This entry doesn't quite reach the level of a "this week in the news" post, but I hope you'll feel a little frustrated too as you read over the snippets.
First up, a friend brought my attention to the controversy over a Senegalese statue. I probably don't have to point out how much larger the man is than the woman, or how sexualized she is, or the way she hangs limply from his muscular body. According to the article, many Senegalese are irate over the statue, and not just because of the enormous expense. No, far from seeing the nakedness of the woman statue as liberating, they resent what they perceive as an inaccurate and demeaning representation of women from their culture.
As a creative writing MFA student, I sympathize with artistic vision, even when it runs counter to a dominant cultural current. But I also recognize the power of art to influence in both positive and negative ways. Besides, by setting specific parameters on what the statue will symbolize (the spirit of African liberation), the President of Senegal fudges the line between art and propaganda. Not all propaganda is bad, mind you, but he's sending a peculiar message about the spirit of the African people. Women are part of Africa, just as much as men, so why does the man take center stage, while the woman dangles like a prop, in skimpy clothing that objectifies her in the eyes of the very women she's meant to represent?
On another note, today I received an email from BYU's graduate student association. The email outlined upcoming events, one of which is a forum of female faculty. What is the forum about? Well, according to the email, they will "discuss how to balance professional life with family and religion." I know this is an important subject, and I'm glad that a forum exists where these topics will be discussed. And to be fair, the email also says they'll discuss the value of higher education. But I don't think the issue of balancing family and professional life is a woman's issue - I think these are issues that impact both men and women, and they should be discussed by panels of men and women alike. Contrary to common belief, it is possible to support the idea of men and women having different roles in marriage without A) becoming overly prescriptive about it or B) pretending that women are the only people who think about how to prioritize family life. In a faith like mine, where marriage and family are essential obligations for everyone, men have just as high an obligation to family as women do and would benefit just as much from hearing members of their own sex discuss these questions.
What else is bugging Emily at the moment? Glad you asked. Ads for diet pills, gym memberships, and diet programs are running rampant in the New Years frenzy. My advice to anyone who doesn't need to lose weight for medical reasons: take a deep breath, and then say 'no' to the fads. Let's just focus on developing healthy lifestyles, and then, if our body mass becomes a medical problem anyway, then we can look into other options. Just look at the Cathy comic - she's been dieting for years, and it hasn't made her happy or healthy. Let's not pull a Cathy.
And the final issue to irritate me over the last few days: The New York Times gave Mark Sanford's pending divorce the benefit of an entire paragraph. Really? We need to learn more about that?
That's enough frustration for the moment. Check back soon for some more scintillating discussions/ vents. A guest contributor is working on a piece about the controversial "Save The Boobs" breast cancer prevention ads, and Erica and I will be announcing the themes of upcoming months.