Ricky Raynor writes on a feminist form and presents an
Celebrity, although it turned out not to be about the topic of why people
sought to be celebrities, but rather why the author felt celebrities fail
society. Well, female celebrities. In fact, sexy female celebrities. She says,
and probably rightly,
Conversely, it is so rare that we find truly talented
women writers, politicians, artists, scientists, historians, explorers or
inventors held up as inspirational role models. Perhaps they are not seen as
aesthetically pleasing, and yet I, for one, would welcome a change from the
insipid fake-tanned blandness to which we are normally treated. Other less
gender specific 'interest' magazines have no qualms about putting gnarled old
(male) rockers or politicians on the covers, so why do women's glossies need
something pink and pretty? It seems rather patronising to me.
Moreover, if we were given more of a variety of female role
models, and if women were not so valued by how they look (they grace the covers
of both men's and women's mags!), teenage girls may focus on improving their
brains as much as their bodies. I realise that I am not the first person to say
this sort of thing; indeed, it has been said more eloquently by Germaine Greer,
so give me an article on How to Write like Germaine! That I might read!
The reality seems to say otherwise, alas. It boils down to
value and power. Take her example of Germane Greer. How many girls have a
chance of writing like her and having a career like hers? Holding her up as an
example is all well and good and I realize the author might have simply tossed
that in, off-handedly, to illustrate. Marie Curie, or Mrs. Thatcher, or any
number of other women might also serve - or even a list. Yet at the end of the
day, the list of pretty girls will be longer.
Something biological is going on here and it is not the
fault, if fault is the word of magazine publishers and before anyone
rushes to guess my conclusion, let me say I am not giving the hackneyed
"publishers are merely giving the audience what they already want."
Audiences have a strange way of choosing that which they want and while
Jennifer Aston got Brad Pitt, Marie Curie got Pierre, and Mrs. Thatcher, Mr.
More is going on that pouffed up hair, airbrushed bodies,
and anorexic fakery. True, all this exists, but simply wishing publishers not
to publish it will not create the change in society that we might wish.
The audience for these magazines are women. Women can and do
read magazines on other topics, but what is there about these magazines (and
television shows and such) that attracts girls? The parallel for men is not
Gentleman's Quarterly, but Playboy and whatever other publications - I am not
current on the latest - that men read to ogle the girls. Men want to look at
this with the clothes off while women want to look at the same thing with the
As a feminist it pains me to say that, and although Camille
Paglia got it wrong, at least she got it.
Until we feminists get beyond the politics of the 1960's and
70's, by the way of which I am a veteran, and its accompanying political
rhetoric, we will not advance the dialogue. When I was one and twenty, I
preached to women my mother's age about the new world where women were equal
and saw the look of fear and horror on the faces of mainstream women. What were
we saying! And Phyllis Schlafly was trundled out by the neocons to parrot the
cases for the status quo.
But elsewhere, as mediagirl points out with the Democrats,
like the Democrats, feminists have offered nothing new either, save a pale
reflection and now thirty years later we say the same old things - fashion
magazines are keeping women down.
I am now the age my mother was when I was one and twenty and
while the feminist landscape seems little changed in rhetoric, I see the sexes
are more integrated and indistinguishable. It used to be a bunch of guys who'd
go to the local hamburger stand, a la, "American Graffiti," but today
itâ€™s a mixed group - all in jeans and sweat shirts or T-shirts. And the guys
still ogle the girls, but not the one's they're with in their gang of buddies.
I think, "we burned our bras for this?"
And will these teen girls be moved by my words about the
glories of being a successful woman? Is Marie Curie or Mrs. Thatcher going to
speak to another generation, or should I bring up the already vilified
Condoleezza Rice? Who's her boyfriend, anyway? It isn't Brad Pitt.
I look at my /rant and I see its is desultory because there
is no framework of analysis as long as we feminists turn our collective backs
on the issue of biology and while it is not destiny, it is a factor, and kids
can smell shit, and they know we're shitting them when we say they are what
they are because of the magazines some adults put out on the stands.