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I am one majorly unhappy camper

partial eclipse
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.

Comments

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.
nicoli_dominn
Aug. 5th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Isn't that also what they said about why boys wouldn't read Harry Potter if it were redesigned and renamed Hermione Granger? (In all seriousness, though, that's a line I hear FAR too often. And I think the whole "catering to the lowest common denominator" mentality doesn't give the lowest common denominator enough credit for having, I don't know, at least some desire for something out of the so-called ordinary...)

Like some other people on here have said, seeing the contrast between the nihilism and close-mindedness of our mainstream entertainment and your daring novels makes me feel a little warmer inside, knowing people like you are writing about all the things women can, and perhaps should, be. Between you and Terry Moore (author of Strangers in Paradise), I don't know who I'm more thankful for. It's really a toss-up.
dravvie
Aug. 4th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
My boyfriend doesn't get the rant either. I tried to explain to him why, as a child a lot of the role models in media I looked up to were men instead of women. Especially in relation to comic books. Who wants to look up to someone who's either half naked or dressed dorky and has it commented on? You want to be batman, or bad ass wolverine. You don't want to be mentally unstable, or always needing a man to rescue you, or maybe being a two bit plot character who maybe is seen when you're useful or has kind of boring powers. It's depressing.

The same thing happens in the video game industry. My female role models? 9 times out of ten? Half naked, mentally unstable, or they need a man to save them. Even Princess Peach, who is my girl, needs Mario. When she got her own game, she spent it CRYING and using her "Emotional powers".

I rarely watch TV anymore. I don't own one, and I pick and choose what I watch carefully. This, could be why.
nicoli_dominn
Aug. 5th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
I tried to explain to him why, as a child a lot of the role models in media I looked up to were men instead of women.

Oh my gosh, yes. I don't feel so guilty now knowing someone else felt/feels that way. Then again, a lot of my reasons may be different from yours, but the central ones are very much the same - there has always been a pronounced dearth of sheroes in the media who don't in some way capitulate to the sexist expectations of male creators or consumers. They exist, but they are few and far between. It's why books by Mildred Taylor and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and, well, almost everything by Tamora Pierce always grabbed me by the heart.
mmaresca
Aug. 5th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
I would counter that, at least when it comes to bodies and superhero movies, women don't have a cornered market on "impossible standards".
nicoli_dominn
Aug. 5th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
No one ever said they had a cornered market. Heck, I certainly wasn't saying it. My particular rant was just about women. Had I wanted to make about how images of masculinity and femininity in the media are harmful to everyone including men, I would have. Everyone has a right to differentiate between the ways in which people experience discrimination, bias and oppression.

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