The Clare Spark Blog

February 13, 2016

“…a pretty face….”

WSJ March, 2016 – Women’s Style

WSJgirls002The last few days in the 2016 campaign have seen an increase in the chatter about feminism, mostly focused on the gap between Millennial young women and [relics] from the feminism as it is imagined to have existed in the second wave of “feminism” in the 1970s.

Even the Washington Post has taken notice, starting a new series on “New Wave Feminism” (http://link.washingtonpost.com/public/6095592), while right-leaning Fox News Channel invited Harvard Crimson staffer Molly Roberts to represent the Ivy Millennials in an evaluation of the same subject. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-2016-young-women-gender-213620. Ms. Roberts, close to scowling during the entire segment, is apparently unaware that the second wave feminists of the 1970s came out of the antiwar movement, and were equally “anti-racist” and “anti-imperialist.” (Some were right-wing social democrats, while many were communists.)

The media have been equally ignorant of 60s-70s politics. Gloria Steinem has been castigated for stating (jokingly) that the millennial girls are simply “going where the boys are.” Persons of my age will remember that the antiwar demonstrations were a magnet for protesters of both genders looking for hook-ups. Indeed Steinem got lots of publicity because of her glamour and well-known connections with powerful males in publishing.

Also making news this week was Madeline Albright, consigning non-Hillary Clinton supporters to eternal damnation in hell. What this signaled to me was the moralism of both “Left” and “Right.” Meanwhile, fashion magazine of the Wall Street Journal today has reduced to sexual objects even the “privileged” women who can afford the major designers.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz had to pull a political ad directed against Marco Rubio because the production company failed to vet a “soft porn” actress (Amy Lindsay), whose chief line was that it was foolish to trust “a [lying] pretty face.” Nobody in the press noticed that this was a slap against an allegedly effeminate Rubio.

So much for progress in gender relations: “plus ça change….”

July 6, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Decision and the War on Women

silencedwomanThree events prompt this blog today: 1. Last night I saw the much praised “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for the first time (out of anxiety in watching a fiercely antagonistic marriage told through an existentialist lens?); 2. There was a Masters of Sex marathon in preparation for the second season starting next Sunday on Showtime; and 3. One of the panelists on Fox News Sunday predicted that Democrats would benefit from the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision, one that upheld the right of businesses to withhold abortifacients from their employees in the cause of “religious liberty.” This blog is definitely NOT about government forcing pro-life advocates to provide free contraception/abortifacients.

Start with Lizzy Caplan’s character “Virginia Johnson”—a witty and streetwise young woman “ahead of her time” as the show is set in the repressed 1950s, and the bohemian Virginia (a divorced ex-singer with a swing band and mother of two children) is a model of sexual freedom, outspokenness, an advocate for “women’s health”, and a reluctance to commit to bourgeois marriage. (The women’s health argument is currently featured in the talking points of liberal feminists reacting with shock and anger at the Hobby Lobby 5-4 decision.)

Which reminds me: numerous professionals on current television series are depicted as monomaniacally devoted to their professions, and wary of marital commitments (both “Alicia Florrick” and the late “Will Gardner” on The Good Wife, “ “Dr. Katherine Black” and her doctor lover on Black Box, “Olivia Benson” on Law and Order: SVU, “Meghan Draper” on Mad Men, and even “Olivia Pope” on Scandal. Is it any accident that married women or “male feminists” created most of these shows?

I have written numerous blogs criticizing the focus on sexuality to the exclusion of the context in which sex happens or doesn’t happen; I have also written about “the family” as the site of strife and even bondage—a point that is obscured by political rhetoric deploying the rhetoric of heterosexual family unity either to buttress collectivist ideology, or to fend off the decadence and poverty that conservatives attribute to illegitimate birth and mother-headed (usually minority) families.

I have also written extensively about misogyny, a neglected subject in defenses of male homosexuality, even as male critics praise film noir as their favorite genre, a genre that gloried in representations of the “femme fatale,” carrying forth the stereotype of the terrifying “woman with book” (as Leo Steinberg called her, in one of his popular lectures: I believe that the newly literate woman is one of the monsters inhabiting the Tory imagination: Woman as Jew of the Home). (See https://clarespark.com/2011/04/27/james-m-cains-gorgon-gals-2/, retitled “Film Noir decoded”.)

Also on this website, I have emphasized developments in the diagnoses of mental health problems, both aligning with and opposing the anti-psychiatry movement. I should have mentioned more frequently that individual psychiatry is no substitute for family therapy—a field that presumably closely examines how individuals in families relate to one another—or fail utterly owing to underdevelopment of the emotions in our supposedly “modern” society. Such family or couples therapy presumably avail themselves of attachment theory.

But most to the point, I have criticized the omnipresent, belabored usage of the phrase “hard work” especially as the key to achieving “the American Dream.” The subject of women’s labor in the home, with or without male participation, is rarely treated with the respect and caution it deserves: surely the second wave feminists were often on the lam and only partly deserved my scorn.

In one of my favorite episodes of Masters of Sex, Lizzy Caplan (“Virginia Johnson”) sings “You Don’t Know Me”—either a conventional love song about a triangle, or an ironic comment on a doctor lover who wants to tie her down, while her heart remains with another. She is in a booth in an amusement park, with the (temporary) boyfriend and her children looking fondly at her while she warns them through music not to presume anything about the content of her inner thoughts. (For the entire clip see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjfQwNXSfgo.) We have always lived in hierarchies, whatever the pretensions of democratic “egalitarianism” may be. Let those higher up in the food chain beware: You don’t know me/us.

As I have said over and over, “hierarchies breed deceit.” The Woman Question may never go away; in any case, the women’s vote may well decide the next series of elections. And it will be about sexual freedom. (For my explanation of “sexual freedom” see https://clarespark.com/2014/07/08/what-is-sexual-freedom/)

Image (84)-001

December 2, 2012

Index to sadomasochism blogs

Bondage dress: Rolling Stone 1992

Bondage dress: Rolling Stone 1992

When I first studied the Sadomasochism Collection at UCLA, I viewed S-M as a perversion, but also the sexual expression of besieged middle management, given impossible tasks, and aspiring to the position of second-in-command (like mothers). Now it is mainstream and considered by some to be therapy, for instance the new Bondage club at Harvard University. But most strikingly, the world wide success of Fifty Shades of Grey is indicative of widespread interest in what was once considered to be a shameful perversion. I now view S-M as  indicative of patterns of obedience throughout pseudo-democratic institutions.

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/25/the-ultimate-s-m-humiliation/ (Men chained to women’s work)

https://clarespark.com/2009/11/07/dream-girl/ (Linda Darnell, silenced and constricted)

https://clarespark.com/2009/07/13/eros-and-the-middle-manager-s-m-with-implications-for-multiculturalism/ [revised and updated 2-15-2015]

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/15/the-christianization-of-ziva-david-ncis/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/21/managerial-psychiatry-jung-henry-a-murray-and-sadomasochism-1/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/21/managerial-psychiatry-jung-murray-and-sadomasochism-2/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/22/managerial-psychiatry-jung-henry-a-murray-and-sadomasochism-3/

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/24/murdered-by-the-mob-moral-mothers-and-symbolist-poets-2/

https://clarespark.com/2011/11/17/blood-meridian-and-the-deep-ecologists/

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/21/huck-finn-and-the-well-whipped-child/

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/31/the-numbers-game/ (and the decline of magic)

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/31/censorship-bohemia-and-the-big-sleep/ (photo of vagina dentate vampire shoes)

https://clarespark.com/2013/01/17/bondage-and-the-family/

https://clarespark.com/2015/02/14/fifty-shades-of-romantic-necrophilia/

cat o' nine tails

November 7, 2009

Dream Girl: Linda Darnell corseted twice

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 7:53 pm
Tags: , ,
Image (84)

Linda Darnell corseted and silenced, S-M Collection

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.