A post where I probably shut off a future writing for glossy women’s magazines
So, Jezebel posted a gift guide called “Gifts Women Really Want“. Being of the female persuasion, I clicked this link, and while the audience includes platonic gift buyers, I really do fear there may be some gentleman readers who think some of these gifts are appropriate not just for giving your sister or giving your platonic female friend, but also giving to that nice lady who lets you put your naked body near and even inside her, calls you by an affectionate nickname, and is statistically likely to be doing up to twice as much housework as you. True, Jezebel is a lady blog, but men read it, as do ladies who sleep with ladies. And some of these gifts are not appropriate for your girlfriend/wife. Girl-space-friend, okay. But if naked fun is in the works, these gifts shouldn’t be.
There’s a common perception that giving a gift card is an inherently lazy; unless the card is to a specialty retailer much beloved by the recipient, it’s a pretty generic present. That said, I highly doubt that there’s ever been a Target gift card that wasn’t eventually put to good use. And there’s something about Sephora that causes blackouts—you wander in to kill some time and suddenly, 90 minutes later, you’re blinking back to consciousness and wondering what the hell you’ve been doing the entire time. You might never buy $25 foundation on your own dime, but if someone else is giving you your pick of the store…
This reminds me of one of my so far favorite posts on Man Boobz about an anti-feminist/anti-woman forum post:
but what exactly can I get my GF for Christmas for about $30 that would not inflate her ego too much? Is there a book? A CD? Anything?
You have your answer, abusive asshole! A Target gift card for $30 should do it. I don’t want to be all down on the gift card. I think that everyone is secretly grateful in most situations where one is given. Giving someone a gift card could, under one circumstance, be romantic, and that’s if it’s a store she really likes and you enjoy shopping together and you go with her to be that second opinion that is so useful in shopping. But not Target, seriously. I’d probably be careful around Sephora, too. I disbelieve that you could spend 90 minutes in there, unless the gift card was for like $1,000 or something. It would just be eaten up way too fast. I went into a Sephora in Manhattan once, and I did find myself blacking out, but that’s because of my inability to justify those kind of prices for stuff that’s basically the same as you can get at Duane Reade for a fraction of the cost.
It’s sort of hard to come down from there, but many of the rest have red flags planted in front of them if your lady friend has any inkling of feminist stirring in her. Proceed with caution if thinking of buying a woman a full set of kitchen utensils or a set of make-up brushes. If this is something she’s expressed a desire for to you directly, then it might go over really well. I was thrilled to get a copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian last year, but I had specifically mentioned repeatedly how much I wanted that book. But just springing accouterments of feminine service on someone as a spontaneous gift is likely to send the signal, “Work harder, woman. You displease my high standards of femininity.”
The fleece-lined tights just seem like a good idea overall, though.
Feminist ladies are hard to shop for, I’m sure. People in general are, but so much of the holiday gift-buying pressure around women is around buying them things that make them more efficient worker bees at the endless feminine tasks of beauty maintenance and housework. And that can be insulting to women who tend to believe they have more on offer than just their bodies and their domestic skills. My feeling on this is that clothes are a better bet, if you honestly feel you have a good gauge of someone’s taste, which can be hard.
I have a few feminism-related ideas for gifts for a feminist in your life, though.
The Brooklyn Museum is having a show of feminist-minded pop art, and of course, there’s a shop to go with it. It’s got stuff that scratches both the feminist urge but also the urge to be hip and funny. A cheeky feminist flask is the best idea ever. The perfect treat for anyone who busted her ass on #mooreandme.
Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. This is a great book for either a music fan with an established or emerging interest in women in music, but it’s also a great gift for feminists who are interested in the highs and lows of feminist organizing in all its forms. Riot Grrrl is primarily remembered for the music, but at the time it was just as much about the writing and organizing within the punk community to make it and the larger world a better place for women.
But if your feminist gift receiver is into music made by women, there are a bunch of great albums out lately by The Ladeez Who Kick Ass. As mentioned last night, Janelle Monae had the album of the year with The ArchAndroid. It technically came out last year, but I’m deeply in love with the Vivian Girls Everything Goes Wrong, which is for the rock fan in your life who doesn’t like a certain trend in indie rock now that Jen Sorensen nailed perfectly.
This album actually rocks, as does the Dum Dum Girls I Will Be. For those more laid-back listening sessions that still shouldn’t involve giving up any semblance of verve, Best Coast kicked major ass this year with Crazy for You, which has a cat on the front, for that added spark in the feminist music lover’s life. For people who miss Sleater Kinney—and really, you should—there were two albums out by alums this year. Janet Weiss has been drumming for Quasi for a long time now, and their most recent album American Gong is truly awesome. Corin Tucker has The Corin Tucker Band now, with their album 1,000 Years. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until next year for Rye Rye’s album.
On the book front, one of the most exciting feminist books of the year is Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. It’s an epic dismantling of all the pseudo-science and bad science that is used to justify sexism. If someone is more of a pop culture addict, I can’t recommend enough Jennifer Pozner’s Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. Pozner analyzes the sexism and racism of reality TV without dragging it down in jargon or making you feel guilty about liking it.
And, of course, Get Opinionated: A Progressive’s Guide to Finding Your Voice (and Taking a Little Action)” title=”my book came out this year”>my book came out this year, too!
If you’re looking for fun places to shop where the proceeds go to a good cause, here’s some ideas:
Bitch Magazine (subscriptions are a good idea!)
Suggestions welcome in comments!
And to be clear, I’m not bashing Jezebel generally. I realize they had to do a “women only” guide, but the thing about women is they are people. So the gift guides they wrote for general people tend to read way better. Like this one.
Posting is going to be kind of light. I’m feeling the need for some mental health kicking around Brooklyn kind of time.