All Out Peace declared
My brother's project
"All my critics are dead."
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See it and say it
Some favorite blog items
4.8 & 9.02
After-hours edition of
Subterranean Homepage News
(Why "The Reader"?)
Dec. 4, 2002
"Halley’s “girlism” seems to involve using men’s assumptions, weaknesses, predatory/ objectifying impulses against their [workplace] dominance, a sort of sexual jiu-jitsu...
"There are important reasons for women to relish their powers, but even more reasons (so far as I can tell) for them to use those capacities with the utmost deliberation, lest their tactics backfire and they find themselves more isolated and powerless than when they started."
It's extraordinarily difficult -- for both men and women -- in a work situation to see a woman leapfrog over the hard-working pack by flirting, teasing, and encouraging a harem mentality that favors (with jobs, promotions, perqs) those who please the sultan.
Seeing a female hand on the boss's knee under the conference table bodes ill for all the men and women who live by a code of working hard and playng fair.
Halley's proposal is a rage technique, a ruthless decision to fight dirty because fighting fair is guaranteed to lose.
Is there an honorable out? Leaving that workplace is one. Another is to make a lateral career -- if vertical ascension is blocked by the "girlists," developing a specialty that's entirely your own may be possible.
In an entrepreneurial setting, some clients will simply not be worth pursuing. Which may leave your calendar free for a new client who values your output, your product, your impact on his business more than the curve of your calves.
But it doesn't address the feeling of powerlessness that made Halley propose this tactic in the first place.
Going only where you're wanted is laudable, but if "being hot-looking" is a prerequisite for success, we're all as doomed as those runway models who are over the hill by 21.
Slowly we would return to the '50s land of powerful men surrounded by titillating women who are valued precisely for their ability to pleasantly distract them.
* * *
"Girlism" may be the wrong word. How about "Vampism"?
A vamp is defined as "A seductive woman who uses her sex appeal to exploit men." "Exploit" carries the full cynicsm of the technique of wrapping men around your little finger for your own gain.
Does the end justify the means?
Break on through
Halley at Halley's Comment is blogging about "the end of Feminism and the beginning of Girlism" followed by "Girlism Revisited." Shelley Powers responded here and here. And Doc, then Doc reconsiders then more, and more, now me.
It's rare I leap into these discussions but this one's for the history books.
Come back and catch up here if you read this and go, "What the...?"
Back when feminism was taking hold, it was a revolt against Girlism -- girls are children, girls are elderly and blue-rinsed, lunching, the girls in the pink ghetto, "I'll have my girl call your girl."
Girls depend on indulgent daddies and their cuteness to get by. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Girls are a pornographers' goldmine.
You go, girl.
Halley: "It's 'girlism' -- women want to be sexy girls and use all the tricks girls use. Crying, flirting, begging, winking, stomping their feet when they don't get their way, general trotting around showing off their long legs and whatever else they decide to show off thereby distracting and derailing men."
I'm remembering why I liked men who got a clue and started calling us women. I'd almost forgotten about the days when boys became men and girls became girls. It's all coming back to me now...
"It's about power," Halley writes.
If workplace power is the goal, you'll get it by working harder, being always available to travel, putting in nights and weekends, and being better than anybody else at what needs doing. Laugh at the right jokes, jump through the hoops, make no powerful enemies.
And it still might not be enough.
As a gorgeous, hip lawyer confided to me once, no matter how many doors opened because of her sass and style, she would never be part of golf foursomes with the judges, or cut deals with them over cigars and brandy in the rustic lodges torn straight from the pages of Boy's Life magazine. She accepted a judgeship, beating a dignified retreat from a rough-and-tumble game she couldn't win.
Some doors only open for alpha males.
But for everybody, men and women, life is eight seconds on the back of a bull. While it speeds by, you have to figure out what you value, and how you want to spend your life.
My career goal is a laptop on the beach.
This far down the road, any power that comes from my work actually looks and feels like freedom. People I respect will bounce ideas with me. (All the people I respect still want to change the world.)
Feminism has infused my adult life. It encompasses an attempt to live authentically -- forge a self, dammit -- to work at what interests me; easy, warm relationships with the people I care for; a dogged optimism through the tough times; a comfy cave, and an underlying sense that there's a lot more to this hologram we move in than meets the eye.
"Girlism" sounds like a club style, but it won't help you give birth, pull a teen out of a shooting gallery, or face death.
"Feminism talked about women owning their sexuality in a lesbian context only which was cool, but created no context within which heterosexual women could own their sexuality and enjoy it with heterosexual men," Halley writes.
It did? I remember the core of the early days being the jettison of the double standard of "good girls" who didn't and "bad girls" who did. And to do that, the fear of pregnancy had to be eliminated.
The pill was illegal in Massachusetts when I was in college. A worldly upperclassman took my roommate and me with her one weekday on Eastern Airlines' Boston-to-New York shuttle. Our destination was Planned Parenthood in Spanish Harlem, where we got pelvic exams and Enovid, and got back on the next plane.
We were free to enjoy sex with no fear of consequences, the first generation of women not hobbled by fear of pregnancy, the last before sexually transmitted diseases rose above the level of crotch rot.
Back then, The Question was, "Why do I always have to sleep on the wet spot?" To many women, that was the beginning of feminism.
Other questions might have been, "How come you make more than I do for the same job?" "How come we both work and I do all the housework?" "How come all the gynecologists are men?" "How come I'm called a slut and you're called a stud?"
It was all wildly hetero, with Masters & Johnson, The Joy of Sex, waterbeds and Kama Sutra oil and a rock 'n' roll soundtrack.
If Cybill Shepard primarily wants a man who masturbates -- Halley calls this a "classic Girlism issue" -- I've gotta be flippant and say I knew a lot of them in college.
The '60s were wildly experimental. We were inventing sex in the absence of clues, trembling and innocent and full of Being in The Garden. Did Cybill miss out on this in slicker Hollywood?
To this ungirly woman, sex is a dance of vibes and flesh and energy. Connection with a man I move in easy rhythm with, day and night, time after time, is a lot more profound and mysterious than any questionnaire or litmus test for liberation.
It is consciousness, power, earthy grace and drums on a hot dark night.
Each to both.
Dec. 1 - Weekend blog