Saturday, April 5, 2008

Women: They can fix their cars, but they can't save the world

I first started to think about this post a few days ago when I was watching ESPN. They had an advertisement for Advance Auto Care (I am pointing them out by name, the reasons will become obvious later, hopefully) in which there is a person working on their car. You never see their head, all you see is their hands and torso. The hood of the car is open and they are doing whatever, I have no idea what they are doing and it really does not matter. So here is the kicker, this person is obviously a women, she has boobs. But she is wearing what I would call usual clothes, just jeans and a shirt,and not some shirt that shows her stomach or is totally impractical when doing manual labor, she is not supposed to be there as a sex symbol or as a way to really make working on the car sexy, hell I am not sure that you would really notice the gender. I have seen the ad several times and this last time, I was like hey, that person has boobs, it must be a she. The final tag line is something to the effect of Wrench Up. I cannot find this ad on youtube or anywhere on the Internet so I cannot show it to you, so hopefully I have done the ad justice in trying to describe it. Here was an commercial for an auto repair store that had a female in it that was not dressed provocatively, that was not used as a mere prop, hell there was not another person in the commercial let alone a male figure and there is no voice other than the announcer toward the end which names the place that they are advertising. This was great to see that women can and do work on cars and that we do not need to make a big point about it in the commercial, but that it can and is as normal as seeing a man working their car. Now maybe I am happy about something that is not that big of a deal, maybe I am trying to read too much into the non-gender stereotypical commercial, maybe I am even falling into their trap of seeing this women working on her car and I am supposed to think that is sexy. Well, I didn't really think about it in terms of sex, it felt more like an observation and it was about damn time that we see women working on their cars and doing manual labor that is supposed to be the domain of men. There is no such thing as men's work or women's work, it is all just work, things that need to be done.

Now on the other end of the spectrum, Peter Sagal, host of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR, has a commentary about the misogyny of the new movie Horton Hears a Who. I have not seen the movie, but according to him the movie changes the book significantly in not so good ways. The mayor of Whoville now has 96 daughters and 1 son and guess which one of his children has to save the world? Yep, you guessed it, the son. As Sagal asks and I would agree, why can't any of these 96 girls save the world? Why does the hero in movies have to be just that, a hero, why can we not have a heroine? As Sagal puts it, "And while we're at it, how come a girl doesn't get to blow up the Death Star! Or send ET home? Or defeat Captain Hook! Or Destroy the Ring of Power!" Yeah, why? And furthermore when there is a heroine and the only one I can think of is Lara Croft, why does she have to be so scantily clad, now I have nothing against seeing Angelina Jolie scantily clad, but really it is not necessary for the movie. She is a fucking adventurer and explorer, and she wears nothing, this makes no sense. The new Indiana Jones movie is coming out soon and yet Harrison Ford is always dressed in these films. You do not see him running around with no shirt on and in a thong, as much as I am sure there are members of the population that would enjoy that, we do not subject our male action heroes to such stupidity. As I think about this further, the only female action character that I can think of that is tough and is not totally undressed the whole time is, Tank Girl. How many people have seen this movie? (Heather, put your hand down, I know you have.) But it is such a great movie based upon a British underground feminist comic book that starts Lori Petty and Naomi Watts and yet no one has seen it. So we need more female action stars that can dress the part, that do not need to be scantily clothed just for us to watch them and we need more commercials that show that this whole dividing work along gender lines is stupid and not beneficial to either women or men.

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