As I sat tsk tsking again, reacting to the distasteful Bad Girls series preview on Oxygen, I paused to consider "what about this preview irks me so much"? I've enjoyed Bad Girls in previous seasons, strangely compelled to watch though repulsed by what I'm seeing; like watching Flavor of Love. So obviously, I'm no puritan; more pop culture agnostic maybe. Still--I can.not. stand. this Bad Girls season preview. It wholly repulses. Why?
Then it hits me. It's the violence.
Frame after frame of meticulously made up, scantily clad young women, talking bad and pushing each other down, or in pools, or grabbing one another by the throat. What the hell? It's like the Girls Gone Wild of cable tv; a JerrySpringerfication of nighttime viewing. After the preview there was a commercial for something that comprised a closeup shot of a man's face, with a woman's butt behind his head, her legs draped over his shoulders. I'm guessing this was supposed to be acceptable because the woman appeared to have on a costume for dancing, a la Dancing With the Stars, or ice skating. It's still a woman's ass in nearly full view--and actually, nearly the only part of the woman in view, while the man's face is fully visible, prominently displayed on the tv screen--and I wasn't watching porn! There was another commercial that shocked me in its blatant focus on the young woman's derriere, I think it's a sneaker commercial. The actress redirects the camera's focus from her tush to her face.
It seems there's a trend in marketing at the moment, one in which women are objectified; physical attributes commodified, in a sense. It this okay now? Is it just me?
Could be this is just further evidence that, despite my coolness, yoga, and relatively youthful energy and effect (apparently I must say so myself!) I am, in fact, a grown ass woman. A woman with a wealth of memories...belle age...)sounds so much better than 'been around the block' or 'long in the tooth', doesn't it?) I do make purchasing decisions based on whether something makes me look, as my Scottish friend Barbara says, 'like mutton dressed as lamb' though. I'm not crazy.
I am old enough to use the word "bad" to describe something really awesome, as in "These Girls are BAD!"
These distates and revelations inspired me to finally gather my thoughts to write about three women who, though not objectified, may be described with a FEAST of adjectives-- oppressed, disenfranchised, silenced, reassigned, ignored, pacified, overlooked, righteous. They persist and sometimes even prevail, fighting for the good of the people.
First, there's Elizabeth Warren. I first heard of and from Elizabeth Warren a few years ago, probably on Lehrer NewsHour. She's Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP now, but then she was a professor of law at Harvard Law School. I wish she was in charge with full authority, to regulate the credit industry. She has a thorough understanding of the deleterious effects credit has on families, and the unbelievable latitude the credit card companies have to impose ever increasing fees on a whim. I wonder if her current position in the Obama Administration was given as a sort of backhanded compliment, acknowledging her knowledge and expertise by leveraging it in a position in which it has minimal direct effect. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure she's doing a great job of oversight of TARP, but she'd be optimally effective, a hero even, if she could apply her knowledge, sans influence of lobbyists, to impose regulations on the credit card industry. But maybe that's just the point. Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin and other Obama appointees, in cahoots with Alan Greenspan, went out of their way to disenfranchise another woman with knowledge and power in the financial services regulatory arena--
Brooksley Born I discovered on a Frontline documentary called The Warning. Brooksley Born, an attorney and longtime acquaintance of Hillary Clinton, was Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Clinton Administration, until other Clinton appointees, influenced by the powerful financial services lobby, conspired and convinced the then-President to strip the agency of its unique, independent regulatory authority. Brooksley Born was troubled nd trying to rein in credit default swapping during the Clinton Administration. She foresaw the US economy's landing in financial crisis last fall nearly a decade ago--and was shutdown.
Lastly, Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that insures our bank deposits and spares us suffering from bank failures, is my current fave. Surprisingly, she's a W appointee, a Republican who puts "principle above party". I like her stealthy execution. Just about every Saturday morning, NPR reports that some banks were put out of business the night before. No televised spectaculars, weeping or angry unemployed workers, frightened, angry depositors. Just quietly cleaning up, tucking away banks that were yet to fail under the awnings of others still thriving. So far, there have been 123 bank closures this year. Who knew, right? Let's hope she and FDIC don't go the way of Brooksley Born and the CFTC, despite Geithner's and Summer's wishes...