I had a friend once who worked in a titty bar. She was the head waitress, which meant she counted out the tip pool and could wear a jacket sometimes. She was a math prodigy, the smartest person with the least education I have ever met. Her deal was cross racial dating with guys who, to put it nicely, pulled her hair. Her idea of glamor was to be likened to Nicole Simpson, to serve boneless, skinless chicken breasts marinated in bottled Italian dressing, and perfectly folded pink towels to match her bathroom.

I think of her often, and what I worry most about is the pink towels. Being respectable will kill you.

The reason I am thinking about her today is that part of her blue collar feminist nexus was menstrual cramps. Or, no, PMS. All the girls at the titty bar had PMS. It was verb. I am PMSing. It was the de rigueur, don’t-ask, don’t-tell, reason for not coming to work. Apparently no boss who requires you to show your tits as a job description has the stones to question your PMSing 23 days a month.

Demi Moore’s 1991 VF cover, voted the number two best magazine cover of all time.

It is what the immortal Florence King, a Lesbian lover of women, called pelvic politics in her immortal discussion of Southern Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Southern woman is the world’s foremost practitioner of pelvic politics. She has more power over men when she is sexually hors de combat than other women have in the middle of intercourse, for the Southern man’s socioeconomic identity and masculine image are trapped in her bonny blue box. Being delicate means that she is both aristocratic and feminine — which means that he is both aristocratic and masculine. This is pussy power in the most literal sense.

Her obsession with her body is by no means limited to her pelvic region. She is launched on the road to self-absorption early in life because the notion that she has the power to drive men crazy is constantly drummed into her.

“I can’t wait till I get bosoms, can you?” my girl friend said when we were ten years old. “You can bump men with them and just drive them crazy.”

…As far back as we could remember, we had heard about driving men crazy. We knew that merely touching a man’s sleeve could turn him to mindless lust.

“Don’t be a lint-picker,” Granny warned me — when I was five. “A woman’s touch makes a man go crazy.”

This, and — dear me, what to call it? aside from a flood — an entire library of saucy, ironic, riot grrl zine books called Flow about how punk and saucy your menstrual war stories are, a kind of icky medical materialism closely aligned to prurient narcissist cervix porn, and a trend among bloggers like Penelope Trunk to Tweet their having a miscarriage at a business meeting, or to post a picture of her naked hip with the bruise on it allegedly caused by her husband, has given rise to the next stage in pinny porn.

I will call it gyno porn.

It afflicts home reno bloggers who may or may not be third wave feminists. I think not. I think they’ve stolen the valorized gyno affect of the serious third wave feminist cultural histories of menstruation, blendered it up with Sex and the City Me Me Me plus the Fear Factor gross vittles ethos and come up with gyno porn. I think the Sexting Generation is just talking about their periods, their prenatal mucus plugs, their aching uterus, their ovulation IVF sagas and posting the latest meme — month by month or week by week bump pictures* — because it’s saucy and transgressive and seems kind of pornographic. I mean, how saucy and transgressive am I to monologue on the fascinating subject of my own vagina, Fallopian tubes, perineum, taint, between really educational and artistic posts on how to craft your own sunburst mirror out of cheap wooden shims from Lowe’s?**


Is it a Lesbian or paganist kind of narcissism thing by which I accrue pelvic power and become aristocratic, as King suggests? Does it make my man a real man, and is it therefore shuck and jive? Is it a class prerogative, a kind of extortionate sorority girl hazing ritual, a blue collar or Southern or peasant thing? The other person I know who does this, that is, delectates on the whole process of ovaries popping eggs into the baseball mitt of the Fallopian tube, and all, is no southerner unless the harder scrabble purlieus of the Black Sea count. She has strange veins of queer female shame and narcissism, as if female trbbl actually made her visible, and transgressively sexy, the way hypochondria works for neglected children. (Shame is narcissism, or vice versa, as far as I can make out.)

It just seems like flashing your crotch — some starlet eating her own placenta was actually the subject of a recent item in the baby-crazed People magazine — in your home renovation journal is, for the twenty-somethings, that which matches the chandelier earrings and the tube top. Call me fastidious. But I do not want my shelter porn adulterated with tedious Girls Gone Wild personal detail.

I tell you what. It is not remotely transgressive. Transgressive is like inviting somebody with COPD to dinner at your house and smoking (Ptolomea in the Inferno). Or a teacher fucking his student (Judecca). Abuse of privileged access. Nothing half so cute or as newsworthy or as accessible as your prenatal mucus plug, of which you are the first human on the planet to produce one and discuss it on the internet! Wow! What a woman!

Lucifer surveys Judecca, home of the teachers who betrayed their pupils, and vice versa, in Dante’s Inferno, by Gustave Dore

Even educated fleas do it.

We are not amused.


*Britain’s Mail Online newspaper website recently became number one in hits due to its gossip aggregate feature, which has no less than five reports daily on celebrities’ “bumps”, accompanied by papparazzi shots.

**A project touted as one’s own invention, and bogarted without attribution, in one prominent gyno porn case, from This Old House.

(c) 2012, Jeannette Smyth. All rights reserved.