My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler*

I randomly had this song in my head the other day, and when I looked it up on YouTube I realized that it’s kinda terrible.  Feminists talk a lot about the immense pressure that women are under to look perfect and stifle parts of their humanity (physically and intellectually).  But listening to this song reminded me how ridiculous the pressure is for men as well.

“He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”

Really?  Why?  I mean, I want an amazing perfect guy as much as the next person (who has also been socialized to believe that a ‘perfect guy’ exists), but strong, fast, and fresh from the fight aren’t really things that I want in a partner.  Except that actually, if I was faster than him or stronger than him, or more likely to fight than him, I wouldn’t really think he was perfect.  As much as I hate to admit it, those things are kind of important for me to see a man as ‘man enough.’

If you’re an average looking woman who just doesn’t quite fit the current beauty norms, your femininity will not be questioned.  If you’re a man who doesn’t fit norms of masculinity, your manhood will absolutely be questioned.  Talk about pressure.  So you have to be strong, you have to be a fighter – in fact, according to this song, you have to be a friggin’ Superman to sweep a girl off her feet. 

And just like with women, both genders police masculinity.  I tend to think mostly of men policing other men by calling them gay, or fags, or pussies, etc. (because it doesn’t take strength to come out as gay right?  Pussies are weak too… what do they do?  Push babies out?  That’s nothin!) but women are also putting messages out there that we don’t want human beings, we want ‘Men.’

And in order to be a ‘Man’ you must show no weakness.  You must be Hercules, or a white knight, or Superman.  You must be a hero.  But fuck that.  We don’t need heroes.  We don’t need to be saved.  We need to be loved.  And an unemotional, ‘strong,’ hero of a man can’t truly love us because we have forced him to suppress his true self – his true humanity.  No wonder we’re all miserable**.  Men are trying to be half of themselves to be heroes (for us?), and we’re waiting for Superman.  Who wins here?  Really?

*Bonnie Tyler originally did this, but I like the Frou Frou/Shrek version best

**Or is that just me? Lol.

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Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars

When this song first came out, I was kind of in love with it.  (It didn’t hurt that I also had a boyfriend at the time, so I felt like someone actually thought all those nice things about me too.  Otherwise it might have just made me sad and lonely.)  But, if you actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s all about what she looks like. 

What he comments on:  her eyes, her hair, her beauty, her face, her smile, her lips, her laugh (arguably superficial)

What he doesn’t comment on: her personality, her intelligence, her passions, her dreams, her love, her support, her likes, her dislikes

I still think it’s a nice song… but really? That’s all you got?  That’s all the matters?  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to tell women everyday that they’re beautiful just the way they are.  I just don’t know if it should be referring only to how they look.  Let’s redefine beauty please.

Still, as a relatively normal looking woman, listening to the song did make me feel good.  Like even though sometimes (often) I feel insecure and ugly, maybe I am beautiful just the way I am too.  Then I watched the video and saw the woman he was actually singing too.  She is extremely conventionally beautiful.  It doesn’t seem like he thinks she’s beautiful because he loves her… it seems like he loves her because she’s beautiful.  This is really problematic for an average woman/girl looking in.  “Well maybe I would be okay the way I am if I looked like that.  But nobody’s guna sing about how great I am looking like this.”

I have no doubt that as beautiful as the woman in this video is she really “don’t see what I see.”  And this is sad.  I don’t know any woman who sees herself realistically, even the ones who are  conventionally physically attractive.  It’s so frustrating, and maybe if someone told them everyday that they were beautiful, maybe they would start to see it.  But then again, maybe they would just feel even more like their self worth comes from what they look like and what men think of them.

I also have a bit of a problem with the line “And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while.”  I’ve recently been really interrogating my ideas about beauty and why I think women want it so badly (partly because of America The Beautiful which I will post about next week).  If you watch a scene in TV/movies where it is showing ‘the sexy woman,’ everyone in the room is staring.  Everyone knows she is beautiful. It is not about personal taste, type or desire.  It is clear that she is objectively sexy. 

I think that we all (at least I do) secretly believe that if we could somehow become pretty enough or sexy enough then it would become objective.  Everyone would be attracted to us, and we would know that we were beautiful.  But in real life, of course, you will never get to that point.  Even if you look amazing, someone will not be into your style, someone else will think you’re a slut, someone else will be gay and not notice you at all.  So in saying that “the whole world stops and stares,” Bruno Mars is perpetuating that idea.  If only I was attractive enough for the whole world to like me.  

I just wish we could love women (and ourselves) for being something other than physically attractive.

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Kelly Clarkson – What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)

I love this video.  I have basically played it (and usually danced to it) every day, multiple times a day, since I discovered it.  The first time I watched the video, I got a little teary eyed.  I love the message in the song, and it’s definitely something I want to embrace for myself.  Seeing ‘real people’ in the video makes it much easier to relate to, at least for me.  Watching a perfect looking celebrity woman with no flaws and gorgeous hair and make-up say she doesn’t need a relationship is much different than watching women who really reflect how you feel you look say the same thing.  If Kelly Clarkson doesn’t need a man… well, she’s Kelly Clarkson.  She’s perfect, so of course she will find someone better.  But oh, these women wearing their sweats also don’t need a man.  And neither does that girl, who doesn’t quite have the perfect body.  Well, if they can say ‘fuck you’ to a bad relationship, then so can I.

The only thing that I don’t love about the video is that Kelly Clarkson still does look unnaturally perfect.  Contrasting the image of her with all the other people in the video really makes this stand out.  When I was first watching the video, I kind of just thought, ‘Wow, she’s SO pretty.  So much prettier than everyone else.’  But of course, that’s just because of all the work people have done to make her look flawless.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Kelly Clarkson, and I do think she’s a beautiful person.  I also think she’s been a really good role model because she’s gotten a lot of shit about being ‘fat’ (which of course, she is not!), but she totally just owns her body.

I just think it’s a little sad that at this point, it’s really easy to buy that celebs actually look like that.  We kind of think that they actually glow, and actually have no pores or wrinkles, or hair anywhere that it shouldn’t be.  We forget that they are actually ‘real people’ too.  I wish she looked like everyone else in the video too, instead of standing out so much by looking flawless.

But I still love it!! ❤

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