Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Core Response #2: You Go Ms. Arquette!

“Post-feminism positively draws on and invokes feminism as that which can be taken into account, to suggest that equality is achieved, in order to install a whole repertoire of new meanings which emphasise that it is no longer needed, it is a spent force (McRobbie, p.255).   It is shocking to me that anyone could think that feminism is over or no longer needed or that gender equality has somehow been achieved.  I find this to be strikingly similar to the issues of colorblindness that we discussed a few weeks ago. 

I think the Hooters episode of Undercover Boss that one of the groups shared last week is a primary example of how this conception of accomplished gender equality gets promoted as a reality.  While the CEO of Hooters can acknowledge “Jimbob’s” outrageous, demeaning treatment of his waitresses, he fails to see that the company’s foundation of objectifying women’s bodies while they literally serve people (typically men) goes completely ignored and is treated as normalized.  Much like the article we read about the Ugly Betty episode in which whiteness and white privilege is never addressed, the Undercover Boss episode also refuses to address the objectification of women and the male gaze in operation that the entire infrastructure of the Hooters corporation relies upon.

The perception that the goals of feminism have been accomplished was challenged on a mass scale this year during the Academy Award ceremony, particularly during Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech in which she called for equal pay for women and Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez joined in an impassioned support of this call.  This response was later poked fun at by host Neil Patrick Harris claiming that “Meryl Streep suddenly realized she was underpaid”.  Neil Patrick Harris’ privilege as a male permits him, and wrongfully so, to make the issue of equal pay for women an individualized topic that somehow women who are paid well are not allowed to be a force of support for their gender.  In fact the day after the Oscars on Yahoo’s home page there was an article (written by a man) that was a deliberate combatting of Patricia Arquette’s claim, entitled “Working women earn more than Patricia Arquette may realize” (See Full article posted below).  The article insisted that because the pay gap between men and women is less extreme than in times past that it is a non-issue.  I think this article and its claims are an example of what McRobbie said as a “thorough dismantling of feminist politics and the discrediting of the occasionally voiced need for its renewal” (McRobbie, p. 256).  Why shouldn’t someone in Arquette’s position or Streep’s position be allowed to be a voice for women and use the stage of the Oscars to speak to something that they are passionate about and invested in?  Instead of being treated like they have no right to speak to this issue because they have money, they should be praised for coming to the forefront and standing up to an issue that is so regularly and easily brushed under the carpet of the public’s consciousness.  In my opinion, those who have money and security have even more obligation to speak up, take a stand, and work towards change because they too occupy a space of privilege where their jobs are not going to be at risk if they speak out.

Meryl Streep is actually personally involved in the advocacy of a new History of Women Museum, which is in the works to be created.  She has personally invested over 1 million dollars into this project as she holds the view that so long as the stories of women have been written and given importance only through the perspective of men, then the full complex understanding of women and their achievements cannot be realized. The idea behind this museum is to give the stories of women and female figures a voice and perspective that comes from a female point of view.  I think it is such an important concept and project because as McRobbie reminds us, “there is little trace of the battles fought, of the power struggles embarked upon, or of the enduring inequities which still mark the relations between men and women” (McRobbie, p. 260).  It is so disheartening to think that we have “airbrushed [these struggles and events] out of existence” (McRobbie, p. 260).  I’m with Meryl and Patricia; it’s time for women to tell their own stories and each other's stories.

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