If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I don’t just like to post links — I like to comment on the news, with preferably a minimum of 3 news items. I was staring at one of the articles I had saved when suddenly a theme came to mind that tied together with two other items in the news. All of these have to do with how women are seen: by men, by women, and by society, and the damaging effects that can have. Do excuse my errors in this; being a man, these are observations from the outside, and I might word things wrong.
- Being a Boob. If you’ve been reading the news at all today, you know that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy recently due to a high risk of breast cancer. Why was there so much attention? Surely, it wasn’t because all of the editors were concerned about women’s health (although that’s what they’ll claim). No, it is because articles about women’s breasts — especially a sexy celebrity — will attract the eyeballs of male readers. I, of course, read the comments and there is the usual number of trolls out there bemoaning Brad’s loss. I refer everyone to an excellent piece by The Ferrett on this, where he notes that the attitude of “Poor Brad” has the implicit statement that women are good for only one thing in a relationship: sex. Once that is gone, why have the relationship. For anyone really in a relationship, we know this isn’t true: we are with our partners for much more than sex: we love the person and the brain and the attitudes and the fun — and for that, we want the physical package to be healthy. True relationships don’t depend on breasts.
- Getting the Look. Of course, one part of selling the “sex” (and perhaps the submissiveness) of women is marketing, and how characters are marketed to little girls. We’ve already seen Belle lose any nerdiness she had, and Disney was attempting it again with Merida from Brave. They were attempting to turn Merida into the typical princess, not the tomboy she was, and this got people upset. Of course, the good news (for now) is that it looks like the battle has been won.
- Indoctrinating Them Early. Lastly (and the article that actually inspired this post), we have an article from CNN on the damaging effects of proms. The article details a number of items — cost being only one aspect … with most of them having to do with the message a prom sends. What are these messages? Conventional beauty is valued most. Straight is better. Valued girls are submissive, not assertive. Share everything. These messages may not come through at all schools, but I’m sure for many they do (especially in more traditional areas).
It seems sometimes that the battle is hard, with the media sending the message that there is only one shape desired, and women are good for only one thing. Luckily, there are some men out there who haven’t swallowed that line: who love their partners because of who they are, not just what they look like or how they are in bed, and who realize that a relationship is more than just sex… it is finding someone who you truly connect with and will be there for… no matter what.