In honor of Women’s History Month. Thanks, MSN.
The list does indeed include some women who make me cringe — Ann Coulter, Caitlin Flanagan, etc. It also includes Bratz dolls, which, though they make me cringe as well, are toys, not women.
But excuse me if I don’t really see the point in going after women whose major crime is caving into patriarchal demands. The women were chosen because:
You know the type: The women who either perpetuate the stereotypes so many have fought against or who forget that women have won the right to chart their own course, even if it’s as a homemaker. There’s the spoiled young woman who seems to prize a good party over all else; the woman who harangues other women to get back to the home, even though the haranguer isn’t living by her own rules; and the woman who pressures her kind to forget about the pleasures of raising children to climb the corporate ladder.
Now, women who make a career of going after other women and attacking women’s rights — like Caitlin Flanagan, Phyllis Schlafley and Ann Coulter — are assailable for doing exactly that. But I’m not sure that women like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are fair game (I never thought I’d see the day where I’m even sort of defending Paris Hilton, but here we are).
Is Paris Hilton a thoroughly horrible human being? Yes. She’s the ultimate post-post-modern celebrity, famous for nothing other than being famous; she’s spoiled and entitled (anyone see her and Nikki on Oprah, when they couldn’t remember the word “dishwasher” and argued that if people just worked harder, they could be rich too?); she’s racist; she’s classist; her entire existence is bad for the human race. Yes, she is bad for women. Yes, there are infinite feminist critiques to be made about her persona. Ditto for Lindsay Lohan.
But these two women are not living in a vacuum. Both have made a ton of money on their party-girl personas. Is there really any incentive for women like Hilton and Spears and Lohan to be better role models? Until we make it worth women’s while to be publicly perceived as smart, interesting, opinionated and feminist, a whole lot of women and girls are going to choose the path that brings the most immediate benefits — being sexy, beautiful, sexually controversial, girlish.
There are obviously feminist arguments to be made against the kind of behavior that Lohan et al exhibit. But if we’re going to be blaming anything, it should start with a P and end with an “atriarchy.” Or at least we should be targeting people like Joe Francis and the advertising execs who are the ones making millions off of the mainstreaming of pornography. Or the scores of male politicians and religious leaders who have significant influence over law and policy, and who make careers out of attacking women and limiting our basic human rights.
There’s a conversation to be had here. There are very legitimate criticisms to be made about the Paris-ization of American culture; there are even greater criticisms to be leveled at the likes of Schlafly and Flanagan and other right-wing women. But let’s not lose sight of the actual problem. And let’s hot honor women by attacking them.