Friday, July 24, 2009

What's Wrong with Being Sexy?

I’m sure all you hip and savvy folks recognize the “Spinal Tap” mocumentary quote that is my title. It’s the question posed by one of the members of heavy metal band when his PR person tells him that the album cover, a woman on all fours wearing lots of leather and a leash, is “sexist.”

Well I bring this up because I just took the Facebook Quiz, “What Kind of Mother Are You,” and got…… the “Sexy Mom.”

The description is pretty cool:

“You have a keen intuition when it comes to your kids, and often you know what they're thinking before they even say it. You know how to take control of situations in a cool and calm manner, which only adds to your alluring and sexy character. Your children find you hip and up-to-date, and it's quite easy for them to relate to you.”

What I couldn’t quite understand though is the photo representing the “SEXY MOM” that accompanied the description: a long, lean blonde wearing a bikini top, cowboy boots and hat, and a denim skirt that was apparently mauled by bears because it shows almost all of her long, tan thighs. Also, she’s arched over the back of a sexy little car (or a truck?) I guess they photo shopped the beer can out.

I’m pretty sure that sexy means you have decided that “life is what you make it,” (question #8, “what life lesson would you like your child to take away from you”), and you make of it something beautiful because you are strong and you persevere (question #7). You don’t wait for someone else to make your life for you.

Sexist is objectifying, dehumanizing.

At first the only explanation I can think of for the photo was terribly unflattering to the creators of this particular facebook quiz. That they lacked imagination. That the only image of female power they could come up with is expressed in terms of its erotic affect on men. This would mean the designers of the “what kind of mom are you” quiz were sexist. Or adolescent boys who were raised by Barbie Dolls (happy 50th birthday, Barbie).

Although I am bummed--I wanted a Rosie the Riveter picture for "sexy mom"--I soon put my "keenly intuitive" mind to work to figure out how this photo representative of someone who “knows how to take control of situations in a cool and calm manner.” And sure enough, I figured it out.

The woman in the photo must have taken her kids camping, and while they were all swimming, a bear comes up and eats her blouse, then starts to eat her long denim skirt. Obviously, that won’t do. How can you chop wood in just a bikini? And what if the bear goes after the children? So you obviously, calmly, step in, give the bear a pie that you baked (because baking pie is way sexier and more alluring than making casserole, goulash and lasagna (question #6, what dish do you most enjoy preparing). And besides, you’re a vegetarian and don’t eat half that stuff in the list anyway). Eventually, the bear calmly leaves. You assume a yoga pose to rid yourself of the bad energy (though, it has been noted earlier, I do NOT endorse yoga myself).

Now don't get me wrong. I don’t regret wasting time on the facebook quiz, since it’s apparently the price I pay for being “hip and up-to-date,” and it will allow my child to relate to me more easily.
Also, now I feel better knowing that reading to your child (question #3, “favorite activity”) is intimate, a “warm” home (question #5, “your home can best be described as”) is alluring. Potty training a child “when they are ready” (question #2) is certainly intuitive.

All these things are sexy, of course.

But I have to admit, if my kid ever EVER dresses like the woman in the photo, she’s totally grounded for life.

Unless, of course, a bear just ate her clothes while she was swimming. Or unless she’s a high profile model who’s got a bikini photo shoot. Or she’s acting in a mocumentary.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Having Fun when you're no fun at all

My daughter's Abba came in for the weekend last week, took my girl to the zoo, picked her up after shul next day and let her play all afternoon in the sandbox. Oh, she loved it. She loves hanging out with him. And I'm very glad it all seems to be working out. He might not be very into the nitty gritty, but he's a very loving playmate to her.

On the other hand, what has she done with me this last month? I've not been fun at all. After work we're in the garden. Then I'm cooking and feeding her, reading, going to bed. In the morning we snuggle and read, then back to the chores of getting us both ready and with food for the day.

You know what? She's the best. She has her own watering can, her own little shovel. She wears herself out pouring water (mainly on the footpath and not on the tomatoes, but who cares), carrying the can back and forth from the faucet to the garden. She digs until she's so dirty we have to strip her before we go inside.

At home she makes a game of playing cooking while I cook. We've got Ikea toy cookware, and I taped her hand-drawn oven knobs to the top of an empty shelf. That's her oven. I give her a couple of potatoes, a little water, and she's good to go. Then she stands at the sink and plays washing dishes. Should I feel bad that she loves her tiny broom? That she spends hours pushing around her babydoll stroller, even outside?

When I'm done, we paint pictures and read, dance and talk.

But I'm sorry that, even though I do everything around the home, the "everything" I do is so stereotypically gendered. Sure, I nail things, repair things. But on a day-to-day basis, it's the housework she sees and mimics. Well, everyone should know how to cook and clean for himself or herself, I guess.

We do talk about going to work. "I don't want you to go to work today, Ima," she says. Well, I explain, when I go to work I can get money so we can buy food and clothes. You will go to work one day, too, I tell her. What do you want to do when you go to work? "I want to do fun work when I go to work," she says. She's right.
The other day she asked me if I was going to work that day to get some money. Yes, I said. She told me not to go to work that day. We have enough money, she said.

In today's economy, I know I can't afford anything less than all I've got at work. But I know that my dearest girl is only going to be 2 1/2 once.