My daughter and I have a running argument. She believes that, within reason, any decision a woman makes is a feminist decision, as she is taking control of her life and her destiny. I disagree. I think any decision a woman makes that objectifies her, or belittles her, or degrades her, is a valid decision, and she has every right to make that decision. But that doesn’t make the decision a feminist decision.
Take Stormy Daniels. She is a porn star who has sex on screen for money. Her body, her choice. I have no issue with is, and it’s not mine to have, regardless. But is her choice a feminist choice? I don’t think it is. But still, I think her choice is more of a feminist choice than the one the aforementioned Meghan Markle made. She, lauded as a great feminist and humanitarian (although I don’t see evidence of either) made a choice to give up her life, her vote, and her voice. I think that is her choice to make, as well. But again, is it a feminist choice? I don’t think so.
Examining some female characters in TV world, why does everyone laud Shonda Rhimes as some great feminist, creating shows that highlight the strength of women? Is it because the women have as much sex as the men? Is this considered feminist nowadays? Then why does every character in Grey’s Anatomy hook up with a more powerful male, depending on them to help them get ahead and get them out of trouble? Meredith was with Derek, her boss, who gave her opportunities others didn’t have and got her out of serious trouble when she crossed lines. Even, literally, being her Prince Charming, fishing her out of the sea, dead and blue, and getting her to where she will be brought back to life. Sigh. How romantic.
Christina Yang used Burke for similar reasons, although at least she helped Burke too. But when he left, she fell apart. Joe Wilson is with Alex, her boss, who, again, gives her breaks and helps her when she gets in any kind of trouble. Callie marries George; she is the more powerful one, but she is absolutely a mess when he leaves. Lexie ends up with Mark Sloan. The strong female, Addison, is rejected by Derek for a much younger, more naive and adoring woman. Miranda Bailey, strong and in control, is given a nervous breakdown. And don’t get me started on the crazy sister, Amelia Shepherd. She is simply a basket case. The only females relatively unscathed by men or Shonda are Arizona, who is a lesbian, and April Kepner, who had her own host of issues, but at least didn’t depend on men to protect her.
So again, why is Rhonda hailed as a great feminist writer? I think she plays into the most destructive patterns in society: that women are weak; we need men, or princes, to save us; we let emotion get in the way of work; we fall apart easily. I think Rhonda has added to the idea that feminism is having as much sex as we want and nothing to do with being valued for our skills, rather than our appearances: our faces, our ages, our bodies. Is that wrong of me to make that judgment? I don’t think so. We all need to examine this idea and the ramifications of treating girls like princesses or dolls and how it manifests in adulthood.