You know, going over what I’ve written these last months, I realize that I write a lot of stuff about feminist issues. So much so, I think, that some people’s reaction is bound to be, “Oh, no, not again.” This is pretty much always some people’s reaction to any article about feminist issues. I will say that most of my film friends, here and at The Dissolve, are generally fairly understanding of feminist articles; probably one of the most popular running features there examines the state of women’s issues in film. There’s got to be a reason for all this writing about feminist issues, why it’s so much at the forefront of our minds. More to the point, someone’s got to explain it to the people who don’t get it. So here I am, I guess.
So what have we talked about here? We’ve talked about gender essentialism in film criticism. We’ve talked about misogyny in the films, and particularly the Oscar winners, of the 1970s. We’ve talked about roles for women versus roles for men, especially as women age. We’ve talked about slut-shaming Black Widow. I may well have written more about film and children, which seems to be my other hobbyhorse. Yet I feel as though I have said quite a lot more than that, because there’s this feeling that, as a woman, I should be holding this in.
That’s the thing. We’re supposed to sit down, shut up, and probably let the menfolk talk for us. We’re not supposed to make a fuss and try to get things changed. And Gods forbid that there actually be an action movie with feminist themes. Or have a Lego woman riding a Lego motorcycle. Or have a woman play the love interest of a man seventeen years her senior whose love interest she’d already played once, but it’s different now, because she’s over thirty. And he’s old enough to join AARP. But she’s probably trying to play the ingenue love interest of a man in his fifties, right?
Really, really trying to understand, here. Why am I not supposed to get angry about these things? Why am I supposed to think this is just the way things are? Why isn’t this something we’re talking about a whole lot more? When I say, “This portrayal of women in such-and-such critically acclaimed motion picture made me uncomfortable,” why is the response so often, “Well, you’re just not seeing that it’s really condemning that” instead of “Why didn’t you feel it was condemning it?” Or “I can see your perspective”? Or “It didn’t feel that way to me, but I can see why it did to you”? My opinion on these things is shaped by how it feels to be a woman today, and telling me that I’m wrong in how I should feel I’m being treated is aggravating. Hell, a disturbingly large percentage of the time, what I get is “I didn’t notice.”
Oh, let’s not forget that saying these things clearly proves I hate men. And I hate fun, too. Don’t forget that. I’m shrill and humourless. Especially because we all know women aren’t funny.
I’m tired. I’m tired of the comedies where the purpose of the woman is to destroy the man’s fun. I’m tired of action movies where the purpose of the woman is to be rescued by the man. I’m tired of dramas where the purpose of the woman is to be the prize the man gets for reaching his goals. I’m tired of an industry that ignores not only that more than half the world’s population is female but that women buy more tickets than men. I’m tired of an industry that doesn’t want women in positions of power and humiliates and belittles the women not in positions of power. I’m tired of an industry where a woman younger than I am is too old to be a romantic interest to a man almost old enough to be her father.
I do not fool myself with the belief that all that many people are reading this. On the other hand, I believe that every little bit counts. Every word might do something. Someone might hear it and actually think about it instead of just continuing in their same opinion, and isn’t that the actual point of a think piece in the first place?