Caire Daines, Christine Baranski, Ellen DeGeneres, Homeland, Hot flashes, House of Cards, Julianna Marguiles, Law and Order SVU, Madam Secretary, Olivia Benson, Olivia Pope, Robin Wright, Scandal, Tea Leoni, The Good Wife
October 10, 2014
As the name of my blog (modernmiddleagedwomenkickass) implies, I am in the middle ranges of age and also a woman. I am also a firm believer in gender equality and nothing makes my Dansko heels dig in further than discrimination in nearly any form. But today I am thinking about strong women role models and how much I appreciate them and yet I am wondering why it is that women, even in the highest echelons of professionalism, have to hide the everyday facts about being a woman.
Where is she going with this you may be wondering? I am going to Hollywood.
I was thinking this morning of how much I adore the powerful women that have been gracing our television screens lately. I am in love with the new “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leoni as the “brilliant-yet-realistically-stretched-wife-and-mother” working the White House and solving world strife. I religiously follow “The Good Wife” because who cannot revere Julianna Marguiles and Christine Baranski as tough female attorneys kicking ass and wearing those beautiful suits? Robin Wright on House of Cards with her perfectly coifed hair, icy glares and take no prisoner attitude is fabulous. But why I ask you, do we never see a realistic portrayal of women in these hi def power jobs?
Where is the scene where Alicia Florick flushes, whips off her blazer and starts fanning herself with her deposition papers? How come we never see Madam Secretary sleeping on a towel to absorb nighttime perspiration or the floor of her bedroom in the morning where three of her stunning silk nightgowns are flung in a soggy heap because she had sweated through them in the middle of the night? Why do we not see Claire Underwood on House of Cards walk into a room and forget why she entered it and why does Diane Lockhart never race out of meeting she’s been stuck in forever because she is about to pee her pants? Why is it we never see Olivia Pope on Scandal pop a couple Midol and look bloated for a day? Do none of these women ever look in the mirror as they don their power suits and realize to their horror that back fat has developed over night?
This is reality folks. And as much as I adore all these strong female role models, I find it disconcerting that we are still seen as a weaker sex because our hormones treat us differently. As Hollywood develops these accomplished women characters why do they continue to hide the realistic segments? Let’s face it people, women have menstrual cycles, babies and menopause. This does NOT make them any less qualified for a job or any less likely to make their heel mark on the world.
If screenwriters included a hot flash now and then would society perhaps be more understanding of women in daily life? If we saw that Alicia Florick could stand up in court and face down opposing council with a small trickle of sweat running down her back would it make her less intellectual? If Olivia Pope wore her baggy pants and a sweater to hide a couple days worth of water weight mid month would her dialogue not seem as razor sharp?
Let’s face it. Women characters are smarter, tougher and further entrenched in careers than ever before yet they are still forced to hide the mechanics of their bodies. Why are they portrayed this way? Are men afraid of our power surges? Are they afraid because our bodies renew themselves monthly? What would happen if television and the movies portrayed strong womens real lives? Gender equality should not mean we have to hide a different set of body mechanics.
Women no longer wear suits that mimic men; they dress in bright colors and have thankfully tossed the shoulder pads into the waste bin. Perhaps the next step is to have open conversations and Hollywood portrayals about the difference in genders beyond our clothes and coiffures. In real life would we be as horrified mid meeting when the familiar flush comes on if we were used to seeing Alicia Florrick lift her hair and fan herself or be embarrassed when we needed to excuse ourselves for the restroom if Claire Danes took a tampon break on Homeland? Women are no less powerful and intelligent for having a hot flash than a man is for having five o’clock shadow.
So I am issuing a challenge to the screenwriter’s guild. I want to see some scenes where Madam Secretary puts down her pen and flaps her arms and shirt to get more air. I want to see Alicia Florrick glance into the rear view mirror of her Volvo and gasp at the sight of an inch long black hair that has popped up over her lip. I want to see Diane Lockhart continue with litigation while simultaneously stripping off one of her trademark scarves, opening a window and taking cleansing breaths. I want to see Olivia Benson on Law & Order pull out her badge and have a tampon fall out of her pocket. I want Claire Underwood to pick the sleeveless shirt over the beautiful sweater because she is sweating before she even leaves the bathroom. I even want to see Ellen DeGeneres install a house sized fan that she can turn on every time she feels the familiar beads of sweat gathering under her hairline. I’m fairly sure her middle aged kick ass audience would appreciate that as well.
I’m not asking for a dramatic show to revolve around hot flashes and menstrual cramps, I would just like a more realistic portrayal of our lives so that both men and women can be comfortable in everyday circumstances. Who wants to join me for this new style of reality TV?