“I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

Read this cathartic piece by Rebecca Traister – on that Esquire piece on 42-year-old women, on Jada and campus sexual assault, on Hobby Lobby and buffer zones, on jailed Tennessee mothers, and all the many large and small ways our fates “rest in the hands of empowered committees on the general value and status of womanhood in America.”

It begins:

Last week, I got into a fight on Twitter with New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, whose work I respect, and it wasn’t about anything that either of us had written; rather, we were tussling over the merits of a piece written by Tom Junod, for Esquire, about how today’s 42-year-old women are hotter than ever before.

There’s no need to linger over our differences: I thought the article was a piece of sexist tripe, celebrating a handful of Pilates-toned, famous, white-plus-Maya-Rudolph women as having improved on the apparently dismal aesthetics of previous generations; my primary objections to the piece have been ably laid out by other critics. Chait tweeted that he viewed the piece as a “mostly laudable” sign of progress: a critique not of earlier iterations of 42-year-old womanhood, but rather of the old sexist beauty standards that did not celebrate those women; he saw it as an acknowledgment of maturing male attitudes toward women’s value.

The truth is, had Chait been correct about it being a thoughtful piece laying into the entrenched short-sightedness and sexist cruelty of male-controlled media, I might have hated it more. Then I would have felt obligated to feel grateful for it, grateful in the same way I’m supposed to feel grateful toward, say, Marvel Comics for making Thor a woman, or toward Harry Reid for challenging Mitch McConnell on some typically boorish and inane statement how women have achieved workforce equality. In its actual form, I didn’t have to consider thinking Yay, thanks for some crumbs of enlightened thinking, for some slightly nuanced improvements in the daily, punishing business of publicly evaluating and then reevaluating women’s worth.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about an anecdote in Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Amy Poehler, then new to “Saturday Night Live,” was engaging in some loud and unladylike vulgarity in the writers’ room when the show’s then-star Jimmy Fallon jokingly told her to cut it out, saying, “It’s not cute! I don’t like it!” In Fey’s retelling, Poehler “went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him,” forcefully informing him: “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

Read the rest here.

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