I read an interview on Mama Mia yesterday where Mia Freedman (the former Australian Cosmopolitan editor/columnist writer/’Voice of Feminism’) interviewed Caitlin Moran (author/former journalist/ another ‘Voice of Feminism’). And look – far be it from me to be judgey-wudgey about ‘Voices of Feminism’, but there were just SO DARN MANY problematic comments made within one single interview.
So, of course, I’m taking to my
soapbox blog to have a good ol’ pass at identifying and commenting on at least one of the comments made.
Mia: You hate Sex and the City, don’t you?
Caitlin: Yes. I think it was an important stepping stone in that it had women talking freely and openly about their sexuality… [but] the end thing that you take out is that it’s an enormous amount of hard work to be a woman, just to look beautiful.
And it’s hard work to be a woman, but I don’t want to put all my effort into looking fabulous and kind of maintaining my walk-in wardrobe. If I’m going to put that much effort into something it will be a fucking Marxist feminist revolution, it won’t be debating accessories. It annoys me that women are having their energy sidetracked. Every Christmas, I used to get a jigsaw, and one year my sister walked past me and she said “Why are you doing a jigsaw? You’ve just bought yourself a problem.”
And I said “I’ve just spent $7.99 to put to together a picture of some trees, and spend three days doing that. And that’s what Sex and the City seemed to be for me, it was women buying themselves a problem. You watched it to the end and you went, “Shit, I didn’t previously know that my life needed to be fabulous and revolve around racketing around bars, experimenting with my anus, and coming up with fifty new kinds of hair.
M: It’s the inadequacy though, isn’t it? It’s that so much media aimed at women and that depict women make us feel shit about ourselves because that’s not real life. I come from a magazine background – I used to be the editor of Cosmopolitan – and I’ve railed against the whole airbrushing/Photoshop bullshit. And I’ve now become one of those mothers who don’t allow magazines in my house.
Want to know the immediate thought that struck me about “buying yourself a problem”? It went along the lines of “gee, doesn’t that sound like buying a Cosmopolitan magazine”. And my next thought was, “gee, who was the former editor of that again?!”. And then I repeatedly banged my head against my desk for a solid three minutes.
Because, yes, although Caitlin Moran is partially correct in making the observation that “Sex and the City” is a bit like buying yourself a problem, it has nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – on ACTUALLY buying yourself a problem when you blow $7 or more on a women’s magazine such as Cosmopolitan. I’m not blaming Mia Freedman for being a former editor of Cosmo – because, as she said, she tried to make a difference there (particularly in regards to the airbrushing/Photoshopping crap) but Mama Mia isn’t always a shining light of intelligent dialogue, either – it can, and does, fall into the same trap. Case in point: on Mama Mia’s home page at the moment, they have an ad for ‘Mama Mia shopping’, and right under that, an article on a baby who died from whooping-cough at 6 weeks old. And right next to that, an article on Anne Hathaway’s vagina ‘going viral’, and whether girls are wearing underwear any more. Surely I’m not the only who thinks that’s a case of “women having their energies sidetracked”?
Do you remember the #fakemamamia hashtag that was floating around on Twitter recently? The Sydney Morning Herald claims that it was apparently started by a tweet promoting an article on Mama Mia, which was written by Rosie Waterland. The tweet read “Am I the only one planning a c-section to avoid the pain and keep my lady parts intact?” I’ve since be told that the hashtag was started elsewhere, by @Shirleymullet, with the first tweet listed below. Regardless, what followed from the #fakemamamia hashtag was an at-times hilarious, at-times snarky avalanche of tweets ridiculing the Mama Mia website. Stand out tweets included:
“The 6 things that will tell you your partner will be a deadbeat dad #fakemamamia” @Shirleymullet
And so on, and so forth.
Look, I understand that Mama Mia doesn’t sell itself as a hard-hitting news website. It’s fluffy, with a focus on entertainment, fashion, motherhood, and other “women’s” stuff. I’m not attacking it for these reasons. But what does bother me is when a website that purports to promote ‘fluff’ then goes on to comment about issues such as victim blaming, and making judgements about the ‘inadequacies’ of one television show – whilst at the same time, trying to also tell me about a female celebrity’s vagina ‘going viral’, and whether girls are wearing undies anymore.
I’m not calling for an all-out women’s war (or as Caitlin Moran said, a “Marxist feminist revolution”), whereby we place a ban on anything ‘fun’ or ‘fluffy’ on the basis of it “side tracking one’s energies”. But what I would like is a little bit of perspective. When a website is able to grab the ear of the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader, it should take some time to think through and reevaluate some of its opinions. Particularly in relation to car-locking analogies for victim blaming, and attacking Sex and the City for selling “inadequacy” (whilst also trying to sell its own online clothing shop).
Just a little bit of self-reflection would be nice.