Empowerment through Language...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Image Is Everything

Daytime television is populated with powerful, impressive women hosting countless talk shows going over the same issues and welcoming the same thread of actors, singers, You Tube celebrities all on the stump for some product that they give away to the studio audiences, who scream and jump up and down hugging each other, on the brink of tears for a CD from some teen idol or a copy of Twilight - The Nth Degree.

I often work at home and have some form of media on to keep me company, providing background while I sit at my screen on whatever project needs my attention. The noise can be deafening. The same with many late-night shows. Why are we a nation of screamers?

More importantly, what is the image of woman that the media project? One cell phone carrier depicts a group of Anglo women, obviously beyond their twenties, obviously not hurting for income, at a party huddled in a circle squealing about getting a new iPhone. It is completely unbecoming in so many ways I cannot even begin to address.

Since I was a child, I recognized that the women in t.v. commercials were always attractive but often married to men who were dumpy and demanding. That has not changed, in spite of the women's movement.

The images of woman in media have offended me for a very long time. In situation comedies, we are harpies nagging children and mates, or hypersexualized free agents on the prowl. In magazines, we are starving ourselves alongside
sumptuous recipes.

The profile of Black women is no more flattering in offering accepted stereotypes who roll their eyes, muttering "UNH HUNH..." or who go off on some unsuspecting other fictional character for little reason. So much less than the sisterhood of amazing women I know.

Asian women are depicted as meek and silly or raging tiger moms, rather than the physicists, doctors, professors, nurturing mothers, and engineers I know. 

Latinas are distinguished by their accents, their tits, demanding mothers, and their less than satisfactory husbands. Not the teachers, social workers, poets, artists, and physicians in my social circle.

Where in the pie chart are the Native women who are present throughout the continent the dominant culture stole from them? Even when the demographics are presented by people of color, the Native representation is rarely included. There is little representation of indigenous women in entertainment, at least since the ever-patient Marilyn withstood Dr. Joel's constant whine of insult on Northern Exposure. I loved that show but, if I were Marilyn, I would have lost my temper at some point. I am a lesser woman than she was written to be.

I bailed from watching the second season of The News Room, not because the story line was not compelling but because Aaron Sorkin is no better than Judd Apatow at writing realistic dialogue for female characters. He is sure to have a number of strong women in powerful roles but let one of the men they are sleeping with (or hoping to) walk into the scene and fierce, independent humans become whiny, simpering dolts. It is insulting.

And I haven't even considered the reality show image of women as raging harpies or sex-crazed drunks, much less a mother who marries sexual predators.

Do we really want to be remembered by the characters in the endless stream of chick flicks that perpetuate the falsehood of the Cinderella myth? Do we really want to accommodate this view of who we are, or encourage children to emulate the sexualized profile of the singers they see on screens before them. Even Dancing with the Stars barely covers the female form and they have to dance with men who forgot to cover their torsos.

I have a large circle of astounding, talented, brilliant women, many of whom are unmarried. Many of us have never married and are childless. We are professionals. We are artists. We are independent. We weigh more than 90 pounds and sometimes leave the house without "putting on our faces." The married women I know are vibrant and giving, more often than not working full time, adding to society as well. The mothers I know are doing their best to raise conscious humans in the face of all the brainwashing while also being whole beings themselves, and exhausting themselves in trying to be the superwoman we all must project. This is the result of the conflict between the women's movement and the proliferation of Martha Stewart and her ilk.

Can any of us make all of our own clothes, grow organic gardens, label the shelves in the linen closet in hand-scrolled labels, raise the perfect children, make our own party invitations, invent a signature cocktail, and look spectacular for an occasional date, while we also bring home the bacon?

Women are more than what media tells us we are. We are whole, creative, thinking, feeling beings who represent more than half the populace on the planet and we are being kept in our "place" by conditioning. Our sisters in other parts of the globe are violently subjugated. We must be strong and break the false mirror. The matriarchy is on the rise and we are taking our planet back...or so I hope.