March 10, 2010
March 10, 2010
March 10, 2010
March 10, 2010
From pole-dancing lessons to baking cupcakes, modern woman thinks she can do it all. Germaine Greer’s free-thinking female eunuch has been replaced by the desperately self-inventing ‘Madonna’, argues Charlotte Raven, who looks back in shame at the moment in the 1990s when her generation turned its back on feminism.
Thanks to a string of celebrity sex stories, the world according to the tabloids has recently been – even more than usual – a sorry place for feminism. But among the countless snaps – of bikini-clad betrayed wives, distressed mistresses and pneumatic “hostesses” – perhaps the most disturbing was that of Katie Price‘s two-year-old daughter, Princess, in heavy makeup, complete with false eyelashes. Millions have seen it. The “debate” about it has been staged on all media platforms: on one TV talk show, a woman said she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Her daughter was a “girly girl”, like Princess. She “adored” dressing up and posing in front of cameras. It would be wrong to stop her, wouldn’t it?
Katie Price’s currency is as high today as when she published her million-selling autobiography in 2004. She has generated much outrage in the last few years, but it is nothing compared with her influence. Her narcissism no longer seems so aberrant. Women’s belief in specialness and a concomitant sense of entitlement has inflated in line with Price’s most famous assets.
How has it come to this? Feminists blame the sexists, Martin Amis et al, which is easy but unfair. In reality, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. While Price has been working tirelessly at getting her message across, the thinking women – the writers and journalists – who should have been putting the counter case have been indulging in a variety of “guilty pleasures” – from ogling young men (Germaine Greer in The Boy) to drooling over frocks (Linda Grant in The Thoughtful Dresser). Feminists have become increasingly frivolous, and as such are no match for Price, who is serious about her mission to win over all women to “Team Narcissist”.
Two new exposés of the dehumanising effect of the Price worldview feel like too little too late. The fantasy world described in Natasha Walter‘s Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, where appearances are everything, has already come to pass. Today’s young women are right to think they will be judged on how they seem, rather than who they are. In this context, Kat Banyard’s promise to tell “the truth about women and men” in her new book The Equality Illusion is the promise of a horse-drawn plough in the machine age. The truth is no longer enough; she needs a promotional gimmick.
In a recent study of 1,000 British girls (admittedly by a mobile entertainment company), quoted in Walter’s book, 60% said glamour modelling was their preferred career. A quarter said they would consider becoming lap dancers. By all measures, the value map has shifted in Price’s favour.
I’m sorry to say that we are culpable. Thinking women have turned their backs on feminism. This might not have been a disaster if we had remained neutral. But we, too, have found the governing philosophy of Priceworld compelling. The fact that our daughters join in shouldn’t come as any surprise. Their insouciance about the business of striking poses for money has been learned from us. For too long we’ve been channelling rather than challenging Price.
There was a moment in the 90s – I wince to recall it – when women themselves fell in with the view that feminism was unglamorous and inhibiting. It was cramping our style and even worse, stopping us from shopping! Middle-class commentators encouraged their readers to embrace their “inner bimbos”. Their paeans to hair products and sexy knickers read like new lad-mag paeans to tarty women. Comic exaggeration made it clear that the writers were self-aware – women who “should know better”…
March 10, 2010
Am I dreaming, or did it used to be stronger? Twenty years ago, it seemed like a good dose of jet lag could mess you up for a week. After six or seven hours in the air, zooming toward the sun or away from it in a pressurized cigar tube with carcinogenic upholstery, you were useless. Remember? Up was down, black was white: By night you rebelled against the clock, by day you floated like a ghost….It seemed to last forever. No question of getting any work done: Your body might have arrived at its destination, but your consciousness was apparently still up there somewhere, still in flight, with the thin air and the ice crystals.
Then suddenly everybody got scientific. Airline passengers, the cattle of the sky, acquired self-knowledge. People started talking about melatonin and circadian rhythms. The man in the next seat, no longer slurping piratically at a succession of gin-and-tonics, was wearing a sleep mask and a pair of pressurized earplugs.
So perhaps it wasn’t jet lag that changed – it was us. Nowadays, if you have serious jet lag, you are presumed to have done something wrong. The frequent flier, the virtuous long-hauler, who has managed his water levels, watched his caffeine intake, availed himself only moderately of the inflight catering, and made the necessary sleep adjustments before flying, can expect to be mildly disoriented, but no more, upon arrival. The rest of us, unable to resist the toy meal and the fun-size booze-bottles and the hours of TV – the leisure binge at 30,000 feet – well, we get what we deserve.
And we love it. Or at least, we should love it. Because really, if you’re not lagged to a standstill, how can you tell that you’ve gone somewhere? This is, in a phrase I intend to copyright, “the wisdom of jet lag.” Let us not back away from it, superstitiously warding it off with rituals and hygiene. Let us rather embrace jet lag. As a positive: a rich and naturally achieved state of philosophical disarray. And as a negative: a refusal, by the ever-sensible organism, to keep pace with inhuman modernity…