Since People Keep Asking: Lena Dunham’s Pro-Obama Ad

Reader el asks me how I feel about this notorious pro-Obama ad:

I hate this ad and find it to be not only tasteless but also offensive to me as a woman. Can a young woman do nothing, not even vote, without some sexual meaning being attached to her actions?

Anybody who has been reading this blog for any period of time knows that I’m no prude and that I don’t overuse words like “objectification” and “sexualization.” But if there ever were an instance of a young woman being objectified gratuitously, needlessly, and ridiculously to make some completely idiotic point, this is it.

Of course, I don’t see a single “feminist” website criticizing this ad. When a lingerie commercial shows half-naked women, that gets criticized as sexualizing because God forbid anybody should connect the idea of lingerie and sex. But when there is an ad protagonized by a woman who pretends to be a total air-head and argues that she only votes because of something vaguely sexual, no feminist condemnation is forthcoming.

It also annoys me that the ad uses a mix of extremely conservative cliches about female sexuality to promote a supposedly progressive message.

I don’t know what the point of the ad was. That women only vote for Obama because he is cute? That young women are stupid and can only blabber incoherently about nothing whatsoever? That young women are “hormonally driven” in all of their decisions? That Obama only appeals to those who are not extremely brilliant?

P.S. Yes, yes, I know this shit is supposed to be funny. If this clip entertains you, you probably really enjoy Hollywood comedies as well. I don’t, so forgive me for gagging instead of laughing. Feel free to go watch some American Pie to calm yourself down.

Not My Type of Lit Crit

Courtesy of The Sister:


I have to work very hard to convince students that this has nothing to do with literary criticism. This is just a parody of my profession they learn in high school.

I always warn my students from the outset that if anybody tries to tell me what the author meant, that person will become my sworn enemy.

Classics Club #7: C. P. Snow’s The Affair

C. P. Snow’s novel The Masters changed my life 14 years 3 months and 26 days ago.

I read this book while I was emigrating from Ukraine to Canada. It was a long journey. First I had to take a train from Kharkov to Kiev, then fly from Kiev to Shannon, Ireland, then take the connecting flight to Toronto, and finally travel in a car from Toronto to Montreal. On the way, I had time to read the novel twice. As a result of that reading, the purpose of my emigration changed significantly.

When I embarked on the journey, my goal was to become a literary translator from Spanish. As I read The Masters, however, I discovered the fascinating and complex world of academia. Mind you, the novel is in no way a paean to the academic world. The Cambridge dons C. P. Snow describes in the book are petty, mean, flawed, and quite unlikable.

Still, the novel showed me a completely different world. I had no idea anything of the kind even existed. And since the entire reason for my emigration was to move to a different universe, I decided that it would make a lot more sense to explore this unknown world of academia than to make a much less significant change from being a technical translator to translating literary texts.

Since then, I never read anything by C. P. Snow. The experience of reading The Masters had such a profound importance for me that I didn’t want to tarnish it by a later encounter with the author.

Now, however, I decided to read Snow’s novel The Affair that belongs to the same series titled Strangers and Brothers.

Continue reading “Classics Club #7: C. P. Snow’s The Affair”