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making again, reflections, Thoughts

Re-Process: Things I hate about women’s magazines

I am distracting myself from making anything.

Today I spent 40 minutes, watching these videos about women and advertising images. The project is under the banner of ‘Killing Us softly’ and the women states she’s been collecting ad images since the 1960’s – depressingly, not much has changed… which is why she has now made 4 campaigns (?) around this work..

It got me thinking about this collage that I made as part of my thinking around Underwear in 2006:

It got me thinking about what had changed, for me since then. What do I hate now?

At the moment I don’t buy proctor and gamble products if I can help it – they make quite a lot of stuff, pantene and herbal essences shampoo, Oral-B, Gillette,  Ambi-pur, duracell, fabreeze, pringles, tampax, etc, admittedly I fail on a few counts I own an Oral-B electric toothbrush. But the reason I so strongly object is because of a product with a brand and advertising so gross, I feel a little nauseous whenever they’re on….

“so mum can be mum….”

It makes me so cross, this huge campaign from the people at P&G with so much emphasis on ‘traditional’ gender roles, its actually quite scary, I wonder if there’s a bigger agenda here, but then maybe I am being paranoid. Either way I’ve stopped buying Fairy Liquid, I’ll start buying it again when I see a Dad doing the washing up and making craft items out of the bottles with his teenage son and his boyfriend… I’d be happier if their were even two mum’s in the advert or perhaps even a family of a different ethnic background than white-Caucasian…

Thank god for Germaine Greer, especially in the face of this marketing masked as information 

How do hardworking Dad’s feel when they watch this? It’s always worth a google – I did come across, although I can’t find it now, a really interesting thread from a man’s perspective on this, he reckoned he’d complained to P&G and they’d suggested that this advert was an exception ‘they’d chosen to feature mum’s for this campaign, etc’.

Interesting though when you look at all their products and the narrative their advertising makes for both genders… pitch a Mach3 advert against a Venus one – I spy a few gender stereotypes….  I spy a white, patriarchal hegemony….

okay I am ranting again, this is why I stay relatively clear of this sort of discussion these days, since 2006 I have read Germaine Greer and Susie Orbach, I have found feminist websites and the ‘women’s pages’ of newspapers,  I read Naomi Wolf’s the beauty myth, whilst in the bath, NOT shaving my legs, or anything for that matter for 3 months. Weird? I don’t know, is it weird to not shave your legs? is it weird to not shave your genital area?

I inwardly smile when I hear simplistic feminist arguments. Although I still have no idea if pole dancing is liberating…. freedom is a difficult thing to identify.

I have been through some interesting changes, I have tried to embody the arguments I agree with. Mostly I feel under pressure. I feel contested, I would like a role model. I would like a women to stand up and say this is what a real woman looks like, and I mean for a non-marketing purpose.

What’s interesting looking at these ideas again is the scarily strong relationship between sex, violence and consumerism.

Underwear was about me trying to make sense of sex, of my relationships, of what we were supposed to be doing…. I embodied what I was supposed to be doing. I was told to be sexual, available, submissive, accepting. Pornography as a guideline…. pornography as an ideal…. this is what I thought, this is what I was learning wasn’t the case 5 years ago I began to see, through education that I should question what I was being sold. I still don’t know what I am supposed to be….

I feel like I’ve had a really long argument or discussion with myself on this topic…. I’ve tried on lots of different ways of seeing (no pun intended) this problem. I am a woman. After that it’s hard to say very much anymore…..

….. recently I have started to think about how I look, to make an effort, to fit in. I have new roles that I am increasingly aware of and to be a success, to be able to keep moving forward I need to perform these roles effectively…. I’m not sure they had ambitious, educated Barbie when I was growing up and I’m certainly not sure what Ken doll accompanied her. (although as a kid I had no Ken dolls, instead I had 3 lesbian Barbie dolls who were always embroiled in something of a sadistic love triangle.)

What am I supposed to want? What’s appropriate for my age and gender? I will take a risk here and be frank….. I’ve not had a sexual encounter in a relatively long time and I’m not particularly bothered about that…. but I feel I should be. Actually I’m quite scared about it all, I guess an ideal would be to not be scared about it….  it’s just so fraught with emotion and embarrassment, I am glad I had the experiences I had as a teenager, at least we could talk about it, at least it was new and exciting…. now when I speak to people it seems fraught with memory and emotion and bitter disappointment. I heard once someone describe the drug ectasy as something that was never as good to do again as the first time you took it… I think that’s true of sex… the first time you connect with someone I mean… when you lose yourself. when you feel. Not the actual first time, I mean that was pretty boring. In fact I engineered my first time to become a great story, one I could be ‘proud’ of, one which sounded like it was supposed to. A first time to fit the sexual being I was determined to become. The deviant. Of course it happened before I was 16. When I was a teenager I wanted to do everything I wasn’t supposed to.

In relationships it becomes predictable…. the pattern… the way couples make love, I could write it down…. instead maybe you close your eyes and imagine other people, other men, other women, other situations… just not this one, god please not this… is this just me? I assume I am not alone and so if I am speaking some truth then is this right? Are couples all over the world merely mutually masturbating instead of making love? If there’s pure MDMA of ecstasy at one end of the spectrum then surely this is the m-cat equivalent…. just keep taking it, although you can’t remember why…

Then I guess there’s men in general… what a pretty useless bunch….. what would I need with one anyway? I own a screw-driver and I have job… why on earth would I need an under-achieving, computer/football/other distracting hobby, over-eating, incapable of cleaning, more in need of a mother than a girlfriend, boyfriend for? Nope, I need a wife.

A more serious note….. this is a real concern, I like my life, I’d like a partner, not a ‘husband’ and I certainly am not interested in being a ‘wife’…. how do I reconcile this, when I feel the odds are stacked against me. According to modern science I’ve only 4 years left of high chance of conceiving fertility…. I feel like I need to start looking at men as father objects…job… check… aspirations and future…. check, capable of holding my interest and a conversation…..check, likelihood of  wanting to be a stay at home dad…..

….. which leads neatly onto the state of the economy, the tories, maternity/paternity leave and therefore big business and perhaps even full circle back to Proctor and Gamble’s bloody fairy liquid adverts.

I have written this. I am now scared to publish it online. 5 years ago I felt able to say so much more. I’m out on a limb here…. if you’ve read this far down… you might want to comment…. have I said too much?

Coffee – are you getting enough?


One thought on “Re-Process: Things I hate about women’s magazines

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this blog. I have no idea of my identity, I don’t wan to fit into the usual expectations of being a female, I don’t want to be a submissive ‘dumb blonde’ type. But on the other end of the spectrum, I don’t want to be different for the sake of being different. I try as hard as I can to simply do what I like. Listen to the kind of music I enjoy, buy the clothes I like the look of, and then I wonder, do I only like these things because I’m surrounded by it? Do I only think I like this because it does conform? I don’t really know who I am, and I do feel a little lost in the world, but then there are aspects that I feel confident about. For instance, I like to think I’m quite out-spoken, not in an ‘oh yes I need to be different’ kind of way, more of, I am comfortable to speak my mind. I think to an extent I am more myself that a product of media and society. But the lines are definitely blurred.

    And there’s the subject of men. I believe, just as there is a vast amount of useless men who are just going to be a burden, there are also women who fit into perfect stereotypes, that men can’t be bothered with. And most often, members of these stereotypes will end up together, live their cliche life and be done with it. I don’t think they’re happy. But their eyes are glued shut. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m rambling here. Maybe they realise exactly what is happening, but it’s they think its the best way to live their life. Either way, I also don’t want a ‘husband’, I don’t want to fit into an stereotype or gender role. Yes I want to get married, I want to marry my best friend, someone to actually share the rest of my life with. I think it’s over looked by marriage, it’s huge. I’m not settling to second best. I want to have a family with my equal, I want to have my career alongside that. I want a relationship that works perfectly for us, co-operative. At the end of the day, it’s your life, why make sacrafices? I’d rather be on my own than be with someone I didn’t feel a proper, real connection with. I mean… every day of your life… until you die… it’s overwhelming to say the least.

    But yeah. I don’t think I’ve really written anything clear or conclusive, but hopefully you get the jist of my response. I liked the blog. I like your views. I agree, aha, that is all.

    Posted by elexxa | October 24, 2011, 8:38 pm

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