Pristiq’s BLACK WIND-UP DOLL: Truly Disgusting Example of Current Social Discourse
I remember when there was the first black Barbie doll. I was very young, and did play with barbie dolls, and thought it was totally rad. Only I was very mistaken, she (Christie, huh, the same name as my childhood “imaginary friend” that was a little more than that…that’s a story for another day, though) was not the first, and the controversial history of the barbie doll of other colours than white is quite something – here’s a good starting place if you are interested. Now, “closer to 30 than 20″, I am quite disgusted that there is a black pristiq wind-up doll and seperate commercial with a black woman to go along with it, seen speaking at the side while the black WOMAN-doll winds herself up.
Wow. I almost vomited when I saw this for the first time, once I realized it wasn’t some kind of twisted dream (of what category? No idea…social horrors, sex fantasies, the decay of western society?). The first obvious questions is why is the second commercial for this horrible poison (an Effexor isomer, Effexor now having been proved to have the worst withdrawal syndrome of any antidepressant) directed at a different demographic cohort of the female cohort, rather than men, aside from the obvious racism that caused my stomach to flip before I pinched myself a few times. According to the DSM-IV-TR, the latest edition of the “Bible of Psychiatry”, the 900+ page reference book that lists all “psychiatric illnesses” any individual may suffer from, usually requiring them to meet a given number of criteria listed under a disorder – in this case, the drug is meant to treat “Major Depression – otherwise known as… sadness! Well, sadness that lasts longer than it is “supposed to”, causes one to <*gasp*> miss work, interferes with necessities like going shopping – or, on the other hand, may make a lady shop too much to avoid staring into that dark abyss called…life. For a pdf file of the whole book, click on “Free DSM-IV-TR” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision – the fifth edition, originally scheduled to come out this year, has been pushed up to 2013! I guess the world has to end first or something), and you can see the full list of “symptoms” of depression, as well as thousands of other disorders. The book states that “statistically”, it has been proven that women are twice as likely (I almost wrote “lucky”, Freudian slip?!) to come down with the “illness” as men.
As you know, I believe there are social causes underlying almost every “psychiatric illness”. I have come to terms, after being abused by my beloved partner while he was in the throes of a “manic episode”, that there are cases in which someone’s “break with reality” goes beyond the level of socialization, and our social order…perhaps. Was he acting out a strange tale of hegemonic masculinity that he learned watching movies about misogynistic alcoholics? Did he make the choice to carry on with his “manic” reality because he got such a “high” off of it? Or was something truly going wacky with the chemicals in his brain? I must say – I have no clue. But as for the “ove 1/2 of North Americans that suffer from “Major Depression”? I think it’s a complete sham to call it an illness, as we have a hell of a lot to be sad about, from the violent images we are bombarded with on the news everyday to the fact that we don’t have a clue how we’re going to pay the mortgage/rent next month, never mind where Mr. Mustard is with the wrench.
So, this nausea-inducing black female “wind-up doll” has a few things to tell us.
- Surprise! Despite the election of a (half) black president in the United States (who loves to mention his white grandmother in speeches, never his white mother, and who almost married a white woman, before it became clear that this would not benefit his political career. Gross.), racism is not “over” in North America! Maybe some secret statistics show that African-American women are not purchasing Pristiq at the same rate white women are – if this is the case, I am even more ashamed to be white than I already was. However, my “white-guilt” aside, instead of digging at the root of racial inequalities and feelings of alienation between black and white women in the United States (and Canada, albeit First Nations Peoples feel more of the type of racism Americans with ancestors originally from Africa do, demonstrated in cases like mass differences in imprisonment and poverty) let’s just give black women their own special commercial! Duh, the point is to sell, not to conduct social research. Usually, antidepressant print ads and television commercials show a multitude of “token” models or actors of various “races” (I prefer the term racialized bodies – here’s a good little pamphlet on racialization if you’re not familiar with the term), looking really happy and running through green pastures (sadly, not a word of exaggeration on the scenery). I guess this actually evens out sales by racial background?!? However, I suppose the very white original Pristiq doll was just too white. A gap in sales, this is what reason I can fathom for the new black doll – other ideas for a very slapped together looking commercial featuring a racialized black doll? Goddess, should we call her “Sha-Wanda” for good measure? I suppose the message is…Pristiq also “works” for black folks! (and the same side-effects, of course, also apply.)
- Women are definitely being diagnosed with Major Depression far more than men in the United States as Pristiq, pretty much the only commercial for an antidepressant that’s on TV as of late, is directed solely at women and “feminine” tasks – the list given after the winding starts, including “playing with the kids” and “cooking”. If men were not socialized to keep their feelings to themselves, I think this statistical illustration would look far different. For one, who do men take out their bottled up emotions on, when they finally have to burst? The women in their lives – be it their girlfriend, mother, spouse, sister, or aunt. NB: I am speaking from a gross perspective – that of the “heterosexual norm”, which I myself do not fit in to, but according to the DSM, only 10% of us are queer! Thus, I will talk of nuclear families here – although, perhaps lesbians make up a significant part of the depressed female population, as it is far more “hip” to be gay than a dyke, no? Maybe my non-hipsterness disqualifies me from saying so. Of course, such stats are not available to the public or students or profs – trust me, I’ve du. So, we have men expecting the women in their lives to act as pro-bono counselors, adding a whole new aspect to working the “double-day” (i.e. since it became financially impossible for most families to survive off one spouse’s income, women must work outside the home, and then are expected to take care of chores when they return. I see this changing within my generation ). I have felt like I’m working a “triple-day” at times, perhaps even a “quadruple-” during particular points in time and space. Women thus carry the double burden of their emotions, and those of their male partner, or perhaps those of multiple men. For example, punch me in the face for being a bad feminist, but during this past winter through spring, I felt responsible for keeping both my “man” (ex-fiancée) and my father content, and worried terribly when they were upset, never asking myself how I was feelings. Damn, doing so may have led me down a much easier path. Oh well. “Would you prefer the easy way? Well, okay then, don’t cry…” (Ani)
- Men place demands on women that the strongest, most independent women, have trouble saying “no” to. Let’s stop assigning “fear of abandonment” to a certain, extra messed up cohort of the female populace (it is listed under “Borderline Personality Disorder” as a classic symptom, as well as other “disorders” that are said to be more prevalent among women). Every woman I’ve ever known has had fears about their boyfriend/partner/etc leaving because they aren’t pretty enough, another more desirable woman is going to come along, they’re too demanding, they’re too independent, ad nauseam! This is a product of mainstream media – of covergirl, it’s America’s Next Top Model empire, pictures of airbrushed (read: fake, just like the Pristiq doll) women that we are supposed to live up to. As I mentioned the other day, during a talk in my sociology of sexuality class, years ago, my man-peers adamantly agreed without even thinking about it that all men learn about sex via pornography. Perhaps my “Viagra for men/antidepressants for women” joke is really not so funny…
- Then there’s the good old “looking-glass self” – we see around us a reflection of what women are “supposed to be like”, including participating in less thought and more feeling. How romantic, the way all of us are socialized to comply. However, I find that more and more, in hypermodern, neo-liberal, late-capitalist society, it is no longer okay for girls or women to cry. An “anti-emotionalism” has come to characterize this social order. This became especially apparent after traveling to Peru, where at Lover’s Park in Miraflores, Lima, it was a common sight to see women crying and consoling each other, or crying with their lovers, in public. The difference acted as a foil, revealing our anti-emotional culture up in the northern hemisphere. Lately, I have been scolded for crying in public, or treated like I’m just not right in the head – and in situations that are quite deserving of tears, like letting a few slip out when I am standing in line and thus late for a very important appointment. We would not have tear ducts if crying was unnatural, so what the eff is up with this latest development? Must we be robots? Gotcha.
In sum, I would like to suggest that women of all skin colors, languages, “classes” (in terms of financial capital), familial backgrounds, black-sheep, white-sheep, grey-sheep, and the most simple dividing line that has, in the past even been used to differentiate Slavic and Jewish people from “whites” no matter how white their skin is – see their similarities rather than their sometimes very arbitrary differences. All women are paid less than men, by about a $10,000 year margin if one is making the large sum of $60,000/year (and male). All women must put up with unsolicited ass-grabbing on busy commuter trains or while in line for a drink at a bar (Once I grabbed back, and almost got slapped across the face ). All women know about being treated like pieces of meat by men, even the men they love dearly, or men they thought they loved, or boys they knew when they were teenage girls.
Women must unite to fight and put an end to their marginalization and subjectification, which is as alive and healthy as ever, in the workplace, the classroom, the bedroom, the welfare line, and anytime it comes down to “cutting in line”. Ladies, we are upset for good reason, we do not have a “disease” that we can only “talk to our doctors about”.
We need to talk to one another, and fast, whether we are green, yellow, purple, pink or blue – or else despite the fact that they wear repressive clothing, women in countries we call “backwards” like Iran and Egypt, women are going to keep growing in numbers of governmental representatives until we become the laughing stock of the world, popping our little pills to wind ourselves up to do what we are told to under a patriarchal system. Any “thing”, which this commercial – both “black” and “white” versions! – makes women out to be – mere objects to be wound up! – that is controlled by robotic parts breaks rather quickly, even if powered by Lithium (pun intended) batteries. These pills will hurt you – let’s please, please, stop hurting each other and work to build, not to break.