Sorry if my blogging is sparser than usual. I’m still in New York, and will be until Friday. But everything will be back to normal next week!
Meanwhile, I’m watching this defensive, threatened reaction to Jessica Valenti’s wedding with a combination of genuine surprise and bemusement. I don’t generally perceive Jessica as a threatening figure, but she must be, because both the NY Times Vows coverage of her wedding and the Playboy blog reaction engaged in the game of “smack down the uppity feminist”. The Vows story took a bunch of not-too-subtle digs, telling a story of a feminist who “softened” her views on marriage when a man showed interest, which of course isn’t the case here. As far as I know, Jessica have never been a grumpy marriage curmudgeon (like I am), and so front-loading the article with her criticisms of engagement rings and then ending it with the word “softened” is intellectually dishonest, even if they admit in the middle that Jessica’s opinions on marriage have remained constant.
But the Vows story is the model of respect compared to the Playboy weirdness. The Playboy blogger doesn’t even try to hide that feminists threaten him. He takes a cute little story about Jessica’s husband Andrew eating fish that he didn’t like to impress Jessica on their first date, and makes a “women’s genitals smell like fish joke” about it.
Here also was a woman that he found impossible to say “no” to—as he learned that night when she insisted he try the ceviche. “I soldiered on,” said Mr. Golis, who has always detested “fishy fish.”
Perhaps our minds are in the gutter—strike that, they most certainly are—but might this tale of dining out have a more metaphorical import? And how well does this bode for the future of the happy couple?
After turning this joke over a couple of times in my mind, I think that it’s both a misogynist “fish” joke and a homophobic slur, with the implication being that the only kind of man who would marry a feminist is a closeted gay man. That’s a whole lot of threatened there.
I’m forced to conclude that Jessica getting married and letting the NY Times write it up is some kind of brilliant subversion disguised as rather mainstream, ordinary wedding behavior. Because a happy, smiling feminist in a wedding dress drives sexists absolutely fucking nuts, because it deprives them of their favorite delusion, which is that feminism is the last resort for bitter, lonely women. Without that, they’re reduced to fish jokes so juvenile that even high school jocks would take a pass. So clearly, one of the best weapons in the feminist arsenal is being visibly successful and/or happy. Who knew it would be so easy? This could be our secret weapon—photos of smiling, happy, in love feminists holding hands with their partners. We’ll get the ERA passed in no time, now that we know what to do.
Jessica and Andrew—well done. Most people get married just to make themselves happy, but you guys did that and have struck a blow against the fragile egos of sexist pigs everywhere.