Moses was reflecting that the traumatic aftershocks of her freewheeling youth had made it nearly impossible for her to prevent her thirteen year old daughter from dressing up like a hooker.
Given that Moses is questioning the value of feminism, you could have predicted that the feminist thought police would soon be on her case.
First out of the box was someone who goes by the name Morning Gloria. She expressed her extreme disapproval on the Jezebel site. Link here.
Gloria seems especially upset that Moses did not take enough women’s studies courses to grasp that the fault always lies with the patriarchy and the media.
When in doubt, cry sexism and misogyny and slut-shaming. That will put all of those heretics in their place.
For the past four decades feminists have been telling women how to conduct their lives. They have been telling women what they should think and how they should feel. And women have been listening.
Not all women, but enough women to have produced a cultural sea change in American women’s lives.
In that case, it makes perfect sense, to me at least, to think that feminists should shoulder some of the responsibility for the way women live today. It was their social experiment; they should accept responsibility for the outcome. Even, or most especially, if it was an unintended outcome.
As the old saying goes: you broke it; you own it.
Meanwhile Morning Gloria begins by taking vigorous exception to Moses’s assertion that she does not feel all that good about her premarital sexual experimentation.
Gloria responds: “Moses believes that this generation of mothers allows their daughters to dress like cast members of Rock of Love because they're ashamed of their own pasts, which sounds to me like Jennifer Moses is ashamed of her own past and wants to believe that all women in her age group have shared her experiences just like hers.”
Gloria does not quite understand how Moses can get from feeling embarrassed about her own sexual past to being unable to tell her daughter how not to dress. Apparently, she did not read my post on the topic.
In fact, Moses does not say that all the women in her age group have had experiences like hers. She says that all of her peers have admitted as much to her.
How does Moses connect her own regrets about her sexual past with her inability to control her daughter’s sexual expression.
She explains that given her own past she feels like hypocrite when she thinks of imposing strict moral standards on her daughter. She also implies that feminism, among other cultural influences, has taught women that they should not trust the evidence of their own experience.
If your heart tells you one thing and feminism tells you another, you might not embrace what feminism is telling you but you will no longer be able to trust your heart.
Morning Gloria is hardly an intellectual luminary, so she does not engage the substance of Moses’s argument. She limits herself to areas in which she has some expertise: ridicule, caricature, and name-calling.
She writes that Moses’s viewpoint: “… reeks of good, old fashioned sexism, joining a long, proud tradition of telling women that they should feel bad about themselves for wanting to be sexual. Just because a woman is the one decrying women owning their sexuality and experimenting in their youth doesn't make it any less misogynist.”
Actually, Moses does not feel bad about herself for wanting to be sexual; she feels bad about her own behavior. Let’s not confuse desire with deeds.
Moses is not telling any women what they should feel. She is simply stating that she and many of her peers regret their sexual experimentation.
Surely, Moses has a right to her feelings. Like it or not, she is trying to deal honestly with the traumatic aftershocks of behavior that feminism told her was her birthright.
For that, a feminist scold slanders her as a misogynist.
If you look closely, Gloria is the one who is telling other women how they should and should not feel about their own sexual behavior.
Moses expressed something that many women feel. If this is a shocking revelation, perhaps other women are afraid to express themselves-- they might even be afraid to entertain the thought-- because they know that as soon as they say it in public, they will be denounced for not feeling what feminists say they should feel.
Gloria is a good feminist so she feel obliged to show us that she does not understand the difference between men and women. On this topic feminist thinking is infested with specious analogies that obscure fundamental facts.
In Gloria’s words: “I will eat my hat on the day that we see an op-ed piece from a father to his son about how he regrets sleeping with so many women before marrying the boy's mother and how our nation's boys are being raised to be an army of sluts.”
Isn’t it a basic fact, a basic tenet to a Darwinian approach to human sexual behavior, that when a man and a woman are engaging in an act of sexual congress, they are not having the same experience?
Left to their own devices men and women do not even talk about sexual experience the same way. Men talk about sex; women talk about intimacy. Men think of graphic detail; women think of sentiment and affection. Men live in the realm of the explicit; women live in the realm of sexual mystery.
Why would anyone imagine that these two people should conduct their sex lives according to identical principles.
If men do not often regret their youthful sexual adventures, that is because they are men.
We know that important branches of feminism are in the business of confusing male and female experience to the point where both genders become completely neutered. There are no more men and women; there are persons.
Girls go to school and they are taught this vision of gender equality. They have it beaten into them that they can and must do anything that a boy can do. They are discouraged from being feminine, as though femininity were a patriarchal burden that would consign them to domestic servitude.
What’s a girl to do? Perhaps she will react against it by becoming flagrantly and defiantly feminine at an early age.
Neither Moses nor Gloria mentions the role of schooling in the way these girls relate to their budding sexuality.
I would agree with Gloria on the point that wearing sexy clothing does not necessarily lead to more sexual behavior. I think that it's pretty likely that it will. And I think that mothers are right to be horrified as they see these pubescent girls playing with fire. And yet, Gloria notes, as a recent study put it, that teenagers are having less, not more, sex these days.
I have opined that this reduction of sexual activity might derive from the fact that parents have been scared by stories about sexting and hooking up… and have been sending their daughters a clearer message about the dangers of such behavior.
But then, Gloria makes a statement that is breathtakingly irresponsible. She writes: “And ‘sexting‘ and ‘semi pornography‘ never gave anyone herpes or got anyone pregnant. Thinking about sex or consuming sexual materials are low-risk sexual behaviors.”
Here, Gloria is callous to the point of indifference about these girls’ reputations, their sense of modesty and shame. She is almost encouraging them to “sext” and to star in semi-porn because these are “low-risk.”
In fact, these behaviors are very high-risk to the developing female psyche. No adult should ever encourage pubescent teenagers to “sext.” These girls are not in any way prepared to deal with the emotional aftershocks of such behavior. I would very much like to see Morning Gloria eat that sentence.
It appears that Gloria, speaking for feminism, is encouraging slutty dress and certain kinds of slutty behavior. Feminist sexual morality seems to hold that using a condom is the only moral principle that ought to determine what is right and wrong.
Regardless of how many sexual acts these girls have or have not been performed, the real question is whether there is, in high schools and colleges, a dating culture which would allow them to have relationships.
The evidence suggests that there is not.
Finally, Gloria blames it all on the advertising industry that is selling youth and sex appeal.
In her words: “ women have spent their lives inundated with images and messages that drill into their heads the notion that they're only valuable insomuch as they're sexually desired, fecund 25-year-olds. Teenagers crave to be initiated into that sorority and women fear leaving it while feeling guilty about wanting it. A woman that has taken this notion to heart- that we're only valuable as aesthetic consumables- would naturally want her daughter to live on in the sphere of relevance.“
And also: “ The article bears no mention of the emergence of the subgenre of entertainment that focuses on the sad pursuit of eternal youth and sexiness by Real Houswives of every goddamn city in America. Teens are desperate to enter the sexy zone and adult women are terrified of leaving it, attempting to inhabit the realm of teenagerhood for longer and longer.”
Full disclosure: I have not seen any of the Real Housewives shows. I have not even seen any episode of Jersey Shore.
Fuller disclosure: Yes, I did notice that Gloria’s syntax often verges from clunky to agrammatical. I am not drawing attention to it because I am a nice guy.
If it has not been generated by the Mad men of Madison Avenue, why are so many older women pursuing “eternal youth and sexiness?”
Of course, Moses is writing about thirteen year old girls, girls who cannot shop without their mothers’ credit cards, so the point is not entirely germane.
Yet, when it comes to older women, my personal feeling is: if they want to buy products that will make them look young and sexy, that is, after all, their right. They do not need the feminist thought police telling them how they should look or how they should spend the money they earned. If they want to spend it on fashion and cosmetics, it’s none of anyone’s business but theirs.
But still, I believe that feminism has contributed more than its fair share to this tendency of women to try to hang on to their youth.
Look at it sociologically. Thanks to feminism, women are marrying later in life. Feminism persuaded women that they should not marry when they are “fecund 25-year-olds,” but to wait until they have established their careers.
Thereby, feminism has helped to create a class of thirtysomething husband-seekers whose prospective mates are eyeing younger women.
If an older woman is competing against a younger woman for a man’s attention, then perhaps she will do whatever she can to make herself look younger.
If this is true, then the situation Gloria is railing against is the fallout from feminist policies.
Also, feminism has not been promoting lifelong conjugal commitment. It has often denounced marriage as oppressive to women, and has encouraged women not to compromise with male pride.
Believing that women should be liberated from their marriages, feminism also worked long and hard to destigmatize divorce.
Over the past four decades this, unsurprisingly, has produced a spike in the divorce rate.
In turn, this has created a new cohort, the fortysomething divorcees who are back on the mating market, looking for second husbands. Since these women will also be competing against younger women for male attention, it might be normal for them to want to appear younger.
Then, you also have a very strange cultural phenomenon afoot in the land. Moses expresses it clearly: “In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.”
What if she were among those divorced mothers who are looking for new husbands?
These pubescent females are not competing with their mothers for male attention. They had better not be. But they are attracting men's gazes, and it has certainly happened that a woman who is “somewhat past the age to turn heads” would be thrilled that her daughter is attracting attention because she will assume that the attention will have to be transferred to her.
It makes you wish for a return to the old days when people married young and built a life together. But, of course, feminism hated those days…