Here’s to Roseanne’s succinct feminist history lesson that explains in pithy shorthand how historical power dynamics must affect the meaning that is made by a certain event or action: “Boys bullying girls is a step backward. Girls bullying boys is the future.”
Seventeen is actually giving good advice these days. Question: “I masturbate often. Am I normal?” Answer: “Completely normal. And common, too.... You may have heard scary stuff, like masturbating will keep you from enjoying sex with a partner, or other groundless warnings. Don’t be fooled. Nothing bad is going to happen to you—you’re not doing anything wrong, and you’re not strange in the least.” On attracting boys: You can do it without “buying out the entire Victoria’s Secret catalog, getting a nose job, acting like a brainless twit or sleeping around.” You should do stuff like “...speak your mind...be natural...take a compliment...eat,” and, best of all, “Repeat after me: ‘I am worthy. I am worthy.’” They’re even sneaking in a little Feminist Theory 101. On a boyfriend who looks at “pretty girls with sexy clothes” but gets mad when his girlfriend dresses up: “It’s not fair. He seems to believe in the classic ‘virgin or whore’ thing: It’s fine for him to ogle girls who wear sexy clothes, but he wouldn’t want to be with one. He wants you to be done up like Laura Ingalls Wilder—so the other guys won’t check you out. It’s like he thinks you’re his property—a life-size paper doll. Please.” The thought of twelve-year-old girls nationwide absorbing these subversive tidbits makes me tingle with delight.
3rd Rock from the Sun may be a wholly silly show that underuses the comic talents of Jane Curtin and overuses the familiar aliens-on-earth premise for a lot of cheap and obvious gags—but it occasionally hits the nail of pop culture right on its gendered head. On women’s magazines: “They’re pointless. They’re mind-altering. They’re like propaganda for some mad estrogen cult.” And a question: “Speaking of bodies, why is mine [female] so much more high-maintenance than yours [male]?” The reply: “I think the economy relies on it.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
We never thought we’d see a classic of masturbation literature on national tv: on Cybill, when Cybill’s daughter Zoe reveals that she has made a vow of celibacy, Cybill recommends Betty Dodson’s Sex for One.
There’s no real reason why we like this, except that it’s a witty, weird, and wholly unexpected little destabilizing comment, in a Jeep ad, no less: a woman says, “Tonight I’m going to dress up and go dancing—high heels, [pregnant pause] and of course my whip.”
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