Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Special Typical K

I’m totally not the first person to write about this commercial, thank Goddess, but since it’s past the holiday season and Special K insists on still showing it, it merits further comment. Many of my posts will be focusing on general themes: the male gaze, the man-child, the spectacle of women, etc. We can file this one under “Less is More”, where women are led to believe that the less space they take up, the better. Men are expected to bulk up—think Bow Flex—while women are suppose to slim down practically to the point of disappearing or at least being so thin that they are weak and defenseless. It furthers the underlying societal idea that women are not suppose to be powerful or strong, in mind or in body.

Since I can’t find the commercial anywhere on the internet (hmmmm…) and my computer froze on the Special K website (double hmmmmm…), I’ll just explain it. A woman is playing at a child’s table with what’s assumed to be her daughter, making paper snowflakes. She’s sitting in a red children’s chair with arms. (Special K, you are so subtle with your red references). The phone rings and when she gets to get up, she finds that the chair is stuck to her ass. Or, she is “so big” that she can’t just get up from the chair; she gets stuck in it. Let me remind you, this is a child’s chair. Anyway, the already thin woman feels all embarrassed and promptly eats Special K to help her get down to her ideal weight—her 6 year old daughter’s weight.

Between you and me, I’m sick of this. The “Less is More” mindset that is so ingrained in our society effects our everyday lives from the seemingly trivial to the horrifying. For example: have you ever gotten on a subway, sat down, have a man sit next to you and automatically he takes up his whole seat and much of yours too? You are forced to cross your legs uncomfortably tight, hold all your possessions including your purse (which is probably bigger than anything he’s carrying, if he’s carrying anything at all) and scrunch up to accommodate his… well, let’s be honest, his almighty penis. You know, my vagina needs room too! Let me sit with my legs a reasonable width apart within my allotted leg space, not give up half of it so that you can sit with your legs spread at a 90 degree angle! Or, for us short women, who not only take up less space width-wise, but also, vertically, have you ever had to um, DUCK under a man’s arm because he would not move it to let you through? I’m sorry, but I’m not one for sniffing your nasty B.O. so move your arm and quit playing London Bridge with me. I usually counter that with saying “commin’ through!” in my thickest New Jersey accent possible.

So we see that this concept appears to manifest in the most mundane situations. It also manifests itself in much more direct and horrifying ways. The prevalence of eating disorders, the abuse of women, the glass ceiling (stop me before I get depressed). Women not only are supposed to be weak and small, but they are also supposed to be child-like and malleable. The only way women are big and “acceptable” is when either certain body parts are big, i.e.-boobs, and/or are for public consumption. So women can exist if they are there for entertainment, touching, derogatory comments, the male gaze, or objection. Also, if they happen to be pregnant, there’s the “vessel” complex, or maternal-fetal conflict where their bodies are made public for the sake of "reproductive futurism". The largeness of the pregnant belly is “acceptable” if it a) can be touched to feel the fetus move, b) controlled by way of keeping her pregnant by denying abortion at any stage of pregnancy, sometimes without consideration of the woman’s own life, c) if she is married, and d) if it’s only big for a few months and goes right back to slender after the delivery. Oh, the dichotomy of the pregnant virgin and the soulless whore.

Anyway, I guess you could say that this particular Special K commercial stirs up some strong feelings in me! And on a final note, the picture that accompanies this post was one that I am not 100% comfortable posting due to the race relations. I do feel that white women come from a more privileged position than Black men; however, I would like to highlight the body language as being a perfect example of “Less is More”.

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