A key element of ‘truly embraceable women’s culture’: Marcia Brady hair, and how to get it.
The October issue of BUST rests on my table, next to an empty water buffalo yogurt container. I have to admit, buying it was a mistake. Because I am addled, I mistook the BUST for a Bitch. It didn’t occur to me to wonder “why is there an issue of Bitch magazine in the checkout lane at Whole Foods?” (Before chemo destroyed my brain, I was capable of differentiating between BUST and Bitch, and between the checkout lane at Whole Foods and the magazine rack at Book People. Seriously.)
Anyway. This episode reminds me: several years ago I purposely subscribed to BUST. I was intoxicated at the time. I mistook the magazine’s glossy indie-hip chick-centric schtick for feminism. I did this partly because BUST told me it was feminism, and partly because I wanted it to be feminism. At last! I said, a publication that doesn’t think “feminist” means “humorless frigid ugly bitch who can’t get laid.”
My enthusiasm would wane after a couple of months, however. I had to bail when it became apparent that BUST couldn’t put out an issue that did not contain at least 57 heteronormative articles by “feminist” porn stars on how empowered we all are now that we have our Hitachi Magic Wands (“What, you haven’t bought an Hitachi Magic Wand yet? Omigod, they’re so bodaciously empowerful! Nina Hartley says it, I believe it, and that settles it!”).
BUST, it turned out, was, and still is, written for what a wry blamer recently called “fun feminists” — that is, women who identify as sassysexy young urban consumers of femininity. You know. The Grand Acquisitors. Or Carrie Bradshaw.
As BUST editor Debbie Stoller sez, in the highly imitable girlfriend-to-girlfriend style of women’s fashion magazines the world over, “Of course, we devote space in our pages to typical “feminist issues” such as abortion and equal pay, but we’re also determined to create a truly embraceable women’s culture, so that reading BUST can help you feel good about being a girl.”
Or, more precisely, it can make you feel good about fashion, fucking, and shopping. In this month’s issue the sassy fun feminine feminists can
In printing “all kinds of great girly stuff” BUST may be entertaining, but calling it ‘feminism’ is quite the howler. Feminism isn’t ‘fun.’ It’s not about shopping for cheap campy crap at the ‘Boobtique’ or getting off. It’s about political action on behalf of a class of people who are culturally, socially, politically, inellectually, physically, and violently oppressed, impoverished, abused, enslaved, objectified, raped and murdered.*
In her interview with Amy Poehler, Jill Soloway,** an avowed fan of BUST, inadvertently reveals the grim truth about all this fun-fake-feminism when she admits,
“Well, I’ve always been super-sex-positive and everything, but sometimes I feel like I want to be a Muslim woman in a burka; I feel like the only way I can get my power back is to peer at the world through a strip. Because I feel like women aren’t looking at all anymore – there’s no looking left. We’re only looked at.”
* What? You say I’m being feministier than thou? You can shove it up your Vinnie’s Tampon Case ($13.95 plus shipping and handling).
** Show of hands: is it just me, or do other innocent young feminist bloggers get weekly spams from sassy sex-positive Jill Soloway hyping her latest book or nightclub appearance or used tampon or whatever?