Two things today:
Sheila has much good to say about feminism and girlism. As does Suzanne in my comments to the posting “Looking Glass Self”. She writes:
Okay, so I took some time to follow the thread a little and I have some questions. Not abstract, big academic questions, but practical, nuts and bolts, if you will, questions. And let’s assume for a moment that the “girlism” theory is posed by someone who has little real education about the concept, scope, or history of feminism, and she’s struggling with what she sees as the possibly limited avenues of power for a woman in her world, which apparently consists of some type of office job, possibly professional, possibly not, and a culturally normal amount of pop tv and and other media influence. Given these assumptions, and I realize they are only assumptions, it’s not surprising she adopted this kind of theory, nor is it surprising that her particular culture is highly invested in her embracing this type of theory. But I digress to abstractions, forgive me. Now to the practicalities.
If a woman is to use girlism techniques as a way to negotiate her work or career situation, I wonder how she would succeed if she didn’t have the requisite physical characteristics, such as relative youth, between 18 and say, 25 in some arenas, maybe up to 40 in others. She’d need to be conventionally pretty, this would include thin, and possibly blond. (depending on which geo-region she’s operating in) If the woman in question has most or all of these characteristics, she may be able to leverage certain benefits, such as getting the freshest cup of coffee from the lunch room pot, preferred vacation days, the bigger corner cubicle, help with aspects of work she may find daunting, or distasteful, maybe even high level kinds of benefits like the good clients, or a chance to attend an important business luncheon. Would she actually be able to pull off a raise or promotion with girlism tactics? Maybe. What happens when a younger, thinner, blonder “girlist” appears on the scene, and we know the laws of nature dictate that there’s always someone younger and thinner and prettier eventually. Does the original girlist get to keep her skillfully won advantages, perks, benefits and even promotions? Does she have to employ ever more advanced levels of “girlist” techniques to compete such as flashing or lap dancing?
What about the women who are in their 50’s or 60’s, or fat women, or physically disabled women, or women with mastectomies, pregnant women. How are they to negotiate power in this situation? Now this is assuming girlist theory takes into consideration all women. If it does, what about women who are muslim, let’s say, and culturally and religiously restrained from interacting in sexually flirtatious ways with men who are not their husband? (yes, virginia, feminist theory encompasses these women in dignified ways) If girlists care about other women, how do they account for the extreme disadvantage suffered by these non pretty, non-young, non-thin, non American-pop-culture defined, non-blond women? What about lesbians in the work place? Or workplace shuch as hospitals? How does a resident surgeon use girlist techniques with success? For real, how does she?
What about other settings, let’s say school. Do girlists train 12 year-old girls to expose their cleavage to their teachers in order to be considered or recognized for academic achievements? And how do we help them deal with the problem of competition with other girls in the classroom for the teachers attention? When do we introduce the more advanced girlist techniques to our young women? 12? 13? 15? Of course, just as with adults, there’s the pesky problem of physical diversity that turns a girlist playing field into a steep hot metal slide. I’m assuming again there’s room in girlist theory for consideration of all girls.
Seriously, how far does the power reach? How far does a girlist have to go to leverage it? And how does girlist theory account for women who are prohibited in some way from using it? And who else benefits from the operation or this theory besides the girlist herself? Yeah, you better believe there’s serious benefit to other interests besides the girlist herself, and I’m not just talking about the lap sitee.
Just a few questions I thought I’d throw out.
If you don’t have a weblog, Suzanne, you need to get one. Please.