Monday, April 11, 2005

Building Bloqs

This one's a bit odd. This is the sort of thing you think of if you're me. It's about sexual equality. By which I mean gender equality, except that 'gender' isn't what humans have - we have sex.

In actuality, this post is about Desperate Housewives.

I've never seen the show. However, the female stars are: Teri Hatcher (40), Felicity Huffman (42), Marcia Cross (42), Eva Longoria (30), and Nicolette Sheridan (41).

Many people - especially people concerned with "women's rights" - seem to dislike the show. I have no idea what the content of the show is, and I'd probably hate it just because I can't stand sitcoms. But these people don't hate sitcoms - they hate the fact that it "makes sex objects out of women". Women who, by screenshots, look absolutely fabulous.

At the age of 40.

In my opinion, I can't think of a BETTER thing for women's rights. Think about it. Using ZERO laws, ZERO demonstrations, and MAKING MONEY, this show is taking a very important first step towards making it OKAY for women TO BE OLD.

Sure, the women look incredible - but you've got to expect that on TV. The point is still that they are not spring chickens, and there are plenty of men - both young and old, as far as I can tell by blogs and commentary - drooling over them.

Maybe this is more a sign we can, using advanced technology, slow down or even turn back the clock. Maybe it's a first step towards accepting how people look as they grow older. Either way, if it is a success and clones hit the market, there could easily be a whole paradigm shift away from the "perky eighteen year old" obsession western culture seems to have mastered. That would, in my opinion, serve two very noble purposes:

1) It would mean that men wouldn't be constantly obsessed over stupid young girls, giving women a good chance to stand on equal ground as almost-thirties and almost-fourties and almost-fifty year olds.

2) It would mean that there would be more perky eighteen year olds for me.


Darius Kazemi said...

Except the women on the show are attractive because they are 40 but look to be much younger. So they are considered attractive because they meet the incredibly unrealistic qualifications necessary in our society for a 40-year-old woman to be drooled over.

It would be different if the show portrayed some women who are 40 and look 40 as attractive. As it stands, all that this show really says about women is, "It's okay to be old, so long as you look really young." And that's nothing new at all.

Craig, just not logged in said...

Well, no, actually, that IS a new thing. Name some other shows - older than a few years - in which it was okay to be old so long as you looked beautiful.

Darren Torpey said...


I'm going to have to agree with Darius here. You (Craig) seem to have illustrated exactly why this show is little more than symptomatic of our present mis-balance.

You offer that "It would mean that men wouldn't be constantly obsessed over stupid young girls, giving women a good chance to stand on equal ground as almost-thirties and almost-fourties and almost-fifty year olds."
However, what you seem to be saying (correctly) is that it would give women a good chance to stand on the grounds that young women stand on in our society, and that is not a desirable condition.

I believe that what we need is the EXACT OPPOSITE demonstration in mass media. That is, we need young woman who are simply good, well-rounded people and who (as a whole) represent all the different types of people that exist in reality and whose interactions are genuinely human.

Once we have better role models for women playing out, and in particular ones that don't revolve around youth and "beauty", THEN older women can start to develop, en masse, an appreciation for their worth as a person despite and sometimes in fact due to their advanced years.
THAT is what we need.

I've long held that far more than a Barbie doll could ever hurt a girl's (or guy's) sense of esteem, it's the lack of positive and diverse role models for females that kills our culture.

As a side note, let me close by explaining what motivated this perspective for me:
I strongly believe that I, for one, would have had an almost impossible challenge trying to maintain my personal values if it weren't for the positive male role models I had. (Or at least that I could find if I really looked and chose wisely -- hopefully the mass media can get back to having more apparent positive role models for men, too).

In a world full of macho bullshit for men of all ages and persuasions, thank heaven there were also innumerable positive role models discussed in school, books, and within my family.
Unfortunately, many of my friends failed to latch onto those same models, and ended up regressing to less balanced and more prevalent views of masculinity. As a result, they foster notably ill-balanced psychologies despite the inherent aspects of their personalities that our culture would see as more 'feminine'. Those latter characteristics were, in my opinion, part of their finer sides.

Craig Perko said...

The problem with your approach, Darren, is that you're an idealist: you (and probably Darius, knowing him) are under the impression that what we really need is to stop with the whole "idealized physical beauty" thing.

That may be true, but it will NEVER HAPPEN. Not EVER EVER EVER. Men will ALWAYS lust after women (or men, I suppose), it's literally what we're built to do.

You cannot just point to someone unattractive but smart and say, "that person is attractive!" and have it come true. In order to change our perception of beauty, we have to START with our perception of beauty, not start by IGNORING it or DENYING it.

There are a few ways I can think of doing this, and some are starting to really make waves. One example is making older women attractive. Yes, it's 'shallow'. But so are the vast majority of men. Once you've pushed the 'okay to be old and sexy' meme into their heads, you can use it to springboard into a simply 'okay to be old' meme. That's how memetics tend to work - they can be totally divorced from their original basis by a long chain of associations. How else can you explain Gieger?

Similarly, there's a lot of chuffing about geek girls these days. Willow was far more popular than Buffy among the crowd I know. Similarly, that geeky reporter girl from Smallville was more popular than the main female character among the same crowd.

This isn't a case of pointing and saying "she's officially attractive". It's a case of MAKING someone ALMOST fit the ideal, but injecting GEEK into the picture. It's been going on for long enough now (mostly with music geeks) that it's started to gain credentials on its own, making GEEKY girls a bit more attractive to a good chunk of the males.

Yes, we're obsessed with unrealistic impressions of beauty. That will NEVER CHANGE. But we can WARP our unrealistic impressions of beauty to more reasonable ones, including more than the aforementioned perky eighteen year old. We can include older people, geekier people, flat people, muscular people, black people, white people - Asian people included by default, I'm sure.

Fashion - including body type fashion - is RADICALLY ALTERED with EVERY GENERATION. If altered CORRECTLY, it could put women on equal ground, instead of having this absurd obsession with brainless bimbos.

And the ONLY thing we need to do to do that is to make it OKAY TO BE OLD.

Men mentally rate every woman they see - at least, almost all men. I don't mean, "oh, hmm, a 6.6." I mean "hot" or "not hot". The problem is that they tend to rate HIGHER (and pay more attention to) the stupid young women. That's where their attention is concentrated, so that's the message that comes through.

If they saw attractive OLDER women, looking professional, looking intelligent, looking confident and poised, they would receive an entirely different message.

I hope I'm being clear as to what I think, here.