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What Women Want 1


On money & sex

This is the story of an adult woman who takes over an advertising agency’s creative team in order to advertise properly to women. She seems the pinnacle of virtue. Her great success is a sportswear campaign offering women men’s carelessness in pursuit of manly play. Apparently, conventions of modesty & beauty oppress women. Promising women what men take for granted will win their hearts. Funny, like calling the running shoes Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory.

Democratic education is our theme; advertising our comic image of poetry. We are told adolescent girls spend the money in the new global economy. If advertising educates their taste, it influences the world. What’s more democratic than flattery? What’s more flattering than equality? The advertising CEO approves, resigning himself to history. The in-house contender disapproves, appealing to manly solidarity. Both seem to decide on self-interest: Money.

This woman, though bossy, confesses unhappiness. Her bossy ways have caused her trouble – men dislike bossy women. Likely, men will not change. Feminism may advertise modern woman, but it lied to this modern woman. She’s unhappy; & innocent: She actually believes advertising works for the public good.

However that may be, the woman tacitly rejects her own educated opinions inasmuch as she practices the feminine arts. Advertising feminism is a contradiction in terms. In defense of her virtue, I will say that she seems as surprised as the man that she seduces him. In defense of virtue, I will say that the difficulties & requirements of capitalist success may do as much to strengthen as to weary her. Her feminine vulnerability is startling, suggesting happiness is immoral, & not just because morality is feminist.

Morality, it emerges, lies on shaky ground. The comic poet is pleased to show how private parts make not a public whole anymore. Our education about men & women is contradictory. Men emphatically distinguish themselves from women, claiming prominence. But capitalist merit is precisely the argument of successful women! Apparently, men’s need for distinction is essentially a moral, not a business proposition. Perhaps man’s weakness in face of woman is as much protected by manly distinction as man’s superiority. Women resent this inequality – & may envy it – nevertheless, equality comes at a price. Men still are aloof. Now, women are aloof, too. Democratic justice apparently is equality of resentment.

What women want seems to be something men must be taught. Men are predictably recalcitrant, however. Do women know what they want? Do women want to pay the price for it? The obvious solution to the problem men create for women is to make men moral, by judging them on virtue, ignoring sex. This turns out to be a barren enterprise.

The last comedy Mel Gibson made; one of the last romantic comedies. See it.