Adrienne’s Feminist Applied theory post

Strap in kiddo’s we’re talking about first date by Blink 182


We all know that blink 182 is awesome but did you realize that they also subvert  some gendered norms and encourage others? Interestingly, the song never mentions the gender of the person that is going on the date, but that is and aside for another post. The very first line notes that the dude person is waiting for his date in his car. This is a patriarchal norm that the man is suppose to pick up his date for a dinner (movie, whatever) that he will pay for. It’s cool though that he values their (in this case a gender neutral pronoun not a plural) opinion and consent when it comes to hand holding and the state of his hair and dress. The fact that he doesn’t ever use gendered words for his date because the video is doing strange things with yper masculinity and gayness. He’s worried enough about her perception of him that he cannot eat, but the very next line he’s exclaiming about how great the date has gone and how he doesn’t want it to ever end. Strange but not unusual. It’s cute that he melts inside when they smile, but what does it mean when he doesn’t want to think about them being able to lie. It is holding the date up to a rather high standard because we are all capable of lying and they probably have lied during this first date in one way or another.

Now onto the video itself. There are some instances of male gaze which we talked about a little bit in class and I included a cool little video about below, just in case you were unclear. The first instance of a woman being a sex object is in moment 0.36 which is a cut off shot of boobs and a short skirt. These contrast quite nicely with the power shots of the band members at the very beginning of the video. The second male gaze is much like the first in second 0.54 and that’s just a shot of a girl’s rack. So you see two very clear instances of male gaze before the first minute of the song is up. Not long after (1.04) you see a blonde woman’s butt followed by a shot of her sucking down what looks to be a milkshake. Do I even need to comment on that? Then a couple of shots later the lead singer is shown grabbing his crotch and thrusting at the camera. I wonder what that could mean. One of the only shots of a woman that is not sexualized is in moment 1.43 and that’s probably because she does not fit with the patriarchal beauty standards that the rest of the women have neatly fit into. And then she falls on her face. Like wow obviously she is not being valued and doesn’t really deserve to be so because she doesn’t present the way that these men value. Also no one even went on a date. The song is about a first date and being nervous but the video was about dudes being shitty. I’m not really sure what this gap means from a feminist perspective, but I am sure I’m mad about it.

[youtube][/youtube] this is just a cool thing that the internet has done about male gaze

The Role of Women in Gatsby: Cultural Context and Scratching the Surface of Feminist Criticism

“I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” -Daisy

This mysterious quote is comfortably tucked near the top of page 17 in the middle of a superfluous conversation between Daisy and Nick.  It is subtle enough that you might miss it if you were reading too fast, but in my opinion this quote embodies one of the thematic cornerstones of the novel: an archetypal, subordinate role for women in the Roaring Twenties.  Daisy’s quote implies a recognition of some grand looming obstacle, and an ensuing sense of surrender.  When I read it, I think that Daisy feels personally victimized by her world; there is a wounded ambition inside her, resultant of some sort of defeat.  It also suggests that Daisy is critically aware of her own feminism, and the place that femininity holds in the particular historical context.  It seems like Daisy has begrudgingly accepted the lifestyle that she has been dealt, yet there is a faint nostalgic glimmer of hope in her heart.  Although she appears superficial at times, we should not dismiss the potential wisdom of her character.  In many ways, this quote is autobiographical, despite the fact that Daisy is talking about her daughter.

When understanding the role of women in The Great Gatsby, it is important to employ a blend of Feminist Criticism and Cultural Studies; knowing the historical context in which Fitzgerald wrote is just as important as using a balanced arsenal of Feminist Criticism tools.  I want to point out a few passages that I found where the disenfranchisement of women was clear, and hopefully hear a few other opinions on them.

There are plenty of other examples beyond Daisy’s quote that portray women as, in Simone de Beauvoir’s terms, a “second sex.” (Murfin 171-172) Fitzgerald makes a clear point of establishing gender roles in his writing.  The women of Gatsby are proper and delicate, often found in cream or white dresses.  They follow an unspoken, deep-seated social code that demands conformity and leaves many female characters indistinguishable from one another.  On page 63, we see that Benny McClenahan “arrives [to Gatsby’s parties] always with four girls” who are “never quite the same ones in physical person, [but were] so identical one with another that it inevitably seemed they had been there before.”  This particular observation by Nick suggests that there is a rigid formula for women in Gatsby’s era; the social code is transcendent beyond physical being and carves these women into replicas of one another.

A Gatsby woman, as I mentioned before, is treated as lesser than man.  Because of her feminine handicap, she is forgiven for things about her nature that she cannot control.  Nick showcases some blatant sexism in his observation of Jordan Baker on page 58.

“Dishonesty in a woman is something you never blame deeply…”

This reflects poorly on Nick’s character.  He goes on to say, soon after, that he is one of the few honest people he has ever met, which begs the question: is honesty without equality much of a virtue after all?

On page 51, one of the considerably drunker girls at the party was singing a song and decided that “everything was very, very sad.”  She wept and broke into sobs during breaks in the song, and then responded to a “humorous” comment about singing the note-like mascara tear drops on her face by throwing up her hands and sleeping in a chair.  This hyper-cathartic reaction harkens back to the Bedford Glossary’s description of French Feminist Criticism, where emotion is associated with the feminine (Murfin 172).  The girl at the party’s emotional state puts her in a category of the “second sex,” because emotion is valued beneath reason and is associated with femininity.  Simone de Beauvoir’s idea of a woman’s voice being taken from her comes to fruition in this passage.  The party girl “opts out” of “adopting the male-dominated discourse.”  Instead, she remains silent, and falls asleep in a chair (Murfin 172).

Tom and Daisy’s relationship is visibly strained.  The reader sees it in almost every interaction the couple has, from the accusatory remarks about bruised knuckles to an awkward phone that won’t stop ringing during dinner.  Beneath the lavish, elite lifestyle, there are domestic issues that no money or alcohol can solve; that is one of the underlying themes of the novel.  On pages 12-13, Tom is telling Nick about this bit of edifying and profound white supremacist literature he read.  Daisy, in a defeated tone, tries to chime in, but Tom speaks over her.  Her next comment is a vapid racist remark about “beating them down,” which is either inspired by sarcasm or ignorance–I’m not sure.  I have mentioned the importance of language in Feminist Criticism, and how male-dominated society forces a woman to choose between adopting “phallocentric” language or simply remaining silent.  On page 173 of Bedford:

“… feminine or feminist writing that resists or refuses participation in”masculine” discourse risks being politically marginalized in a society that still is, after all, patriarchal.”

Daisy, along with the other women in the novel, has been marginalized.  However, she is painstakingly aware of it: “… that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”  She has seen her own marginalization, unlike other female characters in Gatsby.


I know that I wrote a lot on this one, but if anybody did read it, what are your thoughts?  Do you think that Fitzgerald is shining a light on the disenfranchisement of women during the Roaring Twenties, or is he absentmindedly perpetuating it?  If it does in fact pose a challenge to progressive feminism, can we forgive the canonical Gatsby for giving women an unfair representation?