Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The American Dream: Have It All, Do It All, and Still Have Perfect Hair

I just realized this morning that I had abandoned my daily dose of Slate so I clicked over there this afternoon and found this little gem. In the article about the Today show extending its time by an additional hour, author Troy Patterson point out that the Today show will simply extend its third-hour programming into its fourth hour. The first two hours, apparently are devoted to "news." (I use the term lightly, these days). The next two hours are more like "a lifestyle magazine."
This is not the salon of Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, with
its intrusions of politics and war, but rather a romper room for the ceaselessly
jovial weatherman Al Roker, the peerlessly blow-dried correspondent Natalie
Morales, and Ann Curry, who shucks off the newsreader's role she inhabits
earlier in the show to help prepare easy meals.
I, for one, watched quite a bit of the Today show this past summer when I didn't have to be at work until 10 a.m. I worked out in the mornings, came home to shower, and blow-dried my own hair while watching the various pretty people they parade onto the Today show. I should beashamed of myself, I know. It's interesting, though, to see how they package the show. As Patterson puts it, the show preaches that "despite the odds, the postmodern homemaker can have it all."
This is just such a dangerous assumption. I mention this book quite a bit, but The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels, discusses this issue in depth. It's the rise of the super mommies: women who work and are successful, still spend ample time with their children, are a perfect size 6, exercise daily, cook homemade meals, still have time to spend with their husbands, have a great sex life, and do all of the above while wearing a brilliant, Crest Whitestrips smile. This is what society's "feminism" has turned into - the freedom to do what you like, as long as you meet xyz and abc criteria. This, I believe, is why we still see so many angry anti-feminists; they see the freedoms that women enjoy without seeing the pitfalls women encounter to this day.
Patterson mentions in his article that Al Roker recently had a spot with the editor of Men's Health on Balancing Family and Work, which I think is laudable in that it wasn't yet another ploy telling women that if they only did more chores before going to bed or upon waking, they would have so much more time to spend getting ready and enjoying the mornings with their families (you know you've seen that kind of thing). Check out every women's magazine; you'll see something along those lines. So I do give props where they're due, but as Patterson points out, the Today show is aimed at the homemaker, and in this day and age, that is still a predominantly female role.
You just have to love that title, too: The Perkiness Never Stops. It's oh so scary.