I posted this video a couple days ago but did not take the time to comment much on why I did it.
I did it because I am a vain, insecure woman who all too frequently feels the pressure to look like this and act like that…even though I know it’s stupid and not true to who I am. I posted it because, as always, I am hoping we can have an honest conversation about the dichotomy of influences between the kind of women we want the young girls in our lives to become, and the kind of women they feel pressured to become by the media beast.
I am an intelligent woman. I am a great writer. I am well spoken. I can articulate my thoughts and feelings well, and in such a way that it inspires others toward honest introspection followed by actions reflecting what was found when they looked within. I am loving, caring, nurturing, passionate, honest, and loyal. I am a strong woman, a fighter, who has been through a lot more than many people would ever imagine being able to handle. I can be intense, but when tempered by the right measure of a low intensity vibe from others, I can relax. All in all, I think I’m pretty spectacular in the ways that really matter.
I’m also very humble.
I am not, however, a model. I have never been “hot.” I have never had the kind of look that makes a man forget his name, turn his head as I walk by, and watch me walk off into the distance. I have never had an enviable bust line. I have never had a taut behind that looked great in any pair of jeans I decided to throw on. And I sure as hell would never be caught dead in a bikini, although I do understand some women of…ample…proportions are confident enough to wear such attire, and that’s cool. I do not play “ditzy” very well. I absolutely will not…cannot…dumb myself down for someone. For these reasons, I often do not get a second look from most men. That doesn’t concern me. I only need a second look from the one who happens to be right for me.
What concerns me is that girls are being brought up in a culture where women who achieve great things that do not involve making a sex tape are routinely cast by the wayside, whereas those who choose to make a reputation for themselves based entirely on their stupidity and lasciviousness are esteemed as women to be idolized. We hear more about the Kim Kardashians of the world than we hear about all of these women put together on any given day, as though having made a reputation for oneself by playing dumb and stupidly sexy is somehow more laudable than, say, the actions of a teenage girl who stood up to the Taliban, even surviving being shot in the head at close range, to advocate for human rights and the right for all to have access to education. Where did we go so wrong?
I hate tabloids. They really, really make me sick. They are good only for lining bird cages or helping house train puppies. Beyond that, they serve no useful purpose. Yet, walk into any grocery store, pharmacy, discount store, and what do you see? Fodder. Garbage. Filth. Right there at the checkout stand, counting on the eye-catching headlines to grab you and whet your appetite for celebrity gossip, distracting you from the bigger, far more important, truly world changing things happening all around us. And those the “journalists” who populate these tabloids with their meaningless words and filthy lies elevate the ditzy women of the world to a place of importance which they do not deserve, meanwhile talking about whether or not the size of Hillary Clinton’s ass should be a deciding factor in whether or not she runs for president in 2016. Somewhere along the line, we have gone so far off track, and it is a terrible, destructive disservice to our girls.
And our boys.
By advocating an idea which states that women should be little better than dumb sex robots, it minimizes our young men to little better than consumers of mindless pleasure. Sure, that sounds great in fantasy. In reality, it’s a collective dumbing down of society, which can only lead to our demise. By teaching our boys that their greatest achievement would be to grow up and find a hot, dumb woman to … marry? live with? just have sex with? … we teach them to severely lower the standards for themselves and their own expectations out of life. We teach them that they are not worthy of achieving greatness with their intellect, because all their energy is spent obeying the god in their pants. By teaching our boys that they are no better than this, we perpetuate a culture which tacitly encourages abuses of all sort, rape, violence, and an utter disregard for self and others. When we reduce ourselves to products and consumers, we have made ourselves expendable in every sense.
Culture is such at this point that it is in every sense a man’s world. Women are told through multiple media outlets that their entire existence is spent looking, acting, living, working, in such a way as to please a man. Women, for all the progress we’ve made, are still treated as second class citizens by society at large, and women who protest this treatment are looked upon as frigid bitches, portrayed as ball busters, too edgy for mainstream but not to be outright ignored lest she become more infuriated and really cause a problem. We can’t undo an entire culture of lies and misrepresentation of women. We can, however, start by speaking truth at home and, in our small worlds, be voices for change in how women are perceived and treated.
Which brings me to my next point…
Screw the Patriarchy
Yesterday, I reblogged this post, in which some very bizarre ideas regarding courtship and a father’s role are analyzed. Among my favorite quotes are:
The young man who pursues marriage enters a foreign land where he wages war. On the hinges of that battle lie happiness or shame.
But though a potential bride may be deeply loved, she’s also at some level the foe. To achieve victory the young man must not only win her, he must defeat her and her family, snatching her from their bosom, converting her to himself, breaking her natural bonds with father and mother, brother and sister, nurse and friend, dog and home. There’s little that’s tender about it.
Quite simply, our jobs as fathers is to present our daughters to their husbands as virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).
I wish I could say that these ideas are unique, but I don’t think they are. They are stupid and ridiculous, but they are not unique to the weirdoes who wrote them. It seems that there is an undercurrent of such thinking among conservative evangelical Christians, and it’s alarming in its implications.
While the young ladies growing up in these households are certainly taught to dress modestly, live a “pure” life, and have a heart to serve others (meaning, her father and her future husband, respectively), she is being taught to be just as stupid as the women I discussed a few paragraphs ago. There is nothing to be admired in teaching a young lady that she is so incapable of thinking for herself that her father must select and approve of a mate for her, and that man must then tear her away from everything she holds dear lest her loyalties be divided. There is absolutely nothing to be admired in telling a young woman that she is so mentally and emotionally frail that she cannot even be in control of her own body, therefore, her father must take responsibility for assuring that she is a virgin on her wedding day.
(Note to fathers: There is no way you can guarantee that. Sorry.)
And this is another area where teachings at home have such far reaching consequences for the world at large. It’s easy to point to women who are scantly clad and gyrating across a screen and say that she is a stupid girl. Much more difficult is it to point out a young woman who is being trained to be stupid by men in her life who are telling her she is incapable of making some of the most life-changing decisions she will ever face. It is merely two sides of the same coin, and it is just as damaging. Stupid is stupid, whether it’s dressed in a cardigan and an ankle length skirt or a bikini top and Daisy Dukes.
Furthermore, this only reinforces to boys that women are substandard creatures. Therefore, this sort of teaching only further perpetuates cycles of abuse, dehumanizing women once again to a place of becoming a product to be consumed by whomever the woman’s father deems worthy. This sort of teaching elevates men to a place of ultimate authority, leaving women groveling for recognition and a place at the table. Again, it reduces men to mindless consumers of cheapened products, refusing to acknowledge the humanity and full worthiness of both men and women to be in mutually respectful, mutually loving, mutually submissive, mutually deserving relationships.
The Christian religion teaches followers to “be in the world, but not of it.” As far as I can see, media-trained stupid girls and victims of patriarchy who are trained to become church-stupid-girls are merely two sides of a very, very thin line.