We were reading lady blogs, as lady bloggers sometimes do, when we read the article about the woman child by Deborah Schoeneman on Jezebel. And it made us reach for our changesocks and grab the firecart, because it was bad. Badder than bad. For many reasons. Slay and I had ambitions to write an intelligently crafted response, but then the other editors jumped in to create what we are calling “Editorial Masterbitch Theater.” Enjoy.
Sally L: Do you think it would be a good idea to write a retort to Jezebel’s awful article about the woman child? And by good idea, something to get people angry about. You know how we do. Especially for this smug line: “It certainly seems to me — writing this from the safe distance of imminent motherhood — that it’s never been easier, more fun or more acceptable to remain locked in the warm, comfy embrace of childhood. ” Why are imminent mothers always the worst!
Coco: I think it’s fair game. The problem is, everyone expects it out of Jezebel. And yet somehow, people still venture.
Sally L: This is true. Maybe rather than a retort, write something about how the woman child isn’t really any different from what girls always have been. Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of nail polish stuff as sort of subversive in a weird way. Like, wearing pink and glitter means you’re not having to hide your femininity anymore for the sake of working your way past the glass ceiling. But that the critique of it shows that we have a long way to go in how we choose to perform our gender.
Pileofmonkeys: My most coherent response is pretty succinct: f*ck off. Every time one of these navel-gazing lady “writers” gets knocked up, they come to the sudden and world-changing realization that women who don’t want kids are worthless wastes of space who’ll never know true love. Yawn.
Selena: My favorite part is about how shocking it is that grown women would rather see “The Hunger Games” than “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Pileofmonkeys: OH HOW INFANTILIZING THAT I WOULD WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE THAT DOESN’T SUCK.
QueSarahSarah: So having good taste in movies makes me a child? And why would anyone go see a movie based on a reference book? I think I’d rather see an adaptation based on the dictionary.
Sally L: “A ‘woman-child’ is the type to prioritize her female friendships as if she were in a high school clique by posting pictures of her girls’ birthday dinners or boozy vacations on Facebook while her peers post wedding and baby pictures with similar zeal.” Wait, what? Because still having an identity outside of a man makes you childish? Shouldn’t that make you more mature? Isn’t that something that feminism wanted?
Selena: I’m plenty grown, thanks. I have an IRA, a mortgage, my own company, seven clients up my butt, opinions on all sorts of things and a FUCKING UNICORN CROSS STITCH PLAQUE. Judge that, asshole.
Sally L: I love the bit about how she bashes women for being team-players in the work place. Seriously? Because I know I love working with people who don’t support my efforts. God, it’s so much fun. It doesn’t feel like living in high school. At all.
Coco: If I can’t wear Prince inspired nail polish, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
Pileofmonkeys: THE REVOLUTION IS COMING, AND IT IS COVERED IN GLITTER, BITCH.
Selena: She was very heteronormative. And all, “HOW WILL THESE GLITTER BITCHES CATCH A HUSBAND WHILE THEY’RE HAVING ALL THAT UNSEEMLY FUN?!?!?!”
Pileofmonkeys: God forbid we prioritize female friendships over husbands and babies.
Selena: I’d rather see all of your boozy birthday pics than your wedding and baby pictures, personally. Seen one pastel covered bridesmaid waiting to get drunk, seen ‘em all.
Pileofmonkeys: “Oh, look, another infant who looks like Winston Churchill. How fascinating and adult.”
Sally L: “Girls certainly don’t obsess over a feminist article in The Atlantic or the dearth of female directors in Hollywood.” SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY???? Do you know how many women I know who have read enough Judith Butler to know perfectly well what their glitter nail polish is performing (and subverting) and they obsess for feminist articles. I do, geeze, WHILE WAITING FOR MY GLITTER NAIL POLISH TO DRY. It’s actually a great way to force yourself to sit down for an hour to keep everything from smudging.
On the other side of that, though, I do see a point to the over girlishness. I think Sadie Doyle said it best when she described how Katy Perry is not a feminist icon in any way. I have my problems with the manic pixie dreamgirl aesthetic of Zooey D. but not because I find them immature, because I find them pandering to a male fantasy more than anything.
Slay: One of the things that turned me around on “New Girl” was Zooey’s speech about her own Manic Dreamgirl Pixieness, because it was so self aware.
Pileofmonkeys: Slay, now that you mention it, the Zooey speech was pretty awesome in how self-aware she is of the trope.
Selena: I like Zooey D. I think I would enjoy hanging out with her. Which brings me to another thing I didn’t like about the article, she shat on Hello Giggles and Rookie. Fantastic, you’re above all of this, the best thing to do is make other women feel like shit about their perfectly harmless choices.
Sally L: Yes, shit on a brainy highschooler writing a magazine geared toward young girls that tries to avoid the bullshit of traditional teen magazines. Because reading Cosmo is sooooooooo much more mature.
Selena: IF YOU DON’T FEEL EXACTLY THE WAY I DO YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. BECAUSE I AM THIRTY AND HAVE SELF-DIAGNOSED GRAVITAS.
Pileofmonkeys: THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO WOMAN AND IT IS HOW I AM WOMANING. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.
Sally L: I think there is a parallel to a lot of the b.s. Martha Stewart got for her art of entertaining. Martha took a traditionally very feminine role rife with problems and turned it on its head, and was a badass while doing it, taking names all over the place. So if a woman takes names while being girly, that’s a problem. Which of course it isn’t a problem at all. BECAUSE FEMINISM.
Slay: Part of the basis of her argument is that this is the corollary to manchild, right? But what makes a ‘man child’ or perpetual adolescent isn’t their interests, but their unwillingness to take responsibilities on. For a long time being an adult was synonymous with the idea of surrendering your personality. You conformed to work needs or your partner’s needs or your kids needs. But society is shifting away from that — it’s accepting that hanging on to your own interests doesn’t cause you to be a bad employee or adult or parent. She’s making this argument based on purely visual cues without analysis about what it actually implies about where its coming from.
I think wearing glittery nail polish is fundamentally different than the ‘sexy baby’ phenomena. One is about indulging yourself. The other is about playing into sexist expectations and the idea that women’s worth comes from their sexual desirability.
What would you add to this? Share in the comments!
Image Credit: Miss Worded, splitting sides since sometime in the ’80s.