Monthly Archives: July 2011
UPFRONT DISCLAIMER: The massacre in Norway is horrific in tragic. What EVERYONE should be focused on is the rescue of the living, the respectful recovery of the dead, and the ways to comfort those who lost loved ones. In a perfect world, that’s all we’d be talking about. (Actually, in a perfect world, this wouldn’t have happened, but you know what I mean.)
When news that a car bomb blew up in Oslo reached S.G., the talk immediately turned to Islamic terrorists.
(Well, that’s not true. First, my fellow students had to find Oslo on a map. Then Norway. Then Scandinavia. Then Europe. Eventually, I had to explain it was one of those places with lots of snow and sweaters and hot blondes. THAT got their attention.)
And the self-proclaimed good people of S.G. started trying to figure out what the Muslims had against …Norwhere? Because obviously, the Islamofacists hated HotBlondLandia’s freedom almost as much as they hated ours.
Hang on, I said, there’s an active White Supremacist movement in Norway. There are some pretty scary right wingers with guns wandering around. Let’s not jump to conclusions.
Nope, they said. No way. It was a bomb. Bombs are the cowardly weapons of terrorists, and all terrorists are Muslim. Fox News says so!
What about Timothy McVeigh? I countered.
My civics teacher rolled his eyes at me. (That happens a lot.) That was an aberation. He was a random looney working alone. It was tragic, but it has nothing to do with the ISLAMIC TERRORISTS WHO HATE OUR FREEDOM AND ARE TRYING TO KILL HOT BLONDES!
Then the Norwegian cops arrested … a blue-eyed blonde. A native Norwegian who hated immigrants. A nationalist. The farthest thing from a Muslim that you could find.
The SG Bubbas and Blowhards are unrepentant. It was the logical conclusion! they say. Who else were we supposed to suspect! they say. Well, a right-wing white-supremacist Timothy McVeigh type, I reply. LALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU! was their response.
It’s been the same on the web. You’ve got a post on American Spectator titled Why It Wasn’t Unreasonable to Suspect Muslim Terrorism in Norway –and that’s one of the more rational responses. The commentors on Bare Naked Islam are suggesting that the suspect’s Facebook profile was faked to make conservatives look bad. Even better, one blog tells us that “his being a “right-wing extremist” does not rule out a jihad connection.” Because dammit, if a bomb explodes in a Western country, it MUST be Islamofascists! It MUST! AND I’M GOING TO HOLD MY BREATH AND KICK MY FEET AND SCREAM UNTIL I FIGURE OUT SOME WAY TO BEND REALITY TO MY WILL!
If a bomb explodes in a Western country and a blue-eyed blonde is implicated, is it still terrorism?
Of course not! It’s the work of a random nutjob! You can’t indict ALL blue-eyed blondes — who tend to be eminently respectable people — with the acts of a deeply disturbed individual, who, by the way, was brought to a breaking point by the presence of THOSE people is his previously pristine country. It’s a horrible crime, but it’s an outlier.
But if he’d been swarthy, if he’d been named Mohammed, hell, if he’d been on record as enjoying the occasional falafel… well, that’s different. OBVIOUSLY he’d part of the Global Jihad, the Vast Islamofacist Conspiracy, the Kickoff to Armageddon, and yet another justification to bomb any country with camels back to the stone age.
Good job, right-wing nutjobs. Never let the facts get in the way of your beliefs!
Interesting article on Care2 about whether girls are being brought up to choose oppression through marketing and “pinkification.” Bratz Dolls are all about objectification, Barbies tell girls they can do anything as long as they look perfect, pink is evil, blah blah blah. To an extent, I agree — the hyper-sexualized dolls don’t send a good message, and those big-headed Bratz are just plain creepy. But I also kind of wish people would chill out.
I get being pissed that girls are still steered towards “girly” toys that are about fashion and cooking and whatever. And I get worrying that Barbie leads to decades of eating disorders and some seriously messed-up feet. But the color pink isn’t, in itself, evil. Being a princess isn’t necessarily bad. (A princess with the same name as yours truly — though different spelling — from a certain sci fi trilogy was pretty f-in’ cool.)
There comes a time when, for whatever reason, just about every girl I’ve ever babysat or had contact with gets obsessed with princesses. They want the frilly dresses and the tiaras. But as far as I can tell, most of them don’t stop being who they are. You just tend to have four-year-old girls doing flying tackles in tutus — which, quite frankly, is hysterical. And as for Barbies, I LOVED them as a kid… Of course, I turned some into punkers (my mom’s green eyeshadow made for surprisingly effective hair dye) and forced others act out scenes from horror movies. To each her own.
It’s not until girls hit about age 12 that they start thinking that pink = girly = weak = not showing up boys = having to look perfect = let’s all be brainless. And at that point, you can’t blame Barbie. You can blame marketing images and our hypersexualized society and unrealistic images on TV and all sorts of things, but I’m not sure you can blame pink. At that point, pink is the symptom, not the disease.
S.G. has a plague of pink. But it’s not like you accidentally wash your red socks with your white t-shirts and the ensuing pinkness sucks your brain out of your ear. It’s that the Desperate Housewives tell their cheerleader daughters that they have to be sexy and pure, accomplished and yielding, capable of bringing home the bacon and making sure they always fry it up in a pan for their menfolk. It’s that any girl who makes it clear that she’s smarter than the boys is ostracized. It’s that any girl who doesn’t look like Barbie is a failure.
Toys and tiaras aren’t doing that to girls. Little girls can dress up as princesses and still kick ass, if we let them. But in S.G., most parents don’t let them. That’s not Barbie’s fault. That’s their own damn fault. And until that stops, no amount of banning pink will make a damn bit of difference.
The New York Times had an article by Carina Chocano bashing the rise of the Strong Female Character in movies. My first reaction was to roll my eyes, largely because these are the first sentences:
Every time I hear someone use the term “strong female character,” I want to punch them. The problem is, I hit like a girl.
I also hit like a girl, because I’m, you know, a girl. But when I hit you? You know it.
Chocano is tired of Girls Who Kick Ass. She wants Girls Who Discuss Their Feelings. Girls Who Cry. Girls Who Are Girly. And I’ve got no problem with that. I’ve watched that BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count. (Although Elizabeth Bennett was a comedy-of-manners ass-kicker in her own right.)
What bugs me is she seems to think that women who kick ass can’t have depth because they’re kicking ass. That’s not the case. Most of these ass-kicking women of recent vintage don’t have depth because NOBODY in ass-kicking movies have depth. How much inner life did Vin Diesel or The Rock exhibit in Fast 5? Did Green Lantern plumb the depths of Hal Jordan’s soul? Hell no — they kicked ass! Sometimes (say, in Fast 5), depthless ass-kicking is just fine. Sometimes (*cough* Green Lantern *cough*) it sucks. But I don’t see that as much of a feminist issue. I see that as a “Sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster, won’t someone teach these people to write?” issue.
I agree with Chocano that Strong Female Characters in good movies should be more than emotionless cyphers. I agree that I loved Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids in part because she was a fuck-up, not despite being a fuck-up. (Also, she’s funny as hell.) And you all know how sick I am of thinking you can slap a chick in spandex and give her a gun and claim to be a feminist. Call me when the men are scantily clad the the women are wearing parkas, ok?
But that’s in good movies. In popcorn movies? Screw it, I’m fine if everyone has the depth of a saltine so long as the fights are good and the action moves. Yes, I prefer my female ass-kickers to be like Ripley from Aliens, not like Selene from Underworld. But do I watch Underworld? Hell yeah, it’s hysterical! Things go boom. It makes no sense. Bill Nighy gnaws on scenery like he’s teething. I laughed my ass off.
When people do try to add depth to their “strong female characters,” you get crap like David E. Kelley’s abortive Wonder Woman pilot. I’m not saying that Wonder Woman can’t have a broken heart. I’m just saying that if you can’t imagine Superman in his PJs at a sleepover singing along to Katy Perry while eating ice cream, we damn well shouldn’t have to see Wonder Woman doing that, either.
Got a great tweet from Naila of The Inifinite Abyss about SlutWalks — it’s good to know I’m not the only one who’s torn on things. Naila makes a great point: Why should we even want to reclaim the word “slut”? It’s always going to have a pall of shame hanging around it, so why bother?
Not everyone feels this way — Feministe just ran a post by Echo Zen, Co-President of Voices for Planned Parenthood, who spoke at the San Diego SlutWalk. He makes valid points, about how the clothes a woman is wearing has nothing to do with rape, about how our culture is bound up in controlling women’s sexuality, about how anti-abortion activists tend to say things like “If she didn’t want to get pregnant, she should have kept her legs shut.” All of which is true.
But then he tells the story of a rape survivor who finally moved on to the extent that she was “wearing boob tubes for the first time in her life.” And once again, I wonder: Why is Boob Tubeage now the be-all and end-all of feminist enlightenment? I mean, great, if that’s what you want to wear, but we’re getting to the point where if you’re NOT embracing your inner “slut,” wearing porn clothes and putting it all out there for the world to ogle, you’re not giving your all. Aren’t we allowed to like sex, or not like sex, on our own terms without there being a dress code? How did we get here?
You wonder why girls my age get confused sometimes and throw on a vest and necktie with sensible pants. Or is that just me…??