THE PUSSY HATS OF THE WOMEN’S MARCH What the hell is wrong here?

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Aren’t we Cute?

We recently witnessed a movement that is just plain pathetic. Millions of women and a few men have protested Donald Trump’s election with demonstrations whose trademark was the Pink Pussy Hat. HUH?

This failure to take women’s minds seriously, by large numbers of women who seem happy to confirm the most demeaning feminine stereotypes, is truly mind-boggling. The “inventors” nee promoters of this lame piece of apparell call it a “strong visual statement”. You bet. But what is it saying?

Although I realize  that these hats are meant to be ironic, their use as a symbol is reinforcing the same crap about women that has been spouted for millennia — women are other and are defined by their biology and hormones is misguided.  It is another acceptance of the old mansplaining admonition — “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about this, honey. It is just too difficult for you.”

If we want equality, shouldn’t we jetison this kind of thinking? If we want equality why must we turn every real, honest protest into something cute and tied to crafts? So many women who couldn’t make it to any march felt connected because they knited pink pussy hats for the marchers. Really? How about getting these women involved in truly meaningful ways, like voting and putting pressure on legislatures. Feel connected with your brain and your voice, not your knitting.

Of course, I am anti-crafts. Mostly because I have very little skill with my hands, but also because these activities scream “women’s work”. Yes, I know some men knit, but women’s reliance on busy work with their hands has been the hallmark of misplaced power. Women’s work is never done because so much of it is make work and silly stuff.

I like buying decorative items for my home and by body as much as the next woman, but dear god, it doesn’t define me. My intellect and my beliefs are what define me. My voice should be heard as much as any other person.

Then too, the Pussy Hats look like little cats with ears, but also are pink and suggestive of a woman’s labia. Perhaps it is time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol. Women aren’t supposed to be speaking to themselves in these protests. We are Way past raising awareness — or should be. Women are demanding power equal to men not because we have vaginas but because it does not matter that we have vaginas.

This anatomical focus erases women’s experience. Women are a caste within society, not because they are the owners of a particular body part. The vast majority of women do indeed have vaginas, but they aren’t preoccupied by that fact day to day. Vagina possession doesn’t explain why Mary voices an idea in a meeting but the boss listens only when Jim repeats it. When Kate does the dishes again, it isn’t because Bob’s genitalia prevented him from loading the dishwasher. It certainly is not a reason to pay women 80% of what men earn.

Yes, reproduction and child-care-related issues, not to mention sexual assault and domestic abuse, disproportionately affect women, and often involve women’s genitals. But even the women’s issues with some relationship to female anatomy aren’t really about vaginas.

We want to be seen as more than possessing vaginas. Our personhood is equal to all others. Don’t see me as a pussy — Donald don’t grab us by the pussy! It is degrading at the very least.
And yet – across the National Mall a sea of pink pussy hats takes the guts out of a massive and important demonstration.

The tyrany of madison avenue and the obscession with branding and logos no doubt is part of what brought this on. And sorry to say that women after years of prom planning and sorority rush and wedding decor don’t seem to get going on a project unless they know what the decor is. I recall my days in non-profit fundraising where the volunteers would spend countless womanhours working on the centerpieces and neglect the necessary task of the fundraising banquet — selling tickets. No butts in seats = no funds raised. The decor/centerpieces are not the important element of a successful fundraiser.

Please remember the medium is a big part of the message. I don’t think those of us demanding female rights in the 70’s would have thought the Pussy Hats were cute. But then, of course, we had to burn our bras and treat all the guys to a little skin. All this gets attention – but what kind of attention?

Women’s equality is a deadly serious business. Many men today want to reverse the strides made by the women’s movement and take us back to the days of asking our husbands for everything from money to control of our own bodies. They want to own our bodies and aren’t even willing to give us appropriate health care.

Time to get really angry — not time to get cute!

I was delighted to see that the Pussy Hats are marked down at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale – yes these symbols are mass produced. Maybe a few others figured out how frivolous a statement a knitted Pussy Hat makes about one-half the population denied equality.

I Certainly Hope So!

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Buy A Lady A Drink? Really?

Yes, we have a water crisis around the world.  And, yes we must acknowledge and do something about this.  But what kind of message is Stella Artois, the Belgian brewer, sending by saying that throughout the world “WOMEN spend much of their day trying to get enough water for their family.”

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Really?  Only WOMEN have to carry the water? Don’t men need and carry water? Where this may be true in many 3rd world countries, is this something we want to perpetuate?

Maria Meneuous wears a slinky jewel encrusted gown designed by Christian Soriano at the Oscars to publicize this campaign.

People are encouraged to purchase these goblets with this:

Water has played a key part in our 600-year brewing heritage, so we know its lasting impact. Yet today, 663 million people live without access to clean water, a problem that disproportionately affects women.

That’s why in 2015, through our Buy A Lady A Drink campaign, we helped Water.org provide more than 290,000 people in the developing world with 5 years of clean water, and in 2016 we’ve partnered again with Water.org to help more people around the world who don’t have access to it.

We believe it’s important for all of us to leave a mark. For every limited-edition Chalice sold, we can help provide 5 years of clean water for 1 person in the developing world.

PURCHASE A CHALICE    

When you read all this copy, it makes sense.  Yet, the message, is at best, mixed.  Sometimes the message gets muddled with glitz and glamour.  The Oscar dress by a famous designer has little to do with people in 3rd world countries who need water to live.  Yes, it gets attention, but be careful!

As a non-profit administrator I ran across so much of this type of fundraising.  In Albuquerque, where I live, there is actually a mud wrestling volley ball tournament to raise money for cancer.  Huh?  Since it is a co-ed event, much of it looks like a wet T-shirt contest.  Everybody (young under 30s seems to have a great time), but what kind of awareness are we raising?

I don’t want to be a politically correct feminist — well I am proudly a feminist — but what is the message of Buy A Lady a Drink?  It is a pick up line, right?  On some level this is demeaning to women.  Is it horrible?  Should we sue Stella Artois?  Of course not. But do we have to raise funding for worthy causes on the backs of brand recognition and CAUSE MARKETING.

Cause marketing – the way corporations get their brand out there associated with a worthy cause.  Those iconic Stella Artois chalices become visually identified with eliminating the global water crisis.  And that’s a good thing?? Right??

But how much simpler and more honest for Stella Artois to simply donate a percentage of their profits to water.org.  God knows that breweries certainly do use a lot of water to make their product.

Yes, but people get involved and they feel good about their contribution.  Yes, but how much does this cute Buy A Lady A Drink campaign cost?

Cuteness is rampant in cause marketing campaigns for everything from cancer to save a tree.  So many thank you gifts to individual donors at all levels.  This generates  donor fulfillment, labor insensitive work that is very expensive.  How much does it cost to send out those glass chalices?  Special boxes – special shipping, labor.  Oh goody, we have made some jobs – I guess.

A chalice can be purchased for various prices depending upon the country (Honduras, Kenya, for some reason Peru is most expensive) on Amazon.

It reminds me of Ronald McDonald House.  I had thought that the Ronald McDonald Houses around the country were completely supported by the McDonald’s corporation.  But, no, they put their name on it.  And people in small towns all over the world drop their quarters into plastic boxes to support a place for parents with sick children to stay near hospitals.  Why don’t we ask why the multi-million dollar, multi-national corporation doesn’t simply write a damn big check?!

It’s complicated but all part of the axiom that IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO DO GOOD — ONE MUST BE SEEN TO BE DOING GOOD!