Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Do you ever watch Talk shows and yell at the vapid people on TV and say, "No!
You are missing the point!" I do it constantly, yet I still watch, like the proverbial train wreck, I am there daily, witnessing the obliteration of subject matter that I hold dear; topics that could benefit from the mass outreach of the mainstream media. If only those entrusted to impart "the facts" were able to do so in an intelligent and informed way.

Sisterhood, She Wrote

"Often when we see derogatory images of women, we disassociate ourselves from them—we’re not like that. We’re the bright exceptions that prove the rules, right? We’ve grown familiar with that refrain, but it’s simply untrue. We have to learn to realign ourselves with ourselves—with women in general.”
Regina Barreca, They Used to Call Me Snow White...But I drifted; Women's Strategic Use of Humor

I have never voted for a republican and I am in no danger of doing so in 2016.
Nor do I relish giving any right wing politician credit for saying something uncharacteristically intelligent, but republican presidential candidate Carli Fiorina got one thing right with her comeback to Donald Trump’s opinion of her appearance, “…women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Instead of taking the slight personally, she chose to align herself with women as a group. Even if her reasons for the retort were purely political, it was one of the most astute, and dare I say, feminist sentences I have heard any political candidate on the right or the left utter in a long time. If only her other actions and policies reflected such an insightful connecting of the dots.

Ever since my mother's death in 2013, I have taken to watching what used to be one of her favorite shows "Murder She Wrote". The very first episode of MSW our intrepid mystery writer/crime solver Jessica Fletcher,  actually has women friends. This quickly changes throughout the rest of the series as we see Jessica surrounded by male regulars.
One of the few episodes, other than a women's prison, that features a crowd of women around Jess, was set in a beauty salon. Not only did the salon look like it was dipped in Pepto Bismol but so did the stylists. There was also the obligatory audio of several women rapidly talking over each other while a man, in this case Tom Bosley as  sheriff Tupper, rolls his eyes.
At another point during the episode the sheriff lets out a frustrated harrumph, "Women!" which elicits a disapproving glare from Jessica. The chief corrects himself slightly and says, "present company excepted" to which our less than feminist star nods approvingly. I was thinking how great it would have been if Jessica kept that disapproving look even while the sheriff clumsily tried to take some of it back. If she had said, "sheriff, when you insult all women you insult me too!" It makes me sad that even an actor of Angela Lansbury's stature would not, or could not, insist that female stereotypes and misogynist epithets had no place on her show.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Thanks to Hoda and Kathy Lee for wearing pants and long sleeves on this "Casual Friday". It was refreshing to see at least two female hosts eschewing their cap sleeved tight knee length dresses for one whole hour. Now if they could just give up the 6 inch heels. 

I care about such a seemingly trivial issue not just because I despise showing my own upper arms but because I get the distinct impression that women are being...um...shall we say.. keenly encouraged to show some part of their body. 
Navigating racks of women's clothing is kind of like playing fashion whack-a-mole; if I want longer sleeves I have to settle for a plunging neck line. If I choose short sleeves they won't come down past my bicep. If I find a round neckline, there will invariably be a sexy hole in the middle exposing my cleavage. 

While clothes shopping, I often compare myself to a female celebrity sitting cross legged on Conan O'Brian's couch in a short skirt; self consciously tugging at the scant material barely covering my legs while another part of me comes dangerously close to exposure. 

Critiques of female fashion, like pretty much everything involving women, are often tinged with blame; well if they would just stop "choosing" clothes with flimsy fabric and dress more simply like men, act like men, ask for raises like men and get paid as much as men, all would be fine. Other than being.. a tad too masculine.

Less political arguments say that designers prefer sleeveless bridal gowns* because they are easier to alter. Interesting point but please explain men's fitted dress shirts? Once again we are lead to believe that women's needs are far more complex than our seemingly easy going brothers.

*I once saw an episode of Beverly Hills Bridal, where a woman in her 60's tried on a gown with cap sleeves. She glowed while friends, family and shop owner cooed over how "amazing" she looked even though her upper arm skin was puckered and flabby. The dress was clearly not flattering as far as her arms were concerned. I thought they were all blind and I was the brat kid yelling "the Emperor has no clothes"! Then I felt like the worst feminist ever, for judging this poor woman's arms.

My personal clothing needs are quite direct; give me a longed sleeved T-shirt with a round neck, fitted slightly at the bust but A-lined at the bottom. The material should be mostly cotton with nylon for stretch. I have 7 of these (by Style & Co.) in my closet that are about three years old. I have not been able to find any more like them since and I cling to these 7 with my life. 

Maybe it's where I shop--I steer clear of high end stores. Maybe it's where I live, a Toronto suburb where I am convinced gets rejects from the US. Maybe I'm not feminine or masculine enough, though sometimes I am a little of both. I do know what I want and I know what looks good on me. I too like being fashionable but I can tell when the-fashion-powers-that-be or the morning show moguls are manipulating me (through female hosts) into wearing what they consider proper feminine attire. 

Please join me. Fight the powers. Take your caps off and take a stand for casual Friday all week long.
Just be sure to wear your low healed shoes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If the stereotype of women not being able to work together is true, then how is it that 27 or so women from different races and economic backgrounds were supposedly able to form a cohesive unit, conspire against Bill Cosby and accuse him of drugging and raping them?
I also wonder how many rich powerful white guys in show biz have committed similar crimes against women but have gotten away with it because they are...well...rich and powerful white guys?
I often fantasize that all of the female actors and comics will get together, pool their resources and become a force to be reckoned with so they can produce TV shows that not only have a woman as it's star, but that she can be surrounded by other females now and then, instead of just a constant slew of guys who have been put there to somehow legitimize her existence as a comedian on television. I dream that women in show biz will tell the guys, who think that their female colleagues can't be funny without barf scenes and fart jokes, to piss off and let women be funny on their own terms (which may on occasion include but will not be limited to anal humor)and get their giant frat humor clown feet off these women's necks.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Writer's Block

Come on wordsmiths, change your ways. You aren't even trying anymore. Just because most of pop culture seems to be jumping off the degrading-women-with-impunity Empire State building, that doesn't mean YOU have to. When the story calls for one man to offend the other, leave women out of it and let the good guy trash the murderer/rapist/burglar or bad friend personally, not the jerk’s poor mother.

If writers are so creative, why do they scribble the same insults into popular TV show scripts. God forbid any male or female actor should utter a gendered insult at a male character such as "dick" or "prick".

If only I could get a dollar for every time somebody says, " you killed my brother/friend/partner you lousy son of a b****!" I'd be continuously tipsy if I were involved in a drinking game while enjoying another episode of Burn Notice in which every variation of the B-word came into play.

By the way, what is a little bitch exactly? A little mean girl? A diminutive angry woman? A grumpy female toddler? A more cynical person might think that something sinister is afoot here.  2000 plus milenia of misogyny or just ignorant sexist habits? Disgruntled men with mommy or ex-girlfriend issues? Whatever it is, give it a rest. These verbal shots are insulting to women, not the guys they are aiming toward. They are old and tired and in need of a break.

So are scenarios where the good woman battles the evil one, vanquishes her and then dramatically calls her a B****! You say classic I say predictable; superfluous; derivative.

While we're at it, whatever happened to damn or hell as an interjection? It's been replaced by SOB!

Why are such phrases as, he was crying like a little girl or he ran like a woman used continuously in crime dramas, sit coms and action adventure?

Even the writers for Supernatural (hyper macho notorious abuser of SOB as a noun, adjective and interjection) finally added some different derogatory terms such as dick head and prick to it's lexicon.

I propose a challenge to those who write for television, stage and screen; write one whole episode, play, film without any words that degrade women or girls, then challenge others to do the same.
Who knows, you might even get more support during the next writer’s strike.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Identity Gift

Identity Bereft

In a world filled with constant warnings about the dangers of "identity theft", there is one very large group of people who are routinely bullied into giving theirs away. If you guessed married women, then you are correct!

While most women in the western world no longer suffer overt legal sublimation to men, there are many stubborn remnants of our proscribed past that refuse to go away such as taking our husband’s family name at marriage. Even the most talented and famous among us are not immune to such an Identity Gift:

 “I had no idea what to get [Freddie Prinze Jr.] for our five year wedding anniversary…”
Actor Sarah Michelle Gellar on why she “finally” decided to take her husband’s last name.
Hey, I’ve heard he’s hard to shop for…
Reasons for said gift:
-Tradition dictates that there is only room for one name and that name is his.
-The children should have the same last name as parents.
-The woman hates her family’s long unpronounceable last name or likes the man’s name better.
-Your mom is afraid your husband will think you don’t really love him unless you give it up—yes, mine actually said that to me.
-Cultural messages say that women are selfish, heartless b-words not to take the man’s name; thus my mom’s concerned warning.

What's in a name? If you are asking a man; everything! After all, his very existence in a family full of girls may be the result of his parents’ dedication to baby making in order to produce a male heir who will “carry on the family name”.  A woman will feel obliged to relinquish her identity not because she is flighty and has no sense of family history and tradition, rather the weight of centuries of law, custom, family expectations and the repercussions of labels like “feminist”, can be enough to produce anxiety attacks even in the most stalwart individualist.

Justification for keeping our names:

-It’s part of my identity, I grew up with this name!
-I like my last name.
-Professional reasons (except if you are famous).
-I thrive on the complexities of life and the annoyance of constantly explaining that my hubby and I have different last names. Okay, “thrive” might be an overstatement.

-The paper work is hell. I once worked in a busy hospital medical records department. It was difficult enough keeping track of patients with only one name, never mind the confusion when they changed names.

Explain it with Humor:
While my husband rolls his eyes, I have often used this little gem:
“He insists on keeping his name.”

Skip the Laughs and take no prisoners:
My sister-in-law has written, “no such person” on letters addressed to “Mrs. Husband’s Name”, and sent them back to those stubborn relatives and friends who refuse to get with the program. Hey, if you coddle them how will they learn, right?

If you remember the Clinton administration, poor Hilary Rodham finally caved to pressure, dropped the Rodham and became the less threatening Hilary Clinton. Can you imagine Henry Kissinger having to do that?!

My hubby will usually introduce me to people with my first and last name, which is handy since I am often too lazy to do it myself unless I am introducing myself first. I have found that most people take it in stride out of, politeness, boredom, or perhaps fears of their own.

Maiden Reform
Women are identified not just by our husband/father’s names but also by our sex lives. Take the term “maiden name” for example. What is a maiden? Why it is a woman, usually young, who has yet to be….ahem…plucked or deflowered or pick the euphemism for sexual intercourse. We don’t assign these terms to men. A man is a man no matter where he falls on the virginity scale.

Miss    Single woman
Mrs.    A married woman
Ms.     A woman, married or single
Mr.     A married man
          A single man
              A man, married or single

Ms. Understanding
I have found that people miss, or Ms., the point of what Ms. is all about. I once heard a fairly intelligent woman on a popular radio show say that she wished she were still young and single so that she could be “a Ms.” even though the whole point of the lack of an R or extra S is that you can be married, single or undeclared and it doesn’t matter.
I admit to having difficulty correcting people when they call me Mrs., because of the voices in my head saying, “Who are you kidding? You are old and married and people will think you are trying to relive your young single days and that you don’t really love your husband and he never wants a second cup of your coffee and secretly lusts after the Doublemint Twins...!” This is my brain on internalized sexism, not to mention too much classic TV.

Wedding reality shows reveal that the days of a bride being “Mrs. Manly Manhood” are back in style, while at the same time her wedding vows pronounce her and the groom “husband and wife” instead of “man and wife. All of this takes place after the bride’s father has “given her away”.

With all of these contradictions, it is no wonder that heterosexual relationships are so often in a state of insanity, but hey it makes for an entertaining night around the tube.

Who Gives This Woman….?
Who gives a…ah hum…excuse me. Okay, look; if you really want to take your husband’s name or let your father hand you off to another man in some antiquated ritual meant for exchanging goods and services, be my guest. Just know what you are doing and what it all means. A good deal of feminism is about choice, informed choice. Just remember that a choice without healthy options isn’t really about freedom and individuality.

Think about that the next time you see the popular girl group of the moment gyrate around stripper poles in the name of sexual empowerment.