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April 17, 2006

Comments

Amy

Yes, I saw the video!

That's the choice offered to us, and isn't it awful? Either you can be a not-stupid girl (who acts and dresses just like a boy) or you can be a stupid girl (who acts and dresses like a someone in need of a sugar daddy).

Where are the women who act and dress like WOMEN? The ladies who go out there and make waves - in dresses. The women taking care of children? Apparently we're either invisible or unsuccessfully "stupid" (videos like that make me think the artist embraces the latter option).

Doomed to be a rebel from BOTH angles......

Debbie

I haven't seen the entire video, only parts of it during an interview with Pink. That said, I applaud her. There might be a broad rejection of "stupid girls" across the political spectrum but not on the 12-24 demographic spectrum. Pink's audience willingly ingests nonstop media featuring young women as sex objects. I think her video might make a few young people stop and think.

The use of the football doesn't bother me; in this case I don't think it means girls should be "like the boys". For Pink's audience, the little girl picking up the football symbolizes being strong and independent, different from the "stupid girls" portrayed. I think that symbolism is effective for Pink's audience.

Alexandra Foley

I am so glad you brought this up because I have actually seen this video (late one night while nursing the new babe --seemingly the only time that music videos are EVER on) and was wondering what other people thought. I was totally "on board" with it until the last shot of the girl choosing the football. It seems like a typical modern reaction to a social ill -- extremism. Why are the only two choices SO extreme? You can either be a girl without a brain or a boy with a, well, "boy part," as we say in our family. This kind of extremism is what gets our culture into such trouble. And just think how insulting that it is to women? To be a girl means you have to be vacuous, so choose to be a boy.

Perhaps if Pink had been to modestyzone and listened to some of the girls that write in here she would be aware that there is actually a way to be a girl and NOT be stupid.

wendy

Alexandra & Amy, I completely agree with you, and yet, I think Debbie might also be right that the football in this case may have been an "innocent" symbol. I can see how, to many girls, it may simply represent strength, going out and being "active," etc.

But I guess that just begs the question: where are the symbols of feminine strength?

Maybe it's just harder to represent that visually since we're talking, essentially, about internal depth.

R.B.

I too am bothered by Pink's setting up "boy" stuff as the only smart stuff, as though there were no stupid and unambitious football players. It's fine for girls to play football, but it's not cool just because that's what the boys do, and because boys = status.

There's definitely an element in the video of tearing other women down for stupid, shallow reasons. It's one thing to protest when girls refuse to play sports, or study science, or compete too hard with the boys, because they're afraid of mussing up their hair. But there's nothing about wearing pink baby doll tees that shrivels a woman's brain. One of my best friends from college -- someone who helped me outgrow a lot of my ingrained misogyny -- was a beautiful young woman who dressed in knee-high boots and fishnet stockings, majored in math, and outperformed almost everybody else academically. In our geeky conversations, she'd say things like, "That proof is, like, so invalid", and then go on to explain the error and produce the correct proof. Being pretty, blonde, and fashionable does not make you stupid.

And there's nothing wrong with a girl who "acts and dresses just like a boy". Some of us just hate the feel of makeup, are competitive by nature, and enjoy physics or construction work -- there's abslutely nothing wrong with that. The problem is only when it becomes prescriptive: only boys have value, therefore, you must act like a boy if you are to have value.

I'm sick of this shallow popular girls vs. nerds vs. tomboys vs. female chauvinist pigs vs. radical feminists vs. modest women debate. If we've got to fight, can't it be about something real, like race or class or whether the Axiom of Choice is a mathematically acceptable part of set theory?

Alexandra Foley

A very salient point, Wendy. I think, sadly, that the symbols of femininity have largely been mocked in the last 40 years. The tough part is to re-adopt them without also adopting the now negative aspects such as dumbness, weakness, and frivolity. It is so sad to think that people even equate those things with women since the truth of women --and the classical and biblical imagery-- is of strength, virtue and moderation. But it also seems true, as you said, that these are difficult things to symbolize because they are internal -- yet we still need to try!

Isabelle Johnson

"Outcasts and girls with ambition/ That's what I wanna see"

Hello ladies. I haven't seen the video, but I'd say that her lyrical phrase above says how she feels. The football is simply an arresting image, given that she has exactly, oh, half a second to catch our attention on video. That is, its inclusion is a nod to the medium and its capricious audience.

Just my $.02.

Isabelle
ps Hi Alexandra. Smooches.

anon

But ambitious in what areas? And I don't get outcasts, what that means.

Lizanne

I've never been one to read deep meaning into pop music but Pink's song and video intrigued me--enough so that I recently stole an hour out of my crazy day to watch the pop star discuss the message behind the song with Oprah Winfrey and a panel of assorted guests that included an ex hip-hop video dancer, 4 aspiring teenage Paris Hiltons, an ex-recruiter for the 'Girls Gone Wild' videos and one Dr. Robin, a pyschologist.

By the end of the show, this panel had concluded, with Dr. Robin's guidance and Oprah's blessing, that: 1) the popular culture objectifies women, forcing them to act dumb/cute/harmless if they are to gain social acceptance and/or achieve economic success; 2) the popular culture is driven by a 'patriarchy' which fears 'strong women' and promotes this misogynist view to 'keep women in their place' and to make money; and 3) said 'patriachy' is aided and abetted by women who have been brainwashed/victimized to the point that they 'identify with the agressor' and who, in turn, exploit and objectify other women for fun and profit.

I found it troubling that the dialogue narrowly focused on the theme of 'women are victims' and so missed an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion on what positive values we want to put out there for today's young women. No one thought to explore how the cult of Paris feeds into the prevalence of immodest dress/behavior in today's society and how these declining standards, in turn, make a 'role model' out of someone like Ms. Hilton. I suspect this line of discussion was avoided as it would have called into question whether the sexual mores promoted by some feminists have really been beneficial to women in the long run.

Pink said at the end of the show that she didn't have the answers to the questions she'd raised in her song, but she did offer this; shyly citing her own courtship and recent marriage, she felt that men were a lot smarter than we gave them credit for. If women showed men their true selves, she said, men would learn to love and respect women on their own terms.

Sounds like a pretty 'smart girl' to me.

sunnyday

I haven't seen the video nor have I heard the song, so thanks for putting all the lyrics here, Wendy. But I did catch the last few mins. of an interview with Pink on Ellen Degeneres' talk show and I suppose this song was the springboard of their tete-a-tete about "female independence."

Being unable to see the video as of now, I can only comment on what I've seen of Pink in the past couple of years. While I do admire the message she's apparently trying to put across, her image has sent mixed messages -- and I'm referring only to her choice of dress and manner of performing. It's hard to take her "tight tee" rant seriously when she herself has donned such (and worse) before.

Another point: being a non-conformist for the sake of being different from others is not something to aspire for. I hope young people understand that.

lizriz

I play football (flag football with a regulation ball and a co-ed team), and I don't see how that makes me masculine. :)

Leah

I don't see what's wrong with a girl liking sports, especially since those who do so are more likely to reject promiscuity and have healthy self-images. There's no reason why a girl can't be active and still be modest and feminine. It's not an either/or situation.

Elin

I haven't seen the video but have heard the song several times and reading the lyrics here I think she's right on. I think she means "outcasts" as girls who aren't members of trendy high school cliques obsessed with boys and fashion. I'm sure there are lots of women on this board who've had the experience of their commitment to their religious beliefs, moral values (i.e. virginity, modesty), to matters of substance, to serious study, etc., setting them apart and maybe even painting them as "outcasts" in certain situations. I know this was true of me growing up.

Pink actually came to speak to girls at a high school here in Toronto recently about these issues. I say go girl! To be a teenager - and thus all the more susceptible to peer pressure - in times like these, where Paris Hilton et al. are celebrated, almost cries out for a pop star to send an alternative message. Even if it's not the most nuanced, at least it has a chance of getting through the fog - and then who knows what other, even better "alternatives" will be able to be heard.

R.B.

I was too harsh on Pink in my previous comment. She's a smart teenager*, and has recognized that Hollywood's ideals of femininity are pretty unpalatable. The natural thing for a person to do in that situation is to denounce other girls and everything associated with them. It takes a lot of experience and sophistication to start questioning the concepts of masculinity/femininity, but the youthful misogyny is a step along that road. I went through it, and since I've been mentoring high school students, I've seen a few of them go through it too.

Lizriz and Sunnyday, good point about sports. Amy, what is "dressing and acting like a boy" anyway? I always figured female football players qualified as unfeminine by the standards of anyone who cared, but it looks like I'm wrong.

*I think. If I'm wrong about the age, please correct me.

wendy

Thanks, this is very interesting to hear about the Oprah show, and what Pink is speaking about in high schools. Sounds like she is doing a lot of good things.

Just to clarify, I have nothing against sports, and any woman in good enough shape to play football certainly gets props from me. Go, lizriz! :-)

I see the issue simply as this: given that the majority of girls don't play football, if football is the symbolic way "out" of being a Stupid Girl, then what message does that send?

Is there a way not-to-be-stupid that's accessible to more girls? That's all I am wondering.

R.B.: I'm not sure, but I think Pink may be in her mid-20s, because I believe she was 18 or so when she first popped on the scene in 2000.

Back to the Oprah show: the reason I prefer talking about "misogyny" rather than "patriarchy" is because discussions about the patriarchy tend to leave nothing for the individual to do.

Has anyone else noticed this?

R.B.

To answer Wendy's actual question, how about pictures of science (easy to show: Pink dressed in lab coat with beakers or lab book), running (Pink breaking through yellow tape), cooking awesome food (Pink in chef's hat whipping up some fancy flambe thing), book learning (Pink reading in the library), tech (Pink typing and a C++ program appearing on the screen -- lots of geeky humor opportunities there), or gymnastics (hmm... probably hard to fake if you're not actually a gymnast).

Some of those fields have only started being open to women fairly recently, but large numbers of women have become accomplished at them. In light of that, it's a probably good idea to suggest that girls enter male-dominated fields. I'm actually much more comfortable with the football thing than with the hating on other girls. In a different context, the football could send a less sexist message.

Mary O

I'm with Isabelle, you guy are way over-analyzing Pink's video. She's a singer and an artist, and she's making a social commentary here. She's not making feminist propaganda videos. End the video with a picture of Pink in a lab coat or cooking? Sorry, boring!

Katy

yes, the football did seem a bit extreme to me when i watched the video the first time, but after seeing it a couple of times i noticed that there are toys that represent different aspects of "non-stupidity". there is an educational toy and also a toy guitar (at least those were the two other toys i recall seeing besides the football). to be honest it just looks like a video that pokes fun at bimbo socialites/celebrities. personally i think she did a good job, because it made me laugh.

miriam

this is a bit late, but i dont think the video was saying to act like a boy and play football, i think it was saying to break the mold that young people are told to fit.

Sera

Who says you can either be stupid or be a tomboy? What about those stero typical nerdy girls? Or sporty girls? Or anything like that? I mean, you see some intellegent girl pick up a football, which I think is a symbol together as what a non stupid girl could be, the football not having a separate meaning.

Bee

I don't think Pink was symbolizing that girls shud become boys but that they should spend their time actually having lives!-doin something meaningful than acting dumb. and if soccer happens to be more meaningful(as recreation or a means to avoiding being idle) then it is the non-stupid way out!

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