Monday, August 01, 2005

Barbie Got a Gun & Other Feminist Fun

So, once I've stopped laughing, my question is how exactly is this helping? Yeah, it's pretty funny & it reminds me of Simon Abkarian's speech in Yes about the movie on the bus of the blonde American gunning down Arabs with a smile - but, hmmm, as much as I enjoy kooky/kinky Barbie stuff (hangover from childhood Barbie obsession - I was never allowed a Ken doll, wonder if that's why I'm queer?) this picture bums me out.
Possibly because I'm immersed in Tori-world. It's taken me three months to finish Tori Amos: Piece by Piece, not because it's dull or difficult, but because it's so full of wisdom and fascination, I kinda didn't want to finish it. It's also my last tenuous link with being on holiday in Berlin, where I read a chunk of it before seeing Tori's show at the Tempodrom. If I squint my nose, the book smells of linden blossoms and the air before a storm. I like to leave a bit of a holiday book unread so I can slip back into holidayness when I'm back in the grind.
Did the same with a fantastic manga by Kan Takahashi, called Kinderbook. Not your kid sister's manga. I had no idea that there were Japanese comics that weren't all wide-eyed young women showing their panties (hey! i don't draw 'em, i just see 'em - don't blame me for the stereotype). that childish sexuality thing disgusts me (as, for example, when i came across a hello kitty vibrator on eBay). which is why Tori seems so important to me right now - not only is she singing out loud (and writing) about a very powerful form of feminism that is neither a post-feminism of lipstick choices and glass ceilings or an earth mother braless drum circle feminism (these are both cool, just not my cup of herbal tea), but at 41 she's arguing that all those teenyboppers selling shoes by dancing around in their scanties -- it's just wrong.
i am all for healthy expressions of child sexuality. but jessica simpson ain't it. Harmful to Minors is one of the best books I have read in the last five years, an absolutely searing condemnation of the way in which the US government treats children as 'innocent' and highly sexual at the same time, depriving them of lucid and humane education while allowing them to be objectified in the pursuit of big business. Barbie the Bomber isn't just the witty reversal of social norms (bombers are expected to be male and of colour; barbie is expected to be polite and non-political) and a statement about ending barbie's reign of body-image terror, it's also a comment on the dangerous sexualisation of the toybox.
And yet it's still kinda icky? What exactly do I want? More books like Piece by Piece, which offer guidance that's both pragmatic and metaphysical, that's funny and doesn't hesitate to be serious, to talk about bodily fluids and business deals in the same sentence. And... I want it to storm, because right now the pressure is killing me.

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