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Soraya Chemaly

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Porn-Addled Teenage Boys Do Rule The World

Posted: 11/01/2011 6:34 am

Feminists, stop whining and go home.

It's so much easier than thinking about the information so excellently encapsulated by the movie, Miss Representation, a documentary about the debilitating influence of media on girls and society that aired recently on the OWN network.

We are so screwed. Feminist should stop whining about sexism in culture and women should go home like we keep telling them to. This too hard. It's easier to ignore the problems of gender inequity and it's definitely more fun to. I mean, who wants all this striving for equality. Girls get it. They're not stupid. That's why they're receding from public life.

Besides, it's not so bad here, is it? Women aren't thrown on pyres when their husbands die. Our girls aren't subjected to the torture of genital mutilation. So what if we don't have a female head of state for the next 500 years. Go get a facial. You'll feel better. If that doesn't work and you're still distracted by a vague feeling of injustice, develop a hobby. I hear recreational pole dancing is really fun.

So what if girls "opt-out" of leadership roles and think public life is the exclusive arena of boys and men? It's unpleasant out there in the big bad leadership world.

So what if boys think of them primarily as accessories that they acquire like so many shiny, molded cars? That's why I had girls. Duh.

And if boys feel pressure to grow up and take care of women, like they're children? That's what they're here for, right?

So what if the best thing my girls and yours think they can aspire to is the real life paper-doll cut-out of the object of a 15 year-old boys wet dream, which is the image of girls and women promulgated by our gaming, media and entertainment industries?

What if all that makes them happy? What is wrong with that? After all, this isn't human rights we're talking about. It's women's rights.

And, really, if more than 50 percent of our population is effectively denied the ability to pursue public service, to the detriment of the greater good, by a system of informal, entertaining bias, it's not like it's a major problem for a democracy or anything.

I mean, why do our girls need to understand the effects on their health, jobs ... life, of having no gender representation in Congress? It's homecoming weekend, after all.

The last spark of a feminist in me this morning is compelled to point out that all of this not making any of us happy. Twice as many girls experience depression as boys, beginning in adolescence. And the entire nation is focused on bullying, but won't talk openly about the fact that much of it's root cause is misogyny. That's just too much to wrap our tattooed-Barbie-benumbed brains around. Bullying is the norm in a culture that denigrates what is female (what do you think street harassment is?). It's why boys in religious private schools say they experience bullying at a higher rate than boys in public or non-religious private schools, for example. There are dots screaming and turning blue in the face to be connected.

I give up. No, I don't.The wealth disparity in our country is one of the largest in the industrialized world and continues to grow. Look into which countries have the largest wealth gaps and compare that to a ranking of those with the least gender equity. We need to educate ourselves, and our children, about the importance of these issues as a society. Like THAT's going to happen. Ok. I give do up. Aren't you glad?

Besides, it's boring. How do I compare with my friends, really excellent moms who aren't thinking about it much and are cheerfully taking their girls for a weekly manicure and the next showing of "Bad Teacher"? And dads who are proud of their girls and coach their soccer teams. These are the friends that I need most now, because misery loves company. They can be depressed with me.

There is no way to watch the movie without feeling the enormity of the issue at hand. Our country is cobbled by a structural misogyny that permeates every dimension of life. As a new friend, Emily Hoechst, a professor of Political Philosophy at both Georgetown University and George Mason University, pointed out during a recent screening of the movie, it's not men that are bad, it's the structure of our culture and the nature of our economy.

Louder now, so the fear of a female planet people can hear: Men are not sitting around in man-caves, watching football games and plotting devious ways to undermine women's equality, just like feminists are not trying to destroy boys' ability to be masculine. What we have instead is something much more insidious and difficult to deal with -- a systemized, traditional, destructive and amorphous bias that polarizes masculinity and femininity in extremely harmful ways.

There is no way to think deeply about the information imparted in Miss Representation without realizing its vast implications. Changing the status quo means literally changing everything from the way toys are packaged to the structure of capitalism. I'm stating for the record that the last statement is not a joke, it's not meant to be sarcastic or an exaggeration for effect. It's so pervasive that even those of us who have been ardent lifelong feminists, who want to change the world and work hard to do it, struggle with where to start and how to continue. It's exhausting.

Forget about teaching kids about women's history. At this point, I've been reduced to thinking about Barbie. The one I'm worried about doesn't look like Pink and wear tattoos, she wears an apron and is looks like Grace Kelly.

In the end however, in the words of a savvy girl who recently saw the movie, "those people (women fighting for the right to be fully human) aren't glamorous and they don't look like they're having fun."

That pretty much says it all.

 

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