In Praise of Snooki, Feminist Mom

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
March 21 2013 5:11 PM

In Praise of Snooki, Feminist Mom

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The mom who needs no caption

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Breaking free from her new life as a mother and fiancée, the inimitable Snooki marshals her Jersey posse of Guidettes for a ladies' night out in the latest episode of her current show.

In the booze-filled limo ride to the club, Snooki breaks out her breast pump, starts waving it around to the beat of the music, and then puts it to use.

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“Jenni, do you want to feel the suction?” she asks her partner in crime, who promptly applies the pump to her own nipple. The ladies break into hysterics after a third friend suggests that JWOWW, as she is more commonly referred to, could end up deflating her breast.

“On the way to the club, I think I should pump, just so my boobs aren’t sore, and y’know, I’m not leaking milk everywhere,” Snooki says during the recap. “I’m surprised I didn’t tear my vagina open with my stitches,” she adds, reflecting on her dance floor acrobatics.

This new-mom real talk resonates with me.

It’s important to see women discussing these issues in mainstream pop culture, where people subconsciously look for cues about what’s appropriate—to see a new mom and her friends talking candidly and comfortably about breast pumps and vaginal tears.  

Even, or perhaps especially, when it’s Snooki and her troop of legging-loving booze hounds. The fact that she isn’t trying to send a message makes it more powerful: She’s just a new mom doing what she needs to do to get her clubbing on, yo.

More often than not, unfortunately, public discussions about the miracle of life regard the particulars as unsavory or a source of embarrassment.

Take Laguna Beach star Kristin Cavallari, who had a special on E! with Giuliana Rancic earlier this month. The big reveal of the interview—wait for it—appears to be that Jay Cutler, the father of her baby, saw the whole delivery. GASP.

"He's not traumatized? He's OK?” Rancic asks. “We’re OK,” Cavallari said. WELL THANK GOD.

Crazy shit happens to women’s bodies before, during and after childbirth. It’s inelegant, it’s awkward and it’s tough enough for women to deal with it privately, let alone publicly. As more women talk and deal with it unabashedly, the stigma begins to fade.

Snooki goes to show that you don’t need the intellectual prowess of Lena Dunham or the professional achievements of Sheryl Sandberg to serve, at least in some capacity, as a feminist exemplar.

This is not to say that, as a whole, Snooki is someone that other women should emulate. Obviously she doesn’t hold a candle to icons such as Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan. Her body image issue is one in a long list for which feminists would take her to task.

But fake eyelashes and too much glitter don’t disqualify you from being someone who can set a constructive example for women.

When Jersey Shore debuted on MTV back in 2009, I thought, move over Rock of Love, there’s a new shit show in town. I couldn’t tear myself away from the trashy train wreck of belligerent partying and over-the-top personal hygiene routines. It’s nice to know that in the strangest and most unexpected of places, a flash of cultural progress can emerge.

So rock on, Snooki, I salute you. You go on with your tacky self, trying to have a good time, pumping along the way, and keeping your vaginal stitches intact. 

Eliza Krigman is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She writes about technology, culture and education.