Monday, October 01, 2007
A Real Feminist Icon

I'm sure you all remember my rant against the NYT article that claimed that the Pussycat Dolls are feminists. A common problem with this third wave feminism/Sex in the City/sex positive generation is that pundits often confuse sex with empowerment. I just finished up a "Third Wave Feminism" unit with my Women's Studies students. It is always such an eye opening experience to talk about popular culture feminism with young students. They really are split into three camps--the people who argue that sex-positive feminism is really just raunchy, the people who argue that sexual empowerment is feminism, and the people who fall in between and argue that sexual empowerment is one important facet of today's feminism. Inevitably, students bring up Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, the L Word as examples of feminism. I encourage them to think of examples that are perhaps less sexual and more complex. I try to stress that third wave feminism isn't just about the sex. It is still about equality and empowerment. As I immersed myself in a day-long marathon, I realized that I look to a rather less obvious example--LA Ink.

I've been obsessed with Kat Von D for quite sometime now. I can't get enough of her pin-up edgy look. But besides being absolutely gorgeous, she is a complex, independent woman who struggles with business ownership, body image issues, and familial struggles.

I've never heard her call herself a feminist. But, on national television, she's wrestled with boob size, asking someone out on a date and balancing her familial responsibilities and the stress of owning a new tattoo shop. She is overtly sexual but does not sell sex. As such, she won't be held up as the poster-child for the new generation of feminism. The NYT and others would rather look to/at women who only talk about sex. Makes you wonder how much progress we've really made!



Blogger Kourtney said...

I heart her!!!!!

Also, if you ever watched her on her last show she also struggled much of the same things. Fighting for respect in a male dominate tattoo parlor. She was ususally underminded and ignored when she was bringing forth concerns. The men on the show often said she was being "bitchy" or possibly even "PMSy" when she voiced her opinion.

Blogger Cagney Gentry said...

Great post! I have recently become a fan of the show, and your analysis makes me even more so. Not only is she using her actions and her body-as-canvas to communicate strong femininity, she also represents an entire counterculture who are usually cast as the aproductive class. Perhaps, she will even be able to shift the boundaries of taste, maybe one day society will herald women who are bold, inked, and beautiful.

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