Tag Archives: Bechdel Test

Sex And The City And Kyriarchy

18 Nov

A comment on Hotel Transylvania:

I have not seen Hotel Transylvania, so I cannot comment. But I want to address Sex and the City.

I saw Sex and the City as well and was happy to see Jennifer Hudson in the film. When I go to a film, I don’t count how many people of color I see. I question people who claim to not be racist, yet are the first to throw down the race card. I don’t get it. When I watch Sex and City, I don’t think about race; I think about four friends who have ridiculously unrealistic and fabulous lives. The only people I see who keep racism alive, are those consistently making it an issue. People are more than their skin color.

On another note, why not complain that none of the women on Sex in the City are from lower incomes? Or are gay? Or heavy-set? Or Hispanic? But instead, color is the issue that is focused on. Would it have made you feel better if Jennifer Hudson were not cast at all?

Lastly, the show is NOT REAL. I don’t think anyone watches Sex and the City because of it’s gripping realism. It’s escapist entertainment. It’s fantasy.

Personally, I would rather focus on uniting people rather finding ways to divide them through race or any other element. I don’t know why we can’t see people for their intellect, personality, sense of humor, talent etc. Instead, what is it that matters? Race. Apparently, I guess diversity is only skin deep.

We all know how I feel about letting good comments languish in comment-land so let’s talk about this one shall we.

Oh, the good old claim that racism (or [insert hegemony here]) doesn’t exist anymore outside of the people who point it out (just to make privileged people squirm).

I think you’re missing the point that Harris-Perry was making.  She wasn’t saying she was upset to see JHud in the film.  She was upset to see JHud being given such a shitty part in the film.  She was sad to see that instead of finally including an interesting character of color (now that the franchise is a decade and a half old) or an interesting heavy character or an interesting lesbian character they gave her a cliché stock character.

And I don’t think Harris-Perry is under the impression that the lack of interesting roles for people of color is more important than the lack of interesting roles for heavier people or trans people or women.  I think she’s probably just as annoyed as I was that every single joke the brilliant Melissa McCarthy was allowed to make in the Bridesmaids movie everyone raved about is about her being overweight.

This example about Sex and the City is just that.  An example.  Because this shit happens all the time.  To anyone who isn’t a white guy.

I think you, me and Harris-Perry can all agree that we’d rather focus on uniting people rather than finding ways to divide them through race or any other element.  But if your idea of uniting people is to cast a film entirely of able-bodied, straight, white, cisgendered people who love each other, then I don’t see how you’re going to do that.

And as for Sex and the City being purely fantasy.  Sure.  It is fantasy.  A fantasy that anyone could afford those clothes without a legit theatrical budget.  Fantasy that anyone could walk in those shoes.  Fantasy that anyone would magically have a hot, hung, perpetually horny doorman handed to them on a silver platter.  The whole thing is fantasy.  But if I’m a closeted, bullied trans kid watching that movie then it’s not fantasy for me.  It’s proof that even in my wildest dreams I can’t have that.  Even in wild fantasy that beautiful woman could never be me.

The best way to dehumanize someone while claiming you’re not is to believe you are just the same. You erase their experiences and perspective, their struggles and obstacles, their unique way of having to deal with those things in a world that also erases them. With the words, ‘but humans are humans’ or the bullshit dramatics of ‘we all bleed red’ normal people can simply pretend that if we all did things the way they did, then everything would work out okay.
Basically I can’t understand how anyone could understand the Bechdel test (and be upset by the abounding failure at it) and not also be equally upset by this.  It’s just a different facet of the same Kyriarchy.

Are You a Farmer, Painter, or Baker? No, You’re a Woman!

11 Aug

Alright.  I’m not even going to say anything here.  I’m going to let two images do all the talking for me.

I’m going to assume that both of these pieces have been approved by the guy behind the curtain who owns the smurfs (Disney?).

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I’m sorry, I’m having a little trouble reading that.  What is the only female smurfs “talent?”

And in case you haven’t seen Anita Sarkeesian’s fabulous video yet.

Dark Side Of The Michael Bay

7 Jul

Recently a friend posted the following as a status on Facebook.

Dear friends who keep telling me Transformers 3 is some great sin against nature: You can keep saying it all you want, but it won’t make the rest of us not love it. Michael Bay making the movies he likes to make does NOT stop anyone else from making the movies YOU like to watch.

There is plenty of room for everyone.

Bottom line: I am having way more fun than you are. Sucks to be you!

I am sure plenty of people enjoyed this movie, even plenty of good people.  Personally I can’t stand all the explosions; I’m too jumpy.  So just to be clear, I haven’t seen this movie.  And I’m pretty sure I didn’t see either of the other Michael Bay masterpieces from the franchise so I’m not speaking from personal movie watching experience.

I will grant my friend this: he didn’t say that the movie wasn’t a sin against nature.

I kid, I kid.  I don’t think the movie is a sin against nature; I think Michael Bay has 99 problems and they are all misogyny and  he probably thinks the Bechdel test is a joke.

So the way I see it there are two options for Mr. Bay.  Either he reads this sort of commentary about his works of art:

Only two featured characters in the large ensemble Transformers cast are women, and none of the Transformers (alien robots, for the uninitiated) are female. And the two female humans consist of an unmitigated sexual object and a caricatured mockery of female leadership.

and thinks ‘Why is that a problem?’

or he thinks ‘No, really, why is that a problem?  I’m a dude and I watch movies with Sylvester Stallone  and I’m not on steroids.  So obviously all this feminism stuff is crud and movies have no connection with self-esteem.”

I wish I had enough fingers and toes to count the ways that is complete bull.  If I had a dime for every stupid man-child who allowed himself to be convinced that he is the yardstick by which everyone’s mental stability should be measured…  But I digress.

I’ll let Caroline Heldman tell you why that’s a problem (thanks Mr. Bay for asking!)

Normalization of female objectification causes girls/women to think of themselves as objects, which has been linked to higher rates of depression and eating disorders, compromised cognitive and sexual function, decreased self-esteem, and decreased personal and political efficacy. Ubiquitous female sexual objectification also harms men by increasing men’s body consciousness, and causes both men and women to be less concerned about pain experienced by sex objects.

Or Geena Davis

What we found was that in G-rated movies, for every one female character, there were three male characters. If it was a group scene, it would change to five to one, male to female.

Of the female characters that existed, the majority are highly stereotyped and/or hypersexualized. To me, the most disturbing thing was that the female characters in G-rated movies wear the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as the female characters in R-rated movies.

And then we looked at aspirations and occupations and things like that. Pretty much the only aspiration for female characters was finding romance, whereas there are practically no male characters whose ultimate goal is finding romance. The No. 1 occupation was royalty. Nice gig, if you can get it. And we found that the majority of female characters in animated movies have a body type that can’t exist in real life. So, the question you can think of from all this is: What message are we sending to kids?

Between these two pieces of evidence what I extrapolate is that Michael Bay thinks women are for sex; women are the sexy version of ‘people’ (read: men).  Michael bay only has two ‘real’ female characters in his movie because they make a comment about sex (and really isn’t that the only thing they’re good for?).  The rest of his characters are male because those are the ‘normal people’ who can be protagonists and accomplish things (who would want to put those things in the hands of a woman? – which is of course where the ‘caricatured mockery of female leadership’ comes in.)

But to answer Geena’s question about this PG-13 movie, what message are we sending to our kids?  Because remember, this isn’t like porn where we’re pretending kids aren’t watching.  This movie came out just before a holiday weekend, theoretically so families could see it with their middle/high schoolers.

Fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

“How To Talk To Little Girls” by Lisa 

Don’t think this movie directly tells little girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice?  How about the opening of the movie which follows Girlfriend Girl’s scantily clad butt up the stairs before we even see her face?

I don’t want to attack anyone for enjoying this movie.  That’s not my goal.  I can concede that a movie can be entertaining and a potentially harmful product of our patriarchal culture at the same time. Many are.

And I don’t want to forget about all the boys and men who are just as hurt by these images as girls and women.  This hegemony doesn’t help anyone.  Patriarchy is equal opportunity in one way only.  It’s willing to hurt you no matter who you are.

Scott Pilgrim V. The World

12 Dec

Last night I enjoyed a great conversation with some guy friends of mine about

I’ve heard it said that Scott Pilgrim is a snapshot of this generation, this year, this time.

I think that’s a pretty true statement.  It really speaks to this generation.  It’s accessible and fun.  On that note though we need to ask what that says about the status of the women’s movement.  The snapshot of our generation is a movie about a dude fighting other dudes for the opportunity to date a girl.

The girl’s character is defined by: her hair color, her awesome wardrobe, the subspace highway (which is controlled by an ex and exists mostly in relationship to Scott.)

A friend mentioned to me the other day that in film (and the Bechdel test really shows this well) women tend to exist only for what they mean to a man.  I’m not sure if Scott Pilgrim is a major transgressor there but it’s interesting to look at.  Just give that idea the benefit of the doubt for a minute.

How many women are in this movie.  What purpose do they really serve?  The main female characters are Ramona, NV, Knives Chau and Kim Pine.  All of whom Scott dated or wants to date.  All of whom serve to torment him by being women he wanted to sleep with at some point.

Other female characters include Ramona’s ex girlfriend who mostly exists to give Ramona a sexy experimental air and to conjure up some lesbian imagery, some girls who pick on Scott and Scott’s sister.

That all being said I really liked this movie.

Just because you like something doesn’t mean it’s infallible.

Hot Fuzz, Homosocials, and The Bechdel Test

9 Oct

My fabbity housemates and I are watching the movie Hot Fuzz at the moment.  And I noticed that there are no women in the movie.  The only female characters are This Guy’s Wife, That Guy’s Girlfriend, The only female cop in town and a florist who exists to get killed.

Lillian goes on about homosocial films and their role in the media.  To be honest I don’t know much about it.  I understand that they’re comments on how men interact with other men.  That the way James Bond

(Sorry, I got distracted.  And yes, I do only believe in brunette Bond’s)

behaves around his ladies is going to be very different than how he behaves around his bros.  And yes, it’s important to look at his relationships with men as well as with Halle Berry’s butt.

However a homosocial movie for me says This is serious and important and therefore there is no room for a woman in it. To better explain this I introduce the Bechdel Test.  This fabulous lady can explain it so much better than I can so I’ll just let her.

There aren’t any women in Hot Fuzz.  And the ones that do exist are boring, even for the actresses who play them.  Hot Fuzz Man (I don’t really care what his name is because he’s blond and short and I was doing homework instead of paying attention to all the blood and guts anyway) gets to play someone really interesting.  I’m sure he gets to play a lot of really interesting people pretty often.

Writers all around the world write sexy multi-faceted men.  Meet:

Dexter

Don Draper in Mad Men

These are actually really bad examples because Dexter and Mad Men both have really great women in them.  But I like these guys so…yum.

There are just more interesting characters written for men than for women.  I wish I could present lots of examples and studies but I regret to say I’m not that big of a dork.  I can tell you that the ratio of boy actors to girl actors in my drama school class is incredibly unbalanced though.  Why?  Because there are more roles for men.  Why?

Point #2 of the Bechdel test: Because men are the default and women exist by comparison.  But that’s a thought for another day.

So a point.  Something I should make right?

I’m not an actor.  But I hope to be in their union one day.  I side with them often…for legal purposes.  And I love them.  I see over and over again my female friends getting shafted into roles where they come on, complain, and get shooed off by a man who then complains and calls her something on the offensive scale.  Of course then he goes on to screw something up for everyone.

Oh, man.  Men.  Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.