I try to live inside my own universe, not taking in many messages from the outside world, unless they come from people or sources I deem in line with my general philosophies. This is a good and a bad thing- good because I can maintain a certain level of mental clarity; bad because sometimes I poke my nose outside my little universe and wonder what the hell is going on. I seldom feel stagnant, though that is another potential down side to my system.
I’m not just talking about the ideal woman in terms of body shape, though I do find the above photo very interesting. I’ve run across different “post-feminist” ideals lately in my readings and in documentary form, and tonight I had an interesting discussion with a friend on being a modern woman, and about ideal woman as is portrayed in the media.
What is an ideal woman?
I was raised conservatively, with the ideal for womanhood set forth in Proverbs 31:
“10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
As I age, I find myself re-visiting this woman. She’s no doormat, no subservient dishrag who toils endlessly only for others. She works hard, she dresses well, she makes clever business decisions, she is dignified and wise, she provides for those less fortunate for herself. She’s not a dingbat if she can manage all these things. She’s multi-faceted, as so many of the strong, beautiful women I know are.
But I ask myself, what is the Ideal Woman according to most people? Is she a plastic barbie-doll version of a man? Why do so many messages of “the ideal woman” focus on the exterior of a woman, one part of who she is?
Is the ideal woman a tough career woman who crashes through the glass ceiling? Funny, I googled “ideal woman” for all my photos for this post. While some were irrelevant (Jake Gyllenhal is an ideal woman?) and some were more offensive than I care to post, I could not find a single photo that would pass for a “tough career woman.” It’s a little test, but telling?
Is the ideal woman a strong minded, manipulative sexpot?
Is she a size 0, 2, 6, 10, naked with with three boobs? I know it’s a joke but I’m just not laughing.
Is the word “sexism” still relevant in our culture? If so, who exactly is oppressing us? Are we instead oppressing ourselves through devaluing our sexuality? Does the Proverbs 31 woman have any relevance today? Is it time for us liberated Western women to quit our navel gazing and start campaigning for the same issues our mothers, grandmothers. and great-grandmothers fought for, but applied to those who live on the other side of the world? Issues of voting, family planning, and equal rights- we have them, what have we done with it?
I’m genuinely interested in hearing opinions on what can be a rather polarizing issue.