Hillary Clinton

What's popular isn't necessarily good

I had originally planned a different post for this week. On election day, I was writing out all the reasons why you could skip the gym over the holidays. (Don't worry! This post is coming to you next week.) 

I woke up Wednesday morning filled with dread and doom. I imagined some kind of apocalyptic future. Will American refugees flee to places where it feels safer to be ourselves? 

The election of Donald Trump confirms a real human fear of mine. It makes me feel like hate is popular: sexism, racism, xenophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, ableism.  

This fear has often made me feel isolated, like I'm not supposed to be here, like I don't belong on this planet. There's a great scene in the show, Happyish with Steve Coogan. He describes a general feeling like he's an alien marooned on Earth. This planet doesn't share his values. I often feel that way: like I'm waiting for the mothership. 

And the body positive movement is an alien idea. 

What is currently popular in our culture is dieting. It's being thin. It's being "sexy." It's making sure you don't have too much hair on your pussy. It's making sure your voice isn't too high or too low. It's being "likeable." It's fitting into all these impossible norms. You can't be too nice - you're a pushover.  You can't be too mean - you're a bitch. If you're young, they don't take you seriously. If you're old, you're past your prime. If you're in between, you're probably going to have kids soon. So, you're not really worth the investment. 

Here's the worst part: we actually believe that these impossible norms are attainable. 

For the women who are fat, they should work hard to be skinny (even though diets don't work). We give women advice like "lean in" or "be more humble." We second-guess and rationalize that women are somehow responsible for their position. If we could just stop saying "like" so damn much, we might actually have equality.

But that is a lie. The real problem is not your pantsuit. It is the patriarchy.  

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a very very slim margin. But, actually, FUCK BEING POPULAR.  Fuck trying to attain what is unattainable. Let's stop trying to fit the mold. Because we never will. 

 Just like the 90s afterschool specials taught us, being popular is often not all it's cracked up to be. Being popular doesn't make you good or right. In fact, Billy Madison taught us that being popular makes you the villain. 

I understand that it's easier to grow weeds than it is to grow a rose. I know that in the current culture, dandelions often fare better. In this election, the sexist white man did better. He had all the nutrients he needed to thrive. 

It's easy to grow dandelions. 

But, I have a problem with a field so full of weeds that we can't grow anything else. We can't grow tomatoes. We can't grow roses. In the context of this election, we couldn't grow feminism or equality.

Instead of trying to figure out how to grow dandelions, let's grow something else.

Please please please keep being who you are. Please please please keep being brave. Please please please don't let the weeds or the president prevent you from being the beautiful person that you are. 

If women were men

What if women were men? 

What if you could just wake up and be a tall, strapping, upper-middle-class young man with the world at your feet? 

What if being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company felt like your birthright? What if a six-figure salary was an expectation of whatever field you entered? 

This is the Freaky Friday scenario I've been playing with in my head the past few weeks: imagining a woman waking up and feeling as entitled as a man or having the same access as a man. I mean, seriously, what would a 69 year-old female news anchor on MSNBC even look like? 

Guys, Chris Matthews is almost 70! And not one person is worried about his graying hair or facial lines. Is anybody worried about whether or not he's too old to keep working? Is that the same conversation we're having about Hillary Clinton?

I recently sat down to watch Miss Representation. It's all about how women are represented in the media. The film underlines how women are represented more often as sexy cheeseburgers than as sentient beings with any agency. We'd be a lot better off if more women were aware of this inequality and even better still if we could shift the way the media portrays women. 

The film is smartly done and I strongly encourage you to rent it, buy it, watch it or attend a screening in your area. BUT.... one thing it's missing is this super smart knowledge from Naomi Wolf's book, The Beauty Myth, that I'm about to drop on you: 

"It is often said that we must make fashion and advertising images include us, but this is a dangerously optimistic misunderstanding of how the market works by lowering our self-esteem. If it flatters our self-esteem, it is not effective. Let's abandon this hope of looking to the index fully to include us. It won't, because if it does, it has lost its function. As long as the definition of "beauty" comes from outside women, we will continue to be manipulated by it".

Fo shizzle we need to be AWARE of how images of women in the media affect our outlook and opinions about women. But let's force our eyeballs upon the systemic problem that is the male gaze: 

We buy shizzle because we feel crappy about ourselves. Making us feel crappy about ourselves is an extremely effective marketing strategy. So, we shouldn't look to the people who are always trying to sell us shizzle to feel good about ourselves. 

The bad news is that it's not a chicken or egg scenario. It means, ladies, we have to start feeling good about ourselves to change the media landscape. 

The good news is that Phenomenal Jane is all about making you feel good about yourself.  

Good enough to fight the power or at least enough to change out of that sexy cheeseburger costume. 


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