So, I’m reading this profile in Newsweek on her and I’m struck by something I just wanted to say out-loud:
She seems to have thought that her job was to fix John Edwards.
This made me shake my head. I mean, of course she did.
This is not what I had hoped, of course. I had hoped that she was some sophisticated seducer in it to destroy every man she sets her mind to and reveling in it.
I mean, of course it wasn’t going to be that, but I hoped it for her anyway. After all, being an agent of chaos is at least being an agent.
But no, instead it’s this.
Every day I’m reminded of the way our society makes us little bonsai-souled people, put us in small containers with no firm roots, train us to grow in contorted ways, and call it natural, call it art.
And here is that familiar bonsai shape for women–the catalyst for change.
It’s funny. You know, we talk so much about the Madonna/whore dichotomy and I think everyone gets what that is. But even within the whore catagory, there is a split, I think, between the whore who fucks for her own well-being and the whore who fucks for the well-being of men. And the whore who fucks for he own well-being is often seen as the worse of the two, but clearly because she has agency: she chooses for her own sake. (Though I would argue that, as in any case, it is always better to be doing what you’re doing because you choose to do it for your sake.)
The whore who fucks for the well-being of men, though… In our society, she is beloved. Not as beloved as the mother of your children, but the next step down. And one of the reasons she’s beloved, I believe, is that she is oriented towards helping men achieve power and prowess and keeping it.
So, she’s in opposition to the Good Wife and still represents a threat to the Good Wife, because she and the Good Wife have the same goal–to advance the man–but the Whore who fucks for the well-being of men has as her advantage that she can be a little more dirty and fun and that she can appreciate something about the man that no one else can (whatever that may be). So, she still fits comfortably into the virgin/whore dichotomy and she, as a role (and let’s be clear that we’re talking about roles and characterizations here), is still the same old problem the broader role of Whore has always been for women.
But what’s interesting to me about her (the whore who fucks for the well-being of men, not Hunter), is that she is clearly rewarded as being the better choice, if you had to choose what kind of whore to be–because she is a catalyst for the transformation of the man. Yes, she’s a whore, but she’s giving and enlightening and so on.
And because, I would argue, she’s a catalyst for the transformation of a man, she can believe she has a certain kind of power. And well, shit, maybe for a while she does.
And here’s where I’m just like *cringe* because, in a slightly better world, Hunter, if she wanted to be powerful and have influence on the world stage, would have worked hard and run for office or headed up a think-tank or become a public figure in her own right.
Instead, she thought that her best option for having an influence on the world stage was to transform Edwards into a better man. Not to have power herself, but to help a man get more of it.
And isn’t this just what we’re trained to do? Stand on the side-lines and cheer the boys? Stand in the choir and back up the preacher? Be the administrative assistant for the man off doing things? Basically just keep things chugging along for him as pleasantly as possible so that he can go out and be GREAT. Always adviser to the king, never the king.
And only adviser to the king as long as you’re also providing the king with a little thrill greater than the headache he’d get from your discovery.
Ugh. I had a point in here.
Yes, first of all, that we need to broaden our imaginations as to what’s possible for women. Resigning ourselves to having access to power only through our vulvas is a fool’s game, to say the least. But second, dear lord, women. Fuck who you want because you want to fuck them and you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing that fucking some powerful man means you will save him or transform him or expand him or fix the world through him. That’s not going to happen and what a tremendous waste of your time and energy.
I mean, it’s a clever justification for being willing to fuck a married dude who would be betraying his wife–“I have to fuck him in order to help him become the man he should be”–but let’s see it for what it is–a justification. And a lie to ourselves about how power is possible for us and how we can effect change.
So, yeah, it seems to me that, if the only choice we have is Madonna or whore and, if we must be whores (and let’s be clear that we all must be whores–that’s how it works), let’s at least be the whores who are in it for ourselves.
Edited to add: La Chola is talking about similar stuff here.
And to add: Oh, my god, I just realized. Hunter wanted to be Edwards’s manic pixie dream girl! This, I believe, means that when the movie version of this is cast, Zach Braff will play Edwards and Drew Barrymore will play Hunter.