Yes All Boys, Yes All Girls, Yes All Women, Yes All Men

The “girl as trophy” trope is being challenged again. The tragedy in Isla Vista has made us question how we — all of us, women and men — let it become thought of as normal. (This article sums it up nicely.)

I’m not laying blame on any one movie or filmmaker. It’s not all Judd Apatow’s fault. It’s everywhere you look, for time immemorial. I learned the role of trophy as a little girl watching Popeye and Bluto fighting for Olive Oil, for crying out loud. My kids see that cliche story line again and again, whether it’s Nickelodeon or PG-13 movies I shouldn’t let them watch. Even “The Most Interesting Man in the World” bears guilt for (or simply expresses) the culture that led a disturbed young man to a rampage as, in advance of Cinco de Mayo, he advised that it’s best to start “with two.”

"Start with Two"

“Start with Two”

(Granted these ladies are not blonde, but they are beautiful. And totally lucky to be with that guy.)

I am TIRED of the trope that women are the trophy. The object, not the subject. Did anyone think to ask these two ladies if they gave a shit about the old guy with the scratchy beard? No. Because if anyone did, I’m pretty sure they’d say, “Hell, no. It’s Girls Night Out and we’re going dancing with ourselves.”

I don’t have the answers. I’ll flail around, trying these tactics:

1. Drop an editorial comment while my sons watch TV, asking about the female-object-of-desire character, “I wonder what she wants to be when she grows up?” or “Why would she like either of those dudes?” or “I bet she likes math (or history, or art, or anything that’s about HER).”

2. Be a role model of a strong woman.

3. Find books, shows and movies where women and girls have agency. (Really, we’re back to Marlo Thomas and the Story of Atalanta all these years later?) Marlo Thomas

4. Watch and share any of the thousands of videos from http://www.Makers.com, mini-documentaries about pioneering women that PBS will be debuting this Fall, and which are immediately available on http://www.makers.com. I think I’ll start with the one about Violet Palmer, the first female NBA referee.

Makers.com

Makers.com

5. Don’t let up. We’ve got a world to change. For our boys and our girls.

What are the ways you’ve thought of to challenge these cliches? Please click the comment icon to the right of the headline above to share.

Thanks,

Laura

 

 

 

 

“It Might Be Wonderful”

I was searching for the source of a quote I read years ago, whose essence has stuck with me, if not it’s precise language. It was attributed to Gloria Steinem.

She said, “The great thing about not knowing what comes next…” (and I thought, Yes? Yes? What is it? Please tell me what’s great about all this not knowing business!!) “…is that it might be wonderful.”

“That’s all? It might be wonderful?” Insufficient payoff for the terrible heaviness of not knowing.

I’ve spent much of the past few years trying to live into her radically optimistic world view. For me, not knowing what came next was painful, almost unbearable. In the cosmic sense, of course, none of us knows what’s next (earthquake, or flood, or call from the Nobel committee, etc.). But much of the time we think we do. We have enough information at least to predict what next month or next year brings. For me, the decision to sell our house a few years ago launched us on a journey of major not knowing. I wanted the quote as a lead-in to the book I’m working on about that journey.

moving day

Because the journey has moved me toward understanding that quote. It has taught me that not knowing becomes easier.

Riverside Park at sunset

Not easy, but easier. I try to live more in the second half of Gloria’s statement than in the first. It might be wonderful.

Cannonball into Merry Meeting Lake, New Hampshire

DSC01259

Laura on Rope Swing, Lake Todd (Newbury, NH)

Yeah, that’s right. And it’s up to us to make it wonderful.

DSC01213

I didn’t find that quote today, but I did find a rich and deep interview of a curious and brilliant mind. I give you Maria Shriver interviewing Gloria Steinem, and two of my favorite passages from their conversation:

The most hopeful.

SHRIVER: Do you think that you ran a revolution? Do you think it was successful?

STEINEM: Well, first of all, I think we’ve just begun. If you think about the Suffrage Movement as a precedent, it took more than 100 years to get the vote and for that movement itself to run a certain course. We’re only about 40 years into this movement, so this particular wave of change certainly has a long way to go. It’s not in the past.

The most daunting.

SHRIVER: Is there some part of your life that you think represents a cautionary tale?

STEINEM: I think the biggest thing is probably that I wasted time.

SHRIVER: You feel like you wasted time? In what way?

STEINEM: I continued for too long to do things that I already knew how to do, or to write stories that I was assigned instead of fighting for stories that I couldn’t get, or doing ones that I thought were important on my own. The wasting of time is the thing I worry about the most. Because time is all there is.

You heard her. Back to work.

rosie-the-riveter

http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/gloria-steinem/