True. Our culture has become so twisted in it’s parameters of acceptable feminine beauty and health that to veer away from that tiny corridor of acceptability releases a backwash of venom and hate. Post a meme, or picture, or commentary about the desirability or innate beauty of, say, a curvaceous woman. Sit back and wait. In the commentary there will be a few who champion the beauty they see in your post. There will be a few who are indifferent. Then there will be that very vocal segment who feel they must comment on the ‘fat ass’, the ‘cellulite’, and for bonus points there will almost always be some classy comments about the ‘do-ability’ of the woman in question. Seriously? Relegating women into that tiny little space defined as normal or acceptable in today’s society is troubling and revealing about our culture. Although it is certainly not the only area it exists, this current of core misogyny has reared its ugly head lately in politics in the form of the GOP. More and more, the wealthy white boy’s club has let its guard down and become more honest about their basic value system. Women are for the convenience of the men. They need no voice in the care of their own bodies or indeed in the order of their lives. Indeed, we should be seen (as long as we are suitably attractive by pre-defined standards) but not heard. Well, geez. I love the terminology employed by these people. Tradition. Old-fashioned or Old-world values. God’s order of things. Oh, yeah, gotta remember the underpinnings of our own favorite cult of the moment, Christianity. The Republican party has sold its soul (figuratively speaking) to the religious right in recent years to garner more support for their faltering status and maintain their foothold in legislative areas. This has given Christians an absolutely unprecedented voice in the government. What do they do with that opportunity for dialogue? Do they attempt to reach new followers with the message of peace, love, tolerance, or (my favorite) DO UNTO OTHERS? Nope. Now we have even more finger pointing, blame, hate, paranoia, and talk of war. We are told we cannot use birth control or make decisions concerning pregnancy, Apparently our uterus makes us too unstable to participate in the military anywhere there might be fighting, although obviously we can play at being toy soldiers as long as we stay decorous and out of the way. Any attempt to sway these fanatics is met with varying degrees of disdain which culminates in stonewalling us. Case in point, the recent table on birth control comprised entirely of–who–oh, yeah, MEN. No women allowed, of course. We were “not qualified”. I really wish that was a paraphrase, you know. The fact that that is a direct quote makes me sad. That is the thing, though. These men, and the deluded women who support them, truly believe that we, as women, are not qualified to discuss the care, maintenance, and control of our own bodies. This ideology of male superiority is rampant in every area of our lives, and must be monitored with a wary eye. The effects ripple down to our children as they are socially conditioned through media and schools. It starts the first time you pick up a kid’s meal in a drive through and are asked “boy toy or girl toy?” I do not mean that some children do not innately have a preference, because they obviously do. My 3 year old son tends to gravitate towards weapons (Nerf guns, swords), cars, animals, dinosaurs, Lincoln logs & tinker toys, and his favorite things of the moment are his extensive kitchen set. He has a chef hat & apron, a grilling area and kitchen area, shopping basket, and tons of play food. I call him my little Bobby Flay. Admit it, though. As you read that list, your mind was processing those items as boy toy, boy toy, boy toy, then suddenly girl toys! See how sneaky it is? We don’t even realize we are doing it sometimes. It leads, ultimately, to the segregation of the sexes into “girl’ areas and ‘boy’ areas. Some people are good at some things, others are not. That is due to the interests and aptitudes we are born with and are nurtured as we grow. It has absolutely nothing to do with our gender. Yet we still see areas dominated by women or by men. Why? We are directed, by the flow of society, towards gender specific activities and eventually to our little pre-defined spots. That leads to the kind of sad and close minded thinking that objectifies women to the point that any deviation is viewed as ugly, or unacceptable. The size or shape of an individual does not define their beauty. Their personality and actions do. Yet, there is that sad segment that is unable to see that. They have spent their entire lives being stunted and warped until they simply cannot see beauty anywhere unless it meets the standards they have been given by society. We are putting blinders on our own children and that is the end result. If we ever want it to change, we must take charge of the new generations and teach them better than we were taught. Someday, maybe they will grow to be better than us. Or maybe not. We can only be patient and hope the lessons take root. Okay, that was verbose. I opened my mouth and there was a little more in there than I realized. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
“American women, I believe, actually feel the same as hispanic women about weight. A desire for the comfort of fullness. And, when that desire is suppressed for style, and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous. Such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood. All that is best in life.”
– From the screenplay for the movie, “Spanglish,” written by James L. Brooks.
This part of the film was spoken by a woman doing a voice-over..supplying the narration for the film.
She was saying these lines while, on screen, one of the main characters, a beautiful mexican domestic was helping a girl in the house she worked at to accept herself, and the girl’s mother, a nutcase, was out running and running and running..
I have worked out in many gyms, and at most of them, there have been a few women…
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