I was the only Harpy who ended up making the HousingWorks/DoubleX/Sarah Haskins event on Monday night. Funnily enough, I saw a ton of people I knew there, including some people from my conservative workplace. I was impressed, I have to tell you, that they came. All of them are people I introduced to Sarah Haskins, of course, but they had found the event listing on their own. And left work to be at an event by 7 p.m., which is pretty remarkable in our profession.
The presentation (mostly a critique of advertising for what were called “femcare” products and I would call “vagina care” products) was not all Sarah Haskins all the time, which was a little sad, since the (surprisingly tall) Ms. Haskins was clearly the star attraction – after the presentation she was fighting off an army of admirers. My favourite joke of hers was when someone asked about research showing that stem cells could be harvested from menstrual blood, and she ventured that if that were shown to be true, we’d all be put in “period farms.” Funny because, umm, true, but oh well.
As Jezebel’s Anna North pointed out, the tone was kept light – very light. Which meant that there wasn’t much structural critique built into the presentation – mostly it was riffing off the ridiculousness of the advertising. Anna has an issue with it – she wanted the discussion to go deeper. But I kind of disagree. As I said above, I’ve used Sarah Haskins at work to sort of stealth-radicalize my colleagues, who, though not uniformly so, are often the kind of young women who find feminism “useless.” And by and large it’s been a huge success. We talk a lot about the strawfeminist stereotype of humorlessness, and I do still think it’s a starwfeminist stereotype. But the uses of humour and irony as feminist tools, it seems to me, are pretty damn strong, a lot of the time.
I didn’t exactly feel at liberty carrying a sign that said, “Here is the personage known as Pilgrim Soul” because I was worried about being carried off by a mob angry about my anti-Americanism, and also, you know, work people there. But… were any of you there?