"When are you going to realize? You're not part of the equation."
The Washington Post is adding another minute or two to "Washintonienne" Jess Cutler's Warhol Clock:
.... Jessica and her friend slid onto stools in the cool dimness of Bullfeathers, a popular Capitol Hill watering hole. Jessica ordered a Southern Comfort. It was the middle of the afternoon on May 18.
"What happened to you today?" the bartender asked.
"I got fired. I lost my boyfriend and my job, and it's my birthday," Jessica remembers telling him.
Of course, this is all so three-months-ago, now, but it's rearing its ugly head again, and I'm tempted to wonder why; but here it is, so I'll put into bits some of what I thought at the time, aged by a couple of months to bring a little nuance to the brew. Sit back and listen to a story, then, children, all about a girl who thought she was invisible. Or maybe she just didn't think at all. The details are sordid, and while some of the details are a matter of dispute, the core sounds disturbingly familiar: A young woman takes a quasi-glamorous job in a Senate office that doesn't pay enough to support her in the style to which hip modern young middle-class people believe they should be accustomed. She discovers that she can use sex to improve her position, often through direct cash payments. One day, she begins to blog; her day to day life has the sordid cachet that seems to connote credibility among the denizens of the Fox Generation. And this time, unlike the Plain Layne soap opera, people can actually corroborate the story.
One day, again, she counts her lovers and they total six. "There are seven days in the week," she says in her own defense. The "boyfriend" she "loses" is only one of six men she is sleeping with on an ongoing basis. Two of the others pay her regularly. One of those is a married political appointee, who is only interested in anal sex.
I have some empathy for poor little Jessica, but little sympathy. She bragged about her job and her connections and talked up her exploits as though they were something she was proud of -- though reading between the lines, she seemed to me to be running on bravado as much as anything. After all, bravado -- the willingness to take that dare, even if it's from yourself -- leads an awful lot of people into trouble who are otherwise perfectly "nice". I see her as buying into a set of ideas about what she ought to be like, and how she ought to use her sexuality -- market-based ideas, really. She had an "asset" to sell, and she "sold" it, and she's selling it still, looking for ways to drag out her 15 long enough to close the book deal. All stuff, by the way, that I'm quite sure all her friends are eager to tell her are "smart" things to do.
But even if it's all bravado, all behavior to impress her herd-mates, she still had to choose to live that way. It probably wasn't one big choice. It would have been the result of a bunch of little choices, like making up an imaginary boyfriend to impress the other girls in school. And it's interesting to note that the style of her presentation is much like that men use to tell their own sexual lies. (And while the fake-boyfriend story isn't substantiated, a pattern of other lies-to-impress has been.) It's not that I regard it as scandalous when women adopt male sexual behaviors; in fact, I rather think it's kind of pathetic. After all, what does identifying with the oppressor ever really get you except self-repression?
I also lack sympathy for the Conservative backlash. It's unexamined; it lacks credibility. After all, this "girls gone wild" culture is pushed most assiduously in the broadcast realm by "Conservative" stalwarts like Fox Broadcasting and Murdoch's News Corp. That tells me that there's more than a simple "conservative" v. "liberal" opposition going on here. It seems clear that in a culture driven by consumption, business prospers as we become more neurotic, and the simplest way to drive that is to increase the degree of sexual stimulation at the same time that you increse the pressure to conform to conservative sexual moral strictures. This is nothing new, and it's not driven by any genuine philosophy of enlightenment: It's as old as advertising, and it's driven by the desire to make profit.
So both the Conservatives and the Libertines are fellow-travellers in this, as far as I'm concerned.