Weather: Sticky hot
Mode of Travel: My feetz in sneakers without socks
Current Location: The New School computer lab (I’m sneaky ‘cuz I don’t even go here!)
Thought right….NOW: BOOOOOOOOOOOOBS
So I know you’re all chomping at the bit to read more about me. Little old me, the unemployed, ever-intriguing and endlessly humorous bloggerlady. So I won’t disappoint.
I’m on Day 3, Wednesday to be exact, of my first work week of unemployment and I’m still A-Okay! I wont bore you with what I did today because I really didn’t do anything. I’m going to go a different route here and get a little deeper. I’m going to write about…
Yes, deep I know. But actually my thoughts to come are inspired by a bunch of articles I have read today including one about breast ironing, one on becoming a woman and another on feminism in Mad Men. The below is a bit stream-of-consciousness but it’s my blog and I do what I want. Boobs (or at least the word) make an appearance in each of these topics, so read on.
Boobs in alternative cultures: Lets start with breast ironing, an ancient Cameroonian practice that to us Americans seems downright brutal and horrid. If you’re unfamiliar with this ritual read this article, which has a video as well as an explanation. In short, before a female child develops breasts, her chest is ironed with hot stones in attempt to prevent her growth. The purpose is to stunt breast growth so the child will not attract male attention and to stave off sexual advances. Of course, this oftentimes does permanent damage to the girls and I cannot imagine these young ladies escape without some psychological damage to boot. As a healthy, privileged white American woman, even I have struggled (and still do) with the idea of womanhood and femininity and where I fit in to these categories. These thoughts and feelings are intertwined deeply with the development of a woman’s body and thus I cannot imagine how damaged these girls’ images of sexuality must be post ritual.
Anyway, I don’t have much to say to this practice other than I am abhorred by it. I understand and respect that not every culture is like the one I am accustomed to but it reminds me of the clitoral circumcision that is performed in various African countries, which is incomprehensibly terrible. When a child is harmed without their consent (I’m not counting cultural brainwashing) I disagree strongly with the practices and think they should be done away with. But that’s no surprising declaration, I suppose.
Boobs in becoming a woman: After reading the above-mentioned piece which illustrates the attempted postponement of womanhood, I came across an article by Anna North at Jezebel that poses the question: When do we know we have become women?
My answer to this is, “Uhhh…Um…I..have no freakin’ idea. Am I a woman?”
Frankly, calling myself a woman feels odd even now at the ripe ole age of 24, but by all accounts I am one. North writes that as time goes by for her she becomes more and more comfortable with different aspects of womanhood and I relate to that. I remember dressing like a boy and wearing sports bras to cover my boobs (or lack thereof if I’m being honest) under my t-shirt. Now I like fancy-shmancy bras and sometimes not even wearing them at all (rebellious, I know). Developing breasts was an embarrassing and troubling time in my life, one that I resisted until I could pretend no longer, yet, it did not define my womanhood for me in total, considering, well, I gotz boobs now and still have not totally come to terms with this complicated word, ‘Woman’. So, whatever.
Boobs in Mad Men: Mad Men is one of my favorite shows and part of what I love about it is the feminism apparent within the story. The characters are set in the 1960’s, which was an incredibly trying time for women who suffered from discrimination personally and professionally. It is fascinating, as a woman with many privileges, to see characters that could be me, dealing with the limitations that confined women of that time period.
In an article that I read today by Jessica Grose (on XX Factor), Grose responds, in disagreement to Nelle Engoron’s (of Salon.com) recent article entitled, “Why Mad Men is Bad For Women.” Engoron feels that women are watching the show for style and glitz rather than truly understanding the feminist undertones (which actually aren’t so under, in my opinion). I’m insulted by this assessment as an intelligent viewer who not only loves the fashion and the smoking hotness of the men in suits, but also reads into and adores so much more about the show. I also disagree, along with Grose, that the writers of the show is unfair to woman. When it is unfair, it is because the era (arguably a main character in the show) would have been this way.
The show promotes feminism in many ways. For one, Joan rocks. The writers position her to be a heroine and the only one who’s got all her shit together. The office would fall apart without her and this is repeatedly clear when she comes to everyone’s rescue time and time again. Her strength, wit and intelligence, for me, overshadows her sexy body and her, here we go, BOOBS, by a mile, yet I appreciate her style and her lipstick and her physical beauty even more because of her brain.
Peggy, too, is a strong female figure being the first to rise from the lowly secretary role into an account executive. She does this purely on merit, not by sleeping with any of the bosses (not that she doesn’t get any action) and she earns respect. But she isn’t perfect and sometimes she gets torn down, excluded and stepped on because of her womanhood. This however, is a reflection of the times and an accurate portrayal of male chauvinism engrained in society during the 1960’s.
Overall the show has boobs draped in fabulous clothing, which are sometimes pretty pointy (I’m so glad those bras aren’t in today) but ultimately this is not because the show is sexist and certainly not the only thing the female viewers are thinking about. I think Mad Men is full of poignant social commentary that makes me truly appreciate how far women have come. Though the characters are fiction, their stories likely occurred in some form and I love the show for making everyone look hot while dousing us with feminism in every episode.
Anyway read both Grose’s and Engoron’s articles and formulate your own opinion. Let me know what you think!
To close this somewhat all-over-the-place post (if you haven’t stopped reading by now!), I’d like to leave you with a Boob Timeline, no less. Click on the picture boobs below and enjoy!