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The Magazine Rant

WARNING: This post constitutes a Random Rant. Which means: it might be long and rambling; it was probably written in the heat of the moment; and its motivation is likely inexplicable or, at the very least, highly irrational. Then again, maybe not. Plus it might contain foul language. [Oh wait…that’s not that unusual…right. Never mind.] Oh. And, um, there’s no guarantee that Kim Faires had anything at all to do with its content. It’s a rant and it’s random.VIEWER DISCRETION IS THEREFORE ADVISED.

***

I’m pissed. Pissed off.

Here’s what set me off: The Calgary Herald just launched HERS—their new online magazine for women.

Great. Fine. Nothing wrong with that. Except here is the list of articles in the first print edition (offered in addition to the online content):

  • Opening Notes: A roundup of the latest retail openings, renovations, expansions and other news that Calgary shoppers just need to know.
  • What They Love: We all have one (maybe even two!) favourite items that make us feel like a million bucks when we wear them. We talk to five fashionable Calgarians to find out what their faves are, and why.
  • Women We Love: Meet two women who are a dab hand at make-up….
  • Five Looks For Fall. [Fashion!]
  • Streetwise Chic. [Wow. More fashion.]
  • Bags of Style: [Yup. Fashion.]
  • Hair Update: [Hair fashion.]
  • Beauty Corner: [Fashion? Get out! ]
  • Reinventing the Power Suit. [Oh, fashion at work.]
  • To Your Health. [A tiny aside about healthy stuff. With a bit of fashion thrown in, in case you missed it the first time.]
  • The Spa Life. [Relaxation for people that shop too much.]
  • The Beautiful Back: [Stand up straight. And look better in your fashion….]
  • Top Six Girlfriend Dates. [To talk about fashion, no doubt.]
  • Spotted: Have you ever wanted to know where that stylish passerby found her outfit? [Need I say it?]

That’s FOURTEEN articles, of which TEN are about fashion and shopping and THREE are about health and welfare (but really brief and usually with a link to LOOKING GOOD) and ONE is about, well, the best places to hang with other girls.

I fucking hate this magazine.

In fact, right now, I kinda hate the Herald itself (don’t even get me started on the SUN). I already find the local news (especially online) to be extremely dumbed down, but, hey, I can live with it in order to keep up to speed on the happenings around my city. But a magazine like this? As part of the daily news?

Now I just want to hurl.

And I’m not saying that any of the subjects of those articles are bad in and of themselves. Or that women (or men for that matter) shouldn’t be interested in them.

I’m just saying: CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A LITTLE MORE COMPLEXITY HERE?

I mean, wow! It’s a magazine for women! Women! So let’s just pack it full of the only three subjects we can think of that women like: shopping, fashion, and how to look good.

Awesome.

You know, I am not some shallow, one-dimensional, superficial female, and neither are ANY of the women I know.

I play on a women’s recreational ice hockey team. Many of the women on my team just started playing ice hockey. They love it. They want more of it. They wish they could have done it when they were younger.

There are women on my team who are lawyers, accountants, students, teachers, respiratory therapists, coaches, and business owners. Some of them rock climb, and ski, and play soccer, or snowboard or sail, or water ski. Others have done a ton of travelling. They are mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, partners, and wives. They are real. They are complex.

I know women actors, directors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, artists, and producers. I have a friend who is a real estate agent, but who also has her Chef papers. My one sister scuba dives. Plus she’s a nurse. And a teacher. My other sister paints and plays the fiddle. And she’s an X-ray tech, and a teacher. My mother is 76 and still hikes in the mountains.

These are all amazing, multi-faceted individuals with lifetimes of experience. And they are all involved in the general soup of life. Mucking it up with the rest of the world.

So when, oh when, can we start seeing that reflected back to us? When, oh when, can we start regularly reading magazines, and watching movies and tv shows, and singing songs, and watching plays, and reading articles, and listening to stories filled with tangled, complex, flawed and conflicted, multi-dimensional female humans like the ones I AM SURROUNDED BY EVERY DAY??

Tell me that.

I am so sick of it. So sick of the superficiality that I see around me.

And so sick of the negative effect it has on me personally, and the frustration I feel over my own inability to ignore it, and my fear that I won’t be able to overcome it.

I want so badly to live a satisfying, emotionally and intellectually stimulating, life. A full life. A life that nourishes me and challenges me and lets me find and live my truth.

And it’s hard enough to do that without having to overcome that whole woman thing—that whole, “Oh, it’s harder for women to break into that.” “Women don’t traditionally go into that field.” “A woman’s never done that…” “Only 5% of film directors are women.” “Nobody watches women’s sports.” “There’s not enough women interested in that.”

Blah, blah, blah-bitty blah….

I once had an acquaintance at university say to me: “Feminism is dead. It’s over. It’s done. We’re all equal now so let’s just move on.”

Really? Then why isn’t there ONE fucking article in that magazine that interests me when it’s supposed to be for me? Huh? How come? And while we’re on the subject answer these:

Why can’t I play hockey professionally? Hm? How come a woman can’t make a living playing the sport she loves? Full time.

How come there’s never been a female President of the USA? How come only one has attempted it so far?

How come, when I watch old movies, I see recognizable male actors who are still working today but the women are no longer around? How come Michael Douglas is still all over the big screen and Susan Sarandon is not?

Why has there never been an elected female Prime Minister of Canada?

How come I can’t freely travel to any country I want to in this world unharassed?

How come I never see MALE receptionists?

And tell me, why does there even have to BE a magazine specifically for women? Or men even? Why can’t there just be magazines on different topics and everybody just picks the ones they like? Why the gender profiling? And why is it so limited in its scope?

I don’t know why.

Honestly, I don’t know why women don’t make as much as men. I don’t know why it costs me more to get my hair cut than it does my partner—even when we both have short hair.

I don’t know why my shirts cost more to dryclean than his.

I don’t fucking know.

I only know I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of being told that I’ll always hit some kind of glass ceiling somewhere. I’m tired of the onslaught of superficiality and the near-constant message that women are only interested in fashion, make-up, and roping a rich husband. I’m tired of hearing that it’ll be that much harder for me because I’m a woman. I’m tired of worrying that I’ll waste my life going after my dreams only to discover they were never really feasible to begin with, and that I should have done something else. Something safer. (There’s a good girl.)

Dammit.

I’m a big-picture thinker (and an over-analyzer). It’s one of the reasons I like directing—because I’m really good at seeing the overall story, but man, it sure can make life painful sometimes, when you can so clearly see how things ARE but you can’t seem to do a damn thing about it.

I have to force myself to focus on what I can control—me—and keep myself moving forward. Lest I lose my mind.

But sometimes the onslaught of inanity seems so relentless that I just want to scream.

And then someone (quite innocently, no doubt) releases a stupid online magazine and I freak out. (And then I commence to write a ramblingly mad, blog post.)

What else can I say?

Nothing. I have nothing else to say. I just wanted to rant.

But I’ll finish by copying an excerpt from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, whose struggles were so much harder than mine, and who wrote these words in 1928 (1928 people!). Bear with me, because this is the only thing that is keeping me sane right now (the emphases are mine):

How can I further encourage you to go about the business of life? Young women, I would say, and please attend, for the peroration is beginning, you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays of Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilization. What is your excuse? It is all very well for you to say, pointing to the streets and squares and forests of the globe swarming with black and white and coffee-coloured inhabitants, all busily engaged in traffic and enterprise and love-making, we have had other work on our hands. Without our doing, those seas would be unsailed and those fertile lands a desert. We have borne and bred and washed and taught, perhaps to the age of six or seven years, the one thousand six hundred and twenty-three million human beings who are, according to statistics, at present in existence, and that, allowing that some had help, takes time.
There is truth in what you say—I will not deny it. But at the same time may I remind you that there have been at least two colleges for women in existence in England since the year 1866; that after the year 1880 a married woman was allowed by law to possess her own property; and that in 1919—which is a whole nine years ago—she was given a vote? May I also remind you that most of the professions have been open to you for close on ten years now? When you reflect upon these immense privileges and the length of time during which they have  been enjoyed, and the fact that there must be at this moment some two thousand women capable of earning over five hundred a year in one way or another, you will agree that the excuse of lack of opportunity, training, encouragement, leisure and money no longer holds good….
I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister.…She died young—alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives . She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. This opportunity, as I think, it is now coming within your power to give her. For my belief is that if we live another century or so—I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals—and we have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think…if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.

 

That excerpt comforts me. For some reason it galvanizes me when I read it. And it helps me to find the strength to keep forging on despite the bullshit I read in the news on a regular basis.

And that, for now, is all I have to say.

If you’ve stuck with me so far, I salute your perseverance.

[You! Trooper!]

Now tell me this: can you relate to this rant?

Image by Adam Selwood on Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons.

5 comments on “The Magazine Rant

  1. Emily Diehl
    October 4, 2010

    I can absolutely relate to this rant. :)

    I am at university now, puzzling out what I want to do with my life – or rather, HOW I want to do WHAT I want to do.

    Do I want to become a performer?
    There are so many woman singers? How to make a living from that? Do I let it be what it is and rely on my husband? What if I don’t get married? Then what?

    Do I want to conduct?
    There are almost no woman conductors. It’s still a ‘male-only’ profession, more or less. My response: well about time SOMEone did it, don’t you think?

    Do I want to do a lot of everything?
    Yes! Who is anyone to tell me I can’t, for whatever reason?

    I can relate to this A LOT. Thanks, Kim. I always enjoy reading your blog.

    Like

    • kim
      October 4, 2010

      Thanks for dropping by, Em!

      And yeah, it’s a doozy isn’t it? And I can really relate to the question, Do I let it be what it is and rely on my husband? That’s a struggle isn’t it? Because yes, my partner and I are a team…but, I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with it. I’m a whole human, I want to make my own financial contribution–even if it’s not imperative that I do.

      But yes, the best way to deal with it is to simply tell yourself that it’s time SOMEone did do it, and who the hell is going to tell me that it can’t be me? That, of course, includes myself–that is, I shouldn’t be telling myself it can’t be done either.

      Thanks for your awesome commentary.

      ~k

      Like

  2. Tiana Diehl
    October 4, 2010

    ’tis a family comments evening, it is! :)

    Thanks for the rant, Kim [technically, do we ‘thank’ people for the rant itself, or what is expressed in the rant? I dunno. It’s 11:30…]. :) I feel very much that I want more control of my, um…self, future, finances, work, whatever. And, yes, like the excerpt talks about, I do as a mom have things that need doing…and I want to do those things for my kids. But…but but but…I come alive in a whole ‘nuther way when I do what I believe I was put on this here planet to do!!! But, how do I do those things when they take away so much time from the ‘necessities’? So far, bit by bit, every chance I get…and I just have to deal with not getting paid for it. Sigh. :)

    But…someday…someday soon…circumstances will change, because they have a funny way of doing that. :) And I will hold onto my mind-expanding dreams, and my passions, and my desires, and my wonderful loves…and know at my core that I am made to shine. :)

    Like

    • kim
      October 4, 2010

      ‘Tis, ’tis, a family commenting night! That is so very lovely! (And uh, yeah, I think we are thankful for the rant’s content, ’cause the rant itself is just kind of, you know, ranty.) :)

      Ah, but T, you do inspire me so, with your groundedness, and positivity. Sometimes I think we (I) just think about it entirely too much, and if we (ahem, I) would just relax, and follow our (my) heart without WORRYING about it so much, then things would go smoother. Bit by bit is a good tactic to take. And I don’t think getting paid for it should always be that important–we just happen to live in a society that worships the bottom line as the highest value. And that puts pressure on everyone.

      :) k

      Like

  3. Pingback: The LFL Rant. | simply kim

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