The Skirt: Sorry Guys, There Has Never Been A Better Time To Be A Woman

"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.

Rachel Seville is a writer living in Brooklyn who believes in miracles. Read her blog, Pizza Rulez, here and follow her on Twitter here.

  • Say What

    um, anyone else feel weird that she got invited to write for a menswear site and then spent the entire column cutting on men, including the site that she’s writing for?

    • lawrences

      It’s a woman’s world, man, we’re just lucky enough to live in it.

  • Rachel

    Sorry to make you feel “weird.” The past 2000 years haven’t been so cool for us, either. And I didn’t cut into men–I talked about how hard women rule.

    • Say What

      I never saw anything on this blog or any other menswear site saying they didn’t “rule”. Apparently pizza does too though.

    • C-money

      2000 years. It’s going to take a while to catch up.

  • Numbers

    First off, 30 Rock is not even close to being the smartest or funniest comedy on television. That honor would probably go to Community or Parks and Recreation.

    It also seems that you’ve kind of missed the point of Slaughter’s article. The idea was to point out that a mother who works has to make some very significant sacrifices in raising her children. While men have to do the same, societal and cultural norms mean that the mother’s presence or lack thereof is felt more strongly than that of the father. While there’s no doubt that women have made significant progress I don’t think that’s going to change within the lifetime of our generation. At the risk of being sexist, this may be because regardless of social mores women on average do feel a greater nurturing responsibility when it comes to children than men.

    Finally, while I’m appreciative and pleased with the tremendous strides made towards gender equality, articles like these (I realize most of it’s written in jest) that preach the victory of women and the new age of female dominance go too far and contribute to the maintenance of an adversarial climate between the genders.

    Am I taking this far more seriously than this post is meant to be? Absolutely. But the victory speeches on sites like this, on thoughtcatalog, on personal tumblrs are indicative of the creation of a new kind of pro women but not entirely healthy atmosphere and it’s important to take note of it when it pops up.

    • David

      I agree. Both genders at their best is what is going to push this world forward and make it better. Utilizing the great traits of both Men AND Women. Not one winning over the other.

  • Stone

    Hahahahaha.

  • real talk

    The Jay-Z/Beyonce reference may actually work against your point. For all her “ferocity”, Hov’s individual net worth is half again Beyonce’s. “Beyonce’s husband” is doing just fine.

    And I cannot sit by and let someone even suggest Kristen Wiig is the best SNL cast member of all time. That one’s laughable.

    Other than that, awesome.

  • http://brokehip.blogspot.com Ferp

    1.) I like this series, Rachel you the (wo)man

    2.) A lot (all?) of the strides you’ve described in your article are expressions of a very particular feminine experience (straight, cisgendered, middle/upper-middle class and white). Can we really make the same argument about how great everything is going for queer, poor, women of color?

    3.) A lot (all?) of the strides you described are examples of women being great producers. Which is great. But none of the women you described own their mediums of success. Men own them.

    3.) Rookie mag looks awesome.

    • Andrea

      #2 was my first thought. Like where is the diversity. Feels like I’m watching TV. Rookie Mag is super awesome btw.