Some Personal Correspondence on International Women’s Day

I checked my old email address today and found a lovely thank you note from a reader named Megan who had written to me a year ago on the topic of feminism.

Given that today happens to be International Women’s Day, I thought I’d share the chain of our email correspondence:

 

On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM, Megan H. wrote:

My name is Megan, and I’m the reader who asked what feminism is.

I’m an 18 year old girl who is genuinely confused about the issue. I asked because with all these government debates of birth control and tampons, I feel conflicted. I don’t feel like I’m being represented, but what I’ve read and heard in the past from “feminist” points of view is that women’s bodies lend themselves to objectification and only through denial of these traits can a woman be respected—and that’s just one idea. I’ve listened to so many different, contradicting interpretations of feminism that I feel lost.

Now, I know what I believe in terms of my own confidence, and I hold myself to be a strong, independent young woman. I reject the concept that putting effort into looking attractive for those you are attracted to is setting back a movement. In my professional life I have always ignored my sex and focused on my capability and work ethic—my product is what’s important, rather than my personal beliefs and what I produce in life is no less because of my sex or ideals. I don’t believe in the superiority of women but the equality of all, and so have always considered myself distinctly NON-feminist.

But it almost feels as the GOP’s all-male panels are beginning to force me into the role of activist. I respect your standing and confidence as a woman as well as your opinions, and was hoping for your take on subject. I understand if you don’t want to put this on your website. But this is my personal email: meg****@gmail.com and I would appreciate an answer with which to begin my own development of opinions on the subject, since I recognize my ignorance and don’t know where to begin.

-Megan H.

 

On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 4:42 PM, The Coquette wrote:

“I don’t believe in the superiority of women but the equality of all, and so have always considered myself distinctly NON-feminist.”

It is precisely for this reason that you are a feminist. Believing in the equality of women is the primary feminist principle.

You may claim to be merely an egalitarian humanist, but if you truly believe in equality for all, then in a patriarchal society you also have to be a feminist.

That’s the point you seem to be missing. Patriarchy is the hegemonic social structure of virtually every culture. Sometimes it’s benign. Sometimes it is very malignant. Nevertheless, it is always present.

This isn’t about the superiority or inferiority of either gender. This isn’t a “men vs. women” thing. It’s about slow, progressive shifts in culture that correct the inherent inequality of patriarchal social systems.

The inequality is very real. You may not have personally experienced it yet, but you will.

Hope this points you in the right direction.

– CQ

 
On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 4:49 PM, Megan H. wrote:

I really appreciate your contacting me.

Thanks, Coke Talk.

 

On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 4:48 PM, Megan H. wrote:

Hey Coquette.

I wanted to personally thank you. Not from an anonymous textbox, but seriously. It’s incredible to think this response was only from a year ago. Your answer started me on an incredible path of research. Your perspective kicked my ass into gear and gave me keywords to check out. A year later, I am an activist in my college’s Women’s Center and I do my part to influence and educate my friends and family. The funny thing is, that before I wrote this, I honestly thought I hadn’t personally experienced inequality, but I had, and continue to, everyday within my own household and without. A part of my rejection of feminism stemmed from my own internalized-misogyny, including a self-hatred of my own fears and what I perceived as weakness. I used to hate so very much that I am a woman, and it was easier to tell myself we as a society are post-feminism, that those chasing equality were all man-hating, angry women with delusions of their own oppression and grandeur. The corrections I have made to my way of thinking have helped me to become a much better, healthier person, and also to come to terms with the coercion, manipulation, fear and unspoken/indirect threats I had undergone in a relationship. I had framed my situation as simply a natural interaction between man and woman, and once I began my research I was forced to see how this was a relationship of power and control, neither of which I had. Reading your blog(s) started me on a journey of — is it corny to say enlightenment? Aw shit, who cares. You’ve given me the tools to start really respecting myself, and that is invaluable. You more than pointed me in the right direction, Coquette. You confused and rattled my ignorance enough to make me figure my nonsense out and start coping with my own bullshit. So thank you, from the bottom of my feminist heart.

Respectfully,
Megan H.

Coke Talk of the Day

Occupy Wall Street was a fucking mouse fart compared to the damage our generation could do to the system if every last one of us suddenly decided to stop making payments on our student loans.

I doubt it would take all that many conscientious defaulters to reach a tipping point — maybe a few hundred thousand — and the student debt bubble would burst. Credit scores would be meaningless. Ivory towers would crumble. The entire fucking economy would implode.

I dunno, it might be worth doing.

You Probably Hate Anne Hathaway Because of the Economy

anne

 

You Probably Hate Anne Hathaway Because of the Economy

Interesting article, but nope. We don’t hate Anne Hathaway because of the economy. Actually, we don’t hate Anne Hathaway at all. We just don’t give a shit about her particular fairy tale.

It’s not Anne’s fault. She just doesn’t project authenticity. I know that sounds ridiculous, given that authenticity is as manufactured as anything else we absorb from pop culture. Still, authenticity is what it takes for us to scrape off our protective layer of cynicism and enjoy a genuine emotional response to whatever they’re trying to sell us.

In Anne’s case, we’re just not buying it. Sure, she’s talented and lovely and probably holds the world record for never slouching a day in her life, but her humility is false, and even by Hollywood standards her stardom is hyper-calculated. It’s hard to like someone who takes her celebrity that seriously.

Anne has one of the most beautiful smiles in the history of teeth, but you know what? We don’t trust it. We don’t believe that the expression on her face matches the content of her soul, and that slight emotional hypocrisy is enough for us to turn on her.

That’s the fundamental difference between Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. We’d all rather imagine ourselves as J-Law’s BFF because when she smiles (or trips or cries or farts) we believe her. She is authentic in a way that Anne just isn’t.

 

Silly boy. Your cigars do not impress me. All the small batch whiskey and straight razors in Silver Lake won’t make you more of a man. They are props in a co-opted collection of masculine rituals that you perform with the disconnected precision of a priest who never learned Latin. You are pretending at manhood.

On Super Bowl Advertising

This is marketing disguised as propaganda:

 

 

This is propaganda disguised as marketing:

 

 

The Scientology “Knowledge” ad is trying to make you buy something, whereas the Dodge “God Made a Farmer” ad is trying to make you believe something.

That’s an incredibly important distinction.

Scientology wants to sell you a product with its ad. Sure, it happens to be a set of beliefs, but the ad is still just a glossy sales pitch. (The beliefs come later.) All it wants you to do is buy Scientology, and that’s why it’s marketing disguised as propaganda.

Dodge, on the other hand, doesn’t want to sell you a product with its ad. The truck is for sale, of course, but that’s not the point. The ad exists for the sole purpose of reinforcing an American myth about farmers that can be co-opted for brand identity. It wants you to believe in the myth, and that’s why it’s propaganda disguised as marketing.

For the record, propaganda disguised as marketing is infinitely more insidious than marketing disguised as propaganda.

 

At Least There’s Beyonce

In observance of America’s most celebrated annual ritual, I have prepared an offering of seven layer dip.

I shall now drive deep into the suburbs and consume large amounts of alcohol so that I might better pretend to be emotionally invested in the professional sports team based out of the city nearest to the one in which I live.

Oh, the things I do for my married friends.

Velveeta

velveeta

 

In 2002, the FDA issued a warning to Kraft that Velveeta was misbranded as a “Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread.” That term has a legal definition as a food, and sadly, Velveeta does not qualify. In response, Kraft changed the label to “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product,” a term for which the FDA does not maintain a standard of identity.

 

You do not exist.

At any given moment, you do not exist. Your body exists, temporary though it may be. Still, you are not your body. You are merely an electrochemical process of your body. The continuity of your separate self is manufactured every few milliseconds by a hunk of warm grey meat between your ears. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, your brain has created you a thousand times, and it has left behind a thousand ghosts of you.

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