I’ve been thinking about so many different things lately… the most common theme being that it is fucking hard to be a woman! A few weeks ago, I watched some videos from the VMAs. There was all this hype about Britney Spears’ performance so you know I HAD to watch that. I mean, first, hats off to anyone who retains that level of longevity in show business. Pop culture is a fucking fickle beast, so staying relevant takes a huge amount of discipline and hard work. Even if I’ve only liked a few of her songs here and there (same with Madonna), I still gotta give props for her insane dance moves. I just think about how I’ve taken two low-level Groupon dance classes, and shit, I can’t even imagine the amount of dedication, coordination, and physical exhaustion her fitness requires. So yeah, obviously, she’s an amazing performer. That said, I’m still a frickin’ prude-ass and shit, her show made me uncomfortable as fuck. All the sexy outfits and gyrating movements… I mean, it should come as no surprise that shit made me cringe. And then I stumbled on some other YouTube videos containing commentary lambasting Britney for being a “whore,” for glamorizing strippers or whatever. And it got me thinking again about how you just can’t win! Honestly, who the fuck knows where that exact line is… the one that separates empowering/confident/sexy from trashy/degrading? On one hand, she’s an entertainer and people seem to clamor for her style and delivery of entertainment. She’s just “knowing her audience.” On the other hand, is she adulterating young, impressionable minds? What message, if any, is she sending? I have friends who give me crap, bc I watch the Kardashians. I don’t agree with every damn thing they do, but my friends give me shit bc they insist that no legit feminist can support Kim, esp given her penchant for naked selfies, her immodest overexposure (literally and figuratively), and most importantly, given her ascent to fame due to a sex tape. Can feminists support Britney and Beyonce? They prance around in some pretty risque outfits and are also quite active (overexposed/self indulgent) on social media. Are they acceptable bc their sex tapes were kept private and also bc they have “real” talent, whereas Kim’s media savvy and business acumen don’t count for crap? Ultimately, here’s the thing: we are all hypocrites in this life; we all do things and act in ways that are incongruous. Why? Bc we’re not fucking robots!
For example, here’s an easy disconnect: I’m feminist, and I wear makeup. Yes, I wear makeup partly bc I don’t like my natural look, partly bc I don’t feel “beautiful” by society’s standards, but also bc I derive enjoyment from experimenting and playing with makeup. I’m feminist and instead of being completely independent and self-sufficient, I’m currently a homemaker who has dinner ready for Bubbey when he gets home. I’m a feminist, and I do nearly all of the housework, regardless of whether or not I’m working outside the house. I’m feminist, and I spend substantial hours and dollars studying images of women (er, objectifying women), most of which are heavily Photoshopped and/or where the women are made to look totally different from how they naturally appear. I invest in superficial things like makeup, hair color, self-tanner, clothing, shoes, accessories… When I watch award shows on tv, if I’m honest, I’m more interested in the fashion and the makeup than in the women’s professional craft/work. I do all these things and yet, I’m a feminist bc I support the policy/advocacy of social, economic, and political equality for women. Are we there yet? Clearly, not. And I’m sure me falling into these existing gender roles and cultural constructs (if even by choice) doesn’t exactly move the needle at exponential speed, but you know what? I’m not perfect. I do things that conflict all the time, and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. I don’t live in a utopia. I still engage in society and sometimes play by the existing rules and yield to the current pressures.
I don’t know the exact history of the Kdash sex tape– was it leaked deliberately as some stunt masterminded by the mother, or was its reveal accidental? I don’t know, but that sex tape does NOT get to define her forever. She’s not peddling that tape around 10 years later, telling people, “Hey look at me, watch me in this video!” Yes, she takes nude selfies but that’s not ALL she does. Could she be less self-absorbed? Sure. So could all of us. For me, I watch the Kardashians, bc I am intrigued by their family dynamics. I’m impressed by how the entire family has parlayed negative publicity into so many different business ventures: makeup lines, clothing lines, shoe lines, the show, a book, product endorsements, design/artsy portfolios, etc. Yes, I absolutely think Kylie is growing up way too fast for a teen, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how she and Kendall have handled the Bruce-Caitlyn transition. Would I be so supportive if my father made those changes and choices? Hellz no! Would I be able to see the bigger picture of his happiness and place that above the public circus and humiliation? These girls are not even 20 y/o! That’s some serious shit to grapple with. If you really strip away the glitz and glam, in the end, they battle similar issues that I battle: cultivating friendships/relationships/marriages, hustling for work (let’s just admit, they understand PR and media), and making choices/decisions despite the criticism/judgement within and outside their circles. I can’t relate to Kim’s desire to have kids to the point of undergoing IVF, but that’s a very real struggle I have witnessed among my friends and colleagues. Then there’s the long-term unconventional relationship between Kourtney and Scott. Yes, both are annoying as fuck but in any relationship, esp a long one, when do you know to keep plugging and when do you throw in the towel? There’s also the topic of mother-daughter relationships. I’ve always found the “mom as your BFF” concept to be odd but it works for some people. I’m curious to know if Kris really is the mastermind behind everything, or is she just the ESTJer getting shit done? Finally, with Lamar and Rob, how do you love people who are self-destructive or addicts? Maybe that’s the thing about me and entertainment. I always see the us in them. No matter how different our lives and settings are, I see similar struggles and emotions. Humans are fucking complicated man, and you can’t just put people into neat little boxes.
And that’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about: the whole media shaming thing. Obviously, the Cincinnati zoo incident was disturbing as fuck. And I will admit, my very first gut reaction was, “Come on, people. Keep an eye on your fucking kids!!” And that’s probably due to my own bias against people with children. But at the end of the day, no one wanted this to happen. I mean, hell, life is unexpected and unpredictable. Who would have expected that my sis-in-law and her beau would go to a wedding last summer and only she would return? In retrospect, it’s easy to say he shouldn’t have drunk so much or he shouldn’t have been a smoker or he shouldn’t have jay walked, blah, blah, blah. Well, shit happened and you have to go from there. The 4 y/o somehow made his way into the pen and rather than getting upset that it even happened, the zoo and its team had to make decisions about the immediate problem. Moving forward, yes, let’s consider how zoos and visitors can prevent this from happening again, but honestly there’s no point in shaming the parents (and of course, the mother is being shamed MORE than the father). Shit happens and life is appalling every. fucking. day.
Finally, I want to end on a few things I’ve recently watched on tv. The OJ Simpson series and Confirmation, about the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas debacle. And now, the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp situation. It’s not easy to be a woman who steps forward. I remember that I was only a child during the Justice Thomas confirmation hearings. I didn’t follow the news closely, but somehow as a child, I had determined that she was lying. I didn’t like how she described such graphic disgusting exchanges in a formal setting and why had she come forward so late? Looking back, I clearly had a bias, one that dismissed women and supported men. Where did I pick that up? As an adult, it saddens me that I thought that way of such an accomplished and brave woman: rather than be infuriated by Mr. Thomas and his gall in talking to a colleague with such inappropriate and sexual details, I somehow blamed her for his harassing behavior. And the whole OJ thing? We see this theme over and over again where famous men get some kind of pass for criminal behavior just bc they contribute something else that we admire, enjoy, or value. Roman Polanski. Woody Allen. Ray Rice. Bill Cosby. Jerry Sandusky. Michael Jackson. Forgiveness for men is so easy. It’s like we can’t possibly fathom that men are complex and deceptive. They’re just good ‘ol boys, just bros. Johnny Depp’s daughter and ex came forward insisting he was a gentle soul. He never abused them. Well, OJ never beat the shit out of anyone other than Nicole. Whatever. Just another day where women get dismissed, discredited, and/or vilified with an incommensurate level of anger and outrage.