"If you wannabe my lover/you gotta get with my friends"

"If you wannabe my lover/you gotta get with my friends"

The Spice Girls initiated me in to sex and sexuality.

I remember how excited I was when my dad (yes, my dad) bought me the first Spice Girls cd. I opened it and studied the lyrics inside immediately. I gazed at the pretty pictures of Posh, Baby, Sporty, Ginger and Scary. I wanted to be Posh. She seemed sexy, confident, and classy, "V doesn't come for free/She's a real lady."

I knew the words to all their songs and I constantly made up dances to their music. I would watch them perform on tv, wearing next to nothing. I remember thinking how beautiful, sexy, and large these women seemed. They were bigger than the world, and everyone wanted a piece of them. I wanted people to feel that way about me.

I suppose that's how it works. The media introduces young girls to these larger-than-life images so that they can fantasize about being wanted so intensely; to feel desired. Even as a kid, I understood why the Spice Girls (and other groups like them) were desired by (predominantly) straight men: these women honored the societal stereotype of sexiness in our culture, all the way down to their platform shoes (hey, it was stylish at the time, remember?)

I wanted to be them. I wanted to be beautiful and thin and busty and fiery and sexy. That word, "sexy"... even at a young age, I knew what it meant, and I knew it was something (some) girls became once they reached womanhood. I wanted to be sexy. A very fucked up thought to have as a pre-teen, but damnit, that's what I thought/felt/lived.

Of course, after years of studying feminism, women's and gender studies, and having received my Master's in Women's & Gender Studies, my good feelings towards the the all-mighty Spice Girls has waned. After a while, it all just seemed to tired; so overdone; so contrived, and shit, I grew up.

As I got older, I saw through their sparkling costumes. I saw through their smiles and their demand for "girl power." Was it about equality? Was it about society? Was it about...anything?

I do think the Spice Girls' "girl power" message was pretty rad at the time, even if it was just a producer-contrived idea that basically co-opted Riot Grrrl, and their version of "Grrrl Power"; even though it also set women up to be judged, poked, prodded; even though it was just a white-washed version of feminism. It still was something special at the time. Head of Policy & Parliamentary Affairs at the Fawcett Society, Geethika Jayatilaka said, "...whatever you think about the Spice Girls, they showed that feminism could be repackaged and sold. Instead of looking down our noses at this phenomenon we need to think about how to harness and use it." If you can't bring people to feminism (which has shown to be quite difficult), you bring feminism to the people.

Sure, the Spice Girls' version of "girl power" may have been a tad misguided and more so watered-down, we-won't-upset-anyone feminism, but at least it was out there--at least it got people talking.

Afterall, "Girl Power" always was feminism's little sister, but shhh! You weren't supposed to know that ;)

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