Just a clarification:
When I said, "take up less space in the world," I didn't mean physical
space, persay. I do not think there is some man with a ruler measuring
square feet of female around or vying over occupied space. I meant
symbolic space--in the form of assertiveness, boldness, full expression of
needs. I am quite well-versed on the literature on eating
disorders/anorexia, and as the quote I cited before demonstrated, one of
the key factors involved in this self-inflicted starvation is the desire to
be invisible or not impose. The fragile and meek aesthetic typified by the
anorexic body--an aesthetic I do believe is idealized in media depictions
of women-- is a physical representation of passivity and weakness (in terms
of personality, interacting with others, etc). And obsession over body
image, once again encouraged in this society, conveniently diverts
attention away from the real business of living.
One last note, anecdotal evidence aside, the proportion of men who
experience eating disorders is 1/10 the rate of women, according to
National Eating Disorder Center ( )
Oh, and to back up my claims about the media, check out this excerpt, which
comes from an organization called media watch.
Some Trends in the Media Portrayal of Women and Girls
Courtesy of MediaWatch (www.mediawatch.ca)
"Superiority and Domination : The media tells us that women should be
passive, weak and sexually available. Poses, camera angles and other
techniques reinforce the idea that it is natural for men to dominate women
and the world. These portrayals deny women equality and perpetuate the
attitude that women are men’s property and can thus be treated as men see
fit. In this context, violence can seem acceptable.
Dismemberment: Advertising often markets the separate parts of a woman’s
body: a pair of slender legs, large breasts, and firm buttocks. The
cumulative effect of equating women’s bodies with products bought and sold
is the perception that women are not whole human beings but simply
Clowning and Exaggeration : Women in the media are frequently shown in
extremely unnatural or unrealistic positions that make them look silly or
childish. In contrast, men are usually portrayed as serious, powerful,
strong and often introspective. This promotes the view that only men can be
strong and powerful, and that women are weak and passive.
Coy Behaviour : Self-assured women are often misrepresented as being
aggressive and pushy instead of assertive and confident. Representations of
women blushing, looking away, and covering their faces reinforce the
cultural attitude that women should be coy.
Male Approval : The notion that male approval is the most important measure
of women’s achievement is extremely limiting, especially as men in the
media appear to approve only of sexually attractive and available women.
Very few women will ever conform to the standards of attractiveness that
the media project. A healthy self-image depends on many more variables than
Voice-Over of Authority : Men’s lower pitched voices are more often used in
dramatic narration and commercial voice-overs because advertisers consider
them to be more authoritative. Women are equally capable of assuming
authority and voice-overs need to reflect this.
Irrelevant Sexualization of Women and Girls : No matter what the product,
“sex sells.” Alcohol, soft drink and jeans advertisements often market
women’s bodies as well as the actual product. When sex is relevant to the
product being sold, the advertisement should treat sexuality with
sensitivity and should respect all individuals. The sexualization of
children is never appropriate and is highly objectionable. "
--On Monday, November 07, 2005 3:19 PM -0500 Kevin Lochner
> I'd also like to send a thank you to james, for arriving out of nowhere
> like the deus ex machina we all know him for, steering the discussion in a
> less combative direction & landing on some sane conclusions where we can
> hopefully all find a little common ground. Not to mention for doing
> it with some intellectual panache of his own.
> And Grandpa Reeves, with all due respect, you're either a brave or foolish
> man for including that joke about - "no means maybe." I think the
> current-day feminist incarnation of that joke would go something like
> "no means maybe" means harrassment
> "maybe means yes" means rape
> "yes means she's not a lady" means you're not a man
> - kevin
> On Mon, 7 Nov 2005, Andrew Reeves wrote:
> > I apologize for any perceived personal insult in my last message.
> > There was no intent to offend Michelle personally; actually, I thought
> > that she was quoting some unidentified original source. On the other
> > hand, the valiant efforts of Victoria and others to portray this as
> > nothing but a deep psychoanalytic explanation for anorexia, bulimia and
> > other eating disorders is totally off base and flatly contradicts the
> > very wording of Michelle's remarks--"..yet another MEANS of encouraging
> > women to take up less space in the world" [emphasis added]. In other
> > words, female physical build and/or fashion trends, obviously dictated
> > or inspired by men, are a plot in the competition for cubic footage in
> > the increasingly crowded inhabitable sphere of the planet. This is how
> > I understood the remark and in this sense, and in this context, I am
> > afraid that I have to stand by my original opinion of this view.
> > To answer Victoria's question of whether I was ever "coerced" to
> > have sexual intercourse, the answer is not easy: certainly, in the
> > bland anatomic/physical sense, NO, but that is really obvious given
> > the physiologic realities of the male body. I was, a few times in my
> > life, placed in situations that amounted to virtual psychologic
> > coercion--and I successfully extricated myself every time. To tell you
> > quite frankly, extreme forwardness of women has (or had) an anti-
> > aphrodisiac effect on me and we European males of my generation were
> > quite accustomed to, and even learned to like, a certain bashfulness
> > in women. At the risk of being frivolous, let me quote an old joke
> > that illustrates the situation.
> > What is the difference between a DIPLOMAT and a LADY?
> > If a diplomat says YES, he means MAYBE. If he says MAYBE, he means NO.
> > If he says NO, he is no diplomat.
> > If a lady says NO, she means MAYBE. If she says MAYBE, she means YES.
> > If she says YES, she is no lady.
> > Perhaps a very poor joke, but a good indicator of the mentality
> > we grew up in, and perhaps it also gives a flicker of explanation for
> > the spurious McKinnon quote because a certain gentle but firm
> > determinedness on the part of the male in overcoming the probably
> > phoney female hesitation in the last phase of foreplay was not al all
> > considered bad form in that culture.
> > In closing, let me salute James Mickens whose comments were in my
> > view the best in the lot in this whole debate.
> > DANNY'S GRANDPA ANDREW