Just a heads up in advance: if I talk different than usual, it`s because I`m tired, my sugar rush is wearing off so my body is happily reminding me why I bought the sugar in the first place (because I was feeling ill. THANKS A LOT BODY, I feel even more ill now). Plus I just finished watching the latest Becoming Youtube instalment, which left me with ~opinions~. Consider yourself warned.
Anyway. *awkward cough*
So the latest video in the hugely successful (deservedly so) Becoming Youtube series by Benjamin Cook was uploaded tonight. And, like all the other videos before, this one is spawning a huge amount of response all over the vlogger part of YouTube. You can find the video here, and you should probably watch this before reading this blog post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsRHDdHsFo8 .
The topic this week was female vloggers, and as a female vlogger/blogger/writer who is very much still finding her way around, this was even more relevant than previous videos. I`ve done video responses before (here: http://youtu.be/mkGZMe-GH8o and here: http://youtu.be/a-Q2D-KxWgI ) but since it`s midnight, and there are other people in this house who would like to get some sleep, blog post it is!
I`d like to start with applauding Benjamin Cook on what is yet again a very well-thought, funny, and thought-provoking video. Especially with a topic like gender politics and female struggles, it`s very easy to go wrong. But man, you nailed it. Although I`m sure there are people who won`t agree, but that`s what people do.
This video has also yet again inspired me to keep going, to continue on with this whole vlogging thing. As a non-British girl, I can name a whole set of challenges to overcome. But what`s life without a few challenges, right?
Now, there`s literally a 1000 words on notes alone coming after this, which I will try to summarise in a more logical way, but bear with me anyway.
Firstly, I think there`s a reason (okay, several), why women are still struggling even though it`s 2013 and even though we`re on such a creative, modern-thinking platform full of possibilities all around like YouTube. A very large part is the fact that although women have been fighting for their rights for about a hundred years now, we`re still fighting against thousands of years of men ruling. We`re fighting against entire cultures build on the idea that women are frail, and have to be obedient and quiet and submissive. A 100 years of fighting by relatively small groups of women is not going to change all that history and culture that easily. A lot is achieved already, but I`m not surprised we still have a long way to go. How can we expect entire cultures to change, if not all the women themselves have changed?
I saw a quote once by Joss Whedon, who was asked on why he keeps writing these strong women roles. His reply was “because you`re still asking me that question.” And it`s true. Traditional gender values are as strong today as they were 50 or 100 years ago. They`re just a bit different.
But let`s be honest: a lot of women are fine with the way things are. Although there are a lot of strong women (and it`s sad we even use those words), there are still more women who like to pretend to be “ditzy”, or helpless, weak even, just to get the attention from the boys. A lot of women don`t even bother to try and change the situation to make things better. Why would they, if they get the attention they seek and are fine with everything else? Just because some other girls do want the same rights, salaries, and treatment as the boys?
Boys may be “struggling against the notion of feminine strength”, and I do think that`s true. But women are struggling all the same. There`s a stigma against feminism for a reason. And feminists have a large part of this to thank to themselves. Thanks to rash actions, weird campaigns, protests that weren`t very well thought out, feminism has created a reputation for itself. A reputation like that will be hard to change, and in the meantime feminists who want to use other ways to create change will be hesitant to label themselves a feminist because they know people will just go “oh god, another one of those” and they`ll stop listening.
It`s a very complicated situation, and not one that makes writing a blog post like this easy. Let alone make a video on it like Benjamin Cook did. God, the further I get in writing this, the more respect I get for Becoming Youtube.
Anyway, to get back on track: funny women (re: Harlem Shake). It`s true that there seems to be something against women being funny, or against women doing the same kind of stuff, even just on YouTube, as the guys do.
I think it`s a mixture of both women not being at easy with mucking about, because it`s not considered something girls do, combined with people being uncomfortable with watching women mucking about for the same reason. It`s not expected of us. We`re supposed to be the pretty, quiet ones. Not the loud, funny ones. It`s what the boys like, it`s a gender role that`s easy to fall back on to.
A large part of it is also laziness from women. A lot of girls like this “easy way out” that I talked about earlier, the “acting ditzy”, the make-up, the short skirts, to get the attention from the boys. It makes it harder for those of us who don`t want to be part of that group of women. It makes it harder for those of us who enjoy being smart, and who enjoy a good discussion and who don’t wear make-up and who will be honest about it if the guys are being absolute pricks, instead of giggling it off. It seems to scare off guys. It seems to scare off some other women too.
It makes it more difficult for female YouTubers too. If you`re not the make-up-tutorial-kind, that is. Because oh no, a girl with opinions! Opinions are a dangerous thing to have on the internet as it is, but a girl with opinions? Simply not done. Unfortunately, this means less views, and thus less comments on how to get better, which in turn doesn`t allow us to grow and get more views. If all women get is “oh you`re so pretty” (or the opposite), how are we ever going to improve without relying on looks? It`s reinforcing the image women already have that what`s important about them is how they look, not how well-thought out her opinions are or how funny she is.
Benjamin Cook said: “In comedy sketches on YouTube, female roles – when there are any – are often played by men. Is this because there`s a lack of female YouTubers, or because there`s something inherently funny about men playing women?” I think there`s a third option too, although the first two are also valid: if it`s a woman in a comedic role like the one Chris Kendall did as the secretary, earlier in Becoming Youtube, it can even be seen as “sad”, like “oh look at that poor girl, look at how far she has to go to get attention”. We don`t do it, because people will feel sorry for us. People won`t make us do it, because they`re afraid we can`t, or we don`t want to. It`s so ingrained in our society to have the men take up the “stupid” roles, that even if the woman in question is in fact intelligent, knows what she`s doing, and is still willing to act in a stupid role, she won`t have to, because the men will do it for her so she can keep her dignity. We do have to be protected, after all.
I deal with misogyny a lot on a daily basis. From the job where I get treated as the “young girl who`s only good for cleaning” and where 60 year old men stare at my breasts and tell me I`m pretty, like it`s the most important thing they have to say to me, to the job where I do get treated nicely, but people do everything for me because I`m a girl. The problem is that a lot of people don`t even realise they`re being misogynistic, because it`s so ingrained into our culture that we hardly even notice. We`re used to it.
Now don`t get me wrong. I don`t mind girly-girls. I enjoy being a girl (most of the time, at least). I enjoy make-up and nice clothes almost as much as most other girls. I like fashion, and cooking, and flowers, and the occasional disgustingly romantic movie.
But I also like science, and I like having opinions, I like having a place where I can talk about them and about things I find interesting or where I can address certain things. I don`t like the idea that even this “platform of the future” type of thing, still has this amount of misogyny in it. And yet I don`t think we can completely change it either. We can try, we can fight, we will fight, we can make things better one person at a time. But it`s going to take an enormous amount of time and effort, and I`m not sure if we`ll see a proper change. At least in our lifetimes.
The worst part, I think, is that I myself am in fact guilty of a lot of the things I preach against. It is very easy to fall back on those standard rules of the girl as the weak and helpless fragile creature, and the boys having to protect her by being stronger and smarter than her. It isn`t something I like admitting, but I do admit it. It`s a very complicated thing we`ve waded into, and not something I can write a clear-cut essay on, because my opinion on it simply isn`t clear-cut.
Besides, I think guys can have it just as tough in this modern age, but that`s enough for a whole different blog post, and not something I`m going into at this moment in time.
Woah, this all turned out a whole lot more serious and complex (and LONG) than I expected. Woops?
Still, I hope I got something across. Maybe get a discussion going? That`d be great.
Also, holy shit, if you made it till here? I salute thee.