it always surprises me how people of moderate to high intelligence and good morals can easily forfeit all of the above when it comes to their choices of entertainment. at the moment, i am specifically thinking of television and film.
i guess i should mention my "junk food" philosophy for my own viewing choices first. simply put, even the healthiest eaters/consumers on occasion like to indulge in a cheeseburger and milkshake... and the same can be said for any person who generally is choosy about what media and entertainment she consumes. on occasion i watch pointless shows, movies and random you tube videos because they're complete fluff, and then i go about my day hopefully choosing not to binge too long on "19 and Counting" or "LA Ink", to name a couple of my recently odd obsessions...
we all do it, i recognize that. here's what scares me, fellow americans: the obsession.
so, if you didn't know, abc's "lost" recently wrapped up - it sent eric into a binge, watching all of seasons 1- 5 in about oh, a month. he'd never watched it before, and i hadn't past season 3 (i gave up because i had a life at the time) as the end of season 5 approached, we were brain-sick. although it is a fairly good show, i can't imagine being a die-hard fan. i have friends who had parties for the final episode, and posted ridiculous statuses all over fb and the like about it afterwards... people - it's just a show!
that's not to say, however, that if there were a star trek series airing currently that i might not be a little bit obsessed myself - thanks to my dad and grandma, i am a die hard trekkie. BUT! that, of course, is different right?
but here's the really strange thing about current trends in tv that get me frustrated... the sheer gullibility, it seems, of the american public when it comes to these truly awful "reality shows". i know, this rant comes way late - i mean, people were going on about this ten years ago now.
it simply amazes me how intensely some people, who i find to be pleasant and intelligent in every way, choose to identify with the participants and "celebrity hosts" on shows such as "the bachelor", "dancing with the stars", "american idol" (maybe i could identify with dear simon), or my least favorite: "the biggest loser".
again, in my moments of junk food urge tv watching, i will confess to having watched these shows. i will even admit to having looked at the "biggest loser" website in a moment of emotional and existential misery and contemplated becoming a contestant - wow. but thank god - it passed! and the next day, i looked at my wasted hours of watching and cringed in shame.
you know the people i'm talking about. i'm thinking of a couple in their 50's right now who are devout christians, politically conservative, devoted to education and all things good - their favorite show? dancing with the stars. how? how can a person who would never think to wear anything made of lycra and rhinestones, and certainly not anything revealing cleavage or thigh, who would never sponsor a highschool dance or prom, spend a season wondering if the star football player will succeed in learning to do an authentic tango?
or the girls my age, who are certainly their own people, who are not shy to share their opinions and express their dreams of finding partners who respect them someday, who watch "the bachelor" in all its tacky glory, and seem riveted to shows like "sixteen and pregnant"? i am sick at heart when these shows come up in conversation. surely there is something better to spend your time on. surely these lovely and intelligent women can see how shows like this undermine the value of women at large and encourage negative and unhealthy attitudes toward sexual and emotional relationships... aaaagghhhh.
and finally, why i cannot stand "biggest loser" and shows of that ilk. they are marketed as self help, inspiration, and the like, as we see product after product spew from these franchises that are nothing more than sugar water saying it's a magic cure all. these shows take people who have obviously struggled with their physical and sometimes emotional well being, and break them down, exploiting them and putting them through extreme and sometimes life threatening "challenges", in order to produce what we all want: good tv. that's it.
as a woman who has struggled with self image, a bad relationship, and in the last few years - weight gain, i see most of these shows as pure poison. probably of the alcoholic variety - something that goes down smooth, makes you feel good, and then twists it all into pure misery in a very short amount of time. how does any one watch a show like this and not feel completely powerless and worthless? it is bottled false hope. and we ought to know by now, that this is what sells best in our world.
it is another unusually brilliant sunny day in northern italy. the roses and geraniums are profuse and embarassingly bright. it's humid, but not unbearably so. i've walked the dog, managed to take a shower and even prepare a meal. it's more than i've been able to do all week. the house is in disarray, beds unmade and trash piled up and begging to be taken out...
an argument errupts moments after he comes home. i think about it now, and can understand his perspective. he'd worked all day, i'd been home all day - why can't the house be clean? why can't i take care of it, it's not like i'm working?
these memories intrude on my every day life at times. sometimes i can simply push them back and say it's past... they are remnants of a struggle long ago set aside. there are times though, when this and other more searing images press into my heart and i cannot set them back in their place easily.
the prompt for recent remembrances:
an "exchange", as a friend termed it, on my preferred social networking site that stirred up a good question, old feelings, and a desire or prompting to share. although it's been my determination from day one of separation and then divorce from my ex-husband to be open about the difficulties and growth earned from it, i really do not relish sharing deeply. i don't think that i need to.
but it hit me this morning, as i said goodbye to my sweet eric as he left to job hunt once more, that i have reasons to rejoice, and reasons to share, and how will anyone know who i am if i don't tell them why i believe what i believe?
am i an evangelical or what?
so, to the good question:
"stefanie, why are you - the daughter of a couple devoted to christian ministry and fairly conservative and moderate in all respects - a feminist?"
okay, so this is something that i feel - in person or online - that i can never fully answer in one fell swoop. that may change over the years, as i hope age will teach me to be wiser and more concise, but in the meantime i wish to tackle this.
my first answer:
i identify myself as a feminist because it is the right thing for me as a Christian and a woman in my culture to do. like so many things that we come to realize about ourselves in early life, becoming comfortable with saying, "i am a feminist" has been a natural part of recognizing who i am as an individual and that it is something about me that has been there all along.
the old feelings:
are connected to the memories. they are so complex and tangled. many are connected to an attempted marriage that ended in heartbreak, some are connected to the naivete that my young sheltered self had ten years ago, some have been around me as long as i can remember.
- the gut reaction occurred when someone i respect said, "i want nothing to do with feminism... i am content to let my husband lead... and, i don't see the need to vote and don't value my right as a woman to do so..." (these are paraphrased)
- memory: being told that i am "the wife", and i should allow my husband to take care of all major decisions. that i had no right to spend money that was supposed to be "ours", and that because i wasn't working, the only thing i should do is maintain the household. i had no input, and was treated to an array of explosive and abusive remarks if i asked about my husbands whereabouts after work, how money was spent etc.
this experience was created by a legacy of teaching, in example and word, that is not Christ-like in any way and is the result of generations of a simple precedent set: women do not deserve the same rights as me. an implicit, subconscious message that is acted out far more than verbalized.
the abuses i dealt with came from a young angry and confused man who had never seen a healthy marriage of two Christian individuals... and i don't repeat this story to blacken his image, but to say that i have some strong feelings as to why it is important to continue reminding women of their worth. i believe that young men need to see their mothers own who they are, and to be respected and valued as individuals by their mates.
and desire is to explain my stance. i hope it is a stance of many other women with similar backgrounds to mine - those who were raised in a perceived "conservative Christian" atmosphere - and that others might join in the conversation.
so here it is. i believe that feminism is something that can and ought to be embraced by women from all walks. that it is a movement that should be open to all persuasions in the political, religious and lifestyle spectrums. until it is just that, we as women have not won our cause to create a world that is fair and equal for all.
as a Christian, while on this world i have an obligation to stand up for those who have no voice and to protect the sanctity of life around me. i cannot ignore an injustice that affects me so directly.
as the second wave coined it: the personal is political. and for me it intersects with this: the spiritual is personal. i cannot see how the son of God could teach anything that would encourage us to view half of the world as secondary in any way.
this is my start, there will be more. in the meantime, books: