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Thursday, July 18, 2013

95

Manly Me

When I was twenty I sought out a full-time internship at my favorite men’s magazine.

I killed the interview. I wore my first pencil skirt and sat at a conference table across from four men. I professed my love for their magazine’s ambitious features as well as its wit and bombast, and when they asked about me, I told them about a paper I’d just written on changing Cold War representations of masculinity as seen in the James Bond movies. They asked about my favorites, and I said I preferred the dirty pulp of Ian Fleming’s novels to the movies, which I found watered-down and neutered. I may have actually said “neutered.” I had them laughing: later, the young editor who became my supervisor told me it was the best interview he’d ever seen. My thirty-minute performance as my then-ideal, the girl who acts like a guy but doesn’t look like one, my Walter Matthau-in-a-miniskirt routine, had sold them.

This wasn’t a performance I could sustain. No doubt that editor was confused when I began my work there absent all chutzpah, nervous and anxious to please. I had presented, initially, as someone who pleased by not trying to: the cool girl. My fellow interns were men a year older than I was, out of college. I liked them and envied their laid-back-yet-irascible attitudes, the ideal for male magazine writers. Maybe they were naturally that way, or maybe I was so intimidated by my own inexperience that I only thought so.

Like a lot of women, I didn’t take any women’s studies courses in college because I didn’t believe then that sexism was an issue in my life. I didn’t call myself a feminist either, probably because I thought it would make me less desirable. I had a long-time boyfriend, so this “desirability” was about my self-worth, not practical application. And yet, I was obsessed with the male gaze: I liked the intellectual mirror-trick of looking at men looking at women. At the time, my interests were a bouquet of kitsch-masculinity: James Bond, 60s Playboy, Andrew WK, and horror movies where women were always screaming in nightgowns. I loved this men’s magazine and I loved the fact that I loved it.

That year, I’d been reading about secretly-female pin-up artists who had learned to mimic male fantasy and subtly, subversively tweak it. I was an artist then, and I thought working at this magazine (oh, it’s such a boys’ club, everyone said, which thrilled me) was a little like that—going undercover.

But I was never as ironic as I tried to be. Really, I just wanted to be the girl who got into the boys’ club.

***

The first week, we were given a tour of the magazine. In the art room, a cover shot of a movie star my age was being airbrushed to lad-mag standards. “She has sooo much cellulite,” the designer said, bemoaning the extra trouble she’d caused them. I told that story to my friends later, excited at this little insider nugget (it really is just like the internet says!), but instead of, you know, freeing me from hopeless standards and all that, I bought discount Spanx and started wearing lipstick. Not even a week in, and I’d drunk the Kool-Aid.

It didn’t help that my desk was outside the office of a loud and unpleasant man. Every day he brayed into his phone about his dinner reservations and, in what was essentially an endless game of F-M-K, who should be in the magazine. In the 650-ish hours I spent there, I heard his brisk evaluations of countless famously beautiful women, who was hot (so hot he dropped to sotto voce) and who looked like a dog or a horse or a man. This guy impressed no one—eye-rolling abounded—and yet, in a chiefly heterosexual male environment where women’s relative beauty was discussed constantly, it was impossible for me not to position myself on the spectrum that seemed to hover over every woman who appeared in the office.

There were very few women on the floor, and only two in their twenties. To me, they represented a choice of types: one woman was a tomboy who was always casual and unruffled, sexy but never made up. She had a husky voice and a kind of relaxed swagger. Her name was Jen or something like that. The other woman (I’ll call her Stacy), very nice and friendly to me, wore high heels, eye shadow, and, once, a tight but fluffy white sweater dress. She always looked worried. Jen was in the boys’ club; Stacy was not. I definitely wanted to be a Jen.

The types themselves aren’t important. The thing that’s so discouraging to me now is that I was doing this typing, both to other women and to myself, and that the right answer was the one the boys liked more.

I became simultaneously worried about being pretty enough and being manly enough, a word that’s only sort of a joke, since the magazine was so fixated on it. My boyfriend and I had one of those fungal arguments (it started small, but oh, how it bloomed) about whether I was trying too hard to be one of the guys around his friends. That accusation has three stingers: that telling dirty jokes or playing beer pong equals “being a guy,” that “trying too hard” is actually the gravest error, and that whether I was trying or not, I was definitely, definitely locked out.

The interns did the research for the short regular columns, and we could do it however we liked. I interviewed Annie Sprinkle, Ron Jeremy (people only wanted to talk about his penis, he complained, and so I asked him about his pets), veterinarians, professional rafters, forest rangers, and Pauly Shore, who would only speak through his assistant, who had turned on speakerphone, so everything Pauly said started with “tell her this” and “wait, not that,” and was then repeated by the assistant to preserve the illusion of Pauly’s …something. In most of these conversations, all parties hoped or pretended to be more important to our work than we really were (Annie excepted). I loved to interview people on the phone: I felt smart and useful, and for a few minutes, the FMK spectrum over my head disappeared.

In October, a mid-level editor asked Stacy to compile the “For Her” holiday gift guide. The parameters: an assortment of luxury goods and one set of lingerie. Stacy asked me for help when he rejected all her lingerie choices. After a few more rounds, he explained what he wanted: a hot photo that looked like something they would have shot, since there was no time or budget to shoot anything. The lingerie was just so they had a reason to run such a photo big on the “For Her” gift page. We had been suggesting things we liked—I remember a cashmere bra—but in the end the editor found something himself where the model “worked” for him. Stacy and I had failed, but not at choosing lingerie.

“Would you wear this?” the editor asked when he had found the photo.

Sometimes, your radar is working even if you can’t tell exactly what it’s telling you. In that environment, the line between gross and professional could blur quickly, or else too slowly for you to realize, like a frog in hot water. In wanting to be the girl intern at this men’s magazine, I’d jumped in the pot. Of course I’d expected it to be a sexist environment, I just thought that wouldn’t bother me. You know: “She’s cool.”

The week after, that editor had a contact lens fall out at lunch, and I was chosen to fetch his replacements. That worried me. When I handed him his sack of contacts, he thanked me by noticing me—in theory, all any intern wants.

“What have you done here? Sex, the lingerie beat, and… contacts?”

Sex-n-Errands? “Yep,” I said, too embarrassed to correct him.

He gave me this awful look, a sort of skeptical leer. It was such a small moment, but it was the moment. No, I didn’t like how he’d looked at me, but I was more upset about my own timidity, which I saw as my failure to be a Jen. I’d totally Stacied out. I was definitely not in the boys’ club. It wasn’t until much later, when I wasn’t working there anymore, that I finally got that Jen was not “a Jen” and Stacy was not “a Stacy,” and that maybe that editor’s sexist typing of me wasn’t any worse than my own. And that’s the moment I remember as the beginning my own feminism, though it took a while to jell.

This isn’t to lump together all the men at that magazine—many were great—or to suggest that I was trampled in some hog-call of cigar-smoking pigs in velvet jackets. What I learned working at a men’s magazine in college is that I had so deeply internalized sexism that I didn’t see it even when it was looking right at me from all directions: that sometimes, those eyes were the only eyes that I’d see.

To want to break into the boys’ club because it is a boys’ club, you have to believe that it’s worth breaking into. Like the fantasy of taming a wild animal or having the meanest dog on the block or dating men who don’t like women very much, the promise of earned entrance to a boys’ club is that you will feel chosen, exceptional: you are not like the others. You have transcended your gender. And you have done this not because you think your gender shouldn’t matter as much as it does, but because you think the boys' club must be better than any of the clubs that will have you. You know, like Groucho said.

That one took a long time to unlearn.

***

The art project I’d planned (brace yourself) had been to secretly make copies from the magazine cover archives that I would then draw on panes of glass using etching fluid, which I would tint white and not wash off. I may have offered my teacher some lofty idea about ghosts and memory or some bullshit, but this was about me, as a young woman, drawing sexy women in a medium that would look like dripping jizz.

“Jesus,” my beloved artist mentor—a laid-back-yet-irascible man in his sixties—said. “You’re working where?” He started laughing and he could not stop.

When I was a little kid, my dad used to take me to Hooters for lunch on the weekends. Once, we arrived while a waitress was scrubbing the big windows outside. When they’d come in that morning, she said, there was a strange goo all over the windows. “Like raw chicken juice,” she said, scrunching her nose. I think that’s where I got the idea for the etchings.

Rebecca Scherm is over it.



95 Comments / Post A Comment

frigwiggin

"To want to break into the boys’ club because it is a boys’ club, you have to believe that it’s worth breaking into."

Paging anyone and everyone who's ever read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

mjrussell

@frigwiggin

Oh Frankie Landau-Banks. I discovered that book the very week I was elected to the otherwise completely male executive board of a quasi-secret society. The similarities were remarkable, but I wish I'd had the guts to re-decorate all the portraits with lacy lingerie.

Karen Healey@twitter

@frigwiggin FRANKIE. I loved that book. I read a critique which pointed out Frankie isn't exactly feminist in the sense of aiding all women, either - her attentions are focused on the boys, and she wants to mess them up more than she wants to point out to the other girls in school HOW screwed up this boys only club is.

But I think that, while that's true of Frankie, what is happening with the book's readers is exactly that process of "Look at this shit. Do you really want to be part of THIS club?"

granny squares

@frigwiggin YES, perfect example. I agree with Karen and the critique, but I must say, I loved how that book ended.

frigwiggin

Also, I've never read a James Bond novel, but I remember reading an excerpt that was describing a woman's "arrogant breasts," so there's that.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@frigwiggin

"Those others, they know nothing! They wouldn't deserve this cashmere bra!"

fondue with cheddar

@frigwiggin Her breasts may be arrogant, but at least her uterus isn't deranged.

Daisy Razor

@frigwiggin I would love to have arrogant breasts. I think mine are just vaguely condescending.

fondue with cheddar

@Daisy Razor I would love to have condescending breasts. Mine are just descending.

Citizen Christy

I loved this. Nothing more articulate or clever to say.

hallelujah

OH I LIKE THIS A LOT.

Scandyhoovian

This is good and I like it!

stonefruit

This. This right here, this was great. So wonderful!

KJZ
KJZ

I'm a lady editor at a men's magazine. I just sent this around to the 2 other lady editors so we can talk about it together, which will be fun. I really enjoyed this, and my experience is in many ways similar. Especially this passage:

"It wasn’t until much later, when I wasn’t working there anymore, that I finally got that Jen was not “a Jen” and Stacy was not “a Stacy,” and that maybe that editor’s sexist typing of me wasn’t any worse than my own. And that’s the moment I remember as the beginning my own feminism, though it took a while to jell."

Thanks Rebecca!

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@KJZ
Is that really how you spell "jell"? I would've spelled it "gel" like "gelatinous." THE MORE YOU KNOOOOOOOOOOOOW

meetapossum

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll They're the same! Reference.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@meetapossum
Awesome. Thanks!

rebecca the brave

@KJZ Yeah, I just wasn't there yet. I know amazing lady writers and editors and other -ers who work in male-to-male media, and I just didn't have the sense of self to do that yet! I envy women who found that confidence earlier than I did, not to be "unique" but to just be your damn self already. When you're young, I think that can feel impossible.

annejumps@twitter

@meetapossum I was wondering the same thing and would have used "gel," but good to know.

bocadelperro

Perhaps not as intensely as going to work for a Lad mag, but I had a bunch of similar insights between 19 and 25 that served to remove the scales from my eyes when I went to graduate school in a male-dominated field. This article brought all those feelings back. Thanks for this.

Hot Doom

This WAS really good!

But yeah, per the tag, that cashmere bra is relevant to my interests.

j-i-a

@Hot Doom GIMME DAT BRAAAA

rebecca the brave

@Hot Doom You guys, this was a million years ago and I think the bra no longer exists. But here's what I CAN give you: Ron Jeremy had an old tortoise named Cherry, and sometimes the airlines made it difficult for them to travel together.

j-i-a

@rebecca the brave CHERRY

Faintly Macabre

@Hot Doom When I worked in consignment, we had a cashmere Juicy sweatsuit--pants, hoodie--at a surprisingly decent price (around $80 for the whole thing, I think). It was way too small for me to even try it on, but I still daydream about it.

Hot Doom

@Faintly Macabre Oh man. Yeah, I actually bought a pair of cashmere sweatpants that appeared last year in Jane's bargain bin (JANE!) and they were glorious, but...I had to send them back because I was dirt broke and really, I just wanted to try on some cashmere sweatpants and couldn't justify it. BUT! A braaaa. I could justify the shit out of a cashmere bra.

Faintly Macabre

@Hot Doom Really, I just want an entire cashmere outfit for hermitting in my house--socks, pants, underwear?, bra, sweater, hat, blanket, pillows... All I have right now are gloves and a giant thrifted sweater. Which is probably good, because otherwise I might never leave my house.

Hot Doom

@Faintly Macabre A cashmere body sock. A sleeping bag of cashmere. That is what I want.

Faintly Macabre

@Hot Doom But those wouldn't touch every inch of skin at all times like an entire cashmere outfit would! They should start offering cashmere massages, where you lie by a fire on a cashmere blanket and are rubbed with a cashmere...person? I would consider getting over my hatred of massages for such a thing.

Megasus

@Hot Doom I think true luxury might be a cashmere underwear set.

Sella Turcica

@Megasus http://www.barneys.com/Kiki-de-Montparnasse-Luxe-Cashmere-Bralette/502882533,default,pd.html?utm_source=Hy3bqNL2jtQ&utm_medium=affiliate&siteID=Hy3bqNL2jtQ-IeobCUhKJarbksNIFKxNpQ
It's $550. It does seem very luxurious.

RNL
RNL

@Hot Doom I have a cashmere bathrobe, which is kind of similar. My boyfriend was so jealous I eventually bought him one. I'm bougie like that.

Rozebekistan

@Hot Doom I give this the heartiest of thumbs up. Bougie AND badass!

C_Webb

@Hot Doom CASHMERE SLANKET.

[sic]

@Faintly Macabre A cashmere person like this guy?

itiresias

rock on gurl.

i was forever branded the "chill girl" in groups of dudes in high school and college, and although i bemoaned it and made fun of the repeated term, it took me until the end of that era to realize it was really fucked up for me to ever like it - which i did, because it allowed me to avoid the other extremes, of being a "slut" or a "dyke". no part of that situation deserves to be awarded any pride.

mystique

@itiresias this is so fascinating to me, because I never slipped into this problem. I had some guy friends, but I was really desperate for good, solid friendship anywhere I could find it, but particularly girls. I just figured I was too unattractive for guy friends and too weird for girl friends.

Also, I think this article points out one of the main ways women in American culture come into feminism. Personally, I came into it from a POC/queer POV.

mystique

@mystique Stupid browser won't let me edit...I don't mean to denigrate this feminism! I just never tried to be one of the guys because as a lady of color (or maybe just because I was a huge nerd), I never felt I had that option.

j-i-a

@itiresias I've been thinking about this a lot since reading Rebecca's essay for the first time. I dig her thing about the boys' club and get what you're saying 100% but I wonder; it must be possible, or at least I hope it's possible, to be a chill girl in a group of guy friends organically, because of shared interests or sense of humor or just personality or whatever, without the driving psychological force being a subconscious, churning pool of internalized sexism.

At least I hope it is? This is a personal thing for me: I am an open raging feminist, I love my girlfriends deeply and will call a dude out in a second for whatever, but I have always had a sort of girl-among-bros element to at least a few parts of my life, and I don't have to and certainly wouldn't put up with any shit to be "in the club," and I really want to defend the possibility that a girl can be a non-shat-on Dee to a group of non-crazy Dennis/Charlie/Macks, and feel fine about it, and not worry that she's doing it at the expense of her self-actualization or the respect of other women. I also think it's a bit of a disservice to guys to say that they would only like a girl in their midst if she's down to be a specific type of object for them, right?

mystique

@j-i-a Well that definitely happens! But I think only when everyone involved isn't performing the "cool girl" dance and isn't characterizing the one girl's behavior as the "cool girl." A group like that probably wouldn't notice it, full stop. I mean, Hermione's best friends are both boys!

j-i-a

@mystique HERMIONE! Yung Feminist for the ages.

j-i-a

@mystique I guess the core of what I'm thinking is that this is often set up as a mutually exclusive or at least oppositional scenario (not by you! and not even in real life, just every now and again in the way this is framed on paper, really? and also I'm just thinking aloud): either you choose to be an Ally of Women or an Ally of Men; either you're pretending to like football and suggestively licking the sauce off hot wings, or you're embracing the power of female friendship. I understand the importance of an either/or setup--if it's either/or for anyone, I'd surely want to pick the side that does not abnegate my own identity and social positioning--but I don't think it has to be (or even is) like that.

rebecca the brave

@j-i-a I think the key is in "organically." I've always had close friends of both genders, including some very dudely dudes, but this was at a super weird time in my life where I was like, okay, I'm supposed to be a grown-ass woman, what does that look like? And instead of, you know, enhancing my critical faculties while chilling the fuck out, I decided to experiment in being this mythical cool-girl type-- which is only myth when it is type.

Linette

@j-i-a I agree that it doesn't have to be like that, and what makes it not like that is largely your own personal internal process for deciding why you want to hang with this crowd of people. If you want to hang with these people because they are cool, and they happen to be boys, rock on. But if you want to hang with these people because they are cool and also because they are boys and you think boys are inherently cooler than girls and you are cooler, as a person, if boys like you than if girls like you, there is a problem.

The result is the same - you have a posse of cool friends - but I think this article really shows how your internal reasons for choosing those friends are a pretty good indicator of whether or not you have drunk the Kool-Aid.

j-i-a

@rebecca the brave "only myth when it is type" is a great way of putting it, and your critical faculties are sharp as whatever the opposite of a cashmere bra is. Also HEY GIRL WHATTUP I love this essay also you should come to the Last Word tomorrow at 7:30 because there's going to be a Hairpin gathering

Faintly Macabre

@Linette I think that the false choice between those two things--either have only girl friends or be a poseur (poseuse?) girl among guys is also based on sexism, since it also assumes that guys are so very different from girls that one or both sides need incentives to hang out with each other. From what I've seen, girls can also have genuine friendships with mostly guys while still holding sexist attitudes about it or liking being the only girl in the group. (Which is not remotely to say that all or most of them do!)

baked bean

@Linette "but I think this article really shows how your internal reasons for choosing those friends are a pretty good indicator of whether or not you have drunk the Kool-Aid."
Yeaaahh!
I would say my friends are half-and-half right now. One of my bffs who is male was noticing that he has lately been hanging out with all girls (that includes me) completely on accident. I pointed out that a couple of months ago I was the only girl in our group outings usually. I like my friends.
In my younger days I was very concerned with being one of the guys. It was dumb, but I think we all go through that at some point before we're old enough to figure out that for our friends to be real we have to be real too.

Linette

@Faintly Macabre I think we're saying the same thing? I was saying that if you choose to be friends with guys because you happen to like those particular guys, this is a different choice than if you choose to be friends with guys both because you like them and you think that guys are inherently a better choice than girls.

Girls can indeed have genuine friendships with guys while simultaneously having an ulterior motive for being friends with them. Having been one of the girls who thought I was cooler because the guys liked me, I remained friends with all those guys after I stopped being ridiculous about my attitude toward one gender being better than the other. They were still good guys, and we still had a good friendship - I was just less Kool-Aided about whether their gender made them cooler than me.

Being friends with cool people of either gender is an excellent comment on one's worth as a person. Worthy people think you are worthy = excellent. But deciding that people are worthy of judging your worthiness simply by virtue of having a penis is some problematic logic.

CaddyFdot

@Linette "Having been one of the girls who thought I was cooler because the guys liked me, I remained friends with all those guys after I stopped being ridiculous about my attitude toward one gender being better than the other. They were still good guys, and we still had a good friendship - I was just less Kool-Aided about whether their gender made them cooler than me."

This! I am still close to the guys I was close to freshman year of college, only now it's not tainted with my thoughts about how that made me better than other girls. Later in college and in the decade since then I have accumulated a set of really wonderful lady friends, and learned so much from intelligent discussion about and by strange ladies on the internet that I can no longer buy the idea that dudes > ladies and that dude friendship and acceptance means more than the friendship and acceptance of women.

Beaks

@j-i-a I had not really thought about it before, but my friends group in high school was about 50-50 girls and guys. This was largely facilitated by the fact that the majority of the group spent at least some portion of high school as band nerds and that several of us took the bus together. There was a various amount of in-group dating, but I actually can't remember thinking there was anything particularly unique about our mixed gender friendships. They were just the people I hung out with. I think my friendships are more gendered now than they were then, which is interesting.

Faintly Macabre

@Linette Oh, I wasn't trying to contradict you at all! I just replied to you because we were saying similar things. I guess replying to jia would have been at least as relevant. But I totally agree with you.

sophia_h

Popping in late to this thread, but I'm reminded of my younger sister's problems with a social group recently -- she has nerd interests, mostly gaming, and tends to have a lot of guy friends. With this group, she immediately ran into problems with the one other girl the guys were already friends with, because the girl clearly wanted to be The Girl. She refused to be friendly with my sister and actively competed with her, trying to keep "her" guys' attention, and I think eventually my sister just had to shrug and move on to other friends because of it. Sad, and definitely not uncommon in the nerd community, where being in the boys club is like the ultimate approval for insecure nerd girls.

Ellie

@rebecca the brave I like the point about "organically." I will never be "chill," I'm not a "chill" person, so there would be no point in trying to seem that way.

Not being competitive with other women is actually something I really struggle with. I don't like this quality about myself but it's definitely there. I'm absolutely not the kind of person who disdains "girl drinks" and only has male friends and follows stereotypical guy interest and goes around saying that other women are all bitchy and competitive. I have multiple close female friends (I do have WAY more male not-that-close friends than female - I did a data analysis of all the contacts in my phone to demonstrate this conclusively) and I like girl stuff and am totally secure in that. But women I'm not friends with I just instinctively feel super competitive with, I fear more than the average person is. I immediately assess whether I'm prettier, smarter, more interesting, like the second I walk into a party I am comparing myself to all the other women there. It's such an unattractive quality and I'm not sure how to stop doing it.

melis

@j-i-a WHY DOESN'T HERMIONE HAVE ANY FEMALE FRIENDS JIA

_explain yourself chill one_

T A@twitter

@melis She does. She's friends with Ginny. She doesn't have many friends, though. Harry and Ron are the only people in her year that like her, and they only hang out with her because of the troll incident.

j-i-a

@melis "The true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women.” -Hermione Granger

itiresias

@Linette wish i checked back on this thread on thursday. however, i think a lot of this conversation boils down to a shared sense of how important it is to be genuine in your friendships - which seems obvious, and of course the people you hang out with would be the people you like the most, regardless of outside factors. what i meant with my original post was that although at this point in my life, i do think i do that and i don't give a shit about anything about a person, other than their attitude, when i was younger there was definitely a part of me that was proud of getting into the boys' club, because it made me feel safe from scrutiny that i would watch other girls endure. and that's what makes me look back and cringe.

that said, i've always been extremely lucky to have really quality men in my life, from my dad to my close friends, and they've been used to my feminist rants for years, and generally agree with them. there are great women in my life, as well, although my best girlfriends are scattered across the country at this point, which is why this hits home for me.

Rubyinthedust

it took me way too long to realize these things. everything in this was very well said.

mbmargarita

Wait, tell me more about these subversive female pin-up artists! The other stuff is great too, but you can't just throw that out there and leave me thirsting for more like this...

meowmischen

@mbmargarita I think she might be talking about this! It was posted here a while back. (not this particular article obviously, but its subjects)
http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/female-artists-who-shaped-the-american-dream-girl/

rebecca the brave

@metatronmeow Ahh, yeah! The CW article would have saved me a lot of trouble back then.

annejumps@twitter

@metatronmeow omg I love this article

Clara Morena

Soo much feels.

Right now, I am resentful at my coworkers most of whom are ex-Navy men. But instead I became this sweet docile girl who does everything she is told and keeps her mouth shut.

"To want to break into the boys’ club because it is a boys’ club, you have to believe that it’s worth breaking into. "
This +10000 A lot of people are not aware of the amount of garbage you have to deal with you have to break into the boy's club.

Jaya

"Like the fantasy of taming a wild animal or having the meanest dog on the block or dating men who don’t like women very much, the promise of earned entrance to a boys’ club is that you will feel chosen, exceptional: you are not like the others. You have transcended your gender."

Still unlearning this...

klemay

This one's hitting a little too close to home... I used to be Not Like Those Other Girls, until I realized that Other Girls are awesome and there's nothing wrong with saying "fuck you" to the boys' club and surrounding myself with strong, smart women.

Melusina

This was great. Also, I was thinking, a cashmere bra? Really? This is a thing people want? And then no less than 2 people in the comments plus the amazing tag. Clearly I lack imagination.

themegnapkin

@Melusina I'm with you. It sounds . . . too sweaty.

keristars

@themegnapkin and itchy.

horribly, terribly itchy. on my boobs. why would anyone want that?

(I seem to be one of those freaks of nature who is allergic to any kind of wool. When I worked at The Limited in the mid 2000s, every time we got the wool and cashmere in September, I would start sneezing five times as often, and my eyes would always be red, and so would my hands. And then by the time December came around, all the fuzz in the air made breathing a hassle. Blech. Thank goodness I live in Florida, where we don't actually need wool to stay warm.)

Linette

This. This so hard. This was a PERFECT 'Pin article, and it so perfectly explains the slow realization that sexism is an entity entirely separate from men. It's perpetuated by men and women but it's not (exactly) CAUSED by men and women. It's a beast unto itself.

I think my absolute favorite part about this was that there is a clear distinction between people who are being sexist unwittingly (still a huge problem) and people who are sexist AND assholes. Because I think we have a problem identifying sexism when the person being sexist is a nice person. This article does such a good job of distinguishing between sexist behavior that permeates every bit of our culture, and asshole behavior, which is an individual problem.

EM87

This piece reminded me in the best way of Molly Lambert's excellent writing on boys' clubs for This Recording. Two thumbs up A+++++

rebecca the brave

@ponymalta That piece is amazing-- thank you for pointing me to it. Also funny, because I think it was Season 6 of Mad Men that got me thinking about all this stuff again. Peggy, obvs.

EM87

@rebecca the brave Peggy in her plaid pant-suit at the end of Season 6, drinking at Don's desk = GOLD.

mlle.gateau

@rebecca the brave PEGGY. Oh, God, Peggy.

Gulfie

Rebecca Scherm your website header also looks kind of like jizz! Is this intentional? Is jizz just an overarching theme in your life?

rebecca the brave

@Gulf of Finland OH MY GOD NOOOOOooooo

iceberg

This was great, and recognizable. I think many of us have tried to be some type of girl we weren't to impress The Boys.

Mae
Mae

This is excellent.

My question now, though, is: what do you do when you no longer want to be the chill girl in a boys' club, but you find yourself working in a boys' club?

rebecca the brave

@Mae http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/04/15-best-gifs-of-peggy-olsen-leaning-in-hard.html

melis

UNBRIDLED AND GLEEFUL MISANDRY

carolita

There was a time when I wanted to have my cartoons in Playboy. I thought I was cool enough for that. Then I saw their copyright and exclusivity terms. They want your copyright and licensing rights forever and in the whole Universe. So, the defense of artistic and intellectual property trumped my stupidity.

mush

Excellent writing. Loved this.

harebell

This article also articulates my least favorite thing ever about teaching and mentoring undergrad women: the fact that most of them haven't realized yet that sexism still exists, because they haven't spent a lot of time in the working world yet, and so it is very hard to talk about it if it comes up.

I used to have the most terrible time wanting wanting them to have empathy for what came up in novels instead of criticizing/acting like it was irrelevant to them, or wanting in moments of mentoring to warn them or give them scripts for dealing with bad shit that might happen in the workplace. Now I know they will probably just judge me for thinking that sexism might possibly apply to them too (imagine!) and forget whatever I say other than the judging, so I just shut up unless one of them asks me directly. but it's a shame.

Judith Slutler

@harebell I would definitely say (as a young woman in a field where the generation before me has battered the shit out of the glass ceilings, but mine is also still fighting)... don't be afraid to plant that seed. Even if you have to cloak it in anecdotes about the "bad old days" or pointing out that those things in novels are hard to understand if you've never been there, but that at the time the novels were written, it was extremely important for authors to write them down.

I got myself into an internship where my concerns and the concerns of my female supervisor literally were not addressed until I CRIED about them. Plus, I caught a senior partner yelling at our cleaning lady in that "you will understand this foreign language better if I scream at you" type of way, calmly called him out on it, and got ignored by him for a week. And suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head - "oh that's what my professor was trying to say when she talked about entrenched power structures and used a powerpoint of famous white male architects Making Decisions as her visual aid." I didn't opt to renew my contract at that internship.

rebecca the brave

@harebell I teach college freshman too now, and I see that same heartbreaking discomfort-- the shifting in seats, looking at the window-- if I say anything about sexist assumptions (even that they exist. Sometimes I want to say "That discomfort you're feeling that I'm talking about this? That means it's a problem." But I think college can be too "in the pot" to feel the water, and you don't always see what is happening in the moment until you look at it later, so I try to plant that seed for (much) later.

sophia_h

@harebell Also college freshmen are generally trying to be as grown-up and assimilated into college as fast as they can, which means getting boys to like them, which means denying there's anything wrong with doing stuff to get boys to like them or that there could be anything more important than that. Basically they are very quickly picking up the screwed-up values of the college social environment, which is one that is pretty deeply antithetical to adult feminism, so they're in the worst possible place to hear and understand anything about sexism...yet.

C_Webb

@harebell I also had a roomful of students this week (high school college-prep summer course at the university where I teach), and apparently racism is over too.

Yes. Students sat and had a conversation. This week. THIS WEEK. About racism being "a problem a long time ago."

The End.

Judith Slutler

@C_Webb At least the last week has provided you with an excellent mini-reading list for them? :/

datalass

@harebell Seconding what Judith Slutler said about planting the seed. About a decade ago, I worked with a woman who told me a lot about the institutionalized sexism she'd witnessed. And, honestly, I thought she was a bit paranoid. But I heard her. And, later, when I started accumulating my own experiences with it, I thought of her and it reminded me that what was happening 1) wasn't my fault and 2) wasn't limited to me .

HaughtyTotty

Fathers, don't take your young daughters to Hooters. Just don't. It ain't helping. Unless you're also taking them to Peckers for equal-opportunity gazing.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I guess I just don't understand why a dad would? I mean, the chicken wings might be good (I don't know, that's just what I hear), but everyone knows the dad is going because he's getting a boner at the women working there. It's...not rocket science? Imagine what it would do to a girl: you should look like this, because people like your dad want sex women like this.

Diana

It was mentioned in the comments above but nobody linked to the best essay on boys clubs ever by Molly Lambert:

http://thisrecording.com/today/2011/2/22/in-which-we-teach-you-how-to-be-a-woman-in-any-boys-club.html

E. Dimples

I really, really loved this.

And "[l]ike a lot of women, I didn’t take any women’s studies courses in college because I didn’t believe then that sexism was an issue in my life. I didn’t call myself a feminist either, probably because I thought it would make me less desirable." So familiar. And the advantage of finally going back years later when you realize that, in fact, sexism is an issue in your life and it's perfectly fine to call yourself a feminist, in fact that you should be proud to call yourself one. At least, that was my experience.

othersfirst

Nice posting others first really like such posts

nill lee

Hot Doom You guys, this was a million years ago and I think the bra no longer exists. But here's what I CAN give you: Ron Jeremy had an old tortoise named Cherry, and sometimes the airlines made it difficult for them to travel together.

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