Although what I’m about to say has definitely been said before, I feel like it’s a feminist topic that needs redress, so here it is: Women judge other women. I don’t like it, but I’ve come to accept that it is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Men judge women, too (and vice versa), but I think we can argue that there is a social dynamic among women based in an active culture of judgement. And whether we realize it or not, we like it. We get something out of it.
An obsession with female celebrities in our society is, of course, a large part of it. We buy magazines featuring catch lines like “Stars without makeup!” and watch reality TV shows like The Real Housewives. We frequent ridiculously critical celebrity gossip sites. For whatever reason–maybe we’re bored, maybe we’re trying to zone out after a stressful day, or maybe we just need some reassurance that all women have physical flaws–we’re attracted to the actof judging. We’re drawn to the ritual of seeing and evaluating women’s bodies and behavior. The major problem with all of this? (After all, you may ask, do we really care about judging celebrities? Aren’t they putting themselves out there to be judged? Aren’t they making money off it?) Well, the problem is that it subconsciously conditions us to judge all women.
I started thinking about all of this after a conversation with one of my good friends. For some reason we got on the topic of “the Royals,” and then, of course, to the one and only Kate Middleton. First off, let me say this: I like Kate Middleton (Should I be calling her Catherine now? The Duchess?). At least, I like what limited snapshots I see of her in photos and magazine covers. On an imaginary likability scale she scores pretty high. After all, what’s not to like? At the very least, I think we can agree that she certainly does not offend. My friend, however, thinks otherwise. To be fair, it’s not that she doesn’t like her, exactly. She simply describes the Princess as “boring.”
Boring is certainly not the way I would describe Kate or her life. I imagine to her it’s not boring at all. Behind that signature smile and those immaculate outfits, I wonder if she’s exhausted. I wonder if she likes the endless duties and image-related obligations associated with being a Royal. I wonder how she feels about being photographed all the time. I wonder how, in a word, she would really describe her mother-in-law.
Still, I can sort of understand what my friend means by “boring.” In this sense, Kate is boring because she seems perfect, because she’s never messed up. But do we want her to mess up? My friend does, but I can’t say I feel the same way. I admire Kate’s image of grace and class. I like that she seems put together and relaxed. It’s nice to see a female celebrity who’s not on the edge of a breakdown or constantly on the worst-dressed list (yes, I’m guilty of clicking on those photos, too). If boring means stable or reliable, then I guess Kate is quite guilty.
Kate is not a train wreck, and I don’t anticipate her ever becoming one. But for some reason she is still the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. But why do we feel that we need to judge her–to have an opinion about her? To dismiss her?Why do feel like we have the right to categorize someone who we will never actually know?
To be honest, I do have one criticism of Kate, or a curiosity, rather: I’ve never heard her speak. I’ve never read a quote from her. I have to wonder, is she so likable because she is so silent? I’m sure everything she says and does is highly monitored by Royal family rules and what not, but I’d love to hear the woman say something. Preferably something intelligent or meaningful, but I’d even take something purely candid. She doesn’t need to be a political expert or a social activist, but I’d like to hear or read something of her thoughts. Why? Because she’s a woman in the spotlight who, among other things, seems to have her life together, and it’d be nice to hear her relate. It’d be nice to know something of her personality, her mind. More than ever, I think we need smart, sophisticated role models, women who are genuine and if not flawed, at least human.
So why doesn’t Kate publicly speak? I’m guessing she doesn’t say much because she doesn’t want to make herself (and her family) open to negative judgment. But if the world wasn’t so predatory, perhaps she’d have the space to pleasantly surprise us. On that note, perhaps a lot more women would.