Saturday, June 17, 2006

From object to subject, continued

Continuing in the objectification series.

One of the, uhm, objections to sexual objectification is that it equates women with a commodity to be consumed. So this extends to media representations as well, not just overt acts of exploitation of actual women in making the (porn, what have you).

It would probably be useful to really get into the whole notion of "consumer goods" from a Marxist perspective, I expect, not to mention the objectification we all undergo in a capitalist system (I think that's it--we're all objects on this bus, essentially)--but I'm not the one to do it. I'll stick with the whole wacky notion of the "male gaze"--that is, again, men look, women are looked at.

The quintessential non-porn (per se) expression of this being, perhaps, the beer 'n' bikini ad.

But what if you're a woman who looks at other women? And wants to be looked at--by other women?

I wrote this piece for a cabaret at the Dyke Drama collective a few years ago. New Yorkers might remember the ad this was inspired by: a particularly obnoxious one that was all over the subways.

***

The market. Lights rise on HANNAH just putting a can of food into a small basket or cloth shopping bag. She consults a list, scans the “shelves.”

HANNAH
...What else, what else....I just know I’m forgetting something. I...need...

The FANTASY GIRL steps out, with beer bottle. Strikes a pose. Sultry-aggressive:


FANTASY GIRL
There MIGHT be something for YOU behind my LABEL.

HANNAH
Oh, God.

FANTASY GIRL strikes another pose.

Look, just drop it, all right? You have nothing to offer me.

FG proffers bottle, suggestively.

Least of all that.

FANTASY GIRL
(wheedling)
There *might* be something for youuuu....

HANNAH
We have nothing to say to each other.

FANTASY GIRL
Might be *something*...

HANNAH:
Oh, okay. Right then, let’s talk. I know! You tell me how attractive you find me, as a person, and how much easier, how much *simpler* things would be, if only--

FANTASY GIRL
Guys can just be such a pain. You know?


HANNAH
And then, after an evening of gazing soulfully into each others’ eyes and pouring our hearts out over a bottle of cheap Merlot, you say:

FANTASY GIRL
(drawing back)
Look, I *like* you. I’m really flattered. But, you know, I’m not--

HANNAH
Well, forget it, honey. I don’t care what you call yourself or don’t call yourself, just don’t call me until you figure it out. I’m not into--

FANTASY GIRL
(accusatory)
LABEL!

HANNAH
(beat)
...false advertising.

FANTASY GIRL shakes her hair out, back to sultry.

It’s not meant for me, anyway.

FANTASY GIRL
There *might* be something for *you*...

HANNAH
No, there isn’t. There is no place for me in this equation. You’re not tossing those locks for fingers like mine, and I couldn’t make my own hair do that even if I tried. Not that I *would* try.

(FG raises her eyebrows).

...I mean, it’s not like I don’t respect your...style. It’s just not me.

FANTASY GIRL
Might be.


HANNAH
Ah, no. Thanks, but no. (Defensive) Okay, so maybe when I was a kid I liked smearing that gunk all over my face. Maybe I *did* play with Barbies. That has nothing to do with you and me. And anyway, it’s not like I was given a whole lot of options. And hey! Nothing’s changed! Because, check it out!

FANTASY GIRL
(Back to advertising mode)
There MIGHT be SOMETHING for YOU behind my LABEL!

HANNAH
You’re everywhere I fucking turn!

FANTASY GIRL
There MIGHT be SOMETHING for YOU behind my LABEL!!!

HANNAH
Yeah, well, you’re never going to convince me to buy it. Your product sucks. It’s cheap and tasteless, and even if it did give me a quick buzz, I’d feel awful in the morning. It has no redeeming value whatsoever.

FANTASY GIRL
THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING FOR YOU BEHIND MY LABEL!!!

HANNAH
No! I’ve made up my mind. I’ve had it with this market. I’m holding out for a better model, and until it--she--it comes along, I’m abstaining. (Beat). Stop looking at me like that.

FANTASY GIRL
There might be something for you.

HANNAH tries to ignore her.

There might be. Something. For *you.*

HANNAH is weakening.


*Behind* my label.

HANNAH rolls her eyes. Turns to FG, spreads her arms in a gesture of defeat.


HANNAH
What.

FG steps into HANNAH’s personal space.


FANTASY GIRL
Peel me.

Lights down.


Back

To be continued, believe it or not

3 comments:

A White Bear said...

I love it! You could do a whole series of these, crafted to change with the ads, which will always supply girls offering you something for taking the product. Do you have a Dove Girl plot in mind? That could be good. If you need a size-12 woman to stand in an awkward, self-loathing way with an ecstatic smile on her face, rubbing her thighs, let me know.

EL said...

I love it too. I had forgotten about those once-ever-present ads.

Lis Riba said...

Only tangentially related, but I wanted to point you to this post about objectification within polyamorous relationships, which I thought you might like.