A week or two ago a clip featuring Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau talking about being a feminist was trending on social media.
Watching this I was reminded of a now-famous speech Joss Whedon gave – talking about his response to the question he’s always asked… “Why do you create strong female characters?” In case you don’t know Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer… along with the likes of Angel, Firefly and The Dollhouse.
#SpoilerAlert… In case you can’t be bothered watching either, the short answer is:
BECAUSE IT GETS THIS REACTION!
BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS ASK ME THIS!
The fact that it’s question-worthy or newsworthy means it’s out of the norm. Shocking, or surprising… or at best unusual.
Men supporting equal rights for women? Egad! Men believing women can be strong and powerful? Nooooo?!
I rarely rant (here) about stuff, but thought I’d take the opportunity to also comment on those things which become newsworthy WHEN THEY SHOULD NOT BE. Indeed… WHEN THEY SHOULD NEVER BE!
1. Non-skinny women (or men) modelling or on the cover of a magazine
Ashley Graham recently featured on the front of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue and one could not open a news site, read a magazine or glance at social media without being reminded of the magazine’s generosity or evolved-ness in featuring a plus sized (not-skinny or slim) model on the cover.
2. Non-slim celebrities full stop
While on the subject of weight and body types… Unless you’re thin or slim or vaguely normal you get castigated or cheered for being weak-willed or brave enough (respectively) to flaunt your excessive curves. And if you lose weight you’re congratulated or jeered – for doing the right thing; or succumbing to social pressure. Actresses like Rebel Wilson or Melissa McCarthy should be known for their acting or comedic skills. Not their weight.
3. Political leaders who are: female; gay; or people of colour
We’re still very self-congratulatory when we elect a black President or a female Prime Minister. Or even a gay Asian Senator. The day someone like Australia’s Senator Penny Wong makes PM and there’s no mention of her gender, sexuality or heritage will indeed be a day for celebration.
4. The need to defend, or apologise for, mental illness
Every so often someone vaguely famous ‘admits’ to a mental illness. Like Justin and Joss we congratulate them on their bravery for speaking about the unspeakable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising the likes of Wentworth Miller who recently spoke about his depression; rather I’m saying wouldn’t it be bloody marvellous if we could talk about anxiety or depression in the same way we do about high blood pressure or a heart condition?
And then there’s our recent self-congratulations for accepting and celebrating a model with Down Syndrome?! Really?! Is it SO shocking? Perhaps we need to look at the flipside – why have our models all been so homogenous for so long?
I should mention that I’m far from perfect. (And yes, I know this surprises you!!) But I like to think I’m relatively accepting and approach everything with an open mind.
I just think there’s certain things we should stop celebrating and hope the day comes when we simply shrug them off.
What have I missed? What else is the exception rather than the norm?
I’m continuing with my challenge to blog every day in April.