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February 22, 2005

Oh! The Pressure!

Actually this was interesting in a bizarre sort of way:

Not all that long ago, says Francine Pelletier, "women who flaunted their sexuality lost all credibility. She'd be deemed a floozie — and that was it."

But that's no longer the case. Au contraire.

Now, a brazen display of female sexuality is not only tolerated, says Pelletier, former host of Fifth Estate. "It's encouraged.

"There's a real pressure, a bullying, to be that hottie no matter who you are."

Uh-huh... I'm feelin' the pressure....the pressure to be a hottie.

What possessed the author to go looking for trouble? It was all about the burkhas:

In a word, Afghanistan.

During the war there, Pelletier says she was "bowled over by the sharp contrast between, on the one hand, images of women veiled from head to foot and on the other hand, the images of women here — Sex and the City images."

She found it "unimaginable that we actually live on the same planet."

The tension between the two sets of images stirred Pelletier to investigate how the dichotomy between the madonna and the whore, "which still exists so strongly in that part of the world, could have disappeared altogether in so short a time in this part of the world."

Not so fast - since when? Just because both women and girls seem suddenly possessed with a mad urge to bare parts of their bodies normally reserved for more private occasions doesn't mean the Madonna-Whore complex went away.

So where does the pressure come from for women to be openly sexual, to show up at work and on the subway with cleavage (even in winter!)? Pelletier calls it "a real bullying aspect to sexuality — you will be a hottie: that is the new commandment.

Well first of all, not all women do that. But she has a point - increasingly, we seem to feel more pressure to achieve what is probably an unrealistic (and for us, undesirable) goal. But given women's complicated natures, that doesn't stop us from wanting to be something we're not:

"This model of the perfectly desirable woman has become the model overriding all others and it's impossible for women not to want to be that, in a way."

In the end, Pelletier suggests, we women have fallen into a trap of our own making.

Proclaiming our sexual power, we're willing accomplices to a society that exploits female sexuality and, perhaps more than ever, treats women as erotic objects.

"The influence of Sex and the City gave the overriding impression that women were totally controlling their own lives, had developed healthy sexual appetites and would go wherever these appetites would bring them," she says. "But, at the same time, they were still looking for Mr. Right. They were these gorgeous, sexy girls who flaunted themselves and suggested the world is a better place for being able to do that and that there is no price to pay: `men will like you, you are who you are, you can make mistakes and carry on.'

"But I think it is more complicated than that. Much more.

What do you think? Has the feminine ideal changed, or are women just falling prey to one more stupid message from Madison Avenue?

Posted by Cassandra at February 22, 2005 02:27 PM

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So, those are excerpts from some 60s-ish Penthouse interview, right?

Posted by: cw4billt at February 22, 2005 03:59 PM

I have a holographic photoshop that projects the hottie I want to be. It is the new burkha.

I have a composite hottie image I project no matter where I go. It is broadcast from my iPod. After all, people see what they want to see, right?

Posted by: Cricket at February 22, 2005 04:14 PM

You know what? I don't pay attention to Madison Avenue anymore. Not since I had children and became braindead to 'Mom, can we get....' fill in whatever materialistic urge kids get.

I also don't pay attention to Oprah. I am overweight. I have red hair streaked with gray.
I have a desire to shower, wear clean clothes, look presentable instead of like Howard Stern. I have long since passed the era of throbbing sex kitten who does lap dances. heh.

However, I do exercise, I do eat right and I do
believe that women should have enough love for themselves and their bodies to take care of them.
I have no desire to put the sex kitten on display.
If Jane Fonda is pushing 70 and looks 49, ducky.
I am pushing 46 and look like I am 32. Seems that I was blessed genetically and she was not.

neener neener.

I don't want Madison Avenue to tell one tiny truth to get me to feel good or bad about myself with a pack of lies afterward.

I am no supermodel, I am a real woman and so, well, there.

Posted by: Cricket at February 22, 2005 04:21 PM

I don't know Bill... I was trying to remember the last time I showed up at work showing cleavage...

Oh yeah. I work at home... heh. I still don't show up to work with cleavage (I mean, I have cleavage, but I really don't think it projects quite the right image if I'm mentally flashing my clients, whether they can see me or not.

Apparently there's something wrong with me.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 04:23 PM

Yeah, well Eileen Ford hasn't been knocking down my door either Cricket :) But I'll let you know if anything changes on that front.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 04:28 PM

Cass, you are just drop dead gorgeous. I think I am pretty too, and that is the healthy aspect of it.
I just don't need a bunch of advert execs telling me what beautiful is and that somehow I am less attractive because I don't have whatever is necessary to fill in the gap and therefore their pockets.

Posted by: Cricket at February 22, 2005 04:56 PM

You are a very kind lady, Cricket. I'm lucky to be married to a guy who can't see too well, who thinks I AM gorgeous, and has never given me a moment's anxiety in 27 years.

I figure if you have that, who needs to actually BE gorgeous? It ceases to matter. I just concentrate on not letting him down.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 05:12 PM

Shhhh... don't let the knuckleheads hear this, but men rule. We're darned lucky to have them around.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 05:14 PM

When the good Lord put women together, He knew what He was doing...
My take on this is:
Ladies, be healthy. Answer to no one but yourself. You don't need to be stick thin to turn an eye... Find where you want to be, and those who love you WILL love you long after the diet fails, the grey hairs come, gravity takes hold, and the wrinkles abound.
You don't need Madison Avenue around to tell you how to look...

Keep the faith...

Posted by: Sgt. B. at February 22, 2005 05:25 PM

I heard that.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 22, 2005 05:56 PM

No you didn't :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 06:07 PM

I also see the google seach baiting going on here. Now if I may ask a question, what does any of this have to do with Brit Hume and Al Frankengate?

Posted by: Pile On® at February 22, 2005 06:13 PM

I think all my traffic from that is just about gone, Pile. Back to just plain old boring me.

Sgt. B. you have a good point. I was in the waiting room and saw a magazine article about "what men want" that said "he's just happy you're naked". I just about lost it, but for all the big talk guys engage in (that depresses the heck out of us gals sometimes) I guess I like to think that's true and men aren't quite as judgmental as they sound. I know the guys I've known don't seem to be.

I've noticed that men talk a lot about looks, but often end up with someone kind of ordinary looking who makes them feel loved, and in their eyes, she becomes beautiful. Kind of nice to think about, and even if it's not true I guess I prefer my illusions :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 06:25 PM

To quote my current favorite redneck comedian, Ron White: "When a man's seen one woman nekkid... he wants to see all of them nekkid."


Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2005 06:34 PM

Truth be told, Kodiak Momma Six isn't a fashion model, nor does she think that she's photogenic. The terms "good sturdy Irish peasant stock, occasionally frumpy" has been used.
But when God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world, Kodiak Momma Six fires off a smouldering gaze that melts rocks and curls my toes.
So I stick with my earlier observation. Eye-candy is nice, but I prefer someone sturdy enough to live life with, especially when I need my back rubbed whilst expelling my toenails in the grasp of some flu bug...

Posted by: Sgt. B. at February 22, 2005 06:38 PM

Well, I don't know about you girls, but the only reason I don't show cleavage in the subway is that Houston doesn't have a subway!
(*We now return to reality.*)

Posted by: MathMom at February 22, 2005 06:44 PM

MathMom, you rock :)

Actually Sgt B, since I was in high school, I've always thought the most stunning women were ones who can look pretty ordinary but "clean up nice". I think it's the contrast that is so striking. I guess I like the same thing in men -I prefer more subtle looks.

I don't want to look at a magazine cover all the time - that's boring. But if someone is interesting and I enjoy their company and they have an interesting face, you can just watch their expressions change all day.

And I don't care for men who flaunt their cleavage...

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 07:14 PM

Well, get one! (a Subway)

I thought there were like 8,000 Subways around the country.
Or do you mean the train-underground thing?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 22, 2005 07:17 PM

So many women just dress ridiculously today. It is a shame that I have to point them out to my daughter and tell her how silly they are. And then I am forced to stare at their double clevege and two hairdos for several minutes just to make sure I'm outraged.

OUTRAGED! Yep, I'm outraged.

Posted by: KJ at February 22, 2005 07:50 PM

They have triple hooters?

Posted by: snarkette at February 22, 2005 08:42 PM

Oh for Pete's sake... didn't I tell you not to feed the oinkers?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 08:49 PM

Sgt B - I'm late to the thread, but I'm envious of Kodiak Momma 6 - I like your attitude :-)

Luckily, the Better Half has a good attitude about such things as well!

Posted by: Barb at February 22, 2005 09:04 PM

A wise man once said..."Men want a Lady at the Company Christmas party, a friend at the breakfast table, and a harlot in the boudoir"

Helk, sounds reasonable to me.


Posted by: Greg at February 22, 2005 09:11 PM

...or you could mix the three up and life gets really interesting...

Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 09:30 PM

I think (dangerous, I know) that Senor Pile On and his mates at the Ebb and Flow Institute spend a considerable amount of time (humoressly) portraying women with the qualities most desired by the superficial male. It continues to bring back readers (like ME), spd rdr's too (maybe we're ALL just superficial males?). I used to employ several young "superficial" males, and they amused me to no end, by repeating the same silly stuff I believed when I was in my 20's. (I wanna be young again, NOT!) But we all have a silly sexual fantasy life (it Ebbs and Flows), even if we know it can never come true.

So there.

"When I was a child, I thought as a child, I acted as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things" - that Paul guy in the Bible. I think that sums it up for me.

Okay, thinking done for the day.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 22, 2005 11:08 PM

I'm confused Don, what is it you want I should do????

Posted by: Pile On® at February 23, 2005 08:18 AM

I believe, roughly translated, that equated to "Keep a-goin'"....

Posted by: Cassandra at February 23, 2005 08:33 AM

Let Pile On be Pile On!

Whatever that means.

"Don't go changin'
with some new fashion,
Don't change the color of your hair..."

you know, that Billy Joel song.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 23, 2005 08:42 AM

"Kum-ba-yaaaa, my Low-ered, kum-ba-yaaaaaaa..."

Snarkfest one post down, if anybody's getting bow-ered...

Posted by: cw4billt at February 23, 2005 09:22 AM

The eye candy on your site is sorta cute in an oinkish sort of way...we know who you come home to.
Time to curl some more toes!


Posted by: Cricket at February 23, 2005 09:08 PM

Did someone say EYE CANDY?...Where?...Who?.....Tell me NOW!

Posted by: CKCat at February 23, 2005 11:25 PM

They have triple hooters?

Posted by: snarkette at February 22, 2005 08:42 PM

No, snarkette. "Double clevage" is a reference to the fact that young women today wear their pants so dern low that they the have two two clevages - their boobs, and their *ss. They often have two hairdos as well, which comes from either wearing the pants really low, or the skirt really high, but in either case more than one hair do is on display.

Posted by: KJ at February 24, 2005 04:16 PM

KJ, and if you are really lucky, both do's are the same color.

Posted by: Purple Raider at February 24, 2005 05:51 PM

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