Her Bad Mother

Monday, August 13, 2007

Desperate Feminist Housewife Moms Rule The World!

Last week, a Canadian journalist wrote an op-ed piece on what she referred to as the prevailing "culture of porn" in Western society. You know: desperate housewives and panty-free celebs and Bratz Dolls and silicone, silicone, as far as the eye can see. We face an onslaught of skank every single day, she said, and this relentless onslaught of skank is teaching our daughters that their worth resides only in their bodies and in their willingness to skank it up with their peers.

And who do we have to thank for this onslaught of skank, this culture of porn? Hollywood? The Entertainment-Industrial Complex? The post-modern condition imposed by late capitalism, wherein everything solid melts into (J-Lo endorsed) air?


Nope: feminism. And, more generally - lest you think that she's singling people out here - the matriarchy.


"Which is the greater oppression?" asks Barbara Kay: "Sexual virtue imposed by the patriarchy, or sexual libertinism imposed by the matriarchy? They call it empowerment, but in fact the decade-long cultural vogue for "girl's gone wild" - "bad" as the new sexual "good" (hey! she stole my line!) - is just another form of cultural tyranny. Except that now the oppressors are post-morality theorists (among whom, she specifies later, 'radical feminists') and "desperate housewife" moms (?!?!?!) urging public "hotness," rather than stern moralistic fathers suppressing it."

I don't even know where to begin. There's a matriarchy? And the skankomania that breeds Britneys and Lindsays and Parises and Bratz Dolls is promoted by this matriarchy? Really? (Actually, it's worse than you think: it's a cabal of post-moral feminist desperate housewife moms who are in fact a global matriarchy, running the world and maintaining secret societies at Ivy League universities - you know them by their Juicy Couture yoga pants and cunning little secret society pinky rings with skull insignia embellished with little daisies. Trilateral Commission? Ha. It's the Triclitoral Commission, and they're the ones who are really pulling all the strings. Now you know.)

Seriously. I spent seven-plus years in graduate school studying political philosophy and social theory and sat in on more than my fair share of seminars on 'The Gender Politics of Late Capitalism' and 'Feminism and Post-Modernity' and 'Men: What Are They Good For?' and I don't recall hearing about a single feminist theorist (never mind post-moral theorist, a term that I have never heard before), radical or otherwise, who encourages the wholesale pornification of society and/or sexualization of children. They may well be out there, but if they are, they're on the fringe. The extreme fringe.

It may be that Ms. Kay means to argue that the so-called sexual revolution - with its bra-burning and Pill-promoting antics - is the mother of what she sees as the pornification of Western culture. That argument isn't particularly new. But careful analysts of that argument know to point out that it is deeply, deeply contentious in feminist circles, old and new. Many mainstream feminists - such as Diana Russell, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Susan Brownmiller, and Robin Morgan - have long argued that the hyper-sexualization of women (never mind girls) is always oppressive. But even those feminists - such as Susie Bright (who I really wish that I'd met at BlogHer) - who argue for a more sex-positive feminism stop short of promoting sexualization in any and all forms: such feminists usually agree that promoting sex can become oppressive to and exploitative of women if it is not in the hands of women. Is there a feminist out there who really believes that Britney Spears is currently empowered in her sexuality? A feminist who is pro-Bratz Baby? If there is, please point her out to me, because I'd love to hear the argument.

The fact is, however much feminists (to the extent that one can lump them together as a homogenous group, which I don't think one can) promote more open discussion and awareness of female sexuality, they do not and have not ever promoted the wholesale pornification of femininity, let alone the (oh my heart) pornification of childhood. To the extent that there has been any 'pornification' of the culture, feminists and feminism are not to blame. And in attempting to lay such blame, Ms. Kay obscures the following fact: that the more heinous examples of a 'culture of porn' in our society are the result of a hyper-commercial culture, one in which the key decision-makers are most often men. The creator, promoter and owner of Bratz Dolls? A man. The creator of "Desperate Housewives"? Man (also? Self-described conservative homosexual republican. Parse that, Barbara.) Ludacris (cited, inexplicably, in her article as evidence of this "matriarchal" culture of porn) - last time I checked? Man. But I'm not going to lay blame for skank dolls and misogynist rap music and Teri Hatcher at the feet of the "patriarchy" or the "post-moralists" who pull the strings at Fox Television or who program Ann Coulter or whatever. Why not? Because it's much, much more complicated than that.

As a mother, I am deeply, deeply anxious that my daughter might come of age in culture where the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are offered up as quote-unquote role models. I am terrified that she'll face all manner of peer pressure toward identifying herself as a sexual being before she's ready. I don't know any mother of girls who does not worry about these things - and none of the mothers that I know is a "desperate housewife." But even if we were, would that matter? Ms. Kay compares the imagined "matriarchal" imposition of loose sexual morals (which, again - from what fevered imagination did this come?) against the sexual oppression imposed by the patriarchy and finds the former more insidious. But isn't there something oxymoronic in the claim that liberation (even if imagined) is oppressive? If there is - and I must stress again that I think that this is entirely the stuff of fantasy - a matriarchy that is encouraging free love and open sexuality, and if this has yielded some unpleasant cultural phenomenon and disagreeable mores, is this worse than a culture that demands that women live their lives behind veils and curtains and doors? That they deny their sexuality?That they put modesty (sister to shame, and handmaiden to piety) before all else? Is this what we want to teach our daughters - that their sexuality is something to be hidden or denied?

As I said, it's complicated: I fear and celebrate my daughter's future as a sexual being (mostly fear, at this point.) I hate that we live in a culture that has turned her sexuality - and the process of her sexual development - into a commodity. Into what seems, at times, to be a commercial freak-show. But would I rather be subjected to the "stern moralism" of patriarchs than have to navigate the sometimes harrowing waters of "public hotness"? Is that a serious question? Really?

I hate Bratz Dolls, I really do. But I hate narrow-minded (and intellectually sloppy) moralism even more.

59 Comments:

Blogger nell said...

Thank you for so articulately saying what I feel. I have two young daughters and I think about these issues (because they are many) every day. There can be no intelligent debate about the sexualization of women and girls as long as people insist on viewing it as a black and white issue.

I love the visuals, and here's to the matriarchy, wherever they may be - I've been waiting!

8:47 PM  
Blogger liv said...

Thanks for writing this. Although I have the feeling that I get when I read The Atlantic---yes! yes! yes!, oh, but crap, I have no idea how to respond intelligently in the hurray of the moment, I really love this post. And it makes me think of a post that I've been stewing on in my brain for quite a while which I sense is not going to be popular.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

You said it better than I ever could! I'll take my liberation, messy as it may be sometimes, over oppression any day of the week!

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

So, in a nutshell, Ms. kay thinks the matriarchy, as in mothers, are to blame?

Then she needs to come talk to me and I'll gladly set her straight.

The only mothers I know that don't share my concern, even a little, for the hypersexual climate we live in and the sexualization of young girls/women are, and I'm sorry to say this, very young, uneducated women who themselves have been taught that their worth is in their sexuality and have come of age in the "girls gone wild" era.

I expect that statement will garner a negative reprisal should anyone bother to read this comment but I stand by my own observations and I also challenge Ms. Kay to show me WHO is in this matriarchy she refers to that are supposedly encouraging the aforementioned sexualized "girl-power" climate because I'd really like to know.

Excellent post, as always :)

9:57 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Kudos to you for trying to analyze and find reason in what was inherently an unreasonable (and unreadable at that) article. There is just so much wrong with Ms. Kay's rambling diatribe that it is almost impossible to untangle the arguments, and yet you have done an admirable job.

I agree wholeheartedly that the sexualization of children (and the commodification of that sexulization) is a huge problem (and that is an understatement at that), however to lay blame at the feminist movement? Bah! I hate this argument from women like Ms. Kay (and Ann Coulter). It's like they enjoy hanging with the big boys by virtue of bashing the feminists that helped pave the way for them to have those exalted careers, to cross the barriers, to bash through the glass ceiling - but that's a different discussion altogether.

In my (humble) opinion, the only blame that can be laid at the feet of mothers in this case are the mothers that continue to by the Bratz dolls, that shop at La Senza Girl, that tart up their babies. That blame, yes, it can be laid at mom's feet. But the creation of those products is not a desperate housewives mom problem (what exactly *is* that anyway. I'm a stay-at-home mom right now - does that make me a desperate housewife mom?!?!)

10:29 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Oh she so totally misses the point...the mark...the mark and the point.

She mistakes the handful of celebrities we gawk at in rag mags as representational of our culture at large. First bit of failed logic.

As young women we often undervalue our SELVES and mistake sexual attention for affection. We can discuss ad infinitum why this is, but I believe every era has been one of oversexualization of females from one extreme to another: hyperrepression or hyperexposure.

So we have girls gone wild, celebrities gone nutso, and Bratz dolls gone Hollywood (about where they belong)...I'm with Izzy. I don't think this is indicative of approval, nor promotion, by the "matriarchy" in general.

Somehow, strong women managed to emerge from the Marilyn Monroe era.

So I see it as my duty to ensure my girls have positive self-esteem and confidence to light their way through the ongoing objectification of women in this culture.

Hollywood, TV, and marketers have ALWAYS been the most egregious offenders of equality and respect.

You've got it, Catherine. Lay the blame at the feet of those to whom it belongs; not those of us who are persistently tortured by it.

Great post!

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

10:38 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

P.S. In case it appears I missed the age gap between adult women and minor---the main point, I haven't quite, at least not in my own mind LOL.

In the VIctorian era, sure, it was hyperrepression, but children were dressed to mimic adults.

In this era, we have the same, only the adults in a role model position dress...in a way not appropriate for children (or them usually, IMO, if I cared, which I don't, other than this is what stores seem to think moms want for their kids...and I say TG for Land's End!).

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

10:40 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I don't think that one can equate an adult appreciation of sexuality with sexualizing children via inappropriate onesies. Poor taste has existed forever, and it has little to do with feminism.

I'm impressed with how thoughtfully and logically you resopnded to this. Because my first thought would have been just to say "Oh, puhLEASE" and move on.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

As a stay-at-home mom I am not sure if I should be more "desperate" would that shift the blame a bit?

I agree with Mom101 in that a part of me wants to just roll my eyes a bit. I realize this is a serious issue and revolves around Big Business, it is the dollars after all that are speaking here. Poor taste does account for some of it and some of it is a deep flaw in our society - the sexualizing of children.

These posts need to be written and read. Thanks.

11:02 PM  
Blogger jen said...

in these moments i have to make sure i don't allow the westernism to overrule the globalism. and then i remind myself exactly why we are going to live in non-western countries withour TV or ample marketing (there will always be marketing).

and i agree with your last statement wholeheartedly. we can refuse to buy the bratz. but the cultural definitions are harder to shake.

11:20 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

Her second paragraph is ridiculously far-fetched, and while she asserts that radical feminists oppose the idea of sexual modesty, there's not a single citation.

But I still wonder who's buying the goods that she (and we too) rail against. Someone's keeping them in the black.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

This was a wonderfully thought provoking post. Classic HBM.

There's a lot to address there, and a lot of thoughts I'm really to tired to articulate properly.

But it's not the matriarchy or the patriarchy or any other archy...it's the fact that some girls/women will always be willing to whore themselves, literally, or figuratively, and there will always be some sleazeball (coughJoeFranciscough) willing to exploit that.

It's capitalism, plain and simple. Sex sells. There's always a market, and there is no shortage of product. I'll also throw in a requisite jab at the media for pandering unrealistic standards of beauty and desirability.

As for why girls and women are willing and even eager to let themselves be exploited...that's a much larger kettle of fish, with a plethora of social issues at it's briny core.

Again, very thought provoking. I enjoyed reading it very much.

12:18 AM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

First off, Let me say I am very impressed by the lucidity and the evidence to support your arguments so expertly. Secondly, I think I'm scared of all you grad school peeps or maybe intimidated. I could understand what you wrote 100%, as I have had my share of sociology, gender studies, psychology, communications and some plain ol' bs from Barbara Kay. I think girls and women have sexualized from the beginning of time, if you view the history of woman as property and a woman was only as good as her virginity and her dowery. Some things have existed since the cave men began pulling the cave women into caves.

I think we as mothers and feminists have a resposibility to teach our kids what exploitation is and how commerialization of a product or a gender does not mean that is the reality. I have taught my boys several things: When someone says NO no matter what the circumstances: Back Off. She has the right of refusal. Next, they are aware of women who are in political positions, important high end jobs and mothers who are at home have the same value. Girls are not just their outside. This is the one I've been working on the most this summer. Reminding my 16yo that girls have feelings and opinions and ideas and that's a good thing, a great thing.

I don't have a well written conlusion, I hope I got across the message I inteded.

2:16 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

There is enormous value in this media, blogs, to question that media, generally put the mainstream 'news' reporting. You rise to the need with this.

Terrific.

ps. I SK*RT this

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Sandra said...

Everything about her op-ed piece and the premise it is based on makes my blood boil. I started to write a verrrrry long winded comment in response but I was getting out of hand. You critiqued her perspective beautifully my friend. Hats off to you.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Great, great piece.
I don't - and I'm saying this cautiously - identify as a feminist. Having said that, I don't blame the current skanky baby whore culture on feminism - the culture of unbridled consumerism? Sure. negligent absent parents? Certainly. But nothing in feminism even suggests that giving our tiny daughters dolls that wear black mesh thongs (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) is "empowering" to any extent.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Thanks so much for articulating my extreme discomfort with both hypersexuality, especially among girls, and the predictable backlash against feminism in response. I feel that as my daughter gets older, I will be continually battling both sets of forces.

8:50 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

The reason that I don't often comment here is that I get so overwhelmed by your writing. I try to think of something bright to say and instead I just sit here thinking "Wow."

As a woman who grew up at the front edge of feminism, I saw how different my choices could be, even from my sisters who were just 6, 11 and 15 years older. I was thankful for the opportunity to make those choices regarding education, lifestyle and sexual expression, but that doesn't mean that I want everything in the world to revolve around sex.

I am as appalled as the most conservative person by seeing 12-foot high almost naked women in the windows of Victoria's Secret. I like to think I am sex-positive, but that does not mean I want to be sex-overwhelmed.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, it seems most hard core feminists have no need to worry about turning their sexuality into a commodity.

10:19 AM  
Blogger LD said...

As a university instructor, it constantly amazes me how my students either a.) think that feminism is now unnecessary (we're all equal now, right?) b.) don't think that they are feminists (i.e., I don't hate men), or c). believe that women really ARE more emotional and less stable than men. Man--I really need to figure out where the secret lair of the matriarchy is so that I can infiltrate and become one of them. Cuz being out here with the Bratz and the Britney, and the general milieu of skankiness is killing me.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Seriously took me about four times to read this post before I could comment. So, Suebob, you're totally not alone.

To make this brief, I have a father who seems to think that my ability to express my opinions quite well is a manifestation of living under my mother's influence. Because God forbid, I'm able to voice my rather strong opinions about anything save for how to properly fry a chicken.

So sadly, he might agree with the above, that all this "feminism nonsense" is why these young girls are out being obscene whores and flashing their undergarments (or lack thereof) around West Hollywood.

Strangely enough, the only byproduct of living primarily with my mother is the fact that I feel the need to speak even when not spoken to and a very huge element of decorum. No matter the feminist leanings my mother does have, if I ever walked out the house with my cleavage showing she would have beat me.

So, there that is.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Momish said...

So much to take in on this post, it is very very insightful and well done.

I can agonize of how to raise my daughter to appreciate her own sensuality and sexuality in a world out to exploit it, rip it from her for their own use and profit.

It is a tough place to be in as a mother and a woman. I hate those Bratz dolls too, yet wonder if that is a battle down the road worthy of choosing when it comes to my seven year old that just wants to be like everyone else and not be left out.

A balancing act worthy of superhuman powers for sure.

As for the article, I didn't read and thanks to your excellent disection of it, have no desire to do so now.

11:11 AM  
Blogger The City Gal said...

It is tough! HBM went to Catholic school (I went to religious school) and it feels to almost feel guilty about one's sexuality.

On the other extreme, how much more commercial and value-less can it (we, ours, my sexuality) get?

I hate it, and absolutely hate it when my brother calls Madonna (the singer) a whore and again, I hate it so much when I see girls my age that have gone under the knife to look a certain way.

I think both extremes take away one's choice, and that's the unacceptable part for me.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous caramama said...

Well said, HBM!! Your articulate response to the inane article is another reason I love to read your blog.

I was going to mention something about boys needing to be educated as much as girls about what is/isn't appropriate. I applaud janicenw for doing this.

You know, if a matriarchy really ran the world, it would be a TOTALLY different place...

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

Excellent post! Your comments are, as always, insightful and well-written. The perfect antidote to overblown verbiage in so many academic articles!

I have a son, and in some ways I am so relieved I won't have him dressing inappropriately... (jeez I hope). But teaching respect for women, even those who disrespect themselves.. that will be much harder.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

Izzy...unfortunately, I have no counter argument. I lived in Philly for 12 years, and during my time there worked for a women's health clinic.

While I was there I was exposed to an existence of a society so outside of my reality I can only compare it to feeling like I was dropped into a completely alien country. It was only Kensington, a poverty stricken neighborhood. Where teenage girls aspire to have babies, (and very little else) because that is what they're "supposed" to do.

Immaturity plus ignorance makes a great breeding ground for all sorts of badness, and with a commercial, capitalistic culture determined to give people "what they want", here is the result. BA put it best. Sex sells, society condones, kids buy.

I WISH there was a matriarchy.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Giebitz said...

Barring any major weirdness, I am having a son next month. I worry just as much about HIS sexuality as I think I would a daughter's. Men are told constantly through the media just to "get some" from someone, anyone as often as you can. Not to value it, not to appreciate it, not to enjoy it, not to be grateful for it or the woman who shares the experience with him. And if he's not such an obviously "top-shelf" guy, he's supposed to settle.

There is power in sexuality, period. I want my son (and any daughter I may have) to respect and cherish it. This is a culture that is afraid of it, and so cheapens and belittles it, packages it in order to control it and to make money off of what should be held above crass commercialism.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Roz said...

Seriously? Seriously? That article? Coo-coo! Apparently wearing tight underwear cuts off circulation to the brain.

Well written rebut. My reaction is somewhat less even, given the above comment. ;)

1:15 PM  
Blogger braiding mommy said...

Such a wonderful post - thank you.

I second Nell - if there is a matriarchy out there now controlling society, can someone point me in their direction?

1:20 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Will you marry me? ;-)

I am so impressed by this post but all I can do is sit here and nod my head in agreement.

1:59 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh good gravy. Seems to me that men are quite happily driving and enjoying this trend. Girls Gone Wild? Yep, men totally exploiting young women for huge finanical gain and titillation on the tackiest level.

I'm not going to say that women aren't in on this - certainly, nailists, aestheticians, magazine writers and editors, and so on are most often women. and they are making money, as you mention. Selling the porn culture as necessity to keep up appearances, lest you be thought some hairy hippie or buttoned-up goody goody or hopeless geek.

But really? I see young girls who are only buying a fraction of this. The real live ones, not the ones who have been plucked out of real life and plopped right into the midst of TV land. I see girls who are not significantly much more obssessed with fashion and makeup than some were in my day, and the ones who have real interests seem to fare the best, same as always. I hold out hope that good parental teachings can help a child think twice and make better decisions, even as a teen. Let's face it, not everyone in the eighties was sporting the wildest of crimped hair and blue eyeshadow and going backstage to take part in drugs and sex with Motley Crue, either, right?

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

You gave this much more thought and time than I would have.

I probably would have rolled my eyes, muttered something unkind and moved right along.

Your articulation and well said rebuttal is well appreciated by this gal who seems unable to articulate much other than "I'm a fruitcake...:

Well done, and oh, by the way, I ABSOLUTELY AGREE with you!

2:55 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I cringe every time I see Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, the young women who appear on reality shows appearing brain dead and wearing next to nothing, etc. Because they have become role models for the masses of little girls out there, and it's horrifying that this is what so many want to be when they grow up.

I realize I'm raising boys and don't have to worry about this so much directly. But I have tons of nieces, and I worry about them. I also worry about the types of girls my sons will be encouraged to date by their friends... I so don't want a Bratz-lookalike showing up on my doorstep in 15 years looking for my son!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

This is awesome, HBM. Awesome. Thanks for spelling it all out.

5:02 PM  
Blogger moosh in indy. said...

I can't say much that already hasn't been said, but I can say thank you. Thank you for this and thank you for being an excellent example of a well educated woman and a mother.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Serendipity, baby! said...

Amen, sister. I'm quite certain that feminism for hyper sexualizing society is akin to blaming the victim here - in that it's the patriarchal society that leads to sexualizing women as objects, and that's just trickled down to younger and younger subjects.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Glennia said...

I had to come back to this post three times to read it, because I could not get past the "Triclitoral Commission." That. Was. Funny.

But seriously, excellent arguments and resounding smackdown of idiotic position by Ms. Kay.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Even though I do believe that we need the extremes, to a point, to keep our moral compass in check I'm having a very hard time wrapping my mind around how sexualized innocents and porn star lookalike dolls became the fault of the matriarchy. So, thank you for this. Thank you for articulating what I never could have.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Chaos Control said...

Here I sit, in complete awe of your ability to read this kind of an article and then turn around and create such an articulate response.

I want to be you when I grow up!

I recently found out I'm expecting a baby girl. When people find out that I'm terrified of having a girl, they often say things like "but they're so sweet" and "the clothes are so much more fun to buy". What they fail to realize is that I'm not terrified of a baby girl, a toddler, or even a pre-schooler. It's the pre-teen and older girl I'm terrified of ... and all she has to try to figure out in the world.

Yes, I'll try to be there for her. To guide her. To help her. But if she's anything like I was when I was a teenager, she'll think I have no idea what I'm talking about simply because I'm her mother.

Terrified. Truly terrified.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

The strongest human need is TO BELONG.

Give your daughter something more to be proud of - give her a currency that is more than just her body - and she will not feel like she has to resort to her boobs and her butt to get a man's attention.

Involve her in sports, education, activities. Give her other ways to boost her self-esteem.

Her sexuality is something she will proud of ONLY if she's told when she's young that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that she controls it.

Most of all, give her good strong men in her life who will protect her and she will never yearn to know what it feels like to be noticed by a man.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I hope you sent this letter to the editor.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous chelle said...

Wow.
It seems all too ironic that the Mother is to blame for societies woes with "loose morals".
Wow.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Shash said...

Awesome response to a half-assed article by Ms Kay.

I have boys, but I also worry about what the expectations of society are for them, and why they are taught to "tap that" and "hit that" by the media. I think the sexuality issue runs both ways, for male and female youth, more so for females definitely, but what it all boils down to is a lack of respect for each other and ourselves. (this is figuratively, not literally.)

You are much more articulate than I am, and thank you for your insight.

Shash

12:11 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Mo - thanks!!

LisaB - I did send a letter, but it was little more ranty than this (I believe that I referred to Ms. Kay as an 'angry bear flailing and roaring in the dark.' They didn't publish. But then I thought - Hey! I HAS A BLOG!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

And? Glennia's the only one who laughed at 'Triclitoral Commission'? I was very pleased with that one. It took whole minutes to come up with.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe feminism helped to unleash forces it was unable to contain. So maybe Bratz aren't the truth of feminism, but maybe they are part of its "effectual truth".

10:11 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous (who knows his or her Machiavelli, hmm...) - I totally agree (and think - hope - that I've at least implied above) that Bratz and their ilk very well might be part of the 'effectual truth' of feminism. That's precisely why it's complicated - it's pretty straighforward to argue that Bratz (or Desperate Housewives) would not be possible without feminism having broken the sexual-liberation ground that it did. but nor would these be possible, I think, without liberalism and advanced capitalism etc, etc. - to single out feminism as the 'root cause' (and to single out an imagined matriarchy) is just sloppy.

10:25 AM  
Blogger clueless but hopeful mama said...

Adding to the chorus here, thanks for a lovely, thoughtful reply to idiotic nonsense. Unfortunately, we need to respond to the nonsense because people believe it.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

(You know the problem with coming late to the party is there is just so much more to read!) First off, thank you HBM, you rock. This is a really complicated subject and I'm so sick of our culture of finger-pointing that tries to reduce everything down to "your fault" (I mean you, Ms. Kay). Our culture has such a weird dynamic of prudery vs. hypersexuality that just seems to feed itself in a cycle of repression... how do we break out of that? Do they have Bratz dolls or Girl Gone Wild videos in Europe where they aren't so concerned with seeing (or not seeing) someone's boob? (I'm honestly asking here because I don't know.)

When I was a teenager it never occurred to me to try to use my sexuality as power. And my brothers didn't have a lot of respect for the girls who did. I don't know if that was because we were raised with more emphasis on our brains than looks, or something we just saw through, (or even a lack of confidence on my part? I don't know) or what. All I know is I'd like to figure whatever it was out so I can teach my kids to just be self-assured people. (Though I am heartened by the teenagers I know today who don't buy into any of this crap, either.)

You know, Desperate Housewives was originally written as a satire. I'm continually shocked at the number of people who take that show as a slice of anything approaching reality. So... how do I sign up for the Triclitoral Committee?

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Bitsy Parker said...

Gol-lee. You're smart! My first time here at your site, but it won't be the last.

Triclitorial Commission is my favorite!

12:51 AM  
Blogger Staci Schoff said...

I thought just last week we feminists were defined precisely by our unattractiveness, lack of sex appeal and inability to get a man -- I blink and look what happens to us.

Pitch perfect commentary, but I must ask, do you really consider Andrea Dworkin to be a "mainstream" feminist? She fits your point -she's certainly not pro hyper-sexualization. But I consider her to be kind of an extremist fringe feminist -- not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just sayin'...

1:24 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Staci, yeah, 'mainstream' is perhaps a little misleading. Tho' I do think of her as old-school, inasmuch as her particular brand of feminism is no longer nearly as edgy as it once was.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Sandy D. said...

I don't which line I love more in your post: "Desperate Feminist Housewife Moms Rule The World!" or "Triclitoral Commission".

Thank you so much for a funny, funny piece. And thoughtful.

But I'm sorry, I'm more than a little disgusted that a Canadian newspaper actually published that op-ed. I mean, really. I've read rants that make more sense in the comments on msnbc stories online.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

catherine well versed as always.i couldn't have said this better myself.thought provoking as always .and funny.triclitoral commission.haha.but you are so right about sloppy moralism and skanky dolls which after all are just skanky dolls.LAVENDULA

11:20 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Hey, I have yoga pants. And I'm a housewife. And I'm desperate . . . for more social interaction, more time to read, and the occasional bubble bath, at least. Also, and this is the kicker-- I was raised by a Professor of English and Women Studies who was a card-carrying member of NOW.

Does this mean I am part of a secret society bent on world domination and I don't even know it?! WOAH.

Because if that's true, a.) I need the pinky ring, stat, and 42.) I need to get in to one of those meetings to put forth a motion for a ban on Bratz dolls, Club Libby Lu, and preemptive wars STAT.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Kissy said...

Kudos to you! I just found your blog today. It is fanstastic. Smart, informative and funny!

7:33 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Hello ladies (and gentlemen, if there are any of them about)! I found this blog a few days ago when I was searching for a community for Feminist housewives.

Unfortunately, I didn't really find one. However, I have harnessed the power of the internet and made a resource and community site for us. I'd really appreciate it if you would check it out and make any suggestions for the resources, articles, and/or books section of the website.

Here's the address: http://www.feministhousewives.com

Thanks all! Happy holidays!

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Markus said...

Good JoB! :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger blackbelt_oma said...

I think I love you!

10:47 PM  

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