Material Girls

Posted on June 12, 2008
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The Guardian would certainly be my favorite on line newspaper. They seem to understand the net better than any of the other print media at this stage and their writers are simply the best in the world, not just as prose stylists but in terms of their uncompromising engagement with issues. Which is all just a way of me introducing a beat up on the “Sex and the City” feature, a film I haven’t even seen. Why would I want to put shit on a film I hadn’t seen? Because I’m a prejudiced, uptight, arts snob who refuses to accept that some things are intended to be entertainment, unless I’m the one thats entertained by them – hence “I am Legend” rocks – “Sex and the City” Sucks. Though clearly I’m not the only one, as there’s a whole legion of men out there giving it hell. But this article, is different. Sarah Churchwill puts it all on the table, what is going on with the whole women, money, rich guys, fairytale wedding thing? And whatever happened to the eighties and third wave feminism? This is an excellent article, thought provoking, balanced and yet still critical of a film I’m sure I’d hate it if I was ever fair mined enough to go and see it….

…. including not just their limitless faith in materialism, but also their eagerness to embrace archaic cliches about what women want – the same cliches women once worked so hard to overturn. We’ve come a long way, baby: right back to where we started. The gold-digger is back – with a vengeance.

Not all the vengeance is as literal as in Priceless, of course, although grudge shopping seems to be an up-and-coming version of girl power, as in Blu Cantrell’s empowering anthem from a few years back, Hit ‘Em Up Style: “Hey Ladies / When your man wanna get buck-wild / Just go back and hit ‘em up style / Put your hands on his cash / And spend it to the last dime / For all the hard times.” Although we might have hoped that she had retired, along with other tired misogynist stereotypes such as the bluestocking, the spinster and the crone, the gold-digger is alive and kicking, and enjoying quite a renaissance. Indeed, she’s being embraced as a role model for our times.

Once a joke or a cautionary tale, today gold-digging is being offered as a viable career choice for women, viewed with a new regard, even glamour. High-end cosmetics line Laura Mercier has launched The Gold Digger Collection this summer so we can all look like one. Walk down the local high street and you’re likely to see a young woman in a T-shirt proclaiming “Golddigga”, or, for those who prefer a more formal approach, “Hello, My Name is Gold Digger”. You can purchase T-shirts online that say “Sugar Daddy”, “I Love My Sugar Daddy”, “Wanted: Sugar Daddy. Please Submit Bank Details Upon Application”. This is supposed to be ironic, but would these same women wear a T-shirt emblazoned with “Prostitute”? The distinction is little more than semantic, and entirely dependent on the antiquated moral system in which marriage alone confers respectability upon women. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the same website selling Sugar Daddy T-shirts also offers one with a mock-70s blaxploitation record emblem, “Slap-A-Hoe Tribe – Big Pimp Daddy”, which was being offered at special prices for Father’s Day (oh, the irony), suggesting some of the attitudes underlying all this raillery. Spite and contempt are never far away: Kanye West’s sarcastic single Gold Digger, one of the catchiest records in recent memory, and one of the few songs in history to sell more than 1m downloads in the United States, ends on a note of pure comeuppance: “But you stay right girl / And when you get on, he leave yo’ ass for a white girl.” There are gold- digger games and comic books and Halloween costumes.



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