Arts & Culture » Juice

Spice up your politics



If you really want to grind the gears of someone you know who got a degree in something that sounded really good at the time but who is using their jumbo IQ to get just the right amount of foam in the mochaccinos at Starbucks, tell them this: Ginger Spice just got a job as an envoy for the U.N. You can sit there until the rest of your hair turns gray waiting for the punch line. There isn't one. Geri Halliwell, formerly Ginger Spice, was appointed international goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. If we taped all our jobs together they wouldn't amount to anything that big.

Yeah, I know, so when does Brandy take over negotiations in Kosovo? Actually, Geri's move from dip to diplomat is brilliant. For a long while all you heard was how, as role models, the Spice Girls were as flimsy as their costumes. But look what your 12-year-old daughter is seeing now. Ginger -- the most popular, most décolletaged Spice -- unapologetically turned on her high heels and walked away from the cameras, fans and boy-slaves and went on to the serious business of birth control and women's health. If you're looking for a role model, you could do worse.

Star power

Using star cachet for socio-political ends is not a new stunt. Geri is following in the footsteps of Pearl Bailey, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Temple Black. But they rode out long careers before taking up causes. Geri is 26 years old.

Also, she doesn't talk like a think-tank press release. I am convinced there is a conspiracy of dullness in politics, that our power has been usurped, not with guns, but with red tape, diversionary tactics and spin control. We've been bored and disgusted out of paying attention. People who speak clearly about issues are no longer called politicians. They're called comedians.

And with the latest killing of an abortion doctor, this one shot through a window in his own home in front of his wife and son (are you digging those right-wing family values? I knew that you would), women's civil liberties need as many nervy champions as they can muster. Geri has nerve. And the best thing is that she's a feminist ... and an über babe.

Let's face facts: Feminists tend to be thought of as bulldogs in stretch pants. I really hate that. Like Southerners who despair when their accent automatically denotes "ignoramus," or gay men who cringe at limp-wristed impressions, I hate how, in the popular imagination, feminists are sourpussed, man-hating nags who lecture men on equality if those men make the mistake of being polite. Like most stereotypes -- OK, it got its start somewhere -- it's an oversimplified cartoon, and it's false.

Failure to acknowledge an image problem is like wondering why you can't get a date while pretending you don't have a wart on your forehead the size and texture of a kiwi fruit. Presentation is important: you may know the meaning of life, but if you start with "Listen, moron ...," people will turn away. Remember the adage: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. This girl is a honey, and with her universal appeal she won't end up just preaching to the converted. "Geri Halliwell can reach and influence young women in a way we can't ...," said U.N. Population Fund spokeswoman Corrie Shanahan in a New York Times article. "We don't have their attention, and that's it: She has their attention."

And who better to have the attention of young women than someone who is on the same page and seems to have read it? Girls will not, nor should they, listen to conservative old farts when it comes to sexual issues. That's like having a dance teacher with two broken legs; you eventually decide to figure it out for yourself, a mistake that leads to more mistakes. Women's sexuality should be guided by sexual women, because you want a tour guide who has been to the city lately, not one who hasn't left the farm since nineteen-ought-seven. They need a Geri Halliwell much more than a Jerry Falwell.

Jerry meandering

In fact, given their similar sounding names, why not compare the two and see who has our best interests at heart?

Geri: Left show business to become "an evangelist of women's empowerment." Jerry: Stayed in show business as "televangelist" whose power comes from panhandling some $70 million a year in donations. Geri: Founding member of the Spice Girls, a group promoting "Girl Power." Jerry: Supporter of the Promise Keepers, a group promoting male dominance in the home. Geri: "I believe in pro-choice and nonjudgment ... . [W]omen in undeveloped countries deserve the right to choose. They are denied the right to be educated ... the right to contraceptives." Jerry: "It appears that America's anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men's movement."

That's right, men don't have enough power, what with their having to fight for the right to vote, obtain good jobs and people killing their doctors. I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want. I want Geri to succeed because she really really wants what's best for us.

And I have a feeling she's really good at this birth control advocacy thing. After all, look at what happened when she left the Spice Girls: Half of them ended up pregnant.


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