I am always happy to see women angry enough to vent their frustration out at the media portrayals of women both on the journalism side and the advertising side of things. I spent my 20s as an angry women’s studies major who boycotted every last product of oppression with a vengeance.
But you can’t stay angry forever. Anger just eats away at you. I was reminded of this yesterday while reading Marci Warhaft-Nadler’s Huffington Post article on positive body image.
I thought about Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and how difficult life was for her character in the small town, small mind area she was living in. I remembered yesterday what I wanted to yell to the screen the whole time I was watching the movie:
“GET IN THE NEAREST BUS AND GET TO THE COAST WHERE YOU CAN BE FREE TO BE WHO YOU ARE! DUDE, WHY ARE YOU STAYING IN THAT TOWN? RUN!”
But that’s what happens when you watch movies in the middle of the afternoon in San Francisco, and your mothers are lesbians, and you were raised to not care what other people think. You yell at the television screen when scripted injustices are acted out by people who can’t hear my cries for them to wake the hell up and stand up for themselves.
I don’t expect the mainstream media to ever “get it” about women’s bodies and my anger with them now comes with a roll of the eyes. I expect TV to be horrible. I expect Cosmo and Vogue to be idiotic and ridiculous. I don’t expect to feel safe on Fox & Friends. I’m from Los Angeles. I expect to see waifs in Santa Monica, Botoxed bimbos in Beverly Hills, and Melissa McCarthy look-alikes in the suburbs.
We’ve all chosen our stereotype.
But here’s the thing. Thanks to the Internet, the ‘zine world, and small press everywhere—you don’t have to live the lies of Marie Claire and Seventeen. You can live in the alternative print and online media world that calls the patriarchy on its shit daily.
Have young girls at home? Choose New Moon, American Girl, or www.rookiemag.com Or perhaps the more gender neutrality of National Geo Kids, Ranger Rick, and Sports Illustrated Kids.
Hip Mama Magazine is coming back in print in the fall. Bitch and Bust take over where Ms. is too mainstream and antiquated to follow.
There’s a power button on the TV and a way to shut down the computer in your home.
Maybe my answer is too simple. I choose to ignore the problem. But I’m happy to be raising a girl in Alternative-Landia where dealing with misogyny and body image is not the main focus in the first place.
Even in this world my daughter has asked the questions though: why aren’t there female baseball players? How come there still hasn’t been a woman president? The way I see it, though, is that I’m doing something right because she wouldn’t be asking those questions if she didn’t have a strong foundation from which to ask them. Maybe, by shutting out the noise and avoiding the collective everything behind beauty ideals and body image and photo-shopped realities, I’m actually becoming part of the solution.