I can’t go 10 minutes without observing with a curled lip another of patriarchy’s grasping tentacles squeezing the life out of women’s liberation, but here are a few lowlights from my previous 24 hours:
— OK, TV blaming I can do with my obstreperal lobe tied behind my back, but this one sort of stuck out for some reason: a commercial for Pantene hair products wherein a chestnut-maned supermodel conversationally explains — you know, girl-to-girl — how easy it is to achieve her sexy hairstyle. First you buy six or seven Pantene products. You wash the hair with a few different kinds of Pantene stuff. Then you blow dry the hair “in sections.” Then you tease up the roots with, I suppose, a root-teaser. Then you put Pantene goop on it, and wind the hair around a dozen huge rollers. Then you eat 40 pounds of fudge. Then you take off the rollers and mess the hair up with your hands. Then you apply half a can of Pantene hairspray. I think there may have been another couple of Pantene-related steps in there somewhere, but who can remember all this shit without a stenographer? Still, all that, and her hair just sort of looked like hair.
Then, later, when I flipped on the tube because a hot flash had awakened me from the restless menopausal thrashing I now grudgingly accept as “sleep,” I see an infomercial hawking — get this — an airbrush for your face. It sprays a fine mist of flesh-colored slime all over your hideous wrinkles, pores, and zits, in order that you might delude yourself that you look “natural,” and thereby appease your dudely oppressors. Sure, it costs $269.95, but it comes with “eyebrow stencils” and “body shimmer.”
Oddly and unintuitively, for stuff that is so obviously fake, “natural” is a key concept in face-paint. Earlier I’d come across a copy of Real Simple magazine, which contained an article trumpeting the necessity of “glowing” skin, as well as the various species of artifice one may purchase and employ to achieve this “natural” drag queen look.
One marvels at the flaming hoops through which women are expected leap in the service of the Femininity Industrial Complex. One also marvels at the snow job. The beautyocracy has actually managed to convince women that, despite the fact that we are not bio-luminant plankton, it is natural for our epidermis to phosphoresce.
Enough with the beauty, already. I turn on the NPR, where there are occasional moments when beauty is not the central theme.
— Billie Jean King is interviewed on Morning Edition; she is perplexed that whenever a woman achieves anything, it is perceived as having an effect only on women. Since of course women — and our little hobbies — are too insignificant to have any public influence on Dude Nation. King notes that people come up to her all the time to thank her for what she’s done for “women’s tennis,” rather than for tennis in general. Her point is that women are human beings, but that still, after all this time, this niggling detail remains energetically overlooked. King has a new book and is appearing with the Geico caveman in a car insurance commercial.
On a related note, it was not until last year that women were awarded equal pay at Wimbledon.
— Terri Gross interviews some supposedly progressive dude who keeps alluding to “Obama” and “Hillary.” For some reason this particular instance of the global propensity to first-name the Vagina-American candidate drives me 7/8 of the way up the crazy-wall, and I throw the onion I’m peeling across the room.
OK, that’s depressing. How about reading a few emails?
— Blamer Jessica sends me a note about a nun beauty pageant. I’m not even kidding. The online contest is the brainchild of an Italian priest who urges his godly sisters to send him their photographs, which he will put up on his blog, purportedly to dispel the popular perception that nuns are “old, stunted, and sad,” but if you ask me it’s more likely that he just has a hot-nun fetish. There is no aspect of this repellent story that doesn’t set my lobe a-throbbin’.
[Addendum: Blamers Carrie and Cosmic Scratcher also attempted to hip me to the nun pageant, but, lumpen schlub that I am, I didn’t see their emails until the day after I published this post. Mang, I’ve got to get a new secretary.]
— I read that young Kyle Payne — you remember the delightful Kyle Payne, the Norman Bates* of “male feminist” bloggers who became a blogular anti-celebrity when he got busted for violating an unconscious woman — has been sentenced to 6 months in stir. Due to some misogyny-loving loophole, when he gets out he won’t have to register as a sex offender, but this happy, patriarchy-affirming turn of events didn’t stop him from sobbing piteously in court. If (and only if) you want to throw up, read his après-bust blog post, which takes the current craze for delusional, navel-gazing, bullshit apologies to a new and unsurpassed zenith (thanks for the links, Monika).
The phone rings.
— My sidekick Stingray, a wine nerd who has just biffed off to Napa to intern at a winery (I could not talk her out of this, despite the well-known fact that Napa is an earthquake-ridden hell-hole full of terrorists, meth addicts, leprosy, and Libertarians. Not to mention the fact that her departure would turn her into my ex-sidekick), reports that everyone at the winery, notably her boss, is a sexist pig. She is put on wrapping-bottles-in-tissue duty because “women are better at that sort of thing.” People only deign to speak to her because she’s white; the Mexican women on the bottling line are invisible to the dewds. As she is the only woman working in the cellar, she will, she says, have to work “10 times as hard” as the men in order to be taken seriously. Furthermore, nobody seems to grasp that she’s queer — which, believe me, would astonish you if you knew her. “I can’t fucking believe I have to come out at work,” she complained. “It’s been years.”
Yipes! Stingray, come home!
* He “just goes a little mad sometimes.”