Really it does. So, here we go.
In a few days or so, I will probably be reviewing a book that, while pathetically mundane, brought up some interesting questions about double standards between boys and girls. However, when I review the book, I don’t want it to turn into a discussion of opinions on that, so I figured I’d get it out of the way early. Not, though, that it is past midnight. So if I sound crazy…well, it’s not my fault.
In the book, the main character was a girl named Natalie and she was the studious no-nonsense kind of girl that you expected to do well and never disappoint and run the Student Government and think for herself, which Natalie did. The supporting cast included the regular high school jock/jerk, his nicer friend (his name is Conner; he’s the obvious love interest for Natalie) and Natalie’s friends which include pretty Autumn who has been used by a boy before, and freshman Spencer who is sorta slutty but not.
The gist of the plot was simple; it was slice of life so it was meant to be a more character based story. Thus, it’s just about Natalie doing stuff. And learning things. Making it a perfect ground to bring up some gender issues, which the story took advantage of.
Natalie’s character was a hard-working girl, but she also had a very negative view of boys and her used best friend Autumn’s past experiences only reinforced the idea in her head. Natalie thinks that a boy can make you weak, and that if you’re with a boy, then you are giving up your feminist power.
Which is totally stupid. But we’ll get to that in a second.
Spencer was Natalie’s opposite. She liked boys, but she was also very aware of her sexuality and thought that as long as you (the female) were in charge in relationships, it was okay.
Which is also stupid.
Though Natalie and Spencer represent two very different standpoints, they both end up getting hurt and hurting others because neither of them are looking at the situations they’re in in what I consider to be the right way.
As a girl, I definitely do not think that you are weaker when you fall in love (with anyone). Whenever women talk about stuff that way, in an obnoxiously feminist voice, I find it biased and hard to take seriously. I don’t think either gender is superior. The notion of “girl power” is good in terms of standing up for yourself and being your own person, but doing so definitely doesn’t require you being a…well, I don’t cuss, but you know the word.
Women around the world can still be powerful without acting like a man. Or being really cold. I think Michelle Obama is a fantastic example of this. She’s taken on a lot of responsibility as First Lady, but she also has an incredible sense of style and I think it’s great when people see her not just as a leader, but as someone who isn’t afraid to dabble in different interests, like being fashionable.
I would also like to cite Queen Victoria as the ultimate example of this because she ruled the most powerful empire in the world during her time, but she also had a very touching romance with Prince Albert. She is pretty much the epitome of balance. Her life shows that you can be a strong independent woman and still be in love and care about girly things.
It’s all about inner strength, and that comes with knowing who you are– and this goes for both guys and gals.
Spencer’s issue in the book was that she was also an independent girl, but she liked guy’s attention, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, but she went about getting it all wrong. And once she had it, she misused it.
Spencer flashed her panties at boys when she bent down and they looked and she liked that. I don’t think her liking that is bad, but I do think that being, well let’s say risqué in such a fashion, is tacky. I think women should have class.
But for Spencer, getting noticed was more important. For a lot of young women (and men too) feeling like you’re worth something is a big deal. Heck, they’re a lot of things I’ve done to make myself useful because it is an awful thing to feel like nobody cares. However, I did things like become class president, not flash my peers. Though, honestly, I could never do something like that. I’d be way too embarrassed.
Yet, that makes for an interesting point about Spencer. Despite her less than classy manner, she was a confident young woman and she knew what she wanted out of life. But you know, regardless of the fact that she was a bold lady, I don’t think her actions reflected a sense of security. I mean, yeah she was okay with who she was, but instead of channeling that confidence towards useful things, she wasted it.
And I don’t mean wasted it on boys, because like I said, I don’t think guys automatically equal wasted time. But she wasted it on running boys wild and getting revenge. In essence, she used them. At one point, the high school jerk/jock says some really rude things about her and Spencer finds out. So she goes over the top to make him think he’s into her, including posing for nude pics, and then she plays a very cruel joke that leaves him humiliated. So he sends the nude pic around the school.
So who was the real bad guy in the situation?
We all know that double standard about boys being players is okay, but girls being promiscuous is not. But there is also a double standard in that it is more acceptable for girls to take advantage of boys like Spencer did, than it is for a boy to do the same with a girl. But in all honesty, each side was being really mean. Spencer sort of did deserve what she got, as did the jock/jerk. Their actions depict the nasty revenge cycle; you get what you give. Spencer did was not acceptable just because she was a girl and she knew what she was doing. Women should not use their sexuality to be mean. Nobody should. Everybody should just…like each other.
But to get to the double standards, remember when Miley Cyrus was a little revealing and people got really mad? Well, that made me really mad. Because Cyrus was (in a much less awful way) just being as confident as Spencer was. However, unlike Spencer, I think she was channeling it into an appropriate venue: her music and her work. I mean, if a male star can take off his shirt and look good to get fangirls coming to his movie, can’t a girl do the same? Obviously it would have to be appropriately done, but I mean, Cyrus singing “I Can’t Be Tamed” with some risqué dancing is really just harmless. And it doesn’t seem fair that people should judge her for such a thing, but say nothing when a guy writes a song about getting it on with a million girls.
That kind of judgment is, I believe, what brings out the Natalie extremist and the Spencer extremist types of girls. And as we know, extremists are just no good. Women shouldn’t kick boys out of their life, but women also shouldn’t have to change who they are for a boy– or for anyone, really. Girls should be hard working and confident (as should boys) but they shouldn’t be afraid to be a girl. Life is, essentially, all about balance.
Double standards aren’t fair. But they aren’t going to go away. Stereotypes will always exist, but it’s up to us to decide how much power they will have over us.
This was actually another point brought up in the book. The used friend, Autumn had been dumped and made fun of by a boyfriend and Natalie kept trying to protect her from it. When the jerk/jock sent out that pic of Spencer, Natalie was also enraged.
The thing is, when you make an issue about something, you let yourself become the victim. Here’s the qualifier though: there are definitely issues worth making a big deal about and I think we know what they are (abuse, bullying, crime, bigotry, ect). But in high school settings especially, you can decide how you run things. Spencer got retaliation for her actions, and neither she nor the guy were right, but they were even and Spencer recognized that she had this coming. Autumn did not deserve her fate. However, Natalie treated her as if something really big and shameful had happened and yes, Autumn was hurt but it wasn’t her fault and making it seem hush-hush not only gave the bullies their power, but kept Autumn feeling ashamed of herself. Which clearly wasn’t right. So what I’m trying to say here is that you can decide how a situation is interpreted. Are you going to stand up for yourself, end it and move on? Or will you let a slow fire kept inside burn you down? All I can say is life’s what you make it.
Okay. Well, I think I’ve rambled enough for the night. My main point is living in a world filled with diversity, it is up to all of us to find our own strength and use it to better ourselves and each other. Balance is key, and power should never belong to just one party, otherwise things aren’t going to be fair. And finally, when it comes to bad times, you have two options: either wallow in your own self-pity, or become stronger and move forward. It’s up to you.
As always, comment and share.