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.