Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women who "work" and women who actually work

Ivanka Trump's

Finger under chin. Something to say about that later.*
"book", Women Who Work, was mercilessly eviscerated in every review, but Katherine Miller's May 9th Women who Work take on Buzzfeed made me consider what I find offputting about Tessa Virtue's (non-shamming) social media persona. Tessa is an Olympic athlete at the peak of her unusual abilities. But on social media, she and Ivanka are often peas in a pod.

From Miller:

There’s a certain kind of performative feminism, feminism of the affluent, that seems preoccupied with the idea of passion as activity. This is the feminism concerned with the relative corporate positioning and affirmation of women who went to top 20 schools (rather than, like, the interests of a college-dropout mom or the first woman from a black or Latino family to go to a state college). Passion then becomes something you do — like open a bakery or a lifestyle consultancy group after 10 lucrative but crushing years in banking — or self-care as a luxury item or maybe a positive way of branding "intensity." We’re talking the passion of a Nike Instagram ad (running through blue-gray city streets in neon orange sneakers, the word HEART appearing, set to a synth-bass line if you accidentally click the volume).*

I don't think the bit about economically challenged women means to suggest the financially well off can't be "authentic" (one of the worst words ever as currently deployed by nearly everyone). Just that Miller is talking the debasing of the currency. She's talking trend. Passion and brilliance as personal style. My style is to be passionate! And inspired!

Miller is describing Tessa's social media profile all over.
What if we don't have any? 
Or circumstances loosen our grip?
Miller's next remarks are a little all over the place in the explicit examples she uses (Christ's death on the cross AND the World series), but you know exactly what she means:

This all sets aside the idea of passion as intellectual suffering. The archaic definition of the word actually concerns the agony of martyrs (i.e., Christ’s death on the cross). But even the technical modern definition entails interior violence. The word literally means "extreme, compelling emotion" — an emotion that implicitly has an "overpowering or compelling effect," something that NEEDS to be exercised, that owns you in some way, that can inspire sacrifice or despair or euphoria, something that can break you, actually. This ranges from sexual desire to the depth of emotions to a single emotion in the extreme, the personal investment that leaves you crying in some public place over the World Series. Life is difficult and complicated, and passion — an uncontrollable emotional vector — can be realized, or unfulfilled, or eternally fluid between the two, at the mercy of events beyond our rational selves.

To link any significant part of your life with a true abiding passion, then, is to risk fracturing the whole.

I wish Tessa were presented on social media more honestly, instead of as the familiar type she delivers - the upscale, generically high achieving, good-looking woman who jump starts her daily journey towards her best brilliance with Italian blend espresso and a Locanda Verde blueberry-polenta muffin as a special hump day treat. (Ivanka Trumps twitter: "Daily cold-pressed juice we can make at home? Yes please.") Something a little less formatted (not "personal") from time to time. As an athlete of actual unmatched exceptionalism, I speculate that Tessa occupies the realm of Miller's second paragraph. I'd bet as well that the passion driving Tessa is far more vivid and immersive than the passion Ivanka calls upon in her own career as a licensee and would-be lifestyle brand. But on social media Tessa would fit right in with Ivanka's girl squad if Ivanka had one, and IMO that's a shame.

(And on another level, I wish the social media enthusiasm for a generically defined passion and brilliance were, on occasion, tempered overall.) As another scathing review of Women Who Work put it: "The ideal reader is probably best described as someone who thinks often about budgeting her time, and never about budgeting her money."

*Everybody's scared of the under the chin shot. It's not even flattering on dogs. But Ivanka is unusually vigilent making sure that chin is framed. I noticed back during the campaign that Ivanka doesn't even move in three dimensions - she tries to make each move a pose. Watch her ascend the stairs at any one of the debates.
All this past season I was thinking that barring a big whoops along the lines of Scott's near big oops in the 2017 World Champion free, Virtue and Moir would wind up their careers with four World Champions, so there. I only recently "doh'd" that they're not going to go to worlds if they win the gold in PyeongChang, and even if they don't.

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