February 25, 2017

"There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product."

"Women, of course, have been writing about such things for years, including on the internet, but commodifying that writing had proven fraught. Marketing the entirety of the self through a personal blog — like Heather Armstrong’s Dooce, or Emily Gould’s iteration of Gawker — led to writer burnout and reader disillusionment. A better, more sustainable way to commodify the self was to do so piecemeal. For female authors, this meant writing personal essays on the most sensational slivers of their lives. For websites, this meant paying those authors — hundreds of them, the supply was nearly unlimited — somewhere between $0 and $100 for each sliver. I know about this economy because, for about four years, I was part of it...."

So begins "Tales From the Personal Essay Industrial Complex" by Anne Helen Petersen (a NYT book review, covering "How to Murder Your Life" by Cat Marnell and "All the Lives I Want/Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers" by Alana Massey).

Word that I'm glad to see doesn't appear in this article: Feminism.

Why I'm glad: I don't see how this sort of self-exploitation by young women counts as feminism.

ADDED: "I am myself the matter of my book. You would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject."

22 comments:

rhhardin said...

I don't see how this sort of self-exploitation by young women counts as feminism.

Women are vulnerable, it says.

They always need. That's feminism.

Achilles said...

In other news the porn industry is doing quite well and the girls are getting way more than 0 to 100$.

Bay Area Guy said...

Shorter NYT article:

"We spend all this time on the internet, but nobody pays us?

rhhardin said...

Viewed with a cold eye, or as a female, a woman's body is very ordinary. Nurse Duckett, Catch-22

Her own body was such a familiar and unremarkable thing to her that she was puzzled by the convulsive ecstasy men could take from it, by the intense and amusing need they had merely to touch it, to reach out urgently and press it, squeeze it, pinch it, rub it. She did not understand Yossarian's lust; but she was willing to take is word for it.

Men are wired to be fascinated.

So a woman's body is a woman's problem to work on. She has needs, she feels; and men are the answer.

If it's a need, it's feminism.

Laslo Spatula said...

"There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product."

Yet it took another five years for Gwyneth Paltrow to tell us about the Vagina Steamer.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Google shows that there were numerous articles about Anal Bleaching between 2008 and 2010.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

So, per my 10:08 comment, the headline should've read:

""There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life, her bleached anus — became a lucrative internet product."

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

"sometime between 2008 and 2010"

Wow. That's a youngster, writing.

Young people should write, and sometimes they write superbly. This is not that, and she should probably write alone for a while.

rhhardin said...

Feminism, as about women's needs, is about how women differ from men.

There's a hundred years of marching in place.

Kate said...

Jane Austen, unavailable for comment.

bagoh20 said...

Daytime TV is an even better example of this, and it's mind-numbingly stupid, wasteful, repetitive, and deceptive in pursuit of women's money and attention. Those profiting from your attention would have you barefoot and pregnant 365 days a year as long as you have a credit card.

Laslo Spatula said...

From Anal Bleaching essays from Women of the era:

"Anal bleaching is a new constellation in which pornography, strippers, celebrities, and some free neighbors think."

" Yes folks, you too can erase that unsightly rectal stain just like porn stars and gay men have been doing for years."

"An eerie silence settles over the pharmacy as I sidle up to the poor woman stocking the skin care aisle. With fire in my eyes and drink on my breath, I make a vow not to tiptoe around the matter. Such is my fervor. Such is my madness. "Excuse me. Do you sell anal bleach?"

"One sorority girl said she will take part in the anal bleaching not just for recruitment, but for the rest of her life."

" According to recent studies, anal bleaching is a result of excessive soda and coffee drinking or poor hygiene. Thus, after many years of poor eating habits and wrong wiping, your anus skin becomes darker."


Notice how each writer brings her own unique -- yet female -- perspective to the subject? Notice the different take they bring to the subject versus the gay male writer:


"There is no question; we are living in image obsessed era. But I find it somewhat ironic that now that our culture is beginning to celebrate the beauty of “Beige and Brown” people and tanning salons are in nearly every strip mall, we are concerned with the melisma or our anuses.

In case you haven’t noticed, I think the asshole is not only a beautiful thing but also sacred. It should be treated carefully and reverently so it can bring both Tops and bottoms years of sexual pleasure. Luckily for me and my blog, gay men like showing off their bouginas and much as their cocks..."

Compare and contrast.

I am Laslo.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I am afraid you're wrong, Professor.
Self exploitation is a choice, and is empowering.
Making empowering choices is the core of feminism.
Choosing to exploit oneself is strongly feminist.

Bob Boyd said...

"a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product."


"[T]he real holdup is that non-adopters — mostly older, rural and less-educated — just aren’t interested in Internet access, at any price"

Zach said...

Massey is best when she pinpoints the particular viscousness of living under patriarchy. An essay on Fiona Apple and Lana Del Rey observes that both women attract “men who can smell the blood on the places where a woman is breaking”; elsewhere, she intermingles the narrative of how Britney Spears’s body became public property with the way men call her body “perfect” only when it’s below a healthy weight.

Word that does not appear in this paragraph: self destruction. (Odd in an essay that starts with Marnell)

When people start self destructing, they start attracting and hanging out with bad people. It's not a man-woman thing, except to the obvious extent that sex is involved. These are straight women, so the people they get in the worst trouble with are men. Straight women, straight men, gay women, gay men -- the sex of the partner will vary appropriately, but the behavior will be the same.

I bring this up, because one thing I don't like about the current wave of Internet feminism is how it blurs the lines between personality problems and a political manifesto. You're not selfish, drug addled, lazy, or insecure, it's the Patriarchy! And not only is the Patriarchy making you do these things you would never do on their own, they're also convincing everyone else that they're bad! Screw those guys!

buwaya said...

Barefoot and pregnant, and, better, with many children to take care of, is healthier than such bored self-absorption.
There are reasons we are here, and that reason is never us.

n.n said...

The defining quality of feminism is women's Choice. Well, that, and progressive chauvinism (PC).

Zach said...

Sadly, many people who write well are extremely self obsessed.

There should be some sort of warning for young writers:
"WARNING! You are not interesting enough to support a writing career! You have to go out and meet other people!"

Everybody wants to be Walt Whitman and write the Song of Myself. But the truth is, there are only two genres focused on the self. There are autobiographies, in which famous and successful people write about their life, and personal addiction memoirs, in which wretched and unhappy people do the same.

And the autobiographies are all ghostwritten.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

No offense, but Dooce ain't Montaigne and if self-obsessed ladybloggers (or dudebloggers) are what we call Humanists today, well woe unto us.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Just reading the header of this post caused a deep, flickering, almost subliminal, impulse to shoot myself in the face. The notion that sharing your excessive self-examination is unseemly and vain might be dated. That doesn't make the sharing any less vomitous. And, yeah, I get the irony of saying that.

Earnest Prole said...

Your narcissistic pasty-white tale grows tiresome.

ceowens said...

I took a fly tying class a couple of years ago. The fellow teaching it mentioned a cosmetic removal product, correctly spelled "Albolene", as a fly floatant. He misspelled it however and my first internet search yielded a number of references to an anal bleach produced in Thailand. Now I suspect I am on another government list I would rather not be on. (Coming to you from a machine running Windows XP)