You know wimpsters: to quote myself, they are “those limp-wristed Brooklyn-esque hipster cuties who you think just must be perfect boyfriends because of their seeming lack of frat-boy-dude-style and copious amounts of 1” band pins but who turn out, upon closer inspection, to be just another boring non-feministy man that you need to live without.” (I talk a lot about wimpsters in this rad essay). Rachel Elder defined the term in Bust: the wimpster “is a man who has perfected his own male insecurity in an effort to manipulate women. He is a man who uses self-deprecation and vulnerability to prey upon a woman’s need to nurture his massive ego.”
I’ve been on this man thing lately. I pride myself on living in as woman-y world as much as possible (I am writing from my “labia pink” room-of-one’s-own [a.k.a. my office], surrounded by a huge bookshelf of books written only by women, the pink “Entrust Women With Political Power” poster, the Gloria-Steinem-signed “Ms. Magazine Tenth Anniversary: The Best is Yet To Come” poster [found at Salvation Army!], and more feministy crap on the walls than can possibly be catalogued, including – in a nod to my third wavey ironic streak – a great collection of 1960s and 1970s pantyhose inserts). But men sneak in. They are all around, have you noticed?
I don’t mind men in my life, I have lots of carefully collected men friends, but it bothers me when I go for long periods slipping back into the world of culture created by men. It’s so easy to do, there is so much of it out there.
So I’ve been listening to that hipster classic, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I truly love it. But I also truly see how it perfectly exemplifies the wimpster aesthetic. As evidenced by the (fantastic) film that chronicles the making of the album, Jeff Tweedy is a total douche. (And do I need to explain that feminists are allowed to use “douche” as a derogatory term, since douching is a totally douchey thing to do?).
I don’t think there is any need to persuade an imaginary audience that YHF is the apex of wimpster-itude – I think either you instantly see it, or you don’t.
However, I must indulge my need to make bulleted lists, so I will anyway:
Handy bulleted points chronicling YHF’s wimpstericity:
- Actual lyrics: “I am trying to break your heart
But still I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t easy
I am trying to break your heart”
- The boyobsession with transistor radios that runs through the album really cinches the deal for me. Obsessions with shit like that are totally wimpster. It can be perfectly cool (see, for example, M. Ward), but in the hands of a suspected wimpster, its just tips the scales a little more to the wimp.
- Jim O’Rourke, wimpster par excellence, makes an appearance.
- Every word in “Reservations.”
So, is it OK to listen to albums like this, read books like this (Dave Eggers, Philip Roth, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Ames, Bukowski, Kerouac, Salinger, I could go on), etc? The wimpster is a devastating phenomenon that must not continue, but it cannot be denied that they sometimes make some good cultural artifacts. The drum sounds on YHF are so amazingly perfect they make my bones hurt. So, I’m hereby giving myself permission to enjoy culture made by wimpsters, as long as I commit myself to seeing them for what they are, and as long as it is balanced by equal doses of awesome anti-wimpster culture…like The Blow.
To end this post I will, totally enigmatically, state that I believe The Flaming Lips to be totally not wimpster-y.
Why is Wayne Coyne 1,000x cooler than Jeff Tweedy?