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Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’

Confession time.  My current guilty pleasure is the TLC show Say Yes to the Dress. Yes, Friday night Professor Bean and I are curled up watching brides try on gown after gown, break down in tears when they find “their dress,” and spend thousands of dollars. So what do I, a rabid feminist, get out of this show?

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Apparently, women aren’t very happy. “Each year since 1972, the United States General Social Survey has asked men and women: ‘How happy are you, on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being very happy, and 1 being not too happy?'” And since 1972, women’s happiness has dropped steadily. And this isn’t just the finding of one study; six separate studies have come to the same result, across decades, ages, and countries. According to the Huffington Post article “Wherever researchers have been able to collect reliable data on happiness, the finding is always the same: greater educational, political, and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women, as compared to men.”

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The finale of More to Love was this week and I’m glad I stuck with the show because in the end, it turned out to be about something other than women obsessing about their weight and falling in love way too fast with a guy who actually admires curves. Don’t get me wrong–there was plenty of that as well. The final two women, as they walked up the driveway to find out who Luke would pick, both lamented (in voiceover) their weight and the tribulations it has caused. But aside from these pro forma comments, the last show was not about weight, but about other forms of discrimination–class and religion–and a small victory for feminism.

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Street gawking

If you saw this woman on the street, how would you react?

Wondering why I’m even asking this question? Yesterday, the DoubleX blog posted an article by Troy Patterson called A Dandy’s Guide to Girl-Watching and the comment page exploded. Patterson rhapsodized about the joys of checking out women. The article itself is rather annoying in its style, which tries to be arch and funny by using overly academic language (sample sentence: “Despite all the many philosophical inquiries into beauty since the Greeks and into sidewalk scenes since Baudelaire, there is an acute shortage of discourse on the subject of checking out hot chicks”).

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I wasn’t going to write about More to Love. I don’t want this blog to turn into the “ranting about reality dating shows blog” and Professor Bean has already written about it. But he’s away for a week, which means I have to come up with all the ideas (how do other bloggers do this?). And honestly, the show is crack for a ranty feminist. However, like Professor Bean, I will avoid the obvious topic of weight. Instead, I want to talk about their age.

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I’ve been listening to a lot of the media coverage of Sarah Palin’s resignation and it occurred to me that, in a very odd way, Palin has broken the glass ceiling more completely than Hilary Clinton. Palin is a crazily unrealistic candidate for president; I suspect the leaders of the Republican Party will do everything possible to keep her from running. But what I’ve realized is that no one, either for or against her, is talking about her gender.

Whether reporters or pundits are discussing why she resigned, what she’ll do next, whether or not she’ll run for president, and who would vote for her if she did, gender is not a factor. Even the few mentions of her family are phrased in gender-neutral or even masculine ways (she resigned because she can make more money as a speaker and thus better support her family, a trope for men rather than women).

Most of the media coverage agrees that Palin is a divisive figure, that she has no chance at a viable presidential run, and that she’s pretty much off her rocker. But none of this is because she’s a woman. In fact, the question of her gender isn’t even raised to be dismissed. It simply isn’t part of the discussion.

How refreshing. Reminds me of that old feminist cliché that equality is when mediocre women are promoted as often as mediocre men. Do mavericks count?

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Last week, Slate’s Culture Gabfest mentioned a column in the New York Times Magazine about UrbanDictionary.com.  Curious to explore this cultural phenomenon, I started by looking up “feminism” at the largely youth-authored site.  After sifting through 71 definitions (some near-duplicates), my initial disgust turned to confusion and eventually a realization that UrbanDictionary.com’s babel may eventually resolve into something worth further consideration. (more…)

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