Lighten up, Ladies!

seth_2491587bIs it just me, or does it seem like charges of sexism have recently been flying around faster than fleas on a pound dog?? Now, I’m proud to be a woman and nobody’s ever accused me of being too accommodating – but it feels that feminism is being used like a brick to beat people’s heads in. Or maybe (a distinct possibility) the media is simply reporting all this in its ever-lovin’ quest to rile folks up.

But here’s a few things that have been amusing me lately:

Case #1:  The Oscars. Seth MacFarlane, champion of adolescent humor, was specifically chosen to host the festivities in the hopes of attracting the frightening 18-25 year old male demographic. So naturally, Seth opened with a song & dance number esoterically titled “We Saw Your Boobs.” I laughed most of the way through it, particularly the ending where the lovely Kate Winslet was named for basically all her films. Two days later, succumbing to a tsunami of feminist outrage, even the inimitable Jane Fonda had to fake it. Come ON, folks. It’s not like this tribute was some kind of revolting slander (can you imagine the ire of actresses who went topless and then were left out?) And btw, nobody forced these actresses to take off their brassieres (I love that word). I’d call this a strong case of Much Ado About Nothing.

Case #2:  Taylor Swift decides to take deep umbrage over Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s comment (at the ages-ago Golden Globes) about her propensity to date around and to slam old boyfriends in her songs. That throwaway comment is apparently now being construed as an anti-feminist attack, says Swift, using Katie Couric’s “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” line. Well, Katie should know – she’s pretty much in hell right now on ABC. But still, couldn’t this all be construed as Taylor’s misplaced PTSD anger at Kanye West? Why would you attack two of the most beloved & hilarious women in the business? And why would you bring up something that everybody’s already forgotten, thus assuring the topic will be back on the table in time for the release of your next album, filled with bitter songs about your ex-boyfriends??

Case #3:  The New York Times reports on a research study attempting to isolate the cause of Americans’ steady gain in weight and girth over the last three decades. The study posited, among other things, that as women went to work—or just went online — the decrease in physical activity (including a 50% decrease in housework) might be partially responsible for weight gain. And women on the comments board went postal. Sisters, you’re arguing with facts, not fat-haters. Women & Men do less housework. Fact. Women & Men are heavier than they used to be. Fact. Housework is physically demanding and burns calories. Fact. That’s science, not opinion –and has nothing to do with men trying to lure you back to your vacuum cleaner & Ajax (although if they do, you have my permission to whop ’em with your duster). Which brings me to my final case…

Case #4: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo recently asked all telecommuting employees to start coming into the office, as opposed to working from home, beginning June 1. She is summarily crucified on the comment boards for being an anti-feminist mommy-hater. Which is ridiculous for a lot of reasons: 1) All telecommuters aren’t women. A lot of men are home, not doing housework. 2) As a new mother herself, Marissa brings her baby to work with a nanny in the next office, but apparently that’s even more of a class-clobbering insult, making her the new Marie Antoinette. But since when did everybody start getting the same perks as the boss? If she were a male CEO getting helicopter rides into work with her entourage, it wouldn’t even be a news story.  3) Mayer probably only brings the baby in to work to avoid the “Worst Mom Ever” label she got slapped with when she indicated she was only going to take 2 weeks maternity leave. That sure wouldn’t have been my choice, but then again, I don’t have her job  – and it’s yet another “perk” of being the one in charge. 4) Finally, Yahoo is on life-support, staggering along trying to fight its way back into the ring with Google. Mayer has managed to increase shares of Yahoo stock about 50% since she took control of the company six months ago and made some fairly creative changes. Creativity works best when everybody’s in the same room, rubbing up against each other and their weird ideas. I say, let the woman do her job and see what happens. Hey– telecommuters might even learn to like getting out of their pajama pants and going into work. *

*And before you get offended by that last remark, I was a single mother. I went back to work because I had to; I wasn’t getting child support. And I was the partner in an advertising agency. I know from experience that you can’t have everybody working from home and have a thriving creative work environment; it just doesn’t work that way. And now that I’m in pajama pants far too much of the day, I also appreciate the value of having to get dressed in the morning. ( :  Peace & Sisterhood, y’all.

25 thoughts on “Lighten up, Ladies!

  1. You know this far better than I do, Betty, but the world is filled with people — men, women, and children — who are suffering unthinkable pain and indignity. Too much of our culture is petty and self-absorbed, yet we go on worshipping celebrities and treating athletes as though they’re some kind of heroes. And we continue to take ourselves much too seriously. Everywhere we turn, someone is announcing that they’re offended by something.

    • Boy, amen to THAT, BB — I just can’t keep up with all the fake outrage these days. And it’s certainly true that when you get out of the USA and see what people are really grappling with, somehow Taylor Swift’s hurt feelings don’t seem quite worthy of the “news” space they get!

  2. I’m the old one in this group, old enough not to have been raised a feminist. I don’t even like the word. I was never told I could have it all. Nor was I even told I could do anything I wanted to. My father most certainly never thought I could run the chemical company he owned later in his career. That never bothered me nor was I offended or hurt by his feelings. It was the way it was. Personally, I think BECAUSE I was not told women could be all they wanted to be, I grew up finding my own talents, finding what suited my needs, not what some gaggle of feminists told me I should be. Just look at how few teachers there are today. And what about secretaries? Those professions in my day were the cream of the crop. They were highly esteemed in the community, paid well too, but today, is is suggested that women should be the CEO or the superintendent of school and that being “just a teacher or secretary” is not enough. I say hogwash. Be the best at what you want to be. No matter the level. No matter the position. I despise the media telling women what is right or wrong.

    People have forgotten how to take a joke. Hint: Taylor Swift! No one seems to let something roll off their back anymore. Or knows how to cope in a work environment without suing someone. Or how a let a kid chew a pop tart into a gun shape without suspending him. We’ve forgotten all about personal responsibility. We’ve lost how to define ourselves for the sake of ourselves, not how we fit into some feminine mystique.

    Seth is the King of Mockery and the Oscars knew that when they signed him on. For the likes of Jane Fonda to throw a hissy fit (Jamie Lee Curtis also got her panties in a bunch in an article she penned for the Huffington Post) is so beyond my ability to understand women and how they seem to enjoy destroying each other, I roll my eyes, go back to mopping the floor and hope my own daughter remembers I told her all the time the best gifts she could give herself was to Like herself and BE herself.

    Phew. Sorry for the rant.

    • Oh, EOSR, I love ranting … and your comment made me think. I saw a guy twirling one of those signs that say, “Buy Gold!” on the side of the road the other day, and I said to my friend Pat – “Wow, I feel so sorry for people who are reduced to that.” And she said to me, “He’s probably happy to have the job. And there is no bad job — unless you do it badly.” And I thought — wow, that is SO true. All work can be dignified and meaningful if you put your heart into it and do the best you can at it. So … I totally agree with your discomfort over women “having it all.” Nobody can have it all. (“Where would you put it?” as a comedian once asked!) Life is a series of compromises and choices that we have to make .. and then live with the consequences. I just hope the next generation hasn’t had so much given to them that this reality comes out of nowhere. Peace! b

  3. Wonderful article Betty. I feel so strong about the media blowing things up. I felt exactly like you on all counts, but I truly love the comments from your friends also! I feel much more outraged about women’s abuse physically and mentally especially in countries where it is accepted. My daughter is in Columbia for a month doing volunteer work teaching women’s rights and the importance of non-violence!
    I helped my husband run our business and took my babies to work in 2-3 weeks and they have become amazing strong, independent, women, who love their careers or missions over worrying about if they have a man in their life! Ha!! I wonder what would have been said about me if they knew I also put them in the over sized kennel with puppies or kittens when they were toddlers and I couldn’t watch them every second Ha!!! I guess they were blessed to have 1/2 day preschool to get away from me!!!!
    I would hate being in the public eye and everyone worrying about my every move!! As for Taylor, I hope she grows up someday and stops creating so much drama in her life.
    I say yeah Marissa Mayer and may she make yahoo better!! Creativity has to have several minds brainstorming to get the best results. I don’t see how most jobs can be done with out putting in at least 20hrs in a work setting.
    Thanks for another incredible entertaining read that explained my feelings exactly!

    • Thanks, Deb — and I LOVE your stories about raising your girls — I know they must be incredible young women with a sparkplug of a mom like you! Really enjoyed your comment!! xoxox b

  4. Great post Betty. I work on Sundays so I missed the opening boob song at the Oscars and the more I hear about it the gladder I am that I work on Sundays…

    I didn’t know that yahoo’s Ms Mayer was bringing her nanny and baby to the office. I was dismayed outraged disappointed when I heard that she’d only taken two weeks maternity leave. Why do we need maternity leave? Partly to recover from childbirth, but more than that its a time to bond with our babies. If she’s not taking it, I feel sorry for the poor child.

    • Well, it is what it is… and I’m sure that Marissa’s baby will figure it all out in good time. Given all the other troubles that could befall one’s little child, that doesn’t seem too disastrous and hopefully she got a really good, sweet nanny that will be there for the baby. You have a very big heart! xoxoox b

  5. Betty, thanks for putting into words (with a lot of style I might add!) something that has indeed been bugging me too since the Oscars. I don’t need the media’s ire to protect me from Seth McFarlane’s puerile jokes. I can look after myself, thanks. I get upset, really upset, when I hear about that young woman in India who was recently killed, or the rape stats in D R Congo, or fistulas. Not silly song lyrics.

    • I love the way you put that, Augusta — that the media is so eager to “protect” us from a bunch of silly comments, while largely ignoring stories of real pain and discrimination against women around the world. Now THAT gets my feminist ire up!

  6. I loved it! Everybody gets so bent out of shaped at the dumbest stuff…you are absolutely right…lighten up! Nice surprise to run into you and Lulu last week!!

  7. You’ve connected the dots on many recent thoughts, conversations. I’m really interested to see if the change at Yahoo will be effective. Hated the boob song because I found it simply stupid, ( remember when I worshipped Howard Stern!), and was sorry to hear one third of Americans are obese. Crank up Prince, pick up a broom, be your funky bad self-my prescription for killing two birds with one stone this Friday morning! Xo

    • I think that Mayer is probably an incredible leader — Yahoo has chewed up and spit up several CEOs before her, and she seems to be able to finally start turning that big behemoth around. While I was in advertising, I was never been a big fan of working at home (despite the fact that I’m doing it now) because I really do think you need the energy, distraction, random zooming thoughts, and FUN of people being together to really get things moving. And to change a culture, you really HAVE to be together. As for housework — well, hell yeah! I can just envision you dancing and sweeping– and I always remember that Katherine Hepburn always cleaned her own house & look how slim she stayed. It’s nice to be in motion … and I’m SO glad you’ve recovered from your Howard Stern adoration! ha!!

  8. Agree totally. Let’s concentrate on real issues. People are way too sensitive or as you posit it’s the media focus.

  9. thank you! I keep up with a couple of sites: half the sky and worldpulse, 2 wonderful organizations which are fighting for women that are facing true discrimination. it is astounding the problems that girls and women are still confronting.

    • LOVE Half the Sky & will check out WorldPulse … there is NO doubt that women around the world are facing phenomenal discrimination and oppression, and that’s a lot more of a concern to me than Taylor Swift’s dating patterns.

  10. I totally consider myself a feminist, but it’s just that much more embarrassing when women take up non-existent cases to get worked up over. But as I said — it is totally possible that the “outrage” has been over-reported by the press just to make it a better story. I wouldn’t put that past ’em! Thanks, FF!!

  11. Great article! It’s interesting to get a woman’s opinion about these things, and a more level-headed one at that. We can’t deny that sexism and racism still exist in a big way, but not every joke or off-handed comment is the root of deep hatred or elitism. Not to diminish any of the real problems out there, but yeah we can all get a bit oversensitive sometimes.

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