But it's been a busy week - project work, staying up late to watch the election, attempting to write both a novel for NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month), an essay, and my senior paper in the same week (and somehow they are ALL in existence and being written...). And, to top it all off, my birthday's in a little over a week, Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and... this is my 100th post on this blog.
But of course an entertainment magazine won't do that. For one, it's taking a position on this story and as the news (even if it is celebrity news) is supposed to tell "just the facts" then boldly showing their position might piss people off. Also, adding commentary on this might throw off the very reason people buy magazines - to hear about celebrity gossip, not what people think about celebrity gossip. But I think this kind of sucks. Here we have an article that doesn't tell me anything I I haven't already heard and there's no mention of the broader repercussions involved in this - how fans may be affected when reading that the actress playing their favorite character in The Hunger Games is considered fat in Hollywood, what statements like this do towards actors and women and people buying these magazines. It's an article without real substance, a piece that tells us who and what and where and when but not the most important aspects: how and why.
This could easily turn into me critiquing the world of journalism and I don't want to go down that path (not because I don't want to discuss it - I'd love to discuss it - but because it would be a super massive tangent. And we all know this is going to be long enough without that). But I am being more observant and sensitive about these sort of issues after watching the documentary called Killing Us Softly 4 in my cinema and media history class.
If you are interested in watching it - and I recommend it - you can watch it for free here; just scroll down a bit and the video is there. Thanks to fair use and educational means, you can watch the full movie online (it's about 45 minutes long and full of interesting discussion of advertisements). Jean Kilbourne, the woman who made this film and who is talking throughout it, has made four of these films now - four of them - and as she mentions, things are not getting better, they are getting worse.
Watching this documentary in class came shortly after discussing how people can get their message heard in the world of new technology and that certain people have the advantage of getting heard over others. The internet equalizes this a little bit but, of course, one has to have access to the internet in order to use it. That's a severe limitation in itself. But those of us with internet have a sort of power, the ability to have access to a number of thoughts and opinions that we may not get from TV or film or news articles. Of course, every opinion has a position and a certain way of expressing itself. And it was my blog I started thinking about as we discussed this in class. I have a special privilege out here, with the time and ability to maintain a blog that actually gets visibility thanks to Google image searches. This post on feminism is the most popular one on my entire blog (by A LOT) and continues to increase in page views. After seeing Killing Us Softly, I can't help but wondering if my words are doing enough.
I want to be resistant, a bit rebellious, to expose what is not generally show in perhaps the most obvious places. But I also don't want to come off as completely overzealous, overly outraged, and overly angry - because in our modes of communication, this sort of message is never well accepted. Which is too bad. Because I think I'm rather good at the overzealous kind of thing. I worry that perhaps I water thing down too much (this is a blog, not exactly a scholarly archive, after all) or that I'm too apologetic or too forgiving over the issues at stake. Because here's the problem: when you step up and say, "Yo, feminism, let's get this shit done," there is a sudden reaction of, "Wait, hold on - what about all that progress we made?"
Of course, it isn't quite that simple. As Doctor Who tells us, things are very "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey." We are still engaged with the past, constantly building upon it, and yet detached from it, as we can no longer see it. We are constantly moving into the future, every second, every millisecond, and yet we're also entirely in the present, unable to know what tomorrow will bring (yay, metaphysics!). So when you start talking about progress, it gets really muddy. Today is better than what? Worse than what? Can you really compare now to the beginning of the 20th century when something like the internet and blogging and computers and TVs and radios were unexpected? But can you also really say that those times were so different, that those people were so different, that they were nothing like we are today? What exactly is progress in the scheme of things like this? Are just living in the Matrix? (Gah, no, not that argument... I can't deal with that argument right now.)
And so, when discussing feminism, it's hard to talk about what's better and what's worse. Yes, of course I am grateful that women can vote and have more autonomy over their lives and that the idea of arranged marriages is considered something from "the past." But at the same time, I want to be clear that it's hard to draw comparisons to the past when it's both the same and entirely different. When people voice objections to how women are currently treated, the mention of "but look how far we come" is both necessary and yet terribly hurtful. Yes, it is important to remember what we have gained, but at the same time, how is that presented? Do we talk about how suffragettes were beaten and harmed during protests? Do we talk about how advertising has completely changed how we think about female bodies? Do we talk about how these representations of women affect BOTH how men and women think and how men are represented as well? Do we talk about racial minorities and how they are overlooked in regards to these issues? Do we talk about GLBT groups and how certain practices of feminism come across as extremely phobic of groups such as transsexuals? We are told we should be grateful - but grateful for what? Sometimes it seems like a distraction from how complicated these issues really are.
It's not that I dislike what Killing Us Softly is doing; I love it and I don't think there's enough of it in society. But it in itself need to do more. It's time we stop recognizing that feminists exist and recognize that feminism is about more than just one small group - it's much more expansive than that. Or at least it should be.
However, doing this is an uphill battle, mainly because of the second instance where feminism is misrepresented. Watch this awesome video (many thanks to Emma for reblogging this on Tumblr and bringing it to my attention) and see what I mean:
Dude, this guy rocks. But see what I mean about an uphill battle? We're still fighting against the freaking idea that feminists burned bras. I never even knew that it didn't happen - not for sure, at least. I figured it was an over-exaggeration but that the event never occurred? Check it out, peeps - here's the link on Scopes. Just in case you are a skeptic, or you like to fact check (like me). If I were writing and trying to think of a way to prevent a certain plot device from occurring, I couldn't come up with better bullshit than this. I mean, seriously... it's damnably difficult to fight for rights when the people who are fighting for it are represented as crazy extremists.