Friday, July 24, 2009

What's Wrong with Being Sexy?

I’m sure all you hip and savvy folks recognize the “Spinal Tap” mocumentary quote that is my title. It’s the question posed by one of the members of heavy metal band when his PR person tells him that the album cover, a woman on all fours wearing lots of leather and a leash, is “sexist.”

Well I bring this up because I just took the Facebook Quiz, “What Kind of Mother Are You,” and got…… the “Sexy Mom.”

The description is pretty cool:

“You have a keen intuition when it comes to your kids, and often you know what they're thinking before they even say it. You know how to take control of situations in a cool and calm manner, which only adds to your alluring and sexy character. Your children find you hip and up-to-date, and it's quite easy for them to relate to you.”

What I couldn’t quite understand though is the photo representing the “SEXY MOM” that accompanied the description: a long, lean blonde wearing a bikini top, cowboy boots and hat, and a denim skirt that was apparently mauled by bears because it shows almost all of her long, tan thighs. Also, she’s arched over the back of a sexy little car (or a truck?) I guess they photo shopped the beer can out.

I’m pretty sure that sexy means you have decided that “life is what you make it,” (question #8, “what life lesson would you like your child to take away from you”), and you make of it something beautiful because you are strong and you persevere (question #7). You don’t wait for someone else to make your life for you.

Sexist is objectifying, dehumanizing.

At first the only explanation I can think of for the photo was terribly unflattering to the creators of this particular facebook quiz. That they lacked imagination. That the only image of female power they could come up with is expressed in terms of its erotic affect on men. This would mean the designers of the “what kind of mom are you” quiz were sexist. Or adolescent boys who were raised by Barbie Dolls (happy 50th birthday, Barbie).

Although I am bummed--I wanted a Rosie the Riveter picture for "sexy mom"--I soon put my "keenly intuitive" mind to work to figure out how this photo representative of someone who “knows how to take control of situations in a cool and calm manner.” And sure enough, I figured it out.

The woman in the photo must have taken her kids camping, and while they were all swimming, a bear comes up and eats her blouse, then starts to eat her long denim skirt. Obviously, that won’t do. How can you chop wood in just a bikini? And what if the bear goes after the children? So you obviously, calmly, step in, give the bear a pie that you baked (because baking pie is way sexier and more alluring than making casserole, goulash and lasagna (question #6, what dish do you most enjoy preparing). And besides, you’re a vegetarian and don’t eat half that stuff in the list anyway). Eventually, the bear calmly leaves. You assume a yoga pose to rid yourself of the bad energy (though, it has been noted earlier, I do NOT endorse yoga myself).

Now don't get me wrong. I don’t regret wasting time on the facebook quiz, since it’s apparently the price I pay for being “hip and up-to-date,” and it will allow my child to relate to me more easily.
Also, now I feel better knowing that reading to your child (question #3, “favorite activity”) is intimate, a “warm” home (question #5, “your home can best be described as”) is alluring. Potty training a child “when they are ready” (question #2) is certainly intuitive.

All these things are sexy, of course.

But I have to admit, if my kid ever EVER dresses like the woman in the photo, she’s totally grounded for life.

Unless, of course, a bear just ate her clothes while she was swimming. Or unless she’s a high profile model who’s got a bikini photo shoot. Or she’s acting in a mocumentary.


lsw said...

and if anyone could pull all of that off, it's you, my sexy hot mama friend!

Anonymous said...

According to the dictionary:
SEXY: means Arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest. is in the eye of the beholder. Some women like being sexy for their own pleasure. As a married woman with children, the only person you should be sexy for should be your husband, unless you are planning to have an affair.

Maya said...

Anon, that's just gross! are you implying that men find potty training toddlers, reading them books and teaching them to clean up after themselves sexually arousing and stimulating (because, strangely, the quiz that pronounced me sexy did so on the basis of my potty training style, but it didn't ask me a single question about my wardrobe)? or do you agree with me that there is something sort of perverse about pairing up descriptions of intimacy with images of sexism? Like this quiz, which is pretty representative of the way pop culture misrepresents warm, strong women.

ps. I'm a single mother. While I don't wear bikinis in public, I'd be thrilled if a publisher found my new scholarly book on modernist poetry"sexy" (intellectually stimulating).

johanna smith said...

Hmmm, is something going on here?