On 8 July I wrote a blog post asking Why is Pop Culture so Anti-Women? Danielle usually comments on my blog posts, but she also doesn’t always have time for that because of Scarlett. So we discussed it at the dinner table. What she told me was that “you get used to it. You just figure -that’s the way the world is.” Hearing that response was one of those times where I felt two opposing feelings. I felt sad that the response is getting used to it. Although, given the power of the media in our youth and its continued (yet hopefully diminishing) power today – I could see that feeling angry and hoping for change would be a lost cause. At the same time, I felt hopeful for Scarlett and for the ~150 million women and girls in America because Danielle transcended those images, tropes, and stereotypes. She does not feel the need to dress or act how society supposes she should. She does as she wishes and is a successful woman. She was an extremely successful worker in the workplace – always getting the highest accolades. She is completely interdependent with me rather than dependent on me. That’s what I need to impart onto Scarlett and she’ll be fine. Pop culture will still suck, but she’ll be fine.
And, for fun, here’s a funny youtube video I found with the most woman-positive rap lyrics out there.
4 responses to “Danielle’s Reaction to the Anti-Women Post”
Ha, I almost wrote a comment on the first post that was in line with “you just get used to it”. But I also think a lot of the realization that so many things seem/are anti-women comes a significantly later in life. I’d think a lot of kids (like below 5th grade) don’t really understand most rap lyrics and definitely don’t pick up on useless female characters as a stab at women. I remember reading Hitchhiker’s Guide and totally don’t remember feeling like the women were doing worse in that book. But I also remember reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and not being aware at all of the religious themes because that was way beyond any part of my life. Besides, I also remember reading tons of YA books with strong female characters. I don’t know if that’s less common now with all the paranormal YA books…
But now that I think about it, I probably felt more empowered as a kid and a female than I do now being a grown-up female and being able to recognize all these terrible messages. I would happily go back to being totally oblivious.
I think you point to a very interesting thread that might make growing up female a bit more jarring. Children’s books (at least the great ones) have always been a bit subversive. (Check out the book Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature) I remember a LOT more female protagonists in children’s and YA books than in adult fiction. Why? I think in part because it’s different. There tend to be news stories when YA books are controversial or different in some way. I think having female protagonists makes them different and that generates talk.
It might also be that almost all female protagonists in adult books are focused on finding love or getting married (chick lit – which I also mostly love) and tend to blend together. But teenage girls, in addition to getting a boyfriend, can still have your growing up / rite of passage / go on an adventure story. I don’t know if it’s something we grow out of or we want something more plausible or if women just really like reading semi-romance novels.
I think you make a great point about how even as teens, the experiences between the sexes are similar enough (and even moreso as kids) that similar stories can be told with protagonists of different sexes. As for what happens when we grow older – I think it’s a mix of reality, expectations, marketing, and individual preference.
We can use mass media to live vicariously or to escape reality. I think the RomCom and FemLit are the former and progressive stuff is, unfortunately, the latter. I think all women can see the situations of RomCom/FemLit happening to them no matter their race, class, etc. I think many more of them have trouble relating with a female astronaut commander. As for marketing – whatever they believe the masses to what is what they’ll approve until someone proves otherwise with a breakout hit. And there’s the belief that men don’t want to see women protagonists. Again, it’s a belief and until someone proves it wrong – that’s how the money will be spent.