Female Chauvinism?

Monday at the Fem2.0 panel, Sports Columnist Christine Brennan  began talking about the icky GoDaddy Danica Patrick Enhancement ad:

Then when I logged online yesterday– I saw that the ad is the #1 most watched SuperBowl ad. As Brennan talked about, it was just painful to see someone so successful and talented participate in sexist ads and marketing that make her a sexy lady first, and a legitimate competitor second. And remember: performance is different than pleasure. And it all got me thinking: As women, how responsible are we for our own participation in furthering the patriarchy? 

I typically see opposing stances on the issue:

1. Blame the woman entirely: Since the woman participating in or advertising this behavior is the VISIBLE party, its typical to blame her entirely. It takes a deeper understanding to realize the issues at play that would cause her to act in this manner. Then people start yelling/thinking “what a slut! what a whore!” (boooooooo).

2. Give the woman a free pass: I really only see this coming from fellow feminists. The idea is– with all our understanding of the patriarchy, women aren’t responsible for what they do.

I personally reject this dichotomy. The patriarchy should take the GREATEST blame because it has created the playing field, the reason that sexism and misogyny flourish in our culture. Patriarchy has existed for centuries and has created the situation. It is the force in power and therefore is the most responsible.

But I have a problem with the notion that women aren’t at all responsible for their own actions. Are we all puppets on strings who can’t think for ourselves? Affluent, educated women like Victoria Beckham and Danica Patrick are in control of their own destinies and decisions. They choose participating in sexist campaigns that propagate patriarchy. If we all acknowledge the strength and capabilities of our personal feminist idols– then can we simply ignore and excuse the behavior of women on the flip side, and say “they can’t help it?” Women CAN be in control. Women are intelligent and aware. I’m not expecting every woman to be the perfect example of progressive feminism (who even knows what that would be! feminism is fluid and multidimentional and personal)– but I do think its okay to shake your head in disappointment or anger when they choose things that are blatantly bad for the image of women as a whole.

When it comes to the Victoria Beckham Marc Jabobs ad:

 Or the sadly offensive Bride Wars movie…can we be irritated that these women said “sure, that sounds great, sign me up!” I think so:

 

It then forces you to look at yourself- for me, is wearing makeup furthering the patriarchy? How about heels? What I think is important to get out of all of this is that you have to negotiate/compromise the personal with the paradigm of feminism. There is a lot of room for expression and individuality and difference in feminism, so where I stand, provided you acknowledge sort of, well makeup has been used in a really anti-feminist way, but i really like wearing it, you should be able to look however you want. But when it comes to your actions and your words, those are the things that matter, and you should stand up and fight.

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2 Comments on “Female Chauvinism?”

  1. jessicasuelu Says:

    Just as frustrating as it is that some women consciously decide to do movies like Bride Wars or do photo shoots of themselves, disembodied, with their legs sprawled, there are so many people, men and women alike, who don’t subscribe to feminist ideals. On the contrary, “feminism” is such a broad term to define, that it’s entirely possible that women like Victoria Beckham could even say she considers herself to be feminist (I have no idea whether she does or not). She was in fact on the whole “Girl Power!” trip whilst in the Spice Girls.

  2. aintiawoman Says:

    I agree, and I think sometimes that’s also what makes it hard. I guess it’s also that, because people aren’t even necessarily exposed to WHY these images/movies aren’t good for women, they might not even think about what they are doing as affecting anyone.

    A lot of people who aren’t exposed to it probably haven’t thought much about what “feminism” even means to them or even if they *care* about gender equality in the media.


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