Mayim Bialik, who in addition to being Blossom is also a) a series regular on Big Bang Theory and b) a neuroscientist, was interviewed recently about the social constructs of being a girl and being a nerd.
First, Bialik on finding good clothes:
And I don’t mean to sound like an elitist when it comes to being a female geek. I was talking with a girlfriend of mine about clothing and there used to be a very specific way that we nerd girls would dress. Now, you can go to your local Urban Outfitters and find the stuff we used to go digging through thrift stores for to hone that perfect look.
Then, Bialik on being an outcast:
If you get very specific about more of the elitist intellectual aspects of geekdom, I think that there are parts that will always be preserved, but I think that there has been a definite – I don’t want to say watering down – but a definite commercialization of some of the aspects that I used to feel set me apart.
So, liking the Violent Femmes is high school was so rebellious, they were naughty and they cursed and who could imagine liking the Violent Femmes? And then, they had a top 20 hit, and everyone was singing Violent Femmes. Part of this geekdom isn’t exclusivity, it’s an identification with being different from mainstream culture. And for me, it was alienating and still is to a certain extent, but there’s a power in that exclusivity in that you make your own club.
Preach on, sister. We went from being outcasts in high school to being considered cool, and you know what changed? Not us. Keep reading to hear more smart stuff from Bialik and Kary Byron from Mythbusters about what it’s like to be constantly called out as either being too authentic or not authentic enough. Just a lovely read.
This is a commercial for Breast Milk Baby, a baby doll toy that has been fairly popular overseas and was introduced here in America last week.
It is weirding people out all over the country.
Like most women I know, I’ve been dieting my entire life. Since I was 10 and realized that I was about a foot taller than most of my classmates, and I thought that dieting could shrink me vertically. Since I saw Weekend at Bernie’s and found myself wondering if the clothes on Jonathan Silverman’s love interest would look as good on me, and if not, why not? Since I was 14 and breathlessly watched Cindy Crawford on MTV’s House of Style, my eyes studying every single detail of her look as if I were going to be tested on it. As soon as you’re old enough to see pop culture, you’re old enough to feel not good enough.
I’ve been watching an online fight amongst a couple of new girl blogs, Jezebel, The Daily Beast, and Julie Klausner, and it’s bringing up some really interesting issues that I find myself struggling with a lot as a grownup woman. Not the sites, necessarily, but the debate about the sites. Here’s the scoop:
Both Jane Pratt (the goddess who created Sassy magazine) and Zooey Deschanel (if you have bangs you know who she is) launched websites this past week that are aimed at females aged 14 through 40.
I was in high school when Katie Roiphe wrote The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism, so I didn’t get a chance to read her book at the moment when everyone realized that sex was dangerous in a couple of different ways, and I wonder how it would have affected me then.
Reading it now, 18 years after it was written, it is still intensely powerful. Some of it seems delightfully antiquated (I wish women were still as angry about rape now as they were then), but for the most part it is a brilliant critique of the modern feminist movement. It makes points about the unfortunate divorce of feminism from sexuality that I could only dream of making, and completely explains the problem with being overly sensitive with how sexual harassment is defined. When you see sexual harassment everywhere, it breeds a sense of passivity, of victimization in women that Roiphe thinks is light years away from what feminism should be. It’s the difference between Taylor Swift, who is always having her heartbroken, and Lady Gaga, who is too busy making prosthetic breasts to have her heart broken.
I do not mean to review it here, as plenty of people have already done that in the past 18 years, but if you’re a woman and you’re at all interested in feminism, you owe it to yourself to read this book. $15 and it could seriously change how you think about things. Here’s the paragraph that gave me chills, in which Roiphe talks about her fears upon graduating college of being a receptionist who is treated like dirt by a rich, older man:
The sound of the cars below broke my train of thought. I had caught myself in the middle of an unappealing fantasy of passivity: being carried along by fate, listening to the tarot cards, floating numb. What was I thinking? At the most uncharted moments in our lives we reach instinctively for the stock plots available to our generation, as trashy and cliched as they might be. In the fifties it was love and marriage, or existentialism and Beat poetry in smoky bars. Now, if you’re a woman, there’s another role readily available: that of the sensitive female, pinched, leered at, assaulted daily by sexual advances, encroached upon, kept down, bruised by harsh reality. Among other things, feminism has given us this. A new stock plot, a new identity spinning not around love, not marriage, not communes, not materialism this time, but passivity and victimhood. This is not what I want, not even as a fantasy.
Sociological Images does a great job at setting straight the recent ad campaign attacking African-American women for exercising their reproductive rights.
You know, this one:
Here’s a sample:
Many women have abortions because they cannot afford to raise a(nother) child. They would bring the fetus to term if only they weren’t all-but-crushed under the burdens of under-served neighborhoods, shitty public education, a dearth of jobs that pay a living wage, a criminal justice system that strips inner cities of husbands and fathers, a lack of health care, and stingy, penalizing, and humiliating social services (when they can get them). So telling black women that they are bad; telling them that they are killing their race alongside their babies, is twisting a knife that already penetrates deep in the black community.
Go read the rest, it’s good food for thought no matter how you feel about abortion.
Veena Malik is a Pakistani actress that appeared on the Indian version of Big Brother, and she returned to be trounced in the press by Islamic clerics who said that she shamed her country. She was not happy about this, as she believes herself to be a good Muslim, and her response to the cleric is one of the most impassioned and well-stated retorts I’ve ever seen.
I know it’s 7 minutes, but it’s beyond worth it.
First up, an essay from HuffPo back around Valentine’s Day that was just sent to me called “Why You’re Not Married“. It is just blistering and funny and insightful- here’s a taste:
It usually goes something like this: you meet a guy who is cute and likes you, but he’s not really available for a relationship. He has some condition that absolutely precludes his availability, like he’s married, or he gets around town on a skateboard. Or maybe he just comes right out and says something cryptic and open to interpretation like, “I’m not really available for a relationship right now.” You know if you tell him the truth — that you’re ready for marriage — he will stop calling. Usually that day. And you don’t want that. So you just tell him how perfect this is because you only want to have sex for fun! You love having fun sex! And you don’t want to get in a relationship at all! You swear!
Just brilliant stuff.
And next up, an essay at CNN about the fact that a gang-rape case in Texas, where EIGHTEEN males ranging in age for 14 to 27 filmed themselves raping an 11 year old girl. Since there is video of the rape, the parents of the suspects have taken to arguing that the 11 year old is a slut, basically, who was “willing to have sex”. Listen:
First, an attorney for some of the suspects described the girl as someone who had a “desire to be a willing participant.” That was followed by the arrival in town of a Houston-based community activist named Quanell X who stood before a group of local parents and exclaimed, “It was not the young girl that yelled rape! Stop right there. Something is wrong brothers and sisters… Where was her mother? Where was her father? Where was her family?” Perhaps more disturbing than his words were the murmurs of approval from the crowd. How about asking, “Where were the parents of the 14-year-old boy who is now accused of raping the 11-year-old girl?”
Why is Quanell all in a huff? Well, let’s add on the knowledge that all of the suspects are African American, and the victim is Hispanic. Here’s some video of Quanell, but what’s amazing is that he’s turned this into a race issue instead of making it ABOUT THE FILMED GANG RAPE OF A PRETEEN. Way to go, big guy. Way to really focus on human rights.
I just wrote up a thing for MyDaily that was a reaction/recap of a piece in Huffington Post about the key to getting promoted at work. Marcia Reynolds, the expert that wrote the piece, works with high-level executives to find out what it is that they look for in an employee with potential for moving up. (Is this weird that I’m writing a post about a post about a post? Yeesh, I’ll get to the point.)
Overall, the execs that Reynolds talked to said that they looked for employees that made themselves indispensable- employees that make sure everyone knows exactly why they are special and what they are contributing. Women, by and large, don’t do that in the workplace. Why? Here’s what I said at MyDaily:
The problem with this revelation is that women are often terrible at self promotion. Maybe we think hard work should speak for itself, maybe we think it’s tacky to brag, or maybe it’s a deeper issue of constantly apologizing for our successes as if we don’t deserve them. Over drinks, and more than once, I’ve listened as a very successful, powerful woman confessed that she’s just waiting for everyone to realize that she’s a fraud. What gives? It’s as if we shucked off the “passive, demure lady” stereotype externally, but internally, it is still firmly in place.
Reynolds mentions a lot of really helpful tricks for starting to think about your own skills and how you contribute, and I highly suggest that we all do them, but I’m still stuck on the why.
When has the definition of rape become so blurred? No matter what led to this, I am the victim. I did not sign up for what happened. Just because I didn’t fight (enough), it doesn’t mean I wanted it to keep happening. Just because they have video of me flirting back with the seemingly flamboyantly gay men at the diner, it doesn’t mean I was planning on going back to my apartment to get raped. Just because I was acting flighty, it doesn’t mean I was experiencing any enjoyment at all.
I am disgusted with the system. I am disgusted with the human race. I can only hope this experience will somehow lead to change.