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Mar 27 2007

Architectural DigestWatch ’07

mirren_AD.jpg

At the risk of putting the blog on fem-overload, I urge the “Yay femininity!” crowd to consider that casting Helen Mirren as an expensive sexbot for the cover of the planet’s mainstreamiest design catalog effectively reduces her from accomplished actor to whore (and overstuffed furniture salesman) in a single stroke. I know this because my mom, upon viewing Mirren’s hottt covergirl turn, remarked sadly, “I’ve lost a lot of respect for her.”

In other words, not even my mom, who wears lipstick and Manolos and believes femininity to be innate, can tolerate girly behaviors when taken to their logical pornstitutional conclusion.

By way of illustrating the absurdity of feminine affectation, I will perform the usual exercise, this time by substituting Taylor Hackford’s dudely visage for Helen Mirren’s hookerly one, whereupon the pose instantly becomes silly and the subject undignified.

mirren_hackford_AD.jpg

Addendum: Several blamers have voiced objections to my use of the word “whore” in what appears to be a pejorative manner. I posted my response in the comments, but re-publish it here to de-confuse:

The point is valid. The post was hastily-written and poorly-worded. I allude to the ‘reduced-to-whore’ scenario in an (apparently failed) effort to convey a sense of the popular, dominant-culture disdain for prostituted women. The dominant-culture view of women is distinct from my own.

It is, of course, the position of this blog that prostituted women are human.

I sometimes forget that not everybody is a regular reader; you remind me that it is necessary to consider, when I write these things, that (a) the audience might be unfamiliar with my general worldview, and (b) I should write good.

173 comments

3 pings

  1. stekatz

    Et tu Helen? Darn, she was so convincing in Prime Suspect.

    Reason number 842 why we should not look up to celebrities. I feel your mom’s disappointment. While I cannot seem to keep myself from pouring over People magazine at each dentist visit, I always come away with the feeling that these people are just complete idiots.

    That picture just needs a thought bubble that says, “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”

    (Hey sister, go sister, soul sister)

  2. Mrs. Kennedy

    We’re supposed to feel grateful that an older woman can still be viewed as an object of sexual fantasy. Am I right? Do I win something?

  3. Bitey

    Mirren had a photo spread in some publication recently in which she dressed as a “hooker” of some nature. The author was careful to stress that the costume was Mirren’s idea. I’m trying like the dickens to find it; I’ll post it when (if?) I do.

    I also remember reading an interview in which she said that when she saw her costumes for The Queen, she burst into tears. Because they weren’t sexy. Cuz ain’t no sexay like House of Windsor sexay! Woo!

  4. nk shapiro

    She’d look just as “silly and undignified” in his clothes, no doubt.

    I’m a stolid feminist but I’d hate to be part of any revolution that deprived us, female or male, of our frou frou. Sometimes frou frou is just fun. Dame Helen looks like she’s enjoying wearing that dress and posing for that picture, and she’s old enough to do what she fucking well likes.

  5. Bitey

    Yeah.

    Hmm.

    Hey, you know what looks like fun?! Pole dancing! Oh my God, and they say it’s really good exercise, too!

  6. jami

    Well, is there any magazine more acutely directed towards stroking the egos of white patriarchs more than Architectural Digest? At least magazines like Forbes are functional.

    This is absolutely nothing new for Helen Mirren (random google link) — for most of her career she played half-naked seducers in film.

  7. Medbh

    Well, she was in “Caligula” so no big surprise. She’s a legendary actress, but even her career has been punctuated by the T&A reduction of womanhood.
    Pity.

  8. TP

    “Fem-overload?” How could that be?

    Maybe we need more critter pictures. Or some victuals. Or some ugly bathrooms.

    You could post about your Roomba. I just got one and I can’t believe I can still watch the thing putter around like a cute little trilobite eating our dust for dozens of minutes at a time. You inspired me to buy it and I love it so!

  9. luxdancer

    I don’t know, a woman in a pantsuit can be very dignified and striking. However, even if that dress was cut to flatter Taylor Hackford’s figure and the colour chosen for his skintone, most people would still find it silly and undignified.

    It’s not that froufrou isn’t fun, it’s that froufrou is considered only suitable for us silly, empty-headed female objects.

  10. octopod

    Roombas look like trilobites when they’re in action? Dude. I’m so getting one when I have to move out of my dorm. I wasn’t convinced before, but that description just sold me on it.

    Eeeeee, trilobites!

    Also, if Taylor Hackford was hot in the first place, he’d be even hotter in that dress. But he ain’t, so he ain’t. A pity.

  11. Octogalore

    ” I urge the “Yay femininity!” crowd to consider that casting Helen Mirren as an expensive sexbot for the cover of the planet’s mainstreamiest design catalog effectively reduces her from accomplished actor to whore…”

    Consider it considered, and rejected. No magazine has the power to reduce someone to a whore. Interesting that we wouldn’t refer to a dressy male celeb as a whore for the same magazine, which has sported many such male celebs in glamor wear. Mirren’s attire is in good taste, and if she was paid for this assignment, it doesn’t make her a whore even if it does sell magazines or furniture.

    As NK Shapiro says, hanging all kinds of “serious AC-TOR who cannot have fun with fashion and/or get paid for it without disappointing women everywhere” expectations arround Mirren’s neck because she’s an intelligent woman in the media of a certain age whom we need to be perfect and beyond reproach doesn’t do woman, let alone the movement, any favors.

  12. Miller

    I love Helen Mirren, but even I have to compartmentalize her: her love affair with “lust” (read: I am not human but merely a glorified blow-up doll so do with me what as you will) versus the bold and daring actress in her interviews (plus a dash of her character, Jane, the from Prime Suspect, minus the guilt over her abortion). Is it that sad, that I have to dissect an actress (and her seemingly femininst character) just to create a person that doesn’t cause distress and heartbreak? Yes, yes it is.
    I’m still shaken by the overwhelming female acceptance (and defense) of America’s Next Top Model (the slaughtered models as “sexy” episode; everything from strangulation to knife wounds to a severed breast and other mutilation). The excuses range from “Who are we to define art?”, “They weren’t necessarily advocating violence, ” and my personal favorite: “The photos show that even beauty can shine through ugliness.” (I swear it’s true.) Why does labeling something “art” exempt it from criticism? Apologists cry “censorship” to censor freedom of speech that they find offensive to their dogma. I believe Triumph of the Will was a cinematic masterpiece yet it had that whole “Nazis are glorious! Death to Jews!” vibe about it, no? And normalizing and eroticizing hate crimes does advocate it since it only presents the POV of the violent bigot. Mind you, these are women and girls (with strong femininst tendencies, even on the afterellen blog) saying this. This hit especially home b/c a young woman I went to school with was found killed just a month or so ago after missing for several months (I still can’t believe it. She was just a year younger than me). Her body was decomposed so badly they had to wait for dental records. Foul play is suspected. She was so studious, sweet, shy, goofy–and cautious (She never wanted her parents to worry). You read those articles about an Immette St. Guillen (born just a month earlier than me) or any young woman (or girl) and you start feeling like it you could be next or someone you love, and then this happens–and you still feel shocked. I found out as a car was blaring some “Bitches Ain’t Shit” out its window. Typical.

  13. Jezebella

    I can’t believe we’re having a conversation about vacuums here, but I MUST know: have the Roomba engineers solved the fringe problem? Because I can’t get a Roomba until they teach them not to choke on the fringe on my rugs.

    Because I really, really, want a little robot trilobite to roam around the house sucking up cat fur with no effort made on my part, but I’m not willing to give up my fringed rugs.

  14. Ron Sullivan

    Wait. This woman’s falling onto the second-ugliest bed in the world* while she’s being engulfed and devoured by a disembodied mass of mutant gills (or are those chorionic villi?) and this is sexy?? Did I miss another memo?

    Guess I’ve wasted too much time actually having sex instead of being sexy. Oh well, too late to revise my bio now.

    * Nominations open for the first-ugliest. I’m still fairly um irrepressible? undistractable?, but if anyone propositioned me in the same room with that mess I’d go frigid for months.

  15. Ms Kate

    The roomba we got my MIL was the life of the party for weeks in her hi-rise waterfront apartment ziggurrat. Instead of cleaning for company, she had company for cleaning! Seriously! People came over, put their feet up, and set the durn thing loose to frolic and hoover.

    Did her neck and shoulder a wonder to cut out the heavy work – now she uses a little wand to get the places the trilobite doesn’t cover well.

    I joked when my husband bought it that if it were bright blue with a yellow strip and purchased at a Swedish furniture store, would it be an IKEAroomba?

  16. Ms Kate

    BTW, I like the “trilobite” description, although I’m partial to limulus (horshoe crab). How long until you can by roomba costumes on the web?

  17. Pinko Punko

    HM has long been rendered as an alterna-sexbot, basically her entire career, but some of that alterna-ness has been from the fact that she looks like someone who is not in the top 0.3% of the aestheticarchy, but she consistently is cast in parts where she acts like that is not important to her having some sort of functional sexuality. What this says about the acceptance of women as fully human upon crossing some sort of “sexuality” threshold versus some “higher” aesthetic one (in which the “sexy” threshold is crossed at the same time), I don’t know.

    Her Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect fame is enough to make me love her no matter what, and while I feel that Prime Suspect 3 is the darkest of the bunch, it is also my favorite. You can watch it as a stand alone, and I feel it has the most depth. A masterpiece of the genre.

  18. Bonnie

    Must
    Have
    Roomba
    Trilobite
    Limulus

  19. thisisendless

    I am forced to agree with NK Shapiro and Octogalore. I think feminism is about freedom and choices. I think she looks elegant, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. She is entitled to do as she pleases without judgment. That is her choice and if SHE likes it then I think she has every right to do it without being condemned for it.

    If I like the way something looks on me, then why not wear it? I don’t want to be told I am not a feminist because I like to wear dresses and high heels sometimes.

  20. Jane Awake

    This whole femininity conversation has me thinking about the fact that I think I look like a boy. I mean, if my hair is short and I don’t wear make up, I think I look like a boy. Everyone to whom I’ve confessed this denies that it’s true. They say, even without makeup, I am clearly a girl. They make the duh face.

    Now, when I look at Helen Mirren up there on that bedestal, I think, even with a shaved head and no make up, she is clearly female. She has facial features that I recognize as those of a woman. But when I am putting on the stupid eyeliner and mascara in the morning, I think, time to makes sure everyone knows I’m a girl.

    What’s up with me? Am I the only woman who thinks this way? Is it that the patriarchy has me brainwashed to think that without the proper dressings, I am actually not a woman? Is it that I perceive my features as gender neutral or boyish but no one else does? Am I delusional? What would Helen Mirren do?

  21. pisaqauri

    Off topic:

    I remember a while back some people mentioned they’d be attending the Wheelock College pornography conference–If you went and happen to have a blog or opinions (to share else where–dont want to hijack thread!) I’d love to hear them.

  22. Nia

    I think it is a well-meaning but misguided attempt to suggest that women over forty or fifty are still human and they still matter. The problem is that too often, women matter because they are decorative.

    I’d say that looking at that picture would make someone like my mother feel better, with the reasoning that “hey!! Helen mirren is four years older than me and she’s not being treated like a granny!”. Whether that is a good thing, is another question.

  23. Pinko Punko

    Well, I think Jennifer Aniston kind of looks like a dude, so maybe I’m not the one to ask.

    Anyhow, I haven’t been able to bother looking further, but is it possible Mirren has been done up like some famous painting? It looks even more ultra staged than these things usually are.

  24. gzur

    In a dudely effort to put you down a notch or two I condescendingly point out that the link in the post is broken.
    So there!

    Kind regards,
    gzur,
    a too-too-tool of the patriarchy.

  25. Catherine Martell

    You know, I can’t say that cover really bothers me very much. Person whose career is all about dressing up, dresses up? OK. Whatevs.

    I wouldn’t really see Helen Mirren as a feminist heroine. If I remember correctly, she made a point of wearing similarly frou-frou frocks to most of the awards shows this year, and told everyone who would listen that it was a relief to get out of the Queen’s dowdy dresses and into something foxy. Not that I mind her doing this, but it also means that I don’t feel the same anguish I might if, say, a woman who *is* a thinker, *does* hold feminist principles and *does not* have a career which is about her dressing up in frills (Germaine Greer, Hillary Clinton, Shulamith Firestone) sat on the cover of Architectural Digest in a well-structured raspberry pavlova.

  26. Boudicca

    ‘Tis pity she’s a whore. But Helen Mirren has rocked my world since before I knew what that meant. I should probably blame the patriarchy, but instead I just marvel at the wonder that is Helen.
    Bou

  27. Sylvanite

    I think it’s the fact that she’s dressed in a ball gown while posed in a coy, come-hither manner, on a bed, on the cover of Architectural Digest of all things, that’s causing some of the cognitive dissonance. What does a coy, come-hither pose on a bed have to do with architecture? Or is it a whole “New Orleans” French Quarter bordello thing? It still seems sort of strange. Is it her bedroom in a place she owns in New Orleans? Is she reproducing a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Inquiring minds want to know. Not enough to actually acquire a copy of the magazine, though.

  28. kcb

    How long until you can by roomba costumes on the web?

    One Roomba-as-Helen-Mirren-on-A-D costume coming up!

    I saw that mag in the checkout line at Lowe’s yesterday and thought it was tacky, not because of the femminess but because the cut of the dress, the furniture and the pose called to mind the simpering-white-girl meme from Gone With the Wind. I may be the only person on earth who reacted that way, though.

    FWIW, neither of my sons gave it a flicker of attention. They were drawn in by the mag just below it, featuring a cover shot of a woman in safety goggles and a flannel shirt operating a router.

  29. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Yeah, I thought the composition of the photo was odd, too, but put it off to my unsophistication. There’s so much a that crap that I just do not get. Vanity Fair covers do that to me too. I guess I just ain’t arty enough.

    I want a roomba! In a housekeeping frenzy this past weekend, I dropped the dining room table on my left foot whilst trying to hoover under & around it. It hurt too much to even swear, my foot resembles an especially colorful Caribbean sunset, and I’m still hobbling. I’ve heard there’s a roomba cousin that does a crackerjack job on linoleum and hardwood floors but can’t remember what it’s called. Anyway, I want one a those too.

  30. lawbitch

    The cover says “New Orleans” so I presume that this AD’s “French whore” line. That explosion of ruffles is completely over the top. Couldn’t they get a more flattering color or a better fit?

    On the plus side, at least she doesn’t have Dallas hair.

  31. TP

    I love my little trilobite roomba, and love the horseshoe crab metaphor, too. I’m a midwest boy and have seen more trilobites than horseshoe crabs in the cheesey encyclopedias of my far-off and heavenly youth.

    The little critter wreaked havoc on a bunch of extension cords and laptop cords under our bed, though. He’s so industrious you just can’t get mad at him, though, chugging around sucking up dust and almost wagging a little bit.

    I can’t tell you ow much my three-year old loves that ‘little guy.’ She hates vacuum cleaners, too.

    Twisty, I am sorry that I have inadvertently hijacked this serious thread about something as silly as a tiny roomba.

  32. Sylvanite

    Antoinette, I think the robot you’re thinking of is the Skooba. It’s by the same company.

    I should invest in a Roomba. My avian overlord likes to produce a lot more debris than I have the time to vacuum up. Can it be programmed to automatically go out at a particular time of day to vacuum?

  33. josquin

    My name is Josquin and I wear tight clothes and high heels from time to time. Alas, I do.
    But I do it with the rueful knowledge that it’s NOT for me. It’s for him, for them, even for other women in order that they see me as a woman “in the game” of sexual appeal.
    Oh ye women who claim to dress in a feminine fashion in order to please yourselves: if you knew in your heart that men’s approval was not linked to your uncomfortable shoes and bras and and gooey make-up, would you really still wear that crap?
    (When I ask myself that question it’s always HELL NO to anything which is even slightly uncomfortable. I think I might wear earrings, for self-pleasing decoration, but that’s about it. No dresses, never a bra unless I’m running or jumping, and high heels would be a mere, bitter, distant memory.)
    Imagine yourselves on the desert island with no men around – would you bring the frou frou and the high heels? Would you bring the push-up bras and the tweezers?
    Ask any man: he would probably bring about the same clothes to the island as he wears every day, minus the tie.
    As for men looking foolish in women’s clothes and “feminine” postures: come on y’all! You know it’s true!
    And the reverse is simply not the same – women in men’s clothes do not look silly, childish, simpering or debased. They look less “feminine”, and it can be an odd look to those of us used to women in a chronic state of feminine drag, but that’s about the only difference.
    OK, back to roombas.

  34. Mar Iguana

    Yay gang rape femininity!:

    http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/offensiveads.html

    Is Esquire interested in selling clothes to women or selling gang rape?

  35. Aireanne

    Jane Awake,

    I think that reading Helen Mirren’s features as inherently female is a mistake. I read her coy look as “female”, her vulnerable posture, the taunt of her bare shoulders. The invitation writ on her face is where her female/femininity is. Part of the problem with imposing Taylor Hootie-Who on her body is that he’s not even trying to look coy. Also, she’s thin as an effing rail without a five o’clock shadow.

    Make-up doesn’t make you look more like a woman, it makes you look more heterosexual and desirable. I had a similar fear when I cut all but an inch of my hair off and bleached it, but not that I’d be read as a man but as a lesbian. (Sadly, no one was taken in by this subterfuge, probably because I continued to wear heterosexualizing make-up.)

    Man-o-man, am I bothered by femininity. I know that the trappings of femininity are not really to be enjoyed by me but by those who view my performance of it, but damn, how I feel like an ugly unfuckable hag unfit for human company without it. I’ve been truly, thoroughly indoctrinated.

  36. Miranda

    I like the dress, and if Ms. Mirren was posed by a dining table with a glass of wine or some such, masked and obviously enjoying the party, it would have been a much better picture.

  37. teffie-phd

    I think Mirren’s dress looks like it’s made from the pelts of dead muppets.

    And what’s so fucking architectural about a woman on a bed anyway?

  38. Penny

    …”effectively reduces her from accomplished actor to whore”

    I get this. And yet I can’t shake the resonance that a few hundred years ago, most accomplished English women actors *were* whores. I can’t help but admire these women when I read about them and thank them for getting the stage back for us. You could argue that Charles II just wanted to see women like he had in France, but still, these women were smart and ambitious and skilled and yes, a lot of them also whores. Is it naive to think women actors enjoy goofing with this image sometimes because it’s a part of our history we don’t quite know how to deal with?

    I don’t know where I’m going with this. Just puuting it out there.

  39. hedonistic

    Yes, Virginias: That is an actress dressed for the bordello. The New Orleans bordello scene, sadly, was a big part of New Orleans history. She’s an actress playing another part, this time for a cover of a magazine. Since that issue is about New Orleans her getup makes perfect sense, but could they have picked an uglier dress? Egad.

    The cover bothers me on a whole ‘nother level: That bordello work is frequently depicted as “glamourous” makes my stomach churn, because I know that what those women probably went through wasn’t fun or glamorous at ALL.

    I just don’t understand how any thinking person would lose respect for an actress for dressing up as a prostitute for a role that makes sense in context. Because prostitutes are tacky and low class and should not be discussed in polite society? As if the “good, religious” women of New Orleans weren’t equally consumable as sex objects? Isn’t that attitude kind of patriarchal?

    My head hurts.

    I want a Roomba.

  40. Penny

    “putting” rather.

  41. LouisaMayAlcott

    Josquin & Aireanne,

    Thanks for your “reality cheques” – - they’re a welcome deposit to my memory bank.

    There is certainly a precipice over which we dare not allow our centres of gravity to wander.

    The deletion of all forms of het signalry is that precipice.

  42. saltyC

    Something bothers me about the tone of the word “whore” in the post.

    Usually I’m happy at the way whore is spun on this blog: deconstructing its violence and going against it. But this time it resonates too well with mainstream condemnation.

    Maybe it’s too little wax in my ears.

  43. Amy's Brain Today

    Re: Anti-Porn Conference In Boston

    See the post about it at Heart’s.

  44. smmo

    On what planet is a quinceañera dress on a 50+ year old woman “elegant” or “in good taste?” Oh, that’s right, the planet of “I do it for meeeeeeee.”

    I completely agree with HPS’ point that this is meant to invoke the delightful tradition of bordellos in New Orleans. Rape and slavery, red lace and gilt, it’s all fashion.

    One of the reasons I “do it” – to the extent that I do femininity – is that I’m fat. Being fat means my womanhood (as in fuckability) is suspect, so I compensate with skirts and grooming and unclumpy shoes. Perhaps Mirren has something similar going on, she’s an age at which her fuckability is suspect, so she compensates. Plus she’s an actress, so has been beaten down with judgment her entire adult life. I still like her though.

    The number of jokes about people wanting to fuck Mirren at the Oscars is not because she’s still attractive at her age. It is just Hollywood patting itself on the back that they might want to fuck her, you know, after they fucked all the 25 year olds.

  45. Tpurplesage

    Jane Awake, I have been mistaken for a man since I was 16 and passed six feet tall. Somehow people would immediately assume because of my height, I was a man – (even with long hair and dresses, store clerks invariable started with “can I help you sir, um ma’am?”).
    So I gave up trying to blend, came out of the closet and dress in shirts and slacks – cheaper and last longer, and the most surprising side effect? Men immediately treat me with greater respect, assuming I am one of them, and when they figure out I’m not, I watch their silly facial expressions as they realize they’ve been respecting a woman as they do one of their own.
    It delights me regularly.
    But really, IBTP, women shouldn’t have to “pass” to get the same respect out of the gate that a man does.

  46. Frumious B

    yeah, frou-frou is fun. Frou-frou is awesome. When I wear frou-frou, I get tons of attention. Attention is fun when I don’t think about it too hard. When I don’t wear frou-frou, I’m invisible. Most of the time I’m just shopping for groceries or something so invisible is awesome. When I’m trying to interact with other human beings, invisible sucks, big time.

    Still, no guy who hits on me while I’m wearing make-up has any chance at all. I’m not so far gone that I mistake approval of my conformance to the mainstream, heteronormative fuckability mandate with some sort of actual interest in me as a person.

  47. LMYC

    She looks like a big, red meringue cookie.

  48. LMYC

    Keep in mind that a lot of successful actresses are already people who have opted to cave in to patriarchal demands, and moreover are people who watched the same shitty, insulting, damaging garbage that most of us struggled against as kids and said, “Wow! That looks GREAT! Just the way I imagine life to be! I want to help participate in making images like that and carpeting the planet with them!”

    I mean, who in their right minds goes to a movie about:

    1) A serial killer who stalks and slaughter naked blond prostitutes,
    2) An explodorama where teh heros woman gets raped (always rapeD) and murdered and it gives him an excuse to go on a bloody rampage,
    3) A “comedy” where the lead female character might as well have “fuck me lie to me treat me like dirt $8.50″ written on her chest,
    4) Yet another “coming of age” movie about a little boy who discovers the wonders of wanking,
    5) Yet another moviea bout a crippled, mentally damaged, or otherwise fucked up man and the Beautiful Woman Who Believes In Him,

    and wants to help MAKE images like that? Actresses who are willing to make the philosophical tradeoffs needed to work in this industry apparently do. These are not radicals by definition. They watch crap like the shit I’ve outlined above and come out of the theater smiling instead of feeling punched in the gut.

    I’d like a roomba, but when you have hair past your butt cheeks, vaccuum cleaners are pretty much disposable. The thing wouldn’t last one day before self-strangulating.

  49. TP

    I love you LMYC.

    Plus, I hope everyone reads Britta’s post on the Anti-Porngraphy Conference in Boston. It might be that it is worse than you even think out there.

    That’s why whenever anyone asks me what I would do to start a feminist revolution I always say “We have to ban pornography in all media. Freedom of speech is not a license to degrade women sexually any way you think fit.”

  50. LMYC

    You know, I just remembered something about at least one older, cool actress who did all that pouty horseshit when she was younger — Joanna Lumley. She’s a fucking goddess now. And not because she poses on beds in dresses that look like a kleenex flower.

    She’s conventionally very pretty — tall, thin, blond. Very attractive. She did a lot of that bullshit. And thank GAWD she doesn’t work int he US, because nowdays, she skewers that shit mercilessly. She had to do it for so long that she’s not propping it up anymore. She stabs that crap right through the eye nowdays. I LOVE her for it, too.

    And since she had to do it for so long, she knows precisely how to skewer it with surgical precision. The blow-job face that ALL ACTRESSES MAKE, she does it. To the Nth degree, so you see how fucking STUPID it looks. The poses, the whole thing. God, one episode of of AbFab is liek a feminist manofesto watching her rip that garbage to shreds.

    I remember an interview with her where she said that nowdays, when she gets yet another script that calls for a tall, icy blond, she throws it the hell out. She’s done it long enough, she said. Now, she wants to ACT. And now she does! She does REAL stuff, where she gets to move her fucking FACE. One time, she was playing a role that called for her to get angry, and she actually (I remember how annoyed she was about this in the inteview) got told off by the director for scowling! She was like, “I’m supposed to be ANGRY, damn it! How the hell can I do angry without moving my face?!”

    Ever wonder why actresses are so wooden-looking? Even if they WANT to act, they are told not to.

    I love Joanna Lumley. She’s done that shit for long enough, she’s sick of it, and now she can skewer it like a fucking brain surgeon, and does. THAT’S infinitely more fun to watch and more powerful than an older woman who’s trying to prove she can still MAKE a blow job face at the camera.

  51. Come the Revolution

    Fascinating. Seems that the cover photo is special for an issue of regurgitations: In light of our April cover Helen Mirren’s recent Oscar win as Best Actress for The Queen (2006), we take a look back at eleven other similarly awarded actresses whose homes were featured in the pages of Architectural Digest.

    In other words, just been so busy that they’re taking this opportunity to cut and paste some old articles.

    And, so:
    Architectural Digest revisits actress Helen Mirren and director Taylor Hackford at home in New Orleans. Although they have since sold their property in the French Quarter, Mirren was originally seduced by the “decadent, romantic, slow sweetness [that came] over [her]” each time she returned. For Hackford, he was attracted by the “sultry, seamy, mesmerizing city.”

    I guess NOLA’s slow sweetness of rot and mold isn’t as seductive anymore. Even death, destruction and utter ineptitude lose their appeal quickly. Perhaps, the red dress is a metaphor for new urbanism . . .

  52. norbizness

    Oh come on, not even Taylor Hackford wants to see Taylor Hackford.

  53. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    A scholarly friend of mine is at the conference in Boston, and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about it.

    I’m a hypocrite, too. I have long hair. I frequently wear makeup, p-hose, and underwire underwear. It just weirds me out that people treat me like a completely different person when I do. Why do I have to be in drag to be taken seriously if I’m giving a presentation at work? I think people should hold doors open for each other regardless of gender or age (it’s just good manners), but they’re more likely to do it if I’m tarted up.

  54. hedonistic

    It’s because once we’re no longer fuckable we no longer have any value. I am certain Helen Mirren is hip to this.

  55. LMYC

    AN, if you’re in drag, you’re still not taken seriously. They dismiss you are useless no matter what — you’re either ugly and worthless, or a worthless bimbo. *shrug* Might as well be comfy if they’re going to roundfile you either way.

  56. Penny

    LMNC I love your post! I was watching a really old Brit Com thing the other day when I saw a 20 something Joanna Lumley – so brilliant, but constrained by, as you say, that pouty horseshit. Lumley rules today, for all the reasons you nailed, and I’ll go looking for that interview.

    You may be right that a lot of sucessful actresses “are people who watched the same shitty, insulting, damaging garbage that most of us struggled against as kids and said, “Wow! That looks GREAT! Just the way I imagine life to be! I want to help participate in making images like that and carpeting the planet with them!” But not all of us are. Some of us grew up watching Catherine O’Hara and Zero Mostel and the Marx Bros. and thought damn that looks like more fun than the crappy painful trap of a planet I’m stuck on.

    It’s not ’til you try to work in mainstream tv and movies that you run up against crap more evil than you could have imagined. For all the sexist stuff in the theatre, it is a freer finer workplace than any I’ve come across, nature excluded.

  57. Kyria

    When I saw that cover a couple of weeks ago, what I thought was, “Isn’t there a little more going on in New Orleans than that?”

  58. Octogalore

    Agree with HPS — fuckability value is inversely proportional to age.

    If as we age we develop other ways of finding meaning in life that increase over time, this becomes less important, as long as the people we love still think we’re fuckable.

    I’ve raised the “inversely proportional” issue to my husband many a time. He brought up an interesting point — while it’s true that in the patriarchy, this affects women much more, there are only a few ways men can keep their fuckability up as they age, usually having to do with money and power. Poor old men are perceived as just as (un)fuckable as poor old women.

    I’m not sure I completely buy this but I think there’s some truth to it.

    I also think that for women, the power/stature/smarts as an aphrodisiac thing may have its day, someday. Not now. But maybe someday.

  59. Octogalore

    Quick clarification: I mean, of course, PERCEIVED fuckability value.

  60. LMYC

    Penny, ITA — the best actresses I’ve ever seen in my life were in an all-woman version of “Othello” that I saw one time. “Successful” was for me (a non-thespian) a shorthand for “has made it big and raked in money.”

    Every single one of those women could have run RINGS around ANY woman of the same age who’s ever been on the red carpet at the Oscars that I’ve ever known. The woman who played Iago was a goddamned GENIUS — she held herself like a paring knife. She was fucking BRILLIANT. Desdemonda improved by leaps and bounds once she wasn’t doing the “fwightened widdle doe” crap.

    But the only ones we ever see of women in large (keep in mind that movies and TV are the only windows into acting that most people ever have) are the ones who have fellated the patriarchy and found it either fun or an acceptable tradeoff.

    Damn it, those women in the rep theater fucking rocked. Cassio was magnificent. She did that whole scene where she’s drunk and goes overboard, then realizes what’s happening like a genius. Some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. I bet she’s the sort who would watch shit movies and not think, “Yay, mommy! I want to do that for a living!” but “I can do that better, I know it.”

    But she’s not the sort to “make it big.” The best women actors never do.

  61. LMYC

    Octogalore, I do agree that fuckability is inversely related to age — but it’s inversely related to a lot of things, such as “perceived brains and worth as a human being.” For any woman with any intellect at all, fuckability is nothing to take refuge in at any age, so you learn to ignore it early on.

    And while poor old men are as unfuckable as poor old women, poor old men can also go to strip joints, pay for someone, and (for some reason related to something I can’t fathom) bullshit themselves into believing that she really does think he’s hot.

    Poor old men are also able to identify from a distance with rich old ones and think, “Yeah, yah, that’s me up there with the 20 yar old chippie trophy wife!” No it ain’t, buddy. Trust me. That rich old bastard would spit on you if he saw you, you know that?

    Men are just better at lying to themselves about sex. Women are more accurate.

  62. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Octogalore, tell your husband all a man has to do is live long enough for the fact that women live longer than men to kick in and automatically restore his perceived fuckability factor. As long as he doesn’t insist on a 30-yr-old with pneumatic boobs, he’ll have plenty of company.

  63. pisaqauri

    Thanks for the links to Heart’s response–well said, I hope to continue reading feedback on this.

  64. 100 Words

    DO NOT TRUST HELEN MIRREN.

    That’s all I have to say

  65. Heart

    Octagalore, do you ever stop to ponder that so much of what you write pertains to men, men, men and, yes, men, and women’s relationships with men?

    Please ponder this a bit. When you say things like:

    I also think that for women, the power/stature/smarts as an aphrodisiac thing may have its day, someday. Not now. But maybe someday.

    Realize. This applies only to het relationships.

    Heart

  66. Yeny

    Heart- I think that’s all octogalore can really discuss since she is in a het relationship.

    I don’t particularly like the constant mentioning of her hubby and what he thinks, since I don’t give a toss about a single thought that goes through a man’s head, but at least her agenda is clear, she doesn’t try to speak for non-hets.

    Octo- I’ve had various old men try to chat me up, and by old I mean 70+. I’m 23. They obviously have no problem believing they are fuckable. Funny how I don’t think this is the case for women of the same age group.

  67. shannon

    I liked ron sullivan’s comment about spending more time having sex than being sexy. Being sexy dries me up.

  68. Penny

    LMYC – I sure wish I’d seen that Othello. Can you let me know where it was?
    I’m glad you love the theatre. Sometimes I wonder if anyone’s coming besides people who work in it.
    The more abstract and less naturalistic the style, the better chance for some good cross casting. I thought I’d never get to play M. Cassio – but you never know. Thanks for giving me a lift.

  69. Bird

    Penny, some of the most moving moments I’ve ever had with art have been at live theatre productions. I wish more people would get out and support real performances, not packaged movies/music/crap that we’re fed by the mega-media machine.

    But I live in a city with a huge, thriving Fringe festival and an actual theatre district—not bad for a place with a population of about a million people in a province that everyone thinks of as Redneckland.

  70. Aireanne

    LouisaMay,

    How else am I going to find a dude to impregnate me? (that’s a joke.)

    And actually my precipice is eating babies. (another joke.)

    “het signalry” is the problem. Patriarchy and “het” men shame women of all sorts into acting “feminine” and then they get token women like Helen Mirren to also shame and embarrass those women who are too fat, too queer, too “colored”–whatever. But are “het” women who perform some sort of femininity “good germans” or something? I’d go with no (and not because a good portion don’t eat babies), something about which I think a fair amount of readers of this blog would disagree.

    Of course, that’s in part because my favorite feminist is Cynthia Enloe. Hope you’ve all heard of her! Helen Mirren she is not.

  71. Penny

    100 words – what?

  72. erin ambrose

    as an actual real live, been there, old whore ex-sexworker i think its a load of middle class feminist crap to suggest that someone could be “reduced ” to a whore. as though we are subhuman.
    capitalism is whoring…no way around that.no matter what you do for money.
    step off the high horse and show some respect.
    peace.

  73. Twisty

    erin ambrose, saltyC, et al: Good point, and apologies for the hastily-written and poorly-worded post. I alluded to the “reduced-to-whore” scenario in an (apparently failed) effort to convey a sense of the popular, dominant-culture disdain for prostituted women. The dominant-culture view of women is distinct from my own.

    It is, of course, the position of this blog that prostituted women are human.

    I sometimes forget that not everybody is a regular reader; you remind me that it is necessary to consider, when I write thse things, that (a) the audience might be unfamiliar with my general worldview, and (b) I should write’em good.

  74. zofia

    I also think that for women, the power/stature/smarts as an aphrodisiac thing may have its day, someday. Not now. But maybe someday.

    Realize. This applies only to het relationships.

    Surely you’re joking.

  75. Octogalore

    LMYC: to some degree, there are stigmas to intellect, but also a number of people, male and female, who think someone like Catherine Keener, who’s definitely attractive but not in a “fembot” way, or Janeane Garofalo before she lost the weight, or Jill Conway, who was President of Smith, are hot in part BECAUSE OF rather than DESPITE their intellect. A number of guys at my law school would’ve been THRILLED if Katherine McKinnon, who guest taught for awhile, had given them the time of day. I am not saying this is remotely often the case, just that it’s not completely unfathomable that intellect could be a major enhancement of fuckability for people of either gender.

    You’re right, men are better at lying to themselves. Nothing to dispute there.

    Heart – to the extent I write about men, it’s usually in a context that directly involves them, like “men hate you” or “this is what is fuckable to men.” So, of course my response is going to invoke men. My friends are female, my daughter is female, my closest family members are female, the books I read are primarily by or about women, and my closest work relationships are also female. I do have a man around, whom I fuck and occasionally mention. Relax, and please try to avoid a patronizing tone.

    Also, so what if I’m talking about het relationships? (although, in point of fact, in my very limited experience with lesbian friends and in lesbian bars, I wouldn’t say those relationships are entirely free of objectification, but I really can’t comment intelligently on this). As Yeny says, this is all I know. And as het relationships have been more at issue here as problematic, it seems to be of some relevance.

    Yeny said “I don’t give a toss about a single thought that goes through a man’s head” and suggests I “constantly” mention my hubby. I would doubt that’s the case; in fact, last time he came up, someone else dragged him into the conversation, but let’s not get into that again. Many people here have invoked significant others to demonstrate some point about men not getting it, hating us, whatever. My fairly brief mentions of my dude, who while not perfect isn’t the enemy, seem to upset or annoy folks. My intent isn’t to say “I can’t stop talking about the MENZ!” but “here’s one data point.” Just like, if this were a site about a cat-run world and I had a cat at home, I’d probably occasionally mention something my cat did.

    That said, I will try to be sensitive to over-mentioning of this if it offends anyone. That isn’t my intent.

  76. erin ambrose

    twisty…because you generally rock it and i fancy your gorgeous brain…i accept the well written apology. phew.
    cheers

  77. Jane Awake

    Lawbitch, ha ha! Dallas hair. The New Yorker?

    Aireanne, you said, “I think that reading Helen Mirren’s features as inherently female is a mistake. I read her coy look as “female”, her vulnerable posture, the taunt of her bare shoulders. The invitation writ on her face is where her female/femininity is.”

    I was actually talking more about the shape of her face, its structure. I was thinking that even blank-faced and bald I would recognize that she is female. But maybe you are right, maybe she would look androgynous if she was not dressed and made up in a certain way.

    You also said, “Make-up doesn’t make you look more like a woman, it makes you look more heterosexual and desirable.” I think you’re right, definitely. Why have I internalized that that is also what it means to be a woman? Oh! I blame the patriarchy. I am with you on feeling bothered. (I do still think my features are somehow inherently boyish, though.)

    Tpurplesage, I know what you mean about men being more respectful of people they assume to also be men. No one but me has ever described my features as masculine, but very few people (but me) see me in a state in which I think I look masculine. I do have a fantasy of going out that way, though. Cutting my hair really short, wearing no make-up, wearing boots, jeans and an undershirt. Still, the breasts would give me away.

  78. Yemaya

    To the commentator who wrote about being on desert island and not bringing the tweezers…

    This is true for my life…it was winter, and I didn’t shave my legs for the whole freaking winter. My pants rode up and I didn’t have knee socks and my friend said, “you don’t shave?” and I said..”nope, I am not sleeping with anyone right now, so who the frack cares?”

    But, I do work with special needs kids in their homes and at their country club pools a very “judged on appearances” suburban area. I am not kidding, but some people don’t hire me because even though my cuticles are pushed back, and I buff my nais to a natural shine, because I like it, the dads don’t want to hire me becasue I am not “femmy” enough to paint my nails. So, since I know that “appearances” and exposed shaved legs are very important to these people, I shave my legs when I know that I will be in an exposed leg situation in my clients’ homes.

    You know what though? the kids don’t care if my legs are shaved or not..in fact, one little three year old and I were playing a game on the floor and once again I had “short socks on, and my pants didn’t cover my hairy legs. The little guy looked at my legs touched them and said-wow, your legs are hairy like a cat’s and I was like-”Hey, thanks for coming out of your world and noticing, maybe I will be a cat, and then we worked on his pretend play skills and played like were cats for a bit. at the end of the session, he came and sat on my lap and nestled his head in my shoulder and said-”I want to be hairy like a cat just like you Yem.” No judgement from the kids on my legs just realization of a fact that my legs were hairy. Instead, the kids judge me on what’s really important, do I make them feel loved, appreciated, wanted and safe? If I do that, then who the hell cares if my legs are hairy or not?

    Sadly, my little innocent client won’t stay in that nonjudgmental cloud for ever(he’s high functioning asperger’s) and will be socialized into an perverted view of what a perfect female will look like.

    But ooh, put me on a deserted island with just a volleyball for company and yeah, I would tell gillette where they could put their freaking 24 blade VENUS razor.

  79. LMYC

    Penny, it was in San Diego, the San Diego Women’s Rep. I think the woman who played Iago was Gayle Feldman-Avery if I remember the name right. I hope I do. She fucking ROCKED. Othello was Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson, pretty high up.

  80. Hawise

    I usually find Helen Mirren quite watchable but that dress is too frilly for me to take. It looks like someone put Elmo through a pasta machine and turned him into a dresslike object. Whoever posed her needs to be shot and that bed looks like it wouldn’t hold a child. The whole picture screams amateur night.

  81. Ms Kate

    That cover picture would have been vastly better and more appropriate if they had panned out and not made Helen into such a ghastly pinata, instead incorporating, well, some architectural details of the room perhaps?

  82. LMYC

    I am not saying this is remotely often the case, just that it’s not completely unfathomable that intellect could be a major enhancement of fuckability for people of either gender.

    So it’s “not saying this is remotely often the case” along the same lines as I’m not remotely saying that it’s often the case that people get struck by lightning, but

  83. Pony

    LYMC where’s that blog of yours again? TP get in line. I loved her first.

  84. josquin

    Isn’t Katherine McKinnon a bit of a “babe”?
    I’m sure the male law students would have been thrilled had she given them the time of day.
    I’m not so sure it was because of her intellect.
    Find a really smart woman who is not beautiful surrounded by men clamoring for her attention, and I might be more convinced.

  85. josquin

    p.s. I love Yemaya’s “hairy cat” story. I love to witness children’s perceptions and observations before the insidious socializations kick in.

  86. alicepaul

    Hello all, I came here via Feministing…

    As a dyke, I have no desire to appear fuckable to men. I’m self-employed right now, so I don’t need to “dress up” to keep my job or anything like that. But I still on occasion wear lipstick, jewelry, etc.

    I think of it more as theatre than anything else. Just like a gay man might wear feathers, heels, wigs, fishnets. I realize that it is all a performance, but I like performing, and making it obvious. I think a lot of queer femmes who do burlesque (not for men, but in the context of gay/lesbian events) may feel this way. We put our own campy spin on femininity, one that doesn’t cater to the male gaze. It is intentionally exaggerated and artifical.

    My partner doesn’t care whether or not I dress up, and when it is just the two of us I am fairly low maintenance, but in public I like to do my high femme drag queen act (think Mae West) because it is a fun role to play. I know femininity isn’t inherent or natural, and I like that it can be turned on or off.

    But I suppose I have the privilege of looking at it this way, since many het women are told they HAVE to dress up in order to secure a man or even have NSA sex. I don’t mean to come off as more exalted than everyone else, just sharing my thoughts.

  87. al

    I see a lot of defending a woman’s right to wear skirts and heels around the blogosphere lately. I’ve yet to have a hairy second-waver confiscate my lone skirt and lip balm, but I’m on the lookout.

    Also: What about men’s right to wear dresses and heels? Da menz are missing out on all the fun!

    And, pardon my ignorance: what’s “NSA sex?”

  88. Miller

    If I was on a desert island with no men I would bring the following, which may seem conventional but I see as pragmatic or benign: wax (I can’t stand leg or armpit hair on myself nor on potential male suitors; tried it once during a hiking extravaganza and it was awful. To me it’s practical, as it’s easiest to use deodorant and I like smooth skin); bikini (with no men I can freely frolick w/o fear); tampons (of course); tweezers (eventually I will hit menopause on this island so I’d like to remove chin hair); a wardrobe including dresses and skirts (I love the way skirts feel in the breeze, especially on a hot day, and think dresses look fabulous on a woman. I may be foolishly trying to reclaim dresses in my subconsious, I know, but I rarely wear them now b/c of catcalls and even threats so I’d like to just enjoy myself, for once).
    I would not bring: make-up (hate it–all of it); earrings (don’t understand the appeal and I always manage to lose one anyway); heels (even now I refuse to wear those damn traps-for-feet); and nail polish (what the hell?).
    P.S. On the hot-or-not theme, consider the case of Valerie Plame. This woman is not only undeniably brilliant and accomplished but also courageous, honorable, and dignified. However, the whole media (and blog) coverage of her trivialized, if not openly mocked her, not only as a person (fuckability) but also the damage done to her career and the legal ramifications of what was done to this once-covert agent (Compare coverage to the current Attorney General scandal). She is the ultimate example of how even a powerful and significant woman can’t withstand the thumping dehumanization of sexism–from even her own side let alone the right-wing, which used her gender and attractiveness to “prove” she was nothing but a glorified secretary.

  89. saltyC

    Yem, what a beautiful story.

    Children so beautiful, I can’t believe what they grow into.

  90. Jane Awake

    al, NSA means “no strings attached.”

  91. Frumious B

    (not attacking AlicePaul, or queer femmes. critiques of behaviors sometimes get taken as an attack on the person, so I thought I would get that out of the way up front.)

    I think a lot of queer femmes who do burlesque (not for men, but in the context of gay/lesbian events) may feel this way. We put our own campy spin on femininity, one that doesn’t cater to the male gaze. It is intentionally exaggerated and artifical.

    Doesn’t cater to the Male Gaze? At the risk of becoming inflammatory, boy is that naive. The Male Gaze is there whether men are present or not. Unless you are doing burlesque in sweatpants, you are catering to the Male Gaze.
    Femininity is already campy, exaggerated and artificial. Women who do not think of themselves as filling the Fuckbot role who perform burlesque are merely stating publicly that even they are not Fuckbots, they can be counted on not to challenge the Sexxxay Fuckbot Script. That goes not just for queer femmes, but for queer dykes, smart chicks, old chicks, fat chicks, hairy chicks, and any combination of the above. When a gay/lesbian audience responds positively to burlesque, it just tells me that even the gay/lesbian audience gets off on heteronormative femininity. Claiming it for your own, are you? You can try, but you don’t get to choose the subtext of your actions. Society defines that for you, and the subtext of pasties and g-strings says “Look at me! I, too, can be a Fuckbot!”
    I know femininity is fun (see my comments above). It’s fun like crack is fun. Just don’t stop thinking at the fun part.

  92. Bird

    Yemaya, I have two brothers with Asperger’s, and I love their responses to the world. Even as adults, their take on things is surprising and often provokes a “wow” reaction in me. They just seem to see things in ways that the rest of us don’t because they stand that little bit outside the world.

    Thanks for the story. Made me smile a lot. And take heart: he may not totally lose his non-judgmental side when it comes to women. One of my brothers is very much in love with a funny, smart woman who has thrown the trappings of femininity to the winds. But he’s never really seen men and women the same way as most of the world and has always chosen his lovers based on personality, not gender or appearance. It’s led to a lot of hurt for him, though, for which IBTP.

  93. Octogalore

    LMYC: OK, point taken, I’ll be more clear. I think all other things being equal, intellect enhances appeal for a number of men and women.

    Josquin – yes, Catharine MacKinnon is very attractive; however, she’s 60 now and 50 at the time I referenced. The men in question were half her age. As babe-like as she was and is, there were plenty of 25-year-old women around who ranked higher on our culture’s national ranking of babe-ness who did not have her “je ne sais quoi” to these guys. It was because of her stature, her accomplishments, her power – factors which usually are the province of older men to use as aphrodisiacs – that the guys, and some of the women, were so enthralled.

    “Find a really smart woman who is not beautiful surrounded by men clamoring for her attention, and I might be more convinced.”

    Grandma Moses.

    I’m not smoking anything here; clearly the extent to which women can benefit from the “intellect enhancement” is not equal or fair. And it can seem more worthwhile to try to address this than to point out that it’s not always the case. I’m doing the latter because I think it’s a launch point for the proposition that if women had more overall power, even in today’s flawed structure, we’d be able to reap various advantages that stem from this.

  94. LMYC

    Find a really smart woman who is not beautiful surrounded by men
    clamoring for her attention, and I might be more convinced.

    Even if you are both, they generally like you up until you criticize them in public or point out that they personally have made an error. Then, you go frmo the exotic, fascinating space-alien creature with a brain and a body to the Man-Murdering Menace Which Must Be Destroyed. It takes very little.

    The simple fact of the matter is that they do not see that which they wish to fuck as human. They might find your intelligence vaguely appealing for a bit, but as was observed on an earlier post, it’s because, deep down, they still think they’re smarter than you. When this is disproved, they become very, very angry and threatened.

  95. LMYC

    I can’t stand leg or armpit hair on myself nor on
    potential male suitors …

    Miller – do they wax or shave their armpits and legs for you as well, then?

  96. saltyC

    I’d never bring tampons to a desert island. No one’s around. Tie a rag on or even bleed down my leg rather than deal with those little paper pricks.

  97. Kali

    “As a dyke, I have no desire to appear fuckable to men.”

    I am not a dyke, but I still have no desire to appear fuckable to men. If my primary appeal to a man was my fuckability, I would do my best to avoid him. I prefer respect, admiration, and affection as the basis of attraction.

  98. Octogalore

    LMYC – who’s “they”? “All men”? “Men whom I know”? “Men whom I’ve read about”?

    Yeah, there are a lot of assholes out there, and many of them have Y chromosomes. But to speak about all men this way is just stupid. There are many female CEOs, litigators, teachers, etc., who are known to have surreal smarts and who get shit done because of it. There are some hugely threatened men who feel the women “must be destroyed” or who come up with reasons why they (the men) are smarter. And there are other men who say “how high?” when these women ask them to jump.

    One of them is Patti Glaser who is a well known litigator. She is not babular by popular standards. And yet she inspires respect and admiration, and yes, in some corners, crushes by both men and women.

    I’m not disagreeing with you that the tendency you mention is out there, but your universalizing it is incorrect and actually harms the efficacy of your argument.

  99. LMYC

    Octogalore, I think that it’s close enough to 100% that making a huge fuss about the epsilon who are not like that is disingenuous in the extreme.

  100. Pontiste

    Hello, longtime lurker and occasional attempted-poster/victim-of-the-spamulator and constant Twisty-idolator here.

    At the risk of derailing the thread, Architectural Digest has always been something of an a) elaborate semantic practical joke, b) aesthetic horror, c) fawning tool of the megaloindustriamilitatheocorpocracy, Gilded Interiors and Celebrity Worshipping Division, or d) most if not all of the above. Witness here: http://www.tias.com/cgi-bin/google.fcgi/itemKey=1922884863. (Sorry, but my HTML skills are not up to embedding the link or what have you.) But that certainly doesn’t make the Mirren, er, spread any less disturbing.

    Regards,

    Pontiste

  101. Mandos

    Pontiste:

    My eyes! My eyes!

  102. Sylvanite

    Oh my god! Rod’s sitting in a near-replica of the student union at one of my alma maters. Darken the colors up, and he’d have nailed it.

    I wonder if he’s read any of the books on the wall behind him. Does he have a framed photo of Polykarp Kusch, because if he does, then it is my old student union, with a lighter-colored remodeling.

  103. josquin

    When I was 20, with long blonde hair, slim firm bod and golden tan from my body-surfing days, lots of men admired my wit and intelligence.
    At a more advanced age, sans hair, firm bod, and tan, I have lost neither my wit nor intelligence. Funny how men don’t fawn over those qualities nearly as much as they used to.
    Octogalore I understand that there are men inhabiting the tail ends of the bell curve. I honor and welcome them. But their existence makes a very tiny splash in the reality of most women’s lives.

  104. LMYC

    Josquin, I hear ya — what I’ve noticed is that most men claim to admire my wit and intelligence, but if I watch them, I can tell that they consider them annoying obstacles that interfere with their ability to get to my cunt.

    Men never admired your wit and intelligence, nor do they admire mine. “I love you for your mind” is one of the world’s biggest lie, possibly the biggest ahead of “I promise I won’t invade Czechoslovakia.”

  105. Octogalore

    LMYC and Josquin: I guess we have different life experiences and contexts and we’re all sure ours are generalizable. I have various older female friends and relatives, none who are skinny or dress babaliciously, but who are witty and wise, who have been able to meet men who are attracted to them, and presumably the cerebral factor plays a big part. Their ability to do this, of course, is not like that of their male counterparts. But because I’ve seen this happen, not once but a number of times, it would seem MORE disingenuous of me to pretend I buy in to the absolutes.

    Josquin: I understand what you’re saying. I think the splash is a little bigger than you do, but I hear you.

    One thing I’m curious about: we’re in agreement that the package the brains and wit are in is a big factor and sometimes the only factor in the “fawning over” that we get for those qualities. Am I the only woman who operaterates similar to the way we are criticizing? I’ve had crushes on both men and women, though I’m het and have primarily been with men. And I must say, physical attraction has always been a gating factor for me. There are some people whose wit and just general coolness have made the difference for me, but there has to be a baseline physical attraction there.

    Any takers?

  106. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Perhaps the affection, admiration and respect make an appearance later on in the relationship, but I’m fairly certain it’d never get that far unless the guy (pick a guy, any guy) was physically attracted first. The same applies to wit and intelligence. He may come to appreciate a woman’s finer, less visible qualities eventually (maybe), but if he doesn’t find SOMEthing about her hawt, she’ll never register on his radar.

  107. mearl

    Apropos Pontiste’s link: I wonder what Roddy boy would look like in a hawt and sexay off-shouldered red dress made of the pelts of murdered muppets? He’s got the coy look and the background, but I don’t have Photoshop.

  108. brian

    LMYC – when you say that they never admired her wit and intelligence, how do you know that? are physical attraction and admiration of other qualities mutually exclusive in your world? I can tell you with absolute sincerity and certainty that I’m capable of admiring both in a woman, and some moments more one than the other (going both directions…)

    [Hoping I don't come across as a flamer...back to lurking and learning...]

    Brian

  109. brian

    Oops. Sorry for the excessive use of ellipses.

  110. Octogalore

    Antoinette: “Perhaps the affection, admiration and respect make an appearance later on in the relationship, but I’m fairly certain it’d never get that far unless the guy (pick a guy, any guy) was physically attracted first. The same applies to wit and intelligence. He may come to appreciate a woman’s finer, less visible qualities eventually (maybe), but if he doesn’t find SOMEthing about her hawt, she’ll never register on his radar.”

    Partially true, I think. There has to be some kind of initial attraction. (Am I the only woman here who would apply this standard too?)

    On the other hand, I’m not sure the appreciation of less visible qualities happens THAT MUCH later. Have you never seen someone totally turned off by a vacuous beauty? Or someone plain but witty capture the attention of a circle of people within minutes?

  111. RadFemHedonist

    4) Yet another “coming of age” movie about a little boy who discovers the wonders of wanking.

    For the nth time, masturbation does not equal porn, if I were writing about teenagers (or actually any age of person) masturbation would be in there and presented as a positive, which it is.

    I was initially offput by the way you used whore in that post Twisty (it didn’t feel as though you were mocking the word and protesting it’s violent misogyny as is usually the case), but I can see what you meant now. As for Helen Mirren, saying you’re still fuckable does not equal respecting you as a person, whenever I see a born homosapien I instantly recognise them as a full person, apparently some people are not as sensible as I am.

  112. RadFemHedonist

    Correction: the way you used the word whore

  113. LMYC

    RadFemHedonist, for the second time, I wasn’t TALKING about porn. I’m just sick and goddamned tired of the endles parade of Porkys and American-Pie related movies where the discovery of his own dong by the Young American Male is some sort of magnificent glorious thing, but it’s automatically in fact considered porn when a girl discovers her own damned self.

    I’M SICK OF ENSHRINING THE GODDAMNED WOODY AS IF IT WERE A FUCKING MONUMENT TO ALL THAT IS WONDERFUL AND HOLY IN THE UNIVERSE, a fucking instantiation of universal truth. Is that clear enough?

  114. LMYC

    when you say that they never admired her wit and
    intelligence, how do you know that? are physical attraction and
    admiration of other qualities mutually exclusive in your world?

    Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe it was the “gosh look she thinks she’s people” tone of voice coupled with the instant loss of patience when I told them they had the wrong limits on their integrals?

    And don’t pull that shit with me. Physical attraction and admiration of other qualities IS mutually exclusive int he eyes of the world, and you are smoking one hell of a lot of good weed if you think otherwise. I’m not subscribing to it, I’m calling it what it is. If you can’t tell the difference between those two things, then I suggest you are definitely not an “advanced” enough blamer, in the words of the woman in whose space we pontificate, to take part in this conversation.

  115. LMYC

    And just to clarify — I know they don’t because I’ve been there. Little man, I could make you walk into a door from craning your neck around if I wanted. I’ve done it. I know damned well that men’s brains opp fuses when confronted by someone who look slike a runway model and has forgottne more advanced and scary mathematics than most other people have ever learned.

    Go ahead. Question my own experience. Try it. I’m waiting.

  116. brian

    i’m not questioning your experience, i’m questioning your contention that men *never* admire wit or intelligence. (you were talking to someone else, and i referenced your statement about what *she* experienced). as you said before, and i can agree – it’s not common, and it’s not the male default mode, so no biggie.

    more strongly, however, i still object to your contention that the two things are mutually exclusive, as if noticing your looks rules out the possibility that at other times someone might notice that you’re also amart. when you say that, you’re questioning my experience. and really, why the need to call me “little man”?

  117. brian

    Should have said “smart” rather than “amart”. I would never accuse you of being a mart.

  118. Yeny

    Oh no! Back to discussing what men do and don’t like in women.

    Octo – How many men have you been attracted to that partake in all of the trappings of femininity. Have they shaved their legs and armpits, tweezed their eyebrows (and any other stray *unsightly* hairs), died their hair, had manicured fingernails and toes? Worn uncomfortable clothing (and underwear) on a regular (daily?) basis, adorned themselves with objects that have no practical use? Worn (subtle) make-up to accentuate their positive features…etc.

    When a woman looks for attractiveness in a male, she is not looking for an unreasonable amount of grooming, money and effort put into creating a fictional image of a man. You, as a woman, are expected to be attracted to what a real human being looks like.
    Yet we think it’s perfectly reasonable to be with a man who looks for and expects things in women that are illusions of what it is to be *truly* feminine. Unless a man does all of the above grooming, it’s not even stevens, is it?

    (Even the most groomed of males don’t get anywhere near expending the amount of energy and time that women do, so lets not try and argue that the shaving of the face on a daily basis somehow equates to all of the above and more.)

  119. Bird

    I cannot count the number of young men whose faces have frozen when I’ve spoken the words “grad school” in reference to myself. It’s usually followed by them backing away slowly from the scary nerd girl.

    Funny, two minutes earlier they were trying to chat me up and buy me drinks while they told me of their love for Hemingway’s “tight masculine prose.” I wonder what changed? Oh wait, I started thinking I was people again. Right.

    I don’t just think that most men aren’t actively attracted by brains. I believe that for most of them, intelligence is an actual turn-off. Sure, they’d still probably take me home for a quick fuck, but I doubt they’d want to keep me around after.

    (And yes, there are men on the far end of the curve who genuinely like smart women, but they’re statistical anomalies. Much prized anomalies, but odd nonetheless.)

  120. Octogalore

    LMYC, far be it from me to question your mathematical credentials. I ended my math training at Applied Stochastic Programming, which was about as lofty as our engineering curriculum got.

    But I must say that I am a bit puzzled by your use of fairly basic terminology.

    If A and B are “mutually exclusive,” this means: IF A, then NOT B. A and B can never coexist.

    If A and B are “different,” this means they can coexist, but just aren’t the same: A is not equal to B.

    Therefore, A and B can be different, but not mutually exclusive.

    Let’s take an example, shally we? “Pink” and “sharp.” They are different. I, you, and most likely even the male commenters among us, can tell the difference between these things. However, they are not mutually exclusive. I can have a knife that is pink and also sharp.

    Likewise, “physical attraction” and “admiration of other qualities” are different. I know this, you know this, and I daresay Brian does too. That DOES NOT mean they are mutually exclusive. Saying that someone who has made this claim is not “an advanced enough blamer” because that person supposedly “can’t tell the difference between those two things” leaves me somewhat confused about just who is not advanced enough.

  121. NeoCleo

    Pontiste–html skills notwithstanding, you’re point is hilarious and well-taken.

    LMYC–”I’m just sick and goddamned tired of the endles parade of Porkys and American-Pie related movies where the discovery of his own dong by the Young American Male . . .”

    I’ve always wondered about this phenom. They all seem to have this dicovery “life-long” as my beloved who is nearing his 49th still seems unable to keep his hands away from himself at the odd moment. I just don’t ever remember myself or any female friends walking around hand-hugging our mounds but I’ve seen this behavior repeatedly in males of all ages over the years. I’ve even asked my most beloved if he checks himself to make sure it didn’t sneak off while he wasn’t looking. No point here, just a rambling observation inspired by your words.

    NeoCleo

  122. zofia

    but if he doesn’t find SOMEthing about her hawt, she’ll never register on his radar.

    I’m sure that would be news to Drew G. Faust (who has just been named president of Harvard) and Susan Hockfield (president of MIT) who are both hets, neither considered “hawt” and yet both have husbands and many admirers. I live in Cambridge and I can assure you that people here, of all orientations, find power/stature/smarts to be an “aphrodisiac”. Maybe, it’s an age thing. Most of my friends are approaching middle age and are not “hawt” but they are brilliant, tough and accomplished and none have a dearth of suitors. If you truly believe that a girl needs to be vacuous or hawt to get the attention of a male, please attend any function at MIT and you’ll find plenty of people who are well beyond that.

  123. M the Pedagogue

    I generally avoid commenting from personal experience, because it’s always a matter of YMMV and usually the problem with mainstream media’s coverage of women (see the women-choosing-to-stay-at-home bullshit).

    In this case, though, I’ll say this: as a smart woman, most pro-smart-woman men I’ve met have been enthralled not by my humanity but by the extra-bonus-round challenge of trying to fuck the loud smart bitch. It’s double plus points if you can conquer the chick who can conquer you in a debate; triple if she isn’t afraid to call herself a feminist.

    Until I was 24 or so, my experience of sex with men was pretty much fucking = war. After every time, I always felt like I had lost. I still feel sick to my stomach.

  124. cycles

    I wasn’t TALKING about porn. I’m just sick and goddamned tired of the endles parade of Porkys and American-Pie related movies where the discovery of his own dong by the Young American Male is some sort of magnificent glorious thing, but it’s automatically in fact considered porn when a girl discovers her own damned self.

    From the peanut gallery: Actually, being kind of a doofus, I didn’t fully understand what you meant by #4 until you said that.

    And I totally agree.

    Many non-porn movies where a young woman blossoms into her own sexuality, at least the ones I can think of off the top of my admittedly feeble head, are about women whose discovery of sexuality causes them to fail at their innate goal of becoming sex toys for men (i.e. lesbians). I wonder why that is?

    (/disengenuousness)

    There are plenty of movies where a young woman discovers love and starts a relationship, but not the sexuality that’s in the gee-golly-grin boys’ movies you mentioned.

  125. Octogalore

    zofia: Yay Cambridge! Your post made me nostalgic.

  126. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Yeny, you just described one of my college roommates!

    Yah, he was gay. We used to give each other manicures.

  127. Yeny

    Hedonistic, that’s why I think homo relationships have got more of a balance.
    In het relationships it’s still the woman, and only the woman, that is expected to be busting a gut to look like a blow-up doll.

  128. Yeny

    I think some men are attracted to smarts in women, because it just astounds them that these strange creatures, that aren’t quite human, could actually have an intellect that is even in the least bit comparable with their own.

  129. Bird

    zofia, I think all of us can agree that MIT is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination.

    I can tell you that in my last foray into the dating scene, I had more than one boy turn tail and run when he figured out that I was not only smarter than him, but completely unashamed about the fact and unwilling to pretend anything else. Many of these men had degrees and claimed to think that brains were hawt. Yeah, tell that to my friend the genetics researcher, who is brilliant, funny and loving but can’t find a partner because she’s not “fuckable” by the standard definition.

    Many of these guys only find brains sexy if the woman with the high IQ has the right sort of body and wants to give up her career to stay home and raise their brilliant babies in an ecologically sound environment with lots of educational toys while preparing witty small talk for the next faculty party so she can help him get tenure. Or they have fantasies about being dominated by the intellectual bitch. Creeps.

    There are men out there who like smart women simply for what’s on the inside, not the combination of smarts and tits. I happen to be in a very enjoyable relationship with one. But they are hard to find, especially when one does not attend functions at a prestigious university on a regular basis.

  130. Jane Awake

    Bird said, “I cannot count the number of young men whose faces have frozen when I’ve spoken the words “grad school” in reference to myself. It’s usually followed by them backing away slowly from the scary nerd girl.”

    And M the Pedagogue said, “In this case, though, I’ll say this: as a smart woman, most pro-smart-woman men I’ve met have been enthralled not by my humanity but by the extra-bonus-round challenge of trying to fuck the loud smart bitch. It’s double plus points if you can conquer the chick who can conquer you in a debate; triple if she isn’t afraid to call herself a feminist.”

    Yes and yes. I am currently a graduate student, and I was sorely disappointed when I arrived in the program and discovered that the men, rather than being respectful of or interested in my intelligence and talent are totally threatened and repulsed by it. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m not only smart, but I’m comfortable challenging them despite their white male privilege.

    I’ll tell you, I am not a physically unattractive person, but apparently there is nothing less attractive than being a feminist in academia. I think they may even hate me. Perhaps not all men feel as they do, but these men are more or less aware of a lot of feminist ideas, and they basically flat-out reject and mock them. They constantly make jokes about being patriarchs, and find themselves–rather than smart women–adorable.

    They are not interested in learning how the other half lives, but they want me to be reasonable and empathetic when I talk about men. Ridiculous. It’s really sad.

  131. Mar Iguana

    “Any takers?”

    Nope. I’m in enough trouble around here.

  132. PhoenixRising

    I don’t know how many times I’ve said this here, but: Damned if I can figure out how you make these mixed marriages work. As a gold star lesbian, I’m constantly perplexed by the dynamic of what makes straight men look at/feel attraction to women.

    An anecdote that tells the tale of how (some of) the other half lives: Three years ago, I was listening to this unbelievably smart dyke talk about an issue I’m passionate about and somewhat expert in debating. The crowd in the room shifted and I saw her and at that moment, I realized that I experience physical attraction as an aftereffect of mental stimulation. And I’m still hot on her after all this time, because she just gets smarter. (Don’t worry, my wife knows.)

    But that’s me. And I think a lot of other people in my demographic.

  133. alicepaul

    Frumious B: I understand your point completely. I just personally think that feminine accoutrements (sp?) actually take on different meanings depending on who wears them…for example, pasties and a thong mean something different on a straight girl, a gay girl, a fat girl, a gay fat girl, a transgendered person, etc. I think the queer community really knows how to use camp and irony, to the effect that we “read” traditional gender presentations in alternative ways.

    On another note, I second what Bird said. Here at my university, there is this really smart, feisty Chicana Studies/English professor. At a party, I met her husband, also a prof. I found out that he has tenure, and she works part time and takes care of their baby the rest of the time. Both of them seemed quite content with the arrangement, but I was a little disgusted. It’s like, the only place for women in academia is beside their husbands. HIS career is important, HER role is decoration and mommy. The part time gig is just to distract her from what is really going on, i.e. that she is there to make his life easier.

    I think that smart women can be appealing to men only if they concede to playing second fiddle to his career, where it counts. Makes me glad I’m a lez.

  134. Octogalore

    alicepaul: “I think that smart women can be appealing to men only if they concede to playing second fiddle to his career, where it counts. Makes me glad I’m a lez.”

    So because of this “feisty” woman (who may’ve been “feisty” enough to choose this arrangement, or not feisty enough to insist on another choice, perhaps), you’re forming a pretty big conclusion.

    Well, if that data point’s meaningful, this one is too. I know of a household in which the woman plays main fiddle by a factor of three (five on a good year) and has plenty evidence of continuing appeal.

    Let’s not extrapolate madly to make a point. It’s not necessary.

  135. Spit The Dummy

    Let’s not extrapolate madly to make a point. It’s not necessary.

    No, it’s not. So – when you look at a decent sample range of couples you know, say about 10-20, in what percentage of those does the career of the male NOT dominate? Because in a corresponding sample of het couples in my own experience, I can think of only one partnership in which the male’s career was ever compromised in any way for that of the female partner – and that was due to injury that effectively put a stop to the man’s career. He then stayed at home to look after the kids while his wife went to work.

    Moreover, statistics worldwide tend to back this up, to the extent that women are the ones who give up their careers to have children, who sacrifice seniority and promotions and full-time work after pregnancy, whether by choice or through discrimination. They are the ones expected to give way when any conflict between careers arise. Are you seriously challenging the idea that this is the prevailing climate in our society, even today? I understand your need to be fair to the men but sometimes it seems to me you’re bending over backwards to play devil’s advocate in a forum that exists because there is a need to be fair to women. Being fair to men in this context is rather redundant, IMO, because being fair to men is the status quo.

  136. Mar Iguana

    “I understand your need to be fair to the men…” Spit The Dummy

    I don’t.

  137. Bird

    Octo, I think you’re using a statistical anomaly. Yes, all of us know perhaps one couple like this. All of us also know other people who buck the trend in whatever area. But for most smart women, the truth is that there’s a real challenge involved in finding a partner who supports her career. It’s enough of an issue that my faculty adviser (a brilliant, amazing woman) sat down and warned me about it when I began talking about grad school—she didn’t want to scare me off my education, but she did want me to know some of the pitfalls, and that’s one of them.

    I know a lot of young women who are giving up on their careers to support their mens’ goals. I have one girlfriend who just defended for her PhD in microbiology. She plans to teach at the college level because her husband is going to be doing post-grad work in particle physics and it’s too hard for them both to find research positions at the same university. If she can’t get a college job, she plans to find work in a grocery store or similar.

    Another soon-to-be PhD I know is planning on quitting work once she and her engineer fiancé decide to have babies. She’s won national awards and is a great research mind, but, you know, his job is really important so she can’t ask him to give that up.

    I could go on and on. There’s the woman with the masters degree in English who married a high school friend of mine and is now at home about to have kid number four. She doesn’t like me much because I’m out having the career she wishes she still had. There’s my friend who wants to go to grad school, but her husband is in the army and she doesn’t have anyone to help with the baby. And so on.

    My prof warned me that most het women in top academic positions are single. Very few men will give up their afternoon making goodies for a Christmas gathering of profs or spend an evening laughing at inane jokes to make nice with the dean. The women who do make it to the top often give up having kids. Many of them end up divorced or in unhappy relationships. Yes, there are the lucky ones who find men who really do admire and support them, but I’ve been told that it can be a damn lonely life for most.

  138. Kali

    “Likewise, “physical attraction” and “admiration of other qualities” are different. I know this, you know this, and I daresay Brian does too. That DOES NOT mean they are mutually exclusive.”

    They are not mutually exclusive, but they are inversely proportional in the case of the vast majority of men. Think of the blonde jokes, the boob jokes. The more physically attractive a woman is, the more men will put her down in terms of intellectual qualities. The more intelligent/successful a woman is, the less attractive she is to most men. That is why I don’t think being considered “fuckable” by men is a compliment. It is more like an insult.

  139. Octogalore

    Spit the Dummy: I’m not challenging the idea that women are the ones expected to give way when any conflict between careers arises, and I have not disputed that it’s statistically far more frequent for the man’s career to dominate. Although, in my circle, “anomaly” is a little strong: in addition to myself, I have four friends for whom this is the case. Since I must admit that I tend to go to a lot of women’s networking events, which are self-selective, possibly this skews things.

    My point is not that we need to rush to the rescue of MEN, but that we can’t build from a position of “never never never!” I wasn’t contradicting statements like yours or Bird’s, but the absolutes. And not because I feel the need to give men any additional advantage, but because I think it’s only fair to women to acknowledge that we have overcome the odds in some instances.

    I think it’s unfair that we should have to take the majority of the burden in overcoming the odds, but am realistic about the fact that workplace laws and real-life trends right now favor men’s careers, and as we are the ones who want change, we have more of the onus to create it. I’m not defending that, it sucks, but it is what it is. Starting from “it’s impossible” doesn’t get us there.

    Let’s take Bird’s examples:

    “I have one girlfriend who just defended for her PhD in microbiology. She plans to teach at the college level because her husband is going to be doing post-grad work in particle physics and it’s too hard for them both to find research positions at the same university. If she can’t get a college job, she plans to find work in a grocery store or similar.”

    Why doesn’t she insist that her job take precedence, or that he restrict himself to universities in which she can find a position? Or, as academics frequently move among universities, get him to promise that after a certain period of time starting up his career, it’s her turn? If he doesn’t go for any of this, toss him. This seems harsh, but she deserves to be with someone who’ll treat her goals equally. If she gives in now, it won’t improve. It took my mom (both she and my dad were/are academics with similar fact pattern; she gave in) twenty-five years to realize that it wouldn’t.

    “Another soon-to-be PhD I know is planning on quitting work once she and her engineer fiancé decide to have babies. She’s won national awards and is a great research mind, but, you know, his job is really important so she can’t ask him to give that up.”

    This seems like a cop out. With those jobs, they can afford day care. She could stay home for six months, ask him to take time off too, and then both can work. Most couples HAVE to have two incomes. If she decides to stop working, yeah, bad on the system and bad on him for not encouraging her enough, but bad on her too for not fighting harder. That’s if she really wants to work, and she may not.

    “There’s the woman with the masters degree in English who married a high school friend of mine and is now at home about to have kid number four. She doesn’t like me much because I’m out having the career she wishes she still had.”

    So, whose fault is that? You kept your goals high and insisted on someone who’d support your career. She didn’t.

    “There’s my friend who wants to go to grad school, but her husband is in the army and she doesn’t have anyone to help with the baby.”

    That’s a tough situation. It’s sometimes not possible to have everything you want, when you want it. She should make clear to him that she’s keeping the home fires burning now to support his ambitions, and is happy to do so, but will expect that when he returns from active duty, he’ll return the favor during the time she’s in school.

    I’m not being a Pollyanna here saying all this shit is easy OR fair. But we need to start from a position that it’s POSSIBLE to shift things, the easiest way women CAN shift things: by brute force. If more women fight their way into the workplace, then and only then we’ll see the societal shifts in favor of our health care needs being supported by employer, day care needs being supported (which is not just a women’s issue but right now it can seem like one), and men thinking “hey, the extra money and a wife who’s fulfilled and maybe some more free time for me aren’t bad things.”

    This isn’t some kind of bizarre pipe dream; I’ve known my share of misogynist assholes, who will never change, but I also know many men who are intimidated by the expectation that they be successful and breadwinning and who admit they’d like a respite.

    Ultimately, my dad’s turnaround was too late for my mom and him to make it. She moved on. He was destroyed over the end of the marriage and ultimately woke up a bit. He is remarried now, and recently gave up his chair professorship, which had become a big part of his identity, to move to New York because his new wife, who is a schoolteacher, wouldn’t give up the nice pension she could get if she hung in another five years. She said no way. He moved.

  140. Kali

    “But we need to start from a position that it’s POSSIBLE to shift things, the easiest way women CAN shift things: by brute force.”

    The point is that there needs to be force. Men are not doing this willingly. In your defense of men you seem to be giving the impression that men are egalitarian saints who are willing to share burdens and rights with women, and the radical feminists would realize that only if they didn’t take such a jaundiced view of the wonderful, great men.

  141. saltyC

    Spit, I totally agree with your points,
    I found it much easier to be ambitions sans male, who I found were threatened by my spending time doing research and one even threatened to smash my computer.

    But I don’t think being single is a “damn lonely life”.

    Being married can actually be lonelier in many cases, plus extra chores.

    Being single, even with a child, you can spend time with anyone who wants to spend time with you, no hall pass needed.

  142. saltyC

    Oops I meant Bird not Spit.

  143. Octogalore

    Kali: “In your defense of men you seem to be giving the impression that men are egalitarian saints who are willing to share burdens and rights with women, and the radical feminists would realize that only if they didn’t take such a jaundiced view of the wonderful, great men.”

    Kali – did you miss where I said “I’ve known my share of misogynist assholes, who will never change” and “I think it’s unfair that we should have to take the majority of the burden in overcoming the odds, but am realistic about the fact that workplace laws and real-life trends right now favor men’s careers, and as we are the ones who want change, we have more of the onus to create it. I’m not defending that, it sucks, but it is what it is.”

    It seems like you’re deliberately trying to cram me into this strawmanworshipper who thinks they’re perfect and that radfems are overly jaundiced. Tain’t so. But I am, if nothing else, a realist. Men are NOT willing to share easily, and we DO need force. Does this mean we conclude “well it’s not fair and it’s not easy so let’s just give it up”? Does my saying we shouldn’t do this mean I’m defending men or saying they’re in the right? I think neither.

    I think we start from a position of what IS, not what SHOULD BE, and we fucking TAKE what’s ours, when possible. It isn’t always possible, but the few instances in which it is demonstrate that it may be possible in more instances than we’re giving ourselves credit for. If we take advantage of all the possible instances, the overall shitty unfair framework will, albeit too slowly, change.

  144. Bird

    Octo, you make it all sound a whole hell of a lot easier than it really is. If it was all so simple, my mom would have won the war 30 years ago. My grandmother would have won it 60 years ago.

    None of us is denying that we need to fight. But belittling women because it’s fucking hard to make those choices and some of them pick their marriages and kids over making a stand for principles is wrong.

    Go after the culture that says this is the only choice instead. Blame the patriarchy, not the woman trapped by it.

  145. RadFemHedonist

    OK fair enough, but would you still object if it was positively presented for all and women were fully sexual beings with their own masturbation and sexual desire for themselves?

    I agree with you it’s unequal, often female masturbation on film is thought to be porn in a way that male masturbation isn’t, then there’s the problem of women’s sexuality being turned into some kind of male gaze thing (lipstick lesbians and masturbation as sexual display, rather than something one does for one’s own pleasure) I also agree that often it’s “teh mighty erection” as opposed to “the pleasurable genitals”.

    Also, men do seem to adjust their bits in public a lot, dunno why, but it doesn’t bother me, people adjusting themselves is something I don’t care about.

    American Pie is rather rubbish, it’s leaving my DVD collection (interestingly I’ve got rid of most of my early film acquisitions, I do still have Kiki’s Delivery Service though.

  146. smmo

    Octogalore said: “If more women fight their way into the workplace, then and only then we’ll see the societal shifts in favor of our health care needs being supported by employer, day care needs being supported (which is not just a women’s issue but right now it can seem like one)”

    Ack. Women have always been in the workplace, so where are these changes? Things are getting worse for all workers. Except the parasites rich folks, for whom things are fantastic. As usual.

    “and men thinking “hey, the extra money and a wife who’s fulfilled and maybe some more free time for me aren’t bad things.”

    Double ack. Catering to men’s self-interest, yeah, that’s worked out so well.

  147. Octogalore

    Bird – didn’t say it was easy or quick, in fact said exactly the opposite, and was not belittling anyone. Nobody’s asking anyone to give up marriage or kids. I’m suggesting women give up on men who’d force them to make one particular decision, and made sure to qualify that by saying: when it’s possible.

    “Go after the culture that says this is the only choice instead. Blame the patriarchy, not the woman trapped by it.”

    And I have done so. But we can’t stop there.

    SMMO said: “Ack. Women have always been in the workplace, so where are these changes? Things are getting worse for all workers. Except the parasites rich folks, for whom things are fantastic. As usual.”

    Really? The percentage of women in areas where we are going to be able to drive change is not static, not sure where you’re coming from on that. I’m not saying women in janitorial or nursing positions don’t count, because every woman does. But I do feel that women in top government, industry, etc. positions will be the ones to drive change. And women in those positions are few and far between.

    “ ‘and men thinking “hey, the extra money and a wife who’s fulfilled and maybe some more free time for me aren’t bad things.’ Double ack. Catering to men’s self-interest, yeah, that’s worked out so well.”

    Nope, NOT catering to men’s self-interest, but doing what’s in ours, and knowing that this may ultimately be in theirs too, whether they get it or not. I’m not saying do it FOR them, but do it DESPITE them, and the good ones will come around, the others who cares. I think I’m actually taking much more of a “don’t cater to the men” attitude than Bird and others who are invoking false choices like “choose their marriage and kids.” Sure, many of us don’t have the privilege required to have this discussion, but your examples weren’t in that category.

    The suggestion that women pursuing material benefits are to be shamed and ridiculed is also really, really helpful for the cause. Men are encouraged to do this, but we must be made to feel that we’re somehow letting down third world countries every time we make another buck (even if a portion of it is donated to said countries)? Nice.

  148. thebewilderness

    Shorter Octogalore:
    “I LOVE MY LIFESTYLE AND EVERY CHOICE I HAVE MADE IS ENTIRELY CORRECT AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THIS ANECDOTE AND LEARN FROM IT. THE PLURAL OF “MY ANECDOTE” IS “STONE COLD UNIVERSAL LAW”!”

    Boldly stolen from norbizness, on another blog thread.

  149. Kali

    “Kali – did you miss where I said “I’ve known my share of misogynist assholes, who will never change””

    No, I didn’t. I also didn’t miss that you immediately followed it up with a “but” statement pointing to the “many” wonderful, great men out there. Why do you have such a problem in admitting that the percentage of men who are willing to be egalitarian is infinitesimally small? Do you think admitting that means that we will just throw up our hands and give up on our feminist goals? One of the ways we can effect change is by avoiding inegalitarian men. Not by dressing them up in a nice egalitarian package and fooling ourselves.

    “Does this mean we conclude “well it’s not fair and it’s not easy so let’s just give it up”? Does my saying we shouldn’t do this mean I’m defending men or saying they’re in the right?”

    Now that is a strawwoman.

  150. smmo

    Octogalore: “The suggestion that women pursuing material benefits are to be shamed and ridiculed is also really, really helpful for the cause. Men are encouraged to do this, but we must be made to feel that we’re somehow letting down third world countries every time we make another buck (even if a portion of it is donated to said countries)? Nice.”

    My point isn’t to shame, but to refute your assertion that women in the workplace will bring about positive changes. Because you don’t really mean women who work, you mean ruling class women. How, precisely, are women in power going to help all women? We have seen plenty of women attain high positions and they largely do what most men in those positions do – help out their own. And by “their own” I mean their class, their family, NOT their sex.

    Charity is a nice salve to our consciences but is a part of the same filthy system. We give what we feel like when we feel like out of our enormous surplus.

  151. Bird

    Sure, many of us don’t have the privilege required to have this discussion, but your examples weren’t in that category.

    I used examples that were in the context of the discussion, Octo. We were talking about smart women who give up on their careers for the sake of their partner’s success. I picked examples of those women. My point is that when somebody has to give up a career for the sake of t other’s success, it’s generally the woman who does the giving up.

  152. Octogalore

    And so it goes, the generalizing, the insults, the anger, the factual inaccuracies. The “We all have anecdotes, but because yours don’t fit into my flowchart, I will use them to ridicule you!” Typically, where logic fails, this is the result. And as so often happens, more pressing obligations have arisen. I’ll look forward to next time.

  153. Bird

    And so Octo takes the moral high road by accusing everyone of the same things she’s just done and then stalking off. Nice.

  154. thebewilderness

    Although I don’t know if Octo is Ann Althouse, she does have the same prose style. Just sayin’.

  155. lisa

    Late to the party, here. I feel there has been a lot of valuable discussion, but I went to bed gnawing unconfortably on something LMYC wrote.

    “I mean, who in their right minds goes to a movie about:

    1) A serial killer who stalks and slaughter naked blond prostitutes,
    2) An explodorama where teh heros woman gets raped (always rapeD) and murdered and it gives him an excuse to go on a bloody rampage,
    3) A “comedy” where the lead female character might as well have “fuck me lie to me treat me like dirt $8.50″ written on her chest,
    4) Yet another “coming of age” movie about a little boy who discovers the wonders of wanking,
    5) Yet another moviea bout a crippled, mentally damaged, or otherwise fucked up man and the Beautiful Woman Who Believes In Him

    Last year my partner of fifteen years broke his back, and sustained a spinal cord injury. Have we become a hackneyed cliche, because he is “crippled” and I love and believe in him? Is caring for someone like this anti-feminist? Or, are “cripples” an easy target to be lumped together with “mentally damaged or otherwise fucked up” men.

    I know we can do better than this!

  156. Ugly In Pink

    You’ve got a point, Lisa. However I think the intent of that last one is not so much hating on cripples (or the emotionally damaged) but noting that the reverse, the crippled woman who is saved by the love of a wonderful man, yadda yadda NEVER happens. Ever.

  157. Spit The Dummy

    I said in reply to Octogalore:

    “I understand your need to be fair to the men…”

    Mar Iguana says:

    “I don’t.”

    Why not? Isn’t that what the patriarchy does best? Try to mess with your head until they have you actually defending them? Octogalore has just bought into that crap more than most of us, IMO.

  158. Octogalore

    Hmm, we’ve accomplished a lot in my absence. Somehow people have figured out that pro-femininity-and-dressing-cute me is Ann Althouse of Intern-Boob-Gate. Genius!

    Spit (wanted to shorten it up, but the acronym obviously isn’t going to work): since when is arguing against absolutes buying into male crap? And since when is arguing against kowtowing to one’s husband’s “my career comes first” crap, defending men? I’m defending WOMEN by saying men aren’t the inpenetrable force some of us think they are, and defending WOMEN by saying, where possible, OUR AMBITIONS come FIRST.

  159. Spit The Dummy

    Octogalore said:

    “My point is not that we need to rush to the rescue of MEN, but that we can’t build from a position of “never never never!” I wasn’t contradicting statements like yours or Bird’s, but the absolutes. And not because I feel the need to give men any additional advantage, but because I think it’s only fair to women to acknowledge that we have overcome the odds in some instances.”

    You say that you don’t feel the need to come to the rescue of men but that seems to me to be the very thing you do in a lot of these discussions. Nobody on this list has ever disputed the “never, never, never”. Nobody has ever disputed it’s fair to give kudos to women who overcome the odds stacked against them. Where I have the problem is with the continual “but what about the poor men” argument that is trotted out no matter what is being said. Isn’t the whole patriarchal set up itself an institutionalised form of “what about the men”? It’s not as if they were the ones being discriminated against in almost every conceivable way possible in our society. This is ONE PLACE where we can discuss openly how we feel about how shitty that is, so why do we have to constantly have to be told to “be fair to men”? Frankly, I think they get enough “fairness” in their every day life that I don’t need to cut them one iota of slack on this list and it annoys me when I get asked to give them special consideration on top of all the special considerations they get in the real world just because they happened to be born with a penis.

  160. Octogalore

    Spit: if you don’t see the difference between defending men, and making the point that there are glimmers of hope for women out there, then I’m not sure what else I can say.

    I think if we met IRL you’d understand that I don’t fit the “all about the menz” paradigm that you seem to feel applies. I probably stand on my own, cut no slack to the empeninsed ones, and encourage others to do so, more than various others who talk that talk here. I can hear the response: yeah, easy for you to say, from where you sit. Well, when I wasn’t sitting pretty, and had no family buttress, I turned away many a self-styled white knight who was eager to make a trade. Just like I’m sure many of you have.

    I deliberately did not get into a relationship until I could do so on my terms. So, though Bird claims I cannot understand the struggles of the women in her examples: wrong, sweetheart. It is possible to not know where rent’s coming from and still not get married to, or even date, that army guy who wants you to have his kids, or the professor who’s going to put the kibbosh on your career, until that career’s got a head of steam.

    So yeah: I do feel the need for a balanced presentation, not because I believe men need any special favors, not because I don’t believe they already get too many, but because I believe an unrealistic look at things is exclusionary and a turn-off, and ineffective towards actually getting shit done.

  161. smmo

    “So yeah: I do feel the need for a balanced presentation, not because I believe men need any special favors, not because I don’t believe they already get too many, but because I believe an unrealistic look at things is exclusionary and a turn-off, and ineffective towards actually getting shit done.”

    What’s more unrealistic, over-valuing the existence of the .01% of men who get it, or calling out the rest of them? Most of the .01%, even if they treat women with respect, condone with silence their brothers’ treatment of women.

  162. Spit The Dummy

    Octogalore said:

    Spit (wanted to shorten it up, but the acronym obviously isn’t going to work)

    “Spit” is fine; I agree STD might not be a handle I’d be interested in owning! (“Spit the dummy” is an Australian slang expression that means losing your cool, your temper. A ‘dummy’ in this context being the equivalent of the US ‘pacifer’ for babies.)

    Octogalore said:

    Spit: if you don’t see the difference between defending men, and making the point that there are glimmers of hope for women out there, then I’m not sure what else I can say.

    I do see the difference in general but it seems to me that your posts specifically tend to fall on the “defending the men” side of things. Perhaps that’s not your intention, but that’s the way it comes across to me.

    Octogalore said:

    I think if we met IRL you’d understand that I don’t fit the “all about the menz” paradigm that you seem to feel applies. I probably stand on my own, cut no slack to the empeninsed ones, and encourage others to do so, more than various others who talk that talk here. I can hear the response: yeah, easy for you to say, from where you sit.

    I think if I met you in real life, Octo, I’d see a moderate feminist who sticks up for women but likes to make sure that, even though men are almost inevitably the ultimate winners in the patriarchy, they are still treated fairly in any and all discussions because in the end they are individual human beings and should be judged as such. Does that sound about right, or have I got you totally wrong?

    Octogalore said:

    So yeah: I do feel the need for a balanced presentation, not because I believe men need any special favors, not because I don’t believe they already get too many, but because I believe an unrealistic look at things is exclusionary and a turn-off, and ineffective towards actually getting shit done.

    I used to be more moderate in my feminism, so I used to argue much in the same way that you do now, but after spending years getting nowhere at all, now I see patriarchy as “exclusionary and a turn-off” and radical feminism as the way to “actually getting shit done.” I’m a radical these days and love this blog for the freedom it gives me to voice opinions that don’t require constant justification, apology, or a corresponding balanced view of the male “side” of things, because this is one of the few places I’ve found that it’s accepted that although men do have their side of things, we’re interested in giving voice primarily to the female perspective. And I have never had cause to doubt my initial assumption that most of the posters here get that all men aren’t monsters, that there are decent men out there, that there are no absolutes (ie 100%) when we are talking about men in the patriarchy. I guess the “problem” we’re experiencing, if we want to call it that, is the tension between the radical and the more moderate end of the feminist spectrum, yes?

  163. Octogalore

    Spit: well, if it comes across to so many that I’m defending men, I will take that seriously and work on clarifying in future. Because that is not my intention.

    “I think if I met you in real life, Octo, I’d see a moderate feminist who sticks up for women but likes to make sure that, even though men are almost inevitably the ultimate winners in the patriarchy, they are still treated fairly in any and all discussions because in the end they are individual human beings and should be judged as such. Does that sound about right, or have I got you totally wrong?”

    You’re some of the way there, but I really don’t care whether men are treated fairly in all discussions. When I jump in it’s typically where I do see stubborn statements about men that are harmful to WOMEN. This board, I do get, is not for helping men out, and I don’t feel it should be.

    The statements I feel are harmful to women are those pronouncing an absolute inability for women in the patriarchy to advance in jobs or in relationships. SMMO may feel like she knows what she’s talking about with the .01, but that’s not my experience, or that of others on this site (Bird and others have mentioned SOs who are exceptions, and various others have mentioned having achieved success professionally). I do think it’s important that women who happen to like men (I am not suggesting all do or that all should) understand there are a few with non-asshole potential. And I think it’s important that women aspire to equality in every avenue, whether it’s public interest, or yes, capitalist endeavors. And not believe that there are impenetrable, absolute forces preventing our rise.

    Despite popular opinion here, I am not suggesting the path to either is easy, that it’s been easy for me, or that I’m not still struggling on it. I’m not at some place of glib complacency.
    I feel that deciding in what areas women have equal rights is along the same patriarchal lines as deciding whether we have equal rights at all. Some of us here don’t have much respect for capitalism. Fine. That’s not the point. The point is: we have the right to achieve material success the same way men do.

    Another issue entirely is whether women in high levels in the workplace will change things. I happen to think so. Others here don’t. But that really doesn’t affect the premise that we have the right to want to be there, and to encourage other women in that direction. That’s the right I care about. Along the lines of not agreeing with what someone says, but defending to the death their right to say it.

    I agree that the tension you mention does stem from moderate vs radical, to some degree. But I’m still not sure we’re on the same page about exactly where the areas of tension are, exactly. I do, greatly, appreciate your willingness to have a reasoned dialogue with me about it. It means a lot.

  164. Octogalore

    PS — By meeting in real life, I meant more in terms of overall gestalt than our positions, which I’m sure would be vocalized the same IRL as online. But I think whether one finds someone is coming from the same place offline can have as much, and sometimes more, to do with actions as words. I have friends, for example, who have various beliefs or positions I don’t much agree with. But because our end goals and intentions are so compatible, and their actions fit this, we don’t get into alot of parsing of technical positions.

    I think there are people here, along these lines, who offline would come across as using more “femininity” than I do (factoid: I’ve gotten three manicures in my lifetime), and whose attitudes towards men would appear more ingratiating than mine, despite their online positions being more “radical” than mine. That’s what makes me think if we did meet offline, the lines of communication might be different.

  165. Spit The Dummy

    Octogalore said:

    Spit: well, if it comes across to so many that I’m defending men, I will take that seriously and work on clarifying in future. Because that is not my intention.

    Cool. That’s all anyone can do and I appreciate your willingness to try. Too many people just get offended and go off in a huff, but communications important, IMO. Too important to keep on misunderstanding each other when we’re ostensibly on the same side!

    When I jump in it’s typically where I do see stubborn statements about men that are harmful to WOMEN.

    Then we are having a communication problem because that isn’t what’s coming across in your posts in general, at least not for me.

    The statements I feel are harmful to women are those pronouncing an absolute inability for women in the patriarchy to advance in jobs or in relationships… And I think it’s important that women aspire to equality in every avenue, whether it’s public interest, or yes, capitalist endeavors. And not believe that there are impenetrable, absolute forces preventing our rise.

    I see where you’re coming from here, Octo, but you are yourself guilty of absolutism in your response to what you see as absolutism. First of all, this list does not have a homogenous attitude towards ANYTHING. There are every flavour of opinion here, including yours, so you can’t label the prevailing climate with one broad brushstroke of opinion.

    Secondly, most of the posters here don’t seem to hold absolutists opinions at all and are quite prepared to say that there are decent guys out there and that women can get ahead. The caveat they have is: AT WHAT PRICE? And is it worth the price the patriarchy demands? That’s the thornier ethical dilemma many stick on here. It’s like playing the patriarchal game and wearing feminine drag for the rewards it offers – how many of us are prepared compromise our principles and to what extent and for what reward? Each of us makes our own pact with the patriarchal devil and has to live with it but it takes it toll, no matter what we do.

    Thirdly, although you may think it’s important to believe that the barriers before women are not “impenetrable, absolute forces preventing our rise”, please consider that many of us consider that it is equally as important to have THIS SPACE in which to be able to acknowledge freely just how shitty and powerful the forces ranged against us really are. That doesn’t mean we’ve given in or that we aren’t fighting, just that we want a place in which we can be HONEST.

    Fourthly, consider the idea that the flipside of continually trying to get people to step back and be fair to the men and be upbeat about the women is actually very close to the restrictive pratices we encounter under the patriarchy where we have to sit down and shut up. And then you might get an idea of the hostility that you’ve encountered in this forum.

    Despite popular opinion here, I am not suggesting the path to either is easy, that it’s been easy for me, or that I’m not still struggling on it. I’m not at some place of glib complacency.

    I don’t think you are and I think you might have misunderstood the hub of the criticism if you think that “having it easy” has anything to do with it.

    Some of us here don’t have much respect for capitalism. Fine. That’s not the point. The point is: we have the right to achieve material success the same way men do.

    This is a pretty broad claim and I think this is where you’re gonna run into some disagreement on this forum. For many the practice of capitalism is inextricably ound up with patriarchy and the idea that women should pursue success the same way is anathema to them. Y’all may just have to agree to differ on that. I’m all for material success for women but again, at what price, for the individual, for society and for feminism?

    Another issue entirely is whether women in high levels in the workplace will change things. I happen to think so. Others here don’t. But that really doesn’t affect the premise that we have the right to want to be there, and to encourage other women in that direction. That’s the right I care about.

    Basically this all comes down to a disagreement between those who think women in high places in the economic patriarchal system will help the situation of women generally and those who don’t. So discuss it. If people don’t agree with you, they don’t agree with you. What’s the problem? You talk of “rights” but I don’t see anyone denying anybody their right to express an opinion.

    I agree that the tension you mention does stem from moderate vs radical, to some degree. But I’m still not sure we’re on the same page about exactly where the areas of tension are, exactly.

    So where do you think it’s coming from exactly?

    I do, greatly, appreciate your willingness to have a reasoned dialogue with me about it. It means a lot.

    No problem. I’m a reasonable person. Unless I spit the dummy.

  166. Octogalore

    “Secondly, most of the posters here don’t seem to hold absolutists opinions at all and are quite prepared to say that there are decent guys out there and that women can get ahead. The caveat they have is: AT WHAT PRICE? And is it worth the price the patriarchy demands? That’s the thornier ethical dilemma many stick on here. It’s like playing the patriarchal game and wearing feminine drag for the rewards it offers – how many of us are prepared compromise our principles and to what extent and for what reward? Each of us makes our own pact with the patriarchal devil and has to live with it but it takes it toll, no matter what we do.”

    First: not quite sure you ARE being honest about the absolutist opinions. You’re not among those who have them, but they do exist here.

    Second: “the price the patriarchy demands” and the “toll, no matter what we do” are very righteous and damaging-sounding, and undeniably true in many instances, but kind of patriarchal themselves in their insistence that this always takes the form of submissive suffering, in the individual or collective basis.

    “consider that many of us consider that it is equally as important to have THIS SPACE in which to be able to acknowledge freely just how shitty and powerful the forces ranged against us really are.”

    Granted, absolutely. And as I said, will try to be more understanding of this going forward.

    “Fourthly, consider the idea that the flipside of continually trying to get people to step back and be fair to the men and be upbeat about the women is actually very close to the restrictive pratices we encounter under the patriarchy where we have to sit down and shut up. And then you might get an idea of the hostility that you’ve encountered in this forum.”

    Well, sure, if I were really the Stepford Cheerleader this implies. I think my statements have been a bit more nuanced than that. That’s like saying “consider that the fact that you’re an idiot may piss people off” – doesn’t leave me much to argue with, except I’m not one. I’ve never tried to silence anyone – it’s actually been the reverse.

    “’ Some of us here don’t have much respect for capitalism. Fine. That’s not the point. The point is: we have the right to achieve material success the same way men do.’ This is a pretty broad claim and I think this is where you’re gonna run into some disagreement on this forum. For many the practice of capitalism is inextricably wound up with patriarchy and the idea that women should pursue success the same way is anathema to them.”

    But whether or not women SHOULD pursue it the same way, do you disagree that we should have the RIGHT to do so?

    And on the issue of SHOULD – do you disagree that women deserve the same comforts and freedom from material strain as men? And that capitalism is the prevailing system for getting there? My parents, who disdained capitalism, eventually got to a place where medical and life needs became too much for them. And it has fallen to corrupt, capitalist me to bail them out. The women’s collective isn’t going to step up to do that, and why should they. Don’t all women deserve the wherewithal to leave the shitty guy, to leave the shitty job? It would be peachy keen if we could end capitalism and world hunger, is there a better way of doing that in which we can still take care of our families?

    “No problem. I’m a reasonable person. Unless I spit the dummy.”

    And my hat is off that you haven’t done that. It’s been fun, and educational, to hear what you have to say.

  167. Spit The Dummy

    Octogalore said:

    First: not quite sure you ARE being honest about the absolutist opinions. You’re not among those who have them, but they do exist here.

    I’m being as honest as possible. I said “most”, meaning that of course there are some extremist view points here, as there are everywhere. Extreme, but I haven’t yet come across one poster that I recall as saying outright that there are absolutely NO decent men in the world.

    Second: “the price the patriarchy demands” and the “toll, no matter what we do” are very righteous and damaging-sounding, and undeniably true in many instances, but kind of patriarchal themselves in their insistence that this always takes the form of submissive suffering, in the individual or collective basis.

    How very much I’m enjoying your ploy of throwing my own debating style back at me, Octo – nice! However, I do think calling my choice of words “righteous” is getting a little on the insulting side, as it is tending towards commenting on what you are perceiving as my attitude rather than my actual arguments, don’t you think? I don’t really agree with your conclusion that my remarks are themselves patriarchal “in their insistence that this always takes the form of submissive suffering” – that seems rather a circular argument and you’re the one who has introduced the idea of “submissive suffering” – where does that enter mycomments at all?

    I said:

    “consider that many of us consider that it is equally as important to have THIS SPACE in which to be able to acknowledge freely just how shitty and powerful the forces ranged against us really are.”

    Granted, absolutely. And as I said, will try to be more understanding of this going forward.

    Cool.

    Well, sure, if I were really the Stepford Cheerleader this implies. I think my statements have been a bit more nuanced than that. That’s like saying “consider that the fact that you’re an idiot may piss people off” – doesn’t leave me much to argue with, except I’m not one. I’ve never tried to silence anyone – it’s actually been the reverse.

    I don’t consider you a stepford cheerleader – that’s a good one! – and I don’t think you’ve tried to silence anyone, or that anyone’s tried to silence you. Debate is the spice of life and I’m really enjoying this. No doubt the others are bored stiff!

    But whether or not women SHOULD pursue it the same way, do you disagree that we should have the RIGHT to do so?

    I’m not a big fan of capitalism myself so it depends on what you mean. In an ideal world I guess I’d prefer that we found a different idealogy that didn’t fuck with the environment and didn’t grind other people into the ground in order to gain wealth for a few select individuals or countries, but in this world we now inhabit, I guess I agree that women should be allowed to take advantage of our flawed system of capitalism in the same way that men do.

    And my hat is off that you haven’t done that. It’s been fun, and educational, to hear what you have to say.

    Ditto. It’s after midnight here so I’m off to bed.

  168. Mar Iguana

    I don’t hate men. I pity them. They hate that. They’ll take hate over pity any day. Pitiful.

  169. Kali

    This exchange is making me think that the difference between liberal/moderate feminists and radical feminists is that liberal/moderate feminists feel the need for men more than radical feminists do. That is why the liberal/moderate feminists tend to treat the patriarchy as something that dropped from the skies and is mostly/completely divorced from the actions of individual men, whereas the radical feminists see the connection between the two. If you really, really need men, you wouldn’t want to acknowledge the ugly side of maleness. But if you have a take it or leave it attitude towards men, you’ll have greater ability to face the ugly reality.

  170. Shabnam

    I have not read all the comments but was really really upset after reading Bird’s descriptions of some of her friends. Particularly this one:

    “Another soon-to-be PhD I know is planning on quitting work once she and her engineer fiancé decide to have babies. She’s won national awards and is a great research mind, but, you know, his job is really important so she can’t ask him to give that up.”

    Bird, if you haven’t done so already, please tell your friends to dump these fuckers. I beg you. It is OBSCENE that a Phd student who has won “national awards” and has a “great research mind” has a male partner who can’t be bothered to support her. Has anyone ever heard such a thing happen to a man with a “great research mind”. I bet the female partner of such a man would feel great swathes of guilt for forcing him to abandon something in which he has so much talent.

    Sorry if I appear to be overreacting, but I am a heterosexual post-doc myself (mathematics) and I would be horrified if any partner of mine (I am currently single) would not support and encourage me to develop my talents. It would be obnoxious of him, to expect me to abandon my career to look after our babies, because for him to do so would be beneath him. I just got a really sick feeling in my stomach after reading about those cases.

    So why are there so many women giving up their careers for their own volition, and making way for their menfolk to succeed. Of course I blame the Patriarchy, but in particular, I blame Femininity. I remarked in another post that it seemed to be that femininity is the “fetishization of being a loser and of being ripped off”. (Mearl expressed appreciation at this slogan – Thank you, Mearl!), well here is a classic example. You put all this effort into studying, learning, perfecting your skill, art, science, and then at the last minute you ditch it all for a man, who in many cases will have less talent than you. It’s more degrading than porn.

    I’m 28, and a most awful realization is that these women are not of, say my mother’s generation, before or during Second Wave feminism, but of mine. There are already no doubt millions of women younger than me who are now no longer easily identifiable becuase they have ditched their identity and now parade about as
    Mrs. Man_I_ Married. Even women who were educated in the most elite institutions are playing second fiddle for no other reason that they are women. (I completely failed to recognise and old friend of mine from Cambridge(in the UK) on Facebook because of this). I jsut want to say that lots of women are playing at being losers, when they don’t have to. Femininity sucks, and it sucks Patriarchy’s cock.

  171. Bird

    Shabnam, sorry I didn’t see your comment for a few days.

    Honestly, I wish I could. I do ask them why they’re making these decisions. I point out the facts. But telling them flat out to dump their partners is not going to change their choices—it’s more likely to make them dump me and lose at least one reasonable, feminist voice in their lives. You know, the woman they can turn to when the fuckers dump them (because sadly that’s so often how these things end when he leaves her for that cute grad student/intern a few years down the road).

    You’re right to be horrified by the choices being made by women of our generation (I’m 29). Our mothers (and grandmothers) fought really hard for our rights, or at least mine did. How are we thanking them? By calling the Pussycat Dolls empowerment and making “choices” like I see more and more of my friends making every day. It’s a tragedy, and sometimes it feels like we’re betraying what was fought for on our behalf.

    I’m a heterosexual woman who’s chosen to have a male life partner. I agree that any guy who expected me to dump my career would swiftly get kicked to the curb. I found one who doesn’t expect that, and doesn’t resent me for being better educated than him, but they’re rare (and mine’s not perfect either—he is still a man). Many heterosexual women I’ve met make the terrible choice to be subjugated rather than to be alone. I don’t condone their decision, but I’m not going to condemn them or berate them. Better to stand as a friend, offer what comment I can, and be there to pick up the inevitable pieces.

  172. Gertrude Strine

    Take that, you Patriarchal hereditary figurehead

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/people/mirren-too-busy-to-dine-with-queen/2007/05/07/1178390187281.html

    Arise Helen The Rehabilitated – you told those courtiers where to get off.

    That’s my girl!

  173. Twisty

    Ha!

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