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Tony Grist

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Women Beware Women [Aug. 17th, 2004|11:39 am]
Tony Grist
I'm at the doctors- and what have they got in the waiting room? Women's magazines- the cheap ones- with articles entitled "I married my abuser" and "my new vagina" and picture features that gloat over the weight gain and fashion disasters of female celebs. My heart sinks.

Porn degrades women? Maybe (I'd be prepared to debate that one) but not half as much as these women's magazines do. Here every unsuccessful woman is a dozy cow who has let herself be exploited by men and every successful woman is a stuck up bitch just asking to be pulled back down into the ditch where she belongs. "God, but she looks fat in that!"

Misogyny sells. And the most avid consumers of it are women.
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Comments:
From: archyena
2004-08-17 04:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'd noticed that. Women's magazines are just like men's magazines, full of shallow objectification, but the readership of the latter isn't the one constantly clamoring against "prejudice."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 05:36 am (UTC)
The womens mags are about hating and envying other women, the men's mags are about cars and tits and sports. Both are disgusting, both play to low self-esteem and the lowest common denominator. I think the people who produce them must really despise their readership.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-08-17 06:54 am (UTC)
I've been thinking about this.

Magazines aren't the problem--they're printing what sells. This is how women compete, and how they keep each other in line.

I remember when the problem began--in about seventh grade, when we girls suddenly became competitors. We'd look each other over, snigger at each other's clothes, envy those who were popular, and begin to worry--Oh God, the angst--if we weren't.

(I say "we," but I hope I was never so awful. At least, I can honestly say I never bullied or sniggered. But I assessed other girls, cruelly, to myself. And, of course, I assessed myself cruelly most of all.)

Our boy classmates were still children, and we ignored them; we honed our skills on older boys whose voices had changed, who weren't still horsing around in class like babies. If a girl was lucky enough to land an eight-grader and dance with him at the Rec Hall at lunchtime, she was in heaven, mostly because she was envied by her friends.

I got elected to the Junior High Student Council in 7th grade, beating out Evelyn Johnson, and I still remember my fervent, shallow little prayer at the final ballot: Please, God, let me beat Evelyn, but let this be Thy Will.

I guess God gave me points for checking in with my request, or maybe Evelyn forgot to pray, because I won. I hadn't a clue what being on the Student Council meant. It was just another indicator that I was popular. At the first meeting, joining all the older students (and many boys whose voices had changed), I was so overcome with shyness when called on by the president that I couldn't speak above a whisper.

Over time I learned to trust boys far more than girls, and this extended into adulthood, when the new status symbols and criteria for scorn/envy (in my era at least) included: your husband's income; your weight; your household furnishings; your children (and this included an entire competition of its own, beginning with how well you prepared your children's food naturally in a blender, etc.).

Lest you think I'm "in the ditch" with the others, give me some points for honesty, and let me add that I dropped out of the race early by becoming scholarly (which, of course, set me on an entirely different track of competition, including worrying about getting in to the "correct" Honors Classes and winning the right piano contests--and, actually, I think I failed at that track, too. I won second place at a piano concerto contest, my best triumph, but I fell in love with S--, the best pianist in the region, who ignored me and ran off to Julliard with another boy. I quit practicing and sight-read every piano lesson after that because of my broken heart).

It's taken me--what?--40 years to untraumatize myself; even becoming a sort-of hippie (peasant skirts, selling art and oranges in the park; palm-reading) to remove myself from not only competition but society's approval in general. (And that didn't last: I'm at heart a good chorister in the Episcopal Church and keep my front yard tidy for the neighbors).

My women friends are my sisters. I still distrust and fear most women.

Am I nice? I wish I could say I am. Am I a good person? I honestly don't know anymore. In high school, lonely too often, I toyed with becoming a nun. Then I could be good, like Audrey Hepburn. I could please the other nuns by being perfect.

Nowadays I just do the best I can, loving my family with all my heart. At my age, the competition's over. I don't read "Cosmopolitan". I read "Prevention."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 08:29 am (UTC)
I love that prayer.

Boys/men also have their rules of the game. But I don't know much about them because I opted out early- becoming a brooding, soulful loner. I don't like men much. The things that are supposed to interest them- cars, sports, bragging about sex- don't interest me in the least and most of my significant friendships have been with women.

That's maybe why the magazines disgust me so. I've always put women on a pedestal. My first wife made me into a fervent feminist and I've never changed my tune. I like to think that women are better (and nicer) than men and I get annoyed when I come across evidence to the contrary.

I don't know "Prevention". What kind of a magazine is it?

The only magazine I subscribe to is "Archaeology Now" :)



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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-08-17 09:02 am (UTC)
Prevention--it's a wholistic medicine magazine, mostly natural ways of medicine.

I'm glad you're a feminist.

"Archaeology Now" sounds at first oxymoronic! I suspect it's lots more fun to read than dreary Prevention articles about beets and your health. (I actually don't subscribe to Prevention. I'm not only not nice, but I'm also a liar!)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 09:55 am (UTC)
Lol. My, but you're hard on yourself....

Actually the archaeology mag is pretty dull- even though it has full colour illustrations. I did a course in archaeology a few years back- to please a couple of friends who wanted my company- and I've never lost my interest in the subject. Maybe if I were starting over again I'd read archaeology at university and make a career of it. I like archaeologists- they dye their hair amazing colours and wear nose rings and extraordinary stripey pullovers. It's the one profession where you can turn up to work looking like a hippy, punk or goth and no-one turns a hair.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-08-17 10:01 am (UTC)
It's the one profession where you can turn up to work looking like a hippy, punk or goth and no-one turns a hair.

I think latitude is also given to astonomers.

Have you watched any of the astronomy news conferences? These people are wonderful! They're jumping up and down with joy, their hair is all messy, they're opening champagne, and they sound so clever and interesting--nothing polished about them. They don't care. They are totally into their work.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 11:28 am (UTC)
Yes, you're right. Here in Britain we have a guy called Patrick Moore who has been presenting astronomy programmes for the BBC since the 1950s. He's a national treasure. He's very fat, has a mop of wild white hair, talks at machine-gun speed and wears a monocle.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-08-17 12:24 pm (UTC)
To continue careering off in the conversation: I love astronomy, and I wish I could see your Patrick Moore's television program here.

Years ago, I heard a scientist say that astronomy was the most interesting field, because almost every day we're discovering something new.

I was out shopping for random books at Barnes & Noble the other day and came across a deeply discounted photograph book of the moon. Because it had no captions, I set it aside, and later I thought how Copernicus would have given all he had for that book of photographs.

I wish there were reincarnation, because I want to come back and see what things are like thousands, millions of years from now. So far, I do this mostly through Stephen Baxter, whose science fiction is so mind-bogglingly far-reaching. I just finished re-reading Titan, about astronauts living on that lonely moon. Baxter can take me right to the surface. I love that man. He makes me yearn.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 02:08 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of reincarnation- and for much the same reasons as you. I used to care passionately about personal survival but now that doesn't matter to me so much. Now I just like the idea of being around in some form or other to find out "what happens next".

Here's the website for Patrick Moore's programme The Sky At Night: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/spaceguide/skyatnight/patrickmoore.shtml
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[User Picture]From: beentothemoon
2004-08-17 12:31 pm (UTC)
but women are not nicer. Men, I think, want to win. Women want to destroy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 02:10 pm (UTC)
Women may want to destroy, but it's men who do most of the actual destroying...
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[User Picture]From: beentothemoon
2004-08-17 02:30 pm (UTC)
Only physically, I think women are much more attuned to pain, thus are more able to inflict it psychologically. A woman's raised eyebrow can devastate as much as a man's raised hand, in my experience.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 02:50 pm (UTC)
Psychological violence is as horrible as physical violence? It's an interesting proposition. And one that goes against the assumptions of our society- but not I suppose of other societies. People in the Middle Ages, for example, would have held it far worse to kill the soul than to kill the body. Hmm. I shall go to bed thinking about this....
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2004-08-17 07:03 am (UTC)
what i really hate about women's magazines is when they do articles about "curvy" women and proclaim things like "plus-size women are sexy too! real women are beautiful in all forms!" and then women readers write gushing letters of appreciation for this "progressive" vision of beauty. what would really be progressive is if they featured women of all sizes all the time without drawing attention to it as if it's some kind of special occasion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-17 08:43 am (UTC)
They mock a woman for putting on weight. You turn the page and they're mocking another for looking anorexic. It's so cruel and controlling.

To me it's obvious that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Every woman is beautiful in her own way.
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