Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Latest Feminist Fad

Five decades of non-stop feminism, from second to the third to the fourth wave, and what do you get? You get groups of New York feminists who spend their weekends in meetings where a certifiable dominatrix teaches them how to be empowered. For reasons that escape me, no one has suggested that the exercise smacks of witchcraft.

In fairness, these women have confused empowerment with wish fulfillment. Perhaps they are born-again Freudians, getting in touch with their true desires, or perhaps they are just attending a Spice Girls reunion. You remember the Spice Girls. Surely, you remember the lyrics to their song: Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Olivia Grant has saved a lot of women the trouble of attending one of these meetings. She went and reports back, for The Spectator:

“What is it that you really want?” a glossy-haired brunette purrs into a microphone as she ascends a stage covered in tea lights.

The all-female audience murmurs excitedly amongst itself until a petite Japanese woman in a Rag & Bone blazer shouts, “I want more!” from the back of the packed auditorium.

‘Of course you do…’ the brunette responds with a grin. A slit in her tight pencil skirt reveals she’s wearing leather thigh-high stiletto boots.

The crowd gains confidence. “I don’t want to be so polite!” adds a leggy blonde in a vintage T-shirt next to me.  Everyone mutters in agreement. Suddenly a woman with an impeccable blow-out on the second row explodes with, “I WANT TO PUT MY FEET ON MY BOSS’S DESK IN LOUBOUTINS AND TELL HIM TO GO SUCK IT!”

“Beautiful! That is so beautiful…” the brunette chuckles dirtily into the microphone…

Grant was induced to attend this meeting by a friend named Claire:

The woman on stage is called Kasia and the best way I can describe her is that she looks like a pint-sized Angelina Jolie with the gravelly voice of Juliette Lewis. I was encouraged to go hear her speak by a female friend over brunch. ‘This woman is off the chain,’ my friend Claire exclaimed excitedly between forkfuls of steak tartare at CafĂ© Cluny, ‘you come out completely pumped.’ After asking what she spoke about Claire said she ‘teaches you about being a badass basically, how to have that internal confidence feeling that I’ve always lacked, you know?’

So, five decades of feminism and these women lack “that internal confidence feeling.” Say what? 

Now, why might that be the case? Well, consider this: defining yourself in terms of what you really, really want means defining yourself in terms of what you really, really lack. It diminishes your accomplishments and achievements. It diminishes your role in your family. It makes you a creature of appetite, defined by something you are lacking.

I will not tell you what Freud would have made of this, but if you imagine that you become strong and empowered or confident or even a badass, by focusing on what you don’t have, you have been duped.

As it happens, attendees at these covens do not see things in quite this way. Like Grant they are up in arms over the fact that they have been acting like good girls. They have been working hard and achieving. They have been following the rules. They still feel that they lack something. As for whether that something might be a husband or children, the issue does not seem to arise.

At the least, they have probably been following the feminist life plan. And they have discovered that being a modern liberated woman is not necessarily the path that will bring you a happy home and a happy family. No one says this, so you may count it as my own fantasy. One would like to know how many of these women find their dates via Tinder?

If they believe that they are going to fill those gaps in their lives by being more assertive and by leaning in, they have lost contact with reality. 

Anyway, Grant portrays herself thusly:

Despite spending my life on stage, speaking publicly and generally thinking of myself as socially outgoing I have spent most of my twenties and early thirties battling with a sort of ‘good-girl persona.’ Working hard, getting As, going to Oxford and being totally, totally terrified of failure. Instead of addressing this directly I would furiously over-prepare, insist on excellence from myself and avoid any situation in which my presence wasn’t ratified by my peers or employers. Any person that promised to fill me with the ease of effortless confidence was worth my attention.

So, Grant finds herself in a ballroom near Bryant Park in Manhattan:

This is how I found myself at a talk called ‘Fearless Desire’ in the marble-clad ballroom of the Bryant Park Hotel in New York City. It has to be said that the experience was a tad weird. The talk had a cultish feel and it was clear from the way these women hung on Kasia’s every word that many of them had heard her speak before. There is also the fact that Kasia Urbaniak herself is pretty unusual. An ex-dominatrix turned female empowerment coach she now runs an increasingly on-trend school called ‘The Academy’ which promises to give you the practical tools to break out of years of ‘good-girl conditioning’ and step into your power.

As I noted, these badass girls want to become bad girls and to become more empowered. Has anyone else noticed that feminists have been selling female empowerment for decades now? If young women are trying to get lessons in empowerment from a dominatrix, then clearly feminism has failed.

Grant continues:

With a large body of women, however, woken up to a new sense of possibility in the MeToo era there seems to be no shortage of women willing to give their money and time to feel more empowered. But what does she teach in these classes which are almost all sold out on her website? Kasia’s focus is that women must access their desire.  Desire, Kasia claims, is key to giving you the ‘juice’ to move from a less desirable sense of fear to a more freeing sense of fearlessness.

Speaking of dumbass ideas, you cannot do much better than: “a more freeing sense of fearlessness,”

Dare I mention that fear is a normal human reaction. If you are half the size of your opponent you should not poke him in the eye. Your sense of fear will alert you to danger and work to keep you safe and secure. What virtue lies in becoming stupidly fearless? Does it make you feel more empowered or does it put you in greater danger? If women have systematically refused to pretend to be stronger than they are, perhaps they know something.

I will spare you the rest of Grant’s excursion into the world of faux empowerment. I will close with the immortal words of Michelle Obama:

And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work.


lyin' dog-faced pony solider said...

I know someone named Olivia Grant, and she would be quite at home too at one of these sessions.

Gibson Block said...

You edited Obama's statement. She said it doesn't work all the time -- not simply it doesn't work as you have it.

Your version has more punch but it's not an authentic quote.

Gibson Block said...

You edited Obama's statement. She said it doesn't work all the time -- not simply it doesn't work as you have it.

Your version has more punch but it's not an authentic quote.

You can also see this dominatrix thing as part of the progression of a profound social movement that takes decades upon decades to work itself out. You assume that if it hasn't fulfilled itself already it's failed.

whitney said...

Wealthy white women. You know what I think they should do to shed that good girl persona? They should all try heroin repeatedly. Probably mix it with some Fentanyl. That'll get them over that good girl feeling real fast.

UbuMaccabee said...

Costumes! Ma and Pa Ubu know a thing or two about costumes! When you peel away the layers of bravura and hot talk and you get down to the essence, there is nothing but a frightened little girl looking for her parents. Sometimes it can take a while to get to the bottom, but that's all there is. And on the rare, rare occasion when it's not, well, that's a fish riding on a different bicycle altogether.

Anonymous said...

"You assume that if it hasn't fulfilled itself already it's failed."

Oh, it's gonna be *glorious*.
Just not anything like you're expecting.

trigger warning said...

Do they give out complimentary copies of the wildly popular "50 Shades" at these chick-fests? Or is it just about fantasy outfits and designer shoes?