american woman


"In a variety of ways, the mass media helped make us the critical schizophrenics we are today, women who rebel against yet submit to prevailing images about what a desirable, worthwhile woman should be...[T]he mass media has engendered in many women a kind of cultural identity crisis. We are ambivalent toward femininity on the one hand and feminism on the other. Pulled in opposite directions--told we were equal, yet told we were subordinate; told we could change history but told we were trapped by history--we got the bends at an early age, and we've never gotten rid of them.
"When I open Vogue, for example, I am simultaneously infuriated and seduced....I adore materialism; I despise materialism....I want to look beautiful; I think wanting to look beautiful is about the most dumb-ass goal you could have. The magazine stokes my desire; the magazine triggers my bile. And this doesn't only happen while I'm reading Vogue; it happens all the time....On the one hand, on the other hand--that's not just me--that's what it means to be a woman in America."
-Susan Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media
i thought this little excerpt was quite familiar to my own experience, and i couldn't help laugh aloud while at the same time nodding my head in serious agreement. what are your thoughts?


amy said...

I love this topic. No aspect of my life is fraught with more meaning or conflict than my status as a woman. I am grateful for the ways feminist thought has broadened to include femininity in it's identity--not femininity in the Vogue

magazine sense, necessarily, but femininity in the sense of concerns and experiences unique to women. As you know, ann, for me a major component of my feminist agenda is female reproductive rights, and by this I mean the unconventional definition including rights to conceive, gestate, birth and rear children in safety. I often wish this aspect of femininity superseded what I consider sexual objectification as the primary "feminine".

Brandi said...

I completely agree with that quote. I once tried explaining this to my boyfriend, though I think a man can never quite understand the situation by virtue of the fact that it is something that women alone are thrust into. I want to look beautiful physically because I think it's a reflection of how I feel about myself internally. At some point, I had to stop fighting against the contradictions of being both smart and beautiful, of wanted to be admired for both my mind and personality and for the outward appearance. The contradiction doesn't ever really disappear I think. You just learn to be who you want to be, no matter what people will try to label you.

Dee said...

I can't believe this post because of the one I'm working on right now! You'll know what I mean when you see it. I'll probably publish it today. Funny timing!

What a great post! I can also relate very much. I was just browsing a catalog, admiring the beautiful clothes and feeling guilty for wanting them so badly.

I understand the problem described in the article and have no idea the answer. I've lots to think about.

Liz said...

Amen sista!! We can like pretty things AND be smart too!!