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Musings on American Culture, and How to Change it for the Better

Women Are Still Wearing These

Women Are Still Wearing These

This week, I have been thinking about American culture, and shaking my head in disgust. For example, I noticed that Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger is starring in a new movie. When I saw the publicity shots for the film, my jaw dropped, as it was obvious Ms. Zellweger, at the ripe old age of 39, has had a great deal of cosmetic surgery done on her face. As a result, she now bears a startling resemblance to Nicole Kidman and has all the expressiveness of a Madame Tussaud’s mannequin. But darn it, she doesn’t have wrinkles anymore, so I suppose it’s all for the best! And then there’s another Oscar-winning actress, Gabrielle Anwar, who currently stars in USA’s hit television show, “Burn Notice.” She used to look like this, but now looks like this. Ms. Anwar is certainly anorexic, yet is portrayed as a sexy, irresistible bombshell on the show. No normal woman could ever achieve a look like hers without literally starving herself to death.

Why are actresses refusing to age, and to eat, in order to keep their jobs?

A more pointed question is this: In a world where the feminine principle dominates, do we really think that these women would torture themselves in order to morph into some bizarre, impossible ideal of feminine beauty?

The New Agenda editor Dr. Violet Socks has defined the patriarchy as a vast ocean in which we are all fish, and states that every feminist learns to taste the water at a different time in his or her life. I would like to tweak this metaphor a little, and argue that if we are all fish, we rot from the head first.

In other words, the culture that defines women by their perceived sexuality, youth and fertility is an outgrowth of government. If we change the government, we will change the culture.

150 years ago, black slavery used to be perfectly acceptable; in fact, it was an economically necessary institution for an entire region of America. Now, it is socially abhorrent to think that African-Americans are subhuman creatures who should be considered property, and if violence is perpetrated against a man for the color of his skin, it is correctly termed a hate crime. How did this come about? Certainly the abolitionist movement was important, but until Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves through the agency of government, nothing could really change.

By contrast, women are still slaves throughout the world. Women are raped, beaten and killed every day, and far from gender-based violence being called a hate crime, its incredibly high incidence never seems to penetrate our collective consciousness. I believe that these shocking examples of female disempowerment pass under the cultural radar because womens’ equality has still not been recognized directly by our government and is not enshrined in our Constitution. Thus, it is still socially acceptable to think of women as subhuman creatures who can be considered property of males, and to perpetrate violence against them.

As The New Agenda editor Sheryl Robinson noted, this lack of governmental recognition is also leading to a rather disturbing tendency by Barack Obama’s new administration to throw womens’ rights in the trash solely for perceived political gain. Thus, the Lilly Ledbetter Act passes, but the Fair Paycheck Act is jettisoned. Thus funding for birth control is stripped out of the latest stimulus package in order to court the religious right and gain Republican votes (which was a losing strategy in terms of the stimulus package, but probably a winning one in terms of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign for 2012). All of this is happening as if on an alternate plane of reality, while Ms. Magazine lauds this President as the most feminist-est ever, and the corporate media gushes over how great Mr. Obama looks without a shirt on, and dissects First Lady Michelle Obama’s fashion choices as if the fate of the universe hangs upon them.

If we are ever to change the fact that the most common role models for women are anorexics whose faces look as lifeless as plastic dolls, and that second-class citizenship is the norm, not the rule for a female in America, we must focus our efforts on achieving equal representation in government, and in the ratification of the ERA.

Only then will real cultural change come for America’s women.

Originally posted at The New Agenda

136 Responses

  1. ” Faces as lifeless as platic dolls”…Aha! Real live Stepford women!

  2. BBS – Seriously – what is up with that? Our culture is actually turning women into dolls and calling the look beautiful.

  3. Big surprise! If the culture convinces us we’re all just dolls, we might just give up this nasty quest for equality and go back to the kitchen taking orders from the men, where we belong…unless of course we are onstage, on display, for men to admire.

    Sorry, in a snarky mood this AM. Am sick of feeling like my 60 years makes me ineligible to exist in this culture.

  4. Powerful post madamab. It is the logical next step and follows SOD’s post perfectly.

  5. I watched a program on PBS about Broadway. In it Julie Harris made some comments. No face lift and still beautiful (with wrinkles) after all these years

  6. BBS – I do not blame you at all.

    I keep thinking about something I blogged about a while ago, when I was was walking down the street and heard a young teenaged girl complaining to her father about how she wasn’t tall enough. The father responded: “Do you think Hillary Clinton is tall? Do you think Sarah Palin is tall?”

    He was able to offer up two very positive role models for his daughter, neither of which was 18 years old, 6 feet tall and 100 pounds.

    That is what we need in America – more women who have true power and influence, and who did not get it because of the way they look.

  7. I am against the current stimulus package because it is really about spending funds we do not currently have and borrowing against future generations. We are discussing trillions of dollars.

    I would like to see our econmy stimulated just as much as the next person. However, I still do not think we can justify the use of the stimulus to finance everything that was neglected under 8 years of the Bush administration. Birth control is paramount, but so is foreclosure protection or debt relief for our citizens. Everything that is good and useful is not going to also serve to get our economy going. As a republican, the birth control inclusion did not trouble me as other insane projects that were written into the “stimulus” package, including the Mafia Museum in Las Vegas, money for digital convertor boxes and aid for ACORN. To include the aforementioned as “economic stimulus” is foolhardy.

    The stimulus also has pink collar job creation, health care, and childcare provisions that feminist groups lobbied hard for.I work with graduate students and some of the stimulus package should be to forgive student-loans.

  8. The part about the actresses reminds me of a bitter comedy “For Your Consideration” from Christopher Guest’s team. The one good actress of the sorry lot that makes the group of characters in this story, played by Catherine O Hara – ends up teaching acting – with a face so extended, plasticized that any trace of human expression is removed. Did anyone noticed that the life span of an actress career is 5-6 years top, while the guys can withstand 20+? They are the images regular people try to live up to.
    I also remember one of the pundits slamming Hillary with “and we’d have to watch her growing old” argument. Someone like Murdoch knows the argument well, as he always (since 2000) attacked Hillary with…bad photos in the Post.

  9. EOF – I saw that movie. It was great!

    The person who slammed Hillary with that comment was Rush Limbaugh. Classy as always. He used to call Chelsea “The White House Dog” IIRC.

  10. Thank you MadamaB. I know you must feel the pressure as a performer. Look what they did to Deborah Voight. I have never believed one has to be overweight to sing, but many who used diet pills and other drugs (not referring to Ms. Voight here) suffered permanent vocal damage. You know who they are..some of the best. And now they want physically small women..it is almost impossible for a small frame to produce an operatic size voice ((I know this from my own experience) I bring this up to illustrate that the thinness mania has permeated even into cultures such as opera where it was never expected before. Would we even have a Montserrat Caballe in this generation?

  11. I should have remembered it was Rush – I seem to blick him out of my brain lately. Yes, I also remember other comments on “the camera loves Obama – Hillary – not so much”. Hence the “not likable enough” dialogue.

  12. Going to visit mother now. Bye all.

  13. BBS – You are absolutely right! Now that opera singers are televised, the weight obsession has become legendary in the opera world.

    I am small myself, although I could stand to lose a few pounds. People are always astonished at the size of my voice because I don’t fit the general stereotype of an opera singer. 🙂

  14. People are always astonished at the size of my voice because I don’t fit the general stereotype of an opera singer

    People are just astonished at the sound of my voice because until they’ve heard it, they assumed I was human. 😉

  15. Not in as many numbers, but there are actors (male) getting cosmetic surgery too. Pumping iron. Look at old Cary Grant, Bogart, Paul Newman movies or even movies from the 70’s where a man takes off his shirt. They are not as toned or muscular, some like Steve McQueen even have a gut. They would not fly nowadays.

    I think we all are suffering from the beauty culture warriors. I dated a make model in NYC that spent more time than I did in front the mirror. He took me to Nobu Next door for my birthday and ordered nothing but a Vodka and tonic. He then took out a bag of Skittles and ate it while I had my dinner. I said “You’re joking right?”
    He explained that he had this big shoot coming up in a month, blah, blah.
    Then we went to a wine bar and he could not drink anything but white wine because his veneers were new.

    I had to get rid of him because he began to turn his own self loathing onto me and my appearance. He was also horizontally challenged, fed goldfish to his pirana fish (sp?). Worked as a locksmith and bartender to on the side pay for his Chelsea studio and Brazilian mud facials.

    I avoided his calls for weeks and finally he came to apartment. I thought he was the Chinese delivery guy and buzzed him up. It was a knock down drag out of how women are never satisfied and his last statement to me was “DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN I HAVE EVER DATED?”

    I laughed and said “No, of course I don’t and I couldn’t care less”

  16. i don’t think Rush Limbaugh has the right to judge any one’s appearance … he’s about as attractive as an ugli fruit both inside and outside, he obviously has self control issues he’s morbidly obese and the fat pansy ass is a heroin addict to boot … who in their right might would take his word on anything seriously besides some hapless loser with similar issues? If you can’t control your own behavior, try to control others. Loser with money … lots of those in US culture anymore.

  17. he also can’t hold on to relationships very long .. what’s he on his 4th wife?

    huge self control issues that one!

  18. I always loved Jessica Tandy’s wrinkles, and Ann Richards. Beautiful women. We have to teach our children what is beautiful and what is true strength. I have to remind myself not to complain about my weight in front of my daughter.

  19. Great post madamab. It’s always so sad to see yet another beautiful actress/performer butcher herself to stay relevant. The irony is, it makes them look so artificial, they actually look worse. Melanie Griffith and Meg Ryan are two others who suddenly had that alien look. Personally, I love a face with character. There is such a shallow definition of beauty, created and perpetuated by males. Recently, I read some comments (not here) discussing Kirsten Gillibrand being “easier on the eyes” than Hillary. According to f*cking who?! Not only do I think Hillary is physically beautiful, but her strength, grace, dignity and breathtaking intelligence are gorgeous, IMO. I’ve had arguments with a male friend of mine about this for years. “Older women just don’t ‘turn him on’.” He literally could not see the beauty in an older face. Just this past year, he said to me, “You know, I’m starting to see what you’ve been saying about older women…”

    One down.

  20. afrocity: one of my best friends was a male model in NYC–that is an alternate universe. Walking into a room of male models, you could chew the vanity, it was so thick.

  21. That is the point, I think, Dak. It is almost always the creepy, ugly guys (or emotional dwarfs) who appoint themselves to sit in judgment. It’s because they know most women are out of their league.

  22. One of my best friends works with a woman who took diet pills regularly for about 7 years straight. Last fall, the colleague collapsed, was taken to the hospital, and it was determined that all those years of diet pills had destroyed her lungs. She recently had a double lung transplant. The end result? The woman will shortly be returning to work, but her colleagues are now paying 58% more for their health insurance. The same woman also had numerous breast implants, routinely bleaches her hair (which looks like straw) and wears totally inappropriate clothes for a middle-aged woman. All to attract a man.

  23. Let’s be honest however, who is right up front in this berating women who don’t live up to alleged beauty standards?

    Other women….we tend to be our own worst enemies.

  24. SOD – Amen to that. It starts with us.

  25. I would advise young adolescent girls that, if they want to become beautiful women, they should play sports instead of spending time putting on make-up and buying outfits.

    I read somewhere that fewer girls are playing sports these days – and that is with more opportunity for it.

    Sarah Palin played sports.

    It gives you more of a sense of confidence in your body, more feeling of competence.

  26. i wish i had a better attitude towards exercising and doing sports … i sure would like to firm up a little, things are really heading south these days, my muscles justt don’t have the tone they used to so I can understand the desire to feel more like your oldself, but this nip and tuck phenom is just an awful short cut! people should see it more as a health issue than a beauty issue … firmness okay –no wrinkles– unrealistic especially when you’re encouraged to bake yourself brown in the sun when you’re young

  27. actually, where i can see my age is in my hands…

  28. OT: the ny times is reporting that Daschle didn’t tell the Obama team about his tax issues until AFTER he was nominated … truth or WORM? you decide.

  29. dakinikat, on February 1st, 2009 at 10:44 am Said:
    he also can’t hold on to relationships very long .. what’s he on his 4th wife?
    huge self control issues that one!
    Perhaps it has something to do with his travels to the Dominican Republic with a lot of V8a*ga.

  30. One of my favorite actresses/roles was Molly Price who played Faith Yokas – a normal looking, normal size woman who was beautiful when she dressed up to go out with her husband

  31. I am not suggesting that we become fitness fanatics. I don’t exercise. I just keep doing as much as I can. But, I think that having played sports through high school and college has had a good effect all of my adult life. (That is not why I did it then, however – just a bonus.)

    I remember very well being 12 years old. I had just passed Jr. Life Saving and I felt good with my body. I felt like I could do anything. I did not feel slotted into the female role. A few years later, I felt like my horizons narrowed considerably. Suddenly I realized that society did not view me the way I viewed myself.

  32. Another great blog madamab!

    With both houses of congress and the presidency being democratic, there is no excuse. They always get our votes. Their largest voting constituency is us women. It’s about time we push for the ERA. They will either pass it or be exposed for the sexist assholes they really are. We need to find a couple of brave politicians in both houses who will draft, sponsor and introduce it.

    We need a public relations campaign to get women and men interested and energized over the prospect of getting it passed. We also need to get every women’s group in the country on board. If the bill gets tabled, we need to push by holding rallies, public relations campaigns, by buy ad time like the United Negro College Fund used to, we need to push the issue on college campuses and flood the blogosphere with articles like this one.

    Feminism has been kicked out of progressive thought and politics. We have to put it back, even if it means ramming it down peoples throats.

  33. My hands show my age also. It is partly because I am always working with them, partly genetic. They were never very feminine. The point is – SO WHAT? Do people love me less?

  34. To get back to the importance of constitutional protection with passage of the ERA…what can individuals do to make sure this happens?

  35. Fran, I am a girly-girl and was always into make up and clothes but also books. My mother was a tom boy and capatian of her softball team. She hated that I never wore pants and sneakers. The pressure increased in high school and I hated PE and it hated me. In my sophomore year, I got an “F” in PE for cutting class. I stopped going because my classmates would make me feel awful in the locker room for not serving the volley ball, or striking out. My mom ran up to the school and said look she is never gonna be Billy Jean King but she also won the poetry contest this year. They watched me and concluded that I was better at “individual” sports like swimming, dancing, ice skating anything w/o peer pressure but also the more girly sports.

    I liked mental games like chess, and did lost of puzzles. I put on puppet shows for my mother and enjoyed girl scouting and 4-H.

  36. Somewhat OT, but does anyone know anything about NoLimits.org..Ann Lewis’s new org?

  37. Fran – I agree. Sports are very important to the self-confidence of both men and women.

    I am not super-coordinated and was always told that I sucked at sports by my family. My brother was the only one “allowed” to be good at it. It gave me a false sense of my own body. It took me until I was well into my 30’s to realize that I did have some athletic ability. What a waste!

    Afrocity – with all due respect, that is not the issue. Of course men are vain and some will take it too far. We are all human and do care about attracting the opposite sex.

    But the patriarchy that tells women they are not valuable unless they look a certain way is holding womens’ equality back. Men do not have the same problem.

  38. KendallJ, I posted my question before I read your comment. Is there now any women’s group on a national level that would take this on?

  39. Egads I am in moderation. I did not use the “r” word.

  40. MadamaB: Brilliant., yet again!

    The other day I saw on TMC “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” with Jack Lemmon & Anne Bancroft.

    I miss seeing people like that in movies, natural expression lines, raw emotional eyes, healthy – thin not anorexic looking.

    I saw Jaws the other day too and Lorraine Gary is a stunning woman. If you were to cast her in a Hollywood movie today the same way she looked like in Jaws, she’d be cast as the grandmother.

    It’s truly awful.

  41. Fran, Madamab–
    Group sports for girls is the best. The girls support each other and learn to work as a team. They are not judged for their haircut or body shape but for how much effort they bring to the game. That and it’s sooo much fun to watch. (speaking as a proud parent)

  42. hmmm…speaking of aliens…what in the hell did Katie
    Couric do to herself?
    She looks more like Joan Rivers every day.
    I thought she looked good!

  43. I meant to say-I thought Katie looked good pre-op!

    (Not that I’m a fan-hall of shame for Katie!)

  44. there’s like seven regs in moderation right now .. katie … you there to pull folks out?

  45. I don’t think Renee Zellweger looks like Nicole Kidman. I think she looks older in the photo on that link and as to the posters. There is a lot of photoshopping that goes on. Look at the posters for Demi Moore or Catherine Z. Jones and Sharon Stone in those perfume commercials. They are all photoshopped. This is why I like Andie Mcdowell’s commercials. They are so different.

    In regards to Gabriel Anwar, her looks changed when she first starred on The Practice.

    I think the problem with more women getting plastic surgery is because we live in a society that glorifies it. MTV used to have a program called I want a famous face with young people being offered free plastic surgery because they believed everything would be better if they looked like someone famous. With celebraties it is worse especially for women. If you don’t look thin like a stick, you are made fun of. You are criticized. I t has been mentioned often that women over 40 don’t get great roles.

  46. Downticket –

    I think the problem with more women getting plastic surgery is because we live in a society that glorifies it.

    Yes….because of the patriarchy.

  47. Afrocity — “horizontally challenged” LOL Somehow I hadn’t heard that before.!

  48. Madamab, I am not trying to marginalize what the implications mean for women but as a proud aunt of an African American niece and nephew. I see the emphasis on beauty as a norm effecting both of them….
    No one escapes beauty, it will either be attributed to you or denied. It is a generic term for a group of mainly masculine symptoms. I just think it has finally backfired on men as well. Male consumerism, such as appearance management products, up until recently has received little attention in comparison to female consumer issues. Men have been showing a steady interest in clothing and appearance products. My brother subscribes to Maxim and Details (ick) and they not only exploit women but also infest society with “ideal” body type for male models.

    My 11 year old nephew who is scrawny but loves soccer and idealizes Beckham constantly asks for weight equipment and toiletries as gifts and once asked me if women would only go out with him if he were big, strong and rich. He is very precocious and said that is how a black man can be considered successful. I was like WTF? There is this myth as a heightened level of muscularity and wealth as a measure of male beauty.

    Meanwhile my niece who was 10 asked if Mr. Afrocity buys my clothes and make up. I said I buy my own things. She said my dad said someday a man will buy me a fur coat like the one I saw in the magazine if I am a good girl.

    I think both genders are getting a bum deal and exploitive marketing of each gender effects the other.

  49. Downticket, yes, the PhotoShopping — used to be airbrushing before digital. Lots of that going on, especially in publicity shots. So, it’s hard to tell what the person really looks like. As a teen I used to wonder how any woman with dark hair could have pre-pubescent armpits in all those magazine pics until I learned they were all airbrushed over.

  50. Afrocity – I agree!

    I think both genders are getting a bum deal and exploitive marketing of each gender effects the other.

    Word, sister!

  51. Oohh, opera talk! The thing is that Deborah Voigt fell for the “little black dress” drama and got her stomach stapled. The result is that she sounds like shit now. And she’s going back to Covent Garden – all is forgiven. There was another promising singer, Andrea Gruber, who did the same. She looks fabulous and nobody wants to hear her sing. Peter Gelb, the new manager of the Metropolitan Opera, casts based on looks these days. If you don’t “look good” enough to be on the high def movie screens, he doesn’t want you.

    I remember Madonna saying years ago that she’d never have plastic surgery. I think recent pictures suggest she went back on her word.

    How many people have seen Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil?” Two women in it get plastic surgery. (It’s all incredibly funny.) One (played by Katherine Helmond) looks younger and younger every time. Her friend, on the other hand, keeps having “little complications” and is more debilitated every time you see her until she’s dead.

    Also, Darren Aronofsky’s harrowing movie “Requiem for a Dream” shows an older woman’s descent into addiction to diet pills. (She’s played by Ellen Burstyn in what should have been an Oscar-winning performance.) It’ll make your hair stand on end.

  52. Ms. Marple –

    For you!


  53. afrocity, on February 1st, 2009 at 11:55 am

    The change in men being interested in their looks has come with the rise of the metrosexuals. Now there are many beauty products being targeted towards men. With women it has been like this for so long.

    I think your nephew gets the idea that blackmen can be considered success only if there are rich from Piddy, J-zay etc. That is all they preach about.

  54. DJ, I agree but not everyone is good at group sports. Now if it were a gymnastics team that would be a different story. V@lleyball (if I spell it correctly spammy will get me), baseball, soccer, floor hockey (my shins) all were bad for me but dancing was great.

    I am not a mother but when I choose gifts for my niece and nephew I attempt to steer myself away from gender biased gifts. This year I got them a software program that traces African American genealogy and they can trace their own family tree. I got my nephew a book on Greek mythology, I almost returned it thinking I am playing into stereotype that he must love it because he is a boy but I love the myths too. For the niece I purchased a small business kit, she has a pet store and gets to do her own accounting. I throw in a nail polish kit or two and subscription to Highlights.

    They probably think the gifts suck but I hope they learn something.

    PS. My brother is a male chauvinist and refers to women’s breast as “dairy products” . This is the fault of the women in my family. My grandma told me to be a secretary. Ha ha, first woman in my family to go to grad school, 2nd to go to college. The only one not be be a homemaker.

    We have to watch what we teach our sons. For me it was “don’t get pregnant Afrocity” but my brother was encourage to sow his seeds all over Chicago. Such a s double standard.

  55. Thanks, madamab. My resolution this year is to be more than perpetually pissed off and to actually do something constructive.

  56. Kat — Well…that makes it all ok then.

  57. Madamab, Afrocity –

    I agree that it is not just girls who fall prey to advertising.

    I really think that the cultural issues are more basic than sexual stereotypes. In other words, the same personal strengths will help boys or girls – as PEOPLE.

    It is true that the patriarchy is strong. It will not change because we try to get them to change. WE have to change.

    The main thing people want is to be loved, to feel worthwhile. Sexual or physical attractiveness is only one avenue that people THINK will provide this. And, it is nice to be admired. But it certainly is insufficient in and of itself.

    As parents, we want ‘success’ for our children. We don’t want them to suffer. But success, as it is defined within our culture, so often means giving in to shallow values and giving up personal values. It is not easy. It means standing against the group.

  58. Afrocity, what cool gifts to get your niece and nephew! I never knew the Greek myths were supposed to appeal to males only — I so loved reading them when I was a kid.

    Never did understand why certain items or traits were supposed to be male and others female, probably because I usually liked plenty of the “male” stuff too. But then, I grew up in an isolated area with no TV, and so missed a lot of the mainstream socializing.

  59. Afrocity,
    I am glad your niece and nephew have you. You remember what your grandma said to you. Hopefully your niece and nephew will remember what you tell them. btw..my grandparents said the same kind of things to me…but my brother..wow he was a god!

  60. Afrocity –

    PS. My brother is a male chauvinist and refers to women’s breast as “dairy products” . This is the fault of the women in my family.

    No, it’s not. It’s the fault of the patriarchy.

    That’s what I’m trying to say. You cannot separate the actions of the women in this society from this society.


  61. Afrocity – Actually, you are right about sports and dancing.

    My son actually never played sports. He was in the musical at school. It was actually a girl who encouraged him to try out and taught him the dance moves he needed to know.

    My point, really, was to get kids to DO things rather than just to focus on how they look.

  62. afrocity, what you’re doing with your niece and nephew is great and so important.

    I gave my niece a children’s book that featured a little girl who wanted to grow up to be president. Months later when I was reading her library book to her, I was shocked to discover that it was about a boy telling a little girl what she couldn’t do. My dismay must have shown. After we finished the story, she went to her bookshelf (out of at least a hundred books) and selected the book I had given her as the next one to read. They definitely “get it.”

  63. OTOH, if they’re “dairy products” shouldn’t that rule out being seen as sexual objects?

  64. Downticket,

    Don’t get me started on hip hop culture. Bling and hoes everywhere.
    I also don’t know if Obama is a good or bad influence on my nephew. He raises the bar (must be Ivy League, handsome, bi-racial) in a way that intimidates many black men. As far as Michelle, my niece said “she’s ugly” . This is where I have to separate politics from my duties as aunt.
    I asked her why did she think Michelle was “ugly”? She said her face and hair is not pretty like Tyra. I told her that no one is “ugly” and Michelle does many good things for her community, is 1st Black first lady, etc. Tyra is a talk show/model, TV show personality who wears hair extensions and has a crew of make up artists.

    I can’t stand Michelle but I want my niece to appreciate her accomplishments and not judge her on her appearance.

  65. Half of what makes a person beautiful or ugly is their personality, their humanity. And these are not just words. It is expressed in how people respond to them.

  66. When my son was a little boy, he wanted to put on nail polish. I was surprised because I never even wore it. But I let him.

    A tough little boy down the street saw it and remarked – You’re wearing nail polish! Yes. ‘My Mom won’t let me’, he said.

  67. Madamab,

    You are right. I am just thinking of books like “How to Raise Better sons for Black Women”

    Male role models are few and far between in my race. I wish single black women would teach their sons to respect women. My brother said it is a black man’s nature to multiply because of the roots of slavery. The black man was used as a stud service by the white man and had very little loyalty to one woman, fathered many children. The white man separated families on purpose in order to destroy the black family. The black woman was left to be the strong caregiver, but her subsequent rape by the white man left her to be disrespected in the eyes of the black man who felt powerless over the situation.

    He further stated the deadbeat father status black men of today is a self-fulfilling cycle that perpetuates a legacy handed down to them by slave masters.

    While I feel there is some shreds of truth in this. I think it is more Black Male hooey and excuses to treat black women poorly.

  68. afrocity – You are right too. I really value your perspective on black culture and the good fight that you are fighting with your niece and nephew. It must be horrifying to hear these things coming out of the mouths of your brother and nephew. And, I am proud that you are showing Michelle Obama respect. It kills me to do so because I can’t stand her, but d*mnit, why is she judged solely on what she’s wearing and what she looks like? She is an educated and strong woman. It’s ridiculous that the corporate media is talking ONLY about her “style.”

  69. Madamab, I truly applaud your point regarding changing the government, especially through passage of the ERA, to set the hallmark for cultural change. I think our primary effort has to go in this direction. For years, I have been pointing out to my husband the power and necessity of such government action. Our Constitution clearly covered men but has winked when it comes to women.

    The brief surge of 70s’ legislation regarding women had an immediate and generally favorable impact on women. Before that, when a woman was even thought to be pregnant, for example, she could expect to lose her job immediately, unless for some reason a high-ranking manager decided it was okay for her to stay. Organizations also had openly discriminated against women in many other ways, including bragging about being able to hire a good woman for much less money. (You could say this sometimes discriminated against men, too.)

    The downside was that the companies often only met the “letter of the law” requirements and did not go beyond them to achieve fairness. Then, there were the loopholes and varying Court challenges. (The Ledbetter law helps with one realm of loopholes.)

    Your larger point regarding the Constitution is vitally important. Government (in the highest sense) has to speak precisely for women or we will continue to suffer the consequences of the gleeful and open discrimination shown by the Obama culture. Misbehavior won’t be stopped by the ERA, but the amendment might cause some people and some organizations to halt their hateful actions, and that can lead to attitudinal changes in the generations to come.

    [One major argument standing in the way of the ERA is that Republicans in Congress, including women, often contend that other Constitutional amendments cover women. But, as Angienc has said, there is only one specific mention of women in the Constitution, and that is in regard to the right to vote (it’s in the title of the 19th amendment). Person or persons is mentioned often – so perhaps we also need to spell out that women indeed are persons.  ]

  70. Back to opera for a sec. The soprano Anna Netrebko (seen here)

    returned to the Metropolitan Opera last week for the first time since having a baby a few months ago. And every review I’ve seen of her appearance mentions the fact that this brand new mother has gained a little weight.

  71. One thing you can change in our culture and enjoy while you do !!! ..SUPPORT WOMEN ARTISTS This is what I have been doing to change American and World culture … since 2002 …..

    Celebrating the Women of Independent Music

    Goddess Radio , hosted live every Saturday 10 AM – 1 PM by SwanSpirit , aka Swannie at Cygnus Radio; http://www.cygnusradio.com. Goddess Radio celebrates the women of Independent Music, women with that divine spark of creativity , the finest voices and the very best music ; music not homogenised,sterilized ,or sexualised for mass consumption , but made by women musicians who make music because they love it. Hosted live at Cygnus Radio,the Signature Station of Independent Music Cygnus Radio ; check out all of the other awesome live shows webcast at http://www.cygnusradio.com . Feel free , and consider yourself personally invited to listen in ; to drop in to our unique chat and meet the local Cygnus Addicts the stream is 24/7 with many more live shows and music for every mood.

    Slowly but surely the corporate stranglehold and music model structure is being eroded ….. the absurd stereotype of American Idol is being circumvented in favor of women with real skills and talent who do NOT have to fit the MOLD 🙂
    so the artists that are the heart and soul and VOICE of the people can be heard …..

    and S.W.A.N. DAY IS coming in March !!!
    http://www.womenarts.org/swan/ have some fun Support Women Artists Now

  72. They did the same thing to Hillary when she was first lady.

    I sympathize with Michelle’s dilemma. Unfortunately I really cannot stand her. She seems too intent on joining the club and lacking in compassion.

  73. I don’t know what I did on that last symbol. 🙂

  74. oops my post just vanished …

  75. Madamab,

    Michelle is also allowing herself to be portrayed this way. She has been quiet since the DNC convention as if she has invisible duct tape on her mouth.

    Here is my tinfoil hat moment. I think like the Farrakhan’s , the Obamas are muslim (it is heavily speculated here in Chicago) I don’t have a problem with it. I mean Black Muslim. If this is true, practice dictates that she remains in a subservient role to Obama. Reverend Wrights church also believes the female should be in service to the male. There are also other cultural cues, body language, I have received from Michelle that will always make me believe that this is true. In Black Muslim culture they are not allowed to have pets. I bet the White House Dog never materializes or if it does it will be in quarters far away from them.

  76. afrocity> If they are Muslim – how does pretending to be Christians figure into it? I can’t imagine this is allowed.

  77. Eleanor Roosevelt was not pretty, but she was well respected and loved. I imagine that was also ridiculed plenty for her looks.

  78. Barbara Mikulski is also “not pretty ” in the conventional sense but she is greatly admired respected and loved here in Maryland ……..

  79. Ms. Marble,

    We need more than one group. We need a consensus of a large number of groups and collective coordination, and action. No one group can do this alone. Getting the ERA passed will be a mighty feet and will require all hands on deck and then some.

  80. DYB
    Of course I remember Helmond’s character in Brazil.
    Doctor Who went even further and had a character that was reduced to a tight talking piece of skin (from her behind) stretched on a frame – after many, many years of surgery
    here in an action figure form

  81. Fran, I thought of her to in relation to this post. I remember my junior high school social studies teacher telling us (in the 50’s) that he had seen her once. He said she was radiant!

  82. New York state was the birthplace of women’s rights. It is rarely discussed in feminist discourse that there was also a large ant-suffrage movement that began in New York state. While grasping why they opposed suffrage is difficult for any woman of today to understand, their reasons were just as multifaceted as those of the suffragists. Both groups felt they were fighting for women’s rights.Anti-suffrage women believed that we are important contributors to society and political thought however, they did not want woman’s contribution to be encumbered by the additional male political responsibilities which detracted from her role as caregiver. Many of these women joined the Republican Party.

  83. Back Bay Style> Montserrat Caballe encountered some problems about her weight. There’s a story that she was about to make her debut in some house in Europe opposite the already super famous Birgit Nillson as Turandot. (Caballe and Nilsson’s first time working together.) After a few rehearsals the management decided that Caballe just didn’t cut a glamorous enough figure on stage on stage and fired her. Birgit Nilsson informed the management that if Caballe didn’t sing, she wouldn’t either. Caballe was re-hired.

  84. Fran, on February 1st, 2009 at 1:04 pm Said:

    Eleanor Roosevelt was not pretty, but she was well respected and loved. I imagine that was also ridiculed plenty for her looks.
    However, the attacks against her were quite vicious…politics, “looks” and real or imagined sexual orientation. Hillary has been attacked the same way since 1978…the major difference is, Eleanor was attacked by Republicans and “Dixie-crats”…Hillary added “progressive” Dems to the list of attackees. Un-F***ing believable.

  85. afrocity, did you know that Harriet Tubman was a supporter of women’s suffrage?



  86. For one thing, history is not even taught in public school anymore. Nor is civics. Nor Geography. It is all called Social Studies.

    Our kids need some more interesting role models. When I was a child, mine were Albert Schweitzer and Madam Curie. I did not think I could become them, but I admired them and valued the qualities they possessed.

  87. This is what I have been doing since 2002 to change American and World culture

    Celebrating the Women of Independent Music
    Goddess Radio , hosted live every Saturday 10 AM – 1 PM by SwanSpirit , aka Swannie at Cygnus Radio;

    Goddess Radio celebrates the women of Independent Music, women with that divine spark of creativity , the finest voices and the very best music ; music not homogenised,sterilized ,or sexualised for mass consumption , but made by women musicians who make music because they love it. Hosted live at Cygnus Radio,the Signature Station of Independent Music Cygnus Radio ; check out all of the other awesome live shows webcast at http://www.cygnusradio.com . Feel free , and consider yourself personally invited to listen in ; to drop in to our unique chat and meet the local Cygnus Addicts the stream is 24/7 with more live shows and music for every mood.
    and S.W.A.N. DAY is coming up in March Support Woman Artists Now


    Supporting women artists is so immensely gratifying because they give so much back ….
    and slowly but surely the corporate music model has been eroded .. and American Idon is immensley popular but that popularity is giong to swintg over eventually to people finding new artitss that do not necessarily fit the stereotype ….

  88. I met a lady who teaches music. She is pretty old now. Her mother would have been the first black opera singer. She did not look black. They told her that all she had to do was to deny that she was black. She wouldn’t do it.

  89. DYB,

    Remember he is Obama the Magic Negro. He can be what ever you want him to be as long as he gets elected. Just keep an eye out for how he handles traditions. It should be interesting. He has already stated that he and Michelle, do not give Christmas or birthday presents to the girls. Yep, sounds Black Muslim to me. There is nothing wrong with Obama being Muslim. What I don’t like is his lack of disclosure and lies. Now with the election over, Chicagoans are finally opening up.

    We really don’t know anything about this man in office.

  90. Fran,

    The difference between Hillary and Michelle is that Hillary wouldn’t STFU! She made it clear that she wasn’t sitting home baking cookies. That’s when I fell in love with her! They could talk all they wanted to about her figure, clothes, ankles etc., but she remained focused on the politics. Even with Bill’s women scandals, she refused to shrink like a flower in an autumn storm. Instead she maintained her composure in the face of humiliation and forged forward to make her own mark independent of Bill!

  91. sigh..my posts keep disappearing into thin air

  92. Kendall – So true!

    One thing I have wondered is: Why does Michelle try to make her hair look ‘white’? if she is so proud of her heritage?

  93. swannie> This has happened to me a lot. I press “submit comment” and the post is just gone. But I think it’s in spammy, so the mods should be able to retrieve them.

  94. somebody save swannie from the patriarchal spam filter!

  95. DYB, on February 1st, 2009 at 1:28 pm Said:
    swannie> This has happened to me a lot. I press “submit comment” and the post is just gone. But I think it’s in spammy, so the mods should be able to retrieve them.

    Thanks so much… frickkin spammy -(&*(&^%^%$&*)_(+_))(^)*+_)+))*(*&&%$

  96. Kendall – I think Hillary could do that because she had a strong identity even before she met Bill.

  97. “somebody save swannie from the patriarchal spam filter!”


  98. Fran,

    I relax my hair and I am proud to be black. I think woman of many races alter their hair with perms, dye, highlights, extensions. It does not mean you are not proud of what you are underneath it all. You are also assuming that you know what her natural hair texture is.

    Actually the whisperings amongst AA’s is that her hair looks pretty damn nappy to us.

  99. Afrocity, when your niece said mo was ugly; I think she was referring to her inner beauty ..
    I am sorry but I cannot stand her …not after the comments she has made regarding Hillary and some of the other things that have come out of her mouth .. and not attending the service at 911 to this day bothers me no end …

  100. afrocity – I appreciate your point.

    Actually, I asked my Dad whether he noticed that all of the women, female newscasters, on TV have the same hairdo. (Of course he hadn’t.)

  101. Back in the 70’s girls ironed their hair (I mean white girls!). I guess now they have better tools. I always just thought it was too much trouble.

  102. Fran–I remember talk of how Eleanor Roosevelt was “ugly” but she had only to put up with the written press and newsreels at the movies. She did not have to deal with TV. Also there were far fewer news people then, so they didn’t have to manufacture news.

  103. Fran,

    Exactly! She refused to let him define her. They were partners, not master and servant. Hillary was and is restricted in this regard because of her gender. But she is her own person. No one can take that from her.

    There is this quote from one of my favorite movies “Deloros Claiborne”. It goes like this: “Sometimes being a high riding bitch is all that a woman has to hold on to”. Although I don’t like to refer to strong women as bitches, the point is that after they have taken everything from us, some of us refuse to let go of our dignity and independence. We would rather fight and be called the names that go along with it!

  104. I was fortunate enough to never have been considered homely. But, now I am committing the sin of getting old. ha.ha. My jerk neighbor thinks he is insulting me when he calls me old. Well, I AM ‘old’. Should I be ashamed of that?! He’ll be old someday, if he is lucky. To me, it is like saying – you are tall!

  105. Fran you are funny. We “iron” our hair too. We called it a straightening comb or “hot comb” . It is made of metal and we would heat it on an open flame and then combed through the hair.

  106. Fran> You should wish your neighbor a very long life.

  107. Let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater… body and hair adornment is a cultural universal …..

    and to some ” all natural ” means without soap , so nope, I am not going there 😉

  108. afrocity – my hair changed after chemo. It became sort of frizzy and curly, depending on the weather. So now I have curly hair. I often braid it.

    One summer I took 2 little inner city black girls to the beach for a week. I can’t even control my own hair at the beach. I had a real hard time taking care of theirs!

  109. just ot .. has anyone else noticed Candy Crowleys slow makeover ?? it has been interesting to say the least ………..now if she just plucks and shapes those brows a teeny bit more … ( JUST KIDDIN ) LOL

  110. And you people with your Irons to straighen your hair .. I have been COVETING your CURLS for years

    waaaahh my hair was flat and straight the whole time I was growing up ……. and all the girls had curls but MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  111. Swanspirit,

    She meant physically ugly.

    I don’t try to indoctrinate kids.

    My mom hated Reagan, and repubs, said they were all racists who wanted to make blacks slaves again. Reagan is no role model and I hated him too but her beliefs also caused me never to question DEM politicians even when I should have. I want my niece and nephew to come to their own conclusions about politics. I don’t think that putting down MO in front of them helps anything.

  112. Fran,

    Exactly! Hillary is and was her own person. Bill and Hill were partners, not master and servant. Hillary struggles with this because she is no restricted by her gender, but she refused to give in.

    There is this saying in one of my favorite moves, Delores Claiborne. It goes like this: “Sometimes being a high riding bitch is all a woman has felt to hold on to.” Although I don’t like referring to strong women as bitches, I think the point is that when they have stripped us of everything else, some of us refuse to let go of our dignity and independence. We would rather fight and endure the names the call us in the process. Giving in is not an option.

  113. swanspirit, on February 1st, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I agree. I find it hard to feel sorry for MO after all the things she said. She was so condescending towards Hillary and that crap about only seeking service jobs not that there are anything wrong with them. But according to MO those are the only jobs women should strive for.

  114. I am in moderation.

  115. For some reason my posts are not going through. HELP! I think I’m getting caught in the troll filter.

  116. Fran, those kids needed a relaxer, otherwise water is an enemy and you need to slap some pomade on and braid it.

    Black hair is used to construct cultural identity. For Black women that is difficult that make that identity positive when the media says everyone should have hair like Catherine Zeta-Jones. Beyonce, Tyra, Oprah, Halle Barry all wear extensions. It was once shunned but now black women have embraced it more.

  117. afrocity – My Mom had some cream that she used on her hair. I used it all up on the girls. The girls braided my hair for me. First they asked me how many braids I wanted. I thought that was cute. They gave me several.

    Anyway, my point about Michelle was that she could be more of an example – kind of like an older lady letting her hair go white. I have to admit that I am not there yet. But then no one is looking to me as an example.

  118. afrocity, on February 1st, 2009 at 12:44 pm Said:

    While I feel there is some shreds of truth in this. I think it is more Black Male hooey and excuses to treat black women poorly.

    I agree. It seems like an excuse to guilt AA women. I’ve been wondering this election season how many AA women attribute a lot of the bad way they are treated by AA men as the result of slavery when it may be sexism. Could some of these behaviors by AA men simply be from their patriarchal (?) African and American heritage and not from the influence of slavery?

    I get the same vibe from MO about being subservient to BO. Don’t some folks think feminism is just a white woman’s issue and it is racist for women of color to be influenced by it?

    MO sometimes reminds me of a few Soviet women I met in the late 80s. Some of them wantedd to be homemakers instead of work…it was a backlash against Communism which, I believe, encouraged women to work outside the home. I wonder if MO is backlashing against going to college, working outside the home, etc. I’m not sure, but I’ve been looking at cues from her about these things.

  119. Fran, my apology what ethnicity are you?

    I don’t want Michelle lookin like Buckwheat by the head. 😀

  120. kind of like an older lady letting her hair go white. I have to admit that I am not there yet. But then no one is looking to me as an example.

    don’t worry because Hillary is not even there yet. I like that she colors her hair while BC’s is getting whiter 😉

  121. Oops..I’m in moderation at 2:15 used r@cist without the @?

  122. my black students are always amazed when I tell them that my mother endless ragged on me about my straight hair and my thin, pointed nose. I was drug endlessly to the salon for perms to make my hair short and curly because other wise any hair style would make my nose look too long and pointy …

    i essentially also grew up hearing i had bad hair and a bad nose , jadzia

  123. I noticed Candy Crowley. I think she looks weird with that make-over.

    Afrocity – I don’t expect Michelle to go all braids or let or hair fly loose. I also am no hair stylist – for white or black hair. So I don’t know the answer. I just noticed that she went with that same hairdo everyone else on TV has. It’s not even real for most white girls.

    I had a boyfriend tell me once that my family was not ‘ethnic enough’. I guess I am WASP.

    Chemotherapy completely changed my hair permanently, after it came back.

  124. This is OT but everybody needs to read Glenn Greenwald’s column in salon today about The Daschles. That would be Tom and his second wife. This will make your blood boil thinking about him as HHS secretary. Thwen it becomes clear why he endorsed Obama over Hillary. His money comes from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

  125. Afrocity – I studied fine art until economic pressures took over. My interest is in figurative paintings. My desire would be to paint all kinds of people, to show that they are all beautiful in some way. I think people are beautiful as individuals.

  126. Glenn,

    This is common knowledge! The pick for HHS was obvious to everyone except that stupid fuck, Howard Dean! Boy did he learn the hard way. Maybe his white guilt has been absolved by now, since they have sent him packing all the way back to VT. with no government job. Everyone else knew that Universal Health-care was a dead letter as soon as HRC was driven out. The Daschle’s have a long history of being in bed with the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Tom’s wife has been a major lobbyist for them for years. I can’t wait until those moronic Obots wake up!

  127. SHV – I registered with No limits to track what they are doing – so far not too much – I’ll let you know if I see anything.

    As for the ERA – I call my elected reps everytime I see something that puts wimmenz in the lower echelon – they have also heard a lot from me (emails too) about this so called stimulus package – unless we see more money going to infrastructure there will be no stiumlus – just fatter pockets for the “big boyz” –

    There are a lot of us out her in PUMAland and if we continue to make “noiz” about ERA they will have to do something.
    I want Parity now!

    ERA today!!! 👿

  128. And Daschle is going to get to skate on his IRS issues as well – WTF?????

  129. This is why the MSM wanted Obama! NO CHANGE AT ALL!!! Daschle will get it hands down. Can you imagine if a woman was in this situation? She would be toast if her taxes weren’t paid!

  130. Yes. I am really disgusted with getting yet another appointee who did not pay taxes!

  131. Another interesting post. Here is what I think. We have let men define sex and female sexuality. In fact they actually think they own female sexuality and grant it at will or withdraw it when it serves their purpose. The women who are actresses and “singers” are irrelevant to women in this culture. They simply portray women as the men who control media see women. If they don’t there is a line of younger women waiting to replace them who will toe the malecentric media line. It doesn’t matter how old a female character is the main point of her existence is serving male sexual needs, male characters and male viewers. The only point Hollywood cares to make when an older woman (over 30) is in a movie is “Older women can be HOT TOO!” There is little we can do about this because we do not have consumer rights. Sure we don’t go to the movies, we don’t watch “women’s content” channels” like Oxygen, We don’t pay for music anymore. But there is no way for you to say “hey Comcast I want to sign up for these 15 channels but I do not want to subsidize these sexist channels” You either subsidize everything or you get nothing.

    Then there is the problem of American Feminism has been too intellectual to appeal to the young. Basically our daughters have male culture offering them a severely truncated sexuality where all female fantasies can be about how to best fit into male fantasies and they can be free to purchase and prance around in lingerie and stilettos at will. Feminism offers them lesbianism (not that there is anything wrong with it) or asexual esoteric dialog. The obvious move for feminism would be to offer young women their real complex heterosexual sexuality….start with the half of female sexuality that scares the limp dick old men to death, that taboo part where females sit on their average sweat panted bums and enjoy hot men (lesbians you need to go a separate but equal route here). Perhaps women bond over enjoying hot men, this seems to come naturally to the young kids who are around me. Then in between all this fun you place the feminist ideology and it seems fun too. You also keep all traces of typical ads out and ban the top 10 articles for women’s mags. So in other words you provide young women with an experience where they can go and feel good. No one talks to them about weight, buying the right fashion, wearing the right shoes, looking a certain way etc etc etc. While there they learn feminist principles through well written articles and they learn to own their sexuality.

  132. In the Soviet Union I don’t think I ever met a stay-at-home mom. Everybody had a job.

  133. Excellent post, madamab! This is why I support the 30% solution (though I’d be happier with the 51% solution).

    Constance, you make some great points. One interesting thing I noticed is that magazines targeting preteen girls have cute boys all over the cover, but at some point there’s a switch and women’s magazines start putting “sexy” and/or “slim” women on the covers. Judging by the abundance of “how to please a man” articles, these mags are geared toward straight women but the only sexy guy photos you find are in the perfume ads. It’s insidious the way the media works that bait and switch. IIRC, Teen Beat is put out by the same company that puts out Vogue.

  134. I’ve got a lot of problems with Black Muslims. They hate white people, hate America, and hate women (in a Rick Warren kind of way). And that’s just for starters.

  135. To me the scariest plastic surgury (and anorexia?) nightmare is Maria Shriver. She used to be gorgeous. Now she looks like she died and came back from the grave. It’s really sad.

  136. Your contempt for men doesn’t help your feminist cause much.

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