Andrea Dezsö Lessons From My Mother interest me because they explore the culture of internalised misogyny within our families and the way we are brought up by our mothers and grandmothers. Much like the skill of embroidery, which is passed down and thought usually from mother to daughter the media used also reflects the messages passed down from mother to daughter which reflect the patriarchal messages ingrained in our perspective of what women should and shouldn’t do.
The subjects broached within her mothers “lessons” are probably something we have all experienced at some point, they explore the messages of virginity, rape culture, domestic abuse and victim blaming. All seeming to focus on the idea that it’s never the man’s fault.
Rosjke Hasseldine looks at which women are so critical towards women who speak out agains sexism. In her work she made a valuable points “It is very hard not to internalise this sexism because the consequences of rejecting it, especially in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ days, was to be ignored, criticised or rejected as a ‘bad’ woman” , “I frequently see women react with thinly veiled jealousy when they see other women stepping up and claiming a level of entitlement they can only dream of. An entitlement they either don’t know how to, or don’t feel entitled to claim for themselves” and “Fear of not being liked, of being alone, of the consequences of escaping and standing up for your rights and life, are strong motivators that make women pull each other back down to where it is sad but safe and familiar”
Most women don’t know anything other than the patriarchal values the have been raised with and it really effects their ability to see the inequality when we have lived in it for hundreds of years. How do you learn to say no when all you’ve been taught to do is say yes?
It’s this kind of thinking that makes it more obvious that some women will not see this project as anything other than “feminist drivel” while others will be widely supportive of it. I only hope that this piece will at least let women know that saying yes isn’t the only option.
Melissa May’s Dear Ursula explores the issue of industries (specifically Disney in argument) slimming down and maintaining this “thin agenda” when it comes to the bodies of female characters. Melissa really hits home on this point that as larger girls / women there was only really, Ursula to look up to and relate to. She, unlike the Red Queen was a larger woman who was happy and confident in her body. She was not mocked for it and for the bigger girls (myself included) Ursula made you feel happy about your figure. Although the point was to ostracise her for being fat it always felt like Ursula was in control. And Disney, when creating the “designer villain dolls” took away that sense of control and body confidence when they slimmed her out. It was as if they where almost saying, “You can’t be fat and beautiful.”
What Melissa did was call them out on this, she as a feminist called them out on their nonsense and sexism of trying to make every female character, whether good or bad thin and “attractive”. Her words are the modern day equivalent of cutting someone down with a sword. She is speaking for the women who say the image of the “new” Ursula and felt bad about themselves. She isn’t standing for this misogynistic rubbish and it’s this kind of no-nonsense woman speaking her mind that emulates modern day feminism.
Emma Gray hits on this point of them slimming down Ursula to make her aspirational for younger women. And honestly it disgusting, this trend of slimming down children’s toys so that young girls are continuously bombarded with the idea that they have to be thin, they must aspire to thinness at all cost. As Bella sugar said “Ursula forced to go on a crash diet so she could model for beauty products? Because that’s bullsh*t.”