Monday, December 7, 2009

“mindless-boob-girlie symbol”

Fantastic editorial in the Times today by Judith Warner about the "Bo-Tax" on the health reform bill, a provision that would tax cosmetic surgery by 5%.

I'm not sure whether it is studying abroad that made me particularly sensitive to sexism, but I am starting to see it exacerbate, even beyond 1990s standards. Watching the FIFA world cup draw this weekend was surprisingly painful: I was struck by Charlize Theron's mindless portrayal of a glamour-girl dumb blonde. Theron, an intelligent, worldly actress who has acted in countless psychologically and physically varied roles (i.e. "Monster"), was paid to saunter around the stage in a red ballgown, being fondled by weird soccer players (and Beckham, with that ridiculous haircut!), and occasionally commenting about her alleged idiocy to the completely uncharismatic Frenchman next to her. As a friend noted, if it had been an African American man acting dumb in front of the so-called distinguished European, there would be outrage in the streets, and not without reason. Why a female/male relation on the stage should be any different is another story altogether...

Why not have Theron in a more soccer-friendly or professional getup? Why use a woman at all? And why not use a knowledgeable woman soccer pro, paired with an ignorant male Hollywood Star? Would this blatant misogyny occur if it was set in America and not South Africa? (Probably)

In any case, the point of Warner's editorial was to show the lunacy of a woman's right's group complaining about this amendment, as if plastic surgery were not a symptom of society's decline into Mad Men-era misogyny.

In any era where almost half of females fear becoming a "bag lady," and women are transformed again into the "mindless-boob-girlie symbol," Warner writes:

This is what happens when equal pay stalls, abortion rights wither, and attempts to improve child care and workplace flexibility die on the legislative vine year after year. Women’s empowerment becomes a matter of a tight face and a flat belly. You control what you can control. And so many middle-aged women feel particularly out of control now, as indeed they are, in these life plan-wrecking economic times.

Right on.


Anonymous said...

i believed in woman's rights and equality. but now i feel like i want to believe it when it isn't true. like i am forcing my belief what with all these woman out there wanting to be dominated, to actually go against the woman's rights movement, to want to get back into the kitchen, to enjoy the controlling and dominating type of relationship that is twilight, well, i kinda just lost my belief and hope for females. clearly a large portion of them want to be under a man's thumb. i just gotta find me one of em odd balls that don't and ignore the rest.

Anonymous said...

corrected: i've lost faith in the fight for female rights. not females as a whole.

Julia Alekseyeva said...

But couldn't you also say that the percentage of women who "want" to be "dominated" are only the cultural products of a flawed patriarchal society?

Also, wanting to be dominated sexually is not the same thing as wanting to be dominated politically. Also, the only women I've ever heard of who "want to go back to the kitchen" are extremely religious, which explains Stephanie Meyer (writer of Twilight) being a mormon and not quite understanding the misogynistic shit she writes...