Friday, February 20, 2004

Female Perversions.

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day over my stat rape post re: the bit that said that people all over the world were using each other for sex. I've been thinking about the whole issue for a couple of days so basically since I have a soapbox, I might as well climb onto it...
Her side was that we were getting to the age where women tend to have more choice in terms of sex, that is, that women don't need to wait for men to make the first move in order to have casual sex...that the modern liberal woman has the choice of indulging in casual sex with no strings attached the same way men do. She said that it wasn't about being used or using someone else if there was mutual consent about what was going on.
My argument was that the fact was that the liberated women were using men (or other women) the same way they would use a v*be or d*ldo, and that men were using women the same way they were using Mrs. Palm and her five daughters. A whole lot of using in all senses of the word. Of course, odds are that neither party would be hurt or even vaguely remember who the other party was...but I don't think that was the point of my point.

In the spirit of all conservatives, I blame TV.

That said, I am a student of the idiot box and I think that I ought to quantify the above statement. As a pre-emptive strike to protect myself from all the Sex and the City groupies out there, I don't really have any problems with the whole phenomena called SatC. (Well actually I do...the feminist in me has a huge problem with the show...Candace Bushnell should be burned at the stake...)
See, I don't really have anything against most television shows per se, but watching SatC once was enough to enrage the little feminist in me. That's the darndest thing...I didn't know I was feminist till I watched the show. See, what SatC and all the shows like it have done is create a pseudo-feminist arena in which the unknowing viewers watching it automatically equate with feminism. The main draw on the show, at least for the first season, was the fact that they were the first show in history that the word c*nt was broadcast on television (public or otherwise). It was fine...I watched it, didn't think too much about it and dismissed it as a show that I couldn't possibly get into.
Then all the femi-babble began.
Yes, this show puts women on the same level as men as they cuss as automatically as men do...and they're not punished for it. This shows the world that the ladies can do what men do and get away with it. They can sleep around and hold a career and shop till they drop and they don't need the affirmation of men to create the foundation of their identities.

Only, they do.

The four ladies in SatC basically spend their time sitting around and bitching about men, men and men. Their lack of, their hatred of, their use of. For a “feminist text” all it does is portray characters who cannot seem to break away from the male. It’s Ally Mcbeal with all the swear words. While Ally Mcbeal had no delusions of itself as a feminist text (in fact it was largely a self termed anti-feminist text) SatC, or the reviewers who watch the show (in Singapore surprisingly despite the fact that the show’s banned), seem to think that SatC is one.
It’s neo feminism. It’s ladies acting like men. It’s about women who have decided that their identities as women are not enough to survive in a male dominated society. It’s throwing up the white flag of surrender and saying, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” But that’s not what feminism was about.
See feminism was never ever about the rejection of the (fe)male, but the patriarchal system. It was about the rejection of the roles and “responsibilities” imposed upon women by a male dominated society. It was all about breaking down those barriers and allowing the women to compete on equal footing with their male counterparts. It was about getting women the right to vote. For them to leave the kitchens and head out to work and to get paid the same wages as men for the work they did. It was never about women degrading themselves by lowering themselves into the muck like the men they so hated.
Bushnell’s idea of feminism is the creation of a space in which the female constantly degrades themselves in a pathetic attempt to raise themselves (or, more often than not, lowering themselves) to the level of men. The cussing, the casual sex, the irritating discourse that they indulge in, it’s all in an attempt to “play” the male.
See, the main problem is that they haven’t gotten it down pat. Men have been playing the male for a way longer time and I’m pretty sure we’ve got it perfected to an art. The sleeping around, the dumb one night stands, the empty life. As a species, the male has created that space for itself which is analogous to having an exclusive club in which, we burp, fart and cuss like the proverbial sailor. And here’s another insight, most of us don’t even belong. It’s an illusion.
Yes, there has to be the something to perpetuate the stereotype and I agree that there are men like that all over the world. There are those that sleep around and basically those that also play around with people, using them…And SatC has fallen straight into the set trap. What other show creates a breed of followers who so willingly walk into the arms of these men?
It’s like this animal called the Judas Goat/Sheep, the animal that’s used in an abattoir that’s used to calm the other animals. It walks into the great big machine and it walks out, allaying all the fears of other animals. Only thing, they tend to walk in and not walk out like ol’ Judas.
I’m not knocking the perpetuation of the myth. There are people who think that the usage of people for sex is fine. If that’s what they believe, I think that that’s their call. But there’s a fine line when it comes down to what you believe and what you think you believe. It’s indicative, really, when magazines are talking about more about more women doing “the guy thing”.
In the height of it’s popularity, Ally Mcbeal created a feminine rhetoric which saw a whole boatload of women looking for “Mr. Right” and now the torch has been passed. I think it would be interesting to draw up a graph that charts the evolution of the female thought with the shows that people watch.
I think that a good reading of SatC should be one of disempowerment / empowerment.* Basically, the premise of that reading is that the victimized takes on the persona of the person that they are accused of being. (ie a slut becomes the slut. A bitch becomes the bitch.) Read: Meredith Brook’s Bitch or more poignantly, Annabel Chong’s Sex . That’s all Candace Bushnell’s doing. She’s created a space in which the disempowered attempt to take back power for themselves by dropping themselves into the muck that disempowered them to begin with…but that’s not true empowerment. Life doesn’t work that way.
There is no power in Sex and the City. There is the illusion of it and the fact that the women in the show are throwing themselves into the last truly male arena may be lauded as an achievement but I think that it’s a battle that cannot be won. It’s like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Maybe the struggle’s the point of the whole show but struggling against their proverbial tar babies do nothing for the women that the show supposedly represents.

OK…this was a long long post that I think started out from a short rant but blew up into a 1400 word essay. If I have ruffled any feathers, I pray that you may forgive. This is a blog and this has been a thought that’s been in my head for the longest time.

*For the Cliff Notes version of Disempowerment / Empowerment, ref. Chasing Amy.


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