I have tried to listen to all sides of this story. I have tried, I suspect, to be politically correct. And when Oprah speaks out, I think we can relax.
Incredulous, we have followed the story of these performers—this strong, stunning girl whose career had begun well. Now, assaulted by her ‘boyfriend’ and sporting bruises under fake bangs, Rihanna welcomes her abusive boyfriend back.
Perhaps she needs to talk to Jennifer Hudson who recently lost family members to a terrible tragedy based upon just such an abusive man who retaliated one more time.
What frightens me more than Rihanna’s mistake is that many teenagers support her. As a ninth grader told the New York Times, ”She probably made him mad for him to react like that, you know, like, bring it on?” She hit first—or she provoked him, they argued. Teens are speaking words that echo an old sexist belief: If you wear a short skirt and walk in the city, you are ‘asking’ for trouble.
Is this some hideous inversion of “You go girl?” Has a slogan for female strength become a way to egg on our ability to endure pain? As I tell my clients when they ask about the difference between illness and regular sadness, there is necessary and unnecessary suffering. Life will hand you plenty of the first. Your job is to recognize the second and pass it by.
Photo credit: artgrad. Painting by Picasso.
Hard to know why the pubic is obsessed with First Lady’s arms? I don’t think so.
Michelle Obama is an educated, intelligent and professional woman. We have finally found someone with whom we can identify. All over the United States women, adolescents and young girls see someone strong so very close to power, and they are excited.
What we see is someone to emulate and imitate. And since we cannot be First Lady, or possibly even President for some time, we head to the gym. Already women are asking trainers for Michelle’s arms just as they asked for Jennifer Anniston’s hair. We cannot be her; we cannot be him, but we can have her arms.
Arms are for holding, lifting, carrying. Arms are also what we are using to show our strength in a world of nuclear weapons. But we are not encouraged to focus on inside strength, what it is to give up one’s career to follow a partner. Instead columnists are fretting about why she wears dresses without sleeves
Strength is again being reduced to looks. The right to bare arms. Her style is comfortable and confident, but not the most important part of the work she does to inspire others. She may symbolize freedom from slavery, and also, perhaps, from sexism and from the diverse uniforms of oppression many of us have been forced to wear. The point, as I recall, was for women to have a choice: being healthy is a good choice, but it is only about the body.
Perfectionism of the body is ripe for obsessions in a time when real social and cultural anxieties threaten our peace.