Sunday, May 06, 2012

She'll Jus' Dah!

One thing I love about my job is that it gives me some respite from the rhetorical battlefield that is US political discourse. You and I know the Religious Right has declared war on women. This is a pretty bitter pill to swallow.  It makes me wonder how the smart, capable Republican women I know really feel about the situation.  Maybe I should ask them.  After all, a few of my friends on that side of the aisle had some choice words when McCain picked Sarah Palin over any number of women who would have shown the party in a far better light. One woman spent at least five minutes listing who should have been on the dias instead of Ms. Palin as her husband nodded in agreement.  (When Carol stopped for breath, he patted her knee and she snapped, "I'm not finished!"  So yeah, this is a sore point for nearly every proud conservative woman I know.)  

But I digress.

Working (mostly) as a sportswriter and editor, I get all kinds of news tidbits when the situation even remotely involves an athlete. The particular bit that caught my attention concerned the fiance' of former Saints tight end, Eric Johnson. Jessica Simpson (who usually doesn't register at all in my world) and Elle (What's that?) seem to have teamed up in an effort to further liminalise women who fall outside of the narrowing definition of what is acceptable behaviour for anyone sporting a uterus, boobs and a hairdo. For those of you who haven't heard about it yet, here's what she said:

 Ah swear, ah will croak if she asks me for a pair of Nikes instead of Christian Louboutins!”

I'll give you all a minute to facepalm before I continue. While you're doing that, I will weep over the fact that the same state that produced Ann Richards and Molly Ivins would somehow let this one slip past quality control. 

Jessica, Jessica, Jessica, is this an expression of your subconscious fear that your daughter might turn out to be something other than a pretty blonde pop princess? Not that there's anything wrong with being a blonde pop princess,  Sometimes they can be fun to listen to and it's kind of cute to watch little girls go through their pop-dolly phases.  (I think Ke$ha and Katy Perry are hilarious and adorable. Sorry, haters.) 

What isn't cute is the message that this sends to anyone still paying attention to Jessica Simpson. Not every girl can be a crack athlete, but every girl should be encouraged to find ways that she loves to be active. Ask any woman over thirty-five -especially those of us who grew up in the Southeastern US- where being anything other than a booster and cheerleader for the boys was more often than not discouraged. They and I will tell you that we should not go back to a time when girls were expected to sit demurely on the sidelines and cheer as the boys get dirty and sweaty.  

My friend, Lauren, offered her own head-shaking response to Ms Simpson's odd statement:

"I'm lusting after an expensive pair of running shoes a friend of mine just purchased...and if I could fit my foot into a Louboutin (and there is the minor detail of being able to afford them) I'd buy both in a minute. On the same shopping trip, no less."

and Dahlia observes:

It's sad that JS thinks a girl has to pick Nikes or Louboutins. Some of us like both.

Of course this is about more than shoes and shopping, really.  I suspect, and deep down I hope I'm wrong, that Jessica is afraid her little girl won't be pretty if she prefers the locker room to the mall.  Allow me to offer a few examples:

This is Manon Rheaume:

and, this is Manon Rheaume:

Okay, I will admit that I'm not the best person to judge this sort of thing; but I assume that few if any straight men or lesbians would run screaming if she expressed an interest.

Mia Hamm:

and of course there are the Williams Sisters.  They're powerful, beautiful women who know how to impress on the court...

and the red carpet.

I hope Jessica knows that the Littlest Simpson-Johnson could do a lot worse than the Williams sisters for role models.  Aside from their athletic careers, they've also made names for themselves for their tastes in clothing and they're enthusiastic students and patrons of fashion.  Check them out sometime, Ms. Simpson. When little Maxwell asks for a racquet or a pair of skates, please don't sigh or worse, say no.  See what it is that makes her love that activity and encourage her.  If you're supportive of who she is, she'll feel it and will want to do the things that you love, too.