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Dear Girls, Be Who You Want To Be, Not Just A ‘Lady’

Posted: March 3, 2020

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‘Be a lady’ is one of the most common things most of us has heard and with a viral and very powerful video, it has been pushed on us once again. Can we just be us?

In a very powerful video posted by the Girls Girls Girls magazine, the pressures women go through is talked about. The video, posted on Feb. 26 has since gone viral. A 2:51 video features  Cynthia Nixon, whom we all know from Sex and the City.

‘Be A Lady, They Said’ has Nixon narrating the lines from Camille Rainville’s poem. “Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it,” is narrated in the video. The dialogues are accompanied with powerful suggestive visuals which resonate with women on a cosmic level.

Be a lady- but don’t be too dainty!

It is based on the concept of the ‘double bind’ which feminist Marilyn Frye had put forth. In layman’s terms, this theory speaks about the whole “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t.”

“Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs, skip dessert, go on a diet. God, you look like a skeleton,” Nixon says in the video. The visuals depict body hair, scars, anal bleaching- everything a woman does to fit into the ideal of the perfect woman.

While the whole video is powerful and impactful there are certain problems that it proliferates. The whole poem is based on contradictions to impress the point of how problematic the society is for women and the narrative is based on what society expects of women. However, the video, depicts exactly the expectations the society has.

But it just reduces women to a stereotype too!

It has reduced women to not their talents or their skills but only to their physical features, body size, her ability to cook and perform household chores. Nowhere does it mention the talents any woman possesses.

“Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day.”

The objective of the video was to show how women all ethnic backgrounds have to succumb to the Eurocentric ideals. But the video doesn’t do that, it just reduces women to ornamental pieces.

The video helps bring topics which have time and again been brushed under the carpet but you cannot help but notice the surface details. While the video does feature women of colour and plus sized women it feels like it has been done for representational purposes to give slight tinge of diversity.

The video calls for more representation of non-white females and females who stand on the either ends of the spectrum. It also needs to define which body size is perfect and which is not. And the representation of women who do not follow the gender binaries.

The video reasserts how a woman cannot be one of a unique kind and have her own exceptional identity. It reiterates how she has to fit in the society’s standards which comprises rigid binaries.

Victim blaming, even now?

The video also talks about how women have to be extra careful when they go out at night. There have been numerous instances when even I have walked with my keys clawed between two fingers to use it as a weapon if the need arises. And there have been times when even I have thought of joining a self-defence class.

“Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes… Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.”

Things like these reverberate with each and every woman who has watched the video. But what is problematic is how the onus is shifted on the victim and not the perpetrator.

The video on the whole is an innocent watch. And is a great vehicle to steer conversations on the pressures women have to face but these minor oh-not-so-in-your-face details makes it knotty.

Picture credits: YouTube.

A Journalism student. When not busy with college and assignments, I read a lot. Big

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