Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Pro Man Woman

I agree with Shanda in this video and I am loving her YouTube channel. How can women expect men to listen to them if they scream "I don't care what men think" all the time? You can't treat people in a disrespectful way and expect to be respected in return.  I can listen to a man's opinion and desires and agree and conform to them if they suit my needs, fit with my goals and values, and do not seem impossible or unreasonable to me. I won't be a robot or a slave but I think men and women can do things to please each other and that doesn't make them weak. I think this is just the way people get along with each other. I'm guessing that many of the same women who say "I don't need a man" are the same ones saying " I don't care what men think". Well both attitudes will definitely make you look less attractive to men because who wants to be with someone who doesn't need them and doesn't care what they think?

I agree with Shanda that a lot of this attitude started because of feminism. Women wanted their opinions to be heard too, not just men's, and that is a good thing. But instead of just insisting on being heard it has gone to the extreme with some women only caring about what they want and totally disregarding what men want. What happened to treating everyone as equals? That's fine if you don't want to interact with men at all, but how do you expect to get along with someone if you reject everything they say? I know that some of this is a reaction to men only valuing women for their beauty, insisting they don't work, and being overly controlling but it has gone too far with some women. I think it's fine to reject men's ideas if they are too unrealistic, harmful, detrimental to one's health or self-esteem, but not everything is unreasonable. If a man says he loves women in dresses and high heels I won't be outraged because those things do look great on many women (but I won't be wearing heels if he expects me to be walking a lot because that would be painful and unreasonable).

There needs to be more balance. This also extends to the whole "me me me" selfish attitude some people have where it's all about them, they don't care if their actions hurt anyone else, and only they know what's right and wrong (or don't care as long as it benefits them). There is such a thing as being too liberal and the "anything goes" attitude can get people into trouble and actually hurt others.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The EBW Look

I LOVE this photo! This is the image I have in my my mind when I imagine EBWs. There is nothing unfeminine about Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, and Ciara in this photo. It doesn't matter what Ciara has done in music videos or what she has worn in the past because we can all improve ourselves and change if we want to. They all look happy and like nice women instead of looking hard, angry, mean, overly sexy and unfeminine. It would be great if they all had natural hair too but that's too much to ask for in Hollywood right now. They all look very healthy like they eat sensibly and exercise. Why are some people so opposed to this look and demeanor?

I'm sure there are some people who would look at this and say they are "acting White" yet they would never say that about any other non-Black women dressed and looking the exact same way! Why are people trying to create and maintain a Black beauty and behaviour standard that is so different from this? Are those people really helpful and keeping your best interests in mind or are they harmful to you as a Black woman? Anyone who says that these women are not beautiful and less than other women is a liar, blind, or just being racist because any honest and non-disturbed person can see that they are the opposite of unattractive. There is no need to hate your skin or your hair ladies because Black can be and often is beautiful!

Look at this sad sight...
Notice how it says "Meet your new role models"! This is what a Black publication offers to us as role models!? Catty, materialistic, opportunist, goldigging, scandalous, fake, tattooed, no self-respect, exposing way too much skin, overly sexy, attention seeking, probably uneducated, reality television stars! I do not watch these shows and these are not my role models! In fact, celebrities are only ever my role models physically (to an extent) because they do not lead the type of life I want. But because these women display their so-called "real lives", based on what I have heard, they are definitely not my lifestyle or behaviour role models. This is what Black women have to deal with so no wonder people think we are all like this...sad.

I was SHOCKED to see that someone at Clutch seems to agree with me in these articles: Ladies First and If these are our new role models then we are in serious trouble.

Some Black Women Are Labeling Themselves "Handicapped"

I'll start off this post with a warning that if you have a physical or mental disability this post may rub you the wrong way so maybe you should skip it. This post is directed towards women like myself who grew up well, have little to complain about, grew up in multicultural areas, and have had pretty good lives. If you did not have the same experience please do not freak out about this post because it was not meant for you. If you have had many difficulties in your life then this post is not about you.
Last week I was out with friends and we met a nice looking man. He started to speak and it turned out he had a really bad stutter to the point where it took three or four times longer to introduce himself and ask a question than it would take someone without a stutter. When I got home I thought about the man and it got me so upset! I thought about how hard it must be for him to make friends because it was so difficult for him to communicate. I wondered how people treated him and what he was able to do for work. I also worried about what he thought of himself and his future. I felt so sad about it and thought to myself that if I were in his shoes I didn't think I would be able to go on living because it would be too hard, and I probably would not get what I wanted out of life so why bother. I remembered how hard things were for me socially in school and having a stutter like that would have made things even worse. I had no idea how this man could have made it through. 

Flash forward to today when I was reading some blogs and a thought popped into my head, "When non-Black people look at Black people do they feel the same way I did about the stuttering man?" Because of our constant talk about the effects of slavery, racism, and poverty and our need for others to acknowledge these things, do non-Black people consider us to have a physical/mental disability that prevents us from doing what they are able to do? I think this may be true! I do think that some of this disability thinking is due to racism of course because historically racist scientists have promoted the stereotype that Black people are not intelligent. Some of it also has to do with studies that indicate that growing up in an impoverished environment can hinder success and abilities. Another contributor is research that shows the negative impact of stress on people's development and functioning. But on top of these three things there are also Black people who are constantly stating that we are damaged, our lives are more stressful, and life is harder for us than it is for other people! We are endorsing the idea that ALL Black people who are descendants of slaves are damaged and have so much baggage that they are handicapped compared to non-Black people! This mentality is evident whenever someone says they can't/won't/don't/never/only do something because of slavery, racism, or because they are Black.

UPDATE: I am not crazy for noticing this and the fact that it is a problem. This has gotten so out of hand that a researcher is proposing the term Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome to describe this phenomenon! Other Black people are also endorsing the existence of a Willie Lynch syndrome (based on a fake letter!) to explain fighting among Black people! So there you go, Black people are pathologizing themselves and implying that they are suffering from slavery/racism induced illnesses that only affect African Americans. So please go harass those people instead of me because I am against labeling African Americans with these disorders.

Extremes are never good. There is a need to acknowledge slavery/racism/poverty but when we claim that ALL Black people are negatively affected by these things, constantly stressed, hurt, and limited by these things then we are labeling ourselves as handicapped! I understand that the purpose of talking about these things is to bring about change but is it actually helping or hurting Black people now? Black people paint their problems as race-based rather than situation- or individual-based unlike other groups. Other groups have problems but they don't claim that they are due to something historical that has permanently handicapped them (except feminists maybe). I also understand that if some problems are not labelled "Black" then the fear (possibly realistic) is that their problems will be ignored and resources will be diverted to other groups. So I do understand these points but I think that things have gotten to an extreme where many highly functioning Black people are acting and thinking as though they are disabled or victims when they are not. 

Now it is one thing if you actually were abused, grew up impoverished, or actually have a physical or mental disability, but what if you didn't have any of those problems? How could this harm Black girls/women who grew up well and are just as capable as non-White people. Well in school teachers may have lowered expectations and research has shown that when teachers are informed ahead of time that a student has a history of doing poorly then they often grade the student more harshly which continues the history. Conversely, when teachers are informed that a student has a history of doing well (e.g., often assumed of Asian students) then teachers are more likely to give them better grades. The same thing applies when teachers are told that a child gets into trouble. So if Black girls are thought to be disadvantaged then teachers may actually give them lower grades and be harsher about their conduct in school. As we have seen with Black males, many are automatically put into general classes and steered away from college because school staff believe they are unable to do the advanced work other students can do.

This handicapped idea could harm Black women in the workplace. Employers may assume that the potential employee will have difficulty fitting in, there may be a communication problem, behaviour problems, or the woman may be less able to do the job or manage stress compared to a non-Black employee. Because of this the woman may not be hired. If she is hired then the expectations for her may be low, her work may be evaluated more negatively, she may not get promotions because she is assumed to be less capable, coworkers may ascribe behaviour problems to her when there are none, and coworkers may be uncomfortable around her. Coworkers may feel that they have to make special accommodations for "her blackness problem" and they will likely find that inconvenient and unfair because they do not need the same accommodations.

The handicapped idea will also have a negative impact on Black women in regards to dating. Potential suitors may see a Black woman as damaged, carrying too much baggage, being too difficult, and being too different from other women so they choose not to pursue her. They know how to interact with other women but they fear Black women are too different and they will have to make special accommodations for "their Blackness problem". It's as though some of us are saying a man has to have training in how to be with Black women and training in how to cope with "Blackness" before he is qualified to date you! Unless he is trained in how to talk to you, not touch your hair, how to act around other Black people, and how to respond to anything racist then a man would be too inexperienced to cope with your disability (being a man is not enough)! Some men would rather not deal with that and will go for someone who they do not see as being disabled. Why does he need a manual and specialized training to date you and not other women?

I think that if we want to be treated like other women then we have to stop doing things that are so different from them otherwise we will seem handicapped when compared to those women. Other people do not want to deal with these issues, they may accept them for a while out of guilt/sympathy/empathy, but others just won't want to deal with us. I have been VERY GUILTY of labeling myself as handicapped due to Blackness when really I did not grow up impoverished, I had two parents, I was not horribly abused, I experienced limited racism, and like everyone else I was never a slave. I co-opted the anger of other Black people and actually made myself appear handicapped because of that anger, focus on racism, and need to assert my racial-affiliation unlike women of other races. 

These are some of the ways that Black women are making themselves appear handicapped or in need of special treatment/care/accommodations when compared to other women:
  • Sensitivity to racism as evidenced by frequent accusations
  • Sensitivity to lack of diversity evidenced by constant complaints about it
  • Handicapped by feeling less attractive and desirable than other races of women
  • Handicapped by only being able to do "Black things" and "keeping it real"
  • Difficulty accepting or asking for help because of special independence needs
  • Difficulty getting along with non-Black people
  • Inability to wear natural hair
  • Inability to tolerate hair touching or commentary by non-Black people
  • Inability to find a man
  • Inability to see non-Black people as attractive, role models, dating partners, or friends
  • Predisposition to be overweight because of slavery/poor neighborhoods/genetics/preference
  • Predisposition to have a bad attitude caused by constant current/historical mistreatment
  • Predisposition to speak poorly due to poverty/keeping it real/hip hop culture
  • Inability to exercise due to hair handicap or because "it's for White people"
  • Inability to wear feminine clothing because of street harassment/hip hop culture
  • Inability to act feminine due to slavery/racism/single moms

Some of the disabilities/limitations on the list can be "cured" by individual women choosing their battles and not complaining all the time about every little thing; being more open in their experiences, activities, and relationships; working on accepting their natural characteristics; engaging in healthy activities that are the norm for other women; trying to be feminine like other women; and trying to improve their lives so that some problems will no longer affect them. Unfortunately, when White women complain about something it becomes a race-less "women's issue" but when Black women complain then it is a "Black issue" and a sign that we are deficient when compared to them. I'm really not sure what to do about this! If we decide to just focus on "women's issues" we know that Black women will be ignored because they will not be the majority who are concerned. I think that it would be helpful if we started labeling some things as "personal issues" that vary from person to person rather than "Black issues" that outsiders will assume we all have. So it helps to have modifiers like "some women", "many women" etc. rather than just saying "Black women have problem X". We all really have to do some deep thinking because maybe some of us actually think we are disabled and that is holding us back from really enjoying our lives and being out best selves.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Does Your Tattoo Say About You?

I share her point of view. I once considered getting a tattoo I had designed myself for my lower back. Then I heard that many men think negative things about women with lower back tattoos so I changed my mind. I'm glad I did. Now I think that tattoos look very unnatural and detract from the aesthetics of the body especially when they cause asymmetry. I do think they are unladylike. I think bodies look better without needing to pain on them and clothing and lingerie is enough. 

I am okay with a few tattoos on men as long as they are not visible because that can make someone appear unprofessional and therefore unemployable. If a man has many tattoos it makes them look like a musician/artist/athlete, three types of men I am not interested in dating. Plus it can also make them look like criminals or ex-cons and therefore men I want to avoid. When I think of a gentleman and a father I just don't picture someone with tattoos covering most of his body. 

I am not attracted at all to leg tattoos because of the asymmetry and I can't stand the full sleeve look. It just looks as if the person has a skin condition or they are dirty (just the way I feel). For instance, Adam Lavigne is a good looking guy from the group Maroon 5. He was very attractive to me before but now that he has all the tattoos I just can't find him attractive anymore. I wish guys would stop getting so many tattoos. I think working out and having muscles makes men more attractive, not tattoos. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Feminist Frequency Commentary on Advertising

Recently I've watched many videos on a YouTube channel called Feminist Frequency that comments on pop culture from a feminist perspective. I think that I'll be doing future posts commenting on these videos because I definitely have a different point of view! The reason why I think it's important for me to view and read things like this is so that I can identify the messages I have been given from other women, whether they are fair, whether they make sense, and whether thinking the way the messengers do would be helpful or harmful to me. This post will focus on the vlogger's commentary on sexism in advertising. Many women would agree with her assessments and views but I disagree with most of them mainly because I think that she is holding men to an unreasonably high standard for behaviour that women don't necessarily follow and because I'm not sure if the advertisements are actually harmful (i.e., is art imitating life or is life imitating art). Also, I think that many women are coming off as angry, I used to be angry about things feminists said I should be angry about, but now I feel fine so I want to understand that too.

Video #1: I didn't see things the way the vlogger did in this video. She views the actions of the men with the puppies as being "manipulative" and yes they were lying about owning the puppies. So, a man comes along with a puppy, lies and says it's his, and women get to play with is this harming women? Just because a woman plays with his dog doesn't mean he'll get a date but he might just get a conversation while she plays with his dog. Did you notice that the men were not much to look at? So what is a less attractive man to do but try to find some common interest or something (e.g., clothing, a car, a dog etc.) to possibly attract a woman? Who knows if the men are just looking for sex or for actual relationships. They won't get relationships if they start off with a lie though. So in actuality, these men are so unattractive or socially inept that they have to rent dogs just to talk to women and that is really sad and pathetic! So it's the men who you should feel sorry for in the commercial (similar to the Mike's Hard Lemonade commercial in video #2)! I can also imagine that it is hard for men to be rejected so often and women should empathize with that (especially if you have had the guts to start a conversation with a guy who ends up not being can really be a blow to your self-esteem and can make you question your attractiveness and lovability). Some men would even say that women who wear make-up, body shapers, bras, and lingerie are being manipulative especially if they look very different once these items are removed. Men and women use manipulation! If I can do it then so can men. It makes me think some women may use make-up, clothes, and lingerie because they don't think they will be accepted just the way they are. Maybe men use pick up lines, bragging about money, or tricks like the men in the commercials because they don't think they will be accepted as they are either.

Video #2: This video shows a man lying to his wife about why he was staring at some attractive young women. He lies and says they could be babysitters for their child and the woman believes him. The vlogger says the woman is naive and the man is a liar. Well, I see it as him doing something natural and then lying to spare his wife's feelings and avoid an argument. In another commercial a man ripped a sweater his wife gave him rather than tell her he didn't like it. The vlogger suggested the man just say how he felt but it is difficult for some men and women to express their emotions. Maybe he wanted to avoid a fight and doesn't want to hurt her feeling by saying "You have horrible taste and I hate your gift". It also bothered the vlogger that a man lied to his wife about why he wanted to spend time with his friend but shouldn't he be allowed to spend time with his friends sometimes anyway? Come on people, even women lie about things! Well I guess unless you are one of those women who tell your partner everything but I think sometimes women lie about men flirting with them (and flirting back), dancing with other men, looking at other men, whether their partner is attractive (including the size of what's in his pants), whether he is good in bed (e.g., faking orgasms), whether he is successful, how many partners she has had and the list goes on. If women lie then so can men. Do we really want them to tell us the truth about everything? Isn't it more important that they are faithful, supportive, loving, and honest when it actually matters?

Another issue is a feminist idea that I just don't understand and that's the whole argument about "objectification" (i.e., seeing women as attractive objects for sexual pleasure). Their argument is that men should like women (complete strangers) for who they are as whole individuals not just because of their looks. I'm trying to wrap my head around why men are expected not to look, feel attraction for, or be aroused by women who are very attractive who they don't know (or even those they do know). Why should they feel ashamed of that? If a painting or sculpture is beautiful don't you want to look at it closely? If a woman is beautiful men will try to look at her closely too, some are more discreet, but they surely notice. I suppose this objectification thing bothers me because I do it to men! When I see an attractive man I definitely look at him and in a social even I may try to stand near him so he will notice me and try to talk to me. I also admit that when I see attractive men in advertisements I stare at them! There are also countless films and television shows that I have watched ONLY because they included attractive men! That's the main reason why I want to see The Avengers (I like special effects and superheroes too). It helps if the characters are also great guys but I have also ogled many villains and horrible characters too because they are fictional and I don't know the real actors personally!

Furthermore, how is someone supposed to become attracted to the entirety of a person in a two-dimensional print ad or 30 second commercial? You can only ever have superficial attraction to someone in advertising! I do agree that there is too much sex in advertising though but part of the feminist argument is that many ads only show part of a woman (e.g., chest, legs, behind, body without a face) and the complaint is that it reduces a woman to parts or "a thing" instead of a complete human being. The argument is that when people are objectified it is easier for others to treat them like things for their pleasure or desires instead of independent and valuable human beings. This is what I'm not sure of...would men be less likely to think of women as things if there were no advertisements? Aren't there men who would do that anyway if they were not interested in a relationship and only wanted sex or to look at someone attractive? I mean haven't men always been attracted to female bodies? Aren't women who have casual sex doing the same thing? I thought some feminists were okay with women enjoying sex with multiple partners without always looking for a relationship or marriage? I think some parts of certain women are very attractive and I think some parts of certain men are very attractive too; sometimes the parts actually look better on their own if the other body parts are unattractive (e.g., great abs but unattractive face, or cute face but flabby body, some parts of all of us are nicer than others because no one is perfect).

Feminism is really confusing sometimes! In Video #3 the vlogger defines sexualization as something that "turns people into objects and teaches women that their only value comes from their sexual appeal" and sexuality as "the capacity to have and express sexual desires and emotions". I don't understand the difference. If a man is sexually attracted to an 18 year old woman why is he not allowed to admit that? If men find the adult women in Glee to be sexually attractive why should they be ashamed of that? Some feminists encourage women to not be ashamed of their sexuality but the women of Glee are not allowed to appear in a sexual manner just because their TV show is supposed to be about teenagers? Their photos were also in a men's magazine so I don't understand the fuss. Hey ladies, you are not allowed to wear pigtails, knee socks, or eat lollipops now because that is infantalizing you and creating pedophiles...(groan). Are they saying that if an adult actor plays a teenager on television then in real life they must be treated like teenagers too? How do they know this confuses men at all? How do they know that without the photos men were not fantasizing about them anyway? How can the same group argue for women's rights to go topless, wear skimpy clothes, and have as much casual sex as they want and then complain about women choosing to look sexy in a men's magazine? I guess as long as it's not in print then it's okay?

Well that's all I have to say for now. I guess my opinion is that if we want equality then men and women can be attracted to the opposite sex for whatever reason they want. If someone is attractive we should not feel ashamed for looking at them as long as it is not making them feel uncomfortable and looking is not the same as touching. It is wrong to pretend to be someone you are not because then the other person is engaging in the relationship under false pretenses. But we all try to present ourselves in the best light and try to make ourselves attractive in some way which can be thought of as manipulative (some do it more than others). Sometimes there is no relationship sought at all and if women want to just have sex or to look at someone attractive then men should not be shamed for doing the same thing. I also want to note the negative language the vlogger uses to describe some of the men (e.g., scumbag, jerk) and that even though the men come off as pathetic and should be the one's upset by many of these commercials, she has so much disdain for the men and no empathy at all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pride and Prejudice-Movie Review

A few weeks ago I watched the film Pride and Prejudice based on the Jane Austin Victorian era novel. I'm not going to really review the film but I'll just point out what stood out for me in the film.

  • Relatable story: The book must have been an influence for Bridget Jones' Diary lol! One of Bridget's love interests was actually named Mark Darcy (Mr. Darcy is the main love interest for Elizabeth Bennet [Keira Knightly's character] in the film) so I doubt that was a coincidence. It's funny because I can really relate to Bridget Jones which in turn means I can relate to Elizabeth! Wow! I think it will be useful for myself and others to look for similarities and useful things in people, media, and education regardless of who the information comes from and what they look like. I think that this is one of the benefits I got from watching the film. I've firmly decided to open my mind to things from other cultures (as long as they are not directly insulting me).
  • Reputation and image is very important: I think that some successful Black women can relate to the story because although Elizabeth's family was not poor they were not upper class and had mannerisms that others looked down upon. She conducted herself like a lady but her family members had some questionable behaviours that made Elizabeth seem unattractive by association (she had a social stigma that others could hold against her). This blog is about becoming a better woman despite lineage or colour so the film reflects the obstacles a Black woman could encounter when attempting to gain acceptance by the mainstream or by other successful members of society. 
  • People will judge you based on the actions of your family whether that is unfair or not. It is up to us to teach our children how to behave and to act as role models. However, if you can not help the way your family behaves at least you can behave the best you can. We are also judged by the reputations of our friends and this is why you should only surround yourselves with high quality people. When your social standing changes you may need to change your social group. Your actions have consequences and it is naive to think that getting into arguments or fights, being arrested, getting fired for poor conduct or work, going bankrupt, or airing your dirty laundry will not have negative consequences for you! I believe that failing to plan is planning to fail and the "don't worry about it, everything will turn out okay" attitude is self-destructive and the path to failure. It is a very passive attitude of letting things happen to you instead of actively making things go your way. If you want something, you have to work for it!
  • Manners are important for social success: Most characters in the film had excellent manners and there were numerous displays of formal behaviour, chivalry, and femininity. Caring about manners and etiquette is not old fashioned or unnecessary because the consequences of not having these attributes could be serious. For example, bullying or being aggressive is negative behaviour that could get you suspended or expelled from school, fired from your job, or even put in jail. Lacking social skills could make you a target for bullying and ridicule which would be very unpleasant, prevent you from making or keeping friends, and prevent you from getting along with co-workers which could interfere with your advancement at work.
  • No one is perfect: Elizabeth was able to be herself and she was actually quite opinionated. She did become angry once and was not submissive when her family was insulted. But she did behave like a lady. No one in the film was perfect! For example, Mr. Darcy had difficulty speaking to new people and appeared unhappy and mean, Elizabeth's mother talked too much and bragged about her daughter's relationships, the younger sisters laughed inappropriately and got drunk, another character was socially awkward, and there were a few very snobby people. However, their manners were still better than many people's today. The lesson here is to be your best self, forgive yourself for not being perfect, recognize your faults, but always strive for self-improvement.
  • Women looked feminine: The women in the film always looked like women and different from the men. Most of the time they wore their hair in pretty up-dos, something I want to learn because they are protective styles and look very elegant. 
  • Wanting marriage is normal: Women and men want love and it is normal to want to settle down. Men (and women) may enjoy playing the field for a while, but most eventually become bored with the insecurity and lack of intimacy. Wanting love and long-term companionship is normal! All the women AND MEN wanted to get married in the film and were searching for partners. In fact, they would attend social events for the sole purpose of meeting someone. Nowadays, whenever you read an article about women wanting to get married someone will come along and ask "why do you want to get married anyway, it's so antiquated and unnecessary|, or "it's a remnant of patriarchy" etc. Those people are so annoying! Now if a woman says she wants to go out and meet men she may be called desperate. A man saying he wants to get married prior to age 35 may be looked at strangely or with suspicion. Prior to maybe the 1980s or even 1990s marriage was the norm and it still is in most countries. I don't know whether this is an unfortunate consequence of feminism, left-wing extremism, or anarchist reasoning that has led to this no rules, anything goes attitude. I'm sorry but I have no interest in living on a commune with a bunch of single mothers raising our children together because we had too much casual sex and we don't know who the fathers are, but we are so strong and independent we don't need them anyway. That is practically what some of these critics are advocating!
  • Some women are marriage material: Men know early on whether or not a woman is marriage material. If a new man you meet treats you like a piece of meat then he doesn't see you as marriage material. Pay attention to the way he treats you and do not share your body with anyone who is not committed to you and who does not see you as marriage material. Doing otherwise would be dangerous to your physical and mental health and it will not get you the love that you are seeking. Although marriage originated for reasons that may be oppressive (and also beneficial) to women it does not have to maintain the negative connotations. Societies change and the reasons for doing things in the past do not have to be adhered to today. In the past women were treated like property sold from father to husband but we don't have to adhere to that today and can instead keep all the benefits of marriage. I believe you can cut the bad parts off a fruit and still eat it instead of throwing the whole thing away! One example from the movie that stood out was when men asked permission from fathers to marry their daughters. When men ask for the father (or parents') permission to wed it does not have to symbolize that the potential bride is property given from father to groom. We can just think about it as paying respect for the parents' wishes and an attempt to become a part of their family.
  • There is value in watching "chick flicks": I think I should start watching more "chick flicks" to help nurture my romantic, soft, loving side. I have always loved romance and love stories, but I think I was so sad and lonely for a while that I ran away from those things because they just reminded me that I was alone. I don't like that today there too much emphasis on sex, "hooking up", "friends with benefits", and Mr. Right Now instead of having a loving, committed relationship. I need to avoid those messages as much as possible. Optimistic people tend to be happier than those who are bitter and pessimistic so I choose to be optimistic about love! I think another benefit of chick flicks is that that they show you women that men desire and their qualities. Unlike in this film, in many chick flicks the woman is hardened in the beginning but becomes softer and more attractive which is why the man falls for her. In other examples the woman is a dream girl type and although some feminists hate it, they show the women men would love to be with in a relationship. I think the more functional and attractive female behaviour I see the better and it will help to counteract the negative messages.
So in conclusion, I do recommend the film and I actually liked it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Infantalizing, Overreacting, or Just Your Perverted Mind?

Some of the bloggers I mentioned in my previous post are so young and I wonder what that means? Do you think many of us start off being socialized to be girly/feminine and then some of us either due to education about feminism, peer pressure to appear older, or as a form of rebellion we start rejecting the uber feminine? Is that why many modern women dress in a way that is less feminine than perhaps teenagers? Why do we save looking girly for special occasions like weddings, balls, or awards ceremonies (e.g., look at the Oscars)? If we look at Western countries, children's clothing is a market and somewhere someone came up with the idea for unique girls's clothes and people bought it. Girls' clothes tend to be less expensive because they are quickly outgrown, some have logos and references to television and movie characters (walking billboards for marketing), and they are more suitable for playing. If we focus on teenaged girls, some dress more like women and some dress more like younger girls. But once you hit puberty and you are able to carry a child you are technically a woman physically (not mentally) so shouldn't you dress like a woman? Other than being smaller in size, many teenaged girls have the same bodies as grown women. I know that's VERY controversial but really, if our life expectancy was 35-40 it would be normal for teenaged girls to get married and have kids (I AM NOT SAYING THEY SHOULD DO THAT NOW so relax).  I think making unique clothes for teens allows for them to wear clothes that show their rebellious side, teen trends, clothing that is inappropriate for the workplace, or clothes that alert society that they are "underage" so don't treat them like grown women. I think that is a good thing but it is something that Western society has promoted that other countries may not see as necessary.

If we look at other cultures or eras women's attire didn't look much different from girls attire (other than being longer and more elaborate) and it definitely wasn't more masculine. If you notice in the photos below the children actually look like mini versions of women and their clothing and the only thing that makes the clothes "childish" is the size ( however, maybe in those cultures or eras there are subtle differences that make it easy for  people in those cultures/eras to tell the differences that I am unable to see). I wonder if it's because in some countries today and in past eras young girls were actually eligible for marriage so they were actually prospects for older men? Were girls dressed to be attractive for men or was the idea of dressing girls differently unnecessary to them?

From Pride and Prejudice. The mother is dressed more elaborately than  her daughters but they all look very feminine and all but the one on the right are in pastel colours.
From Marie Antoinette. Notice the adorable bows on Kirsten Dunst's dress! The little girls behind her are wearing smaller versions of adult dresses. All of the colours are light and pastel. 

Why is it now that women are expected to look so much different from girls and if women dress in a younger fashion some people will actually say "that's sick"? On some women's websites I've heard criticism that women should not dress like girls because it "infantalizes them" because it makes them appear young, childlike and I suppose naive, innocent, powerless and incapable as women. I guess they think you can only be taken seriously if you are of a certain age...isn't that ageism? Should all girls wear pantsuits so that they will be taken seriously? The problem isn't the women wearing pretty dresses it's that people (including feminist women) are prejudiced and associate that with a lack of intelligence and worth. Some women work with mostly other women or in a more casual atmosphere so they can wear flower dresses it wouldn't matter. I need to see studies that say women who dress in a feminine manner are overlooked for promotions, jobs, and opportunities and more prone to negative life outcomes before I believe it is harmful.

Another argument is that it appeals to a pedophillic nature in men and confuses them!? I really don't know but is there proof of this? I hear this argument on feminist blogs but why are they so certain that the average man can't tell the difference between a girl and a woman? I think they are assuming that clothing or childish behaviour somehow triggers pedophilia but I need scientific proof of that. I think if a man is a pedophile then it won't matter what a girl is wearing (lingerie is different though because it is meant to be sexy and only women ever wear that so I don't think little girls should wear garters or thongs.). If you're a man turned on by child pageants then you are a pedophile and it's not because the girls are wearing makeup and big hair! If a man thinks he's pursuing a woman, finds out she's a girl, and doesn't stop then that is a pedophile. However, I don't think men are perverts for finding teenaged girls to be's just biology and it's not a crime to have thoughts only to act on them. If a man is attracted to a women dressed like she is younger I don't think that makes him a pedophile either because he is still with a GROWN WOMAN and he chose a woman! But if a woman is actually "pretending to be a child" then it may cross the line (i.e., speaking improperly like a 3 year old, calling him daddy, thumb sucking etc.). I mean really though, should women even be considering pedophiles at all when they go shopping and get dressed in the morning???

I think that pretending to be a girl is the big difference...women who wear pastels and flirty dresses are not actually pretending to be girls, they are just dressing in a style that is more common for younger women or girls. 28 year old women do not want to be mistaken for 13 year olds (maybe someone 22 though). Some girls actually look older like women because of their height, development, weight, and style of dress. So sometimes it's hard to tell a female person's age but that's just life. Black and Asian women often look younger than their age anyway and women between 16-35 can all appear to be 23!

Last of all, some women are angry because society places pressure on them to look young and beautiful. Well you can play the game or sit out and accept the consequences. You won't convince anyone to choose a bran muffin over chocolate cake when they really want chocolate cake and it's available. Your Jedi mind trick will not change men's preferences. You don't have to make yourself look good if you don't want to but you are not better than the rest of us because of that. If we want to be fair then women should place more pressure on men to look good and spend more time making themselves look attractive! Only date guys who have nice hair (or Hairclub for men, I don't mind it lol), work out, don't have pot bellies, shave their faces and body hair, wear sunscreen and wrinkle cream, have clean, neat fingernails, and smell good (lol those are my preferences!). I'd prefer it if men raised their appearance standards rather than women lowering theirs. People who don't care for appearance can find each other and be happy!

Take a look at the photos below. I love most of these fashions but some people think it's wrong for a grown woman to dress like this. What do you think?
Japanese Lolita style (Really extreme
and no I wouldn't wear this but I don't
think it should be demonized)

Related Articles:
The infantalization of women (disagree with this greatly)
Infantalizing women, sexualizing girlishness (disagree again...seriously women can't eat fruit or ice cream or wear frilly socks now!?)
Gothic Lolitas (interesting)
Femininity and infantalization

I'll Take Good Advice and Information Regardless of Race

Already from reading this blog you can tell that I have no problem looking at women of other ethnicities for examples of femininity. I think that I would be doing myself a disservice to limit myself only to Black influences especially if they are not as prevalent due to their scarcity in films, media, and pop culture. There are also very few Black women who blog about femininity while there are many White and Asian bloggers who write about the topic and are super girly on their blogs. I look at it like cross-cultural studies or travelling because it lets me see that there are other ways of doing things that I might actually prefer and that there are actually options. It just so happens sometimes that the thing that fits perfectly with your sensibilities and tastes comes from another culture.

Some people have a problem with this and actually think there is something "disturbing" and "sick" about having role models who are not Black (yes, this is the craziness and pressure that Black women have to deal with). Something as natural and understandable as taking in knowledge and good advice from someone regardless or race is though to be "crazy" by some people. They envision that Black femininity has to be different from the femininity of every other woman on earth and I don't know why. Why do you have to be so different? Why does your version of femininity have to be a protest while other women can "just be"? Why does the Black version have to be harder, angrier, and tougher than everyone else's? Is this really benefiting you or is it highlighting your "otherness" so that people think you are less of a woman? Anyways, I take what I can get and use it to my advantage especially if it's something as benign as information about fashion, hobbies, and how to get along with others.

In fact, sometimes if information or products are directed specifically to Black people I'm a bit suspicious that it is of inferior quality because the producers have low standards for Black people, don't really care about us, or know that no one (of power) will care if we complain (e.g., many Black hair products are pretty inferior compared to White hair products in terms of fragrance, texture etc. because their producers don't care enough to make sure the products aren't greasy or stinky). So, I would actually expect things produced for the masses or by White people for White people to be of better quality. For instance, I would rather buy a dating, relationship, health, or finance book meant for White people! This is because those books are written for people who have middle class standards and values who are trying to fit "the norm" and they will be held to a higher standard. In contrast, some Black media cater to lower values that I do not believe in and to people who are not middle class and educated (e.g., endorsing dating down, hustling to make money, using slang, devaluing formal education, or written by comedians instead of Ph.D.'s based on research etc.). So why would I read materials directed towards people with different values and goals? Also, when materials are made for the masses they face more scrutiny if they are inferior (e.g., few tests have been done to determine the safety of relaxers but MANY tests have been done examining perms and products for naturally straight hair). On the other hand, sometimes Black products and media get a pass just because "they're Black" even though they are inferior or harmful (e.g., misogynist/violent/garbage rap music, slang and unprofessional conduct in media, ex-cons used as spokespeople etc.). I hope you understand what I'm saying...some of you will not of course :)

I have my own version of femininity. Some people again will argue that they have a different version of femininity that includes things I consider masculine and they may even point out that masculinity and femininity are social constructs and are not real. Okay, then I am operating with a stereotypical, old fashioned social construct of femininity because there are things about the modern version that I don't like. I'm referring mainly to appearance and mannerisms not the whole equal rights idea that I do support. I write about the version of femininity I like and others are free to write or read about something different. Fortunately, I've recently found some Tumblr sites that are very feminine and I love looking at the photos (but I could do without the nudity, piercings, and tattoos thanks).

These are some very feminine/girly Tumblr sites that I like:

Vintage Black Glamour
Sweeten with Love (17 years old lol!)
Behind Blue Eyes (19...noticing a theme here...)

I also have to make a special mention of a blog that I recently found called Victoria's Vintage! This is the most girly blog I have ever seen! It's by a 21 year old woman in the UK who works in a little cake shop (adorable)!!! She wears somewhat vintage style dresses and I would wear most of them. She writes in a cutesy way and I love all the girly things she loves. My first thought was that men are going to LOVE this woman. And of course, she does bake cupcakes! She wears bows on her shoes the way I do too. Only 21 and I can learn so much about being a woman from her lol! It may be to girly for some but it is pretty much exactly the type of femininity I'm going for :)

Anyways, if anyone knows of other great femininity blogs by Black or non-Black women please let me know. I tend to shy away from the religious ones though because I have different motivations and I'm very agnostic :) There is one called Thoughts on Black Femininity that I was excited to see but it's no longer being updated so I'll have to read through the old posts.