Girls 1, Boys 0: NOW WHAT?

fantasy of working women

Another day, another meme.

The new HBO wundershow Girls has arrived (see the full Episode One here). And with it discussions about what the “new woman” wants.

Well, according to recent studies about manhood and masculinity in America, it’s all over now.

They’re calling it The End of Men, which is a nice way of saying Valerie Solanas was right.

Now I’m not the kind of man to lament such a condition. The way I see it men had roughly two millennia to get our shit correct…and we still haven’t sooo….

Male writers have completely fumbled the ball, from their antiquated or opaque literary depictions of sex to patriarchal art games: it’s been our chess board for so long that we forgot what it’s like not to hold all the pieces. Now it’s the women’s turn. And don’t even get me started on some of my favorite black literary lions such as Ishmael Reed and Charles Johnson and their war with our black female geniuses: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, etc.

The men I love hate the women I love. And there’s no sense in that. Leave it to Baldwin to float above the fray.

But I digress: this post is about what’s happening right now to women, right now to men, and what we’re all doing about it.

Scholars say that the arrival of the Judd Apatow/Adam Sandler manchild– a particular 21st Century species who bumbles around playing videogames all day and not committing to anything: children (see Knocked Up), marriage (see Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch), even friendship (see I Love You, Man)– that this inept, impotent being has created a void in America and the world that is being filled by upwardly mobile professional women that are doing their damn thang: outnumbering men in college matriculation and employment rates, raising children, paying bills, building organizations and communities, starting companies and engaging in BIG IDEAS…

while the men play video games (white version)…

or drop out, get shot and go to prison (black version)…

Now here’s where things get even more interesting. According to particular feminists, this vacuum is leading women to want it fasterharderstronger in the bedroom…

According to Katie Roiphe and her head-turning Newsweek cover story “The Fantasy Life of Working Women,” all over America professional women are turning to BDSM and “rape fantasies” in order to compensate for their discomfort with their newly won positions of prestige and power in society.

I think this is ridiculous. If bondage is going mainstream, so be it. So are Brazilian waxes. And a lot of other things, some perhaps good, some perhaps bad.

But this is sex, people.

One woman’s pain is another woman’s pleasure. Ditto for men.

And generations define themselves by how they approach love and sex.

Remember the Victorians? Interesting lot. Underneath all their clothes, there was still a lot of sex and celestial beds going on.

So here we are in the 21st Century where asexuality is on the rise, men are addicted to online porn and faking orgasms, and women want to be tied up and sexually assaulted by a “master” wearing a monster mask.

I always wonder where the black community fits into all these convoluted cultural conversations.

Are black women working at Golman Sachs and then going home wanting to be someone’s slave, dressing up in antebellum garb, and moaning through a rape fantasy?

For some reason, I highly doubt it. But in actuality, if that’s what turns her on, who cares? At least, SHE’S GETTING TURNED ON. Isn’t that her prerogative, her love, her life, her dream that Dr. King said she had a right to have umpteen years ago?

Besides, I think the focus on sexual adventures misses the point entirely for three reasons:

1. It’s the 21st Century. We have holograms now. In fact, hologram Tupac is about to go on tour. And yet we still want to control and vilify women’s sexual fantasies? Their right to not only have sex when and with whom they want, but how they damn want to? (I personally happen to know several women that want to have sex with Tupac’s hologram, but I’m not complaining about that. I just find it interesting.)

2. Women are making gains, but still fighting hard for respect, love and equality in the workplace and beyond. For proof of this, see the recent firestorm caused by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s announcement that she leaves work at 5:30 pm, as well as her seminal TED speech about the lack of women leaders, which has become a rallying cry frequently cited by feminists and women everywhere about the disappointing persistence of gender inequality (see the video below).

3. Don’t feminists have other things to fight over? Try some racial/class solidarity for starters. I’m tired of feeling that feminist arguments are really thinly veiled PRIVILEGED WASP WOMEN ARGUMENTS AND MARCHES (see the womanist vs. feminist fuss over those WOMAN IS THE NIGGER OF THE WORLD signs at the New York Slutwalk for example).  If y’all women could all get on the same page, stop being classist, stop being racist, stop being essentialist, and pull more men and colors into your ranks then more things would get accomplished GUARANTEED.

And for the rest of you (especially us men): Read a damn book. Treat the women in your life right.

And like Sly said, “I’m through man.”

–Chuck Lightning


  1. So many thoughts came through my mind while reading this. So as to be concise, my primary feelings are these:
    1-I LOVE your take on this subject Chuck!
    2-When it comes to conversations about gender and gender relations, the sexual aspect gets the primary focus, unfortunately.

  2. one aspect of this conversation (and of any ‘towards post-oppression’ conversation) that i think is being left out is the perception that equality = powerlessness; that in order to women to be empowered, men have to be emasculated. this is, of course, an imbalanced equation. it is merely a perception, but it gives rise to a fear of an utter loss of control of one’s surroundings. to the oppressed, however, not having control of one’s surroundings isn’t a big deal; we’ve made do. but for the oppressor, the thought of being subjugated in the very same way as those on whose backs they tap-dance is unbearable. guilt? sometimes. but definitely and always fear. and the fear is strong enough to block out any logical understanding of the fact that the oppressed are, for the most part, ethically and creatively advanced (it was necessary for survival) and not necessarily seeking to follow in your inhumane and unsustainable footsteps. of course there are those that are so deeply scarred that violence seems valid; but for the most part, folk just want to live, to breathe, and to create in peace.

  3. Chuck, you didn’t address the issues of diversity casting and nepotism that most people are discussing regarding this show. Thoughts?

  4. Chuck Lightning

    Okay Joe…here we goooo

    About nepotism.

    I love the HBO mockup poster all over the web right now. It kinda says it all…

    Did you read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell? It’s the same story, whatever the field or medium, television, Silicon Valley, music, literature…whatever…knowing somebody, actually being in a field, having money, resources, contacts, a great education/upbringing changes the game…

    Take YouTube…everyone wanted to paint the company as an indie garage startup…but in actuality, the founders of YouTube ( Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim) were all early employees of PayPal. So let’s say this: financial and technological resources were not issues. Besides this, Chad Hurley is married to Kathy Clark, the daughter of noted Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jim Clark, which I’m certain helped greatly as the young founders navigated their way through their first investment deal: a cool $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital.

    Resources and lineage shift everything…so I’m never surprised when I realize that Steven Spielberg’s assistant is actually so and so’s daughter. And her new fashion line is bankrolled by Balenciaga and debuting next week! Oh yeah, and she’s got this other idea about a TV show…you see she’s writing a memoir…

    No duh. Really? Wow. Go figure.

    In terms of the show Girls, I think this nepotism case is just so frickin obvious it borders on annoying and that’s what the fuss is all about.

    The fact that the entire cast consists of the progeny of artists and celebrities does make you say hmmmm…..Did they plan this? Does someone somewhere think this is funny?

    One of them must have said, “Hey I got an idea! Let’s start a disaffected cool table on national TV! And let’s call it…Girls!!!”

    That said, I do like YouTube, Spike Jonze, Angelina Jolie, Sofia Coppola, Robin Thicke, Maya Rudolph, Rashida Jones etc. so I’ll stop complaining about nepotism now.

    About the casting:

    As long as that magic homeless negro appears at the end of every show with something witty to say to heal some white girl’s broken heart I guess I’ll be alright.

    This is what we call progress.

    and by the way, if there were more black folks on the show…the show would have to trim down its sexual escapades and dating foibles considerably…


    1) last I checked HBO makes its money when the majority of America actually watch its shows even if HBO doesn’t make its profits in a traditional broadcasting fashion


    2) networks have this little marketing/creative problem called “A CHANGE WE DON’T BELIEVE IN” otherwise overheard in casting and story sessions as a little whispered dialogue that goes like this:

    “Ummm….How can we say this? I’m going to try to say this as politically correct as I can. We just don’t believe America’s ready to see even the most heartbroken desperate white woman in NY roll around in the bed with a loving black man. And if we cast a black woman as one of the lead character’s friends? I don’t know. Who will write her dialogue? Lena Dunham? Last time I checked she’s got exactly one black friend. And she met her on the train yesterday. And who would that prospective black female cast member even date and have weird bondage sex with? A black man. Oh, I see. And who will write that black man’s preppy but quirky hip hop hipster dialogue? Yeah, you’re right, I agree, bad idea. Oh, I got it! The prospective black female cast member should date a white man. Only white men! Or Euro types! Frat boys and punk kids! Uh huh. Waitaminute! What do you think Rev. Sharpton and Roland Martin will say about our new I’m-a-trendy-black-woman-from-Soho-that-only-dates-Euro-models-or white-punk-rock-boys. Is it too cutting edge? I mean, is that kind of black woman realistic? Even if it is realistic, is that right to put on TV? I mean once it’s on TV, doesn’t that mean something? Doesn’t that mean we’re promoting that? Like we’re into weird buppie lifestyles or something? You’re right! It is post-black…But people could get mad! Black people keep talking about Trayvon Martin. I don’t know. They seem so upset these days. Did they forget we have a black president? Hmmmm. Well, let’s just go back to four white characters. That way Lena writes what she knows. And everything’s totally relatable. And we’re not promoting anything odd at all. I mean blacks everywhere loved Sex and the City. And the only thing black on there was Carrie’s shoes.”

    Now some might call that above dialogue racism. Or at the very least, a tacit corporate acknowledgement that said TV show might not sell ads in Mississippi. But as I noted earlier…I call it by the name we all call it nowadays….PROGRESS…

    For proof of such whispered studio conversations, please see:

    And the poll Nate Wonder alerted us to:

    thanks man

    great questions!

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