Oh, the harmful messaging! (Cate and Tracy lament and rant)

Tracy: Okay, this one started with an article yesterday: “Binge-drinking sending more young women to ER, ‘eye-opening’ study finds.” Binge-drinking is alarming. Ending up in the ER as a result of binge-drinking is alarming. But perhaps most disturbing of all is that the demographic with the most dramatic increase in this consequence is young women between 25-29. Over the period 2003-2016, visits to the ER as a result of excessive drinking increased by a whopping 240%. Overall in this period, among Ontario men there’s a 56% increase, women an 86% increase. But 240%! What’s going on here?

The article notes a few things. One, that the more convenient it is to get alcohol, the more people drink. Another is the efforts of late to suggest that alcohol is a normal part of a busy woman’s life. There are countless memes that glorify and make light of women’s drinking. You know, the whole “mommy juice” and “wine o’clock” message. Sam wrote about it here. And Martha wrote about it here.

Cate:  Before I rant, I feel like we should catch people up on why we’re even writing this.  We have a little behind-the-scenes facebook group for the bloggers on this site.  Mostly it’s a place where we keep track of who’s up next and post some things that we might want to write about.  But sometimes we share things that just plain piss us off — even before we exactly know *why* it’s made us so angry. 

There were a whole bunch of booze ones that got us going this week.  For me, it was a throwaway comment on a post about popsicles — popsicles! — that turned into someone writing about costco selling “mommy juice popsicles” and how oops wouldn’t it be funny if she accidentally gave her kid one.  I don’t know why it pissed me off so much — I don’t really have a dog in this fight personally.  I don’t have kids and most of my friends are either sober or very low consumption drinkers.  But it just really set me off.  Why do you think that is?

Tracy:   I think it’s because the more alcohol is offered as a normalized stress-response, the more likely people are to reach for it when they need to unwind. And it’s becoming easier and easier to do that (e.g. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, is obsessed with making cocktails available at 9 a.m. and beer available at corner stores and with lifting restrictions on drinking in public spaces like parks). This strikes me as a sad turn.

Cate:  Me too.  And I think it’s because so much of my life has become about trying to be so mindful about my body, about being present for this life. Booze is already present in enough places in our lives — it doesn’t need to be at breakfast.  (Nor do I want to inhale weed smoke when I’m riding my bike to a meeting or running.  But that’s a different rant).But I’m going to switch gears now.  Those plates.

Tracy: Those plates! Who comes up with this stuff?

Cate:  I think a lot of people have seen this, but I’ll just haul it out again:  Macy’s removes plates that promote eating disorders and shame people for eating. I don’t have to go into why this was outrage producing, but it also made me really sad.  It’s another one of those polarization points in our culture — I feel like I surround myself with people who are cultivating consciousness about bodies, privilege, patriarchy, racism, the hidden forces that cause harm in our culture. And then bam, I’m reminded once again that there’s a whole counterforce that has zero awareness that “joking” about dieting carries so much harm:  harm to the whole of the fem-identified populace by reinforcing a reminder that bodies need to be policed, that female bodies are always available to public scrutiny — and it causes a lot of harm to the individual people who have personal experience with disordered eating and body image.  These “cute” plates are trojan horses of body shaming.Screenshot 2019-07-23 20.14.49

Tracy:  That whole thing just sent me over the edge. It is the very last thing I want in my face when I’m eating — a plate that body shames me for taking more than a morsel of food.

Cate:  And another thing (laughing).  While I’m on the “policing femininity” patrol, how about this thing?  Showed up in an ad for an otherwise terrific product on my feed yesterday:  “We’d all love to be that girl who runs and doesn’t sweat.”

Would we?  Now not only am I being shamed for eating too much, when I try to comply with the Rules of Femininity and exercise, I’m supposed to feel self-conscious and shamed about sweating?  Apparently there’s no way to actually have a female body that won’t make me feel like I’m doing it wrong.

I reported that ad to Facebook as “offensive.”  It doesn’t have a button that says “offensive because reinforces patriarchy” but I did comment on it in the thread.

I know this is a small and stupid thing — but it’s the casualness of it that just gets to me.  THEY SELL EXERCISE GEAR.  GEAR I WOULD BUY IF THEY WEREN’T NEGGING ME. 

Tracy:  LOL.  Is there anything else on your mind? I’m with you on the sweat thing, by the way. I mean, I actually pay good money for the hot yoga studio precisely because it feels good to sweat. Normative femininity be damned.

Cate:  I think I’m done ranting for now.  Sometimes I wonder if my moments of not-quite-outrage about social media memes are misplaced — aren’t there bigger things to pay attention to?  But these things are actually signifiers of the bigger things — the particular melange of patriarchy, capitalism, white privilege and unconscious living that has got us to the political and environmental mess we’re in.

I’m going for a run now. 

Tracy:  I think we have landed in the same place, which is that these messages are even more harmful for being so casual and even (supposedly) funny.  And then you’re a big party pooper if you don’t laugh (or worse, criticize!). Like I said to Sam, I can’t even talk about alcohol without sounding like a puritanical advocate of prohibition, like I’m part of the early 20th Century temperance movement or something. But “wine o’clock” just isn’t funny. “Skinny jeans” versus “mom jeans” just isn’t funny.  And no, we don’t want to be the girl who doesn’t sweat when she exercises.

Off to hot yoga!


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