I took so much pleasure in printing this out highlighting it in pink and scribbling “girly”, “immature”, internet babble on it that I can’t even deal right now! If I could have written this all in emogi I would have.
This is a line by line reaction to an article. It is long.
I have copied and pasted Camille Paglia’s article into this document and have attempted to differentiate my comments so they are obvious. This was made difficult by the constant embedded links back to the article. You can check my work by comparing it to the original.
Let’s read and react together. I found it was more fun to do this while listening to a Taylor Swift google play station.
“Girl squads were a hashtag summer craze that may have staying power. Blogs and magazines featured intricate star charts of the constellations of celebrity gal pals clustering around Taylor Swift, Cameron Diaz, Lena Dunham or Tina Fey. [ok if you’re gonna have problem with the feminism bomb that is Tina Fey this isn’t going to go well.]
Names appearing on the shifting roster of girl squads include Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Selena Gomez, Willow Smith, Kendall Jenner, Sofia Richie, Chloe Sevigny and Karlie Kloss. Hot models Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne bob and weave through several groups. Adele joined the club in November when she dined out in New York with Emma Stone and varsity squad player Jennifer Lawrence. [Please tell me you’re not going to find fault with, Jennifer Lawrence, the woman who busted wide open the unequal pay in hollywood issue.]
“Squad” as a pop term emerged from 1990s hip-hop (Hit Squad, Def Squad). It once had a hard, combative street edge, but today it’s gone girly and a bit bourgeois. [Is is bad that it is now more feminine?] Social media are its primary engine. Perhaps the first star to use stylish Instagrams to advertise her tight female alliances was Rihanna, with moody snaps of herself and bestie Melissa Forde out and about in Los Angeles or lolling seaside on Barbados. [is this a bad thing?]
Do girl squads signal the blossoming of an idealistic new feminism, where empowering solidarity will replace mean-girl competitiveness? [foreshadowing?] Hollywood has always shrewdly known that catfighting makes great box office. In classic films such as The Women, All About Eve, The Group and Valley of the Dolls, all-star female casts romped in claws-out bitchfests. That flamboyant, fur-flying formula remains vital today in Bravo TV’s boffo Real Housewives series, with its avid global following. [I agree that this is not a good thing.]
A warmer model of female friendship was embodied in Aaron Spelling’s blockbuster Charlie’s Angels TV show, which was denounced by feminists as a “tits-and-ass” parade but was in fact an effervescent action-adventure showing smart, bold women working side by side in fruitful collaboration. A similar dynamic of affectionate intimacy animated HBO’s Sex and the City, whose four feisty, mutually supportive professional women prefigured today’s fun-loving but rawly ambitious girl squads. [This bodes well. Sex & the City also examined women’s sexuality in new and interesting ways.]
The entertainment industry has seen feminist spurts come and go. Helen Reddy’s 1972 smash hit “I Am Woman” became the worldwide anthem of second-wave feminism. In 1985, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox did the slamming duet “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.” The Spice Girls encapsulated sex-positive third-wave feminism with their 1997 manifesto Girl Power! Performing at the 2014 Video Music Awards, Beyonce flashed “FEMINIST” in giant letters behind her, but questions were raised about the appropriation of that word by a superstar whose career has always been managed by others, first her parents and now her domineering husband, Jay Z. [ok so her word isn’t good enough for us?]
With gender issues like pay equity for women actors and writers coming increasingly to the fore, girl squads can be seen as a positive step toward expanding female power in Hollywood, where ownership has been overwhelmingly male since the silent film era. For all its dictatorial overcontrol, however, the early studio system also provided paternalistic protection and nurturance for young women under contract. Marilyn Monroe was a tragic victim of the slow breakdown of that system: The studio made her, but in the end it could not save her from callous predators, including the Kennedys. [So things were better when we were more under the thumb of male run studios? I’m confused.]
Young women performers are now at the mercy of a swarming, intrusive paparazzi culture, intensified by the hypersexualization of our flesh-baring fashions. The girl squad phenomenon has certainly been magnified by how isolated and exposed young women feel in negotiating the piranha shoals of the industry. A dramatic example of their vulnerability was the long-lens pap photo of Swift sitting painfully sad and prim on a Virgin Islands taxi boat after her tumultuous 2013 holiday breakup with pop star Harry Styles. [I sure hope we’re not also going to prey on women already encountering people judging their every move.]
Given the professional stakes, girl squads must not slide into a cozy, cliquish retreat from romantic fiascoes or communication problems with men, whom feminist rhetoric too often rashly stereotypes as oafish pigs. [uh oh. We’re not about to engage in feminist rhetoric ourselves are we?] If many women feel lonely or overwhelmed these days, it’s not due to male malice. [really? Not at all? Not ever?] Women have lost the natural solidarity and companionship they enjoyed for thousands of years in the preindustrial agrarian world, where multiple generations chatted through the day as they shared chores, cooking and child care. [ok even if I buy the idea that we were better off so far back in time that it’s impossible to fact check I’m concerned. we’re not going to further damage our solidarity, right?]
In our wide-open modern era of independent careers, girl squads can help women advance if they avoid presenting a silly, regressive public image — as in the tittering, tongues-out mugging of Swift’s bear-hugging posse.[oh shit here we go.] Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video “Please Welcome to the Stage.” [Yep sex shaming at it’s best. Thanks for that.]
Girl squads ought to be about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects. [ok. so women can only form groups if they are going to use them the way you find productive or relevant to the cause.] Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history. With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women. [woah!! what? WTF? WHAT? Stop being a woman and start being a man? What? The male experience has something to teach us about being a better more productive woman? I can’t…]
If women in Hollywood seek a broad audience, they must aim higher and transcend a narrow gender factionalism that thrives on grievance. Girl squads are only an early learning stage of female development. For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts. [Translation: if you want to be good feminists do it the way I say to do it. Forget being yourselves, forget having fun. You don’t get to have fun. You’re a woman. In case you forgot for a second let’s just remind you that you exist only to please other people.]
Camille Paglia, 68, remains one of the world’s leading cultural critics and is a frequent contributor to THR, where she has written about the intersection of pop culture, politics and religion. “Writing about Taylor Swift is a horrific ordeal for me because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth,” she says of analyzing the pop star and her entourage.”
OK so here is where I can no longer keep my hair on! This entire build up of asking probing questions on whether women behaving as “feminine” women and enjoying themselves is good for the movement is answered with “No you need to be more like men”?
Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? I am filled with so much rage I haven’t been able to think about much else since I read this.
Again I would like to ask “Highly Educated Feminist Lady are you really saying women need to learn how to be better at being women from MEN?” *thumps forehead in manner learned from her father* Are you for real? Is this a cruel joke?
This woman is an educator and this article is making me glad I never took classes on this subject.
Tell me this isn’t so. Someone please make me cup of tea and rock me gently and make it all go away.
This is something I will not accept. ONLY I GET TO DECIDE HOW TO BE A WOMAN. You are not the boss of my underpants. You are not the boss of Taylor Swift’s underpants. Only she gets to decide in what way she contributes to the movement. Call me whatever label you want, I believe we contribute as best we can based on our gifts and talents and god forbid our needs as a person.
Further, as someone who has been involved with theater let me explain the excellent bonding experience of putting on a show with people. All the weeks of work and the pressure of performing perfectly the lines, notes etc that you have learned pay off with a huge euphoria when everything goes right.
That final bow is an amazing feeling. For just one moment even if you have had beefs with a member of the cast, all is forgotten in the thrill of communal and individual achievement.
Theater can transcend gender. The post show high was just as great with male cast members as it was without. Team work is paramount and for just a few moments you’re all part of something special and exciting.
If Taylor Swift wants to share her performance euphoria with her friends that is completely natural. I think bringing her friends up on stage proves she knows all she needs to about bonding.
No only does this article ultimately peddle in the catty female competitiveness the author herself references but I believe at its climax this piece amounts to tone policing. Taylor Swift and co. are not being “the right kind of feminist” for Paglia and she feels they must be corrected.
Let me make this very clear. Tone policing is the same regardless of the source and still hurts “the movement” whether it is said by a man or a woman. Repression is repression.
We need to elevate women who are brave enough to put themselves out in the spotlight, not tear them down. As Camille points out there is plenty of that already.
In summation thank you Camille for pointing out how ugly our internal opinions of other women can be. I have so much work to do myself in this area. I am revitalized and committed to being a more empowering influence on my sisters.
Thank you for being you. We need more of that.
I haven’t always been your biggest fan but I’ve always secretly loved “I knew you were trouble”.
Thank you for writing songs that girls who don’t fit in can relate to.
Thank you for putting your feelings out there for us all to experience with you.
Now I’m gonna go attempt to “shake it off”.
PS And while we’re on the subject why is she the only one who takes shit for writing break up songs when half of songs written fit that mold?