Archive for August 15th, 2010

August 15th, 2010

Ladyness: Is "Pearl Clutching" the New "Hysterical?"

Coco Chanel in pearls

I’ve been pondering that two of the big putdowns in online feminist (and non-feminist) circles are to accuse someone of “pearl-clutching” or “flouncing” and I’m thinking about how those are very gendered putdowns, very nicely targeted to situate the accuser as modern and with-it, and the pearl-clutching flouncer as outdated, feminine.

I get that the imagery of pearl-clutching works in some (very necessary) discussions of racism and privilege, that a white lady grasping her jewels, so to speak, is a pretty direct representation of white feminists clinging to their privilege, but it’s not always being used that way, and even when it is, it pinches a little. It’s probably meant to. However, it still directly links to a hatred of women and is that really worth a clever turn of phrase?

I do want to note, and Marisa and I will discuss this later, that one of the most hilarious and ridiculous things about the (Rich White) American Woman show at the Met was that they actually had fake pearls for sale in the gift shop—which you were forced to walk through at the end of the exhibit. They also had sparkle tshirts and other things, including some already-marked-down “Give Women the Vote” mugs. I got one for my white feminist mom.

I dunno. It’s early. It’s Sunday morning. I’m obviously on deadline.

Addendum: I want to be clear I’m not calling out Renee, and I think her post is amazing and right on. I know there was some discussion of “pearl clutching” in the comments there, at that point in time, and in that context, discussing the term meant missing the point and message of Renee’s writing, i.e. derailing.
Posting about it here, in the context of my personal blog, gives me and anyone who chooses to join in a space to talk about the term and its implications. I also know that I’m obviously not the first person to be thinking about these things, for example this post from lauredhel. The end.