Friday, January 30, 2009

The Real Face to an Importain Issue

I have a criticism of the book Where the Girls Are and its author. The author, Susan Douglas, is so obvious that it makes me sick. Her bias is so apparent that I can hardly read the book. I find myself thinking that I should be ashamed of my penis after I do the reading. If this is her tactic for trying to invoke change, then she should try not humiliating the people who could help her the most. The people who would have to write, approve, vote on, and sign her favorable legislation are mostly men. It seems dumb to make them hate you when you need their help.

Another criticism of the book and of Douglas is that she has no understanding of what a rational choice is. On page 45, Douglas discuses how women joined the workforce with jobs in manufacturing and metal smelting, but when the war was over, the women left industry jobs behind and went to work at home. Douglas seems angry that her mother’s generation of women left the workforce, but can you really blame them. I don’t want to do those kinds of jobs. My father is in manufacturing, he has a degree in manufacturing engineering, and he doesn’t even want to that kind of job. I know that steel smelting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Can you blame people for wanting to get out of it?

Douglas also has no understanding of psychology. When a war ends people just want to go back to the way everything was before war started. It is a basic want, familiarity. War requires a great deal of sacrifice, and living with the sacrifice of war, whether it is red meat or your husband or child, is difficult. And when the need for sacrifice is over, all that you want is a return to the way that you remember your life being. Is that such a terrible thing to want? Can you truly blame people for such a wanting such a basic thing?

But these criticisms are aimed at Douglas and not at feminism in the media. I see the way that women are represented in the media, and it’s embarrassing. In 2007 for nearly the whole year, I was forced to hear the question, “Does Brittney Spears wear panties?” or “Does Brittney Spears shave her private parts?” That kind of headline on a newsstand tabloid isn’t surprising, but it is vile and degrading. It is so common that it makes me sick. I still those kinds of things today. “Who’s had plastic surgery?” is a question that is on the front cover of three celebrity magazines. And it seems to be the topic of discussion on several celeb news shows. Although, is it really news worthy when Denise Richards has breast augmentation surgery?

But the biggest criticism that I have for Douglas, is she seems to think that everyone in the whole world has nearly the same experience with media. And while we are shown the same media, geographically, the way that we interact with it is so diverse. My father and I have several running jokes. We used to watch the show House, and now when the BBC television show Wooster and Jeves comes on we laugh a little bit (the main character for both shows is Hugh Laurie). Or when we see someone with a lot of people following him or her around, we say “looks like he’s got the Verizon network.” This book makes almost no sense to me. Perhaps if I had never had any experience with media, I might be influenced by it (the same way that people who watch late night TV are influenced by infomercials about the travesties of war off in some African countries).

I have related to a few things that she has discussed in the book, but for the most part my experience is opposite to what she says. When she talks about women having to clean the house, it’s not something that I have ever really dealt with. My father usually keeps the house clean, but he won’t pick up my mother’s crap. So when it piles up (which is often) and he gets tired of it (more often), my parents have a fight about how she is a slob, and then she picks up her mess. And my mother really doesn’t iron. She has for me in the past, but if my dad needs to have something ironed quickly, he comes and gets me. And my dad is by far a better and more frequent cook than my mother. The book isn’t influencing me in these ways.

The way that Douglas’ book is influencing me is not in positive direction. I am so tired of hearing her complain. It’s not that I don’t care about women’s rights, I do. But after reading some of this book, I don’t care anymore. I once did, but it was more I had other things to worry about than how women’s self image was affected by the media. I was way more worried about my own discrimination problems. I have diabetes, and I have been discriminated for it in the past. I also am an atheist, and been ridiculed for my beliefs in the past. I was far more worried about things that directly affected me.

But now, I am way more anti-women’s rights than I ever thought possible. Douglas is not someone to be emulated or looked up to. I see her no better for writing this book than those teenage girls that sued McDonalds. She was looking for an opportunity to make some money, and who can blame anyone for that, but don’t try to make me feel bad, that my mother asked if I wanted a cookie when she was grabbing one, and I said yes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Confused Reader

Boy I sure love reading this book (it is very hard to convey sarcasm in a blog). The book is confusing and difficult to read. Susan Douglas needs to word her examples better. For a nearly two pages she talked about the movie Imitation of Life. I couldn’t follow her train of thought for that whole time. The movie is from the late 50’s, so I didn’t have any prior knowledge of it. Having a quick synopsis was helpful, but if it had been understandable, that would have been much better.

What I could understand, sounded like she was complaining. Ok, the first thing that you have to realize with the media is that no matter what the information is, or who is giving the information to you: The media is always trying to sell us things. Whether it is a product or an idea, they are trying to sell you it. You, as a consumer of media, are responsible for filtering out the prejudice and the inappropriate.

When she wasn’t complaining, she was advocating a change. But it’s not the kind of change that you would expect. On page 27 she says, “Since I would be nothing without a man… I’d better learn how to be cute and popular, how to stand out from the herd.” I may have not completely understood her perspective, but it sounds like she is advocating that women become gold diggers. Isn’t that something that feminists would generally avoid? And isn’t her audience… feminists?

The whole time that she was discussing Disney, I felt as if she was personally angry at the company. I know that she has a personal interest in what they did, but I don’t think that Disney did it on purpose. They looked at what was popular in the 1950’s and created a product that reflected that. Like I said; use your own filter. If you found the material the Disney was selling offensive, do something about it. Stop buying Disney products or better yet, create your own product that is to your liking. And then let the free marketplace of ideas decide which is better.

If consumers like your product, then you know that people were forced to tolerate Disney’s prejudice. But if can’t sell your product to anyone, then we know that people don’t read into cartoons, and that they teach their kids what is right and wrong on their own.

Besides the stories of Disney are full of Jung’s archetypes which are arguably ingrained in us as a society. That it is part of who we are as a worldwide culture. Many different geographic regions have a similar mythology. Jung’s argument links archetypes to heredity. He began regarding them as human instincts. These are patterns that we are born with, and they structure the human imagination. They make us distinctly human.

If it’s in our instincts, then there is almost nothing that you can do about it. People will fight a change that tells them their instincts are wrong.

On page 31 Douglas discusses how women see the flaws in their beauty. “We learned… [to] identify our many imperfections, and to learn to eliminate or disguise them, otherwise no one would every love us.” I found this comment particularly interesting. Because when I chose someone to date, I prefer that person to have flaws. One of my favorite quotes is, “Look for the flaws in beauty, and see the beauty in flaws.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Everything was Stereotypical about the Stereotypes

The biggest problem (for me) with what we discussed regarding sterotypes was that it made me very uncomfortable. I don’t really like to talk about race. I think that Stephen Colbert had the right approach when he said that he can’t even see color so people should tell him if they are something other than while.

But when we were discussing the stereotypes of “Fat people” I couldn’t really sympathize. For someone who is black or for the Italian when they get classified, I at least feel compassion; people don’t have a say what color their skin is or where they are born. But when you are fat, that is a conscious decision. If people don’t want to be made fun of for their weight, they should stop supersizing their combo meals and take the stairs once in a while.

Also, when did it become taboo to group people into a specific generalization? I mean, we classify people into categories all the time and no one thinks anything about it. Utah Valley University even uses the color code test to classify people according to a personality test, and that is ACCEPTABLE! I don’t see the distinction. The FBI uses a classification system to find and catch serial killers and terrorists. That just happens to be a stereotype and we NEED it.

You know that not all stereotypes favor white men. It happens to be that when the FBI has a serial killer, they immediately assume that it is a white man between the ages of 25 and 45.

I’m very sorry, but when someone’s feelings get hurt because of a blond or fat joke, they should stop taking themselves to serious. If someone cracks a joke about an atheist around me, if it’s funny, I laugh (I just happen to be an atheist). Nothing can be sacred. Even the most hateful, disgusting, Neo-Nazi speech must be protected. Otherwise when the time comes for good people to speak up about true injustice, they won’t have the right to do so. The government will have taken the right of freedom of speech along with everything else we hold dear and take for granted.