Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Good reads for those of us who can (Read, that is. And if you can't, then why are you staring at my blog?)

I was trying to save up a longer list, but there were two fine posts I read in the last few days that I thought I should link to, and my computer (AKA work) hours are dwindling for today. I'm in the midst of formulating a post on some of my life's philosophies,* and you might see how the whole "actually doing my job sometimes" thing occasionally gets in the way of such projects. But anyway, both are related to gender issues that I find fascinating. FIRST: This is not unrelated to my post a while back about America's Next Top Model, and Tyra's bullshit "the fashion industry is so flawed in its beauty standards, but everybody should try harder to conform to them" "advice." Yeah, I just used scare quotes right after a sarcastic paraphrasing set of quotes. Deal with it, bitchez. Anyway, so I was reading Hugo Schywzer's "We love your look, but lose fifteen pounds" post about advising a student on values, conformity, and economic necessity in relation to the modeling industry. This student is barely making ends meet waitressing and doing some modeling on the side, but in order to transfer to a four-year school (to get her bachelor's in women's studies), and afford to get by, she's looking into trying to secure steadier modeling work. Apparently an agency is interested in signing her, but they think she needs to lose weight. There's pretty much a 764578698% chance that in real, non-fashion industry life, this young woman is totally thin and hot already. Anyway, as someone who is conscious of the patriarchal and consumerist values the modeling industry perpetuates, this girl is torn about what she should do. She desperately needs the money, and this is the kind of work where she can make a lot without too much of a time commitment and still continue to be a full-time student. She just has to cave to the pressure to lose fifteen pounds. Now, I will never be presented with such a dilemma, seeing as how I am already too short, fat, and old to be a model (though blonder and thinner than some people, of course!). But I can see why she'd do it. She wants to stick it to the patriarchy through her women's studies work, but she can't afford to do it unless she conforms to patriarchal pressures of unnatural thinness. I mostly just thought it was an interesting example of how principles sometimes come into conflict with the real world; where economic and other demands often take precedence over our ideals. You should check out Hugo's advice to her. She responds in the comments. SECOND: As a sometimes-honorary Wisconsinite, I really enjoyed Amanda Marcotte's delightful My god, Earl, they got football! They got football! about generally loathsome conservative talk radio host and apparent gender role police-person Laura Ingraham's comments on Brett Favre. Apparently he shed some tears at his retirement press conference. When she heard about it, she said, "All these years, and I didn’t know there was a woman quarterback in the NFL." Poor Laura Ingraham. She seems to be unaware that human males are not only capable of FEELING emotion, but sometimes it causes them to do this icky thing where WATER LEAKS OUT OF THEIR EYES. I know, I thought only chicks did it, too!** Because everybody knows that all things "feminine" (like feelings) are "weak" and therefore "bad." Amanda goes on to discuss one of my favorite topics: anxious masculinity. I am so fascinated by the concept of a gender identity that by its defining characteristics, must be constantly proven and re-proven, or it might just completely collapse (into WOMANHOOD, ew!).*** Despite being disappointed by formerly-supermanlymanmale Favre's girly display of emotion, Ingraham's also flattering her listeners into thinking that they must be so superior to dudes who CRY (on TV!):
But the listener is not given complete reason to despair, because the underlying message is a big ego boost. “My god, what a manly man he-man you are! You’re even manlier than Brett Favre, because he’s up there crying and you’re not. You know that beating Favre in the Manly Olympics is like getting the automatic gold.” Of course, you can’t hang your man gold on the shelf and call it a day. The Manly Olympics are perverse games, with every day starting brand new, and automatic revoking of your manhood credentials should you ever decide to sit one out. Or that’s what they hear. Everyone who plays in the Manly Olympics is to[o] scared to find out what happens if you decide to just quit and find better things to do with your time.
Unfortunately, my manhood credentials expired a long time ago. Maybe Brett Favre and I can go apply for new ones together. Because he's, like, hot, and we should totally hang out. (CALL ME, BRETT!) *Don't worry, I won't get all "earnest" on you; it's about using sarcasm to avoid emotional vulnerability. Duh, only an IDIOT would dread possible sincerity. **Were you aware that Hillary Clinton is ALSO a woman? Shocking. And shameful. Goddamn crybabies. ***This is, of course, the flipside of the "women must be pretty and skinny and not like men" patriarchy coin: "men must be strong and stoic and not like women." Mmm, maybe if I get bored at home I'll photoshop a "patriarchy coin."

1 comment:

  1. I see anxious manhood all the time here. At any instant you have a guy who's getting misty about the gospel (which I find totally legit) and the next he's making homophobic jokes (which is obnoxious and completely insensitive, and also really pathetic). This is not everybody, but it's enough to bug me. Somehow people like to read false beliefs about gender into Mormonism, which is little annoying. At least not everybody is like that. Anyway, interesting reads. And Brett Favre is pretty hot.