Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The more things strain, the more they remain the bane

via The Angry Arab News Service:

The practice of paying women less for doing the same jobs as men was not only accepted but routine; a wife’s credit card was issued in her husband’s name; and women had trouble securing bank loans to buy a house or even a car. The National Press Club was off limits to women until 1971. No one much questioned these regulations and customs — the dress codes requiring women to wear skirts instead of pants, the firing of airline stewardesses who gained too much weight — nor was there vocal opposition to the sort of prohibitions that we decry when they appear in dispatches from some benighted emirate or sheikdom.

I can't wait for the sequel, when Gail Collins tackles contemporary trends -- like how the practice of paying women less for doing the same jobs as men is not only accepted but routine.

Speaking of dress codes, keep in mind: this is how we celebrate our most talented female icons! Yes, we've come a long way since Rosie the Riveter.


cemmcs said...

How do you say much by saying so little? Well done!

Ethan said...

One thing that struck me in recent years was that when Jessica Simpson covered "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" the lyrics were changed to be...well, Penelope Cruz to Nancy Sinatra's Rosie the Riveter. Lyrics that had been about getting fed up and abandoning a man are now about looking sexy for the benefit of all men. As you say, we've come a long way.

C-Nihilist said...

sounds like you would have liked my Mimi. her whole life story would fit in with the theme of this blog. she was a welder rather than a riveter. "Wendy the Welder" was the counterpart to Rosie.

the whole Rosie/Wendy push was kind of exploitive in furtherance of the war effort. when the men came home it was expected that the women would step aside from the jobs. Mimi went from a decent wage welding supply ships, to stitching boots for piece work.

Anonymous said...

serious question: what do you folks think i, an aspiring patriarch-toppler but foremost for the moment, it seems, a red-blooded 24-year-old male, should do with the fact that the first thing i thought upon seeing the cruz picture was "wow"? so that response was to some (but what?) degree socially constructed. it's a real, immediate, powerful response nonetheless, one revisited throughout my real day-to-day life. i don't look at porn, so it's not just that. people value certain standards of beauty, and ridiculous makeup aside, cruz is an example of this for me and almost every male and a few females i know; all the intellectual labor and compassion for this aesthetic's victims or at least discontents i've so far mustered hasn't changed my implicit standard of physical attractiveness. i wouldn't pay cruz a dime to look like that, but the world does. what can we make of this?

hoping for a snark-, hate-free, helpful answer.

JRB said...

Well, the first thing I thought upon reading this thread was: "Wow -- what a thoughtful group!"

Anonymous, I don't think there's anything wrong with the image; I took issue with the context in which I am 99% certain it was produced: not through any special initiative on the part of Penelope Cruz, but rather as a condition for making the cover of Vanity Fair -- itself a condition for promoting her work as an actress.

Given the chance, people will portray themselves in a variety of ways -- e.g, the woman who photographs herself in her own costumes. Sometimes this will be sexual, and that is to be celebrated. But how women portray themselves should be their choice, not the outcome of unequal relations.

Anonymous said...

same Nony here.

gotcha, JRB. so you take issue with the fact that the dudes with money--both executives and their multimillion-person-strong consumer base--get to tell would-be actresses how to dress and look on their path to success in acting? that a more talented but less stereotypically beautiful actress wouldn't have a chance to get on the cover? i feel you, i think, but you have to let the people have who they want in the movies they'll be seeing, and VF's just responding to that, right? more damaging to the girls and women (if not the dudes as well, in the long run...) i've known has been male attention--attention, not money--being thrown at standardly hot girls/women--and not just the ones who put out: this is the stuff of teen fucked-up-edness (my 17-year-old bro is dating a cheerleader, so it's on my mind).

anyway, just got back from IBTP so i appreciate the tone of your response.

JRB said...

I would focus on the executives. The "consumer base" likes Cruz because she has a range of capabilities; I'm not aware that taking off her clothes figures prominently.

Someone at VF decided that is how she should be portrayed, within a spectrum of commercially viable options. What would she have chosen?

Anonymous said...

for a boyfriend, or just to feel sexy or pretty or something in a picture, who knows? (starlets' closets aren't full of such dresses?) given that she was on the cover of that magazine to further her career, i bet she'd defer to the suits--they know what sells better than she does.

and i wasn't referring to sex/porn selling, i was referring to sexiness ("state of pre-porn," as IBTP lucidly had it), attractiveness, etc.

JRB said...

I'd like to hear more of your impressions, which are thoughtful and relevant. Ever considered blogging? Otherwise I won't know how your brother turns out!

Katie said...

Hey Anonymous!

The topic of sexually-oriented imagery and feminism is a very complex dialogue with a huge history of controversy within feminism.

This link sums up the debate and it's history pretty well:

You absolutely do not need to reinvent the wheel in considering these issues, although I suppose it is always a good thing to think through things for oneself.


Anonymous said...

And not so happens))))