Patterico's Pontifications

11/30/2014

You Say, Empowerment. I Say, Grow Up Already!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:14 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Have you ever wondered if we can become any more of a narcissistic culture than we already are? Well, I’m here to sadly inform you, that yes, we can. Did you realize there is a feminist photo revolution going on? Yeah, neither did I. However, it seems it’s taking place right on Twitter and Tumblr and other social media. In pushing back against the typically well made-up, beautifully coiffed, airbrushed, size 0 model who makes females everywhere hate themselves and swear off carbs for 17 minutes, average Janes are now taking selfies, sans makeup, filters and even clothes just to proudly and powerfully remind themselves – and you – what “normal” looks like. (I’m guessing that the ability to serve champagne on a rotund tush doesn’t count…) Anyway, this “empowerment” is a way to “overturn sexist tropes through mass media” culture:

“Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women,” says Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University… “Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before.”

“We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect,” Cynthia Wade, a filmmaker and creator of the short film Selfie told me recently, for an article about ugly selfies in the New York Times. “I think girls are tired of it.”

“Selfies are one way for a female to make space for herself in the world: to say ‘I’m here, this is what I actually look like, my story counts, too,’” says Pamela Grossman, the director of visual trends at Getty Images, “They allow girls to shine on their own terms.”

Unfortunately for her, Afifa, a 26-year-old Afghani woman who recently made it all the way to America from Afghanistan, wasn’t informed that all she and her fellow Aghani sisters needed to do to become empowered was to take a few selfies and post them online. What?! No #BitchesHaveMyBack for her!

In the male dominated country of her birth, Afifa discusses the reality of living with absolutely no fundamental rights for women. Instead, most women have no awareness of any other way to live. They cannot travel without a male escort and are viewed as chattel to sell, trade or abuse. Saying this phenomenon is not rare anymore, Afifa spoke of a 12-year-old girl who was married to a 65-year-old man as a normal arrangement in her country.

Women are jailed, abused and even killed by their own family if they bring shame on them by not abiding by strict Islamic rules. Afifa explains how “the honor of your family name is so important,” that honor killings, where a father, brother or uncle will kill their own female family member for marrying outside the faith or shaming the family, is a risk Afghani women take for granted.

Compared to the stark contrast with her culture, American women should appreciate their rights, she says. Speaking to American women, Afifa says, “You have great opportunities for yourself and your loved ones. You’re so lucky, so do as much as you can.”

Seriously, luck and opportunity? What a hater.

And speaking of social media and all that is OURSELVES – ALL DAY, ALL THE TIME!, there is a little site that asked the BIG question: What If Guys Acted Like Girls On Instagram?

Untitled-1
(I need to offer a H/T, but can’t remember which site I linked from.)

–Dana

70 Responses to “You Say, Empowerment. I Say, Grow Up Already!”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  2. “We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect”

    Yeah, the culture should focus on making being a self-centered idiot something to be ashamed of.

    “Selfies are one way for a female to make space for herself in the world: to say ‘I’m here, this is what I actually look like, my story counts, too,’”

    If your way of saying “I’m here” is posting a selfie on the Internet, then you failed at life.

    “They allow girls to shine on their own terms”

    Look, in all honesty, if this thing makes a woman concerned about her looks feel better about herself, that’s nice. It really is. But you’ll excuse me if I think this is less about women with serious self-esteem issues and more about women who are just upset because they never won a beauty contest or got a compliment.

    Honestly, this thing reminds me of an old “Married… with Children” quote about advertising to men: “Advertisers have to cater to what we want. And hold on to your corncob pipe, we like pretty women. Pretty women sell good products; ugly women sell tennis rackets. Pretty women, cars; ugly women, minivans. Pretty women make us buy beer; ugly women make us drink beer.”

    tops116 (d094f8)

  3. Peggy’s idea of “deep issues” is way shallower than you’d expect huh

    happyfeet (831175)

  4. Stripes are in?

    mg (31009b)

  5. happyfeet,

    It’s hard not to expect more from a professor at Stanford.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  6. dailymail.co.uk, January 2013: Books aside, if you asked a college freshman today who the Greatest Generation is, they might respond by pointing in a mirror. Young people’s unprecedented level of self-infatuation was revealed in a new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has been asking students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966.

    Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being ‘above average’ in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.

    But in appraising the traits that are considered less invidualistic – co-operativeness, understanding others, and spirituality – the numbers either stayed at slightly decreased over the same period.

    Researchers also found a disconnect between the student’s opinions of themselves and actual ability. While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.

    Also on the decline is the amount of time spent studying, with little more than a third of students saying they study for six or more hours a week compared to almost half of all students claiming the same in the late 1980s.

    And then we wonder why this nation has chosen someone like a Barack Obama to be in the White House, etc?!

    Mark (c160ec)

  7. Glad to see Stanford upholding such high standards of academic scholarship.

    Jack Klompus (7e1c13)

  8. Does this guy know an erection doesn’t count as personal growth.

    mg (31009b)

  9. But I don’t wanna grow up!

    http://uploads.petrolicious.com/578-81×19!.jpg

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  10. Very good post. Dana, you’re an excellent blogger.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  11. Linky be stinky, Colonel.

    Gazzer (cb9ee2)

  12. well I’m puzzled. What is the problem with women ‘fighting back’ against the fashionista’s by posting photos of themselves?

    seeRpea (2a32aa)

  13. it isn’t a “problem” so much as a solution in search of a problem…

    IOW, 6 Flags Over Nothing.

    the whiniest generation suffers from delusions of adequacy.

    redc1c4 (589173)

  14. hmm, it occurs to me that some or many women may be suffering from one of the effects of feminazism, the lack of non-sexual positive feedback.
    When i joined the workforce in the 80s it was not unusual for a male worker say to a female co-worker that she looked nice. Now-a-days, no way a male would make any sort of comment to a co-worker similar to that. The risks are too great. Even in a public place just saying ‘you look good’ is harassment – 10 Hours anyone?

    So these type of selfies are just a substitute for what used to be the norm.

    (btw: how is that they are photos of people taking selfies of themselves?)

    seeRpea (2a32aa)

  15. “(btw: how is that they are photos of people taking selfies of themselves?)”

    mirrors.

    kaf (f9e136)

  16. I need higher power binoculars than I have to see across this generation gap.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. @3, 5, 7– and people spend lots of money to go there and sit in her classes??? Borrowed money in some cases. Just how does this enhance the students’ future earning power?

    As earlier stated: no wonder we are in the shape we are in in this country.

    Gramps, the original (9e1415)

  18. nk, it is not a gap, it is an abyss.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)

  19. re #15: mirrors? then why not just take a photo of yourself in the mirror, that way you would not cover your face with your phone?
    i seem to be missing a basic point about ‘selfie taking’ .

    seeRpea (2a32aa)

  20. My all time favorite New Yorker Magazine cartoon comes to mind after reading this post:

    Two middle aged people are chatting at a cocktail party. One says, “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”

    elissa (4e3901)

  21. What if I took a class from her and got a D?
    Probably would have the final indignity of having some moron taking a selfie in front of my headstone after I’d died of the shame of nearly failing a class run by an idiot

    steveg (794291)

  22. Jean Twenge has been on this for some time. She has updated her classic book on this issue, and I highly, highly recommend it to college professors or other folks dealing with this current generation working its way through higher education:

    http://www.generationme.org/

    Simon Jester (d00d6a)

  23. Behind every blade of grass….
    is a twit taking a selfie.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  24. women who are just upset because they never won a beauty contest or got a compliment.

    Who will then turn around and rip into the poor schmuck who told her how ‘nice’ she looked.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  25. ==”Gen Me-ers” have shifted the American character, redefining what it means to be an individual in today’s society. Right now, that includes reshaping the workplace, with GenMe expressing distinct preferences about everything from compensation to work-life balance to having a personal impact.==

    From your Jean Twenge link, Simon– I really do believe that part of this is the absence of the workplace, i.e., lack of meaningful work, or underemployment for so many of this generation. Their work-life balance is off kilter because there is too much free time “life” to kill in comparison to “work” time. Some of this is their own fault but a lot of it is not. They were raised to expect a shiny trophy for participating and were not educated in the classroom to understand many of the societal realities, economic truths, and personal morality that previous generations learned there. Unfortunately not all the boomer and genX parents were up to the job, either.

    elissa (4e3901)

  26. Oh, I agree, elissa. I am surprised by the innate hypocrisy of so many students these days. Example: they want the freedom to express themselves however they see fit…but fully expect me to be “nice” when I write letters of recommendation. It’s different when it happens to them. Narcissists.

    A good example is the number of white well to do faculty (and students) I see every day popping off about what “minorities” think and feel. I call these folks “Marxists in 300 dollar shoes.” And it is narcissism all over again: they know what is best for everyone.

    Which is why this does not surprise me:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-California/2014/11/26/Video-White-Ferguson-Protestor-Demands-Black-LAPD-Officer-Feel-Shame/

    The funny part? I will bet you a thousand dollars that the woman in question is very sensitive to the concept of “mansplaining,” in which a man lectures a woman about sexism or feminism. Yet, here she is—white and privileged—telling a black man what he should think or do.

    But it’s okay from a progressive. Sheesh.

    Simon Jester (d00d6a)

  27. Thank you, DRJ. I really appreciate you saying that.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  28. The guys are NOT acting like girls, because the guy pictured here has most of his body covered with clothes.

    Sammy Finkelman (2d4607)

  29. Did you realize there is a feminist photo revolution going on? Yeah, neither did I. However, it seems it’s taking place right on Twitter and Tumblr and other social media. In pushing back against the typically well made-up, beautifully coiffed, airbrushed, size 0 model who makes females everywhere hate themselves and swear off carbs for 17 minutes, average Janes are now taking selfies, sans makeup, filters and even clothes just to proudly and powerfully remind themselves – and you – what “normal” looks like. (I’m guessing that the ability to serve champagne on a rotund tush doesn’t count…) Anyway, this “empowerment” is a way to “overturn sexist tropes through mass media” culture:

    “Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women,” says Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University… “Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before.”

    “We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect,” Cynthia Wade, a filmmaker and creator of the short film Selfie told me recently, for an article about ugly selfies in the New York Times. “I think girls are tired of it.”

    “Selfies are one way for a female to make space for herself in the world: to say ‘I’m here, this is what I actually look like, my story counts, too,’” says Pamela Grossman, the director of visual trends at Getty Images, “They allow girls to shine on their own terms.”

    What’s the objection to this? I must have missed something. Was there a paragraph where Peggy Phelan went on to attack Afifa or something?

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  30. Is the complaint that women are taking photos of themselves? Is the complaint that the new generation is just generally narcissistic?

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  31. When did feminism beclown itself? It is precisely because I am a feminist that I feel no need to “reclaim” my body image and think it foolish to objectify yourself so that someone else can’t do it. Geez, ladies, concentrate on your souls, hearts, and brains, and ignore what anyone who isn’t your doctor thinks about your body. Ignore what anyone who isn’t your significant other thinks about your looks.

    Oh, and by the way? Middle age comes faster than you think. All those attention-getting selfies right now are going to bite you in the butt once your looks aren’t enough to draw flattery and praise.

    bridget (5ed8f8)

  32. == Geez, ladies, concentrate on your souls, hearts, and brains,==

    Well bridget you may have to wait a while for the great re-awakening

    http://weaselzippers.us/206892-hot-new-feminist-trend-dying-their-armpits-neon-colors/

    elissa (74b420)

  33. i can’t click that

    i just wanna drink my diet red bull and not click that

    after that I’m a spend my evening not clicking that and then it’ll be time for cocoa

    and after cocoa time it’s bed time

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  34. Weeel, if you prefer to remain uninformed, feets……

    But I’ll admit the pictures aren’t pretty as far as I am concerned. I’ll have to leave it to our male readers to say if this is a sexy look.

    elissa (74b420)

  35. I saw that on my Facebook news feed and had managed to block it out. There is not enough booze in the world to make that okay.

    bridget (ec9ab7)

  36. Hmmm, your link, elissa, says the idea was in Offbeat Home & Life and originated in a salon called Vain in Seattle.

    My goodness, I’m not being hostile at all, but there is psycho-spiritual pathology screaming out from that. A person who needs to make that kind of statement about being an individual really is having a hard time being an individual.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  37. Friends don’t let friends wear neon.

    mg (31009b)

  38. Those are women? I doan theenk so. They look like drag queens to me. The first one definitely.

    nk (dbc370)

  39. I must say, elissa, spikes (fangs?) coming out of nostrils is more of a turn-off than red armpit hair.
    I think it screams, “I am so desperate to be loved that I need to know if you will love me no matter how hard I try to push you away.”

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  40. “an art and English professor at Stanford University… “Selfies ”

    No doubt the topic of her classes instead of Shakespeare, another DWM.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  41. What is interesting to me, in addition to many more important cultural phenomena, is the fact that teen aged boys and young men are shaving their body hair. I examine recruits for the military, a group you (Or at least I would not expect to be worrying about this.)

    I would say about 1/3 have shaved body hair including public hair. And about 1/2 have ear piercings.

    ?????

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  42. It’s kind of like reverting to barbarianism. It wasn’t that long ago that the only people with multiple piercings and large-scale body paint were seen chiefly in National Geographic articles about tribes still in the Stone Age.
    I don’t get it either.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  43. Do you think maybe this is why human lifespan is capped at about 100 years? For our own protection? People just cannot be expected to adapt to, or to endure, the societal changes brought by more than four or five succeeding generations during a lifetime?

    elissa (74b420)

  44. @ Leviticus,

    Is the complaint that women are taking photos of themselves? Is the complaint that the new generation is just generally narcissistic?

    It’s a sad realization that (wo)man’s ability to live in abject self-consumption and navel-gazing apparently has no end. For, in spite of all the strides made by women in society and the workplace, we are apparently still just as desperate and needy as ever. If more time was focused on nurturing the inner-beauty rather than the exterior shell, more women might actually find joy in who they are – right here and now. Because at the end of the day, when youth fades and the body settles and re-distributes itself, chick better have a well-stimulated brain, a humor so immediate and finely tuned that the freedom to laugh at oneself is just a lovely relief, and perhaps most importantly, a heart that has been trained to always first look outward, rather than inward. Can’t we be about more than just ourselves all the freaking time?

    Dana (8e74ce)

  45. elissa,

    I clicked the link and all I heard was ME, ME, ME, ME!!!!!!

    Dana (8e74ce)

  46. Mike K – Shaving aint so bad. It is pretty common amongst triathletes, swimmers, etc ..

    JD (86a5eb)

  47. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the idea that it is ok for women to look normal. And it has nothing to do with the woman from Afghanistan. Dana is really clutching at straws on this one.

    Georganne (e37667)

  48. Georganne misses the point… again. Deja Moo.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  49. Georgeanne – doesn’t it seem like modern feminism has become a caricature or a parody of what it’s underpinnings are?

    JD (86a5eb)

  50. @JD – I’m not a feminist so I don’t worry about it or its ‘underpinnings’.

    @Colonel Haiku – I am definitely missing the point of your tiresome…whatever it is…

    Sorry, but it would be nice if Pontifications would stick to news. I like Dana a lot of the time but sometimes it seems like she’s turning this into her own private playground.

    Georganne (e37667)

  51. That is, at best, absurd.

    JD (86a5eb)

  52. @JD

    No, absurd is taking this stupid selfie story and somehow trying to tie it to the struggles of that brave woman from Afghanistan. That is as over-the-top ridiculous as anything the feminists have pulled lately. I like this site too much to not comment as Dana tries to turn it into some hyper-partisan-Salon-for-the-religious-right joke.

    Georganne (e37667)

  53. Sorry to disagree, Georganne. I think the painted “girls” are a product of a fat society — petty, self-indulgent, self-centered, frivolous, and even decadent. The girl from Afghanistan is/was at the cutting edge of what’s real. It’s an appropriate contrast.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. And a Stalinist could have said that. Religious right has nothing to do with it.

    nk (dbc370)

  55. I suggest you quit hyperventilating and re-read, and see if you can try to suss out the fairly obvious points made.

    JD (86a5eb)

  56. omg catfight

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  57. Saucer of milk, table for two!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  58. ok i will tell you how to make yourself a soothing hearty winter beverage

    it’s very simple – just get some apple cider and heat it up (i use the packets)

    then you stir in some pumpkin curd … and sprinkle on a lil nutmeg!

    it’s a nice cocoa alternative and probably a lil better at promoting restful sleeps

    it makes you feel warm and happy and then you can read blogs and stuff without getting all incensed about the afghani womens

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  59. elissa (74b420) — 12/1/2014 @ 5:55 pm

    In the Biblical narrative, it was after the Flood that lifespans dramatically decreased.
    In one of the letters to Timothy Paul, says that women should emphasize what is on the inside than on the outside.
    Whether that makes him an early feminist or a classical chauvinist, IDK.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  60. One thing ya can’t hide
    is when yer crippled inside

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  61. It was a problem in Shakespeare’s time, too, it seems:

    HAMLET
    I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God’s creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance.

    I guess women have never been content with only shedding their skins every once in a while like the other species in their genus. (Ducks)

    nk (dbc370)

  62. == I like this site too much ……to turn it into some hyper-partisan-Salon-for-the-religious-right joke.==

    Georgeanne, I do not want this site “to turn into a salon for religious right joke” either. Yes, I see that occasionally certain commenters become judgmental and seem super over-self- righteous toward others or others’ beliefs. Then there is frequently pushback to that which can also look over the top. I notice that some comments on threads can and probably do exceed what some others consider the boundaries of good taste. Some comments rely heavily on religion to defend or to attack social/political topics of the day.

    But your theory that Dana is somehow responsible for bringing any of this onto this site, or into this thread–or that as an invited guest poster she is making this a private playground– truly baffles me. Dana’s a big girl and can answer for herself, but I think you’re being incredibly unfair to her with respect to her blogging here.

    elissa (4b8e7d)

  63. I don’t understand Georgeanne’s issue, especially with President Kardashian and the non-stop Democrat bleating about the Republican “War on Women”.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  64. No, absurd is taking this stupid selfie story and somehow trying to tie it to the struggles of that brave woman from Afghanistan.

    It wasn’t “tied to” the struggles of women in the Middle East, Georgianna; it was contrasted with those struggles.

    Dana’s point is that western ‘feminism’ has beclowned itself. It is not even about the struggles of self-sufficient women in a first world country or how they deal with body issues; it is navel-gazing of the most obnoxious variety, dressed up as “feminism.” This is what concerns modern feminists as women around the world are beaten and raped.

    bridget (5ed8f8)

  65. “This is what concerns modern feminists as women around the world are beaten and raped.”

    bridget – This and the shirts worn by scientists who land space probes on comets. Please don’t lose track of what’s important to American feminists.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  66. Georganne,

    I won’t attempt to explain the point of this post as others here have very ably done so. (Thanks much daley, elissa, bridget, JD, nk)

    Rest assured, before I began posting on faith, art or culture, I asked Patterico first as this is *his* blog. He could not have been more supportive and encouraging.

    Let me assure you, too, that I have no desire to make this place into anything other than what it always has been: a community of readers with diverse opinions, views and beliefs – all of which challenge, enlighten, shape and sharpen those who engage in the comments. The posts themselves, as I see it, are simply springboards for such rich discussion. If you do not like to read what I write, I encourage you to skip my post(s). As others write here, too, their posts may be much more to your liking. Also, I assume that I am not alone in finding more than just the “news” interesting in this world.

    Georganne, while I’m sorry you’re unhappy with my postings and/or what you perceive to be my intentions here, I have to say that frankly, DRJ’s comment at #10 is the real gold in the bank for me. If she’s fine with my blogging, than so am I… unless of course, the boss says otherwise!

    Best to you.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  67. it’s curious this summer, they had a series legend, that featured a Hirsi Ali type character, they called her Hany Jibril, who was framed for the assasination of a reformist Saudi official, because she was so dedicated to the proposition of women’s rights in the Moslem world, they have no time for her, but endless hours for the likes of Lena Dunham or Sandra Fluke,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  68. Dana – I think we need to hear more from JD about his manscaping practices.

    Also, I think I saw it on the sidebar over on Ace several days ago, vagina steaming is apparently now a thing. I clicked, but I decided not to be a giver on that one and did not link.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  69. I have known serious competitive swimmers who shaved, but I don’t think there are that many serious swimmers and triathletes out there.

    I don’t think shaving would make a difference in my swimming prowess.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  70. MD in Philly – I shaved for big competitions as a swimmer in high school and college. I didn’t shave my head in high school, but added that in college.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.8305 secs.