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Valley Girl Feminism: My New Acting Project

Having Fun With Social Commentary

· feminism,comedy,writing

Hi! By now, you've come to expect a certain tone of voice from me, a certain depth of perspective.

But just when you think you've got a handle on where I was going, I got bored and decided to change it up. Why is that, you ask? Simply put, I realized that I was going about this feminism stuff the wrong way. My bad!

Enter "Valley Girl Feminism." What is Valley Girl Feminism? Let's break it down.

Valley Girl Feminism is Jenna, a brain child of mine who's been growing steadily and kicking her mommy in utero for a few months. She was born wearing diamonds and tiaras.

I got the "Valley Girl" part from a guy I had a brief, brief fling with years ago. He used to call me this in a playfully derogatory way, so I thought, hey, why not adopt it as the moniker for my quote-unquote alter ego.

The name Jenna is an Americanized version of my name, of course, designed to make her palatable to people who just need good ol' American folks to relate to.

According to Wikipedia, the best and most legitimate resource on the Web today, a Valley Girl is:

a socio-economic stereotype depicting a class of women characterized by the colloquial California English dialect Valleyspeak and materialism.

 

Originally referring to upper-middle class girls from the Los Angeles commuter communities of the San Fernando Valley during the 1980s, the term in later years became more broadly applied to any English-speaking female—primarily in the United States and Canada—who engendered the associated affects of ditziness, airheadedness, and/or greater interest in conspicuous consumption than intellectual or personal accomplishment.

I decided to adopt this Valley Girl persona because nobody likes an intellectual feminist, for chrissakes. Girls don't need to be smart! haha. They just need to marry rich, amirite? ;)

White feminist Jenna loves high fashion. She looks just as good in Betsey Johnson as she does in Vera Wang. She aspires to be like Marilyn Monroe, a sex symbol for the ages. She wants to be prized for her desirability and her domestic goddessing. In short, she's comfortable being a walking, talking stereotype of the best kind of woman the Patriarchy can have: the docile, airheaded kind who only thinks about boys and fashion. (Spoiler alert: a woman who loves make-up and fashion isn't an airhead. She's a complicated human who's been flattened into a caricature, like the ambitious and intelligent Marilyn Monroe was. Jenna, for me, serves as an exploration of who we are when we're not expected to be one-dimensional cardboard cutouts of ourselves.)

I created Jenna because I know people get tired of hearing the word "feminism," and I wanted a character who could speak to people on a basic human level. I know it's exhausting to think more deeply about complicated, multi-layered social issues. Hell, it's beyond exhausting to write about these complicated, multi-layered social issues. Deep down, as the comment sections of any social media thread will tell you, we all know that angry "feminazis" are just mad because nobody's fucking them, not because people are repeatedly traumatizing them through their ignorance.

So I made "Jenna" different. My Valley Girl feminist hasn't a care in the world. Her primary goal in life is to please the people around her and make them happy. Jenna doesn't think about the world outside her own middle-class bubble because she doesn't have to. She doesn't want to bother being upset about things she can't change anyway. And she definitely just wants to go to parties, to see and be seen.

Except, maybe she does think about the world beyond her mansion. Maybe she does get upset about things she knows other people around her don't care to change. And maybe when she goes to parties, she wants to be seen for the real person she is, instead of having to put on a face that she thinks is acceptable to other people. Maybe she doesn't want to be a caricature, but is forced to act like one because no one around her seems to want her to be any different.

Wanna travel with us as Jenna Smashes the Patriarchy(TM) with humor? Head to her Twitter page for some fuck-ups and fun. (Why Twitter? I don't have the resources right now to create full sketches and put them on YouTube, like I originally wanted to. Developing Jenna on Twitter first also gives me a chance to see who Jenna will turn out to be and eventually write sketches around her identity.)

Have I lost you to this ill-conceived bullshit lacking nuance? I'm bad at humor, I'll be honest. I'm also not a very well-read "feminist," so maybe I'm guilty of doing "feminism lite" and not being the best activist I can be. I'm still learning. And I'm just putting on this new role to see how it fits. Follow along or don't. I'm not attached to this character, so she's free to be whatever she wants to be.

Editor's Note: In all seriousness, Jenna is an attempt at illustrating how we can be complex humans with contradictory desires and "imperfect" politics. She was created for me to have fun poking fun at how seriously I take this intersectional feminism shit.

Oppression hurts. Being part of a marginalized group has real-world, long-lasting effects, and people don't see it because it's too much for them to grasp outside of real-world examples. I'm shifting towards comedy because it seems feminism lands better when it's done this way. If I fuck up - when I fuck up - I hope you'll forgive my flawed understanding of the world and allow me the room to be an imperfect human.

Let's play!

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