Friday, December 23, 2011

A Letter to my Family

These days I'm a lot more prone to responding to the articles my family sends me now and then. Including this piece by Fake Andy Rooney (original by Frank Kaiser). I originally responded, with an, "Um, I'm in the group he's knocking here," being not yet 40 myself, but I was told I didn't get it. Well, then! Time to bust out the big guns!

... But seriously, folks, I object to this because it lumps all over-40 women into one group with the same characteristics. While there are no doubt many women over 40 that have and value these qualities (for instance, it sounds like Other Relative identifies with them), there are others that emphatically do not. I'd like to see you try to put bright red lipstick on Susan Herr, or tell Gloria Steinem that she's sexy because of her willingness to praise others!

And yes, Sending Relative, it is ragging on young women; I'd say "get with it" yourself! When the writer says "women over 40 are x," (s)he's implying that women not over 40 are not x: i.e., whiny, not dignified, ugly in red lipstick. Implying that younger women can't have these qualities is just as shitty as saying all older women do. It's true that men are criticized in the piece, but it's for their taste in women; they're not viewed as an alternative target for the sexual impulses of old men (which is really heteronormative, by the way). You can tell from all the gendered compliments: do you really get the sense that the writer thinks men, unlike women, will watch a sports game they don't want to watch out of timidity or that they wear unflattering lipstick colors? (Also, if you read the original, un-plagiarized version, Kaiser makes it even clearer that he's drawing distinctions between older women and younger women. Who he appreciates for their "occasional innocence." Vomit.) You can arrive at the conclusion that young women are being implicitly criticized in this piece even without acknowledging the cultural context in which older and younger women are constantly pitted against each other, which, honestly, adds yet more weight to my argument.

Anyway, if you all think the article is awesome, then I'm glad you're enjoying yourselves. But if you send a sexist, ageist, heteronormative, and gender-essentialist article to a feminist blogger, you get a lecture in return :D Have a great holiday, folks.


PS: If you send me any more lists of tips on how to prevent getting raped, I will send you long discourses on rape culture. Consider yourselves warned :)

It's worth nothing that the post is also very cisnormative and gender-binary-enforcing, and the original post is also ableist; "I still appreciate the 20-year-old for her ... vigor."

The way this culture tends to bookmark older women as matronly and unattractive regardless of their individuality is a huge problem. But lumping them all into one group and fetishizing a set of characteristics you've arbitrarily projected onto them is certainly not the way to go about fixing it.

Fortunately in my case, Sending Relative seems to kind of like the occasions when I argue them into a corner, though I always forget this and automatically tense up for a counterattack. Note to self: do not underestimate family. Happy holidays, everyone, and best of luck to you if you end up arguing with your family :)

1 comment:

  1. THIS IS AWESOME. I want you to write all letters to my family please.