Trailer Park Chic, Post-Punk-Pop and My Body of Pedagogy
by Robyn Diner

I wake up with a silent grumble and a groan and a “No! not another day” kinda feeling in my gut. I really don’t want to write one more word about Derrida’s deconstruction of Foucault’s use of Descartes in the French version of Madness and Civilization and what it could mean for poststructuralist feminists who seek to reconfigure female hysteria — or some such thing — for yet another abstract, obscure academic journal that five people might read. And I’m including my mom in that equation.

But then I remember that it’s a teaching day and I smile because doing that pedagogy thing feels like a reward for all my time served in the not-so-ivory tower. Today’s “Popular Culture and Feminist Theory” class revolves around violated thus violent chicks on a rampage of vengeance. I’m going to screen parts of Baise-moi and Kill Bill via Thelma and Louise. And I’ll write my lecture on, on, on . . . Eeek! What do I write might lecture on? Do I compare and contrast? Do I focus on the bodies and how they transform as the films unravel? Do I dare evoke psychoanalytic theory? What to say today? Wait a minute. I skipped a step. Nevermind what to say. What to wear? It’s gotta speak.

I could start with my pink thigh high stockings that have these crazy-cool big shiny bows on the side. But the last time I wore those my taxi driver asked me if I was a present. I giggled because I couldn’t think of a sly reply. But later it occurred to me that I should have said said, “No, I charge” and offered to give him head for a hundred bucks because my salary can’t quite account for my student loan payments. And I tend to give it away for free anyway — so why not get a little CEO about my sex life? But that thought is neither here nor there and hardly helps with the matters-to-wear at hand.

I could put on my “Barbie is a Slut” t-shirt. However maybe I should save it for the day we discuss kiddie culture in class. Would that be overly kitschy or campily cool? Forget it — the jury in my head will take hours to deliberate.  What about my scanty, lime green, eerily fluorescent, early Courtney Love, demented babydoll/kinderwhore dress — with big-ass don’t-fuck-with me boots? It would be so very . . . post-punk-pop hip! Or something. But I think the dress is still stained with drops of red wine — which is actually quite perfect. The outfit could score high on the semiotically delinquent fashion radar. But my students probably won’t get the reference. I think they think Courtney’s either figuratively or literally dead. This makes me sad. How to teach your own pop culture as . . . history? Oh, no. Now I’m out there in that spiny thinking zone which exceeds the lecture for the day — and hardly helps one to get dressed. I guess I could do that trailer park trash chic thing that’s all the rage: a Kid Rock t-shirt, rhinestone belt, jeans and blue cowboy boots. But I don’t actually own a Kid Rock t-shirt or a pair of blue cowboy boots, so that’s a no-go.

I look over at the clock and I realize I’ve been lying in bed for over half an hour creating and discarding outfits and ideas like an overeducated Barbie doll on chrystal meth with ADD. Enough! It’s time to think about what to actually say.  So I stumble to the kitchen and grab a coke and go over into the living room. I light a smoke and I make it to the computer. And soon enough, I’m typing away, synapses firing, ideas flowing, feeling that yummy brain buzz — until that voice collides with and overrides my lecture-writing mini-binge. It hisses in my ear: What are you going to wear?

I wonder: When did this high/low do-it-yourself-with-a-little help-from-Versace chick take over my everyday? She’s so complicit, complacent, concerned with the trivial — wrapped and warped as she is by the wide world of “how to make your wardrobe speak.” How to get rid of her, get over her, get it together, get post-hip? “Bite me!” I silently scream to the consumer, capitalist, clothes-make-the-girl and the girl-just-can’t-get enough of that fashion thing designed for wannabe Dr. alternababes who read Bitch. But she just won’t go away.

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