Hollywood star Lauren Bacall died this week. She was a strong, assertive woman both on screen and off who knew her own mind and how to express herself without fear of backlash in a man's world.
Back in the Hollywood glamour days there were other strong women - Vivien Leigh, Marlyn Monroe, Betty Gable and Olivia de Havilland. They were central figures in their films. In the 80s we had more strong women with the actresses Sigourney Weaver, Nicole Kidman and others. These women appeared in control of their own image.
I am concerned with the dawn of the Internet age we have gone backwards again. We now have pop icons for the younger generation - such as Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus who are exploited to expose their bodies for men's enjoyment. This must have a poor effect on young girls and make them think to gain attention it is all about body image and exposing themselves, rather than character or any substance.
While too there are still some strong women female leads today such as Angelina Jolie, who is both attractive but also a women of substance.
Today I have to wonder what has happened to women of character - such as keen writer Jo in the novel Little Women or Jane's Austen's Elizabeth and speaking up to posh Mr Darcy?? These women had other interests apart from finding a man and they were portrayed through women's eyes. It concerns me that few men read women writers and don't they wish to understand how half of the population thinks and feels? I happily admit to having read many great male writers, why not, I want to understand men too.
In recent years women's magazines have appalled me mostly. Cosmopolitan is not what it once was - back in the 70s and 80s it was a new platform for women but I haven't bought Cosmo for the past decade as it has become bland and predictable. In the 80s I bought Vanity Fair both for its interesting articles and photography or Vogue, also for the photos. In the past few month is have bought Bazaar for its photography and text too, which is often written by respected authors.
I also buy magazines on music and photography, which are in the men's section on the magazine racks.
I used to teach 7 and 8 year olds. I noticed if I asked them to draw a picture that the boys would draw all kinds of things - war planes, Roman soldiers, ships, battles, aircraft, monsters, space, volcanoes, cars - wheras the girls usual drew mostly houses and flowers. It concerned me that girls seemed to have much fewer interests. I brought up two sons and a daughter when I noticed in the toyshops the boys toys were fun - building blocks, lego, airplanes, cars, transformers, spaceships, more, more....
! By comparison the girls aisles were pink and fluffy - with rows of dolls (my daughter wondered what on earth you were supposed to do with the dolls?) I bought her lego, play dough and pencils to draw with. I admit she loved her teddy - then again my boys loved their dog and blanket respectively!
Perhaps mums can boycott pink and fluffy in favour of buying their daughters toys that are proactive so that girls can learn to be more active with toys such a building blocks, play dough, lego, crayons or sports equipment. As opposed to superficial brushing hair or changing outfits.
I believe girls need just as many interests as the boys, so they can be outward looking like men rather than inward looking. . I lived in America for ten years when my children were young and girls there play much more sport. Sport teaches us how to be team players, which are crucial skills for many careers.
It concerns me that nothing much has changed and the Toy shop aisles are still for girls pink and fluffy and the boys aisles are full of road racers and transformers....