"The Skirt" is an ongoing series in which Four Pins' resident lady friend, Rachel Seville, becomes the most important woman in your life.
Because I am writing on the Internet and can therefore bestow dubious authority on myself to do so, I’d like to survey the recent cultural landscape.
What’s the most talked about show on television? Lena Dunham’s Girls. What’s recognized as the smartest (though not necessarily most viewed) comedy on network TV? Tina Fey’s 30 Rock. The most exciting thing on the Internet is a feminist site run by a sixteen-year-old girl. Everyone’s bummed about SNL because the best cast member (of all time?), Kirsten Wiig, left. The most talked about literature right now is all written by women, whether it’s smut in E.L. James’s 50 Shades, high-minded literature in Sheila Heti’s experimentally "fictional" How Should a Person Be, or cultural and social commentary in Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men (that’s right, dudes, “the end”). While Jay-Z and Beyonce are a “power couple,” there’s a reason Zadie Smith ended her recent New York Times profile of “Beyonce’s husband” with a discussion of how he’ll raise the child he recently had with the most beautiful, fiercest woman in the world.
This isn’t just cultural, though. Romney and Obama have labored unprecedentedly to woo women (and the latter struggles with being less popular than his bad-ass wife), but it seems to go without saying that Hillary Clinton will be our (most charmingly-memed) president in 2016. Even David Brooks—and, like, imagine a JoS. A. Bank sweater vest in the absolute worst colorway, like burgundy heather, and that’s David Brooks—agrees that women are doing way better than men.
I mean, you guys, when I think about how hard women are killing it right now, I just want to meet up in a field and listen to Enigma’s “Return to Innocence.”
See, it used to be that men’s interest was a synecdoche for everyone’s interest. If anything—a television show, book, film, magazine, political issue, television show, book, magazine, or, like, thing in general—were for guys, women were generally expected to appreciate it, too. (There’s a reason why 111.3 million people watched the 2012 Super Bowl, and it’s not because only every member of the U.S. population without breasts tuned in.)
Now, if something done by a woman is interesting (and never before have there been so many of those!), it captures the entire cultural attention span. It’s no wonder King of Bro Snark Judd Apatow’s highest grossing movie was Bridesmaids, and his latest (and most critically acclaimed and talked about) project is Girls. Though HBO’s other marquee show, The Newsroom, keeps a larger viewership, it will be forever weighed down by the perception that is bloviating, boring, and sickly antiquated, with its treatment of female characters one of the most frequently pointed to bits of evidence for this case. (An early nail in the show’s coffin was an unintended shark bite of a profile of the show’s creator, Aaron Sorkin, by certified Woman Who’s Killing It Sarah Nicole Prickett.) The most interesting thing to happen at a museum in recent memory was the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute (it was also the museum’s eighth most-visited exhibit of all time), suggesting that everyone is starting to catch on to this whole women’s fashion thing.
What’s more, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic Monthly piece, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” was the most talked about and likely most-read magazine article of this past July. But more significantly, Slaughter’s argument rings irrelevant to most of us under 35. By the time we’re in the leadership roles currently occupied by women her age, I am confident we won’t be facing those same issues, because we’re already assuming positions of power. The ability to have it all in fifteen or twenty years seems like a given; so does the option to say, “Actually, I’ll have none of it, thanks.”
This is not your “Sex and the City” or (ugh) "Girl Power" or Lilith Fair or Helen Gurley Brown sex purr or feminine mystique kind of feminism. We have finally moved past the point at which something is for women and/or feminists because men are excluded. When a woman does something, it is ostensibly about women because it represents our interests and passions, and now, for the first time, that is interesting to and concerns everyone. We aren’t reacting, we aren’t doing “women’s versions” of men’s things. Men are welcome to observe or participate, but women are the ones who are setting the cultural and political agenda and pointing the compass, well, towards ourselves. There is no mystique. We are just killing it.
Yeah, so, that’s what’s going on for us. How about you guys? I honestly really haven’t been paying attention to you. Except, of course, to this site. But I mean, wow, a blog about fashion? We’ve been doing that for at least a decade.