Less is Moore

As I entered my parents’ home one evening, I was immediately greeted by the hearty tones of my father’s booming voice critiquing the contestants on one of his favorite game shows. “Stupido! Madonna, what a dumb!” I hear him belting out from downstairs. The language he employs is a variable amalgam of Italian, his mother tongue, and English. This is how I often describe my father’s parlance, for I always wince at the common phrase “broken English,” and I try to avoid it for three reasons: firstly, it implies that his language has been shattered or damaged in some way. Secondly, it grossly belies and causes one to greatly underestimate how intelligent he is. Thirdly, “broken English” has a pejorative connotation that undermines the endearing effect that the language has on the speaker’s loved ones as well as the ability to make them smile.

Following his boisterous voice down the stairs into the family room, I encountered an always quaint and familiar scene. My father, after a long and cold day, was nestled in his favorite chair beneath his sauna of blankets enjoying the popular game show Family Feud. I quietly took a seat in the family room and heard the ever charismatic host, Steve Harvey, asking the following question: “Name something that a woman would lie about on a first date.” Immediately after, one contestant beamed as she excitedly buzzed in with the number one answer, which was, of course, “her age.”

On hearing her response, my father slowly turned around in his chair to face me, which surprised me a bit as I didn’t realize that he had heard me come in. He looked at me pensively for a moment and said, “You have to explain me why the women in this country they can’t tell you how old they are.” His question caused me to smile to myself as I recalled my mother telling me of the various awkward encounters that resulted from my father innocently and unabashedly asking women their age many years ago when he had just transferred here from Italy. Indeed, my father meant no harm, for he didn’t understand (as he still doesn’t now) why anyone should be embarrassed to reveal how many years one has been alive.

I chuckled gently and shrugged my shoulders at what I believed to be a purely rhetorical question, but then, I noticed that he was still looking at me rather intently. Also, I saw that he had put the DVR on Pause, so obviously, he was waiting for an answer. I hesitated for a moment, for truthfully, I couldn’t come up with a logical response. After a pause, I cleared my throat and heard myself reply, “Well … here in America … sometimes women are made to feel … like we lose value as we get older.” I started at the sound of these words coming from my own mouth.

My father was quiet for a moment, and as I looked at his face, I could see his eyes narrowing slightly as if he were mulling over what I had said. He then took in a breath and made this cynical vocalization that I have been hearing him make for years: “Ppfffffftt.” The only way that I can describe this monosyllabic utterance would be by comparing it to the noise of gas being let out of a tire, “Ppfffffftt.” I have come to understand this to be his own blunt way of saying, “That’s so ridiculous!” He instantly turned around, took the DVR off of Pause, and continued to quietly watch his show.

As the show progressed, I heard the other contestants proceed to fire off their guesses, many of which were correct; a woman would lie about her weight, how many romantic relationships she’s had, how much money she makes, etc. Quite frankly, none of these responses were particularly shocking as many people would assume that a woman would lie about each of these things, always to make these numbers appear to be smaller than those of her male counterparts. As I listened to these contestants’ responses in this moment, though, I just couldn’t stop thinking about my father’s question, and I began to really reflect on the absurdity of this concept. Think about it: we live in a society that would indirectly tell a woman that she should be ashamed of the number of years that she has existed, the amount of space that her body mass is taking up on this Earth, the number of meaningful experiences or accomplishments that she has had in this lifetime, and the list goes on and on. Women are often instructed to keep their voices down, to avoid confrontation, and to avoid throwing their weight around, and in all of this, the message is very clear: women should strive to be as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as humanly possible. This is a hazardous message.

The acclaimed writer and speaker, Jean Kilbourne, who has spent much of her distinguished career examining the effects of the media, particularly advertising, on gender identity, has explored the ways in which the media perpetuates these harmful gender stereotypes. In her 2012 book, Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Kilbourne discusses how, encoded in the rhetoric used by advertising and the media, there is a mode of speaking that, quite literally, belittles women: "‘We cut Judy down to size,’ says an ad for a health club. ‘Soon, you'll both be taking up less space,’ says an ad for a collapsible treadmill, referring both to the product and to the young woman exercising on it.’” According to Kilbourne, in utilizing this kind of verbiage that encourages women to be as unobtrusive and invisible as possible, it becomes much easier to strip them of their power.

Somehow, the notion that women should remain inconspicuous, and thusly, powerless, has always called to mind a line from Robert Browning’s poem "Andrea del Sarto" that I remember reading in college. The line reads simply, "Less is more.” The phrase frustrated me to no end when I first read it, for I just could not wrap my mind around what Browning was saying. Having never been a fan of the understated myself, to me, more has always been … well … more. Today, as I contemplate this platitude, I can’t help but notice how similar this concept is to our modern society’s ideology regarding women. In essence, women are being told that the less obtrusive and visible they make themselves, the more desirable they will be.

This issue has been on my mind quite a bit in recent days in light of the barrage of women that have come forth lately to speak out about the sexual harassment and assault that they have experienced at the hands of powerful men. In fact, the movement has gained so much momentum that Time magazine’s coveted title of “Person of the Year” for 2017 was awarded to the “Silence Breakers,” a group of famous, accomplished women who had all been victims of sexual harassment/assault and who encouraged all other victims to speak out by employing the simple hashtag “#MeToo” on social media.  Although I was certainly elated and greatly encouraged by the women of this movement receiving this honor, I couldn’t help but be disheartened by the level of vitriol and hatred for which these women immediately became a target.

Each day it seems as though I’ve been deeply disconcerted by the animus that has been directed at the alleged victims of sexual harassment/assault simply because they dared to use their voices to speak up about this issue. These women were met by vicious rancor at all angles. Just recently, Republican Representative from Illinois, Rodney Davis, even made a statement that he believes that, with all of the women coming forward as of late, some businesses “… may just take a shortcut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues.” On first hearing his statement, I must admit that I instantly thought that this was simply an unpopular, fringe opinion by a far-right government official; however, just a brief glance over the comments sections of a few online articles on this topic quickly refuted this theory. These sections were full of comments proclaiming what an excellent idea it would be to stop hiring women as a solution to the problem. One comment went as far as to suggest that the problem would cease if employers were to just stop hiring “entitled bitches,” as if a woman not wanting to encounter sexual harassment/assault in her place of work automatically marked her as a self-entitled elitist.

In all of the pernicious attacks meant to malign these alleged victims, the underlying intimation was very clear: the women themselves are directly to blame for what has befallen them because they failed to remain inconspicuous, invisible, and powerless, in accordance with society’s expectations. This past week, an experiment was conducted by Divided States of Women (Twitter: @DSoWomen ‏), a media organization that explores a myriad of controversial issues that women are currently facing.  In this social experiment, Liz Plank, the Executive Producer of Divided States of Women, walks a crowded city street claiming that she had discovered a product that will end all sexual harassment. She then presents a number of strangers with a large tarp, claiming that if women would only cover themselves with the tarp while in the workplace, thus rendering themselves invisible, the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace would be solved. Of course, the strangers she encountered on the street found this solution to be ludicrous, and rightfully so, as the experiment was obviously meant to be a satirical demonstration of the senselessness of punishing women for men’s transgressions. However, after viewing the video, I couldn’t help but ask myself whether or not covering women with a tarp to avoid sexual harassment is any more asinine than not hiring them at all for the same motive.

Although in these last few months, many such instances of blatant misogyny have been pervading our society, I believe that the most prominent example of this heinous disregard for women would be the sequence of events that have surrounded the special election for the Senate seat in Alabama, on December 12, 2017. This past November, I listened as at least nine women came forward to accuse Republican candidate, Roy Moore, of various counts of sexual misconduct, most of which took place in the late 1970s when Moore was in his thirties, and most of the women were in their teens, the youngest being only fourteen-years-old. I listened as many members of the GOP tried to defend Moore’s alleged targeting of young girls, even going as far as to cite the age difference between Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus Christ, in an attempt to justify this behavior. I listened as right-wing media outlets, as well as Moore himself, used every opportunity to silence these women by trying to discredit their allegations through attacking their appearance, their integrity, their intelligence, and their mental stability in the pettiest, most malicious of ways. I listened as several polls suggested that a very substantial percentage of conservatives were even more likely to vote for Moore after the accusations, for they doubted the stories of the women. I listened as excerpts of a textbook that was co-written by Moore in 2011, which blatantly stated that women should not be permitted to vote or run for office, were made public, and this still didn’t sway his most fervid supporters, men and women alike. In short, I was horrified. On December 12, when Moore lost the election by a small margin to the Democrat Doug Jones, I felt a plethora of mixed emotions. On one hand, I was, of course, relieved and happily surprised, as I did not expect these results at all. At the same time, however, I was heart-sick and utterly crestfallen that even after the level of palpable misogyny displayed by this man, at least 650,436 individuals would have still rather seen him in this position of power than a respectable Democrat.

As I ruminate on all of these recent events, I must admit that it’s difficult not to feel disillusionment. While the problem is abundantly simple to define, the solution is a bit harder to exact. In my living memory, there has never been a time where resisting society’s expectations of women to be unobtrusive, inconspicuous, frail, invisible, and powerless has been so crucial. In my opinion, the most efficient method of accomplishing this is by using our voices, for language is the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal. Melinda Gates once said, "A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." I agree, and in recent days, I’ve learned that in order to be strong, it is of paramount importance that we speak out in the face of injustice, and regardless of what the old adage says, when we are trying to make ourselves heard, less isn’t always more.


Contributing Editor: Daniella Rossi

Daniella Rossi (@Nottestellata10) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where she currently teaches English at the college level.  Although she greatly enjoys teaching, her first passion has always been writing, for she is a firm believer of Stephen King’s notion that “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.” She has recently renewed her passion for the written word and has begun writing a blog: musingsfromableedingheart.blogspot.com.


  • Wendi
    Posted January 21, 2018 10:45 pm 2Likes

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This piece of writing posted at
    this site is really pleasant.

    • Daniella Rossi
      Posted January 24, 2018 7:27 pm 1Likes

      Hi, Wendi! I’m doing alright. How are you? Thank you so much for reading my little article. I really appreciate it. I enjoy coming here to read the various posts as well. If you would ever like to take a look at some of my other writing, you can check out my blog at musingsfromableedingheart.blogspot.com. Thank you again! 🙂

  • kobe 11
    Posted April 23, 2018 12:58 pm 0Likes

    I as well as my pals happened to be looking at the good tips and hints found on your website and then then developed an awful suspicion I never thanked the site owner for those secrets. The young boys were definitely totally glad to learn them and now have actually been loving those things. Thank you for truly being quite accommodating and also for opting for variety of tremendous subject matter millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. My very own honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  • adidas outlet online
    Posted April 24, 2018 12:26 pm 0Likes

    I would like to show appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this particular trouble. Because of surfing around through the world wide web and seeing tricks that were not productive, I thought my entire life was gone. Being alive without the presence of strategies to the problems you have solved all through the write-up is a serious case, as well as the ones that could have in a negative way affected my career if I hadn’t encountered your web blog. Your own personal understanding and kindness in controlling the whole lot was very useful. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a step like this. I am able to now look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the professional and effective help. I will not be reluctant to suggest the sites to anyone who should receive guide about this area.

  • adidas yeezy boost
    Posted April 25, 2018 12:15 pm 0Likes

    I wish to express my passion for your generosity supporting people who need help on your matter. Your special commitment to getting the solution all around became amazingly invaluable and have consistently empowered associates just like me to get to their targets. Your personal invaluable help and advice can mean a whole lot to me and especially to my colleagues. Regards; from all of us.

  • basketball shoes
    Posted April 26, 2018 3:51 am 0Likes

    Thanks so much for giving everyone a very memorable chance to read in detail from this website. It’s always very terrific plus full of a lot of fun for me and my office friends to visit your website no less than 3 times weekly to read the latest tips you have got. And indeed, I’m also actually amazed with your striking secrets served by you. Some two points on this page are easily the finest I’ve ever had.

  • pandora charms
    Posted April 26, 2018 8:31 pm 0Likes

    I just wanted to jot down a small word so as to say thanks to you for some of the magnificent guides you are showing on this site. My considerable internet research has at the end of the day been rewarded with high-quality facts and techniques to go over with my contacts. I would claim that many of us readers are extremely fortunate to exist in a decent place with many awesome people with beneficial basics. I feel somewhat blessed to have discovered your entire weblog and look forward to plenty of more fun minutes reading here. Thanks once more for everything.

  • Adidas NMD XR1 Camouflage Main Blue
    Posted April 27, 2018 12:32 am 0Likes

    I needed to create you this very little remark in order to say thank you yet again regarding the lovely tips you have featured at this time. It is simply strangely open-handed of you in giving publicly what exactly a lot of folks could have offered for sale as an ebook to help with making some cash for themselves, notably considering the fact that you might have done it if you ever wanted. The secrets also acted to become a easy way to be sure that most people have the same dreams like mine to see way more in regard to this problem. I think there are thousands of more pleasant times ahead for individuals who scan your blog.

  • Michael Kors Grayson Logo Large Black Satchels
    Posted April 27, 2018 10:59 am 0Likes

    I want to show my thanks to you for bailing me out of such a crisis. Right after browsing throughout the world-wide-web and coming across solutions that were not beneficial, I assumed my entire life was well over. Existing without the solutions to the problems you’ve solved all through this write-up is a critical case, and the kind which might have negatively affected my entire career if I had not noticed your web site. Your main understanding and kindness in taking care of every part was vital. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this moment look forward to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the expert and sensible help. I won’t think twice to suggest your web page to anybody who wants and needs guidance about this issue.

  • moncler jackets
    Posted April 27, 2018 3:41 pm 0Likes

    I truly wanted to jot down a quick note to appreciate you for the great guides you are giving out here. My long internet lookup has at the end been compensated with sensible insight to go over with my close friends. I would suppose that most of us readers are really blessed to dwell in a really good community with many outstanding individuals with beneficial hints. I feel truly blessed to have come across your entire web pages and look forward to tons of more enjoyable moments reading here. Thank you once again for a lot of things.

  • nike flyknit
    Posted April 28, 2018 10:25 am 0Likes

    I wish to show thanks to the writer just for rescuing me from this particular circumstance. Right after exploring throughout the online world and seeing tips that were not helpful, I believed my life was over. Being alive without the strategies to the difficulties you’ve solved by means of the short article is a critical case, as well as ones that might have in a negative way affected my entire career if I hadn’t discovered your web blog. Your good knowledge and kindness in dealing with all things was precious. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come across such a subject like this. I am able to at this moment relish my future. Thanks for your time very much for the skilled and results-oriented guide. I won’t think twice to suggest your web sites to anyone who will need tips on this situation.

  • michael kors handbags
    Posted April 29, 2018 9:40 am 0Likes

    My wife and i ended up being so thankful when Louis managed to deal with his homework out of the precious recommendations he received from your web site. It is now and again perplexing to just continually be making a gift of guides that many people today have been selling. We really fully grasp we’ve got the blog owner to give thanks to for that. The entire explanations you’ve made, the straightforward blog navigation, the relationships your site help promote – it’s got many excellent, and it is letting our son and us do think the matter is awesome, and that is especially serious. Thanks for the whole thing!

  • bape hoodie
    Posted April 30, 2018 2:47 am 0Likes

    I simply wanted to thank you so much yet again. I do not know what I could possibly have sorted out without the recommendations shown by you directly on that topic. This was an absolute troublesome circumstance in my view, but encountering a well-written manner you resolved it forced me to cry over fulfillment. I’m just happier for the information and believe you really know what a powerful job you have been getting into training others thru your webblog. Most likely you have never met all of us.

  • hyperdunks
    Posted May 1, 2018 3:30 am 0Likes

    Needed to write you the very little observation just to give many thanks as before for those gorgeous tips you’ve shown at this time. It is simply incredibly generous with people like you giving openly what a few individuals would have offered as an e-book to end up making some cash for themselves, primarily since you might have done it if you ever decided. The tactics as well worked to become easy way to understand that most people have the same desire much like my own to find out a little more with regards to this problem. I think there are several more enjoyable periods ahead for those who start reading your website.

  • air jordan 4
    Posted May 2, 2018 5:56 am 0Likes

    I’m just writing to let you know of the fantastic encounter our girl found going through your blog. She figured out some pieces, with the inclusion of how it is like to possess an incredible teaching heart to get other people without difficulty thoroughly grasp various very confusing issues. You truly did more than our desires. I appreciate you for showing these warm and friendly, trustworthy, informative and in addition unique guidance on this topic to Ethel.

  • hogan outlet
    Posted May 3, 2018 9:07 am 0Likes

    A lot of thanks for all of the hard work on this web page. Kim loves carrying out investigations and it’s obvious why. Most of us notice all about the powerful medium you offer effective tips and tricks via your website and in addition encourage contribution from people on the area plus our girl is always discovering a great deal. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You’re conducting a stunning job.

  • michael kors outlet
    Posted May 4, 2018 5:26 am 0Likes

    I precisely had to thank you very much once more. I’m not certain what I would have done without the type of creative concepts revealed by you concerning such a industry. It has been a real frustrating scenario for me, nevertheless looking at the very skilled way you handled it forced me to weep for fulfillment. I’m just thankful for the guidance and then believe you recognize what an amazing job you happen to be carrying out instructing the mediocre ones all through your web page. I am certain you haven’t come across any of us.

  • eebest8 best
    Posted June 17, 2018 12:30 am 0Likes

    “This is one awesome blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…”

  • diesel denim division t shirt QCtee
    Posted August 20, 2018 9:10 am 0Likes

    Іts like you learn mу thoughts! You appear to know so much
    abоut this, like you ѡrote the e-book in it οr something.
    I feel that you simply could do with some percent to power
    the message house a little bit, however insteаd of that, that is excellent blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  • zvodret iluret
    Posted September 12, 2018 7:27 pm 0Likes

    Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered so far. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

  • arden
    Posted September 18, 2018 8:52 pm 0Likes

    Do yߋu mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I
    pr᧐vide credit and sources back to your website?
    My blog is in the very same nicһe as уours and my
    visitorѕ would really benefit from some оf the information yօu present here.
    Plеase let me know if this okay with you. Тhanks!

  • lifetimes
    Posted October 31, 2018 7:52 pm 0Likes

    Thanks very іnteresting blog!

  • escalates
    Posted November 30, 2018 4:58 pm 0Likes

    Whɑt’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this
    I’vе discovered It absolutely helpful and it has
    aided me ᧐ut loаɗs. I һope to cⲟntrіbute & heⅼp other
    cսstomerѕ ⅼike its aіded me. Good job.

  • consoling
    Posted December 12, 2018 11:19 pm 0Likes

    Hi, I ⅾo think thiѕ is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back once
    again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to chаnge, may you
    be rich and continue to help others.

  • me suba
    Posted December 20, 2018 6:10 pm 0Likes

    GfXVqp Major thanks for the blog post.Thanks Again. Will read on

  • Www.governmentjobsvacancies.com
    Posted December 21, 2018 9:04 am 0Likes

    Thanks-a-mundo for the post.Much thanks again. Great.

Add Comment