Irreparable damage, argues Carol Sarler in this article on the hollow promise of Girl Power, was wrought upon womandom by the Spice Girls. She connects various dots from vapid girl group worship to teen drunkenness to impoverished single motherhood:
It would be absurd, of course, to lay every teenage pregnancy, every inebriated ladette or every cheap tart sleeping with her sixth holiday â€˜romanceâ€™ in a week at the feet of five barely competent girl singers. It would be fair, however, to recognise that [The Spice Girls] presided over a period that saw young womanhood spiral into a previously unimaginable decline; that they wrote its soundtrack, they sang its theme, they invited a generation to play along â€” and that altogether too many women sadly did.
Asserts Sarler, according to Girl Power you need only be hot and dumb to succeed as a woman.
It will come as no great shock that I concur with Sarler; women’s liberation from the Sexy’n'Stupid Mandate appears to have taken enormous, mind-blowing strides backwards. These days young women wish to emulate America’s spokes-ho Paris Hilton, whose glittering, anorexic, trust-funded blonde emptiness demonstrates the ample rewards awaiting those who agree to wear the nation’s jizz on their faces. The fellatiolution will be televised.
But uh-oh, guess what. It’s not your right to ‘choose’ to be a sexay layday. Making traditional, patriarchy-approved, feminine submissive ‘choices’ is like spitting in the eye of every woman who has ever been raped, humiliated, harassed, denied birth control, abandoned, passed over, or beaten. While you were poledancing for your patriarch in a maid’s uniform, this tragic woman was so deranged by the blunt force trauma of patriarchy she thought ditching her 6-year-old kid at a Chicago food fair was a ‘choice’.
Check it out: women—particularly educated women, the most potentially influential members of our oppressed class—do not have the luxury of ‘choice.’ Every move an oppressed class makes is a political act. And even when invoked with a saucy Paul Mitchell hair-toss, our ‘choice’ is not real, because our oppressed sex class has only limited agency. The consequences of asserting this faux choice mimic the consequences of oppression. The language and imagery of ‘choice feminism’ [see Linda Hirshman] is the language and imagery of sex, which, since it’s the only paradigm we’ve got, is simultaneously the language and imagery of patriarchy.
What if, instead of blindly asserting our ‘right’ to ‘choose’ the patriarchal sexbot model, we (and by ‘we’ I mean all the roller girls, amateur pole dancers, blow jobbists, and other ‘sex-positive feminists’ I’ve managed to encrabulate over the past year or two) examined what it is, exactly, we’re supposedly choosing?
I assert that we’re choosing the path of least resistance. It’s much easier to acquiesce to a set of established conventions—social, aesthetic, political, sexual, sartorial—for which the rewards (dudely approval, other women’s satisfying jealousy) dangle brightly ahead, than it is to blaze forth in a fury of white-hot anti-feminine iconoclasm and risk ridicule, ostracism, and male reproach. Life’s rich pageant is much more accessible when you go with the flow. Patriarchy, as the Spice Girls and Paris Hilton can attest, rewards conformity. Which is why the new feminism must be sex-ay, and why the only freedom it promises is the freedom to enjoy the degradation.