Category Archives: Pop culture

Weigel/Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating

Marxism is Feminism, and vice versa. Or at least these two strands have been coupled for so long that the difference between them, while not negligible, is still pretty minor. This can range from the second wave (the 1970s and 80s), with a range of thought and action from the university to the home to the picket line, and the almost atomic level betwixt genders. Feminism suffered the ignominy of quote unquote post feminism (along with the rest of post modern dreck of the 90s, the worst, most nothing decade of the 20th Century), but thankfully we’ve moved on. And Marxism/socialism, and its attendant targets, are back on the table.

This is where delightful books like Labor of Love fall into – a space that’s removed from the university, and still further removed removed from orthodox feminism, into a frank, engaging, but still essentially socialist take on dating. Dating, that most commonplace activity that the modern romantic comedy is built on, is taken through a historical lens, in a manner that’s intelligent, entertaining, and somehow almost grassroots in its’ Marxist feminist focus. Moira Weigel is not writing a dissertation here, and this topic isn’t some weighty piece on dialectics, but she isn’t writing a popcorn book either. This is a fascinating look at dating from a vantage point that’s largely left unspoken in pop culture.

Specifically, that vantage point is materialism – concrete money or resources. Weigel deftly looks at the industry of dating, from its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century – when police could and frequently did arrest daters and “Charity girls” for prostitution, up through its acceptance and the codification of the usual double standards that lie behind gender relations, and into the wide world of today, where things are even less clear than ever. Money and labor – the sheer costs involved in pursuing and maintaining a relationship – are what’s at stake, and misogyny, the patriarchy that buys and sells life as we know it is never far away.

Misogyny today is perhaps best embodied by the usual veiled threats of women getting pregnant before she’s forty (and with all that statement is based on – namely a genetic imperative that women are slaves to, no matter what those damn “libbers” say or do) and its that low view of women that is still deeply embedded in the dating conversation. And Weigel brings up that modern conversation, literally and figuratively, throughout Labor of Love. This makes the entire text approachable and engaging, to say nothing of the almost universal human aspect of dating itself.

This combination of intelligence, analytical clarity, and A SENSE OF HUMOR make the books’ hard truths easier to bear. Even as one reads the saga of how we ended up with an entire industry which is based on desire yet somehow manages to avoid being called prostitution, the reader is drawn in and hypnotized by her very human treatment of the subject.

The Marxist/Feminists excel at this sort of organic, unorthodox (but still resolutely Marxist/feminist) take on (often pop/cultural) subjects, subjects which are treated with far too much frivolity. This is a sweeping look at the process of dating and mating which revealed considerable truth while at the same time had me shouting “Yes! Exactly!” And honestly, Marxism, as it is entwined with radical feminism, needs to gain better, more concrete understanding of specific practices like the dating industry, beyond mere dialectical materialist theory. It needs to understand what materialism we’re facing. Labor of Love tackles this admirably.

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Creepy male “journalists”, word wank, and judging women by appearance while wearing a Rush tour t-shirt

Happy Christmas! Behold, misogyny combined with the worst writing this side of Twilight!

It all started when a certain sack of old balls named Owen Gleiberman (gee, I hope I’m spelling his name correctly, but if I’m not, there is absolutely no loss – the douche nozzle deserves anonymity) wrote an article opining that, as it had been 15 years between Bridget Jones movies, and as Renee Zellwegger looked different because of time and reality and stuff, was she the same person?
The mind reels.
Do you think Woody Harrelson, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and every other male actor who has ever existed MAGICALLY TURNED INTO WOOD SPRITES WHEN THEY GOT KINDA OLDER? How about when certain male actors deliberately went after a different physical image? Did De Niro convert to Islam after he gained weight for Raging Bull? Are Russel Crowe, Edward Norton, and Patrick Stewart a bunch of neo-nazis because they appeared onscreen with scary tattoos?
Then some masturbatory word-jizz came down the pipe when a failed writer (of the now-cancelled, Martin Scorsese sponsored TV show Vinyl) wrote some claptrap personal profile of the Australian actress, Margot Robbie. To wit:
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It goes on and on. This is sadly par for the course whenever some male writer needs to throw together some bullshit under a deadline when he a) has no idea who the person was, and b) had nothing to say on his own. And so, you have pasty white creepy middle aged, middle class Elmer Fudds writing weirdly proprietorial articles on women who are several LIGHT YEARS out of their league, who normally wouldn’t waste their piss on these writers if they were on fire. Whenever some asshole male writer starts focusing on the physical attributes of a woman, ALWAYS investigate what Rico Suave looks like himself. Then post those lovely, sexy shots of music critic lotharios somewhere public – if anyone deserves to be outed, if words have to be raised in defense when anyone is dismissed/judged solely by the incredibly arbitrary standards of personal attractiveness, hypocrite misogynist assholes are an excellent place to start.
A number of people (beyond lunatics such as myself) aren’t taking this shit as a given anymore – as I’ve said a million times before, we are living in a nouvelle vague of feminism, particularly in light of the atrocity which took place in the States a month ago. Clinton may have barely lost, and she may not have been as representative of Women (or those identifying as women) as others, but the feeling remains in the air, and this oppositional attitude will continue in the face of reaction.
Not only are female actors, writers, artists, and everyone else that contributes to the cultural conversation taking a stand against the kind of bigotry that can be found from sea to shining sea (from dog-mud Twitter eggs to Vanity Fair writers and their lax editors), these first responders are no longer doing so alone. That inane competition which seems to govern (and I do mean govern) the entertainment industry, and which fractures and divides those who should be allies, is being left to one side in the name of survival and solidarity. Most people don’t use my language, and would consider me a radical relic, but their actions are nevertheless the same. We use different words – that’s all.
Anyway, for a much funnier look at this stupidity, and the manner in which drooling male journo-bots with nothing to say and the retarded articles they produce (including the Robbie article, which describes Australia as “America fifty years ago”) see –  http://tinyurl.com/hjhjcwv
 
Do yourself a favor and watch something like Born In Flames or the new season of Crazy Ex Girlfriend (which has lasted a lot longer than fucking Vinyl or Roadies  or the other tributes to the male wannabe rockstar), or check out Take My Wife, an amazing new TV show which is about the trials and tribulations of a lesbian comedy duo who are also married (both on the show and in real life).  Or listen to Rhea Butcher’s very rad comedy album, imaginatively entitled Butcher. Or, I don’t know, find out where any given male writer for dinosaur publications like Variety or Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair, and kick his balls in, while mocking his appearance. It may not change the world, but the visual image of dozens of fortysomething “journalists” rolling around on the ground and gripping their nuts makes me laugh and laugh.
 
 
Ho Ho Ho!