TV: Gossip Girl — “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Lonely Boy Scorned”*.

dan humphrey gossip girl

It’s been a year and a half since Dan Humphrey was revealed as the titular character of Gossip Girl, a show that began as a poignant guilty pleasure but that culminated in convoluted trash. I recently went back and rewatched the show’s six seasons in an effort to dissect the clues as to who Gossip Girl was all along.

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The Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz-produced effort based on the book series of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar debuted just prior to the financial crisis of ’08. Fancying itself a commentary on the decadence and debauchery of “Manhattan’s elite”, the show may be narrated by a Kristen Bell-voiced bitchy blogger behind a computer screen (or, more likely, a smart phone), but it is told through the eyes of Brooklyn social pariah, Dan Humphrey.  In his stop-at-nothing quest to get “inside” the society scene of the Upper East Side, Dan becomes the exact thing he despised. Let me count the ways…

In season one Serena Van der Woodsen is a wide-eyed ingénue back from boarding school who wants to “take a year off… to teach English in South Asia” and Dan is her sensitive but invisible admirer. “Lonely Boy”, he is not so affectionately known as. Season one establishes Dan as the “ultimate insider”, embodying “a likable everyman” whose “pursuit of his dream girl begins his descent into the bowels of hell.” His family often comments on how judgmental Dan can be, and he makes Serena feel like shit in “Roman Holiday” when she eagerly buys him a watch for Christmas, which he asks her to return due to its conspicuity. By the same token, Serena effectively emasculates** Dan when she pays the cheque at a fancy restaurant on their first date and constantly ditches him for someone or something more important, like Blair’s crises or a society shindig.

While it’s been suggested that the writers only started plotting the big reveal of Dan-as-Gossip Girl in the final season when it was evident it would be the shows last, keen-eyed and -eared viewers can unearth some early scenes where Lonely Boy as the undercover chronicler of “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” seems plain as day. For example, in season two’s “Gone With the Will”, Gossip Girl describes Dan as “brown-bagging it for lunch”, a reference to the receptacle in which he brings his tuna sandwich to school that day. However, as the footage clearly shows, the only people who saw Dan’s brown paper bag were Dan, Serena and Blair. Of course, Serena has her dalliance as Gossip Girl in season five, but combined with the fact that Dan “loses” his phone the very same day that a GG blast*** is sent about Dan and Serena’s shared sibling—about which only Dan, his father Rufus and Serena’s mother Lily know—the evidence mounts in favour of Dan-as-Gossip Girl. Furthermore, in season five, it is revealed that Dan “sent” a video to GG of Blair telling Chuck she still loves him on her wedding day to Louis. What becomes apparent is that he didn’t so much send the video file to Gossip Girl as he uploaded it directly to the site that he is webmaster of, Gossip Girl.

In the season two finale, “The Goodbye Gossip Girl”, when Dan, Serena et al. graduate high school, Gossip Girl has a graduation ceremony of sorts of her own, and crowns Dan “the ultimate insider”, as we come to know him throughout the show’s trajectory. Gossip Girl has always been famed for only writing about high school, specifically Constance Billard and St. Judes, the girls and boys schools the GG cast attend respectively. But, it’s only fitting that if GG is a student at one of those schools that she follows in their footsteps to college, right? Serena, for one, was so happy not to have her digital nemesis tarnish her foray into tertiary education, but no such luck: Gossip Girl now covers college.

As Gossip Girl graduates from high school and into the more grown up university scene, so does Dan, who moves on from Serena to date movie star Olivia Burke, played by Hilary Duff. This is mirrored by GG’s growing penchant for chronicling celebrities and events outside of her previous jurisdiction. This will later be exemplified by Dan’s book, Inside, and his Dominick Dunne-esque society serial in Vanity Fair.

Speaking of, Dan’s fictionalised memoir (which Dunne was also oh-so-fond of) is about his quest to get “inside” “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” but its publication in “Memoirs of an Invisible Dan” ends up ostracising him from his friendship (I use that term loosely) group. Serena is upset that she’s painted as a vapid socialite to whom everything comes easy, while Nate expresses disdain that Dan sees him as half a person, so much so that his character is amalgamated with Eric’s. While Dan may have offended pretty much everyone close—and not so close—to him, he makes sure to emphasise his own character’s status as “a judgmental dick who can’t even look at himself in the mirror. My character comes off the worst of all of them.”

As Serena find out in season five’s “Raiders of the Lost Art” during her foray into gossip serialising, getting “inside” actually cuts you off from the rest of the world and makes you post hateful things about your friends and family in an effort to stay relevant and get the most hits. Serena, like Dan, becomes drunk with power. After all, “the more readers I have, the more power I have,” he opines in the final seasons’ “Dirty Rotten Scandals”.

By the series’ end, Dan has become just as bad as the conniving and scheming Blair and Chuck and their cohort. As Gossip Girl, Dan is implicated in the car accident that put Chuck in a coma and induced Blair’s miscarriage, Jenny’s banishment from New York and the general unhappiness of his “friends” and family, yet the gang still welcomes Dan back into the fold, and Serena even ends up marrying him! Why are they so quick to forgive him? Because just as Chuck raped Blair and Jenny, prostituted Blair out to his uncle in exchange for real estate and exposed her to intimate partner violence; Blair had an affair with Chuck’s uncle, sabotaged Serena’s college application to Yale and her catwalk debut, and ran Jenny and Georgina, amongst others, out of town; the supposed moral compass of Gossip Girl, Vanessa, and good girl gone bad Jenny help Juliet drug and abduct Serena in one of the series’ best story arcs in season four; Lily framed an innocent man for statutory rape in order to protect Serena’s image and didn’t tell her one true love Rufus about their baby she gave up for adoption way back when; not to mention the myriad transgressions I haven’t listed here, “you and all your other friends would gave done the exact same thing”. They forgave each other for their seemingly weekly betrayals, so what’s one more?

Related: Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Elsewhere: [Remind Me of The] Gossip Girl, Jenny Humphrey & Rape Culture.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

**I don’t really believe in emasculation, ideologically speaking. If anything, society drums into us that men have to behave a certain way—in Dan’s case, providing for Serena—and when someone or something challenges that, it’s easy to cry “emasculation” without really examining the root of that notion.

***Another term for a Gossip Girl “post” or “status”. Which begs the question: if everyone hates GG so much and wants her taken down, why do they subscribe to her notifications?

Image via Wet Paint.

TV: Gossip Girl Returns to Form as it Takes Inspiration from its First Season.

Finally, Gossip Girl is slowly but surely returning to its so-bad-its-good dramatic roots, taking inspiration from its first season as the show did in its fifth season finale: Blair struggling to stay on top, Rufus and Lily at loggerheads, and Dan and Serena rekindling their flame on a Vespa!

Nelly Yuki is finally getting the last laugh against her high school nemesis Blair who, try as she might, can’t seem to find a way to revive her mother’s struggling clothing line. Eleanor Waldorf returns to make sense of the mess Blair has left, what with Sage Spence’s penchant for stripping off Blair’s designs, and shames her daughter for being a sexual deviant. While I’m not a fan of the slut-shaming, Eleanor makes a good point when brings up that the plotting and scheming that we all know and love Blair for is so high school, and urges Blair to embrace her “Grace Kelly side”, not her “Grace Jones side” in order to save Waldorf designs.

Enter Nelly, who is now a Women’s Wear Daily reporter, much to Blair’s chagrin. Reverting to their high school selves, Nelly finds Blair contemplating her navel on the Met steps, a location GG die hards will know from the early days of the show that Blair and her minions frequented. When Nelly insinuates that Blair—wearing a headband to boot—is essentially still stuck in high school, she has an epiphany: Blair needs to embrace her striking-fear-in-the-hearts-of-teens attitude in order to be a tastemaker for the 12-25 set of young fashionistas. Ahh, the Met steps: inspiring people everywhere.

Just like in the inaugural episode of the show, Lily and Rufus are fighting in an art gallery. Rufus’ gallery opening is all set, but when Ivy checks the RSVPs, it turns out everyone’s going to a charity art benefit that Lily’s hosting. Ivy, using CeCe’s money gifted to her by Lola, buys all of Lily’s art and replaces it with the artwork from Rufus’ gallery. Meanwhile, Chuck is trying to prevent the sale of one of the works Lily has donated as he thinks Bart has hidden evidence of his illegal oil dealings in it. He has, but Ivy buys the painting off Lily and intercepts Bart’s documents before Chuck can get a hold of them. Phew! Got that?

Finally, it seems the love between former step-siblings Dan and Serena has reignited, after Serena offers to take Dan apartment hunting. Conveniently, Dan has bought a Vespa after his summer in Italy, and, his and Serena’s first date five long years ago. From the photos leaked from the set of the final episode (wedding!), it looks like this time around their relationship is for keeps…

Related: Gossip Girl Season 5 Finale—What Goes Around Comes Around…

Alexa Chung, It Girls & Gossip Girl.

Images via Sockshare, Hello Giggles, Gossip Girl Screencaps, Internet Movie Cars Database.

TV: Gossip Girl Becomes Even More Irrelevant in Its Final Season.

Gossip Girl premiered its sixth and final season in the States two weeks ago and it’s being fast-tracked to Fox8 in Australia like so many U.S. shows are these days (I can’t keep up!). While its finale is a long time coming and I’ll always be nostalgic for the good old days of GG (seasons one and four were probably my favourites), I think Gossip Girl has finally lost the plot.

Last season’s finale seemed to juxtapose where all the characters started out with where they might end up, and fans held out hope that the show would return to its soapie-scandalous roots with Dan wreacking revenge on the Upper East Side, Serena being the lost cause that inevitably rears its head at least once per year, and Blair and Chuck teaming up to drag everyone down with them, namely the traitorous Bart and Lily.

Two episodes in and the season’s not starting off as strong as it could have, and Dan’s struggling to avenge the wrongs he feels he’s been handed by his socialite set of former friends and lovers. Partner-in-crime Georgina spent last week’s episode arranging meetings with all the major New York publications—New York, The Nation, Vanity Fair et al—but Dan instead opts to publish his exposé in serial form in Nate’s Spectator, a fledgling newspaper that’s struggling after Nate let the “who is Gossip Girl” scoop go in exchange for finding Serena.

Seriously?! I mean, despite the fact that The Spectator is a new newspaper in a sea of old-media extinctions run by a presumably not-even-21-year-old that relies on unmasking a high school blogger to sell copies, channelling Dominic Dunne, who rose to fame with his Vanity Fair pieces on crime and justice for the rich and famous in the ’80s, Dan is barking up the wrong tree in trying to get “the memoir he should have written” serialised in a magazine, only highlights the show’s irrelevance.

Georgina opines that once they can get a magazine to bite, in will roll the money, fame and movie rights. Um, hello, blogs are where it’s at these days. Look at all the Tumblrs and Twitter accounts that now have books, TV shows and movies based on them: Suri’s Burn Book, Fuck! I’m in my 20s, Shit My Dad Says, The Social Network, Stuff White People Like, The Sartorialist… I could go on forever. We know Dan did the whole book-to-movie deal, Rufus crapped on about “creating a groundswell” by word-of-mouth, and Serena tried her hand at blogging last season, but if Gossip Girl wants to “move on” from high school and debut in the adult world, as Serena so desperately desires, she’d better stop living in the first half of last decade.

Sage, Serena’s boyfriend Steven’s 17-year-old daughter and Nate’s new girlfriend (phew!), perhaps puts it best when she said, “Nobody in high school reads Gossip Girl. It’s for old people.” Or people who just can’t move on from the way things used to be.

Related: Gossip Girl Season 5 Final—What Goes Around Comes Around…

Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominic Dunne?

Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

Image via YouTube.

TV: Gossip Girl Season 5 Final—What Goes Around Comes Around…

When Gossip Girl debuted five years ago, Dan was a Lonely Boy outsider, Serena and Blair were at war and Jenny Humphrey was around.

The latter might not be true but, for everyone else, the more things change the more they stay the same on the Upper East Side.

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I enjoyed comparing the very first episode of Gossip Girl to its most recent, the season five finale. While it was hard to get used to seeing the fresh faced and über-thin Blair and Serena at first, by the end of the exercise I’m not sure which incarnation of the show I like better! The first season had so much promise, but it also had Chuck as a date rapist. The current season has the abominations that are Lola and Ivy, but is veering back towards that so-bad-it’s-good soap opera quality of yore.

Anyway, back to the task at hand: fairly early on the final, Serena and Blair call it quits on their roommate arrangement and friendship, with Blair finding Serena’s leakage of her diary to Gossip Girl unforgivable. I dare say Blair’s right: Serena has always been a selfish bitch, and Blair was as accurately harsh on her for spilling her secrets as she was for sleeping with her boyfriend six years ago.

Speaking of the wedding at which Serena slept with Nate, six years on and the marriage didn’t seem to last, with the couple hosting a divorce party at the same venue. Cue Serena’s inappropriate sex life and substitute step-brother and Blair’s current squeeze Dan for Nate and you’ve got Serena screwing over (pun intended) her bestie again.

After Dan realises Blair’s rebuffed him for yet another shot at love with Chuck, and Serena’s the shallow vixen she’s so often proved herself to be, he seeks revenge on the Upper East Side, enlisting Georgina to “help me write the book I should have written from the beginning,” you know, because his status as a bestselling author is nothing without Georgina’s “photographic memory and passion for social upheaval”.

Now that Dan’s been burned by both Blair and Serena, Chuck opts out of Blair’s tour de indecision, telling her he’s done with her because all she does is ruin his business prospects and “bet against him”. In a casino, in case you didn’t grasp the metaphor of gambling on love before, Blair accosts Chuck and puts her chips “all in” in her quest to win back his love.

Meanwhile, it seems Bart Bass’ return has left Rufus and Lily’s marriage up in the air, as she’s technically married to both of them! As in the first episode, Lily’s snooty and antagonistic treatment of Rufus leads her to choose to stay with Bart.

This flashback to perhaps better times (Gossip Girl has been renewed for a final season later this year; rumour is that the season will only have ten episodes) is not accidental: the writers make reference to it often in the characters’ dialogue. For example, Blair knifes Serena with the revelation that, “The best time I ever had was when you were gone six years ago!” Just watching the first episode again you can tell that Leighton Meester was playing wounded soul well, as Blair looks miserable in it. Talk about growth as a character. Blair goes on to tell Serena that she didn’t “steal” Dan, and that she “would know that if you’d grown up at all since high school”.

When Chuck has his pride and joy, the Hotel Empire, ripped from his hands by his zombie father, he’s told it’s because he’s “never grown up”. That may be true, but it could also be said of the writers of Gossip Girl. Do-over?

Images via Serena Van Der Woodsen Sucks, Sockshare, Gossip Girl Screencaps.

TV: Dominick Dunne Makes a (Re)Venge-ful Return to the Small Screen.

When Mason Treadwell, the man who sold out to the Graysons and published a book full of lies about alleged terrorist David Clarke fifteen years ago, resurfaced last night on Revenge, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with fellow society (hell, Treadwell’s book is called Society Connection) writer, Dominick Dunne.

Just a few weeks ago, Serena van der Woodsen was channelling him over on Gossip Girl, and now it seems the late, (arguably, but definitely in my mind) great Dunne is making an appearance on a show that bears similarities with the real life sideshow that was Dunne’s existence.

Dunne became famous when his daughter was murdered by her boyfriend, who got off scot free, which inspired him to write about the injustices of crime amongst the rich and famous, which parlayed itself into a top-rating TV show. Granted, Dunne was never involved in the takedown of a terrorist, but perhaps his most high profile case was covering that of O.J. Simpson.

Dunne was adept at loss: he was an alcoholic shunned from Hollywood during his first career as a producer, several of his children died in infancy, in addition to daughter Dominique’s death, his wife left him and despite his successes amongst some celebrities, he was outcast by others.

How will Mason Treadwell cope with losing everything?

Related: Gossip Girl—Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne Review.

Images via Sockshare, Deadline.

TV: Gossip Girl—Is Serena Our Generation’s Dominick Dunne?

That’s according to Nate, anyway, who talks up Serena’s expose on Ivy Dickens’ stealing her family’s money for The Spectator to a potential investor for the newspaper. “Serena’s writing from the inside. She’s our generation’s Dominick Dunne.”

Like Packed to the Rafters’ Julie penning a chapter for a romance novel competition and suddenly she’s a writer, Serena exploits her social butterfly standing to write a gossip column and she’s hailed as the society writer du jour. Is that my bitter blogger coming through…?

Related: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

The Beautiful & the Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne Review.

Image via SerenavanderWoodsen.com.

TV: Gossip Girl—Blair Channels the Tragic Life of Princess Di & Gossip Culture is to Blame.

Tortured lovers Blair and Chuck decided to run away together despite Blair’s betrothal to Louis and her pregnancy. Chuck tells Blair he’ll love her and her and Louis’ baby, just as the paparazzi chasing the car they’re traveling in forces it off the road. If this isn’t a statement about Princess Diana’s fatal car accident, allegedly at the hands of the paparazzi, I don’t know what is. Hint: expect this to be the catalyst for Serena et al. to try to finally take down Gossip Girl

Also, it’s incredibly convenient that Blair’s involved in a car accident whilst pregnant. I can just see it now: Blair will come out of the accident unscathed, however her inconvenient bun in the oven won’t, allowing her to cut all ties with Louis and run back into the arms of Chuck. Providing he survives, that is…

Related: Life Begins at Love on Gossip Girl.

Image via FanPop.

TV: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

When Serena feels backed into a corner by Gossip Girl and has to defend herself by penning her own blog at the typically British-named Diana’s (played by Warney’s squeeze Liz Hurley) New York Spectator, Blair harangues her, saying, “I’ve always thought you were too good to blog.” Thanks Blair; great to know where we stand.

But Blair’s is not a unique viewpoint: traditional forms of information gathering and sharing view blogging as the black sheep of the family. Because seemingly anyone can run a blog (though not everyone can run a good blog), those who excel in their field are sometimes deemed not as worthy of acceptance and recognition as those in conventional or “old” media, who rose up the ranks the old fashioned way. We all know one bad blogger can give the rest of us a bad name.

It wasn’t just Serena and her overt blogging dilemma that was relevant to budding online wordsmiths. When Dan freaks out that his book, Inside, has dropped from number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list last week, to completely off the chart this week, and forgoes his book touring commitments, trust old Rufus gives him a pep talk:

“It just takes one person to connect with your art, who feels like you directly communicated with them, to start a groundswell. But you can’t connect with that person unless you show up.”

So, disheartened bloggers, if your blog’s not bringing in the hits yet, just you wait: provided the content’s good (and even if it’s not!), it’s only a matter of time before you start a groundswell of your own. Now I’ve just got to remember that myself…

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] 12 Posts of Christmas: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.

12 Posts of Christmas: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th.

I thought I’d take this Serena van der Woodsen-opportunity to talk about what a spoiled brat she was on last night’s episode (you can read about what a spoiled brat she is in general below, and in the original post here.)

When a friend releases their first book to such fanfare as Dan did last night, you should be happy for them, right? Even if one of the characters is semi-based on you, and perhaps doesn’t portray you in the best light, Dan was adamant that Inside is only loosely autobiographical and amplifies Serena, Blair et al’s worst qualities to make it a scandalous and best-selling novel.

But, of course, Serena thinks it’s all about her, all the time, and has a big cry because Dan wrote her character as a selfish, vapid, flighty and irresponsible Upper East Side princess, which she kind of is. She’s so blinded by her anger that she can’t be happy for Dan’s success, worried for Blair’s portrayal and her relationship with Dan and what it might mean for her engagement to Louis, or saddened by Chuck’s character’s death by asphyxiation in the book. Talk about a bonfire of the vanity!

She’s got the clothes, the hair, and she’s mighty fine to look at. But that’s about all Gossip Girl’s Serena van der Woodsen boils down to.

I really liked Serena in season one of the show. I could relate to her because everyone thought she was this spoiled, vapid princess, but she showed her true self to her first love Dan Humphrey.

By the end of season two, she’d stopped evolving, though, and it turns out she was just a spoiled, vapid princess, intent on upstaging Blair Waldorf at every opportunity, stringing a multitude of guys along, and having her antics and dirty laundry on the cover of all the tabloids.

Like in the Cecily von Ziegesar (she made an appearance in last night’s final, telling Serena she’d “read a lot about her”) novels of the same name, Serena is the central protagonist of Gossip Girl. But unlike the books, the show has run with Blair and Chuck Bass in the driver’s seat; characters who have grown, changed and become more likeable as a result. Serena, along with her male counterpart Nate Archibald, followed closely by Dan, has remained a stagnant shell of a human being, like the kinds you overhear on the tram and thank God you don’t know them or, worse, aren’t like them.

There have been many a fan disappointed in and perturbed by Serena’s lack of development. Why has she languished in and regressed to the mindset of a highschooler, albeit with better clothes, more freedom and a more active sex life? Is she just “coasting on cuteness”? Most of her storylines seem to revolve around her busting her bust out in an evening gown or standing around looking bored and Amazonian-like. Just because she looks the way she does, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be as well written as Gossip Girl’s other characters. In real life, how many of this type of woman do you know? Personally, I don’t associate myself with people—girls especially—with no personalities, who’ll turn on their besties for a taste of the spotlight, and who have no opinions save for what outfit they’re going to wear that day, so I don’t know anyone with the personality of a napkin Serena van der Woodsen.

But, let’s face it, Gossip Girl isn’t exactly a realistic interpretation of life. 20-year-olds don’t flit around the city unemployed, never wearing the same outfit twice, depending on Mummy and Daddy’s trust funds. And if they do, then that’s a reality I’m glad I’m not a part of.

This unreality and lack of character development makes the audience not care about Serena’s storylines. Personally, I loved the Juliet/Ben/Serena storyline, but it was because of the mystery surrounding who Juliet and Ben actually were and what their connection to Serena was, not because of Serena. And the latest development in the character’s tumultuous yet über-boring life leads me to make comparisons to the actress who portrays her, Blake Lively’s, life.

I remember when Gossip Girl first came out, Lively said in an interview that she was very low-key, didn’t like to go out to events and preferred to stay home and work on her Martha Stewart skills.

Flashforward four years and Lively’s oft-papped lifestyle is far from the one she naively spoke about. She’s Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour’s muse, flitting from one European country to the next to attend fashion shows and sun herself on yachts. Not to mention her latest nude photo scandal.

While her acting’s not anything to write home about, Lively still has much more to offer than naked pics and Chanel ads. I just hope that it isn’t a case of life imitating art when it comes to Blake Lively and Serena van der Woodsen.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Beautiful & Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mag Cover of the Week: Blake Lively for Australian Cosmopolitan, February 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Picture Perfect.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So Misunderstood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Breaking the Mould.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] On the (Rest of the) Net: 10thDecember 2010.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] How Very Proustian.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?

Image via VideoBB.

Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way To Go” in the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

Last week I wrote about the Melbourne Writers’ Festival event, entitled A Long, Long Way to Go: Why We Still Need Feminism, presented by Sophie Cunningham and Monica Dux.

On the whole, Cunningham’s presentation was thought-provoking, if a little small-minded, but my main point of contention is as follows.

Cunningham brought up third/fourth wave feminism (the feminism we’re experiencing now, by most accounts), saying that while she applauds the grassroots feminist movements such as SlutWalk, she wasn’t sure 25-year-old women could fully understand the concept of feminism because they still have men fawning all over them at that age.

Now that’s just a whole lot of wrong.

First of all, I am soon-to-be-24 and I don’t have men falling at my feet (well, except when it’s unwanted), and nor do my similarly-aged friends.

Secondly, who’s to say that even if we did, we wouldn’t recognise that, unless they had had some kind of interaction with us other than staring at our boobs, they were interested in us purely for our looks, and that’s anti-feminist. (Then again, I know girls who do have men fawning all over them purely for their looks and couldn’t care less.)

And thirdly, this kind of feminism in fighting is exactly what has been undoing the feminist movement in recent years. As I wrote:

“… Cunningham saw a sort of ‘bottleneck’ in modern feminism, where white, privileged feminists like myself don’t understand the problems facing feminists of colour, feminists with sexual orientation other than straight, feminists with gender other than cis, and feminists with disabilities…”

This is not to mention conflict between the ages, or waves, of feminism.

In Susan Faludi’s attempted takedown of young feminists in her article, “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide”, last year, she writes:

“… Despite its [feminism’s] many victories, it seems to falter along a ‘mother–daughter’ divide. A generational breakdown underlies so many of the pathologies that have long disturbed American [or, rather, Western] feminism—… its bitter divisions over sex… [and] alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages.”

I can’t think of a better example than, oddly enough, an episode of Gossip Girl from its most recent season, in which it addresses the clash between young and old feminists after Serena van der Woodsen is accused of having an STD. Her dean at Columbia University tells her:

“Women of my generation had to fight for every opportunity. And to be taken seriously, and your attitude, Miss van der Woodsen, makes a mockery of that.”

I wrote in response at the time, in reference to Faludi’s article:

“Now if that isn’t the second wave looking down upon the third wave for our apparent flippancy about ‘activism’, our ‘obsession with technology’ (Gossip Girl’s blasts are a prime example of this), our ‘unwilling[ness] to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men’ (hello, Serena), and our infatuation with Lady Gaga (well, Gossip Girl did feature the Lady herself in an episode…), I don’t know what is.

“… It would be interesting to see Serena fight back and declare herself ‘sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism’, whilst older women, like Dean Reuther, ‘declaring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history.’

“Faludi spends a lot of time criticising (via her second wave subjects) the technology third wavers use, specifically blogging: ‘All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.’ Ouch.

“I’m sure Gossip Girl would have something to say about that.”

Exhibit A: SlutWalk as an anti-testament to Faludi’s assertion.

Could it be jealousy these second-wavers are suffering from? I’d like to think feminism is above that, but it is one of the seven deadly sins and can get the better of us. Contrary to what Cunningham said, I don’t think it’s because of the way we look. Everyone knows age is not a precursor to looking hot. I think second-wavers might long for their glory days of making things happen, being invigorated and excited by feminism, instead of seeing their options shrivel up and die the older they get. Again, please see exhibit A. While I don’t know the ages of those who were critical of the SlutWalk, but if they were older it might be easy to see why they were a bit miffed by the anti-slut-shaming and -victim-blaming movement that they felt left them behind.

There needs to be something done to rectify this. Not only the gap between the ages, but the gap between the races, the abilities, the genders and the sexual orientations.

I don’t pretend to know how we’re going to do this, but it will have to start with listening and understanding, empathy, perhaps some mentoring and—what feminism is all about, not just between the sexes, but between all those I mention above—equality.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Melbourne Writers’ Festival: A Long, Long Way to Go—Why We Still Need Feminism.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Surfing the Third Wave: Second-Wave VS. Third-Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

Elsewhere: [Harper’s Magazine] American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide.