If there’s one thing that appals me, it’s people who are perfectly comfortable saying that they aspire to be role models. Now, how could you possibly want as a role model anyone who sincerely thinks they should be one? Why don’t these individuals just up and start their own religions if they believe that they and their ways are so worthy of emulation?
What’s more, while I hate to hear about anyone of either sex either wanting to be or being a role model, I’ve come to the conclusion that role models for females are even worse than those for males. I’ve seen Bindi Irwin hailed far and wide as a role model for little girls, despite her uncanny resemblance to the child from The Bad Seed clothed in light brown. When it comes to role models for grown women, the females in question tend either to represent the country in sports such as netball, or to have jobs for which they are not expected to wear makeup, such as firefighting or zookeeping. In other words, don’t seem as though you care about ever having heterosexual sex if you want to be a role model for women.
This boring sexlessness is the case even with more glamorous female role models: without exception, they are actresses under the age of twenty-five who refuse to do nude scenes, are never pictured going lesbian at a wild party and claim to enjoy listening to their grandparents talk. Even less inspiring are the glamorous role models for older women: they are almost exclusively actresses in early middle age who ostentatiously breastfeed and lend their support to all manner of causes, and proudly limit themselves to taking roles that require so little of their time and energy that they can, they claim, undertake them and still be able to pick their children up from school.
The only types of women I aspired to be when I was young were: a) a member of a harem; b) a divorcee; or c) a smoker. I wanted to be in a harem so that I could wear sparkly pants and a veil, and lead what I then judged to be an undemanding existence. I wanted to be divorced because, thanks to the movies I saw on Bill Collins’s The Golden Years of Hollywood, I associated this state with having supper at nightclubs; having obliging servants; wearing swan’s-down-trimmed dressing-gowns; and, essentially, never working yet having the means to live in a splendid apartment. I wanted to be a smoker because, if you do it properly, smoking can look so very attractive. Yes, all right, it’s again with the movies, but consider, for example, the nicotine-fuelled allure of virtually the entire cast of All About Eve at virtually any moment in the film as they conduct the action through a haze of cigarette smoke.
I have to admit that there was one more conventionally positive role model who struck a chord with me: Wonder Woman as she appeared on television in the late nineteen seventies. However, this was because of her colourful bodice and the generous chest she crammed into it, and her glossy dark hair. It wasn’t that I wanted to be like her because I yearned to run fast or to do anything remotely useful.
I strongly recommend that humanity dispenses with the notion that there should be people whom we believe are better than we are to whom we should look to see what can be achieved in the short time we have on Earth. If it were up to me, society would adjust the definition of someone truly worth emulating to simply ‘Someone who doesn’t get into so much debt they end up living in someone else’s garage’.