Womyns Studies.

I am unsure. I was just recently confronted with a fine piece of periodical literature. Quick question to all the women who may or may not read this blog. As well as you, ask your friends, as as many women as you can the following question, so that I can have a perceived answer…

Well, first some background. I mean, you got a little background, but nothing mind blowing. Everyone hold on to your colostomy bags! I was… oh, wait, it’s a boring story. I was reading an article from Cornell’s website. From an article I gleaned that Historian and erstwhile authoress of such books as “The Body Project” and “Fasting Girls”, Dr. Joan Jacobs Brumberg was lamenting the idea that women have gone from striving for “good works” to satisfying themselves with “good looks”. She wonders why, in a rhetorical way that leads me to believe that if I read her books, I’ll know the answer. Well, I had a theory and one that doesn’t involve amazon.com

Do you suppose women, after certain cultural milestone, like universal suffrage and whatever it was bra-burning achieved, rested on a cultural pedestal and moved on to good looks. Not as a replacement, but as a next step. When any cultural has achieved its needs, then moves on to its WANTS. Not literal wants, just the frivolity of a culture bypasses its needs at a certain progression. (spoilers, I think this is the cause of the inflated, or rather deflated image of women in media…)

I was curious if this is a cause, that is exacerbated by media stereotyping. That a woman is defined by her looks and not her works (with few, but notable exceptions) or perhaps the entire situation is created and driven by a male run hygiene and beauty industry.

That seems really paranoid, and it also seems less likely that all of a gender would be corralled and manhandled by perceived public pressure. But what do I know? I’m a socially absent, middle class guy. I could just be barking up the wrong tree.

I’m also tempted to point out that this is the woman who thinks we shouldn’t focus on looks:

Dr. Right about this stuff...

But that just seems inflammatory considering I agree with pretty much everything she says, and I’m no prize peach myself…


3 responses to “Womyns Studies.

  1. It’s a bit cynical to say that women have started fretting about their good looks as the next step, but probably not altogether untrue. Women are as vain today as they were 100 years ago, the only difference the availability of Botox and Wonderbras. I mean, thank god the corset went out of fashion, because that was TRULY insane. The suffrage movement represented something real to care about other than physical appearance, and once women managed to boost themselves to even footing with men…well, they may have simply run out of things to bitch about other than how fat/saggy/pale/veiny they were(not). And remember, this is coming from a woman.


    These days, it’s just easier to look good than to do good. Before, women were judged largely based on being excellent homemakers. At that point it was easy for your neighbors to figure out if you were any good at; after all, most women of the 1950s spent all day at home cooking/cleaning/washing. The looks June Cleaver stereotype stacked on top of the expectations by asking the American housewife to not only have a toilet clean enough to eat from, but also perfectly coiffed hair. Again, at that point, this notion was a bit more feasible than it is today.

    Fast forward to the present day, and you see fewer women than ever occupying the “housewife” category, mostly because single-income households can’t hack it like they used to. Thus, it’s a little harder to judge the “good works” of a woman based on her spotless household because it has become less of a priority with everyone being at work from 9 to 5 (not to say that the household isn’t measured by peers anymore, it just isn’t The Thing it used to be) The only thing left to really judge is her “good looks”, as stupid as it sounds. Why we can’t judge a woman based on how not drug-addicted her kids are or how much money she makes is beyond me. Physical appearance seems to be a more universal format for everyone, no matter how bloody insane it is. However, I will say this: if you’re a working mother of 2-4 kids, it’s definitely easier to go get facials and liposuction than it is to keep a house spotless 24/7. Plus, people on the street can size you up at a glance rather than learn pesky details like your name or how clean your damn house looks.

    This is NO WAY excuses the nonsense.

    Now, why the Marilyn Monroe figure that was once considered the ideal shape is now categorized as fat (Note to readers: grab the next 14-17 girl that you see on the street in the least creepy manner humanly possible, and ask her if she considers Marilyn Monroe to be fat. The answers will sadden and shock you), I’ll never know or pretend to understand.

    I don’t think men are as responsible for the vanity extremes as women say they are. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dyed my hair a completely different color without a single guy friend noticing. The same is true for haircuts. Guys simply don’t notice that stuff as much as the media leads us to believe. In terms of make-up, guys are turned off by it more often than not. The impression that I get from male friends is that the girls who fret too much about their appearance aren’t the type they want to marry. Those are the high-maintenance women, or as a great comedian once put it, “Assembly Required Women”.

  2. I first of would like to say that as a woman, we still experience work place gender bias. I worked at a company for 7 years and constantly got over looked. All the women in that company did. It was run by an older man who I guess just thought that men were better. Now when that company got bought out by a younger group of men it did get better. When I started forking for my current company, the only other female in the office warned me that it is a very “male dominated company” and to not expect too much out of it. That’s fine, after a certain amount of time you can kind of tell what company is and isn’t like that within the first week.

    On the issue of how we view ourselves and body image. Trust me, we women are very aware of our looks at an early age. If you are too big you get mocked in school. Heck even if you are too skinny you get made fun of as well. That being said, media is the biggest problem with today’s body issues I think. They show us Hollywood stars that are a size 2-4 and that’s all you see on TV shows as well. When I look around, I don’t see that many size 2 and 4’s. You see commercials telling you how to “get rid of your body fat instantly!” “You can go from a size 10 to a size 6 in WEEKS” To me, a size 10 isn’t “fat”. Women are beautiful creatures and we are all built so different that i think people should stop putting a size on beauty. I’m considered overweight but I feel comfortable with me. I feel pretty. Now granted just like every other woman in America, I have some days were I do feel fat. Even a size 4 will tell you the same thing. That’s just how women are. We just voice that a lot louder now.

  3. Plain and simple, I am the woman I am for two reasons
    1) a handful of people told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl and 2) the people I actually cared about encouraged me as I took up that challenge.

    It sounds silly, but boys telling me I couldn’t win reading contests or make the academic team or (as a few of you may remember) be taken seriously in Congressional debate brought out the fighter in me. My desire to prove them wrong and the support from my “perfect Norman Rockwell home” forged an indomitable spirit.

    I suppose somewhere, more subconsciously, I took up a similar fight against makeup and skimpy clothes and the like. There is too often a lingering implication that women are only capable of getting ahead if they…how to say this delicately…use their feminine wiles. I was at war to prove I was not just equal, but better and falling back on my “wiles” wouldn’t help my cause.

    Without the solid backing I had from family, teachers and friends, would I have been confident enough to fight my miniature revolution? I doubt it. What would I be like in that alternate universe where I made the decision not to fight? I imagine a meek, overlooked, persuadable, girl living without passion, desperately needing something to feel good about. In that world, when I got “corralled” or “manhandled,” I wouldn’t emerge from the fray fighting. Maybe women that stop at looks are forgetting the second half of the fight.

    As one of my favorite “girl power” type quotes reminds us “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.”

    The heels are the easy part.

    (and because I resisted being snarky during my comment…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6algv90Xriw)

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