I have three awesome nieces. The middle niece is in second grade, and recently her father posted a photo of her on Facebook holding a trophy, with a comment that she had gotten 2nd place in the school spelling bee. My first thought was "Right on! Brains always ran in the family. Good for her." And then the comments started coming. Every single one of them remarked on how cute or beautiful she was. Now, don't get me wrong. My nieces are all adorable. But the whole point of the post was to commend her on her intelligence, and no one was willing to congratulate her for that. And these are people who care about her and want the best for her. What kind of message is that? Oh, good job on knowing how to spell onomatopoeia, but gosh your hair just looks great! Who cares about those silly words? Who cares about brains? What's next? She's valedictorian but people only care about her dress, much like every awards show ever? And what if she were not pretty? What would they talk about then?
As you can see, it upsets me greatly. We do a great disservice to our young girls and women when we can only concentrate on the outside. Then, that's what they value and what they focus on, since that's the only measure of their worth, apparently. And then the other day I came across this article, and it only reinforced what we already know: girls are only objects that are pretty. I have to say, it gets my dander up every time. Those are fightin' words.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie Her. Now I know, everyone loved it and thought Joaquin Phoenix was so dreamy in it, but I sat there the whole time, shifting uncomfortably in my seat,wondering if this is what movies are supposed to be now. They are a place where stories are told that present women as things, as objects that can be owned. Whose sole purpose for being is to serve a man, and that man is their master. To make matters worse, she isn't even flesh and blood. She is literally a THING. Women of flesh and blood are too messy, too emotional, too hell-bent on doing what makes them happy instead of what makes their man happy. And the worse part is, this is a love story. I would put it closer to horror, because that is what I felt. Horror at watching it (and don't even get me started on those ill-fitting, hipsterish old-man clothes), and horror at peoples' reactions to it. How am I the only one seeing this? What the hell is going on here???
So I have a proposal. Let's start thinking of women as people. Actual people with actual brains, emotions, wants, needs and desires. And not only do they have them, but they are just as valid as every dangler's. Women can come in all shapes and sizes, and want all sorts of things, to a husband or a child, to a career, to adventure, to sex, and everything in between and beyond. We have to start demanding this. Not only of ourselves, but of each other and our media, before it destroys half the population. It's not difficult. It doesn't cost anything. But for the sake of my incredibly intelligent and intellectual nieces, please stop limiting your praise to what you see on them, and start seeing what's within them. I would really appreciate it.