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What are you smiling about?
Hi, Sexist readers. Welcome to a new daily item, in which I link to the sex-and-gender pieces of note from around the Internets. I’d love to link to what you’re reading, as well; file your suggestions here!
* After writing a diatribe against rape victims that begins “I agree with Alex Knepper,” romance novel reviewer Rachel Potter has resigned from her spot at All About Romance. Potter claimed that a “reading funk” inspired her resignation; romance fans suspect that it actually has more to do with her claims that slutty women cause rapes against chaste women by “teasing men into a frenzied rage,” forcing these men to “vent that rage on a bystander.”
* Amanda Marcotte adds another layer to the discussion of feminine performance-as-labor. In order to conform to the cultural script, women aren’t only required to perform femininity and make that performance appear effortless. They must also take no joy in it:
That fashion is pleasurable for many women is why it’s considered “frivolous”, due to the long-standing cultural belief that if a woman is feeling pleasure, something must have gone wrong. So I look to the cultural pressure to look good to explain why women are stuck in this catch-22, where they’re supposed to shop and pull themselves together, but they’re shamed if they enjoy it. . . . That women insist on taking pleasure in clothes shopping while being shamed over it is admirable. It’s not like the world’s greatest act of bravery to continue applying lipstick after a man snits at you that he prefers “natural” beauty, but it does take self-assurance. (Or, if you want to move up a level of bitch, echo Dolly Parton in “Steel Magnolias”: “There is no such thing as natural beauty.”) I admire the courage of women who say no to beauty standards, but I also admire the women who decide to take audacious pleasure in femininity. Both are rejections of the restraints of femininity, one of the standards themselves, and one of the taboos against women showing their work or taking too much pleasure in it.
I wonder how this keys into the expectation that women smile for men—-are we meant to appear to enjoy performing femininity, but internally take no pleasure in it?
* Alyssa Rosenberg on the emotional space between the music of Madonna and Lady Gaga:
I’ve always thought of Madonna as kind of the Belle Watling of pop, the woman who despite the fact that she’s gotten around a bit, and in fact because of it, understands the euphoria of true love and sexual chemistry. I hope to dance to “Cherish” at my wedding. But while I find a lot of resonance in certain shards of Lady Gaga’s lyrics, she’s working in an emotional photo-negative of a lot of Madonna’s best songs, exploring loneliness, aloneness, heartbreak.
* David Mitchell on the liberal use of the word “empowering”:
Having stumbled upon the word “empowering”, which can be deployed under so many circumstances—-I use it about charging my phone—-they’ve let it trick them into thinking that they’ve framed an argument.
Photo via Zawezome, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0