Tag: feminism

TV Modern Women Mixology

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I was a little conflicted about how to title this post because I have no desire to give the piece of garbage I watched last night publicity but I couldn’t not speak out. It amazed me on so many levels but mostly because I can’t believe that such things are considered entertainment to any modern audience especially women.

For years I’ve had issues with the ABC show Modern Family.  Not because it can’t be funny but the way that it portrays women I take issue with.  It is supposed to be a MODERN family and yet the 2 main characters are a trophy wife and housewife.   The former who is charmingly stupid and the latter who is a relentless nag.

That’s a modern woman?  Even if you accept that those type of women exist, which they do, how is a show modern to only show it?  No working Moms? No adjusted housewives, no young ambitious women.  Even the lesbians shown on the show are unflattering. Sigh…

So that’s my issue with that show but I gave it a partial pass because for the first year it was funny.  After about 2 seasons it stopped being funny and I could no longer rationalize it.

However, any issues I had with Modern Family pale into comparison with the garbage they had after that show yesterday.  It was a show called Mixology and I had heard good things so I recorded it on the DVR. Dumbfounded, shocked, sickened are not too loud of language.

So the point of this show is about 10 people at a bar trying to meet people and their various escapades.  The whole season is one night (and you thought the How I Met Your Mother premise was strained.. It’s like 24 but for sickos at a bar.)

This could be funny but it ends up being an advertisement against drinking or interacting with men…It’s seriously so bad.

The 5 female characters are all gorgeous but treated as nothing (or witches) by the men.  One actual joke is:

“You are a Viking! You rape and pillage and take what you want!” Pause for the big finish: “Obviously, don’t rape her.”

That is comedy in 2014?

Another girl is shown wearing flats and we learn that she is not worthy of conversation because, and I quote, ‘the higher the heels the looser she feels’.  We also get a woman who says she feels like Helen Miren because she is 30 in a room clearly full of men over that age.

We get a woman who says that she looks for the ‘Don Draper types’ who would ‘smack her in the mouth if she sassed’  Another man can’t remember a girls name when she clearly thinks they have a relationship and the break up will be painful and THEY WORK TOGETHER. What man isn’t going to remember the name of a woman who is breaking up with him, that he works with?

Seeing the show is about one night it is no surprise that there are many flashbacks- all of them ghastly.  The women fall out of love and toss men aside at nothing and are genuine beasts including mothers.  One woman is engaged to a ‘Ted Mosby’ type and announces that she doesn’t want to be with him out of the blue because he ‘looks too much like a beaver’.  You think that might have come  up after dating for 8 years!  Then the man who set him up with her says ‘I always thought she was a  whore’.  Message- women are beasts or sluts and men are beasts except for a few men that are pathetic and a few women that are old.

Another woman is so nervous about an online date that she drags her best friend along because he might kill her, and then she throws up in her purse, and the frat boy watching it says, and I quote, ‘look at that chick throwing up.  I’m going to…’ (it’s to offensive but fill in the blank and you won’t be worse).   Oh yes, because that’s what a woman who is afraid she is going to be murdered, and so desperate to meet any man that she is nauseated needs, a predator!, – that’s prime time meat for the men in this show. Let’s pick the must vulnerable person imaginable to seduce… Change the music and this could be an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

An embarrassment for ABC and oddly enough the Kleenex company.  Who knew it was so out of the norm for men to have a box of Kleenex in their house (a case of most unhappy product placement by Kleenex)? Evidently, in the eyes of this show owning a facial tissue is a sign of great femininity and to be avoided at all costs.

Got the idea that I am upset! Pilot Viruet on flavorwire.com said it well:

“The best thing I can say about Mixology is that it’s so hateful and negative that it has made me feel self-conscious about how hateful and negative I’m being toward it. It is also a show that has angered me to the point of talking in circles.”

I just can’t believe it.  I’ve read that an average network see’s 500+ pilot concepts in a year, 70 of those are made into scripts and 20 pilot orders are actually created.  So that means someone at ABC thought this idea was better than 480 other ideas and that they liked it enough to put it after their biggest show, Modern Family.

You should all read Tim Goodman’s 0 out of 10 review on The Hollywood Reporter but he sums it up pretty well:

“Chalk this up as a politically correct knee-jerk response to humorous envelope-pushing if you want, but Mixology is a tone-deaf, poorly executed, badly written series that, in the parlance of the show, kind of rapes comedy.”

I’m just so stunned it almost seems like some kind of bizarre stunt. Remember when Joaquin Phoenix acted like a maniac to see what people would say?  That’s what this seems like.  As if ABC executives sat together and said  ‘let’s see how awful we can make something to see if people respond’  You should be ashamed of yourself ABC and anyone who had anything to do with this trash.

Did any of you see it?  Were you as shocked as me?  How do you think something like this gets made in this day and age?  How? Why?  Who thinks this is funny?  Where is the NOW’s of the world decrying such filth?  Where are the women’s organizations out for blood?  It’s so bad I just can’t believe it.

Ok. Calming down.

Nanowrimo Day 9- Girl Tax

WritingGirl.MR_Before I start.  We got the 300th follower on the blog today.  It is very exciting!  Thank you to everyone that reads.  Please don’t forget to comment and add into the discussion which I try to start.  I love my readers!

So today I did the Nanothon which is a day of writing.  After I got back from volleyball I wrote for 5-6 hours straight and got over 5k added to the story.  I have had repeated requests on twitter and this blog to share a bit of what I am writing.  I am hesitant to do so because I’m not 100% in love with my story.  Plus it is very, very rough (how can something you write in 30 days be anything but rough?)

But I’ve gotten enough requests that here is a section.  We are introducing the single character who grew up with a single Mom who felt that romance was a fairy tale and that life was going to be hard so you better be prepared.

She told her daughter about something called ‘The Girl Tax’.  This meant that any woman was going to have to work twice as hard as a man for success  because they are a woman.  She wants her daughter to prepare for the hard work and to not expect anything in life to be handed to her, especially a big ring on her finger.

I feel like there is potential in this dynamic.  I know people who feel there is a ‘girl tax’ or at least there certainly was and I can picture a weary single mom giving such advice to her only daughter.  Like I said, this is just my initial thoughts so don’t be too tough on it but the concept for a character is there.  Enjoy and I’ll keep sharing with you!

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Girl Tax-

This wasn’t the way life was supposed to turn out.  Growing up in a home with a single Mom Marnie knew that as a woman she would probably have to make her own way in the world. In fact, she hadn’t spent much time with men.  Aside from Becca’s husband she didn’t know her father and never bonded with male teachers or neighbors.  They were like a foreign oddity.

Her mother hadn’t helped with this either.  She would start her speeches with a give away about ‘saying I’m sure you will meet someone great who will love you but you need to make sure you are protected and can stand on your own.  A few people are happy  with men but most of us get a harder handout in life.

She would always end her speeches saying ‘nobody is going to hand you anything.  You better be ready to pay the girl tax”

“The girl tax?” marnie would ask.

“Yes, any woman is going to have to work twice as hard for everything as a man and don’t trust a man anyway.  They have the luxury of a world that expects them to lie and cheat and be successful.  It’s a man’s way in this world and life will not give you any favors” she says with more than a hint of bitterness.  It had been a hard life.

Marnie had seen her mother go through men like candy and a few of them were great.  There was one named Randy who would give her candy and take her to the movies.  Unfortunately he only stayed around for a couple of months.  Another nice one was named Sam who showed her how to bake bread.

It was amazing to see the yeast bubble and then punch down the dough as it blew up like a balloon.  The smells while it was baking was intoxicating and there is nothing better than hot bread with butter and honey.

Sometimes the speech would varied with men being “scumbags” and “disapointments” depending on the romantic entanglement of the moment.   That was why Marnie had moved so much.  Different men with all the same outstanding character traits of laziness and apathy.  Luckily none of them had hurt her but she couldn’t say the same for her mother.

Really the only constant was the playhouse her friend Becca and her shared at a field behind their homes (former home for Marnie but she was close).  It was beautiful, quiet and perfect.  This was the type of home she wanted.

One thing is for sure she would have a different life than her mother.  She wanted a career where she could support herself, a husband who loved her and kids that knew they were protected and supported.

She wanted love from more than just a mother who took care of her, fed and bathed her.  She knew that her mother loved her as much as she could but she also knew that she resented her for the life she could have led.  A life without a little girl to tie her down.

High school was the worst time of all.  She didn’t fit in with any of the clicks and all of the classes seemed so boring.  She wanted to be active, and busy not sticking her nose in a book.  That wasn’t the life that would work for her.  Fortunately she had her best friend Becca who stood by her no matter how many ear piercing or nose rings she got .  She had even thought about getting a tattoo at one point but Becca had talked her out of it.

Thank goodness for that because she’d still have a four leaf clover on her arm from a guy named Mike that she thought was her lucky charm.   For that act alone Becca was a lifetime friend but as long as she had been alive she had known that she had a friend in Becca.

So off to college she’d gone and so had Becca.  They spent every minute together but the boys were more taken with Becca than Marnie.  It was unclear exactly why but it wasn’t long before Becca was pairing up on dates with different men and eventually one stuck named Scott.  He was a handsome man with dreams of a career in the army.

They would excitedly tell the story to anyone who would listen about meeting at the ROTC on campus and how Becca helped him register for class and how she had sworn off dating.  For some reason that whole sworn off dating thing worked better for Becca than it ever had for Marnie.  In fact, dating at all wasn’t her thing.  She couldn’t figure it out.

“A man in uniform” she remembered Becca saying with a sigh.   “That is the life”

Now a marriage and 4 kids later Marnie’s best friend seemed to have gotten everything in life.  A handsome husband, beautiful kids and a house in the suburbs and what did Marnie have to show for her life?

She had gone into hospitality and then on to the culinary institute to become a chef.  Food had always been a fascinating thing for her and was a way she could make her mother happy on her long days of working in a factory making wheel barings  or waiting tables.  Food was love and she learned early h ow to make stews, sauces and pastries.  A specialty of hers is called Indian fry bread and it is fried dough that puffs up into a cloud and covered with powdered sugar.  Marnie and her mother would make it and get powdered sugar all over their noses and take photos of their sugar whiskers.

Sadly her mother was now gone.  She’d worked hard till the end and had a stroke 2 years ago.  Becca had been there for Marnie but she still felt so alone.  She hadn’t been able to give her Mother any grandbabies or show her what a great life she had gotten for herself.

Chick Flicks and Lit

Must admit the feminist in me has never liked either the term ‘chick lit’ or ‘chick flicks’ but I’m afraid ‘Books and Movies that Appeal to Women more than Men’ is a little heavy handed for a blog title (although it could make a good phd thesis… 😉 ).  Women clearly like a broard range of movies and books, but there are certainly a set that are marketed to the female sex more and usually they find an audience (chicken and egg thing.  Do we make chick flicks because chicks want them or do chicks watch chick flicks because they are made? Another phd topic 🙂 )

Unfortunately, most of this genre are not particularly  worthy or flattering of the genre.  In fact, more often than not they are clearly made or written by men (edited by men, directed by men etc).  I find it fascinating that since losing the divine Norah Ephron in 2012 the romantic comedy genre has practically ceased to exist.  This year by my recollection there have been 3 romantic all given paltry recommendations. (Big Wedding 7%, Baggage Claim 15% and Austenland 32% all certified rotten by RW).  These may be underrated movies.  I haven’t seen them but even if they are 3 ‘chick flicks’ in one year is kind of baffling.  Has Hollywood abandoned the attempt to appeal to women?

On the other hand, I don’t know if that is necessarily a bad thing for women.  Like I said, most of these movies are lame and they feature two predominent types of women- 1. Desperate, shrill, complaining, lonely woman (with usually equally obsessed mother), 2. work obsessed ice queens who stare down coworkers and snear at dates.  Neither fits the description of any women that I know.  Well, we all have our moments of both (thinking of myself only in that last statement 😉 ).

Women deserve better.  They deserve to have their feminine sensibilities and romantic natures excited without being talked down to or objectified.  It can be done and it can be done well.

Here are some recent examples of good ‘chick flicks and lit’

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Films

1. Silver Linings Playbook-  warning this has a lot of profanity but it is about real people, or at least real sounding people.  Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman who is depressed but not over-the-top.  She wants to dance and build friendships but they are not her life.  She wants love like anyone else, and had it but still hopes to have it again.  She’s sarcastic without being annoying.

2. Some Kind of Wonderful-  The movie I wish people watched instead of 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club.  Both those movies feature cliched female characters who act according to the part they are given (spoiled rich girl, rebellious stoner, etc).  In Some Kind of Wonderful you have a loyal tom boy who see’s her friend/crush get a date with the prettiest girl in town- who by the way isn’t stupid or evil like so many pretty girls in movies.  A real treat.

3. You’ve Got Mail/When Harry Met Sally/Sleepless in Seattle- Everyone knows I love Norah Ephron.  Yes, her stories are charming and perhaps her men are slightly over-the-top with the romantics but not unbearably so.  With Sally, Kathleen and Annie she creates 3 women (all played by Meg Ryan) who all have careers, all want love and all are witty, brave and silly at times.  Sounds like some women I know.

4. Clueless- A longtime favorite of mine.  Yes Cher and Dionne are ditzy and spoiled but they are also smarter than nearly everyone else around them while still making a complete mess of their lives.  It is funny and romantic without being patronizing.  Another movie written and directed by a woman that works so well with feminine sensibilities without crossing lines.

5. Bridget Jones Diary- This is obviously a comedy so its a bit over the top but Bridget is silly in ways that many women are.  She can’t cook, doesn’t know how to dress properly, says the wrong thing at the wrong moment and doesn’t have a perfect body.  She also charms the socks off of Hugh Grant and Collin Firth so that’s a bit of fantasy but it works.  Bridget is never talked down to or demeaned by the script.  I love her line ‘I already feel stupid most of the time.  I don’t need you to remind me’.  or “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.” (hint to Austen in there).   That is so true!

6.  Other favorites- Legally blonde (yes, she’s smart.  It’s kind of like Clueless grows up), Love Actually, Nottinghill, Three Weddings and a Funeral, About a Boy, Return to Me, Just Wright, IQ, His Girl Friday, Bringing up Baby, Sweet Home Alabama etc.

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Chick Lit-

1. Undomestic Goddess- All Sophie Kinsella books except for maybe the last 2 shopaholic books.  She is so good at taking a modern theme and then exploring it in a slightly silly character.  Her women are sweet, sympathetic without being total pushovers.  They are also not desperate to meet a man but hope to.  The men and women in her books are basically equal but caught up in a crazy, admittedly unrealistic scenario.   That’s what makes it funny.

2. Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberger- A very good movie.  A great book.  Biting satire into the world of high fashion and the wicked witch of the CEOs.  Evidently Anna Wintour of Marie Claire was the inspiration for the boss and I have no idea what she is in real life but in the book she is a pure villain but in a funny way.  Weisenberger is smart and I related to every page of her experience and that being bossed around by a woman is no better than being bossed around by a man.

3. Jane Austen- I don’t know how you could have such a list without talking about Austen.  I’ve often wondered how she manages to stay relevant in 2013 maybe even more so than 1813.  I think what makes Austen’s writing work is that she always has one woman that is smarter than everyone else.  Whether it is Lizzy, Eleanor, Anne, Emma or Fanny, they all believe they know what’s best for everyone else.  The thing is they don’t know their own hearts and that is an extremely romantic notion.  Women can be smart in life, blind in love without being sophomoric about it.    If women feel patronized too it will not matter the quality of the writing.  That was true in 1813, true now.  We want to believe that we are 90% there and through one big life lesson we will get all the way to perfection.

4. Elizabeth Gaskell- we are reading North and South for book club and I just love it so much.  Reading it every year it never get’s old.  Here you have 2 incredibly complex characters that do not accept convention or even each other without some rebellion.  Margaret and Mr Thornton read like real people who think one way about something and then something happens and they see it another way.  They are neither innocent nor evil.  They want good for the people they love, and each other but keep messing up on how to obtain that good.  What person can’t relate to that?  They are my favorite characters in literature

5. This one is a cheat because there are too many to list- Jane Eyre, Rebecca, No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Help, Secret Life of Bee’s, Gift from the Sea, EM Forster, My Life in France, Summer at Tiffany’s, Gilead, To Kill a Mockingbird (yes, I can count it).  Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, Judy Blume, Little Women, Secret Garden, Georgette Heyer etc.

I’m not an expert on the biological reasons of why men tend to like one thing and women another, but I know what I like.  I like stories whether in book, play, music or film, that give me a female character with layers.  Someone that isn’t a block character I’ve seen a thousand times before.   Maybe she surprises me or make me laugh, maybe she’s more tender and heartbroken than expected.  I also like to see these characters happy and all human beings desire to be loved for who they are.

That’s what makes a good story, chick lit or not.

What are some of your favorites and why do you think women are drawn to certain books (or is that a misnomer)?

Feminism and Fairy Tales

Disney Female Villains
Disney Female Villains

 

This morning I slept in until about 11:30 and feel greatly improved.  Enough so that I found myself looking over old blog entries and making them better.  I often am amazed at the mistakes I make after having reviewed my writing several times before posting.  Sigh…

Anyway, I found myself reading an old post I had done on the children’s author Roald Dahl.  In the post I wrote about rereading Roald Dahl books and how the depiction of women was kind of disturbing.  Whether it be the aunts in James and the Giant Peach or the Trunchbill in Matilda most of his books have a beastly villainous women at the center.

As I was thinking about the post I started to ponder about other stories.  Snow White? Evil Queen.  Cinderella?  Wicked Stepmother. Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent.  Little Mermaid?  Ursula.  Wizard of Oz? Wicked Witch.  Rapunzel? Gothel.  I could go on…

Isn’t that strange?  Why do you think that is?  It’s especially weird when you think that men have been the more dominating force over the years.  The devil is almost always thought of as a man and yet his minions are sultry temptresses or women.   A man would seem the more natural choice for a villain in previous eras because they had all the power and control.  Strange?

I was talking about this with my sister and she suggested that these characters are almost always middle aged childless women. “Supposedly it is because childress women past their child rearing age were considered a societal threat”.   Lonely figures have always been viewed as isolated by choice, scary, and backward especially by children.   When I first lived alone you wouldn’t believe the number of people who were horrified by the idea, even today.  They expressed concern and amazement that I could do such a thing and be happy.

You look at the idea of the old maid or the crazy lady with all the cats that still persist today.  I’ve known girls who have refused to get a cat because they don’t want to be that kind of single woman.  One dating advice column I read recently said to girls “Owning More Than One Cat Does Not Mean You Will Die An Old Maid”  .  Perhaps the refusal (or bad luck) of these middle-aged childless women to conform to social norms made them scary and ripe for fairy tale lore?  What do you think?

My other theory is since we all start life in a female, and hopefully being loved by a mother, there is nothing scarier than a woman gone wrong.   Its like it takes the maternal instinct and twists it to its evil side.  Almost all of the fairy tales with female villains have a female heroine as well.  These innocents are young, hopeful and beautiful (fairest in the land…).   Ever since I took feminist classes in college I’ve struggled with the whole princess ideology because I loved it so much growing up but I see how it can be harmful to young girls.

I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter.  I certainly didn’t see something like the Little Mermaid as anything but empowering as a girl.  I wanted to get out and try my own ways just like Ariel.  I wanted to read and be bold like Belle.  It never occurred to me that there was these more negative subtle social influences.  If they didn’t occur to me until I was in my 20s do they matter?

You look at something like Dorothy who fights evil and saves Oz from the wicked witch and it seems super empowering.  Never did I think that all of the people surrounding Dorothy are men except for the wicked witch. What do you guys think?  Do these negative female characters affect the way girls grow up (or boys for that matter)?  Are they harmful?  Are they harmful to adults and male/female interaction (as in the old maid example)?

What are stories that have a male villain?  I thought of Tolkien but all the characters in his books are male for the most part so it doesn’t count.  Don’t you find that odd that the women is always the villain?  Maybe this is part of the reason I didn’t really like fantasy growing up.  I didn’t relate to the perfect ingenue and I certainly didn’t get the villainesses.

 

Thoughts on Mothers Day Part 2

So each week I have to send out an email to the sisters in my ward updating them on the events of the week and leave them with a spiritual thought to encourage them throughout the week.  Usually I try to get this out on Wednesday but we had an activity Thursday and I had the writing conference yesterday so I hadn’t gotten it out and it was Saturday.  (They are used to me being late on this.  Sigh…)

Now many of you read my recent post on Mothers Day and how the day challenges me.  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/05/06/why-mothers-day-is-hard/ .

With those thoughts still swimming in my mind, I was tasked with saying something inspiring to women on Mothers Day.  This was quite the dilemma.    I hope you have all gotten the impression from this blog that I am not a disingenuous person and I am not about to put pen to paper on anything that is false or preaching doctrine I don’t believe or struggle with.

If I’ve learned anything in my life it is that honesty is the only thing that matters and the sharing of true experience is always more impactful than the privatizing of who we are and what life has taught us.  Sharing my heart with all of you through this blog and my friendships is my gift to the world.

Giving our heart is the only thing we really have to give.

So what should I write? What will be an authentic expression of my views of Mothers Day and mothering while also being helpful to others?  How can I write what I feel? Interesting question for a girl at a writing conference…

Here’s what I came up with. I’m immensely proud of it. I rarely can think of a moment when I have as effectively put my heart on the page:

“So Sunday is Mothers Day.  Please come and help us celebrate womanhood.  To be frank, sometimes Mothers Day can be a bit of a downer.  I’m not only unmarried but I’ve struggled to relate to the often ‘ooey goey’ version of womanhood that seems to be presented as the ideal at church particularly on Mothers Day.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way.  In fact, this week we were talking as a presidency about how pretty much everyone we know walks away from Mothers Day feeling inadequate, guilty or at least frustrated.  There are women in my life who refuse to attend church on Sunday because they are so wracked with guilt over their own perceived failures as women in Christ.

How can we fix this problem? I know Heavenly Father wants His daughters to be happy but does he accept our efforts when the standard seems to be so high and our output less than we wish it was?  Here’s something to think about:

“See that ye look to God and live.” The ultimate source of empowerment and lasting acceptance is our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They know us. They love us. They do not accept us because of our title or position (or I’d add marital, familial status). They do not look at our status. They look into our hearts. They accept us for who we are and what we are striving to become. Seeking and receiving acceptance from Them will always lift and encourage us.” (Elder Erich W.  Kopischke April 2013 Conf, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/2013/04/being-accepted-of-the-lord?lang=eng)

So, tomorrow on Mothers Day let’s try to remember that the Lord accepts us for the women we are striving to become.  He knows our hearts.  He loves us.  We are His daughters.  Perhaps we can turn Mothers Day into a day of sharing and fulfillment instead of lost expectations and thwarted dreams? I’m going to try and I hope you will all join me.”

So how did I do?  Thoughts?

Feminism and the Workforce

I am writing this using my touch typing because honestly I can’t see much.  My eyes are puffy and sore.  I’m not sure if this is normal.  I will call the doctor in the morning to find out.  I know a week to 10 days of recovery is not uncommon.

I just finished reading The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella for the 6th or 7th time.  It is not an award winning book plot-wise but I think it is funny and when I’m sick or feeling down I reach for Kinsella’s writing every time.  I listened to it on audibook and lately I’ve had a lot of time with my audio books 🙂

So, the main story behind this book is a woman named Samantha is just about to be made partner in a prestigious corporate law firm in London.  To get to this point she regularly logs 60+ hours and never has time for social gatherings or even time to think for herself. She doesn’t know how to toast a bagel, iron a shirt or replace the bag in her vacuum. The only time she gives to herself is an occasional viewing of the Waltons for comfort.

Then through a massive mistake Samantha panics, flees to the country and ends up working as a housekeeper in a big lofty house. It is admittedly ridiculous but if you can get behind all of that fluffy plot and think about the questions Kinsella is asking, it is a thought provoking book.

It touches on one of my favorite topics- work.  Why we work, how we work, what motivates us to work, how does money, power, control figure into work?  What do we lose in work? What sacrifices are worth making for work and which one’s aren’t? How do we find that elusive balance between work and life?  These are all questions that fascinate me.

Kinsella’s book made me think about work and feminism in a new way and has left me pondering…

My entire life I was taught in school that pre-feminist women were disenfranchised (which they were) and unhappy mainly because of their unequal share and positions in the workforce.  Men had the power and money at work; therefore, they had the eventual satisfaction and happiness. By confining themselves to the home in unpaid labor, the traditional woman, could not contribute all she could to the world; thereby leaving her unhappy and unfulfilled.

I remember reading Betty Friedan:

“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?”

I wonder if Mrs.  Friedan would have the honesty to ask this same question of a lopsided career woman like Samantha in the novel who works, works, works?   Couldn’t you make a similar list full of the daily deadening tasks of the career woman and ask the same questions at the end? I wonder what she’d think of such a problem?

In some ways the modern career woman asks the Is this all? question even more frequently than her predecessors because they attempt to do all in the work-world and at home. One commenter on this very blog said of her life:

“I feel…I don’t know…a societal pressure of sorts to make mothering a priority. As a working mom, I feel as though I have two full time jobs (and neither gets done to its full need). No one is pressuring my husband, or men in general to find a better balance between work and home”

This highly stretched living ends up leaving a lot of women feeling that they do many things but don’t do them particularly well.  I think every woman has moments where she feels mediocre because she’s pushed too far, too fast, with limited time.

When I was young (high school or college aged) I readily assumed my greatest accomplishment in life would be from my work. Nobody ever said ‘you will get your greatest satisfaction from your hobbies or from serving in the community’.  Think about it- what do we ask children about their future lives?  It’s what do they want to be someday, what do they want to do for their job.

People at church said I’d get the most fulfillment from my family but this was largely ignored as passe sentiment by the young me.  Also family is not a controllable outcome; therefore, depending on it for your contribution to the world can be a risky enterprise.  Work is at least more in our control.

In the book, Samantha finds, to her surprise,  that not working actually gives her the most joy and fulfillment- taking weekends off and having a life are what make her truly happy whether her work be in the domestic or corporate sphere.  This seems to defy everything I was taught as a young girl?  Fulfillment from the weekends? Those are just for play?

For both men and women, the world is telling us to focus on work, work, work but our hearts are almost always telling us  life, life, life.  Easier said than done.  Whether your a teacher, nurse or accountant, work has become such an overwhelming part of most modern woman’s lives.  For someone like me this is especially true as I work from home.  I think this leaves most women feeling unsatisfied with a huge part of their lives. Just the opposite of what the feminists told me.

I think feminism added another layer to the work myth by saying that great female accomplishments in the workforce would make our entire society better.  So now its not working for your own happiness but your entire sex and even all mankind. If we have a normal but necessary job it can feel like such a let down- like you haven’t done that one thing you were called on to do in this life, when you may have, just not at your paid employment.

I work hard but it is way down the list of my greatest accomplishments.  I get satisfaction from everything else in my life and that motivates me to work, not the other way around.

Maybe some women have these great empowering jobs but nobody I know.  Most work to provide sustenance and to allow them to pursue their true passions in the rest of their lives.  Maybe men already knew this for hundreds of years but they’ve had more time to evolve mechanisms to cope with the demands of work?

I’m just throwing this out there, but maybe feminism missed the mark when they focused so much on work as an equalizing force? Maybe our problem wasn’t working in the home verses working in the office but just a general lack of self-worth and recognition?  I guess we have more options now which is certainly a good thing but it also can leave women floating in a sea of undecided and unmet aspirations.

Why is it any less ennobling to dedicate one’s life to something we might not get paid for?  Does getting paid somehow eliminate the ‘Is this all’? For instance, why does having my life work be this blog seem somehow lower than what the feminist theology espoused? It has all the elements of an empowering voice, freedom of expression, and ability to influence others that the housewife role supposedly denied women.  Why does the fact it is unpaid make it any less important for a life?

I don’t think it does and I think the scores of workaholic, frazzled, stressed out women out there would agree with me.  Could it not be the saddest moment of all when you get to the top of the career world and still find yourself wondering what it was all for? I speak only in hypothetical here as I am clearly not at the top of any field or career.

It makes me glad I was taught a bigger answer to that question ‘Is it all?’, an eternal answer. My faith gives my life meaning when the world would see little value. What a great comfort that is.

That said, I still deal with deflated feelings about the workforce and my participation in it.  Anyone else struggle with this? Finding our own way to contribute can be very difficult? Do you struggle in finding value in what you do contribute, or are you left asking Is this all?

Ok. Now I will try to get to sleep and rest my poor eyes.  Got to get back to work in the morning…

Annoyed Women

So today I was watching some TV after going to the gym and doing some errands.  I flipped from King of Queens to Everybody Loves Raymond to Home Improvement.  At the end of all this channel swapping I felt depressed, depressed for me and for all women.  The women presented in these and many other shows are constantly irritated by their lives, jobs and especially their husbands.   These women seem to have a continual roll in their eyes and a groan on their mouths.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Its interesting because if you think of the history of TV it used to be the other way around.  For instance, in I Love Lucy Ricky was the man with the constant eye roll.  When did things change?

The thing that gets me is why would anyone want to stay in a marriage or live a life they are perpetually annoyed with? I like my life and if something is annoying me it is usually my own pride that is to blame, more than anything else.  Of course, I live alone so maybe I don’t have as much potential to be annoyed as others….

What say you my married friends? Do you find yourself continually annoyed with those you live with? Do these images of nagging women make you more or less likely to imitate their behavior?

I guess part of it comes from the comic standby of needing a ‘straight character’. Not straight in the sense of sexuality but just in the sense of comic timing.  If everyone is crazy, off the wall, it isn’t funny but if one character is normal in contrast to the crazy it is more humorous.   This can be seen in all of the famous comic duos such as Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy.  I guess you have to have one character to the be the idiot for most humor to work but why does it always have to be the man? Couldn’t it be a little bit of both?

A show like the Big Bang Theory allows all of its character to be smart, stupid, crazy, funny and ridiculous at moments.   The men and women are the butt of equal jokes.   One of my favorite shows, the Middle, does a pretty good job with an even keeled humor between the sexes and spares the constantly annoyed wife routine.  (Most of the real humor in that show involves the kids).

Arrested Development created great humor by having a straight man (Michael Bluth played by Jason Bateman) surrounded by both male and female idiots and wackos.  That approach works well too.

The funny thing is that I rarely notice this behavior with one viewing.  Its only when I have a day of leisure and watch a number of episodes in a row that it starts to bother me.  I wonder if as a society we cumulatively view episode after episode if the annoyed women  can be damaging.

Maybe I’m just reading too much into all this?  Some might say- “it’s just entertainment, no big deal?  It doesn’t impact my marriage/life?”.

That may be true but the subtle messaging the media gives us can be important.  It can cause women to expect men to behave like animals and then encourage men to then behave like animals.  Most of us after all are what others expect us to be.

I would think viewing such programs would make women more prone to fault finding and feel validated in their anger and irritations.   Things that should just be ignored are played out on TV to a comic benefit, creating a subtle approval of such behavior.

I live alone so I am free from annoying people most of the time (one of the great advantages of my lifestyle!).  Still, I hope when I get married I am not perpetually annoyed by those I live with.  What kind of life is that?  Why not find something you like  if you are so annoyed?

Reality TV isn’t much better.  In fact it is worse! Instead of fictionalized harping of wives towards their husbands we get ‘real life examples’ of a Jon and Kate Goslin or Bruce and Kris Jenner hating on each other.  (Not to mention the scores of ‘real housewives’ who mostly complain despite all their opulence).  I don’t really watch much reality tv but it can get depressing real quick!

Of course, you can always turn the TV off and pick up a book, which I did today. (Although the annoyed wife is certainly prevalent throughout modern literature as well!).

That’s my soapbox for the day! 🙂

What do you think about all the annoyed woman on TV? Do you think it has damaging effects for men, women and relationships? (or maybe you are all just annoyed with me 🙂  Sorry!)