Too Many Miniskirts, Not Enough Serial Killers

My favorite time of year is when the cool crispness of fall settles around us. The leaves turn it up a notch with vibrant oranges and brownish reds, dancing towards the ground like feathers in the wind. Cozied up in sweaters and scarves, drinking spiked apple cider is a seasonal bliss we all should have the pleasure of experiencing.

Oh, and Halloween is where it’s at. I love it all, the decorations, the candy, the horror movie marathons, the candy, the cute kids’ costumes, the candy, the scary costumes, the candy.

But I have a major issue with Halloween that I don’t think I’ve discussed here.

Well, it’s not so much a Halloween problem as it is a social problem that utilizes Halloween for its outlet of all things misogynistic and objectifying. Yeah, I know. We’re going there again.

But, seriously… have you ever noticed the intense gender bias between men’s and women’s Halloween costumes? Even with an awareness of the world we live in, it’s surprising.

Women’s costumes are sooo different. Why?

You know what they say: sex sells. And body objectification has become a better selling point than accuracy, apparently. For instance, doctor costumes with the full doctor-y aesthetic are marketed to men and the sexy nurse with the padded bra, fishnet stockings and heels are marketed to young women.

Don’t even get me started on the whole school boy vs school girl theme.

Some of the worst offenders yet are classic horror movie characters: Chucky, Beetlejuice, Jason, Freddy, Pennywise. Nearly every adult women’s horror icon costume features a miniskirt or hotpants. They are distinctly more revealing than their male counterparts, and often barely resemble the character they’re supposed to be.

What do the decision-makers at these costume companies think? Are women too sensitive to wear monster costumes? Are we too weak to dress up as iconic serial killers? Are we simply too delicate to wear clothes? One thing is true, marketing gurus sure do have a knack for revealing ongoing social ideals; in this case, women are apparently only good for one thing.

Really? I mean, just, really? What the hell, people!? Freddy and Jason were never meant to embody sex appeal. No, just no.

I guess we should be glad that they at least put her in something that sort of resembles Chucky’s iconic overalls. I just don’t remember Chucky being this sexy. Oh, that’s right… because he wasn’t.

If you love Beetlejuice enough to dress up as the character for Halloween, wouldn’t you want to oh, I don’t know, look like Beetlejuice? I’m not sure what this is, but it’s not Beetlejuice.

Anyone who has seen and loved IT would be embarrassed by this travesty. Looks that kill? Not.

Now, I’m not saying this is the most tasteful costume for 2020, but still, if you like the whole plague doctor thing, what the hell is this!? She’s not even wearing a proper plague mask. How is she a plague doctor at all? Oh, it’s a cute costume, but there are no plague-y precautions going on and nothing to associate the wearer as a plague doctor.

In one ad for a costume based off of the 2007 horror film Trick ‘r Treat (excellent movie, by the way, I give it a thumbs up!), the men’s costume is, quite frankly, not good, but the women’s costume is a wildly inaccurate and sexualized interpretation of a horror character who in the film is a child. A demon child with a pumpkin head, yes, but a child, nonetheless.

the original Sam in all his glory

The movie is anthology-style, where this kid, Sam, shows up to enforce the rules or traditions of Halloween. Dressed in raggedy orange footy pajamas and a burlap sack over his head, Sam appears across all the stories where macabre chaos ensues. Did I mention that it’s an excellent movie?

This woman, wearing a bright orange dress that cuts just below her butt, actually pulls the skirt up and out for the publicity shot. She has brown burlap-looking accents on the dress and a hood that sort of resembles the villain in the movie but looks more like a sexy scarecrow in someone’s field of dreams.

No one would ever put two and two together for this one.  Again, if you love the movie so much that you want to dress as the character, why would you choose this monstrosity? (ha! see what I did there? it’s a monster movie and the costume is a monstrosity… get it?)

What would be so bad about an adult female wearing the raggedy footy pajamas with a sack mask over her head? Oh, that’s right. It wouldn’t show off her legs, lips, or breasts.

I’m tired of seeing costumes that feature characters like the female vampire slayer who looks more like a seductive vampire just itching to be slain than a fierce hunter herself.

Women who love horror movies want the full-on scary, gore-splattered costumes. Otherwise, what’s the point? I mean, yes, yes, I get the point, but come on!  Can we please just rid ourselves of the miniskirt where it doesn’t belong? Or is that just too much to ask?

 

A Walking, Talking Goddess

I love movies. I may have mentioned it before. And to most of us who love movies, the name Sophia Loren is one that carries weight. Even if you don’t know any of her films or anything about her, you certainly know the name. It’s up there with Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Gene Kelly as a name that conveys an expectation of greatness, because that’s what Sophia Loren is, she’s one of the greats. And she’s one of the few remaining legends of the classic Hollywood era still gracing our earthly plane.

Let’s be honest, Sophia Loren was, and still is, a goddess. And I’m not just talking about her looks here, though I’m not poo pooing them either, as she’s always been elegant to the point of envy for many people. But she’s also a goddess of life. Loren has won so many awards she’s probably had to buy them their own apartment. She arguably launched the celebrity perfume/cosmetics trend in 1980 with her perfume, Sophia.  She wrote an autobiography, raised children, and held down a highly successful movie career that took her all over the world. Did I mention her charity work?

But wait a minute, I’m sorry, my mistake. I forgot that none of that matters and she is evil incarnate. Why, I hear you cry? Did she murder someone? Nope. Did she go all Mommie Dearest on her kids? Never. I bet you’re thinking that she ran over a pile of puppies while laughing maniacally à la Cruella De Vil… not a chance.

Hold onto your hats, folks, cause this is tragic… the horrific offense committed by Ms. Loren is (*deep breath*) that she dared to not shave her armpits. Result: Sophia Loren is CANCELLED! Because a hairy armpit on a woman is just disgusting, right? Uh, wrong! Though not according to a group of gender biased, (and presumably follically challenged if they’re so horrified by naturally occurring body hair), people in a classic movie Facebook group I belong to. I repeat. A classic movie group. You know, the kind of group that you’d think would appreciate the talented Ms. Loren. But alas, it seems their appreciation is predicated solely on her falling into line with their expectations which, apparently, do not include bodily autonomy.

Here, let me give you some context. Cause I can already see that you don’t believe me. I mean, it is Sophia Loren, we’re talking about and I don’t blame you for assuming anyone in their right mind would automatically consider her perfection itself.

Someone posted this article to the group where it immediately – but immediately – provoked a tirade of abuse against this intelligent, beautiful, talented, and fierce woman, reducing her to the sum of one of her body parts, her armpits.

By the comments of “ewwww,” “disgusting,” “yuk,” and worse (so, so much worse), you’d swear Ms. Loren had spent her days stalking the hairiest men she could find and digging around in their shower drains to find some soggy, matted locks she could glue onto her shamefully bald flesh.

Newsflash: Women are hairy! Get over it! And while you’re busy getting over that hump, keep on going because right next to it is another, much fluffier hump full of women who choose to remain au naturel. I know, right!?  How dare we!?

One gentleman jerk even commented on the post saying if she was with him, he’d make her shave it.  Make her.  Make. Her. You know, because this pillar of society clearly has a line of Sophia Loren like women outside his house, desperately hoping they’re deemed smooth enough to be worthy of the god like body he probably assumes he has. Not that I know this guy, but how much are we all betting you could braid his back? But he and hundreds, (and I mean hundreds), of other commenters had the gall to say that Sophia Loren needs to shave in order to be sexy.

And really, that’s just one issue that women in society have faced for countless centuries. We are judged by our appearance and whether we are deemed “doable” enough to be acceptable members of the human race. But why does body hair on women cause such visceral outrage? People are genuinely horrified at the sight of a hairy-legged woman. They recoil on the subway if a woman raises her arm to reveal a fluffy pit, like they’re dirty for having naturally occurring hair. Yet a man who was graced with a ripe coat of sprouting follicles all over his body doesn’t have to bat an eyelid of shame.

How many times have we been in a pool, alarmed that a bear has entered the shallow end, but upon closer inspection realize it is, in fact, just a human male? But no one says anything to him, he’s allowed to just be him. But hey, if he’s happy, leave him to it, he just shouldn’t then turn around and comment that Sophia Loren is disgusting. We are all far too obsessed with telling other people how they should keep their bodies. And body hair on women is no exception.

Here in the U.S., society has molded us to view body hair on women as disgusting and offensive, to the point we feel it is more than acceptable to shame women, including Sophia Loren, for having it. There’s a running stereotype that European women embrace their body hair more freely (which I hope is true), and Sophia Loren is Italian, but I’d even go so far as to say that over the years body hair is slowly becoming more embraced by women everywhere. The rate of acceptance, however, is a lot slower.

In 1999 Julia Roberts was torn to shreds by the press for attending the premiere of Notting Hill with unshaven armpits. So, instead of the press reporting on a talented actress who was at the top of her Hollywood game at that time, she was reduced to endless debates about women and shaving. Today, it’s less likely she’d suffer such a tirade over a bit of hair but, obviously, as proven by the classic movie Facebook group, not impossible.

Through years of patriarchy, we tend to view the world through the male gaze. Habits are changing, but it’s slow, and nowhere is that more evident than reading the comments on a Sophia Loren post where not just men, but women were vilifying her for having some body hair.

When I look at someone like Sophia Loren, the last thing I’m thinking is “hey, if she only had smooth armpits, she’d be a better actress/writer/mother/human” or that having fuzzy ones make her less beautiful, sexy, and vibrant (as if!).  Whether she chooses to shave or not is none of my damn business, and no one else’s either, and it certainly doesn’t impact her goddess status.

On the Topic of Value

Scrolling through Facebook recently, I saw a post where a young girl’s value was compared to that of an iPad. Oh yes. You read that correctly. It wasn’t an original message and wasn’t even written by the guy who posted it (though it did appear as if he was trying to pass it off as his)… whatever the case, he must have been in complete agreement, hence his posting it. The gist of the post was a father ostensibly helping a young girl see her value and worth and I know that in this day and age some people treat their electronics as children, some even spending more time with their phones than their children, but comparing a young girl to an iPad? Give me a break. Using my best Chandler Bing voice: Can this guy be any more shallow?

What makes all of this worse, is this guy apparently stole someone else’s photo to include in his post… a shot of two young women dressed as though they’re going out, standing in (presumably) their own backyard. So, while spewing his archaic and misogynistic views, he’s also exploiting and harassing two very real young women who were doing nothing more than existing. I blurred out the image because I refuse to perpetuate the harassment.

It wasn’t surprising to see that this * cough cough * gentleman and I were at odds in other respects as well… he’s an avid trophy hunter who thinks that there isn’t enough science behind Greta Thunberg’s climate change argument.

Needless to say, I saw red. You all know me. My reaction shouldn’t come as a shock. The fact that this guy is comparing his daughter to a literal object is incredibly inappropriate to say the least and I find it hard to address that particular issue without digging deep into my repertoire of colorful adjectives. The idea that there are people like this out there, raising families, and perpetuating this behavior by passing it down to the next generations is infuriating. He and others of his ilk are teaching their daughters (and sons) that women are “less than” and on par with a fucking iPad.

Let’s just be clear here… value isn’t determined by what a person decides to wear. Oh sure, you probably don’t want to show up to a Fortune 500 board meeting wearing your pajamas, but should one decide to do so, it’s NOT a sign of their intrinsic value, or lack thereof.

I love the quote, “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” – Unknown

Or how about this one, “Don’t bury the treasure of your life under the opinions and expectations of strangers.” – Lisa Bevere

I’ll go you one better… don’t bury the treasure of your life under the opinions and expectations of ANYONE.

There is no question that women and girls seem to bear the brunt of the equation appearance equals value or worth. School dress codes are gender-biased and inherently put more importance on a boy’s education than a girl’s. Passers-by wouldn’t even bat an eye at something as simple as a man wearing dirty sweats and a ratty old t-shirt to the grocery store (cause you know, he’s getting shit done!) yet I wonder how many of those same strangers would automatically, albeit internally, criticize the woman’s choices while inventing a not-so-complimentary backstory should they see a woman wearing the same thing (oh my god, can you imagine what her home and kids look like!? what was she thinking? her life is just one big mess!).

One could argue that to dress conservatively protects a woman from rape or harassment or cat calls, that young women shouldn’t be so sexualized. And trust me, those agreeing with this guy’s post were saying exactly that. To this I say, HA! Yeah, right. This is so far from the truth, it’s scary. To me, this is one of those expressions of anti-feminism disguised as a pro-woman statement. How women are dressed will not stop rape or misogyny and it does not in any way illustrate her value as a person. Cause you know, women ARE in fact people.  Whether they wear a little black dress or opt for a niqab, women of all ages have worth. Say it with me, folks. Women. Have. Worth. And it’s NOT contingent on their wardrobe.

Imagine if we started to teach what real worth is? Society as a whole would improve because when people aren’t made to feel ashamed and worthless, and they see their true value, then they feel free to pursue and accomplish their goals and dreams.

But you know what would happen then? The patriarchy would crumble. And we can’t have that, can we?

The Classic Battle

One day early last week, on Facebook, I posted a picture of a male actor – you would know him, he was amazing in that thing about the thing (won an Oscar!), with an even more amazing body – posed provocatively, wearing only a micro-Speedo.   I was very pleased at the way the picture focused on his … um, attributes. When I posted the picture, I was hoping to get a bunch of likes and exploit the man, you know, as you do.

Right about now, there are two groups of readers.  Half of you wonder where the picture is, and the other half said, “Well, now, that just isn’t right.”  Okay, so there is also a third group, comprised of members of both groups, who are trying to bleach the picture of the Speedo out of their brains.

Of course I didn’t really post any picture like that.  But I have to wonder; were you more outraged over the idea that I would exploit someone for “likes,” or was that outrage brought about because it was a man?  Men don’t commonly get exploited and paraded around for their bodies instead of their talent; that is a privilege usually saved for women.  In fact, it’s expected.

I belong to a Facebook group that focuses on films from the “Golden Age of movies.”  The ground rules are simple: be respectful, no politics, no religion, and discuss classic era movies.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

In any group, there is bound to be the one who pushes the rules to the limits.  In this group, one guy not only pushes the limits but crosses them over and over, to the giggling joy of his caveman supporters.  He continues to  post pics of actresses in their most sultry persona and one, he even cropped to be sure her breasts were on clear display… in fact, it was just her breasts, so if he hadn’t mentioned who the actress was, there’s no way you would know. Unless you’re a breast aficionado.

Not all of the actresses he ummm … discusses … are from the classic era either. A cropped, very risqué photo of Catherine Zeta Jones, who is truly a lovely woman (inside and out from what I understand), was duly submitted for inspection and I don’t think she was even born in the classic movie era, let alone acted in any movies from that time-period.  His pics, as no doubt intended, elicit the usual responses from other men, suggesting graphically what they would like to do to the women, among other lewd comments.  The moderator keeps deleting the posts, but somehow the guy is allowed to remain.

Finally, a female member took a stand against this sorry excuse for classic movie discussion.  She made a post about how she’s tired of seeing it, that it’s disrespectful, goes against the rules of the group, and stop being assholes basically – though she was very nice and polite about it … more so than I would’ve been.  Predictably, her post was met by a bunch of men jumping on her saying,  “Just block the guy, choose your battles, it’s not important, get over it, scroll past it, let it go, grow up, stop being a snowflake,” and  complaining that she was “on her soap box,” and that it wasn’t a real problem so why complain, etc.  One guy, who I guess was trying to “help,” said “Agree with the concern, and more, but believe part of the solution is to stay calm and positive. Just breathe.”

As is the norm, although the post she made was calm, cool, and anything but hysterical, she was, quite literally, accused of being hysterical and over-reacting.  The reactions came, of course, from men who have never had to battle these types of attitudes and comments personally; in fact, these same guys are the very culprits who keep feeding the caveman’s posts in the first place.

I am sure there are lots of good guys in my group, too, just like in real life.  Most likely, they stayed quiet throughout all of this to simply keep clear of the scuffle – just like in real life.  The women, as could be predicted, came out in full force to support the female member’s post, rallying around her in true “girl power” form.

The problem is, this idiot guy and his rude followers probably genuinely don’t even perceive a problem.  But come on! Why on earth should a woman have to block someone, scroll past lewd pictures, or just suffer sexism silently? I mean, this question is relevant every day of our lives, but especially in a freakin’ group meant for classic film discussion of all places!  Then, God forbid, a woman has the spiritual fortitude to confront the men and call them out on their overt sexism … well, then she’s down-played, ignored, ridiculed, and gas-lighted.

Sexism is real, and it plays out nearly every single freakin’ day in women’s lives. Women are taught to ignore it, deal with it, cope with it, and never act on it or they’ll be perceived as “over-reacting” or being “hysterical;” it is, after all, just boys being boys.  When can women unite and finally say, “Enough is enough?” If not now, when!? Sexism is so pervasive that it shows up everywhere and anywhere, even in an innocent group on Facebook that was formed to discuss classic movies.

Granted, this is a small group on Facebook.  Alarmingly, though, Facebook tends to be an interesting and realistic mash-up of the real world. Meaning, the people who are your Facebook friends or fellow group members are representative of a small microcosm of who you would find on the street every day.

Frankly, I think I need some new friends.

Money to Burn

So, apparently, a woman, who happened to be a model, was fat shamed by an Uber driver this past week who, from looking at his photo, was in no good position to fat shame anyone. Not to be content with his behavior, the woman took to Instagram to tell her story. Which is where I came across it.

In her post, this woman said that yes, she knew she was fat but her wallet was even fatter and she would no longer spend money on Uber. I don’t believe she was calling for an outright boycott, just that she herself, personally, would no longer spend money on their services due to the treatment she received. The story in and of itself was not all that new or interesting – things like this happen to women each and every day, to varying degrees.

What I did find interesting was a comment by another person that said while they guessed it was a shame what happened to the woman (because really, who doesn’t like a little body shaming with their car ride?), they couldn’t understand just why Uber should be held accountable for their driver’s actions. They went a step further and said if a cashier at Target had been rude to them, they might not go through that person’s line again, but they wouldn’t stop shopping at all Targets. Given their statement, however…and just for the sake of clarity here, it would appear they wouldn’t even stop shopping at the store in which the incident took place. They would simply choose a different cashier in the future.

Now maybe this commenter is a glutton for punishment or maybe they just have a low bar for how they’re treated. Personally, if I went to Target – or anywhere, for that matter – and was body shamed or insulted in some way, I wouldn’t be seeing more of that particular cashier either, because I wouldn’t continue giving money to a store that allowed such behavior. I don’t expect red carpet treatment, but on the flip side of that, I work too hard for my money to give it to someone who is rude, doesn’t appreciate my business, or makes me uncomfortable.

So. I have a better question for that commenter. Why shouldn’t an employer be held accountable for its employee? Especially those in the service arena who, on some level or another, depend on their quality of customer service to promote their business.

The woman from this Uber incident has every right to withhold her money from a business that, if not actively cultivating rudeness, at the least allows it to go on. Uber has control over their drivers’ actions and like any employer, should be accountable for what their employees do on the job. If they want this woman’s business, or anyone else’s business who happens to sympathize with her for the treatment she received, they should institute rules regarding the treatment of customers – and if they already have those rules in place, then they should enforce them. I mean, that’s just good business sense.

Choosing where we spend our money is one of the greatest strengths consumers have. Why on earth would someone want to give perfectly good money to a company that insults them?

And God Created a Movie Critic

I was staying up late one night, as so often happens, and watched a movie that I first saw years ago (and no, not when it first came out).  It was And God Created Woman, filmed in 1956, starring the French sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot.

First off, if you surf the web at all, you may have seen photos of an elderly Bardot (she’s 82 by the way) with the headline “Stars who have aged badly.” These so-called headlines bring you to a site that just wants to sell you something, but the principle of it is what really irks me.  The woman is 82 and these types of sites implicitly criticize her, and other former sex symbols, for not looking exactly the same at 82 as they looked at 20!  How dare they not get a facelift and a tummy tuck so they can age “gracefully.” Yet if they do get a facelift or tummy tuck, then the criticism is, “Oh, how dare they try plastic surgery to stay young, they should just get old like everybody else.”

It’s hell to be a former sex goddess, I can tell you. (Well, not from personal experience, but hey, it’s just common sense!)

Anyway, that brings me to And God Created Woman. It wasn’t my cup of tea when I first watched it and this next time around sort of cemented my disdain.

You’ve got to understand that European films have always been distinctively different from American films. American films had a film code that limited what could and could not be shown on-screen, whereas European movies were much more permissive. So a European movie made in 1956 would be exploring themes that were explored very differently in American films – if they were explored here at all. But even for all that, And God Created Woman was quite scandalous for the time period.

god-created-woman-pic

I haven’t researched it enough to know if others think like me but I do know in the official descriptions of the film and in media content about the film, no one mentions anything about what I’m about to say.  There was just one critic, Dennis Schwartz, who sort of seemed to support my opinion:

“The public loved it and it became a big box-office smash, and paved the way for a spate of sexy films to follow. What was more disturbing than its dullish dialogue and flaunting of Bardot as a sex object, was that underneath its call for liberation was a reactionary and sexist view of sex.”

Bear with me as I explain the plot to make my point.

The film follows an orphan, Juliette, who was taken in by a family in a small fishing village. She’s gorgeous and on the surface of things, appears to have a very high sex drive with exhibitionist tendencies, and a desperate need for men.

However, in the character that I saw on the screen, I saw depression (she has severe mood swings), anxiety, a severe and deep-seated desire to be loved and accepted by men that could stem from depression, childhood trauma, or some other issue left undeveloped on-screen.

Every man around her uses her. The older brother, Antoine, despises her, yet sought her out to sleep with her, used her, then left her. Of course it was her fault he wanted to have sex with her. So he carries the torch of contempt while continuing to toy with her emotions. The mega-rich, and much older, businessman, Éric, acts in the same manner – he sees in her something he wants, much like his proposed casino, and is determined to manipulate her to his own needs and desires.  While these men are chasing her, they are at the same time criticizing, mocking, and talking bad about her…how her looks are meant to destroy men, her high sex drive makes her a slut/whore, and they vilify her – while at the same time, wanting her. To me that sounds like rationalization, manipulation, and misogyny at its finest.

At one point, the older brother knows his younger brother, Michel, is in love with Juliette, yet during a boat trip with her, after Antoine and she get stranded…what does he do?  Has sex with her. But in the end, he blames her for his transgression (because obviously he has no control over his own impulses) and accuses her of manipulating him when it was clearly the other way around (to me) and he took advantage of what is obviously a vulnerable woman. Not to mention betraying his brother’s trust. But no, that was all on her. Couldn’t blame himself for not keeping it in his pants. I mean, come on.

No one, with the exception of Michel, truly cared for her. Michel. He saw past her mood swings, her so-called sex drive (which to me always seemed “put on” in an effort to be accepted and loved by men rather than a true sex drive), her obvious manic episodes…he saw the real her and loved her. At the end, he is the only one who stood by her, albeit a bit roughly.  However, his attitude and actions convince Juliette, finally, that he’s not leaving her side despite her frenzied behavior. And this in spite of the others trying to convince him she was a bad person. Michel was the only male character to rise above and do his gender justice. Quite frankly, I felt this was the movie’s only saving grace — the ending — when Juliette finally discovered the “one” who truly loved the real person she was inside.  We should all be so lucky.

But even as the credits rolled, my thoughts remained snagged on the general theme, rather than the final scene.

While not her first movie, this particular film made Brigitte Bardot a global “sex symbol.” Or a “sex kitten.” And what did those words mean to men at the time – or even now?

Not a beautiful woman, self-confident, who had the respect and admiration of men, but rather someone whom they lusted after – whom they would possess if they could and whom they would equally despise if she allowed them to possess her. Much like the character in the movie.

I didn’t see an erotic drama in this movie, nor did I see it as a film reveling in the “sexual revolution” or celebrating sexual liberation.  I saw a sad testament of a woman desperately seeking love and acceptance and only finding men who wanted to use her and throw her away.

Cookie Cutter Roles

You may have heard of a Facebook poster, Always Learning, a Christian woman, who advocates traditional marriage and gender roles. Her husband works outside the home, and presumably she is a homemaker – meaning she works in the home. In other words, apparently, she does the housework, she does the chores. Not an easy feat, especially if they have kids. Now I’m not here to advocate or argue for stay at home moms or working moms (I’ve been both actually at one time or another)…because both scenarios are exhausting, difficult, and often thankless jobs.  I was just fascinated with the backlash this woman received and I wanted to address it in my own little opinionated way.  Lucky you guys.  Hang on though, because my views on this topic are likely not what you’d expect.

Always Learning recently made a post that went viral. You may not have seen the original post but you’ve probably seen the articles vilifying her for making it, such as this one by Jessie Dean Altman, which started out by mocking the way Always Learning makes her posts (they are actually beautifully hand-printed entries on a notebook page, photographed and posted to her Facebook account) and then excoriating her for her “traditional” views.

Here’s the original post by Always Learning.

Do you “expect” your husband to help w/ household chores? If you do, you won’t have a happy marriage b/c expectations destroy relationships. If he helps, great, and if not, do your housework cheerfully as unto the Lord. Remember, you didn’t marry your husband to help w/ the household chores. You married him to be your protector and provider. You should also have married him b/c you deeply loved him, wanted to be a great help meet to him, and to make his life better, not worse and put more burdens upon his shoulders that he already has to carry in providing for his family.

Make his life as easy and happy as you can!

This post – and people’s reaction to it – got me thinking about gender roles and today’s feminism.

What is “women’s work” and why is “women’s work” always said in a rather disparaging tone?

And I longed to ask this woman for more information. What is her definition of household chores? Does she do the “men’s work” as well? When I was a kid that’s how the household chores were divided – “men’s work” and “women’s work,” though the chore categories weren’t specifically labeled as such out-loud. It’s just how things were done. My dad would mow the lawn, wash and polish the cars, and fix any electrical or mechanical thing that would go wrong. My mom would wash and dry dishes, do the laundry, and vacuum all the rooms (among other things).  Most of my friends’ houses were divided up the same way.

When the feminist movement started in the late ’70s, it was to press for equality. Women should get paid the same as men for doing the same kind of work, and women could do anything a man could do (duh), from flying a commercial airliner to being the CEO of a major corporation. If they wanted to go out to work, they should be allowed to do so, and not be expected to quit just because they got pregnant or the husband didn’t want them in the workforce. And the traditional women’s work – making clothes (some women still do this today), quilting, cleaning house – should be recognized for exactly what it represents, a significant contribution to the family and to society (not just busy work).

Which of course meant that there was no reason why men should be ashamed to help with the “women’s work” portion of the household chores. In fact, they were (and still are) encouraged by all manner of articles, books, self-appointed critics marriage counselors, and most of all their “better halves,” that housework was something that should be shared.  It’s all about equality, right?

Now, some women – and Always Learning appears to be one of them – seem to have a different view. She believes that men shouldn’t have to do household chores at all. Or at least, they shouldn’t be expected to, in her words.  Okay, good for her.  Who cares?  It’s her life, her house, her marriage, her choice, right?  Apparently not, according to those writing about her.

A lot of women, and men, nowadays do expect women to work outside the home, that it’s a “given” – and some women’s groups are even advocating that they be drafted for combat duty in our military (which again, I’m not arguing for or against, just making a point that the feminist movement has evolved).

What has happened with this evolution of the movement?  Women who are “just” stay-at-home moms, who are content to be housewife and mother, are often looked down upon. Especially those women who also follow a religious path. They should want more than that, is the general consensus. So the entire focus of feminism, to me, seems to be changing. And maybe not for the better.

The whole point of feminism and the feminist movement, as I understand it, is for women to be able to live the life they choose, have total equality in government, social standing, and the work force (should they decide to enter it). Not to mention the reforms made early on (and still being fought for today) concerning domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, and reproductive rights.

This woman in the Facebook blog is not advocating that women become second-hand citizens or lose their rights as “women” or as “people,” she’s simply giving advice based on her faith, her ideals, and her household.  While I don’t agree with it and never would (which is likely why I’m not still married!), this woman should be allowed her own life without being mocked or vilified for it.  Such is “feminism” in today’s world sadly.  Women mocking women because one is simply living the life she wants.

Social equality should mean being able to live the life you want as you want it, rather than being forced into something.  Shouldn’t that mean ALL lifestyles?  If this woman wants a marriage with traditional gender roles, so be it. She shouldn’t be mocked for it.  The feminist movement and all those behind it should have her back on this – IF they’re feminists.

Yes, she’s giving advice based on her views of traditional roles – but no one is twisting anyone else’s arm to make them live the way she does. She’s not claiming you’ll go to hell if you don’t follow her ideals and she’s not forcing her lifestyle on anyone.  Just like with any of the thousand pieces of marriage advice or parenting advice you may come across in a week, if you don’t like the advice she’s giving and don’t agree with it, move on.  Simple, right?  I thought so.

Feminism is supposed to give us equality. That means we get to choose what we do with our lives. So long as the woman is making the choice (and not being forced), good for her in whatever she may choose. I may not understand the mentality and I definitely wouldn’t advocate the lifestyle for my daughter or myself. In fact, I don’t agree with much of anything Always Learning has to say (big surprise there, I know). BUT whether it’s my cup of tea or not is irrelevant.  The feminist movement has paved the way for me, as a woman, to choose my own path, as it has done for so many of today’s women. Why isn’t Always Learning allowed the same luxury?

Her Name was Lola

As all my readers know, I’m a Looney Tunes freak. Key word: freak.  I know this about myself. And of course, I’m old school Looney Tunes.

There is a new Looney Tunes Show with new animation techniques that I don’t like and voices that try to sound like Mel Blanc but don’t, so I just shunned it altogether.

Now, I thought it’d be okay for today’s generation of kids. If you’ve never heard the “real” voices of these characters – as brought to life by Mel Blanc – could you really tell the difference?

So, one day I walked into the living room to find my daughter watching the show, and I decided what the heck, I’d give it a try.

I admit, I got hooked on the characters.  This modern-day Looney Tunes is more of a soap opera than what us “old folks” are used to, but still, it was okay. Not as bad as I thought and certainly more enjoyable than I thought possible once you got used to the animation and the voices.

But then, Lola Bunny came on the scene and my jaw just dropped with shock. Admittedly, I was forewarned by my daughter about Lola’s character, but I was still surprised by how awful her character was. Awful. Let me explain.

Lola Bunny was first introduced as a love interest for Bugs Bunny in the 1996 movie Space Jam (you know the one, where Michael Jordan is transported into the animated world of the Looney Tunes, and has to help the “Tune Squad” play basketball against the “villainous monstars”).

Let me quote Wikipedia about Lola’s character: “She is a tough talking, no-nonsense woman who is extremely independent and self-reliant. She is highly athletic while also incredibly seductive in her behavior.” Okay, so we can do without the seductive part, but the rest was a pretty good role model for kids watching the movie.

Next was a show called Baby Looney Tunes. In this cartoon Lola – like all the other characters, portrayed as a baby – is still intelligent and somewhat of a tomboy.

Now, contrast that with her characterization in the new Looney Tunes Show.

All of a sudden, she has become this complete and utter airhead who exemplifies the “blonde” jokes that are so often bandied about…and then some.

Let me quote Wikipedia again (because, you know, you may think it’s just me over-analyzing these cartoons, but it’s not! Anyone who watches the new Looney Tunes Show can see the complete destruction of her character):  “As opposed to her personality in Space Jam, she is portrayed as a scatterbrained, indecisive, gabby young woman who tends to obsess over Bugs, whom she refers to as “Bun-Bun.” She is very dedicated to achieving goals but oftentimes tends to forget what she was doing. She’s unable to settle on a decision, even for something as simple as what she wants to drink.  …she is overly talkative to the point of irritation.

WTFWhat happened?

All of a sudden Lola has been reduced from a strong female character to the “comic relief,” and not even good comic relief. At least being demoted for the purpose of decent comic relief would be somewhat acceptable. Yes, I get it, it’s the Looney Tunes Show, but she’s not LOONEY. She doesn’t have Bugs’ obnoxious charm or Daffy’s egotistical flair. She doesn’t even have Taz’s glorious rage. Instead, she’s just a stereotypical dimwitted, airhead female character (cause that’s just what we need more of on t.v.) – and just what is she telling the young boys and girls that are watching this show?

She’s telling girls that it’s okay, even expected, to be dim and uninformed about the world around you and to natter on, chattering about absolutely nothing of importance, because you’re a girl, and if boys like you they’ll put up with it. And they’re teaching boys that girls have nothing whatsoever important to say, so just kind of humor them because, after all, they’re just girls and what more should you expect?

And why is this funny?  Someone, tell me – why is this funny?

 

FROM THIS

FROM THIS

 

TO THIS

TO THIS

Just a Girl

Could a girl pitcher…well, a 17-year-old…strike out the best baseball hitters of the time – namely Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig?

I say yes, why not?

But a lot of folks prefer to believe that it was just a publicity hoax. Why? Well, because how could a girl strike out two men, let alone Ruth and Gehrig?

Way back in 1931, the president of the Chattanooga Lookouts Double A baseball team invited the New York Yankees to play two exhibitions games with them. A week before the games were held, he signed a female pitcher, a 17-year-old left-hander named Jackie Mitchell who specialized in a sinking curve ball.

In the first exhibition game, on April 2, 1931, the Lookout’s starting pitcher gave up hits to the first two batters. He was pulled and Jackie Mitchell was sent in to face Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. She struck them both out – Ruth caught looking and Gehrig whiffing on three straight pitches. (She walked the next batter and was pulled afterward. The Yankees would go on to win the game 14-4, by the way.)

And controversy has swirled around this event ever since – did she actually strike out Ruth and Gehrig? Or was it all a hoax cooked up for the newspapers to generate interest in the team?

The event is covered in a July 2013, Smithsonian Magazine article entitled: The Woman Who (Maybe) Struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, written by Tony Horwitz.

Note that Horvitz mentions this controversy in the title – the girl who “maybe” struck out Ruth and Gehrig. Actually both the title and the author’s adamant opinion (when approached by his young son with the facts) pretty much set the tone for his commentary.

But c’mon. It’s not like Ruth and Gehrig never struck out! Ruth’s lifetime average is .342, meaning he got a hit approximately 3 out of 10 times at bat. Gehrig’s average was .340.

And when you’re facing a new pitcher you’ve never seen before, with a sinking curveball (taught to her by “Dazzy” Vance, by the way – a strikeout master during his prime playing years), why couldn’t they strike out?

Well, because they were facing a girl, of course! Of course it had to be a hoax! A put on. A delayed April Fool’s joke. Or so everyone says now. It couldn’t just be that a girl got the upper hand on two of baseball’s greats, regardless of her amazing talent, mind you.

It would have helped if Mitchell would have been able to continue her career on the Lookouts, but that was not to be. Her contract was voided rather quickly by the baseball commissioner of the time because of the general consensus among players (Ruth a huge voice among them) that baseball was just too strenuous for women. This was the same kind of thinking that meant that girls who played basketball had to have teams of 6 players – 3 who stayed in the back court on defense and three who only played in the front court on offense, so they wouldn’t have to run up and down the court and thereby injure their “women parts” and be unable to bear children! And even up until the 1960s, women weren’t allowed to participate in marathons for the same reason…despite the fact that female athletes who defied such strictures had proven over and over again that there were no adverse medical effects! Which sort of goes without saying. Duh.

Today, boys and girls play together on Little League teams. There are female place kickers – well, a couple anyway – in college football. And with Melissa Mayeux, the seriously talented, French short stop (at 16 years old) having just been added to the MLB international registration list – it’s really just a matter of time before women are actively playing in the Major Leagues.

We’ve come a long way, baby…

Womens History

Women in Politics

If you’re not familiar with Wendy Davis, she’s a state representative in Texas and a prominent attorney whose recent claim to fame was conducting a whopping eleven hour-long filibuster that helped block Senate Bill 5 which included increased restrictions in abortion regulations throughout the state. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Sounds familiar? Remember last year seeing pictures of that woman in Congress wearing hot pink gym shoes? Yeah, that’s her and that’s part of the problem. I believe that if you poll most people in the country they would know what she wore to the filibuster more than the issue she was actually fighting for.

Recently State Sen. Davis has come under fire for her parenting acumen because she chose to pursue an education and oh yeah, a career as well. Heaven forbid, a woman wanting to make something of herself professionally while trying to juggle having kids. The audacity, right? What a bunch of BS. If she were a man (Wendell? Davis) it would just be assumed that even though he has a kid or two he’d branch out and do other things such as getting higher education degrees and whatnot. No one would expect Wendell to stay at home and take care of the rugrats. Wendell would be free to pursue his educational and professional goals, no questions asked. Wendy isn’t so lucky. Her decisions have put her in the hot seat which I feel is a mindset that is best left behind in the 1950s. Not only are we supposed to be living in an age of increasing gender equality, but there are more than enough examples of other women who have already taken the same path with shining success. Women achieving in politics should not be a shock anymore, yet sadly, it still draws the wrong sort of attention more often than it should.

No matter their track record of career and familial achievement, women who foray into politics aren’t exempt from traditional, antiquated sexism from the pundits and media. No one ever comments on the suit Bill Clinton wore to last night’s humanitarian gala. President Obama doesn’t have to worry about being ruthlessly cut down for a new haircut. Yet with female politicians this happens all the time. They’re put under just as much scrutiny as A-list actresses walking the red carpet. The big difference is that these actresses make their money being the object of attention. Our women politicians, on the other hand, they’re not in it for style points. They just want to be a part of government — a leader and a part of change for this great country of ours — not have their choice of earrings or hairstyle criticized on the cover of US Weekly. Until society can become blind to gender bias and stop putting every woman in the public eye on a platform that ranks them based on aesthetics, how are our young women going to know what’s more important?

women politics