Barbie Doll suggests that the heroin of the poem “wore out like a fan belt.” She did not wear out like a razor, a pair of shoes, an old piece of furniture, or simply a blue color worker at the end of a long hard day. She wore out like a fan belt. Fan belts are not covered under any manufacturer warranty because they are expected to undergo a certain amount of wear and tear; they are expected to break. They play a significant part in keeping the engine cool and running properly but they are easily replaced. Even if they do not wear, any maintenance log will require the owner of the vehicle to replace them at certain intervals to uphold the manufacturer warranty for the rest of the engine components. They are not hard or expensive to replace, in fact they are all built to standard specs.
I could not think of a worse simile to use in this poem. This poem is meant to expose a tragedy at the hand of hyper superfluous consumerism and instead, it conjures images of a responsible car owner. Even more than this, the entire image of fan belts conjures a bunch of dirt, rust and grease. Comparing this girl to something you would find under the hood of a car pigeonholes her into the ‘butch’ stereotype that she is struggling to fight from the beginning of this poem. Of all the words, all the images, all the imagination at this poet’s disposal, this would have to be the worst choice. But maybe this is the point. Maybe the poet hates this girl as much as the people in her tortured life.
None of this is to say that the quest for beauty should be described in any delicate fashion. In fact, Swift uses the allusion of machine work with much more proficiency as he describes, “O never may such vile Machine, Be once in Celia‘s Chamber seen!” While this may not paint a very pretty picture of the girl he has come to spy on, it does speak to the pains people endure to wear their beauty. Even more tragically, we are forced to suffer the pain of this beauty with lady-like grace. This Peeping Tom wanted to take a closer look at the object of his affection but he got a whole lot more than he bargained for. He saw how the sausage was made. This sudden and biting honesty ruined his ideas of feminine beauty in women and the world alike. This much is clear as he makes the gritty allusion to the circle of life, “Such Order from confusion sprung, Such gaudy Tulips rais’d from Dung”
Judith Butler takes this idea of nature and women one step further. She argues that “When Aretha Franklin sings you make me feel like a natural woman, she seems at first to suggest that some natural potential of her biological sex is actualized by her participation in cultural position “woman” as object of heterosexual recognition.” She later admits that her own prejudice have gotten in the way of her reason and that Franklin could have been singing to another woman just as easily as she may have been singing to a man. Just when you think she might be getting a little less militant, she pushes the big red button that sets off all the bombs. She goes on to argue that there is no natural state for woman. She believes that submitting to the gender roles is nothing short of the total failure to resist patriarchal society that have spent an accountable number of generations brainwashing people with vaginas into thinking they are women. Personally, I just think Judith Butler got no R-E-S-P-E-C-T for my girl Aretha Franklin. I would have to disagree.
I believe in woman’s rights. I see the chauvinistic dismissals, the macho attitudes, the objectification and degradation of woman on a daily basis. For many men, the female body doesn’t serve much purpose outside of the ghost hard drives on their computer. This is a big problem and the solution isn’t to simply come out and say that women don’t exist. Women are born everyday. My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and I don’t need to wait for my daughter to grow up and decide she is a female. She’s a daddy’s girl already. Is this patriarchal? Maybe. But here is a picture.
Here is another
and one more
and a million more on my facebook account…
Tell me if this is a beautiful baby girl.
If you agree, you disagree with Judith Butler.
Judith Butler would call my little girl the victim of a male dominated family who is forcing their neutrally gendered offspring to assume the female role to satisfy the social structures designed against her. In return, I would give Judith Butler a dirty look and keep shopping for my little girl’s next tutu.