Welcome to the third installment of "Ms. Opinionated," Bitch's new advice column, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.
Today: Advice for a woman who wants other feminists to stop dressing so sexy so she can respect them.
Castle is a guilty pleasure for me. I once watched four episodes of the show in a night because it's well-written, witty, and fun—and has some "strong" female characters front and center—so I want to be able to say, just go and watch it right now, don't even bother reading the rest of the post.
But my inner feminist critic has some issues with the show.
You'll recognize the female silhouette that leans against the title on the cover of Ariel Levy's new book, Female Chauvinist Pigs. She's the girl who in recent years has made the move from the mud flaps of big rigs right into pop culture, gracing trucker caps, baby tees, and gold necklaces as an emblem of sexy, empowered womanhood. Or at least that's what she'd like you to believe. But Levy doesn't buy it, and Female Chauvinist Pigs offers her opinions on why this new symbol of postfeminism—the girl gone wild, the party-like-a-porn-star striver, the woman who populates HBO's "educational" reality shows like Cathouse and Pornucopia—isn't nearly as groundbreaking as she thinks she is.
Whether a music writer makes a living marshalling lyrical evidence for supposedly new trends or manufacturing arguments to shore up tired clichés—and whether you applaud women's progress in the musical arena or not—one thing's clear: Women in music, prevalent as they may be, are consistently positioned as an aberration or an exception. Even the phraseology is troublesome: "women in music," "women in rock," and the erstwhile "year of the woman" (thanks for the generosity, guys).
We here at Bitch are in thorough approval of the post-Pulp Fiction Travolta renaissance that has awarded our favorite 1980s cinematic cheese-king some new credibility. Back in our prepubescent days, we wished we could be Olivia Newton-John in Grease, J.T.’s disco-dancing partner in Saturday Night Fever, and Debra Winger in the god-awful Urban Cowboy. Do you have to ask why?
Like some grizzled old-timer sitting on the porch of the homestead talking about the good old days, I think back to the first time I saw MTV and pity the prepubescents of today who didn’t have the luck to see, as I did, the wonder of MTV when it first aired. I was eight years old, alone in my living room, and somehow I knew that I was witnessing a tremendous event: a connection with something that just wasn’t accessible through after-school cartoons or Gilligan’s Island reruns.