May 14, 2010
And over here we've got what we can only hope will be the final
nationwide appearance of any kind whatsoever of one dangerously prim,
heavily shellacked Laura Bush, trotting herself out like some sort of
equestrian trophy on Larry King Live to shill for her new book, "Shut
Up and Sit Quietly, You're Just a Woman" -er, "Spoken from the Heart."
Verily, it was on the advice of a handful of brave readers that
I forced myself to watch the clip in which Laura, looking increasingly
extraterrestrial and translucent, responds to a couple of Larry's
mildly loaded questions by twitching, blinking a few times and then
humbly, quietly, rather sheepishly admitting that, yes, she is, in fact, both pro-abortion rights and pro-gay marriage, and apparently has been for just about ever. You read that right.
Well now. Here is where I would like to say that I stood up and
screamed. Here's where I sort of expect myself to write that I leaped
up in my chair and hurled something heavy at the screen with a
full-throated "What the f-- did you just say?!!" and then curse her in
a hundred dialects for her pathetic decade of cruel silence and
I didn't do any of that. All I did was sigh and shake my head
in compassionate disgust, as a tremor of deep pain shoot through my
heart, a visceral cringe in honor of all the suffering, sadness and
loss Laura Bush could've have helped alleviate, even just a little, had
she brains enough, and balls.
But just so we're clear on some details, oh sweet, pitiable
Laura: You had, back in 2000, two young, party-riffic twentysomething
daughters, you were, for better or worse, the default role model for
women everywhere, you were the emblem for female freedom and feminine
empowerment to a hundred nations, and you... did whatnow? Lied
outright? Lived in quiet denial? Slaughtered your own core beliefs?
Kept your second-class Southern wife mouth shut tight and sat by
quietly while the men did the "real" thinking? You sacrificed your own
daughters to the sweaty altar of Karl Rove and the fundamentalist
anti-choicers? I see.
Oh sweet Laura, it is very likely you are going to hell.
Look, I don't care if Dick Cheney threatened you with razor wire
and a concrete pumps. I don't care if Karl Rove said he'd suffocate you
with his giant clammy hog thighs if you dared to speak up. You did a
violent disservice, even outright harm, to women the world over, for
nearly a decade. You helped allow virulent homophobia to rage in the
nation and in your own husband's tiny soul, when you were in an
insanely unique, privileged position to a stand, even a modest one, and
help defy a deep hatred and ignorance in this country.
I'm not suggesting you had to become the spokeswoman for
Planned Parenthood. I'm not saying you had to become a raging activist,
a feminist icon. I know, as a Southern wife, you were trained from
fetushood to stand by your man and never, not ever, speak against him
or make him look like an idiot. But they say, Laura, that behind every
great man is a great woman. George Bush was a small-minded, incompetent
puppet. Shall we guess what that makes you?
All right, enough of Laura. Because over here, we have another
weird angle on the female empowerment/role model conceit, by way of a swell micro-trend piece from Slate
detailing the possible maybe trend of young female sex bloggers
possibly maybe choosing to begin pulling back, just a little, from
oversharing every detail of their mediocre sex lives -- every orgasm,
blowjob, conquest, erotic dream, rape fantasy, or muscle spasm that
passes through their transom. Could it be? Is the TMI culture slapping
itself awake? Don't bet on it.
It's the tale, primarily, of one Lena Chen, who apparently
overshared far too much of her young (very young) and rather childish,
raunch-free Harvard sexcapades on her personal blog to the degree that
Chen suffered a bit of a twee recoil, a hot little backlash from
bloggers and classmates alike, all resulting, Slate says, in Chen
learning some sort of harsh lesson, given how she's now to be found all
buttoned up and semi-proper, speaking at conferences on virginity and
abstinence to people who have never had multiple orgasms using a
Hitachi, two hits of Ecstasy and a large riding crop. Chen is now all
of 22. Neat.
It's supposed to be a cautionary tale, I think, though where
the caution is, it's impossible to say. Don't be a spoiled 19-year-old
Harvardite who writes the word "f--" a lot and shows some nipple on
your blog? Don't whine about how you're not getting laid because you
have midterm exhaustion and you're just too tired? Wait until you're at
least 25 and have a had a boyfriend who lasted more than two months
until you start blogging about how he won't go down on you? I can't
Does it matter? Even the meta-snark hipsterettes over at
Jezebel hath declared the hookup/shaming scene to be totally over --
despite, of course, how they reinvent and perpetuate it every fifth
posting. So, you know, caveat emptor, perverts.
See, I know my share of sex bloggers. I personally know one of
the best in the stratosphere, Violet Blue (former contributor to this
very site), who's been doing her thing for years and has cranked out a
zillion and five books and has enthusiastically exposed nearly every
inch of her smooth, tasty, highly erotic mindset to anyone brave enough
to follow along.
I've disagreed with V's stances on many occasions, but I
really don't give a damn. Because overall she's fantastic a thousand
ways from Sunday morning cunnilingus, effortlessly defies every Lena
Chen, and is a fearless champion of good porn, good sex ed, and
consensual respectful raunch like the Catholic church can only
fantasize about. World could do with a million more like her.
Upshot: There's professional, intelligent, personality-rich sex
blogging, and there's, you know, being a horny 19-year-old with free
campus Wi-Fi and no real clue as to who you are, what you're doing, or
why. Alas, the Slate piece fails to mention Violet at all.
There's a point in all this, somewhere. Oh, right: role
models. Women. Sex. Responsibility. Empowerment. Where to find? Where
do you seek? Chen was supposedly a role model to overanxious Harvard
freshmen girls who've never swallowed. Laura Bush was a role model for
terrified Southern housewives stuck with idiot-boy husbands, sad, lost
women who, in Laura's case anyway, could have made a real difference,
could have been downright historic, had she the slightest bit of nerve
and soulful integrity.
All told, there appear to be about a million examples out there
of, well, what not to be. Don't be Laura. Don't be Chen. Don't for
damn's sake be anything like the half-baked treatises of Caitlin "Loving Our Inner Housewife" Flanagan,
whose recent Atlantic piece dissecting teen sex and hookup behavior
reeks of patronizing distaste for young sticky things she doesn't
understand. I'd suggest being more like my girl Violet, but she's
pretty much one of a kind.
Which, come to think of it, might be the best advice of all.
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