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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Strangely, it all makes me think of San Francisco

Julie Klausner at Jezebel wants grown-ass women to start acting like it. And, dear god, to start dressing like it. (Don't Fear the Dowager: A Valentine to Maturity) Given that Zooey Deschanel's new website further bolsters her place as the patron celebrity of Hipster Girls, it's no surprise that, over at Racialicious, Tami Winfrey Harris asks, "Who is the black Zooey Deschanel?" When I saw that title, I thought, for one horrible moment, that it was going to be a serious question, or perhaps a call for one. I was mortified, because as far as I'm concerned, the only good thing about the Manic Pixie, Hipster Girl, grown-women-in-rompers phenomenon is that I've been able to think of it as a white girl pathology. Sure, there must be women of color participating. But surely this type of sexy infantilization is predominately a trend by white people, for white people? Or, to be more fair, this is not a trend that lines up well with the common images of black women that I have encountered. Here's an exercise for you: think of all of the stereotypes about Black women you can. Are any of them suggestive of sparrows? What would it mean, then, to have a black Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

In any case, I should have had more faith in Racialicious. The article points out, among other things, that "we find creepy in a man the kind of childishness we fetishize in women," and also that "the persona Klausner writes about is bound by class and race," the type of perpetual-girl femininity in question being very much tied to ideals of white femininity.

In related news (and linked in Klausner's article), this piece on "The Bird as Symbol in Current Culture."


  1. I am wondering if the celebration of "girly chic" or whatever Katy Perry etc represent can be given a feminist twist; you might be interested in a literary movement in poetry called the "Gurlesque" that combines the kitty/sunshine/rainbows thing with some celebration of the bodily grotesque. There's an anthology involved, I believe.
    I'd rather celebrate unicorn jewelry than have a casserole contest or retreat into some kind of sexless after thirty. Call me crazy, but it seems that the femme fatale of the 40s noir was strong, but rarely ended up on top.
    My 2 cents, anyway. But then, I just published books of poetry on comic book heroines and then another one on anime characters, so I can't really be trusted...

  2. Hey, just saw this waiting for moderation!

    I hear you on the femmes fatales - things often did not end well for them. But I feel like there's a little Madonna/whore-like extremism going on if the options are strong but tragic and girly in the arrested development sense. I'd like to think there's somewhere in between, or outside of those extremes...

    That said, I have nothing against unicorns :)