Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Don't Resist Laughing at Those Scabby Ankles! It's Feminism!

Ugh. This Guardian article literally had me grinding my teeth.

Though, admittedly, there were some paragraphs I couldn't make sense of (I suppose it's that British wit I keep hearing about), I think I got the gist. Julie Burchill wants you to feel free to obsess over Jennifer's cellulite or Braxtey's dry skin. Glamour rags who feature the latest celeb-gone-wrong are ... promoting feminism!

"How so?" you might ask. I'll let Burchill tell you:

"Ooh, a hundred years of feminism gone down the drain!" a certain sort of killjoy Jeremiah is wont to whinge when they see a civilian chick sniggering over a Heat snapshot of some starlet's un-fake-tanned ankles. To which I would reply no, it's you that's a disgrace to our living, mutating feminism, with your apparent feeling that to be a "proper" woman one must never bitch, smirk or get a cheap laugh out of someone wealthier's imperfections. So a woman should be pure in thought, word and sense of humour, eh? A veritable Angel of the Hearth, indeed! How very Victorian - and how very boring.

I warned you about the Britishisms.

What Burchill has completely wrong (and I'm sorry if it's England moved to another planet where it's different) is the argument. Who the hell is talking about "proper" women? I hate these sad excuses for journalism (celebalism? sounds like the disease it is) because they make normal people like feel like shit. Maybe people are laughing on th outside, but on the inside, they're thinking, "damn, I wish I had that kind of body." If a size 2 movie star is getting criticized for her supposedly flabby stomach or her natural face, what kind of message does that send people like me? No, forget me, I'm old enough not to give a crap. What kind of message does that send to a self-conscious adolescent?

Not to mention the fact that Burchill's article only talks about women. The green light of crapmags only seems to hit famous women. Does Burchill not have a problem with that? Are famous men too real for her already?

Sorry to rant, but this is just ridiculous. Sure, if these were simply pictures shot with a goal of showing us real people in honest moments, Burchill's argument would stand. But I'm supposed to laugh at these women. I'm supposed to feel glad that I'm not them. Women are being criticized for being real.

And that's not okay.


mumboj said...

I don't know enough about American culture to translate Burchill, but she is a bit like Dan Savage on crack! She is highly individual you either love her or you hate her, that's it.

Her argument here as far as I can tell, is that Women's mags aimed at the middle classes tend to arse lick celebs to a cringe making degree, I have to say I totally agree with that, the way they go on is embarrassing, especially as they pretend to be superior journalistically and intellectually.

And as for 'we are meant to laugh at them', do you always do exactly what you are meant to, I'm sure other women as well as you have minds of their own. Sometimes people feel, oh they are just like us, other times if they are critcising them what about me? The point is the 'serious' mags play up to the physical perfection but also that they are somehow cleverer, and morally noble than us, why is this any better for women's self-esteem?

Amanda said...

I don't think either is good for women's self esteem.

And of course I don't always do what I'm told to do, but Burchill's argument contains the fact that we're supposed to laugh at these women.

The mags that focus on celebrity flaws (mostly women) criticize women for being themselves. The glamour mags show celebrities working. Part of their job is to look perfect. In no way are these magazines "serious" or "better" than the down and dirty magazines. They're just a different way to make us feel shitty about ourselves.

Is there any magazine that shows these women as they really are? No. Because they're getting interviewed for a magazine. They're WORKING. Or, they're being eyeballed by some photographer in the bushes. In my book, these are both despicable and in no way feminist.

Thanks for the British side of things. I'm sure some stuff got lost in the translation. This is (obviously) just my opinion, and I welcome disagreements!