Rather than watching the Super Bowl, I decided to watch Sarah Haskins’ Target Women: Super Special on Current TV. I was very surprised by the level of contemporary feminist critique she presented throughout the special and glad she had made the effort.
Haskins presents a sharp critique of the objectification of women and motherhood. Rather than offering heady and pedantic commentary on the plight of women, she demonstrates these points through an in-depth analysis and blistering critique of commercials, pop culture, and the media’s depiction of women.
In her commentary on meal preparation, for example, Haskins argues that a mother’s love from her family is contingent on her ability to prepare a perfect meal. Sarah then goes through a series of examples to demonstrate her point.
There is a scene of a mother — adored by her family — as she places dinner on the table and another where they profess their love for her after she has adequately set the table for dinner. In short, Haskins demonstrates how the media projects the image of motherhood as continually seeking approval and desperately in need of love all of which, however, is satisfied with a yummy, nutritional meal.
In another segment, Haskins demonstrates the bizarre depiction of women in cleaning commercials. In the new Swiffer ads, for example, women, aptly dressed in cardigans, stiff collared shirts, and pearls seek a bit of romance in their lives (this is itself a cliché) and find romance in cleaning. She was even able to find clips of women cleaning bath bathroom faucets using rather suggestive hand motions. The power of her critique, however, rests in the presentation of imagery against the backdrop of her continual barrage of sexist depictions of women in the media.
Haskins then shifts her attention to jewelry in her profound philosophical account of “the jewelry face,” which is the face of awe and wonderment that women express when they are given expensive gifts. The genius in her critique lies in the ease with which she can so quickly point to a myriad of examples within contemporary media.
Truthfully speaking, I have always had a fondness for feminist philosophies. I have read Gayatri Spivak’s account of the subaltern, Julia Kristeva’s account of the chora, and Judith Butler’s account of the identity of women as constructed through an absence of male genitalia. Despite all that I have read, I had not seen the glaring sexism of contemporary media.
Haskins has validated their intensive theories of the subjugation and oppression of women in a very effective indictment of contemporary media. Her sarcasm is not to be taken lightly, however.
She transitions into a discussion of weddings and unleashes the strongest statement of her show: “We [women] know more about weddings than we know about string theory.” It was with this claim that I realized the level of dissatisfaction bubbling within the feminist community.
I consider myself a feminist. It is a common misconception to assume that all feminists are women or that a man cannot be a feminist. Though I can never fully understand the plight that women face in their continued quest for social respectability or their fight against sexual objectification, I certainly recognize their plight. For this reason, when I heard Haskins say, “We know more about weddings than we know about string theory,” being the father of a young girl, I decided to call attention to her cause.
Finally, I end with another razor-sharp statement by Sarah Haskins, in reference to Women’s Entertainment perpetuation of the wedding fantasy to young girls. “They (the WE channel) put the ‘we’ in wedding and the end in feminism.”