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The Dunham Rule

Last week I invented “Swift-boating” to describe the undue overattention and bushfire criticism that a young, pretty woman who says stuff (“says stuff”) inevitably experiences. This week I’d like to submit the “Dunham rule” as a related phenomenon, in...
Κείμενο Kate Carraway


So last week I/we (it’s a communal process, you know?) invented “Swift-boating” to describe the undue overattention and bushfire criticism that a young, pretty woman who says stuff (“says stuff”) inevitably experiences. (“Swift-boating” is so evocative, isn’t it? I’m really pleased with myself/us.) Swift-boating is, of course, not only about Taylor—Taylor, Taylor, Taylor! Say it like Tony! Toni! Toné!—it’s about the collective, gummy-wormy grownup decision that a very much in-progress cultural actor like TSwizzle is responsible for and representative of worlds and worlds and worlds of things that she couldn’t possibly be. There are currently very few corners (hexagons?) of the hive mind in which to be rational, forgiving, and real, to parse anything as “feminist” or “not,” as anything other than “bitch sucks” or “BUT I LUFF HER!” There are few corners in which to approach a Taylor Swift or similar with anything other than catastrophizing, in either direction, and to do that—to decide on someone else like that—is Swift-boating.


Anyway, I’d like to submit the “Dunham rule” as a related phenomenon, in which a woman who has demonstrated one or more previous acts of transgression in a pop-cultural context will be approached warily, as if those acts are what primarily define her, with little room to be considered or criticized for anything beyond them, regardless of what else she’s up to. I take this back if Lena Dunham can pull a Korine, though.


Not having to make decisions in certain areas—like, instead of negotiating what time I’ll wake up while I set my alarm every night, while I’m almost definitely in the midst of an acidy flux of doing and thinking and feeling, I just decided, all “DEEECIDED!” and now have my alarm set for a totally perverted AM time every single day—is actually the best and raddest way to free yourself of whatever banalities are crushing you into sand. Maybe this is inside baseball, but look, if you want to be busy making or doing anything creative and/or optional, you can’t be occupied with trying to convince yourself into it every day. You have to do it and do it and do it the same way you pee and procure coffee every morning. Automating any process, that left open will fuck you and laugh about it, will reorder not only your schedule and productivity, but also your brain, eventually.


A choice cut from the new i-D mag, via The Cut blog:

“Of the word Kimye, he remarks, ‘I don't want to be a part of that. I would prefer to be me and my girl, she does what she does. I don't want to be the 'couple' thing. When they make the names up, that would make me sick. Kimye is the worst shit I've ever heard. Who thought of that dumb shit anyway? TMZ?" Yes.



Basically I have thrown everything I don’t wear constantly or love deeply into trash bags and stuffed it in a donations box and walked away like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club. So, now, my closet is a cruelly, accurately same-same and unimpeachably revealing vision of what I do wear, all of it a uniform half inch apart on matching fabric-covered hangers. (Do you see what you can make happen when you don’t drink for a year?) (It’s so boring, though, don’t do it, unless you should do it.) (I actually don’t know what I think about this.)

Soooooo anyway what is left is a section of white, cream, bone, ecru, silk, knit, cotton, linen shirts. Then the same with black. Then there is some marginal variation before the section of “stripes,” and the section of gray postsweatshirts. And then skirts and dresses and other stuff who cares who cares. My point is that while my Freudian ego loves color and detail and sunshine, my subconscious only wants to wear a white A.P.C. shirt and a gray sweatshirt and boots and I guess be Danish or French?

What I like about this is that I didn’t come to this from “choosing.” What I am left with is not what I loved the most, at first. I came to this from rejecting. I took a whole, eliminated ruthlessly, and then diagrammed what I was left with. It is about 500 times more effective than shopping more and more and more, each time stabbing with ambitious nail art at what might fulfill your vision. In fact, your vision of yourself already exists but has been rainy-LA-day clouded by your less true hallucinoshops about what you should like, what you might like. Reject, reject, reject and see what is left. (Play “Metaphor” by Sparks while you do it, for power.)


Also, now that I think about it, Judd Nelson dressed really good in The Breakfast Club, right? Of the era but forever, although, after emerging on hands and knees/coughing up black angst in little puffs for years after indie rock, I don’t like those little label buttons very much. Mine live in my secondary jewelry box. OK, so anyway, maybe Judd Nelson is a candidate to be added to what I think of as Other It Girls, like, potential style icons that haven’t been plundered by every magazine and lookbook and Pinterest into nothingness?


Read this interview that Blake Butler did with his mom about caring for his dad who has Alzheimer’s. Probably cry.

Previously - Enough with the Psychodramas Already

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