Sunday, June 27, 2004
smart or beautiful
Last weekend I saw a cute, funny, frolic-filled opera by Czech composer LeoÂ JanÃ¡cek. The music was cheerful, the costumes delightful and overall it was a nice little escape. However, one section in the opera got me thinking about the constant challenge women have to be smart AND beautiful. The Vixen is portrayed as this beautiful, foxy, crafty woman. When she meets her love, she questions, "am i beautiful enough?" This bothers me. She's smart, she's cunning -- why aren't these factors presented in her monologue? Instead she worries about cuteness. In the opera she's portrayed as a feminist (certainly for the times this was true) as she tries to convince the chickens to revolt from their life of servitude under the Cock. The doublentendreses are all over the place, but at the end of the day...what matters is beauty. Ugh. When will we realize that pretty isn't enough? Or even what's most valuable? I agree, attraction is fundamentally important, but if you are cute and lack intelligence...this missing element always seems to outweigh the attraction. The Barenaked Ladies have a song (What a Good Boy) that i've always liked because it speaks to this idea of beauty as a fundamentally important attribute for determining a woman's worth. The song itself is more about the "chains" we're all born with -- men need to be smart (and strong) whereas women need to be smart and pretty:
When I was born, they looked at me and said
what a good boy, what a smart boy, what a strong boy.
And when you were born, they looked at you and said,
what a good girl, what a what a smart girl, what a pretty girl.
at some time we've got to come to a point where pretty is relevant, but you can achieve success without it. Seems to me like we are still far away from that.