Jordan – don’t you just love her? As political correctness moves away from all that 1960s and 1970s feminists fought for so passionately, spare a thought for what they achieved. They tried to convince their sex that men were the enemy. They trashed male chauvinist pigs, burnt bras, marched, and wrote vituperative polemics. They managed to convince some women, and amuse and irritate enough men, for it to be felt that they had changed attitudes.
Then along came Jordan and her ilk. In the past 25 years, women have re-learned to dress every bit as provocatively as the great courtesans of the past. Clothes more revealing than at any time in history, cosmetic surgery, boob jobs, Botox: all are increasingly found in the arsenal of women who give the impression that they are desperate to have as much sex as possible. In other words, to behave exactly like most men hope and dream of behaving.
Let’s call them Female Chauvinist Pigs, the title of a 2005 book by Ariel Levy, who argues that it is women themselves who make sex objects of other women by playing the game according to male rules. Launched alongside it was Are Men Necessary?, by Maureen Dowd, who believes that the original feminist movement was a “cruel hoax” that did nothing to change the balance of power.
The books comprise a new canon of feminist writing, and both have a point. The people who dictate how women look and perceive themselves are largely the editors of fashion magazines and the women’s sections in newspapers.
They are always female. Further, without exception, they follow the mood dictated by the designers, who are predominantly male and gay, and could be said to have a not-entirely-mainstream attitude to women.
Maybe Hugh Hefner was right in his belief that the female role is to seduce men by fulfilling male fantasies. But does behaving like Jordan or dressing like a pole dancer empower or enslave? Ask the boys.
(First published 2005)