What Really Scares Me: Social Attitudes Towards Women

The following items all came across my desk (top) last week and it seemed fitting to put them into one post.

The first is with regard to the Boxing Federation wishing to make the female boxers box wearing skirts:

That’s right, skirts. The AIBA has introduced a trial alternate uniform, asking female boxers to wear skirts because it will make the women easier to distinguish from the men, as if the completely different bodies wasn’t enough. Poland adopted the uniform, calling the uniforms more “elegant” and “womanly.”

via Boxing federation wants female boxers to wear skirts – Fourth-Place Medal – Olympics Blog – Yahoo! Sports.

As you might imagine, the comments on this article with alternately hilarious and maddening (seriously, reading comments on a news article is the quickest way to both cause my blood to boil and to simultaneously despair at the future of humankind). I liked this one though:

“So I guess the AIBA thinks Americans are so stupid that when they see ‘Women’s boxing,’ sports bras, longer hair, and oh yeah, women, we can’t figure out what gender it is until we see skirts.

‘What sport is this?’ ‘Boxing…but those don’t look like men…what the hell are they?'”

But, why stop at skirts?! Why not lingerie! That’s what the Lingerie Football League is in favor of:

The LFL claims its emergence in 2009 “formally shattered … the ceiling on women playing tackle football.” Thankfully, the visionaries at the LFL have devised a way to offer such athletic empowerment to our younger generation with their decision to start a youth league:

“With the growing popularity around the LFL, younger and younger girls are starting to dream of playing LFL football,” its website reads. “In recent months and years, parents of young ladies routinely contact LFL league offices inquiring about everything ranging from what size football do you use to what form of training should I place my daughter into now to prepare her for LFL Football. [sic]”

…Look, I know we can’t shield our little girls with a protective glass box and expect them to never be exposed to the harsh reality that at some point in their lives, probably sooner rather than later, they will viewed as sexual objects. But do we need them to feel it before they know how to multiply double digits? I can appreciate that the LFL youth league will be fully clothed, but just the mere association with the word “lingerie” will instill in the girls that one day, if they want to play with the big boys, they’ll be forced to strip down to do so.

via Talking Smack — Are you ready for some T&A? – espnW.

What an excellent concluding point. This article reminded me of the sexyfication of Halloween costumes for girls in recent years. And, also of conversations recently amongst my friends about “appropriate dress” and how restricting girls’ clothing choices is damaging too, just like clothing that objectifies girls/women is damaging. We usually conclude that dressing in a way that makes YOU feel good is what matters (and being able to make your own choices about what that is). When think about things like the LFL though, I just wonder if it is even possible to tease it apart anymore—are girls learning that there is any other way to feel good about themselves other than how they look while playing football in a bra?! Likewise, we’ve also had conversations about how little girls are often complimented on their clothes and how “cute” and “pretty” they are and much less often about how brave and smart and strong they are. But, likewise, sometimes it is also nice to be told you look cute or pretty—when I feel cute or pretty it feels nice to have that acknowledged rather than to be ignored PCishly. I think it is hard to tell where it comes from.

So, this brings me to my third disturbing experience. I frequently receive press releases about a variety of products related to pregnancy, birth, parenting, and women’s health. Some of them I write about, some of them I don’t. I usually refrain from posting about the ones I find ridiculous or insulting, because I don’t want to have this be a place in which I mock things and I also don’t want to insult or point fingers at the press people who contact me with these “news” items. However, in the context of the above, I cannot help but mention that I received a release about a new procedure for those of us who are seeking, “completely new buttocks” with just two quick, nearly painless doctor’s visits! According to the release:

Dallas, Texas, October 28, 2011 – A stitch in time can re-align. At least, that’s the concept behind a new minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure to lift and shape the buttocks called the Brazilian Thread-Lift.

“I’ve never seen anything this quick and this dramatic,” says Dr. Bill Johnson at Innovations Medical in Dallas. “After two simple, 45-minute procedures using only local anesthetic, a patient can completely re-shape her backside.”

During the first visit, while under local anesthesia, the patient has several specifically-designed sutures or plastic threads strung under the skin and across each buttock. The entire procedure takes less than an hour. The threads have a series of thin knots covered by tiny cones which can be placed easily and with minimal discomfort. The cones create small fibrotic areas that function like little ligaments. After three months, the patient returns for an equally-brief follow-up visit, during which the physician gently tightens each thread, providing a smooth, even lift… (emphasis mine)

While they term it “small fibrotic areas,” I read purposeful internal scarring in the name of “beauty” or sexiness and I find it deeply disturbing. What does it say about our cultural attitudes towards women that anyone would desire OR promote purposely creating scar tissue in your butt so that you look more “youthful”? Because, after all, nothing says youthful and sexy like fibrotic areas that help pull your butt fat into place.

And, this reminded me that on a recent trip out of town we passed a “women’s health office” of an OBGYN. In largest print on the clinic’s sign was, “laser hair removal.” Ah, yes, because the most pressing mission of a women’s health surgeon should be to rid the world of excess body hair. That really inspires confidence. And, it also makes me wonder what is happening socioculturally, that anyone would consider it appropriate to see a physician for hair removal. How could we possibly be having a national health care crisis when such fabulous services are available on every street corner?! Considering that being pregnant and giving birth are medical conditions requiring “delivery” via the medical model of care, I guess it is not such a leap to think that those pesky stray hairs could also warrant medical attention. Perhaps we will reach a point in the future where anything having to do with women and their messy, excess hairy, birthy, butt fatty bodies will be dealt with by professionals. Wearing skirts.

5 thoughts on “What Really Scares Me: Social Attitudes Towards Women

  1. Pingback: links for thought, November 2011

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  3. Pingback: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

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