Thursday, July 19, 2007

On Empowerment

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I've been watching America's Got Talent against my better judgement. I should have signed off when Boy-Shakira made the cut to the top 20, and the Redneck Tenors who were actually decently talented were cut. The judges are apparently more interested in having an entertaining show than they are showcasing the most talented acts.

One such case is The Glamazons a group of overweight women who sing (off-key) while dancing around the stage in lingerie. When interviewed, the women talk about how empowering it is to allow themselves to be sexy in public. I have the impression the judges are thinking "good for you for making a statement to society that you are OK," and vote them through despite grating vocals and mediocre dancing.

I have no problem with overweight women feeling sexy, dancing, or singing. However, I think that to choose this venue to publicly insist you are sexy is degrading to all women, not empowering. People who truly feel sexy don't need to prove it, and these women claim empowerment by demanding approval & recognition from others. Needing others to remind you how great you are is not empowerment, its enslavement and social prostitution.

The other night, The Colbert Report parodied the trend toward women taking pole-dancing classes and defining it as feminism because "its empowering." While Colbert made the point that these women are subscribing to cultural misogyny in a hilarious fashion, the program was interviewing real women straight-facedly claiming that by catering to male sexual fantasies for approval they were being empowered.

Sorry ladies, taking classes so you can compete with strippers in order to prove to society that you can be as sexy as a college student who works nights at the Gentlemen's Club is begging for outside approval. It's degrading, and it hurts the efforts of those of us who want to be taken seriously as human beings instead of as sex objects. Empowerment comes from within, not from the consensus, and while feminism has fought for public acceptance of what is female, public acceptance in & of itself is not the same thing as feminism, especially when public acceptance is bought by sexualizing yourself.

This is certainly not to say that if you want to install a pole in your bedroom that you are degrading women, because it isn't as long as your behavior is safe & mutally satisfying for both you & your partner. What is degrading is the women who take their pole dancing public to insist on being seen & heard as a "feminist" as defined by crossing the line between normal person & sex-kitten. In the case of the Glamazons, why the lingerie? You can sing or you can't. You can dance, or you can't. The world renowned dance teams I've seen have yet to perform in lingerie, even on the sexy songs, because its in poor taste. If you are trying to overcome fears about your own personal sexuality, dance in lingerie in group therapy, but on a talent show please have your costume be relevant to your talent or get off the stage because you are taking the rest of womankind with you on your stupidity ride.

Actual feminists say "I can do anything & be great" and aspire to benefit society by being free to cure cancer. We are women who want to make the same amount of money as males in our professions. Then Miss-The-Boat shows up in her skanky lingerie claiming "I can do anything & be great" and aspires to dance around naked for men to notice and say "Damn, she's hot!" Since when have women ever been oppressed from dancing naked in a male dominated society? They've been encouraging that all along, its certainly not empowering to be allowed to do what the guys have been begging you to do since pre-pubescence and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

The feminist movement has been earmarked by chauvanistic men telling women to get back in the bedroom & the kitchen--and now we are aspiring to pole dance & wear lingerie on stage? Men certainly aren't going to compete with us there! In my health class my freshman year in college, the guys refused to even do pelvic tilts in the ab routine because they saw it as too sexual & publically degrading. Picture Donald Trump, the worldwide symbol of male empowerment as one of the "Honey Bees" dancers on the new game show, The Singing Bee. Not gonna happen, because its not empowering, its degrading. But now, its what women aspire to, and define as feminism. What next, women begging to give blow jobs, followed up by serving a homemade hero sandwich while saying, "yeah, I'm a feminist, I can do whatever I set out to do!" Guys raised on a misogynistic media-diet of MTV and the Man Show are going to loooove that version of feminism.

MommyK blogged about Carmen Electra's recently published a book on how to be sexy, purporting that confidence and personality are rooted in a sexy figure, great hair, & makeup. Certainly we may feel better about ourselves when we put our best foot forward, but seeking attention by basing your personality on sexual impressions does not feed self-confidence. Rather, it places control of how we feel in the hands of people who would judge us based on how we look. You want people to take you seriously, take some responsibility for yourself and stop putting your control in the hands of others with questionable motives! Empowerment is giving birth, creativing art for its own sake, and believing there is more to us than our appearance & the sexual favors we can do for people. So why are we clamoring to pass out sexual favors for attention? Ladies, please!


Anna Maria Junus said...

Really great post. I hadn't thought about those women in that respect.

Although I don't agree with their methods I understand their motives.

In a society that worships thinness to the point of illness, these women want to declare that we are all attractive.

Unless you've been overweight, you have no idea how people look down on you. It doesn't matter how confident, intelligent, talented and funny you are, people will judge you on how you look and will treat you as if you're stupid.

It would be nice if we didn't care about looks, but most of us do.

So yes, I sigh at these women in their lingere, but I understand what they're trying to do and I like the fact that the two male judges find them attractive.

Jen said...

If anyone saw last week's show-I'm surprised that America has been voting them through, as really only one member of the group can sing. However, the dancing was of the caliber of a 21 & older show in Las Vegas. Totally inappropriate for a family show like America's Got Talent is supposed to be!