Saturday, 21 March 2015

Critisizing Plain Jane. Part 1: Why I hate makeover shows

Once I accidentally stumbled across this makeover show called ‘Plain Jane’ while zapping. I’m not a fan of television, I usually stick to watching movies and series on the laptop, and I think I end up zapping about twice a year, give or take. One good reason for this is that I always end up encountering gender stereotypes and sexism everywhere I go. And this show is a particularly nasty example of that. So nasty that, after finding it twice in my unfortunate zapping sessions, I got so angry I had to do something about it.

Yes, this is the rubbish I'm going to critisize. Even the title is sickening.

So now I'm finally counter-attacking by officially critisizing this sexist rubbish like it deserves *snarky activist mode on*! And that involved enduring the torture of watching through the whole first season in order to critisize the hell out of every single line (NEVER AGAIN!!), so yeah, I’m pretty serious about it.  

Why this particular show? There are many makeover reality shows like this one around, but this one I found especially obnoxious and sexist. And maybe I can’t change much by writing criticism essays, but I think that the messages in these kind of shows (and the fact that there’s more than one aggravates the problem) are so awful and so unhealthy and toxic for both women and men (and especially for young girls and teenagers) that someone should point out how utterly wrong they are from time to time, even if we can’t relieve our sense of impotency much or achieve a lot by it.

And even though I had this written roughly months ago, this kind of criticism is, I think, now more important than ever. First we got glorification of abusive relationships "thanks to" 50 Shades of Grey. And now, thanks to the new action Disney movie, Cinderella seems to be becoming ‘cool’ and a ‘great role model for women’ again as well – And I find that partiularly troubling, especially after the effort that Brave, Frozen and Maleficent tried to make regarding more empowered female role models for girls and women. Cinderella’s story of a girl who’s rewarded with a prince because she’s beautiful, puts up with everyone’s crap passively (which apparently means being 'good'), and gets a makeover is actually the basis of this sort of reality show. And most young girls, still growing up with these stories, do believe that if you are beautiful and behave like that, your life is pretty much fulfilled and happiness will surely come without any effort (and happiness in these stories usually means ending up with a man, which is definitely not everybody’s definition of ‘happy ending’, and definitely not the ideal relationship, either, if we take into account both the fact that the women are told to be pretty passive and they only barely get to know the man before they marry him).

Who cares about archery and an adventurous spirit, or about ice powers and self-acceptance? Being pretty, putting up with crap with a smile (...I mean, being good!), wearing a pretty dress with a veeeery tight corset (liberal feminists: 'Actually, historical corsets were not uncomfortable and it's her 'choice'!')and losing a veeeery high-heeled shoe, those are your best...and only...chances at being happy and impressing the man you've just met! (not that Merida or Elsa were primarily looking for that as a way to solve their existence, of course, that adds to their flaws, I guess!).
Plus I found a disturbing number of positive comments on this particular makeover show and others like it, in places such as YouTube or the MTV site. Young girls and women commenting about how jealous they are of the 'Plain Janes' in the show, and how better they look after the makeover, and how romantic the plot is. This is frankly scary.

 That’s why I’ve taken the effort to try to critisize this show as thoroughly as I can. There are so many things that are so wrong with it. Everything about it is plain sexism. It’s a 100% sexist ‘Ugly Duckling meets Cinderella' makeover show, full to the brim with awful messages for young girls and women. It's all about how to alter your appearance and personality (wait, does that even matter? *scoffs*) so that you please your male date. Because apparently, you can only get a boyfriend if you conform to society's rules about what it means to be 'feminine' and 'sexy'.  Apparently, the only important thing is that HE finds you attractive. According to this show, 'building up your confidence' is equal to 'Hey, let's change your appearance and personality so that you please your date!'. Sounds pretty legit, right?

 All the episodes of this appalling show start with a girl who’s self-conscious, passive and has no luck in love because she is shown with no make-up, wearing casual clothes, a casual hairstyle and lacks a flirty, sexy personality. So what does she need but a makeover featuring a new style of clothing that must always be “cute”, “feminine” and/or “sexy”, plus make-up and those compulsory heels, in order to 'build up her personality' and succeed with their date! But her appearance isn’t the only important thing, oh no, her personality is also taken into account! She also learns how to flirt and give a man conversation, and must have her original personality completely ignored and, if possible, altered. Voilá! Love is 100% ensured! 
'Hey there, nice to meet you! Allow me to tell you that your whole life as a woman has been a lie until you met me. I'm here to objetify you, change your personality and style, and transform you so that your male crush likes you!  During the whole time, I'll be relying heavily on a variety of  unfair gender stereotypes and personal tastes and opinions that you should, of course, adopt in order for your life to have some meaning. I'm such a nice person, I help girls and women so much!'

Not only do I find all this astoundingly narrow-minded, demeaning, sexist, offensive, invasive and the total opposite of making you confident - The main idea about these episodes, apart from the fact that your looks are pretty much everything that matters in order to get a boyfriend, is that being yourself is not OK…unless you're already the sexy/cute/feminine woman you're supposed to be, of course.  The most frightening thing about this kind of shows? While they’re probably mostly scripted beforehand, they could be absolutely real and they don’t only promote sexist stereotypes and double standards – they get inspiration from the real world.

  INCREDIBLY SEXIST BECAUSE:
  • Tells women that getting a man is supposed to be one of the essential aspects of their life. If you don't get a man, I’m sorry, but you fail as a woman.  And the only way to get one is to have a makeover and think about what they like all the time. Yay equality.
  •    Focuses mainly on a woman's appearance, altering and shaping  it so that she is acceptably sexy and attractive to males. There are also only limited ways to be 'sexy'. If you do not conform to any of this, you're not even worthy of being considered a woman.

Most of the 'how to succeed in your date' is about looking good. A woman can hardly be confident and successful, let alone get a man!, if she isn’t attractive and feminine and sexy. Hair, shoes, clothing, make-up and sexy attitude, that’s the ONLY way to go. What a message to girls. Oh, and you also need to know how to flirt and give a man entertaining conversation. Talk about an egalitarian relationship, and indeed *scoffs*, about "love".

NO ONE NEEDS A MAKEOVER. Not for a man, not for anyone. You DON’T HAVE TO CHANGE your style, aspect, character or personality for ANYONE. And damn anyone who thinks you have.

  •    Being yourself is wrong if you do not conform. Self-esteem is not being yourself, it's about conforming to society's fashion and stereotype rules. Then, bam! Empowerment! Success! Romance!
  •   Tells people that not conforming to society's rules is bad and unattractive. A woman who likes casual wear, for example, isn't 'graceful' or even a ‘woman’, apparently, and if she doesn't wear heels or make-up she’s basically going to be unlovable in every single sense.

 One of the main messages in this show is that, in order to win a man, you must NOT be yourself. You must be sexy and attractive, and only according to a very limited established mindset. If you are not, you have  a makeover done.  And forget your own style, there’s only one acceptable style: Make-up, high heels, non-hair-friendly hair products, a compulsory hair-cut just frigging because, and cute/sexy/feminine styles of clothing are the one and only key factors in order to win your man.  Being confident while rocking your own preferred style? Not an option. If you have longer-than-deemed-acceptable and/or less styled/”messier” hair, or a more casual/sportive look about you,  or if you don’t wear make-up everyday or ever, or  if you prefer comfy footwear rather than high heels, and especially if you wear “unfeminine” clothing (which can include anything from baggy clothing to pretty much everything that is comfortable…well, virtually everything but heels, tube skirts and frilly dresses, apparently)...Forget about it, you won't dazzle a man in a date. Which should be your main goal in life, remember?

Being yourself doesn't matter. Your man, and people in general, will ONLY love you when you are attractive, feminine, sexy and/or cute, and, very importantly, when you follow society's tastes and conventions to the letter. Be sexy, be cute, be feminine, but only in the way I tell you to, put on the clothes and shoes that I give you, don’t do that anymore, throw out those clothes and those hobbies of yours already. If you are different in any way, people won't love you. Your crush won't love you. You're handling your life wrong. How dare you have your own style and your own hobbies, for heaven's sake?

  •  Featuring an incredibly obnoxious, prejudiced, dogmatic, and generally sexist presenter-stylist who states society's rules and her tastes as universal truths. I am massively pissed off when someone thinks themselves entitled to manipulate other people in this way and tell them what to do with their frigging lives. This is the ultimate Umbridge female figure of patriarchy, selling the idea that there is only one way of being attractive (the sexy/feminine/cute style outtake, which is all fine if chosen freely, but stereotyped and sexist if applied to every women by force), and that being attractive is the only way to 'boost your confidence' and get a man. NOT COOL AT ALL.
  •  Notice that the men who are going to get the girl in their date don't get asked ANYTHING. Except for showing some chivalry and romantic rubbish to impress their princess. But no demands regarding their appearance, tastes or general personality. Because PRIVILEGE.

All in all, yeah, not my version of a date. If you're going to date someone, which should be your own choice and not a pressure from society, by the way, you want to be yourself and not masquerade and lie to fit society's standarts in order to please your date. If you change your style and your appearance and lie about your personality to please someone, you're doing the worst you can do in a relationship. You might ‘get a man’, but said man won't "love" you for who you are, which I guess is the point of a short-to-long-term relationship. Supposedly, you've chosen that date because he likes something about you, and hopefully, it will not only be your looks. Hopefully, he'll like something about your personality (if he doesn't and you’re looking for a relationship and not just casual sex [which is perfectly fine, by the way], why even bother to lie about anything? - and I actually don't think this kind of forced makeovers are necessary when it comes to casual sex, either). Even regarding your looks, supposedly you shouldn't need to change your style or hair for a date either, if the date already feels attracted to you! What the hell. Morphing into a high-heeled individual with tons of foundation and a tube skirt is turning myself into someone else, and doing me no favours. Naturally, I do want to look nicer on a special occassion, but ALWAYS while being true to myself and my style. If I don't like heels, why  should I wear them randomly to a date? (Society's answer: to be sexy and please a man, Well, wrong move). Just wear what you like and feel comfortable in. Personal style, your own personality and the confidence and self-esteem that comes from all that, that's what should be considered 100% sexy and attractive. Just my 2 pence.

This new series of feminist criticism posts will feature a pretty exhaustive criticism of each episode in the first season, plus an additional short post critisizing the title description before that. I really do not recommend watching that rubbish, better save your time for better things, and it's actually pretty fortunate that it's not that easy to find online (I tried MTV in various countries). My snarky commentary tries to follow the episodes in detail, copying most of the lines, so, unless you're curious and want to have a taste of how horrible this series is, I guess the commentary alone should be reasonably easy to understand without having seen the episodes.

So, if you're interested, I'll see you in part II :)!


10 comments:

  1. It's sad to see them say they're helping these women with their low self-esteem when in many cases this can stem from their physical appearance or personalities not matching the ones society expects or considers "attractive", which are precisely the ideas this show is promoting. One would think that a good way to help with low self-esteem would be to stop telling them they won't be attractive unless they conform to a narrow-minded set of looks and ways to live, instead of the opposite.

    Also, as you say, what happens if the date is successful and the guy likes what he saw and wants to be with her? Are they supposed to keep pretending to be something they're not until they somehow get used to it, fearing he'll be disappointed and leave if they don't? Sounds a bit scary, and perhaps even abusive. It would end up being much easier to try to find someone who actually likes them for what they are, but maybe they deem it worth the extra effort if they are somehow convinced that it won't happen, that a man will only like them if they conform to those rules and stereotypes. This would be exactly what this show is contributing to make people think…

    And by the way, are the men asked about their tastes in order to make the women likable to them, or are they just assumed to be attracted by those same narrow sets of looks and personalities? I, for example, and especially if I know the person intimately, can sometimes perceive a lot of make-up as a "barrier" between me and the real person beneath it (it's given me trouble in past relationships when asked "what do you think?" after spending time elaborately applying layers of make-up >_<). What happens then?

    But what troubles me the most is that they would focus in changing their personality in order to be with a man. I mean… it's what you are, your integrity, what sets you apart from the rest of the people… I'm not saying that changing the way you act or think to be more likable is always necessarily bad: I've done it myself, since when I was a teenager I might have come across as a bit of a creep sometimes, or had thoughts of the Nice Guy kind, but that was about being more aware of what the other person feels, and abandoning a sense of entitlement that didn't correspond to reality. But what's important is, what I abandoned weren't things to be proud about, they could be harmful for others, and the change has made me like myself more. However the changes the show seems to enforce are not to avoid causing harm or to be comfortable with yourself, but rather to give up your individuality and conform to external "rules" that are already causing a lot of damage. Is this another way to suppress differences of opinion or criticism of gender stereotypes, at least openly? By instilling the fear that if you think or behave this way, no man will like you?

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    1. Sorry for the belated reply and thanks again for your comment!

      Paragraph 1: THIS, absolutely! I hate that kind of (sexist) hypocrisy - They say that they're "helping" girls become more self-confident, but the only thing theyre doing is bashing their personal style, looks and personality, and telling them to change 99% of themselves in order to fit society's canons and expectations. Apart from the fact that they think self-confidence=being acceptably attractive and nothing else matters, that's not helping someone - it's transforming them into someone else, someone who fits society's gendered expectations and their ideas of what is 'attractive' and what isn't.

      Paragraph 2: Yes, another thing that really bugs me is that they teach these girls the art of 'sexist deception'. They expect them to be happy while hiding their true selves and style because the male crush will supposedly like what he's seeing. Not only is that tremendously unfair and, frankly, monstrous to the girls and the very opposite of 'building one's self-confidence' - it's also potentially unfair to the men as well, because they're being "shown" (women as objects and commodities is a pretty mainstream idea in this show :/) a woman who's masquerading as something that is conventionally 'attractive' and 'feminine' and 'sexy' - not a person with her own personality, style and ideas. Of course, the influence of society's gendered roles and expectations means that a frightening number of men will be OK about this :/.
      The idea that this show has about 'dates' relies heavily on the cis male being favourably surprised and accepting of the conventionally attractive girl who's pining for his attention - the very opposite of what a healthy date and a healthy relationship shoud be about (like you say, that would be about liking the other person for what they are)! Definitely abusive and scary. They're definitely promoting the idea that if you're not conventionally attractive and behave in a conventionally (and gendered) way, no man will take you. Pretty much like Cinderella, really, the film that's apparently being so successful right now (in contrast to other refreshingly feminist Disney films such as Maleficent).

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    2. Part 2 :D

      Paragraph 3: No, men do not seem to be asked anything, they just receive a phone call from the stalking sexist stylist asking them to come to a blind date, *if they want to*. They're assumed to like society's general norms about how a woman should look and behave, yes. And while this show is most likely heavily scripted, the fact that many men do seem to follow this pattern is a scary thought (having grown privileged in a world where they're told that women are commodities and objects, being fed unrealistic expectations of women's bodies and physical appearance and being also fed beauty canons and so on, I suppose that's to be expected...). However, this show is also heavily 2D and relies A LOT on classic gender roles and stereotypes, because it's true that 'not all women' would feel OK about being handled and transformed like that (I most definitely wouldn't!), and 'not all men' are looking for someone who's made up according to society's canon, and extremely self-conscious and anxious about pleasing him.
      About the make-up and so on, the problem that this show has (and many others) is that girls are told that these are compulsory accesories in order to 'please your man', and that you won't be desirable without them. A healthier and fairer posture would be to wear whatever you wanted according to your own desires and style, as in 'for yourself' and not 'for others'. It's true that the desire to wear make-up and such has an origin in gendered roles and assumptions, but there's a lot of difference between wearing make-up because you want and it fits your style, and wearing it because there's no other way you're going to look desirable.

      And paragraph 4: Absolutely agree, and I just wanted to say, it's so refreshing to see that other people (and other men) also think that way :)
      Yes, one of the aims of this kind of show is to tell girls and women that no man will want you, and also that society won't want you, unless you conform. That your personality comes after your appearance. That your crush matters more than yourself. That you must change for him. They feed you hypocritical fallacies about 'boosting your self-esteem' and 'altering only the 'bad' parts of your personality' and 'this will make you feel happier and better about yourself' while completely bashing and erasing EVERYTHING that you are. It's not the first time I encountered this mindset, unfortunately, but it's so toxic, so sly and so insistent in this particular show, I just felt the need to critisize it as much as I could.

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  2. Here is my comment copied from my email (no need to answer it here), even though sometimes it goes 'off the track'...

    I think your critique is very well put, and I agree with you on nearly everything..Now, even if exposing the evils of this TV shows won't change much, it raises very important questions, and unveils the 'toxic' notions of this plastic 'culture'. Identifying the wrongs is the first step for a change to the better.

    Unfortunately appearance is quite important, and 'being attractive', conforming to society's rules, is what attracts others in the first place, not just potential 'male companions', but everyone in general, in the workplace, school....I wish this was not true, but it is, and I have learned it the hard way...how different people's behaviour/reaction/manners are, providing one is looking 'feminine and sexy', or non-conforming with society's rules, either because one does not want to or cannot, do you see how people treat the poor, the beggars and homeless, who 'smell bad', the perceived drug addicts ...in contrast to someone well-dressed, and well presented (polished). For example, If a woman presents herself in the form nature intended, raw, with minimal to no image 'refinement' so important in our shallow pop-porno-plastic materialist culture, she might very well be 'attacked', criticized, not worthy of respect, even if she possesses true physical external beauty, that in her, exists harmony in the ratio between shapes and forms (golden ratio?) and harmony in her colour tones.....unlike what the TV and other media shows us, external beauty should not be made to be the most important attribute of a person...I just used this example to point how strange our society is...even if this had something to do with Natural Selection, the feeling of attraction towards humans with traits we would like to pass to the next generations, it would be pointless, because much of this 'refinement', this concealment, its fake...it does not translate genetically...

    Of course, it's not condemnable to want to improve one's appearance...the question is: why do we want to change, to alter so much in some cases, to transform? Why do we need to improve? Why aren't we women good enough as we are in raw state?... The media makes us believe this, it's ulterior motive being economical interests (how much money do we spend each year on account of our appearance?), and in turn, we conform to it because we want to be desired, to be loved, to be respected, and like you criticize in your blog, this is not possible unless we conform, that's one of the dangerous messages these TV shows send, like you pointed out.

    «Not only do I find all this astoundingly narrow-minded, demeaning, sexist, offensive, invasive and the total opposite of making you confident - The main idea about these episodes, apart from the fact that your looks are pretty much everything that matters in order to get a boyfriend, is that being yourself is not OK…unless you're already the sexy/cute/feminine woman you're supposed to be, of course. The most frightening thing about this kind of shows? While they’re probably mostly scripted beforehand, they could be absolutely real and they don’t only promote sexist stereotypes and double standarts – they get inspiration from the real world.»

    Those that do not conform become the 'alien', and may be shunned, no matter how corageous they are for standing true to their refusal of being brainwashed (ever seen the film Body Snatchers, from 1993?). I think this messages have the potential to be very destructive for women, like you say very correctly...

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    1. Hi, sorry for the belated reply and thank you for your comments!

      Paragraph 1: Thank you, glad you liked it :)! And yes, I agree, exposing and critisizing things that are pro-inequality and potentially harmful is a first step towards trying to change those facts.

      Paragrah 2: Unfortunately, yes, I agree, appearance and 'beauty' are very important factors in this society (and in many others). Women's appearance more than men's, although men's appearance can be pretty important as well in many contexts, and I think that it's becoming more and more important, judging from what I'm seeing in ads and the like. It's true that appearance, and especially women's appearance, is seen as essential and very important not only in terms of attraction, but also in other contexts such as work and school, like you say. We live in a culture that's obsessed with their subjective ideas of 'beauty' and with appearance in general, even in contexts where someone's appearance is not relevant at all (like school, where what should count is your mind, responsibility, and hard-working capabilities - and in many jobs appearance should not be relevant either). That's the sad truth...but of course that doesn't mean everyone has to agree with that or thinks like that, I for one do NOT think that appearance is so essential as society thinks, and I don't think it should have anything to do with how you fare at school or the workplace - or even a relationship! Physical attraction does play an important part in relationships, but I'm with those who think that personality, integrity, mind and other things are as important, or more important, than looks. I know it sounds clichéd, but I do give more importance to a good personality and integrity, because I think that's the essential part of a healthy relationship. And same for other contexts, personality, competence and the like should be higher up the list. The sad truth, though, is that things are constructed in the way you describe, women who are seen as 'feminine', 'beautiful' and 'sexy' are usually preferred in every single context, and women are usually told that their looks are their main asset, not only when it comes to finding a partner, but also in school, work, and everywhere in their daily lives, really :/
      So I wanted to clarify, in case that came out ambiguous, that I was not saying that society doesn't view people like that, obsessing over their looks, only that I think that way of thinking is wrong and harmful.

      Paragraph 3: Yes, women are way more pressured into looking 'beautiful' (in a certain way) and 'flawless' (forgetting that we're human beings with natural imperfections) in order to be literally accepted and tolerated by society. Unless we lose self-esteem and spend tons of money on products to try to transform and makes us 'perfect', we won't conform, like you say. And like you also said, there's nothing wrong about wanting to improve one's appearance - but, of course, only if we truly wanted to, not overly forced by society's rules of beauty (because none of our decisions come from nowhere), and not to be accepted by men or any other person....It's horrible how all the media makes women think they're wrong because they're human-beings with natural immperfections, how dare they not look like the airbrushed models in the ads??

      -Paragraph 4: And yes, I totally agree :/ I myself have been often shunned for not conforming, not only regarding my looks and body, but also regarding my personality or mindset. Society preys on those who do not conform because they're seen as a menace, I think...
      And all in all, I do think that these messages can be incredibly destructive for women, yes...

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  3. Part 2 (I'm a woman of few words, but I wrote a blue streak, it's all Ríona's fault really) :P

    We see messages like it everywhere, even in books of high literary value, the female character is many times described, first and foremost, as being beautiful. Even in books by renown feminist writer Marguerite Yourcenar. The loving husband/boyfriend, when complimenting his wife/girlfriend, can many times been heard saying ''I'm so lucky to have such an attractive women like yourself'' or some such, only after the 'attractive/pretty/beautiful' compliment comes the 'rest'. And the cult of beauty, in its different culture aesthetics, as been praised for thousands of years...But this is different, there's no appraisal of Beauty, but indocrination of the particular women being 'processed', and the audience...
    Why are our insecurities explored by TV shows such as 'Plain Jane', that lead us to believe we are not good enough as we are.....well, it's just another type of comsummerism/materialism brainwashing, just like any other ad on TV, leading us to spend money on this or that...but this one, as well as many others, attacks us, attacks our self-love, it wants to make us vulnerable. It belittles women in general, and women as a whole.

    Like you point out, men, however, still don't have to go through a lot of 'refinement', or should I say 'processing', to look attractive, to be respected...why? Why the disparity?

    Why is our sex a target for these ideas (viral marketing) that search to influence our beings? Sexist stereotypes and double standards like you say?

    I guess this really has to do with the 'culture' of determined society. I'm remembering that when I was a child I saw a documentary about an African tribe, the Wodaabe, where the males do the same the birds-of-paradise do to attract females, courtship displays...they preen themselves and dance for women...I will never forget it...I found it so amusing, so fantastic, so unlike anything I knew....anyways, our culture is historically based on the concept of women as property, as object, domesticated like cattle, like a slave....this may have begun with 'Property' (the change from hunter-gatherer , see anarcho-primitivism).....since humans begun having property, acquiring property, the perceived 'weaker' were enslaved to the powerful...the slave/servant to the master, the peasant to the landowner, the wife to the husband...look at the 'Cradle of Western Civilization', Ancient Greece..the women were pratically held captive by their fathers and then husbands...the women who had more 'liberty' were the hetaira, the courtesans (who sold their bodies and themselves - as if they were some beautiful vase to be bought - notice the parallelism to 'Plain Jane' - the female capitalizes her looks and meets a potential 'buyer' - women in a 'show cage' instead of in a 'dungeon cell' ).
    Much as been gained in terms of female liberation, but somehow, I cannot help feeling I'm not free, that women are not respected, the media is constantly insulting women, that TV show being an example, each perpetuation of sexist stereotypes, every objectification, every exploitation of women, is an insult...100 years ago, women were fighting for their liberty....presently, economical interests attempt to take control of womens' minds and bodies, they dehumanised us...this is something that has already happened...

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    1. It seems I'm getting a reputation of corrupting people into writing long rants lately, at least in this blog xD *Puts on the Tenth Doctor's glasses* 'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry' :P

      Paragraph 1: I know, right? It's very true, being 'beautiful' is practically a requisite you have to fulfill to call yourself a 'woman', it seems. It happens in many,many books, like you mentioned (not to mention in real life and ads and so on). While I was doing research on Tolkien's female characters for a couple of studies (one about warrior-women, the other about the role of Elven women) I could see how Tolkien described 99.9% of those women as 'beautiful', sometimes as the first part of their description, even though he may add laudable terms afterwards, such as 'brave', 'intelligent', 'strong', and the like. He also makes sure to let us know when one of his female characters isn't 'beautiful enough' - the case of Nerdanel, wife of Fëanor, who incidentally has the 'rare' occupations of smithwork, and sculpture.

      "Why are our insecurities explored by TV shows such as 'Plain Jane', that lead us to believe we are not good enough as we are.....well, it's just another type of comsummerism/materialism brainwashing, just like any other ad on TV, leading us to spend money on this or that...but this one, as well as many others, attacks us, attacks our self-love, it wants to make us vulnerable. It belittles women in general, and women as a whole."

      100% agree!

      Paragraph 2: Sexist stereotypes + patriarchal society and male privilege, I think. In a patriarchal society, men are not judged primarily for their looks, nor are they considered objects for the commodity of the opposite sex, plus they make sure to emphasize more assets than their physique, such as their strength, charisma, intelligence, etc. So I think that's the reason why they're not asked to groom themselves so much for women, or to actively change the way they look so that they are deemed more attractive (or to make them feel bad about themselves because they're 'not enough') - In a male-dominated society,it seems to me that being male is more than enough, the default, no substantial changes needed, and that the idea of male attractiveness relies way more on 'dominance', 'toughness', 'bravado' and other 'masculine' attributes, than in looking a certain way. Though it's true that they also suffer from a series of 'beauty canon commands' and that there is an idea of how the 'ideal man' looks like, society does not force them to change or lowers their self-esteem as much as what women have to bear - not by a long way are those two levels comparable.
      For example, there is a glaring double standart in this particular show about that issue - women have to get an extensive makeover and receive an extensive list of negative feedback about their 'natural' or 'chosen' selves, while men are not asked to change anything about themselves and are seen in a highly positive light at ALL times.

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    2. Paragraph 3: It's true that some animals experience the 'sexual selection' effects, which involve the male being more colourful, ostentatious etc, than the female of the same species (this also happens with the female, but I think it's way rarer)...In that case, the looks of the male are taken into account, and the female is supposed to choose the male she likes best - But there are quite a lot of male-dominated subtext going on there as well, I think, at least in the case of some species...The male is not so much chosen solely because of the beauty of his physique, but more so because of 'virility', 'power', 'fecundity' and 'longevity' reasons...I might be wrong and this might not be true in all cases, but I remember reading about sexual selection in the case of peacocks, and some people think that females choose the male with the longest and most abundant tail because that means that he's strong and 'macho' enough to have fought with other males and still retained all the eyes in his tail (which in fights can be ripped off). It also could mean that he's healthier and has more potential for breeding because a long, abundant tail meant that the weather inclemencies had not bothered him much, so he was healthy enough to breed...I don't know, but it seems to me as if females in our species are solely 'chosen' because they're 'hot', or let's also say because they look healthy and could have children, not because they're resistant or strong, or can deal with opponents...Not male connotations of 'power' and 'dominance'...

      "our culture is historically based on the concept of women as property, as object, domesticated like cattle, like a slave....this may have begun with 'Property' (the change from hunter-gatherer , see anarcho-primitivism).....since humans begun having property, acquiring property, the perceived 'weaker' were enslaved to the powerful...the slave/servant to the master, the peasant to the landowner, the wife to the husband...look at the 'Cradle of Western Civilization', Ancient Greece..the women were pratically held captive by their fathers and then husbands...the women who had more 'liberty' were the hetaira, the courtesans (who sold their bodies and themselves - as if they were some beautiful vase to be bought - notice the parallelism to 'Plain Jane' - the female capitalizes her looks and meets a potential 'buyer' - women in a 'show cage' instead of in a 'dungeon cell' )."

      Agreed! Yes, in our culture women are mainly seen as 'cattle', 'property', 'objects' and 'commodities', and even though things have gotten a bit better, compared with the past, I also don't feel liberated or equal to men at all. It's mainly in the little things that I encounter in my everyday life, plus in all the media, plus in the more glaring issues that still exist. These connotations of 'property' and 'objects' are oh-not-subtle-at-al in many, many aspects (we can see it in many places, from ads to sex work),but maybe the more worrying fact it that they're becoming more subtle and hidden in our everyday life, many people keep telling us we're already liberated and have all the rights we need, that we're not treated like cattle anymore, but while there are levels and levels, I think that could not be further from the truth...We have come a long way, but many, many things need to change before we can say that women are liberated and respected.

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  4. Last Part! :D

    How to halt its advance? Maybe 'censoring' the media, by neglecting TV and whatever forms they incarnate to influence us, would be too radical for some, and even more radical it would be (for many) to 'recede' from the western civilization paradigm, into some primitivist equalitarian society...
    I think the practical way to go, for people who dislike radical stuff, who don't want to make an effort to change their world (the majority of people), is giving a good education to our children, and youngsters, instead of leaving their education in the hands of TV, videogames, and what not, to allow them to enrich themselves through various kinds of knowledge (academical knowledge isn't the most important, but rather sensibility and empathy, compassion - which are killed by dehumanisation), so that they can valorize other things besides themselves, and to be valued in turn, instead of being consumed with poisonous trifles ...don't know if it would be enough though...but we should fight to give the future generations a better world, I don't want my children to grow up in an environment where they are judged, submitted to other's opinions, on trifling matters such as external appearance, I want them to be respected, to respect others and to respect their body, soul, and mind. I would like my daughters to be loved, and to love themselves, unconditionally.

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    1. Agreed 100% !

      As much as I'd like to see a fully egalitarian society, I agree that that's more idealistic than realistic, I think the best way to be able to gain equality and respect, little by little, is to critisize what we think is against equality, and to educate people to respect and value people as human-beings, not as men/women with an enclosed set of repressive stereotypes, or because of their appearance, or their race, or class,...That sounds pretty idealistic as well, but education, representation and inclusiveness are, I think, extremely important when it comes to trying to achieve equality and respecting people as human beings. Regarding women, that could include many things - Educating young men not to see women as objects, representation of women in history books, films, books and the media in general (not just women being invisible or appearing as unrealistic sex-objects for the male viewers, readers and gamers), etc, etc

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