Groan. Women have actual minds, you know.

So we needed to buy a new calendar. Because of it being a new year and all, y'see.

Our '08 calendar was Elvgren pinup girls, and we both really liked it, except for the way the actual dates were set up. For some reason it started the weeks on Monday so I was constantly getting the date wrong or forgetting which day was what. Very irritating. But the pinup girls are of course adorable--this was our second Elvgren calendar--so we figured we'd see if we could grab another one.

And they had one. But half the pictures were the same as last year. Over half, in fact, which is just ridiculous. It's not like there are thousands of Elvgren images to choose from, you know? Sigh.

Anyway. So no Elvgren calendar this year. And the selection we found sucked. Really bad. All landscapes. Which are fine but I like something a little more fun, personally. (When I worked at a credit card bank I used to have a lot of fun with oddball calendars, since there were such strict rules about what we could and could not display. So I couldn't get anything racy, but I did find a nifty chicken calendar. I like chickens. I have a chicken kitchen; chicken clock, chicken bookends, a chicken plaque about seasons. They amuse me. Anyway.)

They didn't of course have a chicken calendar at Borders. They didn't have much of anything. So as I hunted around I saw a cartoony looking one called "What Every Woman Wants." (I have just spent fifteen minutes hunting for the thing on the Borders website and through Google and can't find it, so you'll have to take my word for it.)

So I grab it. And I admit I was already rolling my eyes a little bit, because I suspected I knew what was in store.

And I was right. On the back of the thing they show images of each month, you know what I mean? Those little previews. And EVERY SINGLE IMAGE is this cartoon egg, thinking or saying things like "I just want a spa day" or "Give me some chocolate". Or walking into a store with a signboard out front advertising mani/pedis.

So that is it. According to the makers of this calendar--probably a bunch of old men with hair sprouting out of their ears--what women really want is chocolate and manicures.

And you know, screw those people.

I really don't offend easily but there is very little that pisses me off and offends me more than this tired, stupid stereotype that all women would rather sit around sucking back chocolates and having someone paint their nails than use their minds or their bodies. I am so sick of the idea that all women are essentially on the same mental/emotional wavelength as a bunch of tipsy fifty-year-old divorcees living on alimony, collecting Beanie Babies, and bemoaning their empty nests while watching Oprah religiously and never picking up a book.

I am so SICK of it.

You know what? I have a brain. And I use that brain. Nothing sounds like less fun to me than a freaking "spa day". Seriously. I don't like steam. I am not a fan of wearing only a towel, anywhere. I am 35 yeard old and have had long, lovely fingernails for seventeen years, and have had three professional manicures in all that time--one of which was for my wedding--and ONE pedicure.

Don't tell me what I want. Don't tell me that out of everything in the whole wide world, what I really, really want is to hide my light under a mud mask and flop around staring at the ceiling and imagining how my skin will glow later. Do NOT tell me that of everything in the whole wide world, what I really want is some fucking chocolate. Like I'm a little kid and you can just give me a piece of candy and something shiny to look at and I'll be happy for hours. Like if I'm getting unattractively flushed because I'm passionate about something that's bothering me you can just pawn me off with a piece of chocolate and the promise that later someone will paint my nails, and my stress will disappear and I'll be a pretty, pliable decoration for you again. Do NOT pat me on the head.

Because you know what? There are lots of things I want. There are lots of things I care about. And that calendar is bullshit, offensive bullshit. Do you really think that's funny? To imply that work isn't important to me, that my children aren't important to me, that the world isn't important to me? That what I really want is to spend a few hours, not even just totally focused on my self, but on my LOOKS?

It's like bath stuff. (Bear with me.) Now, I am not offended by bath stuff gifts, although in the last three years I think I've taken exactly that many baths. Bath stuff is an easy gift to buy and give. And I do appreciate lotions of all kinds, because I have dry skin and so do use lotion daily.

But I am so tired of being told to take a bath to relieve stress. I am so tired of this image people have of women as people who would rather sit by themselves in a tub full of water than anything else in the world. Every stupid women's magazine out there is constantly telling me to take a bath. To be honest, it reminds me of the flowing-water-treatment Neely O'Hara was given at the mental hospital in Valley of the Dolls. You know, when the patients started acting up or getting stressed, the nurses would put them in a tub and run water over them until they calmed down.

That's what it feels like, every time those magazines tell e to take a bath and tell me about all the neat new Bath Products I can try. You know, I have a lively mind; try as I might, I simply cannot find great enthusiasm for the idea of sitting in a tub staring at my pores. It doesn't interest me.

Is something wrong with me, then, or is it simply that this tired, stupid, offensive stereotype of women as superficial simps who'd sell their souls for a piece of Godiva just wrong-headed and offensive and old, and it's time to put an end to it?

And for the record, lest you think me sexist, I am just as offended by the idea that all men want are sports equipment and steaks. Several years ago I got megapissed with Amazon because they claimed to offer one-day shipping for Father's Day gifts. Which was essentially true but what they didn't tell me until it was too late, was that that only applied to what Amazon deemed suitable as a Father's Day gift. Had I wanted to buy the hubs golf clubs or a razor or a book on football, I would have had one-day shipping. But because I wanted to buy him a Hellblazer graphic novel, they wouldn't even ship the thing until after Father's Day; not because it wasn't in stock, but because they were focusing on filling orders for golf clubs and whatever else was on their list of Things They Thought My Husband Should Want.


What do you guys think? Am I overreacting or is the "What Every Woman Wants" calendar really sexist and offensive? Or both?


annathepiper said…
You're not wrong. It's sexist and offensive, and everything that's wrong with gender perceptions in our society distilled right down into one tacky little calendar.

I like chocolate and baths, but spas and manicures and pedicures, not so much. But more importantly, yeah, I resent being told what I want too. And it makes me grit my teeth that the people who make that calendar apparently feel they can make enough money off of it to justify its existence--'cause yeah, there are those who would eat it right up.
Angie said…
Sure sounds offensive to me. :/ I'm not into spa stuff either. I don't take baths -- showers do just fine. I'm not "into shoes." I have four pairs of shoes -- two lace-ups (black and white) for cool weather, one pair of sandals for warm weather, and a pair of actual ballet slippers to wear with formals. Oh, plus a pair of slippers floating around somewhere. I don't wear makeup. I don't do anything fancy with my hair. I don't go looking for appliances in pink.

Did you know there are pink handguns, especially for women? o_O

I was reading an interview last week with this woman who is some sort of uber-female-geek type person. I forget whether she has a website or writes columns or whatever. But she's, like, one of the people everyone else is supposed to look to if they want to find out what women want when it comes to technology. And she was all about looks and design, about how women want things to Look Good, and come in a Variety Of Colors, and things have to be stylish, blah-blah-blah, and I wanted to reach through my monitor and slap her.

This woman isn't anything like me, she doesn't represent me, and I resent that she's making some sort of living pretending that she does.

But it's the same kind of thing, the idea that women are all vain and shallow, that we're all about looks and style and cute colors. The fact that it's a woman spreading this garbage in this particular case doesn't make it any less offensive than if it were a man.

-Kelly Meding said…
If I saw it in a store, I'd just snort and put it back. It's not offensive to me. There are some women like that, who want spa days and chocolate and whatever. The calendar caters to a niche of women who really do exist.

Frankly, I get more annoyed at fantasy calendars that ruin perfectly lovely scenes with near-naked female warriors in chain-mail bikinis. Of course, I doubt these are being marketed to women. ;)
December/Stacia said…
Exactly what I thought, Anna. It's not that the calendar itself exists, it's that it's called the "What every woman wants" calendar., believe it or not, we're not all vapid and shallow. Like I said, I find the stuff targeted at men with the implication that ALL men like golf and weightlifting just as offensive.

Ah, see, Angie, I am actually VERY into shoes, but I think that's due to a few things: One, I'm only 5'2, and my husband is a full foot taller, so high heels make everything nicer; and Two, I actually quite like my legs, and so like wearing heels to show them off. (They're the only parts on my body I genuinely like so I don't feel like a big egotripper admitting that I think they're very nice legs and so do lots of other people. So I hope I don't sound like a big egotripper there, lol.)

But yeah...I just want stuff that works. I actually like Big Tools (heh heh); I'd rather have something chunky and real-feeling that makes me look like a badass than some dumb pink thing. I HATE pink. I own no pink.

And besides, um...last time I checked, MEN like things to look stylish and nice, too.

I guess it's just the stereotyping that bugs me, Kelly. The calendar itself isn't offensive, it's the idea that THIS is automatically what all women want because it's vapid and appearance-based is what gets me; as I said above, I find it just as bad when it's men.

And yeah, sigh, I know what you mean about ruined landscapes, although I do like some scantily-vlad-lady art. I'm a huge Luis Royo fan; I think his work is amazing and beautiful. I actually own a Royo print of a woman with a bare bottom, looking back over her shoulder. (This one.)
-Kelly Meding said…
That's a lovely print, Stacia. Feminine and dangerous.

Perhaps then, it's really the title of the calendar, rather than the content, that's somewhat offensive. :)
December/Stacia said…
Right, Kelly; isn't that the point I was making? It's what I intended anyway. What's offensive is the "THIS is what every woman wants", not that there are women out there who want those things.

Funny story about the print; when the movers came to pack us up to move here, one of them-- Jamaican gentleman--took a liking to that print. He turned to my husband and said, "She's got a lovely aaarse, mon."

But my husband didn't see the guy looking at the print and thought he was talking about me. So there was a very odd sort of "What?!" moment before he realized.

It's funnier when he tells it. :-)
tom-gallier said…
Mmm, Red Sonya calendars...Wait, am I the only man commenting in here? Yikes!

Runs for door. SLAM!
Mark said…
We were sitting at our coffee shop last night and noticed the owner had filled all the wall space with decent God fearing placards with fun slogan's like It Takes A Village to Raise A Child and Jesus Saves available for purchase by wholesome family-oriented sorts.

My idea. Let's make our own and slip them in...the first one:

Up the Highway, Not Across the Road.
Mark said…
Who doesn't love a little suicide humor with their steamer?
Angie said…
Stacia -- well, you can have about 80% of my share of the world's shoes, then. :) The what makes that okay is that you're not trying to claim, based on your personal experience and the assumption that everyone is like you, that every other woman in the world is also really into shoes. [sigh]

I'm about as far from a "spa day" woman as one could hope to find, and yet I own not one but two pink electronics (a laptop and an iPod.) I love things like makeup and getting my hair done. I love shopping. I love shoes. If you looked only at this aspect of my life, you might conclude I was a shallow twit.

I ALSO love classic cars, traditionally "masculine" music like punk and metal, and would rather be gifted with books than chocolate. I used to do competitive martial arts and I can change my own oil, replace a faulty light switch and fix a garbage disposal.

The great thing about this day and age is that we can pick and chose the best of both "feminine" and "masculine", without restriction, to be a whole person. The calendar is offensive because it assumes we aren't three-dimensional people, "just" women. Merely defined by our material desires (and yes, I realize that's largely what I did above, but just to illustrate...I don't think we need my Deep Thoughts on Gender Theory in a blog comment ;).)

Usually people aren't shocked when I start talking about the engine block on a '67 Impala in a real life, and I take that as a good sign. If they are, I just smile and pity them. They have no idea what they're missing.
December/Stacia said…
YAY, Angie! MORE SHOES FOR MEEEEE!! Hee. Shoes for Stacia. All shoes for Stacia.

Mark, how about "Let's put the X back in Xmas"?

And that's exactly it, Caitlin. Lots of women like spas and chocolate, and that's fine. Lots of us like pink appliances and shoes. But lots of us like Crane cams, too. It's only a problem when you're implying that ALL women ONLY want chocolate and beauty treatments; that that's "what every woman wants". Because it does reduce an entire sex to a stereotype, just as surely as the idea that all men run from marriage or all men love golf. It's all offensive to me, anyway. Normally the calendar would have just elicited an eyeroll but it really bugged me for some reason.
tmthomas said…
I could go for chocolate and a whirlpool right about now.

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