February 3, 2015
On the Garish Ubiquity of Girl Power Anthems
I’m not what one would stereotypically refer to as a sports fan. In fact, I think my time spent at sports events, sports bars, or before games broadcasted live on cable equals less than 1% of my time spent for any given year. It’s not that I don’t find a backyard game of football—back when I used to play such things—fun, or that I’m adverse to physical activity (I run and muscle train on average four days a week), it’s just that, ultimately, I find that what a collection of athletes are doing on a field or court on any given day to be far less consequential than evolving matters of scientific discovery, state policy, or news about what conflicts arise in the world.
But on Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, I sat down and watched. When games matter—when something is on the line—I tend to find these events a little more interesting, especially when the team representing my home region of New England is in that final arena. And I must say, it was quite a game to behold, even if we had to tolerate Katy Perry’s flashy, somewhat incongruent halftime performance bringing all the usual specters of snarling female arrogance atop a leashed lion float (I personally thought the dancing sharks stole that show!).
That sort of thing is par for the course these days, but what really raised an eyebrow, for me, was the saccharine feminist commercial advertisement—featured during an overwhelmingly male-dominated television event, mind you—advocating for the confidence of little girls by none other than Always Tampons. In it, three women, a man, and a boy express all too predictably the stereotypical ways that girls usually run, throw, and fight. When good younger (see feminist idealized and pre-scripted) little girl-bots were asked to run, throw, and fight like girls, they confidently showed what they thought doing these things as girls meant: they ran a little less limply, punched a little less awkwardly, but beamed with confidence, nonetheless. These admittedly cute poster children were, apparently, teaching us the lesson not only to pre-program our children to fight against these deleterious and assuredly ingrained stereotypes that perceive women as weak, but change some of our own apparently baseless sexist attitudes about the weaker sex, in turn. All this, despite the very likely fact that, among boys, being called female will invariably be seen as an insult, for females are and always will be, for the foreseeable evolutionary future of our species, at least, the naturally physically weaker sex. Granted, the powers that be are trying incredibly hard, again and again, to make males and females goose-step to a new order, to equalize them and whitewash their obvious differences, and while this may yield some culturally reinforced results, the natural realities behind male and female difference will inevitably (and disappointingly, to some) prevail, I’m afraid.
Overnight and over the course of the day after, it seems, people on Twitter were all aflutter over the hashtag #likeagirl, though Always, our smarmy child-championing tampon company, probably didn’t anticipate the retaliatory remarks from the viral ripostes of the #likeaboy tag. The conflict is amusing in a light-hearted way, and while I don’t find myself taking the ad or its fallout too seriously, I do wonder what a company that creates intimate female products was doing spending millions of dollars for commercial time on a mostly male-oriented prime time cable event. The answer, I concluded, must have been to reach out to boys, men, and fathers with a blatant emotionally manipulative feminist message (surely, it couldn’t have been about selling tampons). But that’s not the only thing it did, in my mind. It also demonstrated the tremendous intersectionality between consumerism, the entrenched social engineering of feminism, and the smarmy servitude of corporations to its messages—even in the least likeliest of places.
While I’m not the type of person who watches much cable, I have taken a liking to the Starz show channel from time to time. I admit, Spartacus, the half serious, half soft adult porn series was one of my guilty pleasures. What’s not to love about gratuitous sex and violence in the ancient Roman world? These days, I’ve taken a particular liking to Magic City, a smooth and sexy hotel/casino mob story set back in the 1950’s. Between catching up on reruns of that show, however, I was subjected to the repeated teasers of an upcoming series entitled The White Queen, a story that, in its own part cheesey, part historical fictionish sort of way, tells the tale of the “War of the Roses,” a dynastic struggle among rival houses for the throne of England—the facts of which historians still quibble and argue about today.
But I’m not going to go too far into scholarly conflict about actual facts relating to these episodes in history and I’m quite sure, given the reality that cable programming is meant more to entertain than enlighten, The White Queen won’t either. What struck me as particularly eye rolling about the trailer for this series is its service to the usual girl power propaganda. While treated to flashes of hyper-stylized bits and pieces of scenery related to the series, we’re informed in heavy gold letters across the screen that “Men go to battle…Women wage war.”
It’s particularly irksome, how entertainment media today gushes, drools, and fawns over women in a conspiratorial circle-jerk to stroke the increasingly inflating egos of (particularly) young women. I suppose the marketing powers that be know now that if you want to sell anything, you really need to appeal more to notions of female supremacy than just equality. For how much more obvious must the repeated propaganda of female primacy hidden in plain view be, I ask? What particularly amused me about the men go to battle, women wage war line is how banal it insinuates the role of men to be. Men, who have been over thousands of centuries the primary agents of action—the warriors, despots, messiahs, tyrants, prophets, kings, and emperors—are reduced to brainless wooden figures in a medieval game of table hockey between scheming female nobles. The gist is, “men are petty and do the stupid fighting, but women are the real movers and shakers…high five!” What a wonderful thing to insinuate to young male and female minds. And come on, who cares if this marketing line lends to bogus history or overlooks some important details in the least; it makes a great punch line and gets across, for the umpteenth time, that chicks rule and dudes drool (in case you weren’t aware, by now).
This show is but one of many in a long line of movies and cable programs that are increasingly making female characters the polestar powers of the script in a politicized sort of way. In Oz the Great and Powerful, the bumbling buffoon that is Oz is surrounded by three witches, the truly great forces in the story who are in a war for control of their world. In Snow White and the Huntsman, the male characters are fairly incidental to the most powerful characters in the story: the wicked Queen who is evil incarnate (and I must admit, played wonderfully by Charlize Theron) and Snow White, who, we’re told, represents the essence of all life. Of course. For upcoming movies, try the charming title of Girls Against Boys, where “misandrist overtone” is more of an understatement.
Movies aren’t nearly where the silliness ends, however. Cable shows like American Dad, Everybody Loves Raymond, or The Simpsons tend to portray men as generally goofy, stupid, and inept. Much of children’s programming today isn’t free from such meta messages, either. In the very least, they are guilty of inspiring young girls to be as sassy, conceited, and as cutely arrogant as possible. Remembering Hannah Montana, a show that was and still is avidly consumed by the young female cable viewing population, we may find ourselves noting what type of girl the veritable pissant Miley Cyrus, who regularly snarls at the camera in her videos and threatens her father publicly on Twitter, has grown up to be. Some food for thought, perhaps, about the personalities that are raising our kids when we’re not?
This may seem like a petty gripe. In some ways it is, I suppose, but in some ways it’s really not. Our entertainment, as much as we may like to think so, isn’t just a harmless diversion that ends when we turn off the screen or amble out of the theater. Movies, just like music and the arts, help to inspire and influence the sentiments of the masses. The mythology these stories create conspire to tell us what is true and right, as stories throughout the centuries always have. Books, plays, and orations, which were once the primary media for this story telling, have simply stepped aside for the medium of cinema, roughly 40 years of which have been increasingly devoted to dissing men and boys in commercials, talk shows, cable programs, and the silver screen.
I think it’s about time, if you haven’t done so already as a parent, to guard your young minds against this new sexist media onslaught when at all possible. In the very least, I think it’s vital to balance out the increasingly hostile attitude writers and directors show toward the male sex by having conversations with your children and teens about what they are digesting on a daily basis. Teach them how to spot misandry (you’ll likely need to define what that word even means) and dysfunctional feminine glorification in the media today, if only to balance their perceptions.
Yes, I know…this commentary is coming to you from a site entitled “Humbled Females.” Who are we, exactly, to be complaining about sexism, of all things? A casual visit to our about page will reveal, however, that our way of life is consensual and that, societally speaking, we are not advocating revoking women’s rights to have a job or to vote. The message in this entry today doesn’t have to reside only here, but, perhaps in a space like this, what needs to be said can be said without fear of reprisal or rebuke from sponsors or employers, who are ever on the look-out for anything they perceive as anti-feminist—the new Satan, apparently. I say this not to advocate female submission so much as to put a sober sticky note on the forehead of this agenda called “anti-sexism”—an agenda that modern society, so we’re told, is supposed to support and uphold. And I think it’s time we all, male and female, black and white, liberal or conservative, god fearing or not, recognize that feminism today is often not so much about ending sexism as it is about fashionably asserting a new form of sexism. So please join me in saying that the male bashing has to stop. We can have female equality in society without lowering the perceived value of men and boys. I encourage all who are reading this to boycott films and shows that cater to this increasing cultural disease and counteract the effects of its rhetoric in your children, if you have them. Make an effort to raise awareness about misandry in the media and speak out against it when you can.
You may not subscribe to the message and attitude of our site. After all, we do believe women, generally, have a place in loving service to their men—a place of loving submission. We aren’t afraid of articulating our opinions on the female sex, which certainly aren’t always politically correct. This all is beside the point, however, that the future of real harmony and equality between the sexes in society, if you really value that sort of thing, partially depends on rejecting these condescending attitudes and messages about men.