Saturday, July 25, 2009

List Mania

Warning: rant ahead.

Ah, no, here's another one. Another one of those lists that circulate.
It's not even a new one, but the second time around from a friend who loved it the first time and just wanted to be absolutely certain that all her friends had been exposed.

To mime countless facebook quizzes, there are two kinds of women in the world. Those who read women's magazines and those who don't. Those who love romance novels, and those who flee from them, looking for either literature or for something truly X-rated that leaves all the mushy stuff in the editor's wastebasket.
My friend is of the first kind, I am of the latter group. She knows this, but sometimes I just get kept on a list when she sends something around to everyone. I don't mind. It makes me feel included.
But god, what tripe!
Come to think of it, of all the women on the address line, I'm probably the one who least appreciated the message and also the one who thought about it the most. If you like that kind of stuff, I guess you sigh and think 'How true' but you don't print it out and tape it to the bathroom mirror with certain parts picked out in green highlighter.

OK, I didn't print it out, I did that part mentally. I trashed it. And then I thought, Grrrr, What nonsense. Haven't women moved beyond this??? Something must be said. So later I figured I would vent my spleen here.
It's just one of those lists, one of those Ten Essential Steps toward Happiness, or How to Reach Your Inner Self, of What makes a Modern Woman.
"What Every Woman Needs". Yeah, that was it.
There are 27 items on the list, which a woman (an American woman, obviously) needs to either have or know. If we pretend to be first-world, 21st century, emancipated women, not one of these things is specific to females, except (perhaps) the black lace bra.
Now that I live in France, I actually have some very nice lingeré. None of it is all-black; not that I would object to a black bra, I just haven't tried one on that I liked, found comfortable, and could afford. (I swear, most of that stuff must be designed by people who don't ever have to wear it all day! As bad as women's shoes!) Every woman needs a black bra? WTF? Are we lesser women in other colors? Whatever happened to going bra-less?
That's number 9, grouped with numbers 7 and 8: ownership of a set of screwdrivers and a cordless drill. Screwdrivers I have, also a hammer and various allen wrenches and pliers. Also various pointed objects destined to be driven into hard surfaces (I really like that sort of thing), and a saw. I feel no urge, however, to invest in a cordless drill. If one day my cord is too short I'll hook it to the extension. And what's this with a drill, specifically, anyway? It's not the first thing you put in a toolbox. Is it shorthand for having a decent tool assortment, since if you get down to 'drill' on the list of essentials, you've got a fair number of things already? In that case, why not just say 'collection of useful tools'? And why is just owning them enough?
Let's not get into the details of my not choosing a particular color of underclothing or the contents of my tool drawer. It's just the whole thing.
Every woman should know...how to fall in love without losing herself.
Buerk! (and let's have another little aside here. Losing yourself in a certain sense I think is an essential part of falling in love. It's the part where you finally open up to share your soul. Don't lose yourself altogether, of course, but yes, lose yourself in moments and days!)
Every woman should have... something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour.
In a way, it's hard to say it's a stupid list. It's not bad advice. I wouldn't object to having... a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone in my family (but what if I'm related to royalty and my family has truly fabulous antiques?), nor to having... a feeling of control over my destiny. In fact, I actually have those particular two. How expensive does 'good' have to be? And why do the eight matching plates in #13 have to match? or number eight? or be complemented by stemmed wine glasses (and I've yet to see stemless wine glasses - those are whiskey glasses, or tumblers)?
When I have people over, my friends are honored by the simple fact that we're eating food I prepared myself. Nobody cares that the glasses don't all match or that the plates are a bit diverse or that we're drinking iced tea. The individual plates I pick up at the flea market are in fact my most interesting. Shouldn't that whole item be changed to: Every woman should invite her friends over and give them something of herself? What's the good of having matching plates & glasses if they sit in the cupboard all year?
And then there are plenty of items about knowing what you want, not settling for less than you deserve, some experiences to go through...
I get it, I get it. The message is to have self-confidence, to be self reliant, to deal with it, get over it, keep your eyes open, and be realistic. (And, apparently, become at least middle class while you're at it.) Do I need a list to tell me all that? What I need now is a good shot of insulin.
Personally, I think the list should have just one item: Every woman needs to know... that she doesn't need a list to tell her what she needs to know, or own.


Dave King said...

Thanks for visiting me. Good to have you along. You have a really absorbing blog, but as to this post I can only say that it seems to me that on the whole women's magazines are much less tripey than mens.

Nicole Woolf said...

I found your post very comforting. In fact I am going to say thank you for writing it! I genuinely identify myself with the second group, although I am also a people pleaser and sometimes try to appease the gals in group 1. I always go around to run errands braless, and sometimes completely commando. I loathe going shopping with other women - correction I won't do it. I can't stand the going from new "in" clothing store to clothing store, trying on things I would sooner buy at thrift store. I do own a black bra, but it was on sale. As for the non matching plates you possess - I am jealous. I have fallen in love with a man who is my complete opposite, although his reading style reflects female group 2: Hunter S Thompson, Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut. But he loves to throw dinner parties with matching name brand plates, polished silverware, fancy serving dishes. He is a good cook too, I have to admit.

Okay sorry, comments are supposed to be a lot shorter than this. Come check out my blog if you'd like to observe my hypocrisy as I challenge people to a questionnaire.

I enjoy reading your blog so far.

sciencegirl said...

Hello Dave,
Ooooh. I'll be staying away from the men's mags, then. No matter how nice the abs on the cover are.

And Hi Nicole,
Glad to find a soulsister! comment as long as you want; it's really interesting. i will be stopping by!

Denise said...

couldn't agree with you more ( I am of the latter group). I truly dislike and hit the delete button to "those lists" or emails.