Last fall, at a reading for Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, a 50-ish audience member questioned the thirtysomething authors’ ever-so-casual usage of the word “ladies.” To this woman (who turned out to be tireless second-wave activist Laura X, creator of the Women’s History Research Center), the blithe use of “ladies” ran counter to everything she and her generation of feminists had fought for—and against.
But to the authors, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, and their peers, the lady words can spill forth with ironic glee.
I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened, but at some point in my childhood I began to think I was a white guy trapped in the body of a black girl. And not just any white guy, either—a guitar player in a heavy-metal band.
gina gold is a writer and filmmaker who spent five years in San Francisco’s sex industry, starting out as a phone sex operator, then becoming an exotic dancer at the Lusty Lady, the Market Street Cinema, and the Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater. Her first film, Do You Want Me to Stay?, grew out of an autobiographical one-woman show that she wrote, directed, and performed at the Luna Sea theater last spring. She is currently working on The Island of Misfit Toys, a memoir.
ah, movie magic. hollywood always manages to make difficult situations turn out well after two hours—and nowhere is this more apparent than with cinematic treatments of unplanned pregnancy.
Unexpected conceptions occur onscreen with surprising frequency, but filmmakers routinely play it safe, avoiding substantial discussions of a pregnancy’s pros and cons. They keep abortion out of plots and even out of dialogue, ensuring that movies end with a heartwarming birth. Female characters rarely feel any ambivalence about carrying unplanned pregnancies to term—and why should they, when life always works out so perfectly? An unhappy and unwilling dad-to-be will convert to a pro-baby stance in time for a happily-ever-after ending. If mom isn’t too crazy about dad and would prefer to parent by herself, she’ll soon find that single motherhood is a cinch. Although childrearing seems expensive in the real world, money isn’t much of an obstacle for film parents (and made even less of one by the fact that most movies feature middle-class women with plenty of resources).
Imagine the jolt to my feminist sensibilities when I arrived, ready to serve, at the local Taste of the County dinner event and was presented with a plastic apron that had housewife emblazoned under my name. Shame heaped upon humiliation when I noticed—slack-jawed—that a potted plant, needle and thread, and recipe box (!) illustrated the damnable word. I, if the truth had been sought, have no visible gardening skills, find no personal satisfaction at the sewing machine, and sprint from any connection to the culinary arts.
So there we were, ten hooting and hollering women clutching stacks of dollar bills. Well, nine hollerers (you didn’t think I’d call my friends “hooters,” did you?) and one thoughtful, if drunk, young lady. We were at my bachelorette party, and one of the revelers was suffering from a crisis of conscience. “What are your career aspirations?” she asked our friendly tattooed, hardbodied, and completely clean-shaven stripper. “What do you really want to do?” He ignored her question and stuck his g-string-clad package closer to her face.
I didn’t start out in the world a hard-ass, I swear. I was thenice girl, Little Mary Sunshine—turning the other cheek and searching for the good in all people. But you know what finally pushed me over the edge? I’ll sum it up for you in one word: breasts. More specifically, my‑breasts. I am a woman with large breasts—an intelligent woman, horror of horrors. (I mean, brains and‑breasts?
My arm fell asleep, I got so engrossed. This issue of Harper’s Bazaar is about as big as a bible—and just as full of prophecy.
I fall in love with the models, their blackened eyes and plaster pigment, all pinched and compressed into vinyl and leather, looking hot hot hot and totally unfazed. They are the visions of me that I will never see.
Irony of the month: While the Editor’s Letter says, “Shut up and eat,” and bemoans the fact that women are always “self-surveilling” their caloric intake, the mag gives information about: “Aromatrim” products (you smell them and they make you eat less); a new diet pill; “liposhaving” (you can guess what that is).