So when we were told to do this project, I immediately wanted to do more on mean girls. Mostly because I’m one of those people who’s really interested by the inner workings of the human mind, I’m the girl who finds Hitler so fascinating that I (found) and read a huge chunk of his ,seemingly, million page manifesto/autobiography. (Fact, it really has over 1000 pages).
That was what I wanted the project to be about but as most things do, it took a life of it’s own.
Getting input from my survey was more exciting than I thought it would be. Having actual conversations in the focus groups was thrilling but disappointing. At the time, I was looking at the answers given just as a reflection of each person and I was only looking at it as views aired on the specific questions asked.
However, there’s another way to look at it. The reason I was so disappointed by the answers is because they reflected such traditional and conservative views. It disappointed me because I’ve always used the traditional and conservative rules set upon me by my parents, culture and society as an ideal for what NOT to do. I thrive on not falling into the norms set for me, I don’t think I could subscribe to them even if I tried. In pre-school, they informed my parents that I had a problem with authority figures. I didn’t, I don’t (well, I don’t think I do) but this is a theme that’s been running in my life. I hate when people try to tell me what to do with myself, even my own parents.
So, it was disappointing because ,while I can respect everyone’s right to their own opinion, I was really expecting us to be the same. I expected more of girls raised in America. I expected that girls with more freedom than I’d had would act as that. I expected that since they’d been raised around so many liberal ideas they’d have adopted them. Instead, what I found was that we’re not as into the 21st century as I first believed.
If I’d aired my own views rather than be objective, I’m sure they might feel the same disappointment.
These girls blanched when I told them that, in my culture, a suitor was (almost always) required to pay a dowry for his intended bride. They didn’t say so, but I’m sure they found this outdated, archaic and possibly even barbaric and yet their answers showed that they were total subscribers to the patriarchal society they lived in.
TM: Okay. Alright, would you consider yourself to be conservative? In terms of just like, values and morals and like, views on the world and on yourself and how women should hold themselves and present themselves.
Tyler: Well, I’m thinking like politically about women so I guess I’m not…
Max: I’m not thinking about it politically, I don’t know, I mean kind of – in a way I am.
TM: Okay, so would you say you have like, more traditional views?
Max: Yeah, I mean, like the whole idea of like appearance and the way you should…you know, portray yourself in society, I do believe that that’s very important.
TM: Okay, so you would say you don’t have more modern views?
Max: Yeah, in a way yeah
TM: [Directed at Tyler] Same thing? Different thing?
Tyler: yeah, same thing.
Everything for them was cemented on this idea of a woman’s self-respect and her dignity and how she presented herself. Taking a nude photo symbolized a lack of self-respect.
TM: What is to dress slutty?
Hot Daddy: I don’t know…
Fish: Well, I feel like…it depends, based on like, one person’s like not degree of conservativeness but like…I guess, degree of like distance from how they would dress themselves. But I feel like a lot of people would view it as like – wearing, like minimum of clothes, like especially if it’s like cold outside
Hot Daddy: It’s like, a lot of make up with like a lot of body showing and a walk of sass
How you dressed also reflected on your levels of self-respect. As well as how you carried yourself. I’m not mocking or making fun of them here, I’m not even seeking to embarrass them in some way because I don’t think they’re aware of it and it’s not really their fault.
It’s also possible that I could be reading too much into it but when we had these conversations, I kept flashing to them ending up as 50’s housewives, baking apple pies in pearls and carrying themselves in the way only befitting a lady. I found myself having visions of them raising their own daughters, and while never actually using the words “whore”, “slut” etc, letting them know that girls didn’t behave or dress a certain way.
I thought we were going forward. The scenery may be rolling by the window but I think we’re at a standstill.