Category Archives: Culture

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Women, Beauty, and Repackaging

My daughter saw a youtube offering that impacted her greatly and she wanted us to watch it with her. So her brother and I sat down to our hdml hookup and watched a video that went over a perennial interest I have: women and the cultural view of beauty, social impact of those views, and how our baseline moral view articulates those aspects of social identity. It was from a political and cultural perspective very different from mine ( the usual hostility to Christians that is ingrained in the liberal/Democratic views) but imparting some very real concerns and truth for all that.

The video was “Miss Representation”, and you can watch it below. It moves quickly with a barrage of thoughts and images. If you really want to think about what is being presented to you, you must stop it often to process what is being said and what it means. Otherwise, the impact is to rile your emotions without giving a real context to what you should do with these emotions.

[box type="warning"]Warning there are sexually explicit images – if you are offended with this, better to not watch. There are other presentations of many of these issues, you can find and view those. The conversation remains the same.[/box]

Truths I Would Not Argue With

  • Women are objectified and over-sexualized in our society
  • Cultural opinions do matter, and they can be changed -are changed deliberately
  • Those with selfish agendas are promoting false and quite damaging ideas and revisionist “facts”
  • There is still a gender bias that disparages women and puts them at a disadvantage

[box type="shadow"]One interesting thing about this documentary is the way it presents and dismisses the role that movements like the “Moral Majority” or the “Christian Right” had on raising consciousness on some of the cultural degradation of women and the loss of concern over “public interest” as it is expressed in media. Especially in television and movies from established, big business Media.

Also it lacks the will or the depth to connect the dots between the paradoxical conflicts inherent in the old arguments on the side of “legalizing prostitution”, and the growing concern over “human trafficking”. Think about these “two?” issues. Aren’t we using mere euphemism when we want to address the enslavement of women and children in prostitution as a problem, and obscure problems that women face whenever prostitution becomes prevalent and accepted? Maybe you don’t make the connection between the way we think of and represent women and the issue of human trafficking, or how allowing prostitution to be recognized as a legal and viable occupation might be relevant. This probably deserves its own essay and evaluation. [/box]

Things I question and take issue with

  • Use of the word “Media”. There is a conflation of old media and the new social media. It is not all one “media”, but a tool that reflects the people making it. To use the word generally is evasion of responsibility, basically. Always an “other”, bad guy, instead of things we promote and allow as people, individuals and as a group.
  • This image emphasis and objectification is only a problem for women. It is increasingly a problem for young men in our society. There is a disengagement from worth being related to character.
  • Disconnect between the human drives and how marketing or media presentation takes those things and uses them. Lack of realization that culturally we have lost a huge body of history about relationship to the whole of human experience. In the entertainment culture, we are reduced to a few basic drives expressed in their lowest common denominator. Why we are doing that should be discussed in terms of where we are morally, not in how men in the media choose to display this.

Just a few thoughts on religion

If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.
~Margaret Atwood

Before you view the documentary to see what you think of it and the issues it raises, what about a couple thoughts on some of the bias and dismissive perspectives I noticed?

(1) American women have the most freedom of any women in the world. Yes, on the whole, if we look at the opportunity and the freedom to live as we choose (lifestyle, education, economic). No it isn’t paradise, but nothing on earth approaches that idea of paradise. We do and should keep striving for better conditions, preservation of our freedom, access to opportunity, but we also should not forget or diminish what we have.

(2) Christianity is a powerful voice for the oppressed and dispossessed. Historically, it has one of the best records of any force for the empowerment of women. Ask yourself – in what place and in what age did the rise of women’s rights gain the most momentum? And it wasn’t the 1960′s. That may have been when you heard the loudest shouts, but not when you saw the greatest momentum.

Whatever your opinion of the Christian religion, it ought to be recognized for the beneficial influence on ideals of freedoms and rights. If you are willing to deny that, then I would question your ability to correct any of the injustices discussed in the film “Miss Representation” with real fundamental change. My guess is that the best you would be able to come up with is some reactionary and temporary “re-balancing”, which is only injustice inverted, not averted.

Zombie Apocalypse Housewives

Gotcha.
We were watching the series of the zombie show, “Walking Dead” recently, and in one of the episodes the ideal woman character is having a confrontation with the feminist warrior woman about the importance of each other’s tasks.

Our family watched the previous seasons on Netflix, and this scene occurs in season 2

Which matter most, the household tasks and the making of a home, or the buttressing of the militant actions that patrol and protect the group? Making tea and cakes or guarding the perimeters and shooting things?

The Walking Dead “18 Miles Out” Andrea confronts Lori from Days Gone By on Vimeo.

The whole show (at least in the second season) is obsessed with whether a life that is reduced to animal survival and the lowest forms of brute morality is even worth living.

Hmmmm, tea and cakes and cleaning bathrooms suddenly seems to gain a notch or two in prestige and honor.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. -Seth Godin in “Clean Bathrooms

It was never about either or, but about understanding that people need to give due respect to each others roles and vocations, to have the freedom to grow as a society and support one another by occasionally giving precedence and hands on help to something other than our own little tribal preferences.

options

Productivity And The Trouble With Gurus

I read a couple unrelated blogposts today which, of course, I am piecing together in my mind. They do have something, both of them, to do with productivity. Productivity is something I am interested in at the moment. Should I list the posts in the order that I read them? Why would I do that? … it really doesn’t really matter.

The Posts

First post, ‘Keeping Your Options Open…’

One had to do with whether keeping ever open choices, or having many options is a good thing or not.

Keeping Your Options Open Will Cost You

This post took ideas from two books and posed the question “Why are you really keeping your options open?” and whether that is a good thing or not. Author Betsy Wuebker lists these pertinent books:

One of the writers cited in the first post submits,

“…by keeping your options open with more choices, you’ve levied higher opportunity costs.”

I haven’t read the books, but I know that people who keep their options always open are frightened to close the deal on their decisions and -more often than not- in order to escape responsibility. They can feel like victims who are helplessly overrun by those who do make decisions. So the ideas caught my interest, and I started to consider them. I don’t have problems making decisions, myself, I go through a deductive sort of process, but there are times when I have difficulty knowing when a good time to close the door and take a specific direction is the best thing to do.

The difficulty is in the balance, because being quickly decisive is not always a good thing “act in haste, repent at leisure”. And yet, none of us wants to be in a constant cycle of confusion, unable to move forward; nor do we want to have expensive life failures from seeming (or being) arrogant.

If you are thinking what I am at this point, you realize that, yes, this can be complicated. Another time in which wisdom comes in handy, to steer our path in the right direction, to close doors, and/or keep them open at the best times… for relationships, for career moves, for retirement, for most of the decisions that crop up. These are often the things that make or break resolutions and goals.

The Other Post I read

From INC., 5 Trends to Ignore in 2013 posits that we don’t always have to listen to the Gurus. What must we do in investments, in blogging, in relationships, in child raising, … IN LIFE? Everyone who writes articles seems to want to establish their authority, to be the next important guru that everyone must pay attention to…. only, sometimes that is not going to work out for you. And I might suggest here that if you have lots of experts all telling you things that are musts, necessary, and urgent… you will likely be unproductive in the very area you hoped you would find your magic formula for success. It is the “too many cooks” syndrome.

Most of that last paragraph is my own thinking as inspired by a somewhat more business oriented information article. INC. simply pointed out how unnecessary some of the big trends in business are. They aren’t necessarily important for you. Which is exactly what we can apply to many voices of authority.

Although what I wouldn’t try to say is that we can figure everything out on our own, or that whatever seems right to us is just as valid as what anyone else thinks. Like it is all some homogenized cosmic palaver.

It might appear to be in certain cases, but that would likely be just a fluke… a random stroke of luck. There is true authority, actual expertise, and we would raise our chance of success and happiness if we found and followed those voices.

It all comes down…once again… to discerning what is true. That is always the big quest in life, isn’t it?

Not “what is true for you”, not “What is truth?”, but finding real truth. Gurus may not be the best way to do that. Just saying.