Sexism circa now

This fem-book comes highly recommended.

I’m reading a book on feminism, and I’m bragging about it nonstop. Every woman in my life has heard all about Susan Douglas’s Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work is Done.

The idea is this: When I slip up and make a sexist remark in the future, it won’t seem so bad.

I’m loving the book, by the way. On page 40, and Douglas came out swinging.

Douglas on Abercrombie & Fitch ads: “The blow-up black-and-white shots of muscular self-satisfied blond pretty boys in low-slung boxer shorts may have been attractive to my daughter, but all I kept thinking was ‘Hitler young.’ And ‘statutory rape.’”

Douglas on The Man Show: [I]t was understood that it is sexist and ridiculous to have bikini-clad women jumping on trampolines, and furthermore, that the guys who wanted them to do this were morons. This is the knowing wink: guys are so dumb, such helpless slaves to big breasts, and the female display is, in the end, so harmless that a feminist critique is not necessary. Therefore, the objectification of women is now fine; why, it’s actually a joke on the guys.”

Douglas has my number!

Here’s her main thesis:

“If you immerse yourself in the media fare of the past ten to fifteen years, what you see is a rather large gap between how the vast majority of girls and women live their lives, the choices they are forced to make, and what they see and don’t see in the media. Ironically it is just the opposite of the gap in the 1950s and ’60s, when images of women as Watusi-dancing bimbettes on the beach or stay-at-home housewives who need advice from Mr. Clean about how to wash a floor obscured the exploding number of women entering the workforce. … Back then the media illusion was that the aspirations of girls and women weren’t changing at all when they were. Now, the media illusion is that equality for girls and women is an accomplished fact when it isn’t.”

Agree? Disagree?

I think Douglas is right, and I’m excited to read the next 300 pages to hear her flesh out her argument. Longer review to come. Stay tuned.


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