Venus Envy

What Women Really Think
June 9 2009 12:42 PM

Venus Envy

Jessica , the most striking thing to me about Amanda’s great post on the widely-envied Obama marriage was that I read it immediately before reading Naomi Wolf’s quirky piece in Harper's Bazaar that Willa mentions about women who ostensibly covet Angelina Jolie’s entire life . I confess that while I have glanced longingly at the Obama’s marriage-the date nights; the obvious, palpable affection; the perpetual-motion-mother-in-law-it never once occurred to me to lust after Jolie’s domestic arrangement. The kids! The saintliness! The Brad! (the Brad!!) It all looks to be so completely revolutionary but also so weirdly exhausting and unreal-even with one’s own pilot’s license.

Maybe that’s why Wolf focuses her attention on how women envy Jolie’s life, but not her marriage. In fact Brad Pitt is kind of hot-trophy-boy in Wolf’s telling; a man Jolie "took for her own pleasure ... as the most desired of the tribe." What does it say about how conflicted American women must be if we covet Jolie’s life but crave the Obama marriage? Is there something so transgressive about Joilie’s marriage-to use Wolf’s word-that it doesn’t seem appealing to us at all? We may want Jolie's have-it-all life, but we want it with a backyard swingset and grilled cheese every Monday.


Perhaps the real truth is that nobody thinks Jolie’s "ego ideal" of a life, could possibly be united with that of, say, the male ego-ideal that is Barack Obama? It's why Michelle Obama, who's given up so much to become first lady, may not herself be anyone's ego-ideal right now. Which is another way of saying, we may covet Michelle Obama’s marriage but do American women want her life??

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.