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 offensive passivity.
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 quite tell.
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.