I’m a Feminist. Sort of.

31 Jan

ImageI hate the ABC show The Bachelor. Hate. Loathe. And I feel the same way about The Bachelorette. While many of you sit on the edge of your seat sweating and having heart palpitations about which man or woman will get a rose (Do the guys get roses? If that doesn’t show you how few times I’ve watched those shows, I don’t know what will.), it makes me gag. The idea that we should go on a reality show to compete for someone’s love while the other contestants also have intimate relations with the Bachelor or Bachelorette, while everyone tries to untangle their multitude of emotions horrifies me.

Last night while on the treadmill at the gym, I watched this breathtakingly beautiful woman with outrageously orange nails cry on a boat because Whats-His-Name Josh-Groban-Look-a-Like tossed the rose that was meant to be hers in the cold, dark ocean.

“I just don’t know what I did wrong,” she sobs.

Me: “Girlfriend, the only thing you did wrong was come on a reality show looking for love. Let’s start there.”

There are plenty of things that fall into the “you should be dumped” category: Lying, murder, etc. You know. The usual. But this woman thinks she actually did something wrong not to win the affection of this man. I can’t help but think this is a matter of how we are programmed and conditioned as women: If something goes wrong, we are to blame. We are the problem, and never the solution.

I think that’s a crappy outlook.

People often have a hard time understanding that I’m a ‘wanna-be’ feminist. I say ‘wanna-be,’ because I’d be doing an injustice to those who came before me and have yet to come – those who have and will effect change regarding how women are viewed and treated by society. I’m a pageant girl for goodness-sake! A number of times in my life, I have put myself in front of a group of strangers to judge whether I was WORTH putting a sparkly crown on my head. Think what you will about my involvement in pageantry, but it has helped me become a confident speaker, comfortable in job interviews, be cognizant of my health, and awarded me thousands of dollars in scholarship money. (For those who don’t know, I wasn’t a toddler in a tiara, and I started participating in pageants because I wanted to at the age of 16.)

Another point of clarity I must make is that I am not a man-hater. I have many wonderful men in my life who have always treated me well. Feminism is about the equality of men and women, not women overpowering men. I’m equally disturbed by the degradation of men as I am by the degradation of women.  

I strongly urge you to watch this video. It’s a trailer for a documentary titled “MISS REPRESENTATION,” which explores “how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions in America and challenges the media’s limiting and often disparaging portrayals of women, which make it difficult for the average girl to see herself as powerful.” It’s alarming for me to watch all of these mashed up images of oversexed women, many placed in an inferior position to men. Even worse are the confused school girls wondering who they are supposed to be when they grow up: Pamela Anderson or Condoleezza Rice. They aren’t supposed to be either! They are supposed to be THEMSELVES. Unfortunately we, as a society, have screwed up any chance that those young girls will have the slightest grasp of who they are, according to them.

Another thing I can’t stand is that women who do use sex appeal to pursue a specific career or venture such as dancing or modeling are immediately dismissed as being dumb or promiscuous by society and the media. Just because of a pretty face and a display of sexuality, we assume that there’s only half a brain in that genetically blessed body. This kills me! Women being sexy, looking sexy, wearing makeup is not wrong. It is not bad. Loving and appreciating your body and wanting to look how you feel best is OK. How’s that for feminism?

So if I haven’t utterly confused you, I don’t know what else will. I guess all I’m trying to say can be boiled down to a few bullet points:

  1. Man or woman, you must respect yourself. You respect yourself and others will follow suit. If they don’t, no need to bother with them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If anyone wants to dismiss me as a dummy because I did pageants, I don’t have the energy to waste to convince them otherwise, nor do I care.
  2. Parents and teachers play a huge role in how boys and girls grow up and see themselves / each other. No matter how many times I went home after middle school to watch TRL and ended up seeing Mariah Carey get half-naked, I had strong female role-models in my mother, dance teachers and others I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by. Those women were reality to me…not Mariah. Despite children today consuming ridiculous amounts of media (most of questionable moral standards), that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight to be their foremost role model.
  3. If you have to stand on your own, do it. No one has to be a product of how they were raised. If you want to be president of a Fortune 500 company one day, believe in yourself and do it. I’m not naïve to the fact that odds are stacked against women in the workplace, but for every woman who achieves her career goals, whether it be as a part-time sales representative and a part-time stay at home mom, OR president of Pepsi Co., there’s one more ceiling shattered.
  4. Last but not least, women, stop humiliating one another. I’m specifically thinking of all the reality shows (Baseball Wives, Mob Wives, Real Housewives, etc.) where women play each other’s worst enemy. When did slapping, hair-pulling and bullying become ok? By putting each other down, we just give license for anyone else to do the same. It’s not cute. Or ladylike…whatever that means.

 

11 Responses to “I’m a Feminist. Sort of.”

  1. tarpps January 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    amen.

  2. Bob LeDrew (@bobledrew) February 1, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    My definition of feminism includes the concept that women get to choose how to behave and what paths to follow. Your path included a trip into pageant land. My partner’s trip included a looooong childhood love affair with Barbies. Did she survive to become a strong, independent woman? Yup. Did you? By all appearances.

    The worst part of “feminism” is the labels hung on it — such as “manhaters”, “feminazis”, and the like. Clear-headed thinking like yours is the best way to dismantle those silly labels.

  3. Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) February 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Let me begin by saying I totally agree with you. It’s a really awful show and there clearly has to be something wrong with you to think you can go on a national television program and find love.

    That said.

    Our date night is every Monday night. We go to the Mexican restaurant around the corner from our house. We sit at the bar. The bar shows The Bachelor. With the sound off. So we make up our own stories about each of the contestants (is that what they’re called). I am here to tell you it is downright fantastic entertainment.

    But if I had to watch it with the sound on, I’d probably go to the 95th floor of the Hancock Building and jump off.

    • Kate Ottavio February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      Haha awesome – Can I be your third wheel for just one date night?

  4. Jenn B February 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Fantastic post Katie! I think that you articulated the struggle most modern women have today with trying fit under the label of feminism. I think potentially we are afraid to identify with feminism because the negative conations such as being a man hater. Yet at the same time we do want to identify with it because who doesn’t think the struggles women before us have experienced and fought for validate the privilege we are able to experience now. I think your first point where you highlight the importance of eliminating the binary between men and women is a fantastic start. Also I would further echo your sediments when you highlight the lack of female support amongst females in general. I don’t quite understand either why women in places of position or power put other women down we could all be much more successful if we supported each other instead of pulling out each other hair.

    • Kate Ottavio February 2, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Jenn!

  5. Amy Vernon (@AmyVernon) December 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    I love you, Kate! This is a terrific post. :)

  6. John Lynn November 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Very interesting perspective. A rationale feminist. Pretty amazing. The thing that bothers me is when the feminist movement often makes those that don’t aspire to be successful business women as less. I think we all (men included) need to relook at what really matters in life and what happiness is all about. I believe we’ll find that the women have had it right all along. Those uber successful people (men or women) aren’t nearly as happy in life as those who accomplish things in life, but within their own smaller sphere.

    Great discussion.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I completely loved this post, especially the very last paragraph: | lynette {radio} - January 31, 2012

    [...] I’m a Feminist. Sort of. I hate the ABC show The Bachelor. Hate. Loathe. And I feel the same way about The Bachelorette. While many of you sit on the edge of your seat sweating and having heart palpitations about which ma… [...]

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