Saturday, January 24, 2009

What it feels like for a girl

As you readers know, I love The Office. It is Thursday night appointment television. As you also know, I am most openly critical of the things that I love. Hence, my feelings about this week's episode, "Prince Family Paper." Half of the episode was an homage to the failed ABC series, Are You Hot?. While Michael and Dwight were away, the rest of the office debated whether Hilary Swank was hot or not. This took up their entire day.

For many viewers, I'm sure this seemed like a yet another typical office discussion that went on for too long. For me, it was yet another reminder of the impossible standards by which even highly successful women are judged. It also reminded me that all of the writers on The Office are probably male (and white) [Edit, 1/24/2009: Except for Mindy Kaling. Thanks, molecularshyness!], which results in most of the stories centering around average-looking guys judging and hooking up with women waaay out of their league (I'm looking at you, Kevin).

Hilary Swank has won two Oscars. Yet her worth, as described by one of America's most influential television programs, comes down to whether she is hot or not. I have never heard anyone question or even mention the hotness quotient of the similarly-accoladed Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson or Dustin Hoffman (who still gets to star in movies with a woman 20 years younger than he is). Instead, I get to hear the most powerful woman in the world worry about the fact that she currently weighs 200 pounds, and let that fact overshadow her billion-dollar empire or her hand in electing Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States.

The episode also reminded me of a conversation I had this week that went like this:

Gentleman 1: Have you met Sally yet?

Gentleman 2: No, I still haven't met her. Everyone keeps telling me about her.

Me: She was at the party last Friday.

Gentleman 2: That's what I heard.

Gentleman 1: She is bangin'.

Gentleman 2: I know. That's what I keep hearing.

Me: She's a nice lady. And she has a very successful career.

Gentleman 2: I can't tell anything from that. But "bangin'" I understand.


Before that conversation, I was having a happy, confident day. I was still rolling, jazzed from one of my friends stating that if she were a gentleman, she would date me because I'm nice, knowledgeable, kindhearted and friendly. I refrained myself from joking than we should get a timeshare in Provincetown and instead said, "thank you." I told her that wish more guys would appreciate those qualities in me and share her sentiments, but all they care about is hotness. She said, "No, you will be successful with gentlemen." Since she was so certain, I believed her for a few hours and thought I was so cool. Now, not so much anymore. Even in an era where I can realistically aspire to be President. Or rather, first lady.

It doesn't matter if you're Fred Savage's dorky character on Working or the super popular Bright from Everwood. All that matters to guys, regardless of orientation, is hot. Then when they get hot, they're disappointed because they also got shallow. What did you expect, doofus? Like I'm supposed to have sympathy for your poor choices? I don't think so. Or, in the words of Cher Horowitz, as if.



angryyoungwoman said...

It's stuff like this that continues to convince me that society hates women. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

haven't watched the office, yet, but I believe Mindy Kaling is one of the few - if not the only female writer for the show. [Her, I love]

totally get you on the overheard convo, etc. on an on about the hotness. dudez.

Bianca Reagan said...

Grrr, indeed.

Hooray for Mindy! She's funny.

Anonymous said...

I love the office as well but I really do think they have a problem with having well rounded strong women. I realize that everyone in the office is a stereotype but it grates that the few females with higher career ambitions (jan and Karen) ending up being portrayed as crazy. And Pam is apparently giving up her career all of sudden because she can't take another 3 months away from Jim

Bianca Reagan said...

mz, I don't know what happened with Jan or Pam. But Karen is getting a show with Amy Poehler