Another perk of being in Green Bay is that ABC's always enlightening "WifeSwap" airs at 12:30 a.m. so in my insomnia I was able to watch it last night. This week's episode featured an "ultra feminist" and a "pageant princess." I valued the opportunity to learn what the mainstream media considers to be feminism and of course I was not disappointed. Angie the "ultra feminist" was also a preacher/stay at home mother (I assume) who homeschooled her three daughters seemed to consider feminism teaching her daughters about women's history, how to take care of a car, and how to stay away from make up, short skirts and those other trappings of femininity. Nothing wrong with any of that of course, but there is NO WAY that is "ultra feminism." If that is ultra feminism what is Catharine MacKinnon?
A few highlights from the show were when the other wife, the pageant mom Karen, told Angie's husband that learning how to wear make up and pleasing men were "Just things she is learning for the future." Of course in our culture she isn't necessarily wrong but rather than challenge that notion at all, she goes to the other extreme and has the most vacuous, self centered, helpless, and frankly stupid child I have ever seen. (Granting of course that this is television and so spectacle is the whole point.)
The word "feminist" was used 15 times in the show (by my rough count) and it was always used as a descriptive word. They never bothered to explain what they meant or why Angie is a feminist, though she does frequently call herself one.
By far my favorite part of the show was the throw down between Angie and Alicia's (pageant princess) father. He seemed to believe that asking his daughter to cook or to be respectful to waitstaff was degrading. Here is what he told Angie:
"I'd like to see your husband... how can he live with you you feminist pig!"
"You are degrading her you feminist pig."
Ouch. And all because she had the audacity to suggest that his daughter is not a piece of meat.
His wife was scarcely better. She tried to get Angie's daughters to 'sparkle' by which she meant put on make up, short skirts and be in pageants. I was pleased to see that Angie's eldest daughter was not easily swayed but it was horribly unfortunate that her middle child fell for it hook line and sinker. AND that by the end Angie and her husband even seemed to approve of it. Remember, she is ABC's version of a feminist. Here are a few things that Alicia's mother told Angie's daughters:
-That being a feminist meant "being ugly and ruling the world."
-That feminism is squashing the 6-year-old's dream
-That feminism is turning them into boys
-And "its not a crime to be pretty"
The most unfortunate thing about this show is that for folks who are not well acquainted with feminism (and being in Green Bay I can say with some confidence, that is most people) this is going to be their introduction. That is frightening. However, I didn't expect much better from ABC.