Thursday, November 17, 2005

What's a Modern Girl to Do?

Last month Maureen Dowd wrote this article in the NYT Magazine. Her basic argument is that the women's movement of the 1970s produced a lot of conformity among women--women thought, dressed, and acted alike--and that today women have returned to that conformity, only now trying to conform in different ways. For example, early feminists embraced sexual liberation but vehemently opposed the notion that women should be sex objects. Today, Maxim covers are what women conform to, the message is be a sex object.

Conformity is stifling (apart from conforming our hearts and minds to be more like Christ). When my female students care more about shopping, pop culture, and boys than they do the history of women's rights and how much our mothers and fathers struggled to create a more egalitarian society, it frustrates me to no end. But on the other hand, what I want to be sure I am teaching them is to honestly analyze themselves and how contemporary politics and social mores affect them. I don't want to teach them to conform to all feminist ideals any more than I want them to conform to magazine covers and MTV reality stars.

Hopefully the trends will change and women will tire of Paris Hilton's example (don't even try to argue that she's a feminist!). History does tend to repeat itself so we shall see. I'm waiting for the day when a Christ-loving, feminine, Gloria Steinam can grace the cover of our most popular publications.


Tmproff said...

This is prevalent not only with Maxim, but in many areas of society as I'm sure you know. I'm sure that there are a few elites that strongly persuade society to conform to whatever makes them the most money. I am amazed at the Old Navy commercials where the slogan is "You gotta get this look!"

How do we solve it? Is a grass roots cause going to defeat the marketing machine that's already established?

I can only hope that as parents we can establish a strong foundation in our children so that when they are confronted with these decisions, they will know the right from wrong, and strength to stand out when their friends will not.

LK said...

Revolution always begins within... I feel that resisting many things about society is important on an individual level. My refusal to buy a certain line of clothing won't shut it down, but it will matter. I'm such a firm believer in grassroots tactics and organization that the end of the marketing machine doesn't seem to be the goal, but rather the struggle to rise above it.

Tmproff said...

It's all about priorities. Is appearance more important than substance?

What will others think of me if I act this way? If I act differently than everyone else...

If we can encourage individual those who are willing to step out. If we can help people to feel comfortable with who they are even if they dont fit the "standard", I believe that will be a great step in the right direction.