The Ted and Amy show is a local morning show that plays on the Top 40 station during rush hour. Trapped in a carpool that listens to this and nothing else, my poor auditory cortex is assaulted not only with pop music created exclusively to torture the inmates of Gitmo, but with this inane radio show. The premise is, essentially, two uncritical middle-aged people tell trivial facts, make jokes of nauseating quality, and happily recite overdone tropes as if they were original. Sort of like syndicated cartoons.
In today’s show, though, they mixed it up. By which I mean they did not use the kitschy high-pitched voice to read the third trivia question answer. The overdone, unexamined cultural tropes, though, were right on the money. After a “fun fact” about how the average woman buys seventeen pairs of shoes a year, the male announcer declared [paraphrased],
“I don’t understand why women buy so many shoes! It’s crazy, right? Why do they need so many? Women are so mysterious.”
And I suddenly had to fight the urge to light everything on fire.
First, that observation has been made and remade so many times it’s starting to feel like another Batman reboot. Second, for some reason people think it’s funny to keep making this inane comment without ever thinking about the answer to their own question. It would be one thing if this kind of remark went as far as making a thoughtful criticism of consumerism, but it never does. It’s always, haha, women and their shoes, am I right?
The thing is, this is really a pretty simple question. It’s because women are valued (unconsciously, of course) for their appearance, and receive far stricter social sanctions than men for not looking their best. Laugh all you want about how you as a dude will just buy one pair of sneakers and wear them until they decay off of your feet, but women will get far more flak for doing that same thing than you ever would.
Furthermore, though it would be nice if we were immune to advertising, we’re not even when we think we are. The messages of “you need these new shoes, you need this makeup, you’re old and should hide that because it’s the start of your descent into irrelevance” get ingrained into women no matter how well they fight them. And even if you are magically resistant to the constant deluge of distilled insecurity, not everyone is, and they will be looking at you when you wear those old sneakers and twenty-year-old fleece. (Which I’m not saying is a bad thing to wear if you like it – just that our culture sucks).
Lastly, an important question is why do we perceive women as frivolous or silly for buying lots of clothes, but when men spend lots of money on traditionally male status symbols – a boat, say, or games, or a sports car, it is almost never remarked upon? Why is enjoying new clothing or putting effort into your appearance considered a female thing, and why is it considered shallow? Clothing is an art form and also a means of expression. We put effort into how we appear in other ways than clothing constantly, from body posture to facial expressions to intonation. Only being concerned with clothing, however, is considered shallow. Is it only coincidence that preoccupation with clothing is seem as typically female?
It’s really not that hard of a question to answer, but it’s not quite as funny, is it? You know what, let’s go back to calling women shallow, and pretending they’re arcane beings that will never be understood. And Amy, let’s cut all ties with women who are like that. Wouldn’t want to be like them.
I get angry sometimes.