Archive | sex

The Color Purple

I read Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple when I was about fourteen, probably too young to understand its full complexity. All I understood was that the world conspired against Celie–and at fourteen, that’s sort of how the world felt to me, too.

With each re-reading of the novel, I saw more: the way that the form–an epistolary novel–drew on centuries of (white, European) literary tradition and challenged it at the same time; the fact that love between women challenged (and eventually dismantled) structures of male power; the joy and power that comes from finding work that matters, whether that work is singing jazz or making pants that fit women.

I’ve taught this novel a few times, and I love listening to students talk about what they discover in the novel, which still resonates, even now, more than thirty years after it was first published.

I was reminded about the novel’s power today, when I watched Jennifer Hudson and the cast of “The Color Purple” pay tribute to Prince, whose album “Purple Rain” came out two years after Walker’s novel.

I’m not alone–I’m one of millions, I suppose–when I say that Prince’s songs were the soundtrack of my youth. At the time, of course, I thought I was very, very adult, singing along to “I Would Die 4U,” or “Raspberry Beret…”  There was childlike joy in the music–the sheer ecstatic pleasure of making something–married to the very adult pleasures of the flesh.

His music floated out of dorm rooms and dance parties when I was at college in the early 1980s. College, for me, was a small women’s college outside of Boston, where The Color Purple was on lots of reading lists: all that female empowerment! On the weekends, the school held “mixers” — ghastly dances that drew men from surrounding colleges. Sometimes men from specific schools would be invited, sometimes men just showed up, but all of the men (okay, most) seemed certain that as inhabitants of a female-only world, we must be starving–nay, near unto death–for the lack of male company.  The standard conversation at a mixer often went something like “hey, how are you, my name is Jeff/Pete/Charlie/Biff…” and then after a few pleasantries, the question: “Is your roommate home?”  And that meant: would you please take me to your dorm room and let me see your little red love machine?

Much to the chagrin of Biff, Charlie, and Pete, we were frequently quite fine, thanks, without the pleasure of their company. Which is not to say that sometimes we didn’t make like darling Nikki and get ourselves a lil’bit of fun, but just as frequently–and often jump-started by Prince–my friends and I would dance towards each other, ignoring Biff’s entreaties. We danced, god did we dance; the boys couldn’t keep up and we didn’t want them to. Prince gave us permission to dance without worrying about what we looked like or who was watching; he gave us permission to move for the sweet pleasure of moving.

I haven’t remembered those dances in a long time. It took Prince’s death to remind me of the freedom we felt as we danced; the music made me feel like I could do anything.

Somewhere in The Color Purple, Celie writes “Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.” Maybe that’s what Prince wanted to do in his music–be loved–but maybe, and more likely, I think he wanted us to remember to love each other–whenever, whomever, and however we wanted, in whatever fleshly and passionate fashion we could find.

Celie also tells us “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”  We couldn’t not notice Prince–not just his purple, of course, but the marvel of the creativity that streamed out of him, an amazing gift that I, at least, thought might never end.

Goodnight, sweet Prince. Nothing compares 2U.

 

Continue Reading · on April 22, 2016 in aging, Feminism, pop culture, sex

underpants for the underage

I will not be the only blogger who writes about this latest “ooh aren’t we edgy” marketing campaign; there are bloggers with far bigger platforms than mine who will draw attention to the latest entry in the “How Low Will Corporations Go” sweepstakes.  You thought perhaps the JC Penney “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother does it for me” shirt was lame, right?

Is your daughter too pretty to do her homework?

And I imagine you weren’t real happy about the fact that Abercrombie & Fitch had a campaign to sell padded swim-suit tops…to 8 year olds. Because really, let’s start training these girls early that it’s all about the boobs, girls, all about the boobs–and thus every swimsuit should, without a doubt, resemble a personal flotation device. (You’ll be happy to know that the company altered the description of the swimsuit top from “padded” to “lightly lined.” Which totally makes it okay.)

But now? Now we may have a winner in the Tastelessness Sweepstakes. I present to you the latest line of underwear being marketed by that bastion of tastelessness, Victoria’s Secret:

It’s a whole new line of undies that seem designed not so much in the “delicate unmentionable” category as they are in the what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking category.  Here’s another beauty:

Victoria's Secret: Pull "Bright Young Things" From Shelves

Couldn’t a gal just, you know, text some guy her number instead of dropping trou to present her request?

The undies are part of the new “Bright Young Things” line being launched as part of the VS PINK line; the ad campaign features scantily clad girls women frolicking in what are being billed as “Spring Break Must-Haves,” which is why I guess the collection also includes some fabulous beach towels, like this one:

At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old lady muttering into her hearing aid, I’d like to suggest that from meet to kiss there should be more than one step. It seems appropriate that a beach towel carries this message, which is about being utterly and completely passive: just recline and let things be done to you: be called, be met, be kissed, be pinked. It’s like the girl is some kind of puppy waiting to be adopted from the pound: like me like me like me, all tail-waggy and dewy-eyed. And let’s not even contemplate what “pink me”  means, shall we?

Oh I know, there we go again, we shrill humorless feminists, we mothers whose memories of youth vanished when we zipped up that first pair of comfy mom jeans. I mean, it’s just a towel, for god’s sake, it’s just a pair of underpants.  Reeeelaaaaaxxxx, right?

Or as this oh-so-clever article from E! Online (ever a reputable news source) says, “don’t get your panties in a twist.”  And here’s why we should all just chillax, according to the article:

Victoria’s Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women,” the company said in a statement to E! News. “Despite recent rumors, we have no plans  to introduce a collection for younger women. Bright Young Things was a slogan used in conjunction with the college spring break tradition.”

So, in other words, they’re not trying to make teens too sexy before their time.

The misunderstanding originated when the company’s chief financial officer, Stuart Burgdoerfer, said at a conference, “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink.”

The Bright Young Things just got caught up in the fray.

So no worries on the underpants front, folks, those sexy-pants messages are safe from your high school daughters.  Victoria’s Secret isn’t trying to turn 15 year old girls into sexy college students, absolutely not. I’m sure that store clerks will be carding their customers to ensure that no prepubescent lassie will be buying underwear that says “I Dare You.”

But hey, as “part of the magic,” I think that PINK should by all means encourage college girls women to emblazon sexual challenges on their scanties, and to splay themselves on beach towels that encourage objectification, passivity, and … pink-ing, whatever the hell that is.

Okay, sure, it’s just a stupid marketing gimmick and it’s just an overpriced pair of underpants that maybe don’t mean much. But the body that will wear those underpants? That body has meaning; that body has value.

Or at least, it should have value.  Unfortunately, the folks at Victoria’s Secret seem to have missed that point.

***

A petition to pull these pants off the shelves (as it were) is circulating the web; you can find the petition here.

Continue Reading · on March 26, 2013 in Feminism, Gender, growing up, Kids, Parenting, Politics, Products, ranting, sex, shopping, Uncategorized

Fifty Shades…

So I read a fairy tale the other day.  Actually, three fairy tales. A trilogy about a young girl who meets a handsome stranger with a dark secret. They fall in love (you knew that was coming, right?), overcome a variety of obstacles, banish inner demons, get married, and have babies.  Happily ever after and all that. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on March 2, 2012 in Books, marriage, pop culture, sex

a new year’s lesson about marriage

New Year’s Morning. Caleb and I are walking back to our hotel from Patisserie Claude, in the West Village.  I am tired, not from too much champagne but from being awakened by the rantings of a very drunk, very angry woman in the hotel room next to ours.  Apparently her boyfriend is Satan and now we and everyone else on our floor know it.

Anyway.  We’re on the corner of Sixth Avenue when Caleb offers me these valuable insights on baby-making and marriage.

Caleb: I know why Uncle can’t get married. He doesn’t have any sperm.

Me, jolted out of late-night stupor: Wha?

Caleb: Daddy said, it had to do with a sperm bank and stuff.

Me: Wha?

Caleb: Daddy said that Uncle put the sperm in a sperm bank and then N’s mom got some because she couldn’t have a baby and she wanted one, and that’s how she got N.

Me: And so what does that have to do with getting married?

Caleb: Well Uncle’s sperm is all in the bank so he doesn’t have any left.

Me: And you need sperm to get married?

Caleb, patiently: Well YEAH, of course!  But he doesn’t have any left, so he can’t get married.

 

So there you go. This whole time I’d been thinking my bro was single because finding someone interested in settling down, in Hollywood, is sort of like expecting that Russell Brand & Katy Perry were going to last–when in fact, it’s just a sperm thing.  Glad we could clear that up for you.

 

Caleb and I are linked up to lovelinks…you should go there too and read around. Then come back on Thursday and vote for three of your favorites. Probably not as much fun as sperm donation, but hey, you can do lovelinks in your office during lunch!

 

 

 

lovelinkin.com

Continue Reading · on January 1, 2012 in Children, Kids, marriage, sex

Physical Education?

The other day I was just out of the shower but not yet dressed when Caleb walked into my room with some pressing question about legos, or about some injustice perpetuated by his older brother.  I decided not to call attention to my general nekkid state by telling him to wait until I grabbed a towel, so I just kept getting dressed.

I remembered our conversation when I read Mamabirddiaries today, about parents being naked in front of their kids. We’re not big naked folks around here, although the uniform of most of the boys in this house seems to be shirt, socks, underpants.  Trousers get dropped more or less at the door.

Anyway, so the other day, Caleb nattered on about whatever was on his mind while I got dressed and then he stopped talking, looked at me.

Looked up, looked down.

“Mommy,” he said, “how come little girls have penises but big ladies don’t?”

Hmm.

“Little girls don’t have penises, just little boys. Little girls have vaginas, just like ladies.”

Caleb tilts his head, thinks a bit.

“Nah,” he says. “M.  in my class has a penis. And she’s a girl.”

Hmm.

“Um, how do you know that?”

Shrug. “I just figured that everyone had a penis except ladies. Like you. Penises are good because you can pee standing up.”

Indeed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Continue Reading · on May 11, 2011 in Children, Gender, growing up, sex

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes