Where the Girls Are

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today I learned several very important lessons which I'm going to share with all of you so you can avoid making the same mistakes:

1. Don't make jokes on your blog where you ask people to insult you if you have such a bad memory that you will forget what you wrote by the next day. - Everything was fine last night, I got a few insults, I laughed at them, life was good. But then I woke up this morning, having forgotten about yesterday's entry, and I checked the comments and thought Hey, why are these people insulting me? It took a few seconds before I remembered and then I felt really happy that my dear readers are so willing to indulge my ridiculously lame sense of humor. Thanks!

2. Never under any circumstances take twice as much zinc as recommended (oops), unless you enjoy spending the whole afternoon feeling like you have the flu. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of reading done during the afternoon.

I also learned that I'm like those people on reality shows who will do anything for ratings. Any time something bad happens to me that even remotely relates to reading I think, This is great!! I can use this for the blog!! My life has turned into one big blog entry.

Today's book, "In this insightful study of how the American media has portrayed women over the past 50 years, Douglas considers the paradox of a generation of women raised to see themselves as bimbos becoming the very group that found its voice in feminism. Modern American women, she suggests, have been fed so many conflicting images of their desires, aspirations and relationships with men, families and one another that they are veritable cultural schizophrenics, uncertain of what they want and what society expects of them."

I really enjoyed today's book, even though I strongly disagreed with certain parts of it. The author makes a lot of really good points, but there are also times when she seems to be trying so hard to make a certain point that she starts bending her examples to try to force them to demonstrate her point.

The most glaring example of this was when the author was discussing sitcoms from the late 50s and early 60s - and how sexist they were. She mentions several, including Leave it to Beaver. I haven't watched a lot of the other sitcoms she mentions, so I can't really comment on them - but I've been arguing for years (to anyone who would stand still long enough to listen to me) that Leave it to Beaver is not a sexist show - so I look forward to boring you with my rantings on the subject.

The author first tries to argue that those shows were sexist because they portray stay at home moms. I appreciate the point the author was trying to make about there not being enough family sitcoms in the 50s that portrayed working Moms (especially in light of the fact that, at that time, twenty percent of mothers with children under the age of 6 were employed outside of the home). But she doesn't seem to factor in that the other eighty percent of women were being represented. I could have appreciated, and agreed with, the authors argument had she been arguing for more diversity on TV shows - but arguing that none of the shows that portray stay at home moms are accurate is pushing things a bit too far for my taste. There seems to be some underlying implication to the authors argument that being a stay at home mom is a bad thing, or that you can't be a feminist and a stay at home mom. And I find that argument ridiculous and offensive. Being told that I don't belong in the home doesn't make me feel any more liberated than being told that I do belong there. Either way someone else is trying to define for me what my life should look like.

The author then goes on to argue that during the last 50s grittier shows like I Love Lucy (I'm still reeling just a little bit from hearing that show described as "gritty") were replaced by shows featuring women who were quiet, calm, always cheerful, practically perfect - and that this was another example of sexism on TV. I would agree with the author if not for the fact that the men and children were also sanitized on those shows. Did you ever see Ward having a Ricky Ricardo-style argument where he screams at June? I must have missed the scene where Ward tells June Quit nagging me, I'm trying to read the paper. And what about the children? I don't recall either Wally or the Beave responding to punishment with You're the meanest Mom on earth and I hate you or If I can't have my way then I might as well kill myself, since no one around here loves me anyway. No, instead they respond with, "Gee Dad, I guess I really messed up this time" or "I guess you're right mom." And where was the scene where Wally turned to his brother and said, Cross this line and you die or Beave, did you know that the frosting on that doughnut was made from alligator skin? So how is it sexist when the women, men, and children have all been transformed into smiling, cheerful Pod People? A valid argument could be made for those sitcoms being unrealistic, but I don't see how they're sexist, especially in light of the fact that Ward was regularly shown doing housework and taking care of the kids.

I actually find the show that the author is defending, I Love Lucy, to be the show that was incredibly sexist. I want to like that show so much, but I end up getting disgusted every time about mid-episode because I get so tired of watching Ricky talk to Lucy like she's a five year old while Lucy stand there saying "Yes sir" and "No sir" while cowering in the corner. I think when people defend I Love Lucy they're blurring the lines between Lucille Ball the actress and businesswomen, who did so much to advance women in the entertainment industry, and Lucy Ricardo, the wife who attempts to go against her husbands demands for the first twenty minutes of every episode, but always ends up back under his thumb by the time the half hour is up.

Now on to the part I wholeheartedly agree with: commercials. I will be forever grateful to the person/people who invented Tivo for sparing me the daily dose of irritation that commercials brought into my life. I can't even look at a commercial for anything involving cooking, childcare, or cleaning without feeling disgust over seeing eight women and zero men. The Tivo inventors have also saved me lots of time previously spent on writing angry e-mails to companies that go a little something like this: Is this 1920? Did I just fall into a time warp? - I'm happy to say that Target is one company that is the exception to that annoying time warp. They regularly feature ads with both women and men cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. So now when I go into Target I don't think I'm wasting time and money buying stuff I don't need. No, instead I think I'm standing up for equality. Sometimes I have a hard time thinking that and keeping a straight face, but I still try.

Thank you for sitting through my long rant dear readers and I promise you that tomorrow's entry will not be filled with the hysterical ravings of an irritated blogger. Tomorrow I'm going to channel June and be calm and cheerful (Gasp, how very sexist of me.)