I feel like all their efforts are being flushed down the toilet.
When I was a young girl growing up in the 70s and 80s, Female Empowerment was all about getting equal pay for the same job, earning the rights to be respected as any man would in the same position, and to be seen as something other than a sex object. Women were bringing home the bacon, fryin' it up in the pan, but yet never never never letting their husbands forget that they were men. It was okay to look good while you did all this... but the focus was intended for a woman's brain and accomplishments... not her bra size or amazingly-cellulite-free tush.
The women I saw on TV as a little girl in the 70s-- who made an impact on who I am today:
- Mary Tyler Moore... a single woman who used her brain, not her feminine wiles, to get a job in journalism. While Mary was considered fashionable and pretty, she was mainly a working girl, and the episodes centered around her independence in that harrowing (haha) Minneapolis burg.
- Maude... tough, independent, strong-willed, and opinionated, Maude was no Harriet Nelson*. Her character had been married four times when the show first began. I don't think anyone would ever confuse Beatrice Arthur with a sex object. I'm just sayin.'
- Lucy... from Here's Lucy, we met a widow with two kids who got a job to support her family. No man necessary, and of course, hilarity ensued.
- Elaine from Taxi... a female taxi driver in New York in the late 70s? Wow. Elaine was a single mom who supported her kids by driving a cab. Sure, she was pretty, and she dated half the cast... but she was a tough chick, too. I don't recall any episode where she had to flash anyone to get things to go her way...
Really, I was probably a little young to be watching some of these shows at the time. But my point is... Mary Tyler Moore never had a dream sequence where she changed into a barely-there bikini to increase ratings during sweeps. Bea Arthur didn't get Botox or a boob job to show she still had it as an older woman playing a lead character. Lucy didn't give her boss a lap dance to advance her career. Elaine, who was definitely the one and only female sex symbol on the show, didn't resort to stripper-like behavior to get Louie to give her more calls when she needed extra money. Sometime, she actually used her brain to outwit him.
What chance do my girls, or anyone else's daughters, have now with the "gotta be sexy or I'm not worth jack" pervasive attitude? For that matter, what chance do our boys have to learn how to respect women, when the images that bombard them everyday tell them we're objects? Oh, but we're sexually empowered objects. Yeah, great. That makes me feel so much better.
Women who say they're more empowered by being overtly sexual all the time are lying to themselves and everyone around them. Don't get me wrong. I don't want girls to think they have to go all June Cleaver** and wear a pretty dress every time their man comes home from work, ensuring that dinner is on the table and the house is neat as a pin. Nor do I believe that women should avoid talking about sex or even having sex when they want, that it's a dirty subject that nice girls don't bring up. That's all bullshit, too.
What I don't buy, though, is that we, as women, can give into the "I'll let you treat me like an object, because it actually gives me all the power" philosophy espoused by so many now. Older women like Sharon Stone and Madonna are grabbing nude scenes... just because they can. They want everyone to know they've still got IT.
Girl power, my ass. I hope to God that when I'm in my 50s, people will be able to say that I've contributed to my community, that I was a loyal friend, a good mother, a positive role model for other women, and maybe even a leading force in education...
... NOT, "Oh, my goodness, Ethel! Look how perky her boobies still are at her age!"
*for younger readers, please see Ozzy and Harriet
** again for younger readers, please see Leave It To Beaver