Apparently, a whole lot.
- Married to Rick Ocasek (Leader of rock band The Cars)
- Only the 2nd model to ever appear on consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions
- Christie Brinkley was the 1st
- Judge on “America’s Next Top Model”
Paulina Porizkova wrote a brilliant essay for The New York Times Sunday Review, which may not seem notable at first. The Sunday Review is, week in and week out, filled with brilliant essays.
But Porizkova is a woman and an immigrant: two groups that don’t have enough seats at the table right now.
The table is where the power is. The table is where decisions are made. The table is where your voice gets heard and, more importantly, factored in.
On top of that, Porizkova is a model and an actress: two groups we rarely look to for cultural insight.
Here’s our cue to change all that.
“America made me a feminist” is a look at Porizkova’s gradual adoption of the word “feminist” after several decades of rejecting it as insecure posturing.
“A woman who needed to state that she was equal to a man might as well be shouting that she was smart or brave,” she writes. “If you were, you wouldn’t need to say it. I thought this because back then, I was a Swedish woman.”
Porizkova was born in Czechoslovakia. Her family moved to Sweden when she was a girl, and she started attending Swedish schools at age 9.
“I was bullied by a boy for being an immigrant,” she writes. “My one friend, a tiny little girl, punched him in the face. I was impressed. In my former country, a bullied girl would tattle or cry. I looked around to see what my new classmates thought of my friend’s feat, but no one seemed to have noticed. It didn’t take long to understand that in Sweden, my power was suddenly equal to a boy’s.”
In Czechoslovakia, she writes, the women worked all day and served their families all night. “In return, those women were cajoled, ignored and occasionally abused, much like domestic animals.”
In Sweden, housekeeping was divided equally, even by her Czechoslovakian father. “Why? He had divorced my mother and married a Swedish woman.”
Sex education was comprehensive and not rooted in fear.
“Sex education taught us the dangers of venereal diseases and unwanted pregnancy, but it also focused on fun stuff like masturbation,” she writes. “For a girl to own her sexuality meant she owned her body, she owned herself. Women could do anything men did, but they could also — when they chose to — bear children. And that made us more powerful than men. The word ‘feminist’ felt antiquated; there was no longer a use for it.”
Then she moved to Paris. She was 15 and working as a model, and she started to feel, for the first time in years, patronized — powerful, still, but in a way that required allure and mystery, rather than strength and openness.
At 18, she moved to the United States. Here, she writes, she began to feel her power slip away.
“In America, a woman’s body seemed to belong to everybody but herself. Her sexuality belonged to her husband, her opinion of herself belonged to her social circles, and her uterus belonged to the government. She was supposed to be a mother and a lover and a career woman (at a fraction of the pay) while remaining perpetually youthful and slim. In America, important men were desirable. Important women had to be desirable.”
There’s a lot of truth packed in that paragraph.
And a lot of resistance to hearing it.
“All this from a woman who made her millions posing in lingerie and bikinis,” one reader commented online.
“Ms. Porizkova made millions purely from her good looks and was lionized socially because she made millions purely from her good looks,” commented another. “How is her experience at all useful for others without her extraordinary, random luck?”
In other words: Who cares? She’s not like us.
We’d all do well to listen more closely to people who are not like us — not just listen, but hear. Not just stay quiet long enough to mount a defense, but long enough to let the words seep into our brains and unclench them a bit.
“In the Czech Republic, the nicknames for women, whether sweet or bitter, fall into the animal category: little bug, kitten, old cow, swine,” Porizkova writes. “In Sweden, women are rulers of the universe. In France, women are dangerous objects to treasure and fear. For better or worse, in those countries, a woman knows her place.
“But the American woman is told she can do anything,” she writes, “and then is knocked down the moment she proves it.”
The Swedish government has a minister for gender equality. After the country’s 2014 election, 43 percent of the parliamentary seats were held by women. In 2015, 82 women and 90 men were heads of Sweden’s top government agencies.
The U.S. Congress is 19 percent female. There are seven women in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions, and one is the president’s daughter.
Our table has some catching up to do. We’re working on it; a record number of women are exploring bids for office since Trump’s election. Someday, God willing, we’ll join Germany, India, South Korea, Senegal, Pakistan, Canada and some of the other 50-plus countries who’ve had female heads of state.
Meanwhile, let’s start listening to one another. Even when — especially when — the person talking doesn’t look like us.
Paulina Porizkova Topless Candid Romp At The Beach
Paulina Porizkova (Czech: Pavlína Pořízková, pronounced [ˈpavliːna ˈpor̝iːskovaː]; born April 9, 1965 in Prostějov, Czechoslovakia) is a Czech model and actress.