RANT: The Dumbing-Down of the Modern Femme

I can’t help it, I like Oprah. I even have the 20-hour 20th Anniversary DVD set, but I blame GayBoy for that, since he picked it up as an Xmas gift for me.
So, there I was, watching it, and who should she have on? Pink. The chanteuse who belts out that anti-mainstream track, Stupid Girls. Oprah invited her onto the show based on the brilliance of that track’s video, (you can play it here) which mocks the mainstream perception of what the complete woman is these days.
The gist of it is this, we live in a most ludicrously plastic time. This cult-of-celebrity shit goin’ round just pisses me the hell off. I could go and pepper this fucking rant with a hundred celebrities’ names and get myself some major hittage, but I won’t stoop that low.
God forbid I should piss off the power-bloggers (IE: Pink is the New Blog, Go Fug Yourself, Gawker, and more), but who gives a shit? How can people today care even remotely as much as they do about what Mr. Fucking Britney Spears is doing with his life? Does it matter?
The answer to that is an unequivocal NO.
I can’t understand the obsession. Can anyone explain this to me? Probably not. People are becoming so vacuous and vapid and shallow that it’s a wonder the world has any future, seriously. Cure for cancer? Not fucking likely! A better world? Fuck no! A better cellphone? You betcha!
But I’m getting off-track. What pisses me off most of all is what’s happening to the chicks of today’s generation.
I’m a fierce feminist, baby, in my own way. I don’t resent men a bit. I don’t want to see masculinity erode as the price of my attaining a stronger position in the world. I think I can have my cake and eat it, too. (And I do, it’s chocolate and caramel. Tasty.) I’m smart, I’m sexy in my cute little way, and I live my life with my integrity on my sleeve. I capitulate to no one, yet understand compromise is a way of life. I know how to get what I want, how to say what I mean, and how to behave in a non-threatening, yet intelligent manner.
Too bad the same can’t be said for the younger chicks coming up behind me. What the FUCK is going on? I blame Britney Spears, Madonna, and anyone else who’s put their fucking beauty before their brains in the last couple decades.
Like Pink said, “Sexy and smart aren’t oil and water.” You do NOT need to dumb yourself down to sex yourself up.
As long as men have a choice between a non-threatening chick who’s gonna laugh at their jokes and a smart chick who can bring some edumacatin’ to the table, there’s going to be a dichotomy of choice. The guy who chooses the latter’s always going to be the better choice for you, and don’t forget it.
Now, I don’t run around flexing my big IQ all the day long, but I can flex it when I need it, and I never, ever abandon it in favour of making a less-threatening impression.
I could have, back when I was the Queen of First Dates. I know I intimidated more than a few guys, but they got what they deserved. I said I wanted an intelligent guy who wasn’t threatened by my intelligence, yet THEY showed up on the fucking date. What, did I stutter? You wanted smart, so long as she isn’t smarter than you? Keep going, bub, this ain’t your stop.
We have a generation of Bubblegum Girls on our heels. The ones who think cleavage speaks louder than creativity, that breast size matters more than brains, that plastic surgery is the path to perfection.
Got news for you: There is no perfection.
The Guy’s not one of these losers who can’t handle smarts. But then, he’s pretty darned smart himself. Put us in a hat store and they’re gonna have some trouble sizin’ us up, I bets. He referred to me as “flawed” when listing all the things he liked about me. I furrowed my brow and quizzed him, “Flawed?” I think he was worried I was taking it the wrong way, but I was somewhat amused, since I’ve no illusion on my shortcomings. Still, he explained his thinking and introduced me to something that has previously eluded me: The concept of Wabi Sabi.
No, no, not the green stuff you mix with soy sauce for sushi, that’s wasabi. This is the Japanese principle of imperfection being the definition of beauty. That is, it’s in our uniqueness, our flaws, our subtle imperfections that our true beauty lies. The guy cited Sophia Loren as an example – weird eyes, large nose, strange jaw, dominant cheeks, but you throw it into a bowl and give it a good mix, and you have one of the most stunning beauties of this past century.
But tell that to our vapid Western society. Tell that to they who wield the airbrushes of the world. Tell that to Gawker, to Vogue, to the music video industry. Tell them that the scar on my right nostril gives me character or uniqueness. To them, it’s a reason to go under the knife and be “healed.” Tell them my intellect makes as large an impression as my big green eyes or my smiling lips or my verging-on-ghetto bootay. Today, it just don’t work that way.
While other girls wanted to be Madonna, I wanted to be Janeane Garofalo. I nearly died laughing last week when the Guy and I were talking about the “Allowed To Fuck” monogamy exlusion — that one person we can fuck outside the relationship, if the opportunity arises. His choice? Janeane Garofalo. My response? “Shit, I’ll join you.” (I haven’t decided who I’d choose yet. Hmm. So many choices, so little time. My answers were not finite, Guy!)
Garofalo’s cute, smart, sexy, funny as hell, and she doesn’t take shit from no one. Did I mention the killer smarts? And, like me, she wears glasses instead of contacts. She’s flown in the face of a Hollywood that demanded she conform, yet she’s held her own. Sure, she’s thin now, but she wasn’t always, and she did it for herself, not for the industry.
It’s bad enough that the media’s perpetuating these stereotypes – and even escalating them, but to have today’s young women participating in these negative trends usurping them of their righteous feminine powers is a fucking travesty.
Respect yourself. Be who you really are. Use your brains. Speak in your own voice. Don’t dumb shit down for a guy who doesn’t deserve what you have to offer.
And men, if you’re tired of the vapid beauties, fucking well SAY something about it. You may enjoy looking at the images, but are you enjoying the lack of brains that come with?
Can we, for once, return to the long-ago fantasties of sexy librarians and teachers with yardsticks? Chicks with brains who knew what they were doing when they dropped their drawers? Is it really such a terrible thing, self-knowledge and the ability to express one’s self? Must I and my peers continue feeling like some sort of carbon-dated example of what women once were?
‘Cause, shit, honey, I’ll tell you one thing: I go under the knife for no one. I am what I am, it is what it is, and you’d better get accustomed.

32 thoughts on “RANT: The Dumbing-Down of the Modern Femme

  1. JeN

    I loooooove Janeane! and I also love the oil & water quote.
    amen, sista! (or should that be “a-people”? hee hee)

  2. Anonymous

    i think that referring to yourself or other women as ‘chicks’ is denigrating. Why can’t we be women in your blog?

  3. scribe called steff

    Jen — Yeah, she rocks. 🙂 So does Pink, actually.

    Anonymous — Oh, for god’s sake, women, chicks, girls, ladies, females — they’re all WORDS. None are negative. Your perception of the word “chick” is different from a lot of others. In the two years I’ve been writing for public consumption, using the word “chick,” you’re the first to complain.

    If you don’t like the word “chicks,” then fine, don’t like it. Telling ME I’m denigrating women is about the most laughable thing you could say, though, because I stand up for women being women any way they want to be, and if I choose to use a flip word like “chicks,” that’s a linguistic style, not an insult. It’s a ’60s word.

    What I will NOT do, what OTHER bloggers do (even facetiously) is to call women bitches or hos, two very alarming trends out there in the world. (Although the occasional woman deserves to be called a bitch, just like the occasional man is a dick or prick.)

    But I’m gonna fucking well continue using the word “chicks” because it’s fun, flip, and very, very retro, like much of my language has a tendency to be.

    I’m sorry if you feel I’m disrespecting your opinion, but there’s a fuck of a lot more out there to be concerned about rather than useage of the word “chicks,” I’m afraid, and telling me I’m being sexist or denigrating women makes me laugh out loud. Whatever.

    “Chicks” is up there with “gals” and “guys”. It’s the same category.

    How about being concerned about the constant sexification of females? Or the dumbing down I’ve spoken of in my article? At least I’m talking about it, starting a discussion.

    Really. “Chicks” are HIP women. They’re in my category, my age group; my level of cultural sophisticates.

    You do what you will, but I’m citing creative license on this one, and I’m not budging.

  4. junksibunny06

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Not only does it disgust me but being a mother with two daughters I have to undo what they are being told by both society and friends. I am a woman in my own right! I’m intelligent, sexy, kind and fun. I make the other women I work with jealous because I can be who and what I want to be and don’t ask permission.
    Thanks for your post and ranting about it…i hate it.

  5. Anonymous

    Did you see the Onion piece about releasing the Girls Gone Wild back into civilization?


    It was sadly comical.

    “Rescue volunteers identified the Girls Gone Wild by their torn tank tops, threadbare Daisy Duke-style cutoff shorts, hair extension plumage, and bright orange skin with patterned lower-back markings. “

    I was reading another writer’s piece on self mutilation, which listed various tribes throughout history and things that they did, and included a north american tribes’ breast implants in the late 20th century. Makes you stop & think…

    PS: I like the word chick. My boyfriend calls me a chick and I take it as a compliment.

  6. Mad Coyote

    First things first:

    As someone who works in a medical facility devoted to the research, treatment, and, (my area) prevention of cancer, please don’t be so quick to toss us aside. I work with some brilliant people who honestly care about the work they do. My boss is an absolutely amazing man who has my utmost respect, not just for his dedication to cancer prevention, but to his patients (he still practices clinic twice a week) and to improving medical conditions in other countries (he is heavily involved with supplying equipment, training, and financial support to Tanzania, in Africa). Cure for cancer? Just wait.

    Secondly: A better world? Give me time. Within the next 2-3 years I intend to be on the backline of the battle against human trafficking and sexual slavery, and on the front line within 5 years after. I have every intention of doing my utmost to make the world a better place.

    Okay…sorry about that, but I just have to point out that for all the bubblegum boys and girls out there, there are those with greater intentions and a higher purpose.

    Now as to the rest of your post, I fully agree. Myself, I’ve had a horrible time in past relationships, as I could never find anybody I could hold a decent, intelligent conversation with, who was: a) single, b) straight, or, c) someone I had chemistry with.

    I seem to have finally found such though, and if it goes as well as it’s been to date, I am not about to let her go. As for being shallow…well, I’m 6’3″ and 210 lbs., she’s 5’11” and probably weighs about the same as me. She’s got the face of an angel, personality, character, and intelligence in spades, and…well, I always did like my women on the curvy side…

    To me, something that is perfect becomes unattractive. It lacks any character. Most super models hold no appeal for me- they’re so perfect, they become plain. Except for Heidi Klum…she looks like the others until she smiles, and shows this big gap between her two front teeth that makes me melt…

    The point is, I’d happily trade in a sixpack of Kate Moss’s, Sienna Millers and Naomi Campbells for one Kate Winslet…and I’d trade in a baker’s dozen of her for my new lady.

    And yes, Janeane Garofalo is very hot. As is Sophia Loren. And Patricia Richardson, who played the mom on Home Improvement. And Alex Borstein, better know as Mrs. Swann on Mad TV, and Lois on Family Guy.

    Totally hot.

  7. scribe called steff

    Okay, I’ll get back to everyone tomorrow, except:

    Coyote — My first response was to do: [insert sense of humour here] Followed by the definition of “Facetious.”

    I’m talking about the NEXT generation — if they are as they seem, for the large part, things like cures for cancer and making the world a better place are NOT on the priority list.

    I’m not saying EVERYONE’s shallow. Too many are. And while I applaud your goals and sense of passion for the things you do, waving it about is a little too much. Know what I mean?

    And I was definitely being facetious. It’s a good notion to take a dose of humour with any rant I write. I choose to be over the top in all of them. I verge on satire when and where I can. Jonathan Swift was a GOD.

    Just saying.

    Anyhow, back to our regularly scheduled programming, which for me means a helping of Boston Legal, having just walked in the door. That, and Doritos. I’s a bad, bad girl.

  8. Mad Coyote

    My apologies, Steff, didn’t realise you were being facetious. That, and I just feel really strongly about certain things, and…well, you know what it’s like when you climb up on the ol’ soapbox…I mean, there’s a reason they call it a rant, right?

  9. Pig n' Pants

    Two comments I’d like to make.

    1) I would not call Madonna and Britney dumb. I think Madonna is one of the most intelligent “marketers” on the planet. I would rank Madonna and Opra the top females on this World. Think about her financial sucess, rather than her physical apperance and on-stage act. This brings me to my second point.

    2) Let’s not forget that the money makes the world go around. These “pop” stars aren’t stupid. It’s the public that buys into the “advertising” that are stupid. It’s a world of marketing and advertising…..what the good ole US of A, does best. These star’s are laughing all the way to the bank. Which brings us back to the root cause of this whole beauty and image conscious society……Human Nature’s formula: beauty = money……and money is what all humans want. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    And for you sceptics that would disagree with my comment on money making the world go around……think about the Tsunami….the “world” had all the material and labour resources to help, but did not act until the question of who got paid for what got sorted out.

    I wish it wasn’t true, but you’re only kidding yourself if you didn’t think that human beings are greedy by nature and money is on the top of the list.

  10. Anonymous

    I bet someone’s already said this in prettier language, but…

    I have this theory that the Stupid People Are Getting Many-er because the Smart Ones aren’t reproducing. (Cue to reference Rant I: Kids)

    Now, take that scenario and fast-forward it to the future! 🙂

    Anonymous: Dude, you’re visiting a blog as a guest. I’m just sayin’.

    – me.

  11. Anonymous

    By the way I am looking forward to the day (if ever!) when girls who talk straight shit will be more commonly called “real” than “angry”.

    – me.

  12. Haaaaaaa

    I kind of agree with you, but let’s not judge a book by its cover. Just because a women leads with her looks doesn’t mean that she is vapid. She’s just using what she’s got.

    A few years ago, I had a gorgeous women who worked for me. All the guys wanted to date her. She wore very high heels and too short skirts. Most of the company thought, looking on the surface, that the only reason I had her around was to gawk at her. Below the surface, she was a kick-ass developer and soaked up every piece of knowledge around her. She became my trusted seond in command and a good friend. My boss used to discriminate against her because he only looked at her; he never talked to her. My wife felt thretened by her. I didn’t care; it was their problem. At every turn she face discrimination. She dresses hot; she must sleep around. She hot; she must be stupid. None of it was true.

  13. scribe called steff

    Haa — If she leads with her looks and DUMBS HERSELF DOWN, then she’s part of the problem. If she leads with her looks and FOLLOWS with an upper-left jab of smarts, then fucking kudos to her. It’s the DUMBING DOWN to fit a comfortable perceptio that pisses me off.

    Anon — Right on. Thanks.

    Anon / Me — Heh. Well, I think it’s a lack of education, a lack of teaching viable self-esteem to kids in school, and letting the media talk too fucking much. As for your comments to the anon dude, right on. (I presume re chicks?) 🙂 And I dunno if people call me angry, though. I don’t get a lot of the “chick, you need to chill” comments or anything. I think people get it. I hope. But yeah, there’s the perception that you’re disgruntled if you’re anti-establishment (and I mean in keeping with what the present establishment is — from vacuous to right-wing). (And no one already connected the “smart people aren’t breeding” comment yet, so feel smart, smarty-pants.)

    PIG’N’PANTS: Find me where I called Madonna dumb. No, really, prove it. What I said was, “Britney Spears, Madonna, and anyone else who’s put their fucking beauty before their brains in the last couple decades.”

    Madonna’s fucking brilliant. As a business woman, she’s at the top of the list. But she didn’t always let her brains do her talking. In her earlier days, she wasn’t much of a speaker. It was tits and ass, baby. I’m just saying, be beautiful, but be SMART, too. Be spokespersons for your sex. We fucking need more of them.

    And I’m not just talking about pop stars — I could give a fuck what plastic pop stars were doing, if they weren’t drastically influencing an entire generation who just wanna be plastic in return. You’ve got to be kidding if you think I don’t know that money makes the world go ’round. But it doesn’t when you’re a 16-year-old kid. We have an entire generation coming up who have goals like, “I want to be famous.” HOW, honey? HOW do you want to be famous? And for WHAT? Once upon a world, people had goals — like eradicating cancer — and this generation doesn’t fucking get it. They’ve got daddy’s credit card and a Britney Spears-style outfit, they’re FINE, man.

    It’s not about money — it’s about the cult of celebrity, this stupid fucking belief that somehow because someone sings a catchy song they’re somehow important? We’re idolizing people more than ever, for smaller accomplishments than ever, and we’re not ever trying to get them to actually speak to issues or do anything of consequence, and I, for one, think we, the public, need to demand more — and need to stop emulating these people, and more importantly, start finding our own identities.

    (I really wish I had coffee and hadn’t just gotten out of bed, but I had to say something, although it’s probably not very linear. Whatever, :P) Thanks for the comment, tho. 😉

    Coyote — I’ll get over it. 🙂 A tip, when you see me using exclamation marks, I’m more than likely being sarcastic. I seldom ever use them. There were three in a row there. 🙂 Congrats on the chick, btw. Rockin’ good.

    Mystical — You’re a smart woman with a fully-functioning brain, how could you not agree? Ha! I slay myself. 😛

    Anon — Heh, yep! Smart ROCKS.

    Anon / Onion Comment: Fucking A! Thanks for that. That cracked me up. I was with Boyfriend when I read that and read it out to him, and he laughed, despite being in a nasty world of pain for a few reasons, so it was nice to see a bit of chuckling there. GREAT story. Dude’s buying Playboy or something, I thought, the Girls Gone Wild guy. “Back into civilization.” NoOoooo! Anything but THAT!

    And I like the word chick, too. I can even handle broad, depending on the way it’s said, but I wouldn’t write it. “Skirt” is a bad one.

    Junksi — Fight the power, sister. 😉 And raise your kids the best you can, that’s all you can do. Good luck with that!

    Goose — Heh. 😉

    I was hoping this would get a lot of comments, and I’m happy it is. Wicked!

  14. My2Cents

    Amen! Preaching to the choir. 3 women I have been lucky enough to know:
    1) mom – carpenter (houses, not cabinets)
    2) wife – scientist
    3) daughter – straight A student and kick-ass soccer player.

    I love strong, smart women. (Even PMSing. heh.)

  15. Vixen

    Rock on sister! I couldn’t agree more. So many people are so plastic and empty. It’s sad really-they are only going to amount to being sheeple. And how are they going to get famous for being like everyone else?

    This is why I encourage people to kill their television…

  16. Ashley Johnston

    Sounds like you got it steff. I like a woman who can kick my ass. If she can do it with her mind, even better. Keep up the good work.. more for me.

    (Those big greens are really yours?)

  17. scribe called steff

    Hey, Ashley — heh, thanks. And yes, the eyes are really mine. 🙂

    Some days they’re pretty wicked green. Some days they’re more a green-grey, but usually they’re pretty intense. 🙂

  18. Bliatz

    Yes!!! Yes!!! This is exactly the kind of debate needed. Now, I’m nowhere near the “next generation” … in fact, being 40, I’m close to being the “previous generation”, if any.

    Anyway, I wanted to salute you, because although the tendency to overestimate looks and underestimate intelligence in women has been here forever, it was still there when I was younger. I’d hate to be a young woman today. I’d hate the massive pressure to look like the chicks on Mtv. I’d hate having to fight that fight over again. (Delete the link if you’ve got a “no links in the comments”-policy):-)

    Also, I’m hoping that some of the less “feminist” women of my generation will catch on to this and help their daughters counter this tendency. It is a big responsibility – but it is there. If you have a daughter … please, please, please be aware of when and how you praise her. For what? Do you tell her that she’s pretty all the time? As that the type of measuring stick you’re installing in her head?

    Sorry .. .I could go on about this, but I don’t want to hijack your comment box. Kudos to you! I loved this!

  19. Anastasia

    I hear ya, totally (and wholeheartedly agree with what you say) however there is always going to be a sector that prefers the superficial aspects only because this sector doesn’t particularly like to think too much, or they think that ‘too much thinking’ is hazardous to the health or something.

  20. Betka Schpitz

    This was a great read,thanks for your post. I have always loved Janeane Garofalo!I am thoroughly enjoying your journal.

  21. Obstreperous

    Thank you, and bless you(sign of the cross)… what the hell is going on? I feel like I come from the land of misfit toys. When I was growing up I was what was called a skate betty… I sported my sexy army fatigue pants, and a t-shirt(that covered my rib cage). I wanted to be Janeane Garofalo.. or Alley Sheady(Breakfast Club).. I’m raising a teenage son, it has become a house mantra..SUBSTANCE, SUBSTANCE, SUBSTANCE.. This garbage is taking us back to the stoneage…AARRGGGHHH

  22. Anonymous

    Janeane Garafalo is not “smart”.
    She is a typical vapid narcissistic celebrity.Don’t let the glasses and “less than perfect looks” fool ya.
    She is a dumb broad.

  23. Radial

    I agree with all of the above- except your categoric condemning of my generation.

    My generation may be stupid for being influenced by Britney Spears and Madonna, but your generation PRODUCED them. Plenty of adult women are stupid, and plenty of teens (Hi!) are intelligent. Wash your own dishes before telling me to clean my house.

    That said, I love the song and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Just don’t tar us all with the same brush, please.

  24. scribe called steff

    You’re right, I’m a little too dismissive. But I’m over 30 now. It’s what we do.

    The brush is away.

  25. A Scribe Called Steff

    Posted April 13, 2007 at 2:53 am | Permalink | Edit
    Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen.
    I dated a young, thin, dumb blonde once. And that was only because she asked me out. That is a mistake I’ll never make again.
    I absolutely love my educated, flawed, intelligent, sexy, not-stick-thin, perfect-for-me fiancee.

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