Friday, April 27, 2001
Postfeminism is with the Angels
Someone recently asked me to define postfeminism (if I had a dime for every time I've been asked that question, I could buy myself a real houseplant). I referred her to the movie, "Charlie's Angels." Watching that movie, for me, was like eating a warm bowl of condensed soup without the water you're supposed to add. In a word, salty. In another word, comforting. In a postfeminist kind of a way.
The Postfeminist Playground is no more. The domain name, which we stupidly allowed to lapse, has been bought up by a porn site. Some would say this is apropos. Some would say this has shot to hell our chances of getting that "You Guys Are Pillars of the Community" plaque. We closed the Playground for personal reasons... Joshilyn was writing a novel, Susannah was busy with television work, I was pregnant and sick as a mad cow. When we did it, I had a lot of regret, but then I went and got sick in the toilet and forgot about it. Now that I've seen "Charlie's Angels" I don't have any regrets at all.
One of our problems with feminism was that it didn't know when to find its shoes, take one more swig of tequila, and leave the party. We felt like everything that needed to be said about feminism had been said, loudly and repeatedly, and dealt with as much as it was going to be dealt with. People were ready to move on. We at the Playground didn't invent Postfeminism -- we were just analyzing and drawing attention to a phenomenon that was already in existence, giving words to the thoughts and feelings lots of women were having, telling people it was real and it was okay. But watching Carmeron Diaz kick the crap out of bad guys while wearing thigh high patent leather boots and chatting on the phone to her nice boyfriend, I realized that postfeminism has become so normalized, so absorbed, so much a part of our culture that the "ism" itself is no longer necessary.
Who needs a lecture on postfeminism when "Charlie's Angels" is making fat cash at the box office? Who needs to say, "We can be smart and sexy!" when the star of the movie is an academic genius who gets men by flipping her hair? Who needs to say "Wearing lipstick doesn't make you a pawn of the patriarchy" when Lucy Liu is beating men twice her size into paste while wearing Bobbi Brown gloss? Who needs to say "Not all men are scum" when Bosley, Charlie, and even the hapless boyfriend, were all very loveable, respectful, positive characters? It's postfeminism with a soundtrack. It's Postfeminism: The Movie, starring Drew Barrymore as I'm-Nobody's-Victim-Girl. It's fantastic! I clap my little hands together with glee.
Feminism is over, postfeminism is over, and now we can get on with the world. Postfeminism, unlike its angrier predecessor, graciously folds itself away like the faux leather skirt we also used to love and prance around in. We didn't invent it, we didn't propagate it, but we can host a wake for it. A lavish affair that ends when the sun comes up. With celebrities. And crab cakes.
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