Tuesday, July 1, 2014

No Holds Barred — Modern Day "Feminism"

All-Lady Tribe: Naomi Watt, Nicole Richie, Stella McCartney, Chelsea Handler, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Gwen Stefani @GwenStefani via Twitter (of course).
No Holds Barred — Modern Day "Feminism"
By Blair Sabol

I am really confused. When did "feminism" become as common and overused a word (concept) as "fashionista." Recently I started noticing everyone from Beyonce ("The new feminist" according to the New York Times Style magazine cover) to Arianna Huffington to Chelsea Handler to Gwyneth Paltrow to you-name-it all meeting together at "women's initiatives" luncheons. Or Ted-ing out their lectures about being a part of an "all-lady Tribe."
Arianna Ted-ing it.
Gwyneth Paltrow and gal pal Chelsea Handler.
Throw Hillary Clinton into the mix with her daughter Chelsea dressed in Kardashian leather stretch pants and stilettos and we have a "new and improved Feminist movement." The message for all of them is they want to bring about "change for women faster."
New and improved?
Women's networking is great and has been around for years. But now, it seems to have been amped up much higher. And sometimes these "get involved" power gatherings (though well intended) are merely translated into "self involved ego" grandstanding. Does anyone really benefit from all this "female awareness" in our "trickle down" culture?

It's been wonderful that Marissa Mayer of Yahoo is now making 25 million in one year. As the New York Times reported "women scaling the height of corporate America tend to have compensation packages that are as jaw droopingly gigantic as men at a similar level. So, we have made some impact. But not a lot of women WANT to be CEOs.
I love that the highest paid woman at one time was born a man. "Martine Rothblatt born Martin Rothblatt was once the married father of four children and founded Sirius satellite radio."

After undergoing gender replacement surgery she has now founded United Therapeutic and helped develop a drug to treat a particular illness that one of her children suffered from. Last year she was paid $38 million in compensation! Wow! YOU have come a long way, baby!!!
Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics.
But even with Mary T. Barra of General Motors and her troubles, and Sheryl Sandberg teaching us all to "Lean IN" (with the help of nannies and at home staff) where has that left the world of women??? We still have a women held in captivity, deprived an education and kidnapped for sex enslavement. Is that "Leaning IN or "leaving it." I can't tell.

I get the sad story of women's issues in spite of all this newfound "consciousness." I'm just looking at who really believes or even understand "feminism" anymore. Some of the biggest feminists I know are men and some of the biggest misogynists I know are women. Go figure! Politics aside (and I apologize ... that is a BIG ASIDE), where are we all now? Now that being a feminist is as typical as being just another rock star singing about "Run the World (Girls)."
Breathing in ... Leaning in ...
"Run the World (Girls)."
Most of the new "women's circles" are already so elitist and caught up in corporate luncheon and gift bags to really mean anything to anybody. Talk and "intention" is cheap. Action and follow up is hard. As Goddess Gloria Steinem has said about "the fashion" of women's gatherings: First it was something we put together ourselves, then it was something sponsored by the government, then it was something paid for by corporations ... and then we got a little more money and moved into fancier hotels." And then what?
Betty Friedan, Elinor Guggenheimer, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Gloria Steinem, in July 1971. Credit Image by Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times
All I know is that it was great that Steinem turned 80 and took herself to India to ride an elephant. But as far as her really making a difference to today's women, I am not so sure. Because of my aging parents I deal a lot with minority homecare women. They know nothing of "initiatives" or Gloria Steinem, or luncheons. Honestly all they want is to "show me the money" and maybe to buy themselves a brand new Louis Vuitton bag. I don't blame them, and so much for sisterhood.

My big feminist idol back in the day!
I grew up in the beginning of feminism. I liked being able to take The Pill and I even burned my bra as an empty gesture to feel "supportive."

After I torched my bras I remember I couldn't wait to go over to Bloomies and buy three more John Kloss "No-Bra Bras!" He was my big feminist idol and did more for freeing women than anyone I know. But that is where my superficial form of consciousness raising froze.

I was too embarrassed to admit I wasn't a feminist or politically active at the time. Remember "demonstrations " were a form of fashion and a real "scene" maker for me. Nothing more, nothing less. And now I don't even know what I am meant to be embarrassed about.

I do know that Robert Redford is considered to be an "eco feminist" (working in partnership with Mother Nature) and actress Jennifer Lawrence is now a holier than thou "feminist" for calling her own tough independent look "dykey" chic; and teen icon Tavi Gevinson recently said her feminist statement is summed up in one name "Stevie Nicks." Huh?
"Dykey" chic Jennifer Lawrence.
Recently my best friend's militant gay daughter (she insists on calling herself "queer" not "gay” — who can keep up on the current lingo let alone the gay marriage etiquette?) told me that Kim Kardashian is a "brilliant feminist" because "she used her own entrepreneurial skills in making her sex tape to get on top of the world." I'll say. Sexploitation? Victimhood? Not anymore! Then she warned me that the transgenders are the next more important group to make political and cultural waves. I can barely keep up.
"Dollar, dollar bill y'all."
All I know is I miss the NYC construction sites of the 1970s. I remember all the "hardhats" shouting out the best fashion commentaries I ever heard. Brash and vulgar and "right on." They were hushed and criticized by the feminists in those days for being street bullies. I miss them. I looked forward to their "shout-outs" as women walked by. THEY KNEW!! Now I have noticed they all have their heads buried in their iPhones — looking at porn apps, no doubt. Good for them but we have lost a real era.
And who do I even admire as today's feminist leaders? I am stumped. Everyone I really admire just did their things and succeeded without a label. I can appreciate Arianna Huffington telling us to disconnect from technology and deep breathe more often in her book "Thrive." And I guess she should know. But do I really BELIEVE HER?!

As one Amazon book reviewer said of her best-seller: “What wonderful delusional baloney.” maybe if I didn't pay any of my contributors and then cashed out for millions I would do the same book. But no ... I have to work everyday. And a male cage dancer (or even a hooker) is not as glamorous as it sounds."

And when all else fails (lets get past Mika Brzezinski's valiant attempts linking food disorders and women's issues and Tina Brown's women's "summits" and Cosmopolitan magazine's "conferences"), let's turn to Oprah. I hear she is going on the road this summer with Deepak Chopra to do spiritual weekend workshops. I know more women who would prefer to hear from her money manager and her Spanx provider.
But I guess after bombing with the Lindsay Lohan (who is also considered a "new feminist") reality show on her network, Oprah has to regroup her roots — which is spiritual materialism. Though women have become a major spending force in our culture I don't feel "fire walking" and "Kumbayah" singing is going to grab anyone's heart chakras anymore. Certainly not for my home care gals.
So I am ready to find a new definition of "new feminists." Obviously we DO have to look at Laverne Cox, the transgender gal who made it big on "Orange is the New Black," and got a Time magazine cover. Or better still ... I am waiting for Bruce Jenner to show me the way to be a woman today, Who better??
The "new feminists."
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