Friday, February 10, 2006

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Before I get into the rant du jour, I wanted to thank everyone for some great comments. Isn't it amazing how our lives are so split? And how the grass is always greener? Yeah, Dorothy, I do realize how fortunate I am to have the ability to stay home, which is why I'm irritated at my lack of appreciation. "Find your own path to happiness, and accept that it might not be the same path you thought you were on when you started" was Mark's comment and probably the theme I need to follow, as does everyone else. Geez, I have a sudden urge to recite the Serenity Prayer *shudder*. Think I better move on to my next rant. BTW, the good thing about rants is they seem to free my creative flow. I've written 12 pages in the last two days!

When I was in college, I was an ardent feminist. I quit shaving my legs, attended rallies and the like. I'd vowed that if and when I got married, I wouldn't change my name and I'd never let the dictates of the media tell me what I should and should not do. I believed the value of beauty came from within. My heroines were Sally Ride, Maggie Thatcher, Rosa Parks and all the women before me who'd fought for the rights of women.

Jump up 20 years. Who are the women we see most in the media? Anorexic starlets and heiresses who make their name by behaving like trash. The more outrageous the behavior, the more likely it will get some press. We are constantly bombarded with images of skinny girls and a praise for youth. Why?

This isn't what the women's movement did. Why are women still measuring their worth by dress size and age? Women are lured into the idea that youth is ideal. Hello, they are injecting toxins into their faces to clear up wrinkles. If you think about it, isn't that bizarre? What's wrong with looking our age?

And weight. Wow, what a juxtaposition in our society. Obesity is on the climb and yet the images we see on television and the magazines are girls wearing a size "0". What is that about? What truly bothers me about this "skinny" look is the message it sends. One, it isn't healthy. Starving the body damages the internal organs and everything else. Two, it gives women a waifish appearance. Waif's are powerless. They are victims. They are reliant upon the kindness of strangers. They look like children.

While I am not going to get caught in this trap, I have daughters and that is what concerns me. My daughter is the one who will grow up with these images and will have to struggle to find her way. Right now she is into Hilary Duff and I cross my fingers, hoping Duff doesn't follow the Lindsay Lohan path of self-destruction.

It also seems like the media is telling women they are nothing if they can't capture a man. Look how many reality shows are based on a competition to capture a member of the opposite sex. Like gaining a spouse is a trophy, a validation of who they are.

I'm trying raise my daughter to believe the only validation she needs is from herself. She does not need to conform to the dictates of what she sees on t.v. or film. She doesn't need to lower herself or her standards for the pleasure of anyone else. She doesn't need another person to validate her existence. Having a spouse should compliment not complete her.

I think this is why I am still a devoted romance reader. The myth with in the media is that romance novels are about a woman capturing a man. That's not true. It is about characters overcoming personal and external conflicts to find someone to share their life with. Even if a heroine is beautiful, that is not what wins her happiness. She learns about herself and finds strength from within before she is able to find love with the hero. The hero's interest in the heroine may first be driven by her looks, but that tends to be a hindrance rather than plus. He must find the woman within in order to find happiness.

When I write, my heroine tends to be damaged or "weak" as it were. By the end of the story, I want her to find her inner-strength, to lover herself and realize that even if she and the hero don't get together, she is going to be okay.

I hope this rant makes sense. Sometimes I go off and sound like a crazy person, my mind tends to explode into many directions.