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I am one majorly unhappy camper

a cure
edited to change "women who use their bodies" to "women who use their position" as it is in the article. See what I mean? Too angry to see straight.

I am happily leafing through the current Entertainment Weekly this morning, enjoying one of my favorite pop cultural fixes, and I come across a cross-page ad for an upcoming television show on NBC: Playboy Club. That's right. It's set in a Playboy Club in the 1960s, to reap some of that Mad Men resonance--the clothes, the sexual politics, the music, the smoking, and the drinking. And the women in the corseted, crotch-cutting, chest-displaying outfits, complete with painfully high heels and the serving procedure known as the "Bunny dip": crouch without bending your back, holding your drink tray perfectly level at shoulder height. Because we couldn't do this at a dance club like Whiskey à GoGo or someplace where the culture was changing, like the Greenwich Village or San Francisco nightclubs. No, we have to have it be the Playboy Clubs where we can show women put on display like products in your grocer's dairy case in every episode as background, with men freely given permission to ogle and grope them and treat them like fecal matter because, hey, that was the time. The producer claims it's about female empowerment and women using their position to get what they want. A spot on the board, asshat? A job as CEO or CFO? How about second vice president at a bank? What about head chef at a pricey restaurant, or producer/director of a movie? (Hey, wait--we can hardly get a lot of those jobs now.) And what happens to them when they get wrinkles, or start to sag, or gain weight, or get pregnant, or develop minds of their own? How do their bodies get them what they want then? Or even now?

ABC, at the same time, is offering us Pan Am, focusing on "stewardesses and pilots and their glamorous world". (Keep scrolling down in the article for the other shows mentioned in this post.)

I thought I was through with this crap after the publication of COFFEE, TEA, OR ME? and Gloria Steinem's blistering series of articles on how demeaning a Bunny's life really is. I thought feminism would clear this garbage off televisions when All in the Family's Edith Bunker finally rose up and told Archie what he could do with his racism and sexism and moved out, when divorced women were portrayed as workers and parents rather than "easy," and when women headlined dramas rather than only home how-to shows and pre-school kids' TV.

But wait! There's more!

ABC also has Good Christian Bitches!--glamorous backbiting women à la Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girls, and Pretty Little Liars--and Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23.

To all of you who told me that I was wrong (when I said that using the b-word just tells people it's okay to use this term that trashes women), and that you were using the b-word to reclaim it for women, I hope you're happy. Because now cheap TV producers think it's a cool word to use on national television to mean nasty women.

Oh, yes. And they're re-booting Charlie's Angels. Again. Because women can't kick butt without a man to tell them to do it. I'm reserving judgment on the program about two guys who think the only way to get ahead is to dress up as women. Transfolk gotta eat, too, even if cisjerks snicker at it.

I am so angry I cannot see straight. Don't tell me I'm getting excited over nothing. This tide of egregious disrespect has been creeping up, and creeping up. Now, as they try to take our reproductive rights away, and we discover that rape numbers in the civilian and military population are under-reported (the FBI numbers don't include statutory and date rape, 60% of the population doesn't report it at all, and in the military it's 80% that doesn't report), our mass media tells us that we are here for sex. Women are shown in the media as sexual objects, as pieces of meat there to display desirable things like cars, watches, drinks, and a suit on a man.

Now the women who ruin their backs and feet running up and down airplane aisles and the women who were penalized for a two-pound gain are being shown off once more as the living equivalent of sex toys, which makes all of us sex toys. We're all of us bitches, because our media culture tells us so.

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animangel
Aug. 4th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
This is exactly the reason I don't own a television.
anjak_j
Aug. 4th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
I stopped owning a TV when I realised someone like me would never be represented on a show on one, because I don't fit some standard of what a person in the real world is to those making and writing TV shows.
nicoli_dominn
Aug. 4th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I tried ranting about the same thing to my husband a week or so ago, more in regards to my frustration with Marvel's recent obsession with making all of these male-centric comic-book-based Hollywood features and he tried to debunk me by saying "But wait, there was Catwoman and Wonder Woman! You can't say they never make movies out of those comics!"

What he didn't get is that yes, women do exist as superheroes in those movies. The problem is that they can't be over 35 and they have to meet the "proportional standards" Hollywood tends to think women's bodies should have at whatever time. And the only "masculine" thing they're allowed to do is (sometimes) kick butt. Usually with the help or hindrance of a man somewhere in the mix. Being a cis-man himself, my husband often fails to see how it would be annoying at the very least to have to try and identify with female superheroes who aren't really all that super and sure as hell look nothing like me. After all, these movies were made...for people like him. He may be cool enough to love me for what I am, no matter how genderqueer I am, no matter how overweight or un-Hollywood-esque I look, but he still thinks I'm overreacting when I become outraged at the impossible standards to which people with my bodily parts are held in the media.
tammypierce
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
Don't forget the fact that they cancelled the (albeit unrealistically shaped) Wonderwoman movie because they said no one would go to see a movie with a chick hero.
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supertailz
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm retweeting and googleplus and whatevering this everywhere because I think this is *so* important and it resonates so much for me. Having grown up as a young woman in this age, I feel like this is everywhere I turn and I really appreciate you being able to verbalise it so perfectly for me.
tammypierce
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I would rather not have had this to have to verbalize about, but our druthers weren't exactly taken under consideration, were they? ;-)
carrieironhorse
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Totally agree. "The More TV Girls Watch, The More Limited They Consider Their Options." I'm tired of seeing girls and women sexualized and objectified everywhere. I'm tired of seeing my nieces believe that their only option in life is to be a princess. I'm just disgusted.
tammypierce
Aug. 6th, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link!
miri_me
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
In fairness, I caught A Tale of Two Bunnies (aka The Price of Beauty) on TV a few years back and thought it did a decent job - the shy country girl who decided to try out as a bunny because - in her "nice, decent, respectable" office job, pay day meant her boss getting in as close proximity as he possibly could under the loose guise of "finding, writing and handing over her cheque" (and after she sent a decent chunk of her salary home to her parents, she barely had enough to scrape by at said office job); the girls so nervous about putting on weight and getting demerits for it that they turned to amphetamines/slimming tablets and damaged their health; the slightly older woman who put her husband through medical school as a bunny only to have him then humiliate her because he in turn was embarrassed to be married to a bunny (who earnt more than him, after tips, from memory); the sole black woman, surrounded by her white friends, seeing the news about racial violence in the South, where she was from... At that time, for a lot of young, attractive women, it was probably the best-paid (legal) living open to them. Because sexism was so firmly embedded into society, waitressing in a bunny suit under the watchful eyes of a security team and with strict codes of conduct in place probably felt safer and less humiliating for some of them. Did that make it empowering? Only in the sense that financial security (and spending power) are empowering. Did that make it a healthy and aspirational lifestyle with no risks attached, providing a safe and healthy environment for young women cut off from the support network of their families for possibly the first time in their lives? Of course not.

That film also explicitly made the point that grabbing at women was not allowed, and that any men who didn't treat the bunnies with respect could expect to be immediately (and, it was implied, painfully) escorted out by security. (Not that relationships never happened, but they only happened if the desire for them was mutual - and the film again made the case that - sometimes - peoples expectations of a mutually desired relationship can be painfully different...)

It's *possible* to treat the subject matter in an intelligent, respectful light - to show the pros and cons of a choice with the social context of the other choices that were on offer. It has, IMO, been done.

It sounds like this new show probably fails to do that.
tammypierce
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying it isn't possible to treat the material respectfully--I did see that movie, actually. I actually considered trying for the job myself when I was in college because the money was so much better than anything else I could get at the time. Then I found out about the dormitory living at the Great Gorge club, where they were looking for help, and that I couldn't have my boyfriend visit, and that was that.

That was also 1972 and, as you say, somehow I don't think this program remotely wants to present a realistic view.
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mundungus42
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Though a distant second to loudly and frequently expressing our annoyance at shows like this, not watching the shows will help.

And choosing to watch shows featuring competent women like Warehouse 13.
tammypierce
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Micah is competent when? When she is screaming?

OTOH, I love Claudia. I think they should get rid of Micah and Peter and leave the show to the rest of the gang. Eureka also has competent women, just incompetent scripts.
fledgist
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
It was Gloria Steinem, not Germaine Greer, who wrote the exposé about being a bunny.
tammypierce
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Gah! Both my heroes, my brain frazzled. Thanks!
gygaxis
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Posts like this make me so proud to be a fan of your work, just saying. I agree with what you're saying here and find it disheartening.

On the opposite side of doing it wrong, DC Comics is now adding in several more female creator driven projects and female staring comic books following a fan dressed as batgirl dogging them at all the Q&A panels at SDCC asking questions and follow up questions about why thy were so failing about female characters and creators during the much hyped upcoming giant reboot. So at least sometimes companies listen when they are told repeatedly that they are screwing up.
dewline
Aug. 5th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
That was one of several issues plaguing me about this latest Great(?) Reboot of the DCU line. But we can discuss that elsewhere.
(no subject) - specimen_47 - Aug. 5th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
deborahblakehps
Aug. 4th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
Gee, do you think it is a coincidence that the far right is trying to take our country back to the 50's, 60's or maybe the dark ages? Alas, I do not.

Hopefully these shows will fail miserably and cost the people who made them a lot of money!
tammypierce
Aug. 6th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
do you think it is a coincidence that the far right is trying to take our country back to the 50's, 60's

No, I don't, which is why these last two years have just felt like body blows in so many ways.
(no subject) - deborahblakehps - Aug. 6th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
sewertalk
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
I hear you SO HARD!!!! Sexism is so completely rampant in our culture, and people are just accepting it without even noticing anything is wrong.
tammypierce
Aug. 6th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
people are just accepting it without even noticing anything is wrong.

And those who do yell about it are told they're humorless f-words.
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tapati
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
I was just posting about these shows the other day on FB. I am guessing that these shows will have few, if any, people of color and use the excuse that the times were just like that. UGH.
ithiliana
Aug. 5th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
I saw two previews of the show last night--one featured an African American woman saying in effect "Outside they call me 100 horrible names I can't repeat, inside (the club) they call me Bunny Brenda," apparently implying the Playboy Clubs were bastions of racial equality?

I am horrified at the fact of the show (first read about it in the context of some public PR by the actors getting pushback and saying it's all about women's empowerment, and the lead actor (maybe she was the blonde woman in the other preview I saw?) talking about "what those women used to do in combat boots we do in high heels" and criticizing Steinem for criticizing the show.

it was....ghastly.

sholamith
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
This is after years of people listening to music that belittles women and makes acting like a gangster fashionable.

I even stopped watching Home Improvement because I was sick of the humor about fat women.
specimen_47
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
Not to nitpick, but does your comment also include all genres of rock, and pop, and country, in addition to those "fashionably gangster" songs?
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pristineungift
Aug. 4th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
I started to reply to this with my own rant, but since everything I said pretty much lines up with what you said, I'll just say I agree. Emphatically.

As a professional in a field still heavily male dominated, I still struggle every day with things as simple as maternity leave, and being forced to wear a skirt suit in court by a certain old judge who is offended by female attorneys and law students wearing pants. There is no way that I am convinced that these shows are about female empowerment. Real female empowerment is more along the lines of Temperance Brennan in "Bones." She's smart, a professional, and can handle a gun - and deals with real issues professional women deal with, like being made to choose between family and the job, or being thought of as weird for not wanting children at all.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
and being forced to wear a skirt suit in court

This would make me batty, even though I did wear skirts in court. That, however, was in the 70s.

I don't think it's weird not to want kids--I don't have any, and quite a few of my friends don't. ::shrug::
merigreenleaf
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
Wow. I very very rarely will watch tv or movies, so I had no idea these kinds of things were being released. But after reading this? I'm spreading word about this post because that is just utterly ridiculous! Not a happy camper here, to say the least.
blackbirdsings
Aug. 4th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your righteous anger, and for putting it into words. There are days when the constant onslaught of misogyny is just too much for me; words fail, and I find myself with nothing left but angry tears and helplessness and frustration. Thank you for sharing the strength of your voice.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
There are days when the constant onslaught of misogyny is just too much for me;

Me, too. A lot of them have come in the last two years.
tahariel
Aug. 4th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
I recently tried talking to my smart, educated, fair-minded guy friend about how our culture sexualising women only encourages this subconscious and conscious belief that women are sex objects intended to lie around prettying up the place, after he showed me the trailer for the new Duke Nukem game where the entire plot is pretty much 'aliens kidnap all the women, the Duke is mad because he wants to sex up the women, he goes and gets them back and has lots of nasty sex with them.'

Sadly, considering I thought he'd at least consider what I was saying, not only did he deny that these sorts of games - and TV shows, and movies, and and and - would affect men's behaviour towards women, consciously or unconsciously, he was so uncomfortable about my bringing it up that he left very quickly afterwards. And this is a guy who is so relentlessly self-aware, fair-minded and non-judgemental, as a general rule. It made me pretty sad that he couldn't even acknowledge I MIGHT have a point, let alone that I had one.

It's like - watching American Idol this season, Randy Jackson and Steve Tyler were both teased about aspects of their personalities that are funny. JLo was teased because she is pretty and men acknowledged that and infringed upon her personal space without asking. I sat at home and thought to myself, 'one of these things is NOT LIKE THE OTHERS, PEOPLE.' But of course that never seems to figure into it, does it.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
'aliens kidnap all the women, the Duke is mad because he wants to sex up the women, he goes and gets them back and has lots of nasty sex with them.'

This is the same game that, back in the 90s, left a very blurry line between not shooting the underclad women and risking getting killed by the bad guy behind them and shooting the underclad women to kill the bad guy behind them. I guess the game designers still haven't gotten the words there are more and more women gamers out there.

JLo was teased because she is pretty and men acknowledged that and infringed upon her personal space without asking.

The more things change . . .

Bah.
agrumer
Aug. 4th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
I thought feminism would clear this garbage off televisions when All in the Family's Edith Bunker finally rose up and told Archie what he could do with his racism and sexism and moved out

Are you sure you don't mean Gloria (Archie's and Edith's daughter, who moved to the house next-door with her husband, and later divorced him and moved upstate into her own series), not Edith (Archie's wife, who died between the first two seasons of Archie Bunker's Place)?

Anyway, yeah, it's maddening that TV studios are looking at the success of Mad Men and taking it as a cue to turn women into mannequins with a thin veneer of facile social commentary. (I don't know for certain that's how these shows are going to go, but that's certainly the way to bet.)

Mad Men has (as of the third season) nine regular writers, seven of whom are women. I wonder how many of these pseudo-hip, retro-sixties shows are going to try to imitate that feature.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
are you sure you don't mean Gloria ... not Edith (Archie's wife, who died between the first two seasons of Archie Bunker's Place)?

S**t! I was told Edith moved out, too! (I couldn't stand the show--Archie was too much for me.)

I wonder how many of these pseudo-hip, retro-sixties shows are going to try to imitate that feature.

Do I have to close my eyes to guess?
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(Anonymous)
Aug. 4th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Please, just keep writing the books you write, because my daughter loves them, and certainly needs them in a world like this. I mean, we live in the 'enlightened' west, *weak laugh*.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I will. I'm too mean an old hillbilly to quit!
sharim
Aug. 4th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Dear Tammy,

Thank you for this post. I am so weary of having to tolerate the objectifying, pointless sexualism of every day things in our society. Why does everyone justify it with comments like "Oldest trade in the world" and "They love it, so stop whining".


Thank you.
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
Why does everyone justify it with comments like "Oldest trade in the world" and "They love it, so stop whining".

Because those who do say these things are armpit sucking lint sniffers with the credibility of a teabagger with a long crack habit and sext debt.

And thank you.
mskalita
Aug. 5th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
This is why I stopped watching shows I could have really enjoyed, like The Tudors or Game of Thrones. There is a difference between "here is some nudity/sex to tell a story", and the gratuitous nude/sex scene that isn't doing anything except show some skin in this episode.

Game of Thrones in particular made me really uncomfortable, and I am usually ok with HBO-type sex/drama/violence. Worse, I read that all the sex was "for the girlfriends" of the "geeks" who would watch it. It is sad to think that the degradation and demeaning of women actually sells because it's women who want it, unless it's the empowering "women in trashy porn-esque job found inner strength and got out". Not all of them can do that.
lyndagb
Aug. 5th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC)
Hm, interesting. I've not watched the GoT series yet but the book doesn't have much sex in that I can remember (not the first book at least!). I found what was there uncomfortable because it *is* an uncomfortable view of what marriage was like in the past for sometimes very young girls and it's part and parcel of Martin's whole presentation of a brutally realistic medieval-esque world.

I did wonder, however, whether it would transfer properly to the screen. IMO it's one of those things where less is more, visually.

(Editted for typos!)

Edited at 2011-08-05 09:39 am (UTC)
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nagasvoice
Aug. 5th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
Word. Well, there's a simple answer to all of it: don't support the people sponsoring this crap. Also, let them know why you won't be buying any of their crap. I would bet you a great deal of it is ultimately owned by the Koch Brothers, or folks in their same comfie ballpark--things like Georgia Pacific paper products, for instance.
We've told our grocery store we won't be buying any of their stuff, and why.
The really strange part of all this is that they know, from the demographics, who buys stuff and how much more of it is bought by women. Why would you be trying to offend 80% of your market?
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! (I say this stuff and people squall that I'm boycotting.)
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fishness
Aug. 5th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
"To all of you who told me that I was wrong (when I said that using the b-word just tells people it's okay to use this term that trashes women), and that you were using the b-word to reclaim it for women, I hope you're happy. Because now cheap TV producers think it's a cool word to use on national television to mean nasty women."

This.
chocobodork
Aug. 5th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
As much as I'm disgusted by the subject matter, I'm glad to see this post from you.

I'm so tired of having family, friends, everyone tell me that feminism is pointless in this day in age. When I tried to talk to my parents about not using the "b-word" because I found it demeaning, it turned into a big argument. If women want real equality, they're just humorless feminists who can't take a joke. I'm so sick of it.

so, um, thank you for this post. even with big communities of feminists, one can still sometimes feel alone
tammypierce
Aug. 5th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
feminism is pointless in this day in age

We should ask that of the women who can no longer get reproduction services from healthcare providers who object to it, or from their insurance companies. We should ask that of Planned Parenthood, which is under siege, and of the few abortion providers who are left. We should ask that of Dr. George Tiller--no, wait, he's dead. We should ask that of all the women CEOs and CFOs of major banks and finance companies. We should ask that of all of the female heads of major motion picture studios. We should ask it of all the women who earn 80 cents to every man's dollar.

Here's some women to ask, courtesy of my wonderful senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (one of 17 women in the 100 seat Senate): 17% of all members of Congress are women; there are currently only six women governors in the US today; fewer than 25% of state legislature seats are filled by women. (51% of the population is female.)

In the 51-member teaching staff of the astronomy department of a major American university, 2 members are
women. This is not uncommon.

The majority of lead characters in children's books are male--even the animals. The female characters, if there are any, are usually nurturing or passive. I can dig up the study if you need it for ammo.

Obviously I could go on, and on, and on. People who say there's no point to feminism these days have no idea what they're talking about. If they read what we do, they wouldn't have a sense of humor, either.

openmoments
Aug. 5th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
This is why I'm glad I don't own a TV. Not only for myself, but for my family as well.

The fact that these shows are being added to the already numerous shows that show women as a pretty trophy for enjoyment and there's nothing stopping them (other than possibly bad reviews and no viewers, thus it being cancelled, only for the next crop to pop up next season), tells us everything about what the mindset about women truly is, despite what people might say to the contrary.

Shows such as Toddlers & Tiaras, which trends almost every week, without fail, on Twitter, where little girls are paraded out and told their worth is in how they look and how many awards they are, how are they supposed to be advancing us? Any little girl who sees that show, I promise, will have at least the thought that maybe it's right and that that's how they need to look/act in order to have worth.

Other people brought up comic books/superheroes/etc. I'm a huge fan, but not without thinking about how much I wish there were more females in the industry. Not only in the comics themselves, but in the artistry and business and management of it as well. (DC Comics actually has just come under review for this from fans in the last week or so.) One of my favourite female superheroes would have to be Black Widow, if only because she can keep up with the boys (if not surpass them, from time to time), but that does come at a price: she ends up having to have a ridiculously painful backstory that makes her emotionally damaged and not really capable of much affection. I'm not saying that a woman's job is to be affectionate, not at all. It's a human's job to be affectionate, and, well, human. But she doesn't quite get that because she basically had that traded in to be kick ass and awesome.

As a young adult with a large interest in all things 'nerdy' or 'geeky' the fact that there's a stereotype there with the things that I'll read/like/etc, annoys and tires me. Someone mentioned about that Game of Thrones added specific things in to interest the girlfriends of 'geeks', which completely disgusts me. Because I'm female, I need sex scenes into interest me in something? That could be farther from the truth, kthxbai.

Thank you so much for this entry. I've been spreading the word around a bit, and hopefully it will open up some people's eyes on this issue.
ladybrick
Aug. 5th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
I've been so busy following the backlash against DC Comics for the drop in female creators/benching of female characters that I hadn't even heard about the way they were trying to sell Playboy Club.

On the plus side, Womanthology, an all-female creator anthology, is kicking some major ass on Kickstarter. So it's not all bad news, at least.
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