Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Miss Advised": Living the Feminist Nightmare

If you think that Aaron Sorkin does not know how to draw female characters, you need to take a look at a new reality show: Miss Advised.

Feminists object to Sorkin’s characters because they make women look bad. As we know, feminist ideology sees all art as propaganda, valid only to the extent that it affirms feminist prejudice.

Miss Advised is a trainwreck of a show. It's one of the most cringe-worthy shows on television. The characters elicit pity, but not sympathy.

To be honest, the show has some redeeming value as anthropology, as living proof of what happens to young women, brought up by the best of all possible parents, who choose to live their lives according to the misguided principles of feminism and the therapy culture. Or better, when they are, as the show's title puts it, mis-advised.

Julia Allison, Emily Morse, and Amy Laurent seem to be living according to rules that have been a cultural staple for years now. Clearly, they are not living the American dream. They are living the feminist nightmare.

They have dispensed with the old rules; they have liberated themselves from the constraints imposed by the patriarchy; they are living exactly as they please.

Unfortunately, it’s not working out very well for them. The three thirtysomethings all seem to be looking for husbands, but, as you watch them careen from one calamity to another, from one piece of appallingly bad behavior to another, the last four-letter word that would ever cross your mind is … WIFE.

All told they do not have any idea of what it means to be a wife. At best, they are trying out for concubine, not wife.

They might be telling themselves that they are following their bliss or living their desire, but in truth they are making a spectacle of their desperation.

They seem to believe that self-exposure is a good thing. They want to be open and upfront. Yet, it all feels so desperate that it is decidedly unattractive.

Worse yet, desperation feeds on itself. The more you show your desperation, the worse you look. The worse you look the more people will avoid you. The more people avoid you, the more desperate you become.

Like it or not, these women demonstrate that liberation is an exercise in negativity. It is not about following rules. It's about breaking rules. Two of the three make a point of saying that they do not know how to follow rules or to take advice, as though that is something to be proud of.

Of course, if your only rule is the ideological necessity to violate all the old rules, you are being defined, negatively, by the old rules. If you cannot calculate the real cost of such behavior, you are a zealot. 

If the old rules told women to be demure and modest, these women are outrageously immodest.

Julia has a constitutional right to talk about blow jobs on national television, but how many men would want to introduce a woman who talks about blow jobs on national television to their mothers?

If the old rules told women to place a high value on their sexuality, these women are out there trying to give it away.

I hope I don't need to tell you, women do not become wives by giving it away. 

If the old rules say that men should make the first move, these women don’t even give men a chance to make the first move. They take charge and make the first, second and third moves.

When Julia tries this new approach on a date she throws herself at a man, gets rejected and feels even more abject than before.

What’s the problem? This is easy. These women have dedicated their college years and their twenties to career building. They are all successful in one way or another.

Now they are ready to settle down and they discover that their “market value” has diminished. More importantly, their exercise in serial dating has caused them to suffer so many traumas that they are no longer capable of functioning on dates or in relationships. I would say that they are the walking wounded, but, somehow, "walking" does not quite do it justice.

When it comes to making their way through the dating scene they are barely ambulatory.

Give the show credit for honestly portraying the condition of women who decide to postpone marriage and family in favor of career.

Apparently, these three women are dating experts. Julia has been writing columns about dating for more than a decade. Amy runs a successful matchmaking service. Emily hosts a radio talk show where she talks dirty and presents herself as a sex expert.

If they are experts, they must have an audience. That implies that other women take them seriously. A frightening thought all by itself.

They hand out indifferent, but not entirely bad advice, and then fail to follow it.

How many men want to marry a woman who cannot follow rules, thus, who has no discipline and self-control?

She can be the most beautiful woman in the world, but serious character flaws will make it impossible for her to sustain a relationship.

To me the most amazing of the many frightening parts of the show is that none of these women knows how to conduct an adult conversation on a date.

Admittedly, they are having faux-dates with men who are obviously embarrassed for them, but these dating experts seem to believe that conversation involves a mix of interrogation, criticism and self-criticism.

You cannot have a successful date or a meaningful relationship if you cannot connect with another human being. These women cannot.

Half of the time it looks as though they have skipped the preliminaries and are now negotiating price. I assume that this makes them think that they are liberated.

Julia is so frenzied on her dates that she becomes overbearing and obnoxious.

She seems to have bought the feminist line that women should be upfront, straightforward and take initiatives, so she does nothing but take initiatives… to the point of making herself look like a perfect fool.

Desperate people do desperate things.

Matchmaker Amy has a great record fixing up couples. She offers dating and relationship guidelines that seem to be sane and sensible.

When it comes to following the rules herself, she recites the relevant rule and then proceeds to break it.

She dates men she knows she should not be dating and spends her time with them showing that they should not be out on a date. Then she goes home and feels badly if they haven’t called.

Emily is a sexpert, so when she goes out on a romantic date with a childhood crush, the man  is drooling over the chance to test out some of her advanced sexual skills.

He is not thinking about bringing her home to mother.

When Emily and David start their first make-out session the first four letter word that pops up is… you guessed it, ANAL

How romantic is that?

To return the favor and to introduce gender parity, Emily introduces the topic of pegging.

At least, they both seem to be on the same page. Do you think that this man, a divorced father, is thinking of introducing her to his children?

Imagine the scene. His eight-year-old son or daughter blurts out: Emily, what is pegging?

Since Emily seems to like this guy and to want her sexual encounter to mean something, she will, according to the show’s previews, spend the next episode kissing other men.

As I said, these women are so pathetic that the show is painful to watch.

Why are they pathetic?

When you suffer as many romantic traumas as these women have, the net effect is that your instincts become unreliable. You switch into trauma-avoidance mode and your first priority will be to do anything in your power not to have it happen again. You are not likely to know that this is what you are doing. It is a bad habit, with a life of its own, one that is very hard to break.

If you fail to connect, you will not be hurt as much as you would have been if you had loved and lost. If you do connect you will try to find a reason to break up with him before he breaks up with you. Because you know that he will inevitably break up with you.

None are as painful to watch as Julia Allison.

In one episode she goes out with a man who seems perfectly presentable. Within seconds she announces that she does not find him to be sexually attractive.

OK, well and good. It’s her prerogative.

But then, she asks him if he might drop by the next day to help her to move into her new apartment.

He does as she requests, and naturally, asks her out afterwards. She refuses, and tells him that, after all, she has no feelings for him and will never have any feelings for him.

Translation: she was just using him, because what other purpose would he have in life but to be used by Julia Allison.

Julia is using this man to even a score against some other man who hurt her. The other man is not around, so why not punish the man who is around.

We are not talking about good character here.

And then there’s the story of Julia’s ill-fated romance with Jack McCain, son of former presidential candidate John McCain, scion of one of America’s great military families.

Apparently, the blogosphere is full of rumors about how Julia’s bad behavior caused the relationship to go sour. Many of them are chronicled in a blog called: Reblogging Donk.

On Miss Advised Julia takes serious exception to the charges. She explains that she, herself, of her own volition chose to break up with Jack McCain because being the wife of a helicopter pilot would interfere with her career, or something.

Let’s see: the scion of one of America’s great families is being reduced to just another helicopter pilot.

Then again, when she started dating Jack McCain, wasn’t he a helicopter pilot? Why did she not think about this sooner?

Keep in mind that England’s Prince William, the one who just celebrated the first anniversary of his marriage to Kate Middleton is also a helicopter pilot.

How come Kate Middleton did not bail out on Prince William because he was just a helicopter pilot?

But then, Julia also claims that she worried that being the wife of a helicopter pilot would compromise her ambition, or something.

In one sense, she’s right. If she got married, her star-spangled career as a dating columnist, would, hopefully, be over. And her career as an over-exposed internet celebrity would also be over. 

But, wherever do you think she got the idea that she should put career ahead of marriage and family?

As I said, Julia and her friends are living the feminist nightmare. They are offering a cautionary tale. At the least, it’s an honest portrayal of what happens to far too many young women who get caught up in the wrong culture and take the wrong advice.


Anonymous said...

In my bad ol days, I porked a bunch of those kinda loopy chicks. It was very fun and I regret nothing. Of course I am now married to not one of those kinda chicks. We have a great life and lovely children. Those kinda chicks I enjoyed, I discovered on Facething simply got a new one of me to use them, but not as good cuz they are 8 years older. Hahahah!


Dennis said...

And one wonders where Bill Clinton got the idea that women were throw a way items to be used and discarded. Well there you have it. Feminism told him so.
If one has no respect for men why would one expect men to have respect for the? Feminism is a self limiting philosophy.
The longer I live the less things like this bother me because one begins to notice that it is they who suffer most of the problems. One wonder how they can be tied to a philosophy that makes them unhappy. If it is so great why are women constantly complaining and whining about almost every thing?
If feminists want to find the real enemy all they have to do is look in the mirror. Evolution will eventually discard them as not viable. Once one takes a long term view and extrapolates where this has to end it become interesting to watch.

n.n said...


The dysfunctional behaviors in our society are progressive. There is an effort to normalize behaviors, which are not only not beneficial to individuals (other than in the sense of instant gratification), but especially have no redeeming value to either society or humanity, and often cause physical and mental injury to those who engage in them. There is a reason why more people consume psychotropic or reality distorting drugs, alcohol, etc.

Unfortunately, while their behavior engenders evolutionary dysfunction, we are all victims of their selfish behaviors. For example, the ever increasing cost of providing medical services can in part be traced to individuals who are seemingly incapable of accepting responsibility for their own lives. They demand respect and offer none in return.

And to think, people believe that homosexual behavior is prototypical of evolutionary dysfunction. It is, but the consequences are far greater when purportedly heterosexual individuals engage in behaviors which sabotage their own fitness, and it is exacerbated when they attempt to force society to accept their deviance as normal.

That said, I find it perplexing that this behavior is not rejected by individuals who follow God's order, and others who follow the natural order. In both groups, the individuals acceptance of reality is selective when it conflicts with their principal desire to fulfill dreams of instant gratification (i.e. physical, material, ego).

Anonymous said...

You clearly have zero understanding of what feminism is. Don't talk about what you don't know. I suggest you read more, instead of imparting bullshit faux wisdom.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Feel free to argue your position in the comments... assuming that you know how. Using invective just makes you look like a fool.

And yes, women who have lived their lives in a perfectly liberated fashion, and have announced to the world that they have lived liberated lives, who speak freely and openly about matters sexual are simply not on the track to find husbands.

Like it or not, they do not present themselves as looking to become wives. Men will not and do not see them as wife material. And I promise you men's mothers will not want their sons to marry these women.

That's the subtext of the show. Try watching it before you shoot your mouth off.

theremustbeapony said...

"As we know, feminist ideology sees all art as propaganda, valid only to the extent that it affirms feminist prejudice."
Who is this "we" you are referring to in "we all know"?
All art is propaganda? Interesting theory and perhaps widely held, but if so, I would imagine it's not just feminists who might champion such an argument.
Feminist ideology and prejudice? What is that but a common desire to see women liberated from the constraints and biases of patriarchal ideology and prejudice? Or any person's desire that a community organize itself on principles of equal opportunity and human dignity, regardless of gender, race, consensual sexual practices, religious or political beliefs, etc.
While I find many of your observations about the content of this program, Miss Advised, astute, I don't think it has a single thing to do with feminism. Rather, it seems to be putting a spotlight on the pitfalls of superficiality, materialism, selfishness, and ignorance.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, the point does require clarification. You are quite right, all ideologies, especially radical ideologies see are as propaganda. They believe, as a rule, that life imitates art and that the way to propagate certain ideas is to dramatize them in art. Then, apparently people will imitate what they see in art and change their ways.

When I made the remark I was thinking of some of the attacks, I believe on Slate, on Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. While I have expressed many of my own doubts about the show, on this blog, the feminist criticism took the show to task for not presenting the kind of female characters that feminism would want to see.

As for what you call patriarchal ideology, I would say that you are confusing ideology with customs. The structures of human society have evolved through custom and practice... that is not the same thing as to say that they have been imposed through someone's ideology.

As you suggest, feminism is an idealist ideology-- most are-- but once it is translated into reality it does not look as good as it looks in the realm of ideas.

I do think that I should have been more clear on these points. Thanks for providing the opportunity for clarifying them.

theremustbeapony said...

But Mr. Schneiderman, isn't patriarchal custom, as you call it, the practice and institutionalization of the belief (i.e., ideology) that men are superior to women, that women don't have the wit or intelligence or fortitude to contribute to society on equal footing, their labor is less valuable, they should be prevented from participating in public discourse, should not hold property but fall instead within the realm of property, they shouldn't have dominion over their own bodies, etc etc etc.
In attempting to address this imbalance and bias, to understand it's origins and provide a countervailing point of view and new standard, what you call feminism has evolved from private whispers to myriad forms of public expression, including much debate within the so-called feminist ideology. I'm pressed for time as it is a lovely Sunday morning and I'm about to head out to enjoy it ... but interesting discussion.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I hope you're enjoying your day.

And thank you for helping everyone to evaluate the issues.

When I speak about cultures evolving I am referring to their ending the practice of depriving women of property rights, voting rights, job opportunities, and the like.

But when I speak about customs I also mean that the identification of women with home and hearth is not some imposition that someone dreamed up and imposed on women. There are good and rational reasons why women have always wanted to spend more time at home caring for their children and why the division of labor has had it that men, for being less attached to children, less capable of feeding them, and generally much stronger physically have been consigned the role of hunters.

As feminist thinker Nancy Chodorow once said: only women mother. This reality corresponds to biology, thus, I would not call it an ideological imposition.

Anonymous said...

Feminism is the belief in and movement towards equal rights. That's what it means Stuart. That is hardly an idealist ideology. Only in the face of the level of ignorance and sexism that you demonstrate. Don't confuse radical feminism with feminism per se.

And yes the tethering of women to home was dreamed up, by men in power IN PRE-INDUSTRIALIZED SOCIETIES who decided women should not be allowed to vote.

Stop talking about things you clearly don't know, you are offensive.

theremustbeapony said...

Well, for argument's sake, let's accept your premise that separate and obvious or appropriate basic roles for men and women are based on biology, not ideology. That applies then equally to men as it does to women. However, the roles of men and women in a patriarchy are not equally valued. And outside of procreation, the vast majority of these roles -- that have nothing whatsoever to do with physical strength -- are nevertheless doled out by the patriarchy according to power, status, profile, etc., with women throughout history being devalued or outright denied participation in arenas where biology could not even remotely be considered a determining factor. Women practicing science and medicine? Witches, heretics, criminals! BURN THEM! Even today women are not considered capable of making their own reproductive decisions or having the final word on the use of their own bodies; the patriarchy, as embodied in modern church and state -- in the West, Mideast, and the Far East -- believe their male-dominated institutions are the higher authorities. Recognition of a woman's integrity and right to equal citizenship/participation in modern adulthood are denied.
I believe we'll have to agree to disagree, Mr. Schneiderman. I don't see feminism as the root of all evil in the breakdown of modern society. I see it instead as one of many beacons of hope that all is not yet lost to ego, greed, corruption, and aggressive ignorance.
Which brings us full circle to this tv program. To me it's not at all about some built-in flaw of the feminist promise that inevitably leads to bitter spinsterhood; it is rather a pointed example of the corrupting influence of materialism: celebrity vs accomplishment, superficiality vs substance. And from what I last heard, those empty and destructive values are not the sole province of either gender. Perhaps you'll excuse me for suggesting, though, that they do however seem to have a decidedly macho-influenced undertone.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I am happy to point out that Anonymous has provided a good demonstration of the validity of my arguments.

She may not think of herself as a radical or a zealot, but she certainly thinks like one.

First, she refuses to see that there might have been a rational reason why women in primitive and pre-industrial societies spent more time at home with their children.

To her mind it was the vast patriarchal conspiracy that is responsible.

Biology and reality are blanked out by her ideological blinders.

Second, as with most zealous ideologues Anon wants me to shut up. That means that she does not believe in open discussion and debate, but wants to suppress the speech of anyone who disagrees with her.

Unfortunately, feminism, as an ideology, has taken its own fictions for reality, and it has, as Anon suggests confused equality, whether of rights or opportunity, with sameness.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I continue to appreciate Theremustbeapony's thoughtful replies to my post and her participation in this discussion.

And here, without trying to resolve these issues, I would make a couple of points. I am glad that she accepts that biological differences matter. I wonder what she would say to a Darwinian who might argue that women were not sent out to fight wars because inn the calculus of reproduction their role was more valuable, thus, less easily replaced.

Civilization has made it that work outside of the home became less dangerous and the industrialization revolution has made it that a woman's work in the home was no longer as necessary. Thus, civilization corrected itself and granted women greater freedom to choose the way they conduct their lives.

This does not necessarily entail, as some feminists have had it, that being a wife and a mother are intrinsically degrading and that women can only be happy working outside of the home.

When it comes to disparaging traditional women's roles, feminism has been leading the way.

As for reproductive freedom, women in all civilized countries have it. Of course, some people want to threaten the right to an abortion, but that is radically different from women in countries who are not allowed out of the house on their own, who cannot drive cars, or who are genitally mutilated in order to keep them pure.

It's worthwhile to make some distinctions here.

As for Julia, Amy, and Emily, perhaps they have been corrupted by materialistic values, but I was merely trying to point out that they followed a basic feminist principle-- they chose to delay marriage and childbearing in the interest of developing careers. And they have succeeded on the career front, fairly admirably.

I also believe that all of them would happily call themselves feminists.

They have also lived the life of a sexually liberated woman, which is their prerogative, but I do not think that they understand how much those experiences entail trauma and how much those traumas have made it difficult even to engage in a conversation with a date.

Perhaps it will appear so to some, but I do not think that it is too much of a stretch to consider that given the traditional disparagement of the role of wife, to say nothing of the much maligned role of housewife, it is consistent with feminism that not one of these women, supposedly looking to find a husband, looks like she wants to be a wife, or that she could be a wife.

How many of them do you think a young man would happily introduce to his mother. And how many mothers would revel in the fact that one of them was going to be her daughter-in-law?

Yes, they are egotistical, self-centered, materialistic-- up to a point-- but what do you make of the fact that Julia Allison's parents, for one, seem to possess none of these qualities?

RJ said...

I'm surprised Anonymous wasn't a plant.

What a way to prove Stuart's point.

This kind of extreme, censorship and suppressing of disagreement must stop.

Kudos Stuart on not being silenced.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the overall analysis of the show, however, for much simpler, less psychological reasons.

This show makes me cringe to watch because the fact is, the very people who are involved in dating services, giving dating advice or anything else in these genres always seem to have a difficult time finding a lasting, fulfilling relationship. I know, I actually know people in these fields and it is funny that people who are truly unqualified to dish out advice, are actually being televised.

Take Patty from Millionaire Matchmaker... she is another fine example of do this .. don't do this, and she fails, time and time again... along with many of her clients!

Miss Advised is one of the most difficult shows for me to watch, and I'm a reality freak, I relish in other people's chaos of life... it really does make me feel so much better about my own =P, but this show is just one of THE most painful shows I've ever seen, and after "prom night" I honestly can not ever bring myself to watch it again.

Anonymous said...

You're very old, aren't you....let me check...Yes. You are.