn, available to teens, is discouraging teens from having sex with eachother, more effectively than any other previous modes of discouragement and without the usual effect of prohibitions. And I agree that it is generally dehumanizing. Considering how serious the real threat of fascism is now it is interesting how concerns about this are focussed on its effects on women rather than on men, and how focussing on women's relationship to and use in this culture product suggests somehow it's feminism and women's product - "self-exploitation" - which leads to this error of exaggeration where many more young women are assumed to be conforming to this "ideal" than are just because the image is disproportionately visible (as ever).

    I am sure it is effective sexuality - I didn't mean to deny that. It is effect subjective function in every way. It is making people aspy though - that is, I don't think you can say this kind of sex depicted in hardcore porn is just being imitated. That's now how this - how audiovisual culture product - works. That adolescents have extensive sexual experiences with digital entertainment commodities is certainly significant as is that they have all their feelings of loyalty, affection and solidarity with the thinks they "like" and are "fan(atics)" of - allowing for intensification of hostile competition and alienation from other people - is.

    Malcolm Gladwell's article in the New Yorker about the weak shallow bonds of facebook - this social media is where the potential here is really realised, to bind people to capitalist rulers through commodities that substitute for other people, loosening all human social bonds. The only bonds that survive are petty bourgeois professional networks, strengthened by their exclusivity, "collegial" associations of mutual promotion that exist to further career advancement. Consider the tea party, if one wants to them of them as a social movement - how utterly absent is the idea of solidarity from their collectivity. It's just not part of the picture of them. You'd never expect them to share with one another or help one another - they will facebook friend one another and like the same things

  81. i mean something like this
    "before feminism we only had to have either looks or brains, now we are expected to cook and be smart and gorgeous all the time" is just the gestrre of centering and restoring the dominance of a certain group - petty bourgeois imperial core women -and then once this is recentered, to be "generous" to consider those others who are affected by us as a consequence of the expectations on us (those women this petty bourgeois female "we" exploits, on whom they shift their housework and childcare, so now its gone from being unpaid to poorly paid) while at the same time creating this target image of the spoiled insatiable selfish woman who can be reproached now as the cause of women's oppression and "women's work". It is not said but implied that these "expectations" are being generated by "feminism" whihc produces Vogue and Sex and the City and Food network shows.

    and often this is what is going in disguise as these critiques of moeurs...this sly resumption of the centre, the shifting of the public image of feminism away from the places black feminists and chicana feminists in the US took it back to "we are expected to be beautiful and brilliant and rich and to cook and raise perfect children! It's so hard..." and exploitation of working class women is just seen as a consequence of these women's defectiveness and the expectations they impose on themselves by imposing them on one another.

  82. "what i don't want is to cut sexuality out from the possible effects of 'new media' "


    I was quoting Naomi WOlfe not to display her as a sad fewl but because she has a point, though she can't complete it, and it gets rerouted in a wierd direction by her concieving her worries as concern with the "exchange value" of real women's bodies when there are these other image products.

  83. and I agree wiht most of that katha pollitt piece, which is also funny; my only objection was that while she knows that "intersectionality" was analysed long ago (though she may not know how long - that is, she never mentions the commies, Claudia Jones, Esther Cooper Jackson) she is locating excessive attention to mass media representation in "young" feminists now, when this was really something clearly accomplished by second wavers who became very establishment in the 80s, settled into universities, got rich, lost all ties to class politics and got down to the business of culture production, to producing accessories, these modes of reading, which made mass crap cocaculture appealing and acceptable again for dissidents, youth, leftists. really the brand crisis of which Klein writes came some fifteen years after the beginning of a long crisis for mass culture crap.

  84. " lost all ties to class politics "

    meaning to working class politics and instead pursued the politics of their own class.

  85. thanks for taking the time to clear all that up, and for all the good references.

    i read that gladwell piece after you posted it on my blog -- he normally annoys me -- he's so gimmicky i'm always suspicious -- but i have to admit he has a point. however, it's true that "petty bourgeois professional networks," when large enough, can still push behavior in certain directions, and have real effects, they just can't make movements. he also wants to slam the network model of organization, which is how lots of real, anarchist-leaning activist organizations operate, or want to operate. and he does this by equating the use of social media for political ends with the attempt to originate or strengthen political movements within social media. i, at least, would like to believe there's a sustainable difference between the two - that the instrumentalization of social media to do what it's good at doesn't necessarily precipitate a slide into "petty bourgeois professional networks."

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