Archive for February, 2006
Okay, girls I just have to tell you about a new song that just hit the charts, “I don’t wanna be a stupid girl.” This song is performed by Pink, an artist I have always admired for her ability to put out material that has a deeper substance than the typical shallowness that pervades contemporary pop culture.
In her new song Pink wants to know what ever happened to all of the smart girls and then she remembers, oh yeah, the smart girl is dressed in a skimpy outfit and dancing next to 50 Cent in a video. Pink boldly declares that she does not want to be that stupid girl.
After hearing the song and reading the reviews, I scoured the Internet to watch the video for this song and it made me feel ashamed for succumbing to the superficiality of that make-believe world at times. Pink mocks the likes of Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears by showing how these girls have little more than a nice voice and a set of fake breasts to offer the world.
In fact, these girls are the exact opposite of what I want my own girls to be in life. I do not want my daughters to think if they flaunt their beauty they can treat the rest of the world with disregard. The image portrayed by these famous faces, and that Pink is taking to task, is not the sentiment that young women should be embracing at this crucial junction of fresh opportunity that awaits women in the 21st century.
Like men, we no longer have to be beautiful to be someone in life. We are no longer a commodity to be bartered depending on how appealing the package. We are our own persons and we determine our own futures. Our intelligence, drive and determination will get us farther in today’s world than being just another pretty face.
I will admit, regrettably, that I have been sucked into this shallow world to varying degrees at different times in my life. For example, since my mother died from skin cancer, I’ve never been one to stay in the sun for any length of time. So when I wanted that deep tan donned by those in Hollywood, I wasted my money to try to get it. But it never looked good on me and I can’t help but wonder if those chemicals aren’t worse than the effects of the sun I was trying to avoid.
Now why would I waste my money on something so trivial when I know better? Just like every real woman in the world, I am beautiful in my own way and I do not need to try to look like someone else (who probably got her beauty from a cosmetic surgeon) to be beautiful.
Before I turned 30, I wanted desperately for the world to stop looking at my bosom and start looking at my brain. Now that I am approaching 40, I find more and more that my intellect and personality are the traits that make me shine.
No doubt there are men out there who want women who are ignorant and have no opinion – I have met this type of man myself. These guys would prefer a shallow woman to be arm candy instead of an intelligent one, but they are also usually shallow themselves and couldn’t keep up with a smart woman with a strong opinion.
I absolutely believe beauty and intelligence can coincide in one woman, but her brainpower should always outshine her pretty face.
In Pink’s video, there is a cute little girl struggling with a good angel on one shoulder telling her to be herself and a bad angel on the other shoulder encouraging her to be shallow – to flip her hair, look down on the “small people” and to be beautiful no matter what it takes. In the end, the little girl glances at her Barbie dolls and then takes off with a football instead. She chose to be her own woman and I’d gladly play some ball with her anytime.
Ladies, my concern is that our young women are growing up in a world where shallowness is celebrated and intelligence is scorned. Our daughters are finally in a position to be whatever they want to be in life, but too often the women they choose to emulate have limited themselves to be judged by their outward appearance.
Our daughters are expected to fit this unrealistic image of a paper-thin woman who is visually appealing and can sometimes sing (and sometimes not) and those girls who don’t fit the mould are left to feel like something is wrong with them – when in fact it is the sick system of anorexia that is wrong.
How many movies and television shows have an overweight, unattractive man playing the husband/father role and his wife is a beautiful skinny woman? There are several. Now how many shows have an overweight, unattractive woman married to a gorgeous, well-built man? I cannot think of even one. Both of these scenarios are unrealistic, but only one is broadcast into our homes.
This sends a very clear message that it is acceptable for men to be less than perfect, but it is not acceptable for women to be anything but perfect – as defined by shallow Hollywood. I love that Pink pops up out of nowhere and shatters that perfect image into tiny little pieces. I don’t need to have a tan or be paper thin to be beautiful, I am beautiful just as I am – and so are you.
We need women like Pink who will take such a strong stand for our daughters. Even more, we need to take a stand for our daughters by teaching them that they are beautiful even if they don’t fit the image being imposed on them through television and magazines. Together we can reshape society’s definition of beauty to include a more accurate version of real women.
The stupid girls from Pink’s song are the exact opposite of what this world needs from the feminine half of the population. There is poverty all around us, violence and wars, and people dying over cartoons. What the world needs is for smart ladies to stop hiding out in their houses, realise they have a responsibility to their generation and get out in the world with their sleeves rolled up, ready to work.
Someone needs to set this world in proper working order and it sure won’t be those stupid girls.
I was born into a world where little boys had so much promise and little girls, regardless of their intellect or potential, were treated with indifference regarding their role in society. Because of this, I try to bridge the gender gap whenever possible to show how important it is to have a world where both men and women are able to operate at their fullest potential.
After just a few decades of aggressively pursuing gender equality, it seems there is a turn-around of sorts. That is not to say that women are in fact on equal footing as men yet; indeed there is still so far to go. There are parts of the world where women are still considered property, not allowed to have a say over their own lives and bodies and must live their entire lives to please someone else – usually a man.
Even in countries where women are considered equal, there are still significant gaps in political representation and pay rates for the same jobs held by a man. Though these and other inequalities are still present, I truly believe that within the next decade or two we will have made even more substantial advances that will bring gender inequality to the brink of extinction.
However, I am now concerned about an alarming new trend that could prove to be problematic in regards to gender equality – it is what a recent Newsweek cover termed as “The Boy Crisis.” In a gist, there has been a considerable plunge in male academic performance in the last decade.
The cause of this decline is not fully understood as yet, some attribute it to the introduction of video games, others to the lack of male role models in the family unit and still others to the development of a teaching process structured to allow the girls (who just a few decades ago were given equal access to education) to catch up to the boys in the classroom. My guess is that it is probably a mixture of all of these factors.
According to the Newsweek article, “In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High school boys are losing ground to girls on standardised writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan Study.”
I know there are some who believe that those who strongly advocate women’s rights are in actuality anti-male, but this concern is no more than just ignorance of the issue. My stance is for gender equality, which means that if boys are now the ones in jeopardy, then as a society, we need to take every step necessary to help them re-establish themselves in the academic world.
The article also reported, “Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent.”
I have noticed this trend first hand with my own children. I have four children, two boys and two girls, and my boys have always struggled in school – even the one who has the IQ of a genius. As a mother, this has been quite frustrating for me because it is difficult to see all of this wasted potential in my own son.
I recently started taking a closer look at my children and their friends to see if there are any correlations that suggest that boys are indeed falling behind and I found something quite interesting. My daughter, who is a freshman at a university in the Midwest, has a boyfriend who is absolutely brilliant, but has chosen (at least for the present) to not attend college. Instead, he is working at a fast-food restaurant as a cook.
This is also the case with many of the girls she knows and their boyfriends. It seems that with this small group of children, most of whom I have known for years, the girls are choosing to get a higher education and the boys are not.
I finally persuaded my “genius” son to attend college (after much pleading, yelling, crying and reasoning). He is attending a community college a couple hours drive away and he has a girlfriend who attends a nearby university. Last week we were talking about how school was going and he told me that he has made friends with several other guys who are also attending his community college and have girlfriends who attend the renowned university.
In this case, the girls are the ones getting a first rate education while the boys are attending a community college – mostly because their parents are forcing them to do so. I know my examples are just a small representation of this bigger problem, but my family seems to clearly demonstrate the crisis highlighted by the Newsweek article concerning boys.
My advocacy for gender equality has always been to bring women up to the same standard as men – academically, socially, politically, spiritually (I believe women should also be religious leaders such as pastors, priests, Imams, etc.) and in any other way necessary. I have been such a staunch advocate of gender equality because I truly believe this world will be a better place when both genders are allowed to contribute with their full capacity to society.
This is also why we cannot allow the boys to fall behind academically. The consequences could be just as disastrous to the world as the thousands of years of feminine repression. The goal in gender equality is balance. When one gender is allowed to overtake another gender, the outcome will always be an imbalanced and unhealthy society.
It is of utmost importance to find a way to help bring the boys back into the educational institutions with a willing spirit to learn. Men and women may not be physically or psychologically the same, but both genders play a significant role in shaping the political, economic and social landscape of the world – and neither gender should be refused that opportunity.