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SEXIST BEATDOWN: She’s Every Woman, It’s All In Her (And Definitely Not You) Edition

Friends, today is the day I have spent talking. Talking, about how to personify feminism in one’s personal life! Can you do it? Can you do it PERFECTLY? I cannot!

Well, here is a relief for me: Angelina Jolie has been scientifically discovered to embody literally every facet of feminism, PERFECTLY, within herself. This was discovered by Naomi Wolf! An author I like quite a lot! Naomi Wolf: I like you. And I like Angelina Jolie even more, now that she has taken this burden off my shoulders.

Behold, as Amanda “Not the Face of Feminism” Hess of The Sexist and I “Even More Definitely Not the Face of Feminism” of Tiger Beatdown discuss!


ILLUSTRATION: FEMINISM!!!

SADY: so, yes: angelina jolie represents us all! or, the best in all of us! she is the eternal spirit of woman! or something.

AMANDA: she also represents how sexy feminism can be. the worst thing about this whole thing is how it seems to be pretty much accidental how angie rose to become this Idea of Woman: you, too, can be the ideal woman: effortlessly!

SADY: yet, i mean: somehow, in spite of the article’s many points about how angelina exemplifies the ideal woman (did you know that even STRAIGHT women, if pressed, would sleep with her? this is in no way a generic “well, i guess people like her” answer) i doubt everyone idealizes her in the way the article suggests. SHE WON A SURVEY. people were like, “who’s a celebrity you like THE MOST,” and the answer was “angelina.” she really only occupies this exalted place within this specific essay.

AMANDA: i know. the stars of sexiness and Brad Pitt and bisexual fantasies and feminism aligned at this particular moment. (because they had to, for this essay). and so, anything Angelina does is empowering. i don’t particularly see what’s feminist or anti-feminist about, say, sleeping with a man who is married. but maybe if we squint …

SADY: right. or blood necklaces, or kissing your brother. feminism: now with more billy bob thornton action! is not a headline i expect to see on the cover of ms. any time soon. well, not unless i write that essay. and then cut and paste that headline on to the cover of ms. in a delusional frenzy.

AMANDA: hahaha

SADY: but, really: the article just seems to be stretching. look, she’s sexy! and, a mom! and, she has a cute boyfriend! like, how is this not true of so many other celebrity women?

AMANDA: i do think that crowning anyone as the archetype of “bringing together almost every aspect of female empowerment and liberation” is necessarily dumb.

SADY: right? like, the article actually says at some point, “she is like princess diana, but better than princess diana, because she is not dead, which really put a damper on our desire to identify with princess diana.” PARAPHRASING.

AMANDA: personally, i like the idea that somewhere deep down, Mother Teresa was personally dismayed that people could see her as good, but not sexy. “why am i so GOOD?” “i will never be desired!”

SADY: “ARRRRRRRRGH, boys don’t like me. maybe if i didn’t spend all this time with lepers!”

AMANDA: it’s also telling that the story is a write-around, as all stories about celebrities are, because we really have no fucking idea what her life is actually like or whether we would really want it. or want to sleep with it. whatever it is that we want from her life.

SADY: right? and i am sure that, in some places, her life is pretty mundane. the whole glamour and myth-making process of celebrity is one thing, but: you know, she’s just a lady. i have it on good authority that angelina jolie both eats food for nutritional reasons and excretes waste products known as “poop!” i heard that angelina jolie frequently douses herself with water and soap for that special “clean” feeling!

AMANDA: finally, a woman who poops that women want to be like! we’ve been waiting for this

SADY: yet, despite our common habits of pooping and showering (i hear she also “sleeps” to refresh herself!) i really doubt that many of us will EVER have lives that resemble hers. like. if you have to win an oscar and sleep with brad pitt and adopt and/or birth all the underprivileged children in the world to bring together all facets of women’s liberation, i really should just give up now.

AMANDA: yeah, and i think by the end we get to this crazy perversion of her original point. which is that, you know, women should be able to have sex lives AND be respected, and other such double-standard-breakers. but angie just keeps piling on the ANDs to the point of absurdity. like, now we should be able to have sex lives AND be respected AND be amateur pilots before, we were just slutty pilots.

SADY: AND star in sky captain and the world of tomorrow! don’t forget! in the world of tomorrow, everyone will respect you for your slutty piloting skills! it’s kind of nuts. i, at this point, have been devoted to The Feminism for so long, and i continually think about (a) whether my life is feminist enough or (b) whether my life is STEREOTYPICALLY feminist. like, ideally i should be gorgeous and universally loved but especially be loved by boys but also resist each and every form of oppression that i encounter in my day-to-day life, SUCCESSFULLY.

AMANDA: see, but angelina can effortlessly be feminist AND not too feminist, all at the same time, without being forced to choose between feminism and not-too-feminism
5:15 PM those lips, etc. i dont’ know. i want to read profiles like this about EVERY celebrity

SADY: because (SPOILER) angelina, as she exists in this essay, is your imaginary friend. she is made up. i like the part where we go into Imaginary Angelina’s brain and learn what she is thinking: “She insists on claiming every role on an operatic scale, making the symbolism as transgressive as possible — and saying, implicitly, “See? It can be done.”"
whereas maybe she was just thinking, “WOO, what a cute baby, i’m gonna adopt it. also, get another tattoo. unicorns are the best.” my Imaginary Angelina/Perfect Woman Archetype thinks a lot about unicorns. it’s weird.

AMANDA: whatever, our Perfect Women can DO that now. finally.

SADY: exactly. but, you know. if another woman were as popular as angelina jolie – and maybe another woman will be, soon – we’d be writing the same essay about her, i think. like, in five years it might be lady gaga and we’d be writing about how real female self-determination means you can dress like natalie portman in the Star Wars movies, but if that character really liked to get naked. the Perfect Woman thing is so arbitrary and weird that you could basically write your own essay about “[x] is the perfect woman” and get the same results.

AMANDA: i like this new outlet for feminist writers though. get hired by mainstream publication. argue why arbitrary [whatever] is feminist. i could get used to that

SADY: oh, that sounds perfect to me. who wants to hire me to write about the feminism of various artisanal bourbons? “this bourbon, which i drank A LOT OF, filled me with the feelings of liberation and pukiness that are essential to feminism.” “this is a bourbon that can do it all.” “and so can YOU, female reader.”

AMANDA: You let me know when the Tiger Beatdown Feminist Bourbon Tour starts and I’ll be the first in line.

12 Comments

  1. The Sexist wrote:

    Amanda "Not the Face of Feminism" Hess? I could get used to that.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  2. smadin wrote:

    Sady? Amanda is right. Please, please write about bourbon! As I love both bourbon and your writing, I would be very happy to see those two crazy kids get together and try to make a go of it.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink
  3. ChelseaWantsOut wrote:

    "the stars of sexiness and Brad Pitt and bisexual fantasies and feminism aligned at this particular moment."

    When I read this I was momentarily totally irrationally afraid that you guys had found my diary from the time I worked at a summer camp and lived in a tent for three months with naught but a poster of Trent Reznor scrounged out of a trash can and my own imagination to keep me company on stormy nights. The entry to which the quote refers is a real gem, I tell you. I could make a pretty penny off that if I were inclined to sell erotic short fiction.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Tomecat wrote:

    From the article:

    "Yes, she is Conventionally beautiful: Bosomy and wasp-waisted, with that curtain of hair and those crazy, pillowy lips, she is an obvious male sex fantasy. But more suggestively, polls show that her appeal and magnetism play at least as powerfully in the fantasy lives of females."

    Thank goodness we can finally be allowed to be attractive! And sexy! Because up until now,
    women have been pressured ceaslessly, to STOP wasting time on our appearance.

    I, for one, am thrilled to know that feminism is really all about making men want to have sex with me. Because, as an 'everywoman', I of course already have everything else, like equal rights and bodily autonomy, and equal pay for equal work, etc. The only thing missing was permission to be as sexy as Angelina Jolie. Which I totally am. /snark

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Regina wrote:

    Tiger Beatdown Feminist Bourbon Tour? I am so absolutely there.

    Friday, June 12, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  6. amellifera wrote:

    Am I the only person who starts singing,

    "She's every woman, it's all in heeeerrrr! Anything you want dun beby, Jolie does it naterleee."

    I can't be the only one. At least, I bet I'm no longer the only one. (sorry)

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  7. snobographer wrote:

    From the article:
    "Among other methods of social control, women are almost always given a series of either-or choices. The deal is usually that they may realize one aspect of their personality but at the expense of many others. And the deal is usually that if they choose "too much," a terrible punishment one way or another awaits them.

    So you can be respected as a symbol of goodness (Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa) but not, obviously, be seen as sexual. You can have a hot sex life (Marlene Dietrich) but not at the same time be seen as a symbol of goodness. You can't get away with it."

    I think Wolf's trying to make some point about Jolie smashing the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. Because she's a sexy sex symbol who has sex and she's also framed as sort of a Mother Theresa figure for her UNHCR work. This is unusual and I guess pretty cool. But does it mean I have to personally rescue Namibian orphans in order to avoid sexual double-standards? Because in the end that seems to be what the article is saying.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  8. Sniper wrote:

    Huh. Apparently, I'm not tall enough or pretty enough to be a feminist. To Wolf's credit, that is a new one.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  9. rstetradio wrote:

    I really hope this was all sarcasm and satire, I really do. Writing about whether men find you fuckably feminine even though you're one of those "androgynous nazi ballbusting bitches"? It almost sounds as if you all have bought into the same misogynist bullshit that's been spun for centuries about feminists. Being feminist equals: Ugly, undesirable, looking and acting like a man, blah blah blah. These a just a few of many examples designed to discourage women from fighting for equality, autonomy, and independence (which apparently unbeknownst to some younger generations has not been accomplished yet although slightly improved in some countries) The tactic is attacking womens' self image and self esteem. You entirely missed the point of the argument(ceaselessly made, you claim) against body/appearance obsession and are apparently clueless about the thousands of women who hate themselves, who starve themselves or puke up their food because they were conditioned from puberty to strive for mythical airbrushed surrealism of a cover girl. I used to be adept at detecting satire, so if I missed it here, you can chalk it up to me being out of practice. If not, I will chalk it up being old school feminist concerned about young women losing sight of what's important.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 2:46 am | Permalink
  10. Sady wrote:

    @rstetradio: Um, yeah, you missed the point. And the jokes. And then, the point again! The point, hilariously enough, was that incarnating all feminism within your personal self is not possible and crowning a woman as Feminism Incarnate is ridiculous and always untrue. But, good job on the "you're clearly not as feminist as I am, because I am OLD SCHOOL and you are YOUNG AND THEREFORE STUPID" condescension in the last line, there.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  11. Tangoing with Evita wrote:

    @rstetradio: "Writing about whether men find you fuckably feminine even though you're one of those "androgynous nazi ballbusting bitches"? It almost sounds as if you all have bought into the same misogynist bullshit that's been spun for centuries about feminists. Being feminist equals: Ugly, undesirable, looking and acting like a man, blah blah blah. These a just a few of many examples designed to discourage women from fighting for equality, autonomy, and independence (which apparently unbeknownst to some younger generations has not been accomplished yet although slightly improved in some countries) The tactic is attacking womens' self image and self esteem." All of that was THE WHOLE GODDAM POINT of Sady's and Amanda's commentary. That's what I got out of it anyway. Naomi Wolf was the one who "bought into the same misogynist bullshit that's been spun for centuries" but S & A called her out on it using sarcasm and humor rather than being srs bsns. But calling out is calling out is calling out, and calling out they did. Why in holy hell would you object to that? It makes my brain itch.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  12. berryblade wrote:

    You know it always kind of angered me that while a few of the Tomb Raider games actually passed the Bechdel Test, the movie failed fucking miserably. It could have been so fucking sick.
    I've always been in two minds about A.J. And I always hate people/shit/things/WHATEVER I have to be in two minds about.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 12:23 am | Permalink