So, I was thinking about how, by the end of my recent post on feral supermodels, I had become interested in how ‘heroin chic’ or ‘poverty chic’ had become, well, just chic. That is the first thing.
The second thing I was thinking about is why I am obsessed with chicness as feral. To be ‘feral,’ as you probably already know, is be wild. But not quite wild like “girls gone wild,” (although…) but more like raised in the wild, like raised by wolves.
According to feralchildren.com, feral children “are children who’ve grown up with minimal human contact, or even none at all. They may have been raised by animals (often wolves) or somehow survived on their own. In some cases, children are confined and denied normal social interaction with other people.”
Hmm. Today’s celebrities: survivors? — check (Kate Moss has been in the news for almost 20 years!) Denied normal interaction? — check. Raised by animals? — well at least there’s a good metaphor there.
Anyway. Maybe we like our girls feral because we like them at best beyond human–and all equivalent notions of sustenance. Or at worst, we simply like them desperate.
At the heart of this chic thing, the gamine thing, the hungry, I’m-gonna-eat-you-look thing, there is something interesting about femininity as sexual yet not reproductive. The unnaturally childlike body reinforces this, its hungering look promising consumption and consummation without reproduction.
I am not hard on this idea of consummation and consumption because I believe that it is wrong to distinguish between female sex and female reproduction. Frankly, I’m in favor of such distinctions– because I am in favor of female sexual pleasure independent from makin’ babies.
But I have to be suspicious about our growing cultural desire to have all things both ways, and how, if we aren’t careful, the negative energy generated between desire and its material limits will always take someone victim, often a woman. Women should work, but there has been little integration between childcare and labor structures. We want to reduce teen pregnancy, but don’t want sex education. We want peace without the hard work of making justice. We want sexual pleasure without reproduction. In each of these examples, there is some kind of financial “out,” but they are loopholes, not solutions.
To use an over-simplified example: I always want new clothes. If the producers of clothes all made living wages, I could not always have new clothes, unless I were wealthy. I want the people who make clothes to earn living wages, because I want workers in general to earn living wage. Business owners know, however, that even though I want others to earn such wages, I will not stop going to the store. They know that I, perhaps innocently, want to have it both ways. I will never ask the question: what I am willing to give up? To make the example less trivial, substitute “food” for “clothes.”
Earlier in this post, I wondered if we like feral girls because we like our girls without suggestion of sustenance. Not only might their bodies not suggest reproduction, they don’t even need to be fed! They are outside of social relation. There is no marrying them (they’re celebrities), no feeding them (they don’t eat), no making a living with or for them (they’re rich). Apparently, we only need to wait for them to become legal.
They are perfect embodiments of desire. They’re girls gone wild!
And I am pretty sure that there is something I am supposed to like about this. I am not being sarcastic: I like wild. So why this feeling of dis-ease? For what will this mean for regular girls? Everyday girls? Girls who must navigate the wilderness we grow in their images?
reposted fr 5/15/07