When we last checked in with Laura Sessions Stepp, she was discussing the divine and holy miracle of "gray" rape--a new wonderful method by which women can bottle up the harm that's been done to them and never mention it to anyone, and live with the tremors of psychic anxiety forever and ever. Laura's done the world a service with taking up the cause of "gray" rape. And really, why shouldn't she have? Didn't God gray rape Mary to make a Baby Jesus? Didn't America gray rape the Enlightenment in order to write the Constitution? Does mankind not dream of slipping the bond of our earthbound state to gray rape the rest of the known universe? I think so.
This week, sadly, Laura's on less rarefied terrain. In her latest installment, she puzzles over what it means to be a woman, or a girl, or a girl who calls herself a woman, or something. Fuck if we can figure this out. But we read it so you don't have to.
"Here's a question my female friends and I sometimes ask ourselves: Why do our younger colleagues freely call themselves girls?"That's easy, Laura. You see, most of your friends and colleagues actually are girls. Six year old girls. That must be the case, because once you hit seven, you reach the "Age of Reason" and become more or less fully equipped to understand what a tiring, prating dumbass you are.
"Unreconstructed '60s feminists we may be, but we insisted on being called women when we were their age -- and were ready to pounce on any guy who didn't go along with us so we could reveal him to be the male chauvinist that he was."Pounce on them? Huh. Talk about a mixed message! I thought you were against all this hookup stuff!
"I wonder if that reflects a greater comfort with youth and femininity, or if they aren't sure what being a woman means. If the latter, I can hardly blame them, because the social culture they're swimming in doesn't know, either."Right there is the Laura Sessions Stepp Credo: Laura doesn't "get it" so the "social culture" is broken.
Yes. Right! We just invented vanity yesterday!
"Forty-year-old women get their faces stitched and tummies tucked in an effort to look 18 again. Fashion houses tout the thin-boy look over the curvy female."
"Last week, NBC rolled out a remade "Bionic Woman," super-intelligent and super-athletic but, let's face it, also a super-cold robot."You didn't watch The Bionic Woman, did you?
"Yet less than a year ago, the media could not get enough of the "train wreck girls," Britney, Lindsay and Nicole, seemingly so fragile and way too human."Less than a year ago?! How about less than a week ago? This is supposed to be your proof of a bipolar culture--a teevee show about a cyborg exists, and so do some drunk, Hollywood, skanks! At the same time! Where to turn, where to turn? Please tell me you aren't going to try to kick all this faux relevance up a notch!
"To top it all, the woman who is under the greatest public scrutiny these days, Hillary Rodham Clinton..."Oh, crap! You did.
"Then this summer, she showed a tiny bit of cleavage on the Senate floor, prompting comment from The Post's fashion columnist -- and a small firestorm of debate both about the appropriateness of the comment and of the cleavage itself."Yes. That article was by Robin Givhan, and the two of you are really battling it out in the race to the bottom in contemporary American letters.
"Such conflicting images challenge young women like Liz Funk, a college junior who is writing a book about women in their late 20s. Funk says she and the young women she calls her 'girlfriends' have no problem on weekends dazzling guys and each other with their short skirts, four-inch heels and blouses that show way more than Clinton's Senate attire. But as they tiptoe into their professional lives, they adjust their wardrobes -- as well as other outward signals such as their tone of voice -- in order to convey a professional image in a working world still dominated by men."OMG. Really, Laura? Really? This is not about conflicting images! What you describe is a person who understands perfectly well that different occasions call for different kind of dress! It's getting harder and harder to stand by and watch you try to spin some profound societal dissertation out of the utterly commonplace! People wear different clothes on dates than they do in the workplace! YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON IN CHRISTENDOM BLOWN AWAY BY THIS.
And really, that whole "convey a professional image in a working world still dominated by men" is just one of your canards. Can't prove it, can't disprove it. But I have a sinking feeling that women dress professionally in the working world because it is dominated by professionalism. The same way a soccer player wears shinguards at a soccer match because that setting is dominated by motherfuckers kicking you in the motherfucking shins.
"Thank goodness they don't feel that they have to wear neckties instead of necklaces, as many women who started working in the 1970s did."OH YES! THANK GOODNESS! First they came for our necklaces...and I didn't say anything because I AM NOT A COMPLETE SODDING IDIOT.
From here, her article begins to stagger around like a drunk at a wake:
--pretty dresses and salsa dancing won't stop you from becoming the chief at Travelocity!
--Good news, womyn! You can use your "emotional quotient" in the workplace, which is good since Stepp doesn't seem to believe any of you have an IQ.
--"If you're a young woman in Sudan searching for clean water for your family, or in Cambodia looking through dumps for small items you can trade, teasing out the difference between 'girl' and 'woman' isn't exactly on your mind." Yes, Laura--it's just terrible that these people don't have the free time for such piddling concerns! We're coming to save you, Darfur! We won't rest until all of you are just as solipsistic as the rest of us!
--One of the people Stepp talks to has Maureen Dowd as a role model. I mean...THERE'S YOUR DEBILITATING PROBLEM RIGHT THERE!
--"So here's one final thought: Perhaps this generation avoids the word 'woman' not because they're uncertain what it means but because they are certain -- and not sure they measure up yet." That's not so much a "final thought" as it is a "final, crazy-ass, unsubtantiated claim."
Besides, that wasn't Stepp's final thought. You can tell because it wasn't sufficiently All About Her. Here's her parting shot: "We, their elders, sang 'I Am Woman' to make ourselves heard. They have the tougher job of living our dream."
Oy. Spoken like a true attention whore!