Friday, August 20, 2010

Sofia Vergara of Modern Family in the Latest Edition of Esquire

The following image irks me for quite a few reasons.

 At first glance this photo doesn't seem bad does it?  She is not grossly photoshopped, the way we have been accustomed to seeing images in the media.  What the hell could I possibly have to complain about right?  Well, how about the fact that they have placed her in a kitchen in panties and freaking high heels.  Magazines don't have to use photoshopp to demean women; they simply need to put them in situations that are sexist.  A lot of women cook, but how many do it with a smile, in panties and high heels.  This photo is ridiculous and it is a reflection of the patriarchal lens with which women have been constructed in the media.  How many times have you heard some asshole say, get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich? I know I get a comment mirroring those exact same words several times a day.

To Vergara, this was probably just a simple little publicity shoot, but I look at this image and I see all the ways in which women's labour has been devalued.  She is an actress on a hit show, and yet what do we get?  Her in high heels and panties pretending to bake.  Women's achievements are continually being devalued.  Have a conversation about a woman in an upper management position, and I guarantee you, some jerk will imply that she got they got there on her back and not through merit. Women are expected to restrict our conversation to hearth and home, when we are allowed to get a full sentence in, because men love to interrupt us. Women are constantly being sexualized and that is because we are viewed as male property, who exist for the sole purposes of fulfilling male needs.

Vergara is currently a nominee for an Emmy in the role of Best Supporting Actress on a comedy show and Modern Family, is also nominated for an Emmy.  The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have named her, one of the most talented and powerful women in Hispanic entertainment. This is a woman that is at the top of her game, but why focus on that, when her sex appeal can be placed front and center?  According to wikkipedia, Vergara is a natural blond, but dyes her hair brunette upon request, "to make her look more stereotypically." Latina. This is about type casting her into the ultimate Latina fantasy woman.   Yep, hot tamale over here.  Why even bother pretend she is more than a fluffer?

It also cannot be denied that image is also very important to Vergara judging from her comments Esquire.
"L.A. is crazy. The women all look the same now," the 38-year-old Emmy nominee told Esquire while discussing plastic surgery. (As per Vergara, she's had none, though she says she may be tempted to fix up her eyes when she's older).

"That thing with the cheeks. Like Madonna. Who do they think they're fooling? It doesn't make them look young. You end up looking like a freak," said Vergara, thus concluding her soundoff about women who've paid to attain just a smidgen of the beauty that people like her have had the freakishly good luck of scoring through the genetic lottery.
I suppose Vergara thinks that she is better, but really -- she is no different than any other starlet in Hollywood.  They, like all women on the planet are all performing for patriarchy. What did Vergara gain from attacking a successful entertainer and businesswoman like Madonna? Women sabotage each other everyday and whether it is her deciding to pose for that ridiculous photo, or the comments she made about Madonna, all of it serves to keep men in control.  Servicing men and running down women, are actions women take daily, because far too many see progress as only possible by gaining the attention and acceptance of men, rather than finding the strength and solidarity of women.

As women's activists, we talk a lot about patriarchy and sexism.  There is definitely a gender imbalance in this world, however; we cannot and should not ignore the ways in which women perpetuate this chasm with their actions.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, Vergara has not done anything worse than millions of women do each day.  The problem is that this is happening on such a large scale daily.  I am not advocating that we start to police the behaviour of women -- but I do think that small everyday occurrences like this, should cause us to think about the ways in which we promote patriarchy to get ahead.