Dr. Mireya Mayor, “the female Indiana Jones”, National Geographic wildlife correspondent, mother of five kids under 8, scientist, explorer, Ph.D. in anthropology, and author of Pink Boots and a Machete.
*Disclosure: link through my Amazon Associates account.
If you’ve not yet heard the news about Rodger’s shooting spree and the misogyny that spurred it on, you can read about it here. It gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A chilling statement like “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it,” followed by a killing spree– it’s just an isolated incident from a deviantly violent man, right?
Maybe. It comes awfully close on the heels of Maren Sanchez’s tragic stabbing death at the hands of a fellow student who she didn’t want to go to prom with. Following that incident, I had been thinking about the role TV advertisers played in that death. I’ve heard or seen it said many times when someone’s pointing out the sexism or stereotypes in advertising– “Advertisers just give people what they want to see. They just use what sells.”
But what if they’re selling death?
How many thousands of TV commercials have aired that equate masculinity with irresistibility? The man at the bar drinking the right beer with a woman on either arm, so enthralled with his manliness that they don’t mind only getting half his attention. The man with the right aftershave who turns the head of every bikini-clad supermodel on the beach. Use our products, advertisers whisper, and you won’t even have to ask. Women will be falling over themselves to get into bed with you. You’ll be rugged, have that perfect five o’clock shadows, the body of a movie star, and if you have that and our product, what woman could resist you? The perfect man– irresistible.
In a media-saturated society, many men hear this message over and over, day after day, from so many different sources. It’s not surprising if some of them take it deeply to heart. And if manliness equals irresistibility, what does it mean when you’re not irresistible? The implication is that a rejection at the hands of a woman has nothing to do with personal incompatibility, or that she’s not interested in a relationship right now, or any other logical reason why a woman might not want to be with a man. The implication is that she’s emasculating you. Because if you were a “real” man, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Her petty female personal preferences would be swept away in the face of “real” manliness.
Couple that with a movie culture that marries manliness with tough-guy violence, and even if all the advertisers intended was to sell some aftershave, they are contributing to a swirling pot of misogynistic violence against women who dare to turn down men.* We cannot afford to think it’s okay to just “use what sells”, we cannot ignore this stereotype, when the side effect is women being killed.
*Although the extreme violence in the above cases is thankfully more rare, street harassment “rejections” are often met with the same breed of aggressive disdain for women who aren’t interested in the catcaller.
Young love, we call this,
twenty-five, wading in a rough sea;
we take the salt waves full in the mouth.
Side-by-side in the green Moroccan-tile shower
we strip off our shorts and shirts
and wash the sand from our skin.
This is how an oyster makes a pearl.
This is how a starfish grows a new limb,
moon-bright in the tide-pool constellations.
These are the jellyfish stranded on the sand after high-tide,
purple as a bruise, sharp-tongued in their small deaths.
We return to the shore again and again,
driven by the humid air inland.
Sunburned, scoured by the sand,
my hair coarse and bleached,
here we are again, waist-deep,
chest-deep, lifted and pummelled
as by a bare-knuckle boxer. Young love,
we call this, and we fight like anything to
stay afloat. At night the moon
lopes across the water and I wear your jacket;
I’ve pocket full of cobalt seaglass,
and a book of matches, and furious heart.
We call this a summer, hot as asphalt,
green as dune-grass. We call this a summer,
wild as the grey Atlantic waves, or as a fistfight,
“But there’s a limited window when the kids are young and we have an opportunity to shape and share their most formative experiences. The stay-at-home life is not economically possible for many people (though I think many of us assume it’s less feasible than it actually is), and there are many in-between options that include part-time work, freelancing, job sharing, etc. But to dismiss the possibility of spending more time with your kids after just five weeks (five weeks!!) is profoundly sad.”
“Many of us who have our first kids in our 30s (or 40s) are reluctant to fully embrace fatherhood because we fear that we will become a cliché — the minivan-driving dad with yogurt stains and vomit on his sweats — or worse, a feminized loser who wipes up snot while his wife brings home the bacon. We hold fast to the hope that having kids won’t need to be disruptive and that we can still take them to hip hang-out spots or fit them into our snazzy condos. But kids are disruptive, and they should be disruptive. If they don’t reorient everything about ourselves and our identities, then maybe we are just a bit too wrapped up in ourselves.”
–From Let Her Eat Dirt.
Just somethin’ me and Scout Kid were jamming to this morning. Nothing like a toddler singing “No more, no more, no more,” to himself.
Digging the large-scale pastel landscapes of Zaria Forman. Kinda want to buy one for the living room.
Cakes, veal, cheese, pearl onions, pomegranates– what odds does it make? You will find these are the cakes of an expert hand, rough with age, tough with sun. Under the green oaks, out on the salt plains, do we not all wander like Hagar, like Lot?
My darling, if God will send a ram! There are some things too sacred not to laugh at.
“There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.”
Wow. Wow. As a person who loves a good debate, this whole letter was excruciatingly convicting and helpful to me.