Posts Tagged ‘Miss Representation’

It’s that ghoulish time of year again. Sometimes, I honestly wish we had been Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is no conflict, they just don’t celebrate All Saint’s Day. They view it as a pagan custom, and happily go about their business of knocking on strangers’ doors and handing out pamphlets all the time! But in my kid’s elementary school, when everyone would wear their costumes and march about the schoolyard in late October, the JW kids felt bad. I even felt bad for them. Still, what I want to know is when did it become OK to stereotype young girls as sex objects for Halloween?

You’ve heard about the furor of slimming down Minnie Mouse for a storefront display at Barney’s in NYC, right? Well who’s complaining about all these girls and young women, respectable by day, dressing up in Daisy Dukes on Halloween? I only remember dressing up as a “Gypsy” back in the 50s, in a long, full skirt. That was exciting enough, getting to wear make-up and bangles on my arms. Today, once our little girls outgrow the “Princess” phase, at about pre-puberty, who thinks it’s just fine to dress like Lady Gaga?

When my children were little, I was that much hated crafty mom. I had a sewing machine and knew how to use it; I actually made many of their Halloween outfits. The Rocker’s best was Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Bride made a nifty Wonder Woman. All of a sudden, somewhere in middle school, all bets were off. Monsters and madonnas littered the schoolyard. But I do remember one girl dressing up as Amelia Earhart. You had to have a lot of confidence to fight the culture of sexism that surrounds our kids. “You can’t be what you can’t see.” http://tedxwomen.org/speakers/jennifer-siebel-newsom/

Siebel, in this video, says she wanted to get away from the media push for power and strength outfits for boys at Halloween and soft, passive-princessy things for girls and dress her small children as gender-neutral animals. So she chose a lamb for her daughter and a lion for her son. She then saw the joke, it is a subtle thing, this sexism. I remember feeling that way when the Bride was small – where are the female super-heros? The Love Bug will be a giraffe on her first Halloween, because we have always had a fondness for “long, tall blondes.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/tall-blondes/introduction/2253/ You will find giraffes roaming free all over my house! And her Uncle and Ms Cait?
Zombies of course!

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On this beautiful Fall Saturday, I found myself reading about the term “Gaslighting” and watching the documentary film Miss Representation on the OWN TV channel. Now if you don’t know what channel Ms Oprah has moved to, you can just go to the website and put in your demographic info:  http://www.oprah.com/own

Well this got my feminist hackles up, my social justice juices flowing, and made me re-think my plans to go to the gym. Let’s burn our bras ladies and take to the streets! Oh no wait, we did that. But it seems, it didn’t take us very far.

You have got to see this film! It is a documentary call to arms for all of us, women and men, written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”  http://missrepresentation.org/the-film/

And now about “Gaslighting.” It is an old term, taken from a famous 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman, titled Gaslight.  The plot is simple. Her husband wants her jewels and her money, so he arranges to have the turn of the century gaslights flicker all over the house. When she complains, he tells her she’s wrong. They are NOT flickering, she must be going mad I tell you, MAD! Then he can have her committed, and you get the rest. The term has come to mean in psych circles that a person is being manipulated by another into distrusting their own reality.

This happened to me once. It was The Case of the Missing Charm Bracelet. In the wee small hours before a trip, I had asked Bob to hide my Mother, the Flapper’s, priceless charm bracelet. When we returned, he swore I never asked him and he didn’t hide it, and I ripped the house up, down and sideways looking for it. For 2 years he insisted the bracelet would show up. I insisted he was gaslighting me to anyone who would listen to my rant. And when it did reveal itself, in his desk where he actually had hidden it, he was pretty sheepish about telling me. I wasn’t sure if I should cry or smack him upside the head. 

Thank you to my niece, Jocelyn, for posting this article by Yashar Ali: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html

The take away here is to love yourselves ladies, just the way you are, and don’t let anyone else gaslight you. Reject the sexually stereotypical media messages about women. Speak up, stand up, and share the light. Think what we could do if we had real parity in government and board rooms around the country. Oh, and I did forgive my hubby, eventually.

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