Mar 29 2007

Pussycat Dolls: They got empowerfulment for DAYS

NOTE: Sadly — or perhaps happily, depending on the density of your feminist mettle — this video has vanished. Like things do on the World Wide Web.

Via Roxanne at Pandagon


2 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. Jessant

    Omg. Too funny. So much mirth, especially when that girl started crying when the other one had to hang up her boa. Gotta love the media. They take feminist terms and ideas, twist them a little, add in the sexy and this cluster fuck of wretchedness is the result.

  2. Yeny

    “Nationwide skank hunt”- cracked me up.

  3. Yeny

    What really pisses me off though is the wanker in the audience that feels he has to prove to all those in his vicinity that he ain’t no queer by grunting in appreciatation (loudly, of course) when one of the potential ‘dolls’ is shaking her money-maker like there’s no tomorrow.

  4. ramou

    LOL! I’d never heard of the show till a few weeks ago.

    “What the hell is this? So, you want to be the next Pussy Cat Dolls?”


    yay for quoting myself quoting myself. THAT’s empowerment. Oh, but I’m of the privileged class, so I guess I don’t need any more of that :P

  5. whyme63

    So, do I love this for the snark, or hate it for the fact that all this shit got another go-round on the air, thanks to Comedy Central?

  6. LMYC

    I’d love to be a pussycat doll. Pussycats get pointy and vicious when you piss them off, don’t they? And the big ones eat people. Can I be one of them?

  7. Hawise

    The Pussycat Dolls “talent” search makes the Next Top Model look good and that takes a whopping load of some doing. I give Jessi Klein a round of applause for getting it right and saying it right.

  8. BubbasNightmare

    There are times when words fail. This is one; it is so wrong on so many levels that I for one cannot untangle the knot enough to even begin to discuss it.


  9. erin

    not sure blaming and mocking the women and calling them skanks is the way to go.

  10. Yeny

    I don’t blame the women for this, I don’t think anyone else here does. I do believe that mocking the way the show has been set up to be some sort of female empowerment thing IS the way to go, however. As far as I’m concerned, pussy cat dolls are not compatible with female empowerment.
    As for calling them skanks, I don’t think they are skanks, but I still found it amusing within the context of the clip. But you’re right, Comedy Central just isn’t up to the calibre of patriarchy blaming found here at Twisty’s I’m afraid.

  11. TP

    I’d watch a show that revealed what strange sadness brought these poor women down to this rung of show-biz hell.

    I also shrink from the skank-slut-bitch appellation. A strong sex drive is just an abundance of chemicals in the bloodstream and has no innate moral value. But the culture and the tragic histories that brought this easy acceptance of oppression on these poor young girls is the real train wreck.

  12. erin

    and I see the skank joke that’s part of the clip as part of the oppression. so why’s twisty endorsing it?

  13. Bird

    It’s the same kind of “empowerment” that gets young women to pose for suicidegirls.com for the enjoyment of hipster boys everywhere. I know one 20-year-old woman who is practically starving herself so that she feels thin enough to pose for SG. Yeah, because nothing says power like making yourself sick.

    I can’t believe how many women my age buy into this crap. I worry what kind of daughters we’re going to raise when so many of us see no problem with buying our little girls thong panties from La Senza Girl (a Canadian lingerie chain’s shop for pre-teens).

    The problem is that too many women under 30 think that women’s power is all about making boys want to fuck you. Like giving them a hard on is somehow being in control.

    I know, I’m stating the obvious, but it gets to be really frustrating to see that blank look on yet another young woman’s face and wanting to shake her and scream “I know you’re smarter than this!”

  14. thebewilderness

    What exactly are you assuming Twisty is endorsing. Pointing out a tragedy is not endorsement of said tragedy.

  15. erin

    I guess it seems disingenuous for twisty to one minute say that she doesn’t consider prostitutes subhuman, then post a clip that makes fun of them.

  16. Yeny

    The point is not that these women are skanks so lets make fun of them, it’s the tragedy of the way this is supposed to be female empowerment, in other words, a model of a powerful woman that young girls should strive to be.

  17. Yeny

    sorry, I meant ‘strive to be like’.

  18. erin

    Sure, I get all that. I agree with all that. But I still detect some disrespect in the clip. the way the word whore is thrown around, i dunno. I just get this feeling that the presenter is not thinking, “Wow, what can I do to stop prostitution?” but “hee hee, I am superior to these dimwits.” just an impression.

  19. Yeny

    Well, I get what you mean. I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the clip’s message either, because it is done from a non-patriarchy blaming perspective, which is what I think you’re reacting to as well. The problem is that the women are blamed for participating, instead of the big ‘p’, but it doesn’t mean that *we* blame the women.

  20. Pony

    That clip is still doing bizarre things in my hard drive. I never did get to watch it. It’s going around and around in there and I think went through my underwear drawer too.

    But really, the only thing that keeps women doing this kind of thing is they are getting stroked for it. Maybe a little cold water flicked in their faces now and again would make a difference. You can tell I’m not of the “it not you I dislike dear it’s your behaviour” school of child-raising. Someone done raised these children wrong. Too bad. Now society has to step in. You’re a skank! Ok?

  21. the first born fish

    Actually, these women are not prostitutes, they just dress like them.

    Also, the use of skank is seemingly tongue-in-cheek. I think they’re using it purposefully make the irony burn a little hotter, especially since many young women are “reclaiming” words like “slut” and “whore”.

  22. the baboon

    I’m shocked, but I kind of agree with Erin here. The “contestants” here are clearly deluded, but the sick thing is that this is actually a nationally promoted, “popular” (a.k.a. pay-for-played on every corporate shill radio station) “singing” group. The 20-year-olds who have already bought the stripper-grrl-power line are just following the script. Making fun of them is like laying the blame for Abu Ghraib on Lynndie England.

  23. Jane Awake

    Yeny said, “I don’t blame the women for this, I don’t think anyone else here does.”

    I’m going to go out on a limb and blame them. Maybe not all of them, but at least one or two. (Maybe some of them actually are incapable of thinking for themselves.) The patriarchal standard of beauty is not their fault, of course, nor is the patriarchal construction of women-as-sex-class, but not behaving like shallow, senseless morons air humping in fastforward pretty much is their responsibility, and I hold them accountable for that. These are women not zombies, and their pretending they are role models is even worse.

    I’m their age–why is it I am totally embarrassed for them, but they are not embarrassed themselves? Oh yeah, I forgot, because it’s actually that they are empowered, and I’m not.

    Who is this Jessi Klein? Is she always this funny? I kind of want to be her friend.

  24. yankee transplant

    How do you watch the whole thing without losing your tacos?

  25. cassy

    I see this as a stab at the corporations that would put this garbage(show & group) together as a product, not on the poor girls that believe this is empowerment. It is not possible to re-claim those demeaning words as their power vocabulary. Skank fits in with that class of words; it just is not used as often and it still offends the senses to hear it. It feels deeply ironic to watch these women on T.V. and realize that they truly believe it is a privileged moment.

  26. lucizoe

    I just need to say how much I love the mockery of the “empowerment” craze. If that word would die tomorrow I would do a happy dance on its grave.

    Now, off to wag my confidence in someone’s face to prove that women have come so far past being objectified that we have in fact come full circle and I can objectify myself and be happy doing it! Wheeee!

    I understood Ms.Klein’s tone perfectly, although “skank” has always made me cringe. She rather reminds me of the smart nerdy girl in school who is sick of the cheerleaders. She’s fed up with women of her generation selling the rest of us out because they so desperately need the male approval. If there were not women who so fully swallowed the line that “sexxxy equals liberation and oh gosh! I’m so truly empowered by doing what other people want of me all the time! And you’re fat!” I feel like it wouldn’t be so hard for me to find friends. I blame, well, everything right now. I’m crabby.

    Is it because my generation (I’m 25) grew up in the middle of the latest backlash, spoonfed the notion that we’ve already got equality and this is it? Maybe the Pussycat Doll wannabes just haven’t quite hit the sexism wall yet. Are they just still stuck in junior high? Am I making sense?

  27. the first born fish

    This week I voted for the first time in my town elections, and then verbally took a woman-hating bully at school (who had been harassing me for, uh, being a woman I guess) down several pegs. He literally told me later that he’d never met a female with self respect before. He has begun to see himself for what he is and is having an existential crisis. He is also no longer harassing me or any of the other young women in my high school.

    And so few people showed up for my town elections my vote really did count for a lot.

    Both of these things happened in the same day. THAT was empowerment.

  28. kanea

    I saw that clip on tv while I was flipping channles…not suprised to see it here. I was pretty amused by it. it was just kind of nice to see a female comedian making a joke on the obvious opression of the realty tv show. I’m sure she doesn’t think they’re skanks its a comedy show and rude words make things funnier…or at least most people think that. I’m sure the women who go on that show are severly brain washed….they’re deffinately not typical of women of my genirations…it’s just that women who are more ‘patriachy’ friendly get put on tv. the US needs another big wave of feminism to wash this crap away.

  29. Banshee

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  30. Bird

    I don’t know, I think the attitude on this show is becoming more typical of women under 30. Even when I was at college (2002–06) there were a lot of young women on campus emulating this ideal. One female writer in one of my workshopping classes could write about nothing but how much power she (veiled thinly in her work) had over men because she was so sexxxy. She wasn’t the only one, either. As an editor on a student magazine during those years, I couldn’t believe how many articles I got from young women that only Cosmo would see fit to print.

    When Pussycat Dolls–style clothing is the fashion for girls under 10 and young women are getting breast implants “but they’re for me!” I have to say that something really is going wrong with many under-30 women. I’m ashamed to admit that my generation can be sold Mac cosmetics by this ad campaign:


    then there’s something seriously, seriously wrong with how we younger women see women’s roles. No, I’m not saying we all see ourselves this way. There are some amazing younger blamers around here. But there is a growing pseudo-feminist empowerfulness going on that appeals to young women (now coming of age) who grew up on the Spice Girls followed by Britney and Christina and their hott is power message. I see it as just one more way for the patriarchy to suck us into compliance.

  31. Tracey

    I think the approach this clip took is refreshing. They didn’t do the usual thing of just making fun of the TV contestants or the show for seeimg silly or stupid — they actually critiqued the show’s assertion that what they were doing was empowering, and they even not-so-subtly pointed out that their brand of so-called “empowerment” is anything but feminism. I totally enjoyed this. Yeah, it may have had a bit of an “I’m better than you,” air to it, but that’s basically David Spade’s whole schtick anyway, and I think this Pussycat Dolls show completely deserves that kind of criticism for trying to sell sex as empowerment.

  32. Dessy

    Oh, that made my week!

  33. Frigga's Own

    I wonder if they’d all still feel so empowerful if the show was looking to replace one of the PCD because her age was starting to show. I guess it wouldn’t occur to them to look past their own empowerfulment to see what it’s rewards are.

  34. Sylvanite

    This is the show that will probably doom Veronica Mars, due to how much better its ratings are. I curse it, and blame the patriarchy.

  35. TinaH

    I’m a gen x-er and my Mom’s a baby boomer and whenever anyone told her that I was as cute as a doll she would snap them back and say “A doll is an empty headed plaything.” Now, my Mom was a little ahead of her time.

  36. Twisty

    I agree that the delusional kid Brittany gets caught in the crossfire, and that Klein uses some painful language, but what I’m responding to is the larger point of her skewering of the reality show’s moron notion that “empowerment” = “shaking yer moneymaker for cash and prizes”. I posted this because I was pretty flabbergasted that somebody allowed 2 whole minutes on national television to take issue with rauncharifficness. I watch TV all the time, and believe me, imperfect though Klein’s bit may be, her overall take on the subject is about as rare as a feminist with a sense of humor.

    I kid, I kid!

    Anyway, I am sort of surprised that my having posted the vid has been construed by some of you as an actual endorsement of bigoted epithets (I have, in my time, defended even Ann Coulter’s right not to be called a “skank”), but far be it from me to deny a woman’s right to blame where she sees fit, so go on with yer bad selves.

  37. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I can’t help but feel sorry for these young women who grew up in a world that taught them this is the best way to assert your confidence and self-worth. Society values strippers over scientists, titty dancers over teachers, and whores over humanitarians. It’s pathetic, y’all. IBTP.

  38. Gansumina

    This made my day- not the clip, but reading the comments. There is still hope for humanity.

    Let’s not forget that Comedy Central is also part of dude-central. While Jesse Klein does a great job at presenting the absurdity of equating female empowerment with shaking your butt and prancing in your underpants, she also makes sure to put us all in our place. She is the girl next door: showing skin, almost cleavage, but not too much. And she slouches throughout the whole thing, just in case someone might think the she’s standing up to the patriarchal underpinnings of the whole bit. Oh, and if you do shake your money maker, you’re a skank and a whore. And how can you not believe that she isn’t endorsing the patriarchy when she is so clearly criticizing the PCD and their show?

    Ah- the beauty of women endorsing their own oppression. And pretending to be real feminists (as opposed to the PCD!) while at it! It’s a brilliant piece- though I am not sure we should be celebrating it.

  39. saltyC

    Erin, you are right on.

    The clip is mainstream hate, and I don’t know a single misogynist male who would feel uncomfortable. Another way of candy-coating “feminism” with a cat fight to make it go down easy with the Man.

  40. saltyC

    Gansumina, yes.

    Klein’s SO like “I can walk the tightrope: I’m sexy but not TOO sexy, and I’ll beat with a humiliation rod any b*tch who falls on either side”

  41. zofia

    Since this is a media thread I wanted to remind anyone on the EC that the Wam! (Women, Action & the Media) conference is this weekend at MIT.

  42. Yeny

    If only you could see what it’s like walking down the hallways of my Uni, I frequently wonder where the PARTAY is at since they’re all so glammed up. I mean we’re going to lectures, not a hoochie convention a.k.a. nightclub.

    I roll outta bed with 20 mins to get ready and comfort is my numero uno objective, but I’m in the clear minority- only the guys do the same cause they’re allowed to be real life human beings, rather than sex dolls.

    What’s worse is that ALL they talk about is how to maintain their stripper appearance. I’ve given up trying to have discussions that don’t revert to bikini waxes or hair tips. They know how little I care about these ridiculous practices and yet I had to sit through a discussion in which they were telling ME how disgusting it was that any woman should not wax her bikiniline, that it was an affront to decency! I can no longer stomach being near my female classmates and I know who I blame.

  43. AradhanaD

    I agree with SaltyC, but what is very interesting about this show – and I’ve seen parts of this episode (can’t watch the whole thing you know) as well as the episode where they were being trained to sing.

    The dancing choreographer is male. The singing coach is male. The episode where they had to sing was incredible “make it more sexy, yeah with a little more roughness there. With more edge there. With a huskiness…..Yeah like that – that’s hot”.

    The same is going on here with the dancing lessons, right? “Make it nasty”.

    So what the main problem here of course is – that these pussycat dolls are being trained by MEN, to act like the “right type of WOMAN” for a male-owned record company and for the titilation of a male audience and women who’d like to aspire to be like them.

    But another problem is the way that ‘Jessie’ addresses “Mikey Mendez?”, i.e. with contempt because of the presumed effeminate behaviour of Mikey.

  44. Bird

    I’m a gen x-er and my Mom’s a baby boomer and whenever anyone told her that I was as cute as a doll she would snap them back and say “A doll is an empty headed plaything.” Now, my Mom was a little ahead of her time.

    Tina, as a fellow gen-x woman (I’m on the tail end) with a boomer mom, I’m not sure your mom was so ahead of her time—although your mom sounds like a very cool woman. I know far more mothers of women our age who are (or were) feminists than I know women our age who are.

    The patriarchy caught on to our mothers’ game and decided to twist the message they gave us. Our moms taught us that we’re strong and we can do whatever we want? They gave us confidence? The patriarchy tells us that means that we should become Pussycat Dolls if we want to, because sexxxy is powerful and making men want you is what being a confident woman is all about.

    So I don’t think your mom was ahead of her time. I do think she was ahead of ours.

  45. saltyC

    Yeah, what’s up with the editing to bring out the hand-swishing. I suspect the same guys thoroughly enjoy both these shows.

  46. Vera Venom

    “So, do I love this for the snark, or hate it for the fact that all this shit got another go-round on the air, thanks to Comedy Central? ”

    Remember – Comedy Central also runs ads for Rapist Joe’s Girls Gone Wild all night long. Let’s not mistake them for allies because they let a tidbit of a different message slip through.

  47. Rumblelizard

    Did anyone else see this story on Salon’s “Broadsheet”? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326152704.htm Scientific study has shown what all blamers already know: looking at fashion models in magazines is damaging to women. Might have something to do with why the young Pussycat Doll hopefuls think that looking porn-a-riffic is empowerful.

  48. msxochitl

    I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that Western feminists are more likely to buy this empowerful crap than feminists living in more repressive countries:

    “In what is nowadays called a totalitarian state, then a military state, it’s easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, and if they get out of line you smash them over the head. But as society has become more free and democratic, you lose that capacity. Therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear. Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” Noam Chomsky

    As women in the West become more free, it matters more what we think. You can’t bind our feet. But you can convince us to choose to bind them ourselves. You can’t keep us from running wild. But you can convince us that we’d be much happier, sexier, healthier, and wealthier in your prison. You provide the cage. We lock ourselves in, without you forcing us to do it. Then we smile, because we are empowered.

  49. Pissy P.

    I have to let out a huge sigh and a disapproving head shake because yet another generation of young women has bought into the bullshit that the only way they can be empowered is through selling (giving away?) their sexuality to the patriarchy. All of this while at the same time believing they are somehow feminist.

  50. Sylvanite

    I’m curious about the nature of the “interventions” mentioned in that study of how viewing models makes all women feel bad about their own bodies. Do a group of loved ones gather around and confiscate all the woman’s fashion magazines? Do they force them to look at issues of The National Inquirer that feature unflattering photos of celebrities showing their cellulite?

    I’d also like to know if viewing male models make men feel worse about their own bodies. I know whenever I see models in magazines, I remind myself that they’ve been airbrushed to remove any “flaws.” I also avoid fashion magazines like they’re coated with curare.

  51. LAS

    Antoinette, I beg to disagree. Society values neither the stripper nor the scientist. It does not value the titty dancer one smidgen — only the titillation she provides. She herself is expendable and interchangeable, and treated so. And fwiw, teachers get better benefits.

  52. cycles

    From Bird’s link:

    This Spring, Barbie is hip, happening and all-M·A·C with a modern rebel attitude and fashionable indie style.

    Watch out! Flying puke!

    Indie = another buzzword appropriated by the dumbasses. Maybe I’m dating myself, but the indie folks I knew would have mercilessly skewered anyone who equated indie with Barbie, unless it was some kind of burning in effigy or parody. Old Hole, etc.

    Modern. Rebel. Attitude.


    That makes sense only if by “modern” you mean “finally, the 30-year indoctrination project to turn human brains into jellied consumption machines has succeeded!” and by “rebel” you mean “ha ha, I can prostrate myself before the patriarchy more than youuuu.”

  53. erin

    “You’re a skank! Ok?” Hey, that’s the way! Let’s shame ’em!

  54. Kim

    I get Erin’s beef and I get Twisty’s reply.
    I never get Pony,however, and her hate-laced comment here is no exception.

  55. Kim

    Wha’ happened?
    Sorry if this comment gets double posted (but at least this time, my typo is corrected):
    I get Erin’s beef and I get Twisty’s reply.
    I never get Pony, however, and her hate-laced comment here is no exception.

  56. Random Lurker

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of the PCD show. Probably the worst bit was when the head Pussycat (or is she the head Doll?) decided to rank the wannabes by how sexay they could dance with a frat-boy lookalike. the wannabes (who inexplicably seem to have forgotten to put on pants when they woke up)dutifully ground away on the men in their undies and sparkly tops. It was obvious they weren’t doing this for themselves, or even for the guys. It was high-school peer pressure, they were trying to impress the cool kids (lead singer, choreographer, and producer guy) so they’d be let into the group. One of the ground-upon men got so excited he kissed the wannabe he was dancing with. The woman was obviously freaked out about this, but all her chums just laughed as if a violation of boundaries were the funniest thing ever.
    As awful as this show is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the playboy bunny reality show. Hefner is central to the world of his young courtesans, but he seems utterly indifferent to them. It reminds me of seeing young kids trying to engage a distant and uncaring dad.

  57. shannon

    Yeny, I knew girls like that, but they usually wised up by sophomore year. If they didn’t, I at least learned how to avoid them better. Yea, and the playboy bunny reality show is disturbing, especially when you hear evagenical(sp?) christians yelling about how great it was last night in the middle of class..

  58. Bird

    I recall a very disturbing article in Maclean’s magazine where one of Hefner’s former “Girlfriends” talked about his sexual behaviour and treatment of the women around him. There’s a shorter version here:


    The print article was much more detailed, which made it even more stomach turning.

  59. Sam

    Flipping around all 9 channels my tube de boob gets at 8:00pm I’ve noticed an increase in the deluge of T&A on at precisely that time. I surmise all the exposed female flesh is meant to draw viewers into watching a show they would otherwise ignore while flipping around to see if something’s really on or if it’s time to pop in a DVD for the evening’s viewing pleasure. This is usually when CSI-type shows prominently display the murders and subsequent dead bodies of prostitutes omnipresent in such shows, many cleavage-laden “last time on our show” flashbacks, and other gratuitous near-naked woman shots thematically detached from the upcoming show on PBS.

    I shudder to think what cable tv looks like from 8:00 to 8:05 nightly.

  60. TP

    Since Sylvanite asked, I guess I’ll break a rule and post a “what about us men??? WAH!” comment. But before your bile rises, please note that I think that men are the oppressors of women and anything else they can get away with exploiting, and that any slight twinges they might feel are not to be in any way pitied or serve as any kind of excuse for their pathologies.

    Yes, I think many men, and know that I myself, feel bad when I see photographs of beautiful, ideal young boys. Especially those damn abs. Even though the abs are often grotesquely exaggerated, I still feel a little twinge of self loathing when I think of how slack my abs have become in middle age. And I exercise them 3 times a week, too.

    But I am human, and I am old – pushing fifty! Can’t believe it!

    This little twinge, if a man can feel it, can only be a glimpse of the huge and overwhelming pressure that women must feel. This is why, to me, these bitter complaints and emotional responses to the media’s infliction of the ideal body image (that you only hear from radical feminists) are extremely important.

    Men can easily deny these feelings to themselves. That’s their fucking privilege in action.

  61. TP

    Another comment: I just wish you all could censor TV. A board of feminists censoring TV! Oh, that would be a blow to the patriarchy. How the conservatives would hate that. It goes with my criminalize porn wish. It’s the same wish, really. I probably feel this way because I’m a man, and that’s the kind of fucked-up control oriented things men come up with.

  62. Sylvanite

    Your response seems fair enough, TP.

  63. Jessant

    I just wish people would stop watching television. I’ve cut it out of my life completely and with it went a hell of a lot of anxiety. It stopped being entertaining after seeing show after show of women being treated like shit. And you can’t escape it, it’s on every channel and it can seem completely benign, like those cleaning commercials that show only women cleaning up after men and children. After a while these things become so ingrained in your thinking. Let the tube go. If you really want to watch a show there are ways to stream them online without dealing with sexist commercials. I hope these networks lose business. I would rather risk downloading or streaming a show than get bombarded by indoctrinating videos.


  64. LMYC

    TP, the best response is to just turn the stupid fucker off. Best censorship ever. Do that for a while, then look at a Pshopped picture of some “actor” in People, and you will be stunned at how grotesque and freaky it looks. I mean, these people have no veins on the backs of their hands. They have no pores. They look freaking terrifying — blur filters on the face, and about ten sharps run on the eyes. I think I saw Doctor Who blowing up plastic aliens who looked like that one time.

  65. Jessant

    Sorry comment go cut off, that tv-links is to some streaming shows. And to be utterly cliche, Xena is unfortunately down except for the first season. Damn you, youtube.

  66. Q Grrl

    Huh, I thought the purpose of Twisty posting that was to show us that while we feminists dither around in our free time arguing just exactly how pole dancing and femininity are empowerful [or not], Comedy Central takes its criticism all the way to the bank.

  67. thebewilderness


    Another example of not just selling product, selling fembot competitive attitude

  68. redhead

    Msxochitl, that was an incredibly intense, insightful comment.

    As for the pussycat dolls, I watched the show the other night, and alternated between laughing and cringing; the laughing, however, was definitely of the ‘I’m so much better than them’ variety, which made me turn back to cringing. The singing on this show is even worse than American Idol, people. I was amazed that the judge’s comments were about one of the girls dropping their boa, or how someone needed to work to show that they were ‘sexxxy’ enough to be the next Pussycat Doll, and no one addressed the fact that most of them sounded like cats going through some sort of industrial-sized mixer.

    Why did they not comment on their singing? Because it’s not about the music, or who is genuinely talented; it is about who can transform themselves into a sexbot. But, mind you, a creative, original, sexy-because-of-her-personality sexbot.

  69. mearl

    I get Pony. I give other women enough credit to understand that they are not just a bunch of hapless victims of the patriarchal machine, completely unaware of what responses they will get when they pull on their fishnets and cram their boobs into a corset. Women are fully aware of what looks and behaviour will get them pats on the head and money in the bank. And although many women may not have psychology degrees and may not know the intricacies of how they are hurting themselves or girls who look up to them for guidance, there is enough public opinion and reading material out there at this point that they are not OBLIVIOUS to it.

    I’m not going to pet someone on the head and say, “Oh, you poor thing, it’s not you at all: the big bad patriarchy has gotten ahold of you!” That would be a patronising way of implying that these poor, moronic women, the ones who haven’t vacuumed up a load of feminist theory like some posters here, are just dumb little lost lambs. No way. That would be like trying to conjure up pity for my friends when I show them articles about what life is like for Cambodian workers in a sweatshop, and my friends crack jokes about “tiny hands” as they waltz in wearing another new top from the Gap. Some women know full well what image they are giving off when they skank it up in bordello clothes. They just don’t CARE. They want the money.

    Not only am I a feminist but I can be a misanthrope, too. I don’t run a blog as of yet, so I ain’t going to make any bones about it. Some women really should know better. I’m not saying that about every woman, but there are a lot of women out there who KNOW what they’re doing, they KNOW it’s bullshit, but they don’t give a hang.

    On the bright side, I thought the vid was funny, and give thumbs up to Jessi Klein.

  70. Emily

    I’m really confused. I haven’t watched the clip yet, but I just want to post some of my thoughts.

    On the one hand, I don’t want women to be treated as sex objects, and I don’t like women thinking they are really helping themselves by trying to please men. On the other hand, I like that sex as a topic is easier to discuss nowadays (although I would like schools to not teach abstinence-only sex education, but aside from things like that), and that it is less “shameful” to admit you’ve had sex outside of marriage. That SuicideGirls thing is really awful, and many women grow up feeling inferior to men, with the firm belief that men’s needs are more important than their own, but I think a lot of women who “sexupify” themselves–at one end, as an owner of a SuicideGirl website or someone who participates in softer porn, and at the other, as a stripper, dancer, or someone involved in more hardcore porn–really find it liberating to express themselves sexually, after having been told as a younger woman that it wasn’t “appropriate” or “proper” to do. Also, I don’t really like children and pre-teen girls wearing “sexy” clothes all that much, but I don’t like to think that having an interest in sex or expressing themselves sexually is something that necessarily “taints” them, either as “innocent, pure” children or as radical feminists. Of course, I don’t want them to hurt themselves just to please men or get the idea that they should be submissive and have a duty to help fulfill men’s sexual fantasies. I don’t really think they should start yet, but if they, after years of serious interest, research, and dedication, decide they want a “sexual” career, then maybe there could be some way they would not be exploiting themselves and even feel a sense of empowerment, not “empowerfulment,” I guess you could say.

    Anyway, I’m only 19, so I’m not old enough to be an advanced patriarchy-blamer yet, and I don’t understand radical feminist theory as well as I could. I just always feel sort of conflicted when it comes to sexual topics. I want to liberate women, but at the same time, I like that sex isn’t so taboo as a subject nowadays. Maybe I just think sex can be used by women for the good of women, at least once in a while.

    Feel free to ignore all this crap. :) I just wanted to get out everything I was thinking about just now.

  71. the first born fish

    Sigh, and yikes. I’m starting at the Mass College of Art this fall. There seem to be a lot of young blamers here from the Boston area– we should meet up, because I fear that college is just an older, more of-age version of Patriarchy Regional High School…

  72. Ron Sullivan

    TP sez> I just wish you all could censor TV. A board of feminists censoring TV!

    Nah. Much more fun to MST3Kenize it. Come on, there must be a way to hack the airwaves.

    It’s nice to be nice and all, but I have no problem with tossing a zinger or two at the aspiring PDs. Just how old do you have to be to stay dumb and not hear anything negative about what you’re doing? Pfui; the Catholics put “the age of reason” (meaning time to take responsibility) at seven years and certainly seventeen is old enough to have noticed The Patriarchy.

    Plus — stand back and take a look. What does any of that weird gear or, oh, say, about two thirds of the stereotyped action have to do with sex? Particularly with women enjoying sex?

  73. Trout

    Leaving the video aside – my kids are up so I’m not going to watch it – I do think there is something to be said for the idea of sex and sexiness being empowering, and that’s as follows; everybody starts their journey into feminism at a different point. Some women are lucky enough to be born into families where there’s some common sense, or maybe even intelligence about what being a woman means. Others are born into dysfunctional and repressive families where the demonization of sex and females is the soup du jour. For the women born into the repressive families I think that discovering the wonders of sex, sexual independence, and the ability to accept your own sexuality regardless or its nature is an important first step. Particularly that part where one learns that Jeebus won’t strike you dead for enjoying your own kind of sex fun instead of the patriarchy’s. (Or maybe sex is an important second step. Getting away from the fucked up family is step one in many cases.)

    That being said, does the person in question go beyond the first step? Shannnon’s comment about how young women usually wise up by sophomore year gives me some hope in this regard.

    All this being said, I ran into the issue in Real Life recently when we won tickets to a car show on the radio. I took my eight-year-old son, and he was appalled by the models in skimpy clothing, with pictures for sale, who were charging ten bucks apiece to take pictures with men. I told him I didn’t dislike the models, or hold their behavior against them, and these young women probably didn’t have many skills, who worked very hard to earn their money. I ended by emphasizing that it was the men who paid to take pictures who were truly pathetic. I made the “L” symbol on my forehead and called the men “losers.” I think he got it.

  74. mearl

    Sigh. Emily, I HOPE that, despite your youth, you don’t honestly think that strapping oneself into a sexalicious bondage outfit and learning how to grind it for the pleasure of a male viewer is what constitutes FEMALE SEXUAL EXPRESSION. Here’s a thought: nobody knows what a completely unfettered female sexual expression looks like, because there have always been males around dictating. But if you want to know what the closest thing to it might be, ask a radfem lesbian, who doesn’t have to get her sexay on for the male recipient.

    But there is the case of us unfortunate heterosexual feminists. Notice how guys sexually express themselves? By being fully clothed, expecting blowjobs (which they fully enjoy), and leering. Their sexuality is a given; they don’t have to buff themselves up and get down and nasty to the tune of “Don’tcha” for anyone to know they have a working penis. I sure as hell am not a puritan and I don’t see anything wrong with talking about female sexuality, but I suppose my views are what they are because I haven’t been raised under that polarised model of “laced-up nuntastic virginity vs. booty-shaking whore” that (and I fear this could be making assumptions, so apologies in advance) seems characteristic of U.S. thinking, only because you guys have such a large bible-thumping population down there in the states.

    When I think about my sexuality or female sexuality, I think about what I WANT. That’s why I am a pervert when it comes to guys, and I am always checking out packages and waiting for them to disrobe and start playing beach volleyball or bend and stretch or whatnot. I like visuals. When in the sack, I expect respect and skill. I’ve got both, so it’s not one-sided. If a guy wants to do something TO me, not WITH me or FOR me, then I am immediately suspicious. If some guy had the nerve to imply that he wanted to try out anal on me, for example, my reply would be to calmly explain to him that he would have to be willing to try it first, with a ten-inch dildo, vigourously and for a period of at least a month, before he was allowed to do something potentially painful like that to my body. I like oral sex and am vocal about that. I like multiple orgasms and I’m vocal about that. Shaving and waxing give me a rash, and I don’t see why I have to do it if the guy doesn’t. I’m clean, that should be good enough. I won’t wear scratchy undies. Heels? Good luck. These days I’m working on being able to ejaculate, because my friend who can do this describes that it’s so good it makes your legs go numb. I’m all about my own pleasure, and even though my sexuality goes against all the things that the Pussyskank Dolls stand for, for some weird reason I get laid whenever I want to, and have been described by many guys as amazing in the sack. I don’t have to shave my business, get hair extensions, gyrate, simper, or otherwise wear lace and corsets or even a fucking bra for people to know it. I may sound like I’m bragging, and I’m sure not everyone wanted all those details, but I get so angry and my own take on sex is the one I know best. It just amazes me that women consider a performance for the benefit of males to be an expression of their female sexuality. Fuck, it’s YOURS, not theirs. OWN IT.

  75. Shabnam

    Mearl – thank you, you’ve most wonderfully described what I was just considering to commenting about. Where the fuck is the female Gaze!? Women (heterosexual ones) still see their sexuality in terms of observing themselves being observed by men or as Firestone puts it in chapter 8 of “the Dialectic of Sex”, “women make love to themselves vicariously throught the man, rather than making love to him”. I once responded to a questionaire of a female grad student researching “female sexuality”, and was rather riled by questions such as “what clothes do you wear when you are in a sexy mood?” (not the exact words but something like that). I responded something along the lines of: “I don’t care what I am wearing, I am interested in what HE is/ men are wearing (or rather not wearing)”.
    Just for the record (why do I even feel like saying this?): I’m a 28 year old heterosexual woman who has not shaved her legs since the year 2000 (age 21). (Before this I was bullied into it by cultural pressures and curiousity – I resisted until the age of 15, and then shaved only when my legs were publically visible).(There is a unique intolerance for some reason to hairy female legs – no other body part in the world is so simiarly despised) I also don’t “get hair extensions, gyrate, simper, or otherwise wear lace and corsets”. I also somehow manage to get laid, visit swimming pools etc, without public ridicule. I understand that I might be priveleged, as being in the uebergeek profession of theoretical physicist/mathematician, I am not expected to wear the mask of femininity professionally. In my 7 non-shaving years I have only observed just two other women like myself. Non-shaving is not a virtue, but really, if it were “all about choice” surely there would be more women who just can’t be bothered.
    I guess I just want to say the following: “I’m heterosexual, and I can quite easily completely ditch femininity. It’s not as hard as people estimate, and you can still get laid.”
    I just wanted to add myself to the count of “Mearlesque” heterosexual women, because apparently not being “feminine” is purported to be so tricky for heterosexuals. I refute this.

  76. Ron Sullivan

    Shabnam, Mearl —

    That’s at least three of us, then. I’ll add that I’m not only furrily unfeminine, I’m ugly — OK, spare certain sensibilities and say “homely” but that’s not quite on the mark — and smart and wonky as all hell, and you know what? I got laid plenty even back when I was playing the field. Sowing my wild oats? Shaking my bunchgrass?

    Think about the weird contradiction here: Men want to keep up the legend that they’re all uncontrollable (especially by themselves) animals who’ll fuck anything, yet somehow women have to look sexay and behave fashionably and wear funny shoes to get laid. Or get told we can get laid. Or something. (That poor kid who spent half the show puking sure as hell wasn’t gettin’ any in her spare time, now was she? Come to think of it, none of the aspiring PCDs seemed to have the time, let alone the inclination, to go have sex with anybody.)

    Come on — we don’t need fishnets, we need filters. We get to be choosy. Take it from me: being picky is a good strategy.

  77. Shabnam

    Concerning Emily’s conjecture that girls who grew up in conservative households might enjoy donning empowerful garb because their sexuality was so vehemently suppressed in childhood. As the child of let’s say “moderately muslim parents”, I have to refute this. (Ok, perhaps my parents were insufficiently conservative). Certainly, my mother would never have allowed me to go out “empowerfully dressed” as a teenager. However, I had as much urge to dress empowerfully as I had to don an burqa, which is to say zilch. (Aside: My mother is also against burqas and head coverings). Both forms of dressing reveal an obsession with the Male Gaze, dressing purely for men. there are loads of “burqa activists” (e.g British school-girls who wish to wear a tent to school), who say that wearing a burqa is terribly liberating and “empowerful”, because they no longer have to worry about what to wear, and men no longer harrass them on the streets. What these women never do is ditch femininity. Only a woman who regards femininity as axiomatic can concoct such a convoluted road to liberation. Although born in Britain, I spent 4 years of my childhood between the ages of 6 and 10 in Saudi Arabia, which I have to say was a masterclass in Patriarchy Blaming. During this time I noticed that under all the burqas or abayas, the women were most horribly obsessed with being “feminine” in the most empowerful way possible.
    I concurred with my mother against empowerful dress, but for completely orthogonal reasons. (Eventually I converted my mother to feminism, I am happy to say, even though still a practising muslim). I myself rejected my sexuality suppressing upbringing and all religion, but I did this by initiating sexual relationships, and encounters with men whom I found physically attractive (and also intelligent and enlightened). It never occurred to me to turn myself into an object for the indiscriminate consumption of the male population. Femininity is really the fetishization of being a loser, and being ripped off. Why should I invest huge amounts of effort into my appearance, if none of the heterosexual men, whom I will supposedly get to fuck as a reward, will? I shall spend my time, finding out who the prettiest boys are.
    Perhaps I have internalized some sort of “masculinity”, perhaps I am reducing men to objects from time to time.Intellectually, I despise the constructs of masculinity, femininity, gender in general. But fuck this – I haven’t got time to worry about the Menz. I had to fight the insidious brainwashing of femininity both traditional and empowerful.

  78. hedonistic

    What Mearl said, and what the last coupla posters upthread just said: Female sexual power is not about being wanted by a man or men; rather it’s about WANTING him/them (or NOT), and going after what we want while rejecting what we don’t want.

  79. Spinning Liz

    This idea is well articulated in Polly Young-Eisendrath’s Women and Desire: Beyond Wanting to Be Wanted.

    From the book’s blurbs: “In providing some answers to Freud’s famous question about what women really want, Young-Eisendrath draws on her experience as a psychotherapist and on ideas gleaned from Buddhism, Jung and feminist writings. She argues that most women don’t have a clue about what they want because society has programmed them simply to want to present a desirable image…Hoping for approval and self-validation, women often conform to ideals of beauty, sexual attractiveness, and femininity before they have identified their own desires and needs.”

  80. hedonistic

    As I said to an old flame about the PCDs last week: “Hey, if the PCDs themselves were to decide when/where/if/how/under what conditions they perform,and/or perhaps if they are exhibitionists who get off doing whatever sexually charged thing they feel like doing on stage, and/or they collapse in orgasmic bliss after every performance, ONLY THEN would I be tempted to call what they do “empowering.” As things stand, this is the same old shit. Not impressed.”

  81. Pony

    It’s sadder than the same old shit. It’s sex slavery. It’s blackface and minstrel shows.

  82. mearl

    Word, word, and word! Shab, your comment about femininity being the fetishisation of being a loser and being ripped off was spot-on. It’s sad that it’s true, but the way you put it made me laugh so hard I fell off my computer chair (this is also in part because the chair seat has come unscrewed in the past few days, but still). That is a revolutionary slogan if I ever saw one.

  83. S-kat

    mearl et al.

    So glad to hear I’m not alone! It’s my take that us heterosexual women ought to pressure men the way we’ve been pressured to worry more about their looks. After all, women are naturally beautiful, it’s they guys that need more gussying up. Of course, turning the tables that way doesn’t really solve anything. I just want more guys worth looking at to satiate my desirous gaze.

    A few years ago I was telling some of my female friends that I thought we should put together a porn magazine for us womenfolk because, you know, Playgirl is so poorly done. They responded that (1) they don’t actually like looking at naked men and (2) they’d much rather look at naked women. They then insisted up and down that they are SO heterosexual and that their feelings on the matter were obviously quite normal because otherwise there wouldn’t be so many pictures in our culture of naked/scantily clad women and so few of men.
    *sigh* Those girls aren’t my friends anymore or I’d send them to this blog.

    Shabnam, I believe that you’re mistaken. My hairy arm pits are as despised as my hairy legs. That’s fine with me, it keeps the weirdos away.

  84. maribelle

    You provide the cage. We lock ourselves in, without you forcing us to do it.

    Yes. One most egregious example of this is bone-thin-woman-as-desirable syndrome. It is impossible to imagine any other animal in the world demanding self-starvation of its child-bearing age females and calling it empowering.

    Yet another of example of our species’ tendency towards self destruction. This blog produces new examples weekly.

  85. juls

    I can’t relate at all to what the younger generations are trying to do with their stripper poles. But in reading through the comments here, I believe I’ve actually learned a thing or two, about myself and the world around me.

    Thank you, Twisty, for initiating this amazing topic. And thank you, Blamers, for sharing your remarkable intelligence and insight.

  86. Naomi


  87. Stella

    I am mildly obsessed with female “body grooming”; I am also a hetero feminist, and shave my legs and armpits (even though I have been happily single for almost two years – it really *is* “for me”), but I refuse to do any vulvic grooming. I don’t get it. My women friends (who would all call themselves feminists, and are on the road to enlightment, at least) *all* practice some form of hair removal. I cannot possibly see how the investment of time is worth whatever “pleasure” this brings them. I think they are doing it because men now *expect* it (pornification, previously covered extensively on this blog); for the record, I have only had one male partner disapprove – and we was a *complete* wanker. And I have yet to meet a man who gives a rat’s ass about leg hair.

  1. of our lives » Comment on Pussycat Dolls: They got empowerfulment for DAYS by Emily

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’m really confused. I haven’t watched the clip yet, but I just want to post some of my thoughts. On the one hand, I don’t want women to be treated as sex objects, and I don’t like women thinking they are really helping themselves by … […]

  2. Dagens Onde Kvinner » Blog Archive » Oh no, ikke pusekattene

    […] Via I blame the patriarchy […]

Comments have been disabled.