Thursday, 3 June 2010

Women Beware Women

Recently, my attention was drawn to a review of the new Sex and the City movie by critic Lindy West. To say I was disgusted would be an understatement. Lindy pulls off a rather special feat here - this may be the first ever time I've read a review condemning a film for alleged sexism by use of outright and appalling misogyny. I won't be reviewing the actual film as I've not seen it and I don't have any strong feelings either way on the franchise but I was so angered by the review, I thought I'd review that instead. Or at least offer a little constructive criticism, free of charge. Original review reprinted below, my comments in red.

We've been thinking it for two long years. All of us. Gnawing our cheeks at night, clutching at sweaty sheets, our faces hollow and gray, our once-bright eyes dimmed by the pain of too many questions. Sometimes we cry out, en masse, to a faceless god and a cold, indifferent universe that holds its secrets close. What... rasps the death rattle of our collective sanity. What is the lubrication level of Samantha Jones's 52-year-old vagina?Has the change of life dulled its sparkle? Do its aged and withered depths finally chafe from the endless pounding, pounding, pounding—cruel phallic penance demanded by the emotionally barren sexual compulsive from which it hangs? If I do not receive an update on the deep, gray caverns of Jones, I shall surely die! Where to start? I suppose Lindy thinks older women should be seen and not heard? And heaven forbid they should be heard talking about the menopause, the effects of which some women can actually find very upsetting, and whom might benefit from hearing other women talk unashamedly about her experiences. Even worse that they might *gasp* STILL HAVE SEX. FYI Lindy, being a woman and actively pursuing a sex life does not make you an "emotionally barren sexual compulsive". But hey, why let that get in the way of demonising women who are in control of their bodies? Here's my handy tip: read He's A Stud, She's A Slut by Jessica Valenti. I think you'll find it a revelation. And another FYI, 52 is not exactly ancient, so you might want to re-think "aged and withered", ffs.

Please don't die. The answer is... fine. Samantha's vagina is doing fine. She rubs yams on it, okay? She takes 48 vagina vitamins a day. It accepts unlimited male penises with the greatest of ease. Now let us never speak of it again. Vagina vitamins! More sexual shaming! Someone call for the doctor, my sides appear to have split.

Sex and the City 2 makes Phyllis Schlafly look like Andrea Dworkin. Or that super-masculine version of Cynthia Nixon that Cynthia Nixon dates. Or, like, Ralph Nader (wait, bad example—Schlafly totally does look like Ralph Nader in a granny wig).SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human—working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it's my job—and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car. It is 146 minutes long, which means that I entered the theater in the bloom of youth and emerged with a family of field mice living in my long, white mustache. This is an entirely inappropriate length for what is essentially a home video of gay men playing with giant Barbie dolls. But I digress. Let us start with the "plot." Lindy sounds like she's about to come out as a feminist here, but that can't be right, as no feminist would belittle rape and the experiences of rape survivors by likening a film to being "raped" with a shoe. Most feminists don't go in for casual homophobia either, but that hasn't put Lindy off her "gay men playing with Barbie dolls" analogy. Cos gay men are all effeminate, geddit?!

Carrie Bradshaw: At the end of the first SATC movie (2008)—after eleventy decades of chasing his emotionally abusive jowls through the streets of Manhattan—Carrie finally marries Mr. Big, the man of her shallow, self-obsessed dreams. It has now been two years since their nuptials. Carrie already hates it. She hates that he sits on the couch. She hates that he eats noodles out of a take-out box. She hates that he wants to spend quality time with her in their incredibly expensive and gaudy apartment. She hates that he bought her an enormous television. When Big suggests that they spend a couple of days a week in separate apartments (they own TWO apartments, because life is hard!), Carrie screeches, "Is this because I'm a bitch wife who nags you?" Congratulations. You have answered your own question.

Miranda Redhairlawyerface: Miranda is a lawyer who has red hair. She also has a child. As a working woman, Miranda is forced to miss every single one of her child's incessant science fairs (as though children know anything of science!). Also, her lawyer boss is a cartoon dick. Miranda quits her job, and everyone is much happier. This is because women should not work. It is terrible for the children. Lindy would have a point, if it were not for the fact that I have been reliably informed the character get's another job soon after.

Charlotte Goldsteinjewyjewsomethingsomethingblatt: Life for Charlotte is unbelievably difficult. As a wealthy stay-at-home mom with two children and a live-in, full-time nanny, she sometimes has to bake cupcakes! Also, one time her little child got finger paint on a piece of vintage cloth. Therefore, Charlotte cannot stop crying. "How do the women without help do it?" Charlotte (crying) asks Miranda. "I have no fucking idea," Miranda replies. Then they toast their disgusting glasses of pink syrup. To "them." To the "women without help." "If I wasn't rich, I'd definitely just kill myself right away with a knife!" says everyone in this movie without having to actually say it. Clink! It's exactly this sort of crap that prevents women from being honest about finding motherhood difficult, creating more and more pressure on modern mums to live up to some unattainable ideal of perfect parenthood.

Samantha Jones: I told you we are never to speak of this.

In order to escape their various imaginary problems, our intrepid foursome traipses off to dark, exotic Abu Dhabi ("I've always been fascinated by the Middle East—desert moons, Scheherazade, magic carpets!"). When they arrive, Carrie, because she is a professional writer, announces, "Oh, Toto—I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" Each woman is immediately assigned an extra from Disney's Aladdin to spoon-feed her warm cinnamon milk in their $22,000-per-night hotel suite. Things seem to be going great. But very quickly, the SATC brain trust notices that it's not all swarthy man-slaves and flying carpets in Abu Dhabi! In fact, Abu Dhabi is crawling with Muslim women—and not one of them is dressed like a super-liberated diamond-encrusted fucking clown!!! Oppression! OPPRESSION!!! Sex and the City doesn't strike me as the best vessel with which to approach the subject of female subjugation in the middle East, I'll grant you, but they're possibly due some credit for highlighting it to a wider audience. I'd have to watch. Lindy presumably sees no problem with women the veil, which is her prerogative, it divides feminists, but it's a legitimate area for debate.

This will not stand. Samantha, being the prostitute sexual revolutionary that she is, rages against the machine by publicly grabbing the engorged penis of a man she dubs "Lawrence of My-Labia." When the locals complain (having repeatedly asked Samantha to cover her nipples and mons pubis in the way of local custom), Samantha removes most of her clothes in the middle of the spice bazaar, throws condoms in the faces of the angry and bewildered crowd, and screams, "I AM A WOMAN! I HAVE SEX!" Thus, traditional Middle Eastern sexual mores are upended and sexism is stoned to death in the town square. Wow, so we're really going to call women who deign to enjoy sex whores now? Oh no wait, I see, she's crossed it out, how post-modern and ironic! That totally stops it being incredibly offensive, repressive, backwards and one of the patriarchy's favourite insults.

At sexism's funeral (which takes place in a mysterious, incense-shrouded chamber of international sisterhood), the women of Abu Dhabi remove their black robes and veils to reveal—this is not a joke—the same hideous, disposable, criminally expensive shreds of cloth and feathers that hang from Carrie et al.'s emaciated goblin shoulders. Muslim women: Under those craaaaaaay-zy robes, they're just as vapid and obsessed with physical beauty and meaningless material concerns as us! Feminism! Fuck yeah! All women, united? Lindy would clearly never stand for that. Was the personal comment about Sarah Jessica Parker's physical appearance totally necessary? Again, I don't think Lindy fully understands feminism; it generally tends to involve refuting beauty myths rather than perpetuating them. And you know, not calling women ugly.

If this is what modern womanhood means, then just fucking veil me and sew up all my holes. Good night. Don't fucking tempt me.

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