You know, I understand there was a time in history when the word “feminism” meant something. Women fought to win equal rights. And some 50 years later, great strides have been made. Recently, it seems like old-school feminism has returned. This time around, though, it seems like all the political action is gone, and the new feminist key activity consists of pointing out all the ways in which women are supposedly exploited, victimized, or hyper-sexualized by the media. I’m sorry, but pointing out possible instances of sexism in the mainstream media does not a political movement make. Take, for example, a recent post on Jezebel in which the Gap Kids holiday commercial you see here is deemed “gross.” One can assume, given Jezebel’s usual bent, that “gross” means “sexist.” It’s not entirely clear, since this is the entire text of the post:
A tipster alerted us to the yuck-factor of one of the holiday-themed Gap ads featuring little girls dancing, and we agree with her: there’s definitely something very Sparkle Motion/Little Miss Sunshine about it, especially at the :08 mark.
So, it’s gross because it’s like Sparkle Motion/”Little Miss Sunshine” (whatever that means), or because of whatever happens at the eight-second mark? So, what does happen at the eight-second mark? Well, the original video uploaded with the Jezebel post has since been removed by the user, but looking at the commercial on other YouTube channels, it appears that it is at that moment that one of the little girl dancers leans to the side and sticks out her butt. Slightly.
This is what feminism has come to? Pointing out sexism in advertising? Complaining about the latest Gap ad? Functioning as some sort of self-proclaimed social police in order to point out all the ways in which the media exploits women? Surely, the media is a fair exploiter. Men are exploited as rampantly as women, merely in different ways. (Seen “Tool Academy,” ladies?)
Mostly, it seems like this is armchair activism. If you sit around and point out problems, you feel like you’re doing something. But are you? Or are you doing nothing?
This time around, not even Jezebel’s usually slavish followers agree that a bunch of cute little girls dancing around is “gross.” As one Jezebel commenter wonders:
So a little girl can’t ever bend slightly at the waist during a completely non-sexualized dance routine without being compared to a stripper? Nice.