We don’t ‘need’ feminism? Since when?

Slut shaming? Really? Are we SERIOUSLY still doing this?

Slut shaming? Really? Are we SERIOUSLY still doing this?

I found this little gem this afternoon while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, entitled 14 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism. You can pretty much guess what the Buzzfeed post is about from the title: 14 women express the various reasons why they (believe) they don’t need feminism. Most of the 14 pictures expressed similar views, as:

-the goal of feminism is to demonize men and blame them for women’s issues.

-feminism is outdated. It may have been useful 100 years ago, but women can now vote, enter into contracts, and own property. It’s useless now.

-women use feminism to justify their immoral ‘slutty’ actions, like abortions, dressing in revealing clothing, and having sex.

-I refuse to be a victim. I do not need to be ‘empowered.’ Feminists cause all women to be victims, and all men to be oppressors.

If you enjoy a traditional role as a woman, of course you don't feel disadvantaged. What about women who want something else?

If you enjoy a traditional role as a woman, of course you’re not disadvantaged. What about women who want something else?

Now, while these views might seem unenlightened on the surface (or not, depending on your opinion), there is a certain degree of validity to each of these views, which I address one by one below:

  • Radical feminists do demonize men. However, these are extremist feminists, and the extremists of ANY group never represent the views of the majority. That’s why they’re called extremists. Most feminists fight for the rights of men as well as women. You don’t condemn all Muslims because a few radicals turned to terrorism, do you? Hopefully not.
  • It’s true that feminism has accomplished a lot of big goals, but that doesn’t mean gender inequality has been completely abolished – we still need to deal with double standards, stereotypes, objectification, restrictions on dress, and don’t forget that pesky wage gap – these are just a few examples.
  • The fact that you condemn women for behavior men are encouraged to exhibit (such as sexual promiscuity) proves that gender inequality still exists.
  • I commend these women on their self-confidence, but this view is limited and self-centered. Even if you personally have never been a victim of even the mildest forms of misogyny (something I can’t quite believe), that doesn’t mean that all women – or even a majority – are that lucky. This is true in developing nations as well as Western countries. Here in the U.S., gender discrimination affects poor women the most, especially minorites.

What about the women who are oppressed?

What about the women who are oppressed?

 All of these pictures made me cringe, but there was one that actually angered me. It’s the one featuring the female soldier in Afghanistan:

enhanced-5353-1405091300-7

No – you just need to belittle other women who perhaps have not been as fortunate as you.

 

 As a female soldier (as a soldier in general) she certainly is courageous and strong, but her choice of words and italics conveys that thinks other women aren’t capable of courage and strength, especially feminists. It implies that the only way to be courageous and strong is to by participating in traditionally male behavior, like joining the military and shooting guns, and that women who choose more traditionally female roles for themselves are, by definition, timid and weak.

This is the very definition of gender stereotyping, folks. This is first-class girl-on-girl misogyny. I have a feeling that this woman is the type who “doesn’t like” other women because she pre-judges them as catty and shallow.

Without the feminist movements of the 20th century, this woman would never have been allowed to join the military in the first place, vote, own property, or even wear pants without social ramifications.

But she doesn’t *need* feminism, and she has awards, medals, and commendations to prove it.

I wonder what she thinks when she sees the Afghan women she’s there to help, women who aren’t even allowed to leave their homes without male escorts, women who could be beaten or even killed if a man should even hear their footfalls on the pavement.

Does she think they aren’t courageous enough? That they aren’t strong enough as they fight to survive every day in a place where their lives are valued the same as cattle? Does she realize that barely five decades ago, women in Afghanistan were allowed to go to college, to work, to walk around freely on their own?

Does she think it couldn’t happen here, too?

I’m not saying that the U.S. is headed for that level of misogyny, but to claim that we don’t ‘need’ feminism is ignorant, and dangerous. I highly recommend you to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. While the dystopia described therein is extreme, it’s a great story, and has an important message about women’s rights and the importance of not becoming complacent.

Note: I started this post last night, and realized this morning that the picture above of the female soldier had been mysteriously replaced. I can only imagine that she or someone else requested it to be removed. Luckily, I saved it to my computer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Themes of Good and Evil in Orange is the New Black

 Orange-is-the-New-Black-season-2-poster

It starts out predictably enough. You watched all the Youtube teasers for Orange is the New Black, and the premise seems intriguing: an upper-middle class white woman, Piper Chapman, gets sentenced to 18 months in prison for a twelve-year-old non-violent crime. The fact that it is written and directed by the creator of Weeds, is just icing on the cake. You decide to tune in to see how Piper deals with her new circumstances.

The first few episodes are predictable. Piper is friendless and at odds with everyone in the prison, who dislike her because she is white and relatively rich, yes, but also because she is naïve and maddeningly idealistic- she even willfully turned herself in, for crying out loud. Poor, poor, misplaced Piper.

As the series plays on, however, you realize that Piper is not only the most boring character in the series, she’s also the least likeable. She is not so much the main character as the one who holds it all together, our eyes behind the barbed wire, so to speak.

article-2560445-1B884EB300000578-649_634x356

Season two continued in this vein. Each episode focuses on the backstory of a different character and what circumstances brought them to Litchfield. These stories cover bank robbery, drugs, and love affairs gone awry, reaching years, decades into the past.

Kohan’s work is especially commendable because it paints each character in the most human light possible. Unlike other serials, there are no clear-cut ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’- each character is both bad and good at different times. At one moment, our hearts break for Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren as we witness how she was ostracized from childhood. A few episodes later, we hate her for ruthlessly beating down another inmate.

Me too, Crazy ey- I mean Suzanne, especially when it comes to hitting the 'next episode' button.

Me too, Crazy ey- I mean Suzanne, especially when it comes to hitting the ‘next episode’ button.

Even Pennsatucky, arguably the ‘Big Bad’ of season one, is shows a softer side this season, as she befriends Mr. Healy, the lonely, lesbian-phobic counselor who can’t figure out how to romance his mail order Russian Wife.

tiffany-doggett-oitnb

Similar backstories are given to all the guards and inmates. Kohan’s message – on both a macro and micro level – is that, as much as we like to demonize people, no person is entirely good, and no person is entirely bad. Not even convicted felons, or the guards and wardens charged with their safety. Not even ourselves.

One sort-of-criticism of the series is that it’s almost trying to do too much. By giving a character a detailed back story, they set up the expectation that each story will be continued episode to episode. Instead, a different character is explored in each installment, and all loose ties from previous stories are left to hang. This mirrors real-life in that not all stories get closure, but it also makes it impossible to pin point ‘main characters.’ The answer to this is that there aren’t any, at least not in the classic sense.

Rather than being overtly character- or plot-driven, OITNB focuses on the chemistries and interactions between women who would have never associated with each other outside of prison. The microcosm created is fascinating, and completely makes up for the lack of outright action, though there is enough of that in the last episode, when all of the backstories that have been simmering throughout the season suddenly boil over. I won’t ruin the surprise, but I don’t think anyone will have any issues with making it through to the end.

There is one negative aspect of OITNB, and that is, Unlike most of Netflix’s offerings, we have to wait an entire year for the next season. One of the perks of online streaming is instant gratification, so this is rather ironic, and even a little cruel. That’s cold, Netflix. Stone cold.

tumblr_mqcudgfvMI1sbxqyqo1_400

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dexter Finale- Can We Just Talk About this for a Minute??

This post contains spoilers. And lots of ranting.

Whatever will I do without my daily dose of Dexter?

Whatever will I do without my daily dose of Dexter?

I know that Dexter has been over for almost a year, and I’ve effectively missed the series finale rage boat (you know, the one that got ripped to shreds after Dexter drove it into a HURRICANE?), but I’ve got some grievances to air.

Hannah– I still don’t see what bringing Hannah McKay back into the picture serve, other than being  a convenient (if annoying and lazy) plot device. After Dexter and Deb patched things up, they needed some sort of conflict, and it came in the form of this man-hunt for Hannah. It also facilitated the ‘Argentina Plan.’

Yeah, she pretty much ruins lives.

Yeah, she pretty much ruins lives.

I never really bought that Dexter’s and Hannah’s love was as pure and true as it was made out to be. We’re supposed to believe this because Dexter says , constantly, “You’re the only person I can be myself around,” but let’s be honest, Dexter has made a lot of bad judgment calls when it comes to relationships. Remember Lila and Prado? I kept waiting for Hannah to show her true colors.

The only love interest I found believable in Dexter was Lumen. I was about as torn up as Dexter himself when she left. They should have brought her back instead of Hannah.

ex. ex. CHECK. ex.

ex. ex. CHECK. ex.

Deb– Even though Deb was my favorite character (not to mention the best-acted character), I would have been able to accept her death if she had been allowed to go down with a little dignity. Shot in action as collateral damage for one of Dexter’s schemes. It’s what her character deserved. There was nothing of value gained by having her survive the initial shooting then turn into a vegetable because of a blood clot. The exchange between her and Dexter at the hospital was just a re-hash of a previous scene, which was itself a rehash:

Dexter: How can I leave you like this? This is all my fault.

Debra: Don’t you blame yourself, even though it’s technically all your fault. Don’t you have a plane to catch? You need to be in Argentina with Hannah, my sworn enemy. Don’t worry- I’ll just be here coughing up blood and going through months of physical therapy without any family around to take care of me.

Dexter: Well, ok! If you insist!

Sigh. Yet another piece of angel imagery in Dexter.

Sigh. Yet another piece of angel imagery in Dexter.

Some people might claim that she needed to be brain-dead so that Dexter would have to disconnect her breathing tube. I don’t think this is the case- we all know Dexter is responsible for Deb’s demise. There was no need for him to literally kill her. The impromptu burial at sea would have been just as relevant and heart-wrenching if she had just bled to death after the Brain Surgeon shot her.

Too Many Shoe-horned characters: Let’s see: Elway, Marshal Clayton, Evelyn Vogel, Masuka’s daughter…  Suddenly they were all just there, simply to plug up the plot-holes. Except for Masuka’s daughter. She was there for no reason at all. Apparently the cast didn’t include enough scantly covered boobs.

The Ending: They had two endings to choose from- just two! Everyone finds out about Dexter and he gets killed (possibly executed), or everyone finds out about Dexter and he gets away to lead a life elsewhere.

Notice how both of those options included the words ‘everyone finds out about Dexter’? Through eight seasons of this show, Dexter has prepared himself for the day he was found out, and so did we. I wanted to see how everyone reacted, who would be on his side and who would think he’s a monster. The writers denied us this.

Instead, we have the crappiest ending possible. I would have been ok with Dexter driving his boat off into the hurricane and killing himself because he thought he deserved it. It would be fitting for Dexter to end up where he had left so many of his victims.

But then they showed us the glimpse of him as a lumberjack. A lumberjack. The writers offer up that reasoning that Dexter has spent his life doing bad things, and doesn’t deserve to live happily ever after. Dexter has always wanted to connect with others, and so it’s the greatest punishment for him to spend the rest of his life thinking about what he’s done.

But at least his eyes are open. So he can see what he's done.

But at least his eyes are open. So he can see what he’s done.

Seriously? We’re putting Dexter in a time-out? Like a three-year-old? That’s worse than all of his friends and family turning on him and hating him as he waits for the electric chair? Really?

I  don’t buy that Dexter doesn’t deserve Happiness. The whole series has pivoted on this question: whether the good we do in the world can cancel out the bad. Dexter did the best he could with what he had been given, overcame obstacles most ‘good’ people wouldn’t in the same situation. Dexter saved more lives than he took, innocent lives. Doesn’t that deserve a little redemption? We’re made to believe so in the rest of the series, and then in the last ten minutes of the last episode, we’re supposed to buy that all of that isn’t true.

Also, how does Dexter sacrificing himself save Hannah and Harrison in any way? Hannah is now in Argentina, a wanted fugitive. She’s stuck with a child who isn’t her own. I never really believed that Hannah liked Harrison as much as she claimed. She always seemed like ‘dad’s girlfriend who tries too hard to be nice’ to me. The only real interaction we see between her and Harrison is before he took a spill on the treadmill, when he doesn’t listen to her. And we all know how that turned out.

scumbag Dexter.

scumbag Dexter.

I suppose I should have spotted this ending, since they seemed to be working so hard to set up the happily ever after scenario. Masuka gets a daughter, Quinn and Deb get back together, Jamie gets accepted into a great college, Harrison says he loves Hannah. It was all too neat. I should have seen it coming.

So, I’ve taken it upon myself to construct a new, better ending. It starts right after Dexter unhooks Deb from the ventilator and takes her onto his boat to go dump her into the ocean. It may be a little rough, but with the hunk of crap I had to work with, can you blame me?

Dexter Finale, Take 2

Dexter cradles Deb’s lifeless body over the roiling blue ocean. Dark storm clouds can be seen in the distance. He is crying like a baby.

Dexter: Oh, Deb! Why? Why did I hurt you like this with my evil, serial-killing ways? Deb… (He kisses her on the cheek, and whispers in her ear) I love you, Deb.

Dexter, still crying, lowers Deb’s shrouded body into the ocean. She drifts down below, out of sight, the sheet billowing around her like the wings of an angel. He stands, crying for a few moments.

Finally, he turns from the water, and starts to dial his cell phone, but a sputtering and splashing sound from the side of the boat makes him turn back.

Deb: Holy Franken-fuck…

holy Franken-fuck, Dexter! I was just pretending!

holy Franken-fuck, Dexter! I was just pretending!

Dexter: Deb!?

Deb: Shit a brick and fuck me with it, jerk-face! What the motherfuck is the big idea?

Dexter reaches and pulls her back into the boat.

Dexter: but the doctor… she said you were brain-dead… I pulled your breathing tube… Deb, I killed you!

Deb: Well, it’s a motherfucking miracle, isn’t it?

Dexter: but how?

Deb: The first thing I remember is you kissing my cheek, and whispering ‘I love you.’ It took me a few minutes before I could move. I almost drowned, Dex! Hey- How’s that for a spell broken by true love’s kiss?

Dexter: The cold water probably revived you.

Deb: Oh, Dex. you were never able to see anything that wasn’t backed scientifically!

Dexter: So… what now?

Deb: Well, being shot and turning into a vegetable and all has given me a new view of life. I’m done stewing over whether I’m a good person or not. Life is a gift, you know?

Dexter: That’s great! I’ve had a revelation as well. Hannah’s love for me has replaced my need to kill.

Deb: You mean…?

Dexter: Yep. I’m not a serial killer any more. I guess I’ll have to find a new way to make the world a better place. Hey- I have an idea- since you’re living in the moment now, why don’t you move to Argentina with us?

Deb: You know, that’s not a half bad idea. I mean, I’ve always wanted to go the South America, and I don’t have any family here… oh, bacon-wrapped fuck on a stick. Quinn!

Dexter: What about him?

Deb: Well, we just had this whole thing where we decided we were gonna make it work…

Dexter: Well, gosh. Bring him along.

Deb: You know, that might not be a half bad idea. He’d be much more comfortable living with fugitives and killers. I don’t think he was really all that into the cop thing, to be honest. Let me just call him.

Dexter: Ok! I better call Hannah. They’re plane is about to board. (both dial phones)

Hannah: Hello?

Dexter: Hi! How’s it going?

Hannah: Oh, you just caught us. We’re about to board.

Dexter: Great! I can’t wait to meet up with you guys! Just a heads up- Deb is coming, and possibly her cop boyfriend.

Hannah: Oh, ok! (pause) Listen, Dexter. There’s something I wanted to tell you before we get to Argentina. It didn’t seem right to start our new life without you knowing…

Dexter: What is it, Hannah?

Hannah: That’s just it… I’m not actually Hannah. I’m Lumen.

Dexter: whaaa?

Hannah: Yeah. After I left, I never stopped thinking about you. Minnesota was lame. I tried to come back, but you were so hung up on that Hannah chick that the only way I could get your attention was to get plastic surgery to look like her.

Dexter: That’s a lot of surgery. How did you afford that?

Hannah Lumen: My millionaire husband, Dexter. I married him just so I had enough money to change myself. For you.

Dexter: oh, that’s so sweet! And to be honest, I’m kind of glad. It was getting kind of hard to switch my plate with Hannah’s- I mean your- plate every time she-you- cooked. And you were always my favorite love interest.

Lumen: Oh, great! Listen, I gotta go, we’re boarding, but we’ll meet you in Buenos Aires in a few days. Oh! Did you want to talk to Harrison?

Dexter: No, that’s ok. I’m going to see you guys in a few days. I don’t have to tell Harrison I love him in a way that will haunt him for the rest of his life!

Lumen: Ok! bye! (Dexter hangs up the phone. Deb is also done talking to Quinn)

Deb: Good news! Quinn said he’d be glad to move to Argentina! (starts to look worried) But he’s going to find out about Hannah, and maybe you. Do you think that’s a problem?

Dexter: Naah. He was totally ok with the fact that I killed Oliver Saxxon with a ball point pen. While he was in police custody. On camera.

Deb: What?

Dexter: It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.

(They both stare off into the storm)

Deb: Hey, we should probably go before this hurricane destroys the boat and we die. Or become lumberjacks.

Dexter: You’re right! (he starts the boat, and they head to shore) So, what now?

Deb: I’ll have to quit the force. get plane tickets. but first…

Dexter: Steak and beer?

Deb: (nods) yeah. Steak and beer.

Dexter, Debra, and Quinn all meet Lumen and Harrison in Argentina where they all live off of the money Lumen got from her dead ex-husband. Dexter never feels the need to kill Again. Back at the station, everyone leads long, productive lives. They get raises after the murder-solve rate mysteriously triples. No one connects this with the fact that Deb and Dexter have moved away.

The End.

Ok, so it might need some work, but it made at least as much sense as the one they actually aired. Now the only problem is, what am I going to binge-watch on Netflix now? I’ve started the second season of Orange is the New Black, but somehow it’s not the same.

Don't look so smug, Walter. Serial killer Dexter has more of a soul than you do. That's not a good thing.

Don’t look so smug, Walter. Serial killer Dexter has more of a soul than you do. That’s not a good thing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed: a review

091

The quick of it:

Rating: 2.5 stars

Who will like it: Fans of memoirs, especially those who liked Eat Pray Love. Fans of the ‘Dear Sugar’ advice column

Who won’t like it: People who don’t like memoirs; People who are intolerant of navel-gazing; anyone who strongly disliked Eat Pray Love; Those who are sensitive to wordy and superfluous writing.

The Good: This book is honest in regards to the author’s experiences and emotions; it is interesting and informative in regards to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the rigors of backpacking. It’s a fairly light and easy read. The writing is engaging and descriptive.

The Bad: While the writing flows, it could have been edited more to get rid of extraneous words. The protagonist is prone to navel-gazing and can come across as being self-centered and whiny.

The long of it:

If I were forced to describe Cheryl Strayed’s Wild in one sentence, that sentence would go like this: 311 pages of the purest pseudo-feminist navel-gazing since Eat Pray Love. Not once in the entire book does Strayed reflect about what her experiences and emotions might imply about humanity in general. Not once does she consider (in the text, anyway) what her actions have done to those around her. Not once does she entertain the thought that maybe her family and friends (whom she blames for drifting apart after her mother’s death) are also having severe emotional reactions to losing a loved one.

It’s all. About. Cheryl.

Strayed schmoozing with Oprah.

Strayed schmoozing with Oprah.

To be fair, this should be expected (to a certain extent) when reading a memoir. One also has to remember that Cheryl was only 26 when these events took place. That being said, she had almost two decades to grow up before writing the memoir. If she did, I don’t think any of that time-worn wisdom made it into the book.

For example, Cheryl’s mother died while she was out picking up her brother, Lief, who had been MIA since their mother became sick a few months before. They arrive back at the hospital minutes after her mother passes. Cheryl is traumatized and haunted because her mother died without her.

 

It is truly tragic that Cheryl lost her mother so young. I don’t know what I would do under similar circumstances. I pity the 22-year old Cheryl, who in the midst of her grief is understandably destructive and self-centered. Not once does she stop to consider her brother, who only hours before was unaware that his mother was even sick, and hadn’t seen her in months. The problem is that the 40-something year old Cheryl doesn’t stop to consider him, either.

She commits countless acts of adultery against her loving and, by all accounts, saintly husband Paul, who inexplicably still loves and supports her, even through their divorce. She never stops to consider his feelings, only bemoans how she has victimized herself and forced herself into a divorce that she ‘neither wants nor doesn’t want.’ When she decides she hasn’t ruined her own life enough, she starts using heroin. Neither 20-something or 40-something year old Cheryl shows and remorse or pity for anyone besides herself.

She gets the idea to hike the PCT on a whim while in line at the hardware store, and does little planning besides buying a PCT guidebook. She starts the trek wearing boots that are a size too small, and doesn’t even think about how much her pack should weigh until after she’s already started and realizes that she can’t even lift it. She expects the hike to be literally like a walk in the park, and is shocked when she has to climb over trees and across ice and through blistering desert.

Poor Cheryl. Poor ditzy, dim-witted Cheryl.

Above I described the book as pseudo-feminist. What I meant was that Cheryl is the type of feminist who simultaneously ‘bucks the system’, or thinks she does, while enjoying the benefits that being a woman brings her. She might reject traditional sexism by sleeping around and thinking of herself as a ‘badass amazonian’ PCT hiker, but the truth of the matter is that she receives a lot of help along the way simply because she is a woman, and she’s willing to exploit this. Men give her rides, men help her with her pack, men give her places to sleep at night, they buy her stuff. One of the most revolting scenes of the book was when she accepted an invitation back to a man’s house- and brought her friends along uninvited- not because she liked the man, but to drink his booze and use his fireplace.

Cheryl might consider herself a badass Amazon for conquering the PCT alone, but in truth she had a lot of help that male hikers just wouldn’t get.

Besides the navel-gazing, self-centeredness, and fake feminism, the only other thing I truly disliked about this book was the writing. Not that it was bad, but that it was badly edited. About ¼ of the text could have been easily eliminated with little effect on the style, voice, or events. There were A LOT of extraneous words and sentences.

All that being said, I don’t dislike this book, and I’m trying to think of a concrete reason why. Maybe it’s because I like memoir, and I can handle a certain amount of egocentrism. Maybe it’s because I found the ins and outs of trail-life interesting and informative. Maybe it’s because-even if some of the content was annoying- Cheryl Strayed was being honest about how she felt all those years ago, and how she feels now. Maybe it’s because- even if she’s a little wordy- Cheryl Strayed can definitely paint a picture with her writing.

Reese Witherspoon will star in the film-version of Wild.

Reese Witherspoon will star in the film-version of Wild.

This book shares some similarities with Eat Pray Love, one of those similarities being the ending. Both author’s set out hoping for self-discovery and change, but in the end use their experiences as a catalyst to forgive themselves for being exactly as they are. In Wild, this conclusion seemed sudden and forced, but that does not mean that it is not valid.

Posted in book review, non-fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Would Superman Do?

This movie is the final project for one of my brother’s classes. It was nominated for best student screenplay at the University of Iowa. It’s witty, funny, and, at times, touching. I’m very proud to say it was made by my little brother!

Video | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why I Don’t Wear Make-Up

I had a job interview yesterday. On Sunday, as I was frantically going over any last-minute details I might have overlooked, I opened up the bathroom drawer and realized that I didn’t own any make-up. At all. This was, of course, excluding my score of dried out eyeliner pencils. I have used each one a maximum of two times before leaving it to languish in my make-up bag, which I open, on average, less than once a month. I thought back: the last time I had worn make-up was at Christmas, in anticipation of holiday photos; I must have left my mascara and ‘good’ (read: least dried-out) eyeliner at my mom’s.

“It was probably expired and full of bacteria, anyway,” I said to myself under my breath, hoping my boyfriend wouldn’t hear and think I had been driven mad by pre-interview stress.

As a teenager and young adult, I wore a lot of make-up.  At the time, I considered myself ‘alternative’ and ‘punk’, and complimented my short, multi-colored hair with shimmery forest-green eye shadow, which I blended into the crease of my eye, what one friend called my ‘mermaid look.’ The point was to draw attention and make a statement (don’t ask me what that statement was, probably something about conformity and rejecting mainstream values, etc.), rather than to cover up any perceived flaws or even make myself more attractive.

 I have never in my life, except for a few adventures into my mother’s make-up bag as a toddler, worn things like primer, foundation, blush, or rouge, which seems to do the same job as blush but is somehow deserving of its own name. These are all devices meant to mask imperfections. I can understand wearing things like eye-shadow and lipstick, things that add color and zest, but these other things seem to reinforce the message that you, as you are, are not good enough, and need to be hidden and covered up.

Image

My forays into my mother’s cabinet looked a lot like this….

After outgrowing my punk phase, I began wearing make-up only occasionally, and only ever eye-liner and mascara. About a year ago, I stopped doing even that. I might put baby powder on my face when it gets oily, and I wear carmex religiously, but that’s it.

I was somewhat oblivious to this change in my routine until a few weeks ago, when an encounter at work brought it to my attention, and also brought to light certain benefits it provides.

At the bakery-café where I am employed, I was working alongside Barbie, a girl a few years younger than myself. Barbie wasn’t her real name, but her facial structure, blue eyes, and enviable figure were as much a match for the iconic doll as the female body can naturally be, and this earned her the moniker.

I was re-arranging muffins in the display case when she randomly said, “You don’t wear any make-up, do you?”

“Well, no,” I replied.

She breathed a small, wistful sigh. “You look so pretty without wearing make-up. I wish I could do that. I have to wear it.”

I turned to her, muffin in hand, disbelieving. “I’m pretty sure you can get away without wearing make-up, Barbie.” I emphasize her nickname, and couldn’t manage to keep the skepticism out of my voice. Was she fishing for compliments?

She shook her head. “I tried it a couple of times, but people always asked me what was wrong. They thought I looked sick, or tired.”

I thought of the days in high school when I had overslept, and had to forgo the eyeliner and smears of green, grimacing at my tired and puffy looking reflection in the mirror before scurrying out the door. Not only did other people notice the difference, but I did, and I would spend the whole day feeling conspicuous and subpar.

Image

We feel your pain, Edward!

I felt a sudden rush of freedom brought on by my chronically bare face.

“Well, they’re used to you wearing it, you know? So if you don’t….” I said this as though it were a philosophy I had been cultivating for years, but in reality, it had just occurred to me.

“You are so right,” she said, and I suddenly saw how much work she must put in to maintain the Barbie image. When I work at 6am, I roll out of bed at 5:30, get dressed, and walk out the door. How much extra time would it take to apply the foundation, the blush, the eye-shadow and mascara? To blow out her perfect, waist-length blond locks?

All that, and if she decided to sleep in and skip the maintenance for a day, she would be perceived as haggard or sickly. To even herself, make-up had become her true face, her better face. Was this the reason millions of women deal with eye infections, pillows marred with black smudges, and raccoon-eye?

Immediately, I felt lucky that I was free of the trap of make-up, which women supposedly wear to build confidence, but in the end only makes them feel worse about themselves. How many times have you heard a woman call herself a hag, or apologize for her s***** appearance, all because she had been unable to stick to her usual routine that morning, as though her bare face was somehow offensive?

To be honest, I have to say that my new philosophy is born out of laziness rather than true feminism. I’ve never cared very much what I look like, as long as it doesn’t draw attention from strangers (that’s one difference between me and my teenaged self), and so I’m more inclined to watch another episode of Dexter than straighten my hair, and I hit the snooze button and spend that extra five minutes sleeping rather than contouring my features with blush.

So yesterday, as I was driving to the store to waste $12 on new mascara and new eyeliner for the interview (because ‘a barefaced female applicant doesn’t seem serious about the job’), I felt like a traitor to my own beliefs. I consoled myself with the knowledge that, after the interview, the new apparatuses would only languish in my bathroom drawer, true fate unknown, but most likely destined for the dark recesses of a neglected make-up bag.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

No Christmas Before Thanksgiving!

It was meant as a warning, but people took it as a joke: A picture of a turkey and a pilgrim, both holding muskets, pointed at equally armed Santa Claus, Frosty, and Rudolph. Santa in this picture is decked out in full-on Rambo garb, which is fitting, because Christmas has been launching a Sylvester Stalone level of assault on Thanksgiving for decades.

I'm pretty sure turkeys don't consider this a holiday. They probably think of it the way the citizens of district 12 thought of The Hunger Games. Just saying.

I’m pretty sure turkeys don’t consider this a holiday. They probably think of it the way the citizens of district 12 thought of The Hunger Games. Just saying.

Personally, I think everyone I know thinks that Thanksgiving was invented so that A) Black Friday deal-seekers can fuel up properly for a night spent camped out in the blistering cold in front of Best Buy, and B) Those who would rather not participate in the consumerism stampede can have enough food stock-piled so they can survive the day without having to venture out into the frenzy. I’d say something snarky here like Because nothing says ‘I’m thankful for what I have’ like ‘Let’s go fight with strangers over even more cheap junk that I don’t need!, But I’m too afraid of getting this response: “Thankful? What’s that?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next guy, but I’m also a traditionalist: I believe that Christmas should be held at bay at least until the day after Thanksgiving, maybe even the first day of December. It’s hard for me, too. It took a lot of self-control for me not to watch Christmas Vacation a few days ago when I noticed it was on Netflix. This is made all the harder when, for the past month, everything I see seems to announcing at full volume that CHRISTMAS IS COMING! IT’S PRACTICALLY HERE! Seriously-the mall here in Tempe put their Christmas decor up the day before Halloween. And then there’s Black Friday. Can we still even call it Black ‘Friday’? A better name might be Month of insufferable television ads. I think it has a nice ring to it.

Eddard knows what I'm talking 'bout.

Eddard knows what I’m talking ’bout.

I suppose that when it all started, Black Friday was a good idea, a way for those willing to wait in ridiculously long lines to get cheap Christmas Gifts. Not everyone participated, and most people were happy to stay in bed and sleep off the turkey buzz, and it worked.

But then ‘Black Friday’ started leaking over into the following weekend.

And then ‘Cyber Monday’ was invented.

And then we began seeing the word ‘doorbusters’ not just in November, but throughout the year as well.

After a while, it gets a little diluted, right? When ‘deals’ are apparently everywhere, you can know for sure that they’re actually nowhere.

And this year they’re doing the unthinkable: ‘Black Friday’ is actually starting on Thanksgiving. Call the Calvary home, boys; tell the turkey and the pilgrim that the war is over. We lost.

A lot of consumers are upset that if they want to get the big deals, they’ll have to miss out on the Turkey Day festivities. Honestly, I’m not to worried about the plight of these people, they have to make a choice, family vs. saving a buck. I am upset for the workers at these stores who are either forced outright or pressed into giving up special time with family in order to get holiday pay.

morpheusThanksgivingmeme

I too enjoy a good bargain, but I want people to start thinking about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, and no, it’s not seeing how much turkey and mashed potatoes you can eat before you pass out, either. Thanksgiving was started to remember a time when people came together to celebrate the fact that they could furnish a relatively lavish feast, surrounded by the cherished friends and family that had not yet died from dysentery or whooping cough. Do you really think that next generation tablet is going to give you that same feeling, even if it’s 50% off? I think not.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment