Disliking another woman isn't a 'girl-on-girl crime'
Back when I was a wee baby music critic, every now and again something truly abysmal would cross my desk that also happened to be written and/or performed by a woman.
Being in the business of reviewing music, good or bad, I would give the single or album its appropriate dues (or lack thereof), regardless of the gender of the artist. This was, apparently, anathema to some of my feminist comrades, and even my boyfriend at the time, who I recall reading one of my reviews and issuing forth the timeless 'screeching cat' noise before crying, "Whatever happened to the sisterhood?!"
That memory shot from the past like a bolt of lightning when I read Noreen Malone's recent piece in The Cut, 'What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic B*tch'?' It's the latest in a long line of tenuously feminist readings of the phrase du jour, in which Malone offers theories like: "The woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn't sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation".
(I wasn't aware that questioning the construction of the self and/or consciousness was something that women weren't meant to sign up for. Oops.)
If the article, with its segues into pop cultural commentary and occasional winking humour, was posing more as a free-wheeling treatise on the etymology of the phrase than an explicitly feminist screed, New York Magazine's tag for the piece made its intentions crystal clear: "Pumpkin-spice season is just an excuse for casual misogyny."
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In other words, the idea - increasing in popularity - that employing the phrase 'basic b*tch' is somehow an act of girl-on-girl hatred, or an indicator of internalised misogyny; that feeling a kind of way about a chick called Becky or Stacey or Amber who wears LuluLemon and digs frappuccinos is tantamount to a hate crime.
Like noted basic bitch idol Carrie Bradshaw, I got to thinking: had the quality of the feminist discourse reached such a dismal low that we were effectively shouting "Whatever happened to the sisterhood?!" like my dear, dim ex-boyfriend?
There are shades of this in the recent discussion of Gone Girl and, specifically, whether a film (or book) that features an 'evil' female character is inherently anti-feminist - as though the mere presence of a woman whose motivation isn't entirely pure (or, indeed, clear) is enough to toss the project into the 'do not watch' pile. In short: it's bad for women to be mean, especially to each other.
Writing for the New Statesman in response to what she termed "earnest online feminist comment" about the film, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett argued, "We feminists cannot have it both ways – we cannot kick back against the portrayal of women as emotional, empathic creatures and as victims, yet fall back on that same cliché when confronted with a cold-eyed psychopathic female character that we do not like."
To expect women - all women - to subscribe to a kind of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler-sponsored group-hug hooray-for-everyone approach to 'feminism' is infantile at best, damaging at worst. Are we to become a conglomerate of Stepford Wives-esque dunderheads who will support other women, no matter what, because the opposite is misogyny? This approach has shades of the old notion that women are the gentler sex and should be kind to each other, you know, because of The Sisterhood.
The unfortunate reality is that quite often while The Sisterhood is concerned about whether or not it's misogynist to have a go at pumpkin spice latte fans, for example, they will ignore other instances of actual misogyny against marginalised women. Evidently The Sisterhood will also wholesale steal phrases like 'basic b*tch' from black culture and run them into the ground before deciding that, actually, it's girl-on-girl misogyny and a "male hierarchy of culture".
This is madness. At a stretch, 'basic bitch' could be considered 'misogyny' if we're working from the Macquarie Dictionary's 2012 redefinition of the word, which is to say that almost anything can be considered misogyny if you truly believe it. The other day I saw a cute video of three male echidnas determinedly following a female in heat; it's probably 'misogyny' in effect, if we've reached a point where "pumpkin spice season is just an excuse for casual misogyny".
Here's a little secret: you can dislike another woman without being a misogynist. You can laugh about 'basic b*tches' without it being a girl-on-girl crime. You can be damned sure if I were still a music critic today, I'd unleash a whole mess of two-star reviews on that basic b*tch Taylor Swift. And maybe I'll make that cat screeching noise my new ringtone.
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03:31:31 27/10/2014 [Powrót