Tag Archives: feminism

The Trouble With Portraying Sexuality

There’s something that’s been sitting on my mind for a while now, and I wasn’t really aware of the cognitive dissonance until I had a recent discussion with a friend of mine. In feminism, a movement apparently in its third wave according to academics, yet still struggling to find a unified front on many issues, there is a bit of an issue when it comes to the public perceptions of female sexuality.

Basically, it boils down to two views. First, you have the idea that sexuality should not be shameful. Sex isn’t something to shame people for having. Doing such can cause all sorts of psychological problems, first off. It’s a completely natural process that, unlike most animals in the world, is enjoyable for recreational purposes and is not solely a procreational action.

Unfortunately, when it comes to shame over sex, women get the worst rap. We all probably know the double standard by now… men who have multiple partners are conquerors. They’re virile. They’re manly. They can hold their tally like a trophy, the quantity of their conquests far outweighing their abilities (or inabilities) in the bed itself. Meanwhile, women are to keep their sexual lives quiet. Women with multiple partners are sluts. Shameful. Dirty. Broken. In a weird twist, sometimes people that want to help protect women from being sexual victims apply the term “victim” all over the place, even when sex is fully consensual… because it’s inconceivable for some people that a woman might seek out and desire sex. So, there’s the faction that wants to eliminate sex as a dirty word and deed, particularly for women. If a woman wants to be a stripper, let her. If she wants to be a prostitute/escort (when legal), why not? If she wants to dress provocatively, she should be allowed without being called names, or seen as “asking for sex.” Consent is different from how one dresses one’s self.

But then, there’s the other faction. The faction that says they’re tired of women being objectified and seen as sexual pleasure units. That’s tired of cleavage and boobs and butt on every single advertisement. That’s tired of having products directed at women (and men) because of their chromosomal makeup. Tired of the media using tired, false gender narratives and tropes, like the damsel in distress. But, mostly, tired of just being deemed as sexual, being boiled down to physical bodies and sexual performances. Tired of being “Hot Girl #3” on the TV.

Now, some of these things are shared by both groups, like being tired of the tropes and the gendered products. But sometimes, even those things find fractions between the factions. Because, despite being feminists and desiring an equality between all genders and sexualities, there’s just too many problems and not enough solutions.

It is definitely a problem that women exploring their sexualities are seen as sluts and looked down on. It is also definitely a problem that society demands sexual performance from women. It’s a hypocrisy that continues to harm our social makeup where men expect sex from women, and women have the choice of either being degraded for complying or degraded for not complying. And then possibly being raped and blamed for it by society. It’s not exactly a kind world for women today (and the scary thing is that it seems like it might be kinder than it once was).

I’ll give an example of the disparity. In the BBC show “Sherlock,” a show I find to be quite fantastic, in season 2 we were introduced to what is perhaps Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most infamous female character, Irene Adler. Appearing in “A Scandal In Bohemia,” she is the one woman Sherlock Holmes has shown obvious affection and admiration for. To quote,

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. […] And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

In the BBC show’s re-imagining of the character, she was recreated as a dominatrix, using her wits and dominance in the bedroom to put powerful people in compromising positions and obtain information she hoped to use to her advantage. In her first meeting with Holmed, she introduced herself in the nude as an attempt to throw him off his game. It worked. …but this portrayal exemplifies exactly the difference in the factions.

On the one hand, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with a woman willingly working in the sex industry. (We’ll skip the discussions of abuse and slavery for now to make the discussion simpler, but I wouldn’t count anyone coerced or forced into that industry in any fashion as working in it willingly.) There shouldn’t be anything wrong with a woman using her body or sexuality for any (legal) reason, even to win a battle of wits against a certain private detective. However, some feel that being portrayed as a sex worker diminished the focus on Adler’s mental acuity and ability as written originally by Doyle. It felt like a cheap gimmick, a typical jump in today’s media to make the woman a sexual being, an object of pleasure.

This is, of course, not helped out at all by show-runner Steven Moffat’s rather well-documented casual sexism and poor treatment of female characters in his other show, “Doctor Who.”

Personally, I think the Adler character (unlike many of the women in “Doctor Who”) was well done. The sexuality wasn’t really a focus the way I saw it. It was never portrayed in a gaudy, ridiculous fashion. Rather, it was run as a counter to Sherlock’s discomfort with the sensual, as sensuality requires physical and emotional responses that he has spent years ridding himself of for the sake of logic and reason. Others, like my friend, disagree.

The sad thing is, there’s not really a way I can see out of this sort of conundrum. It seems perfectly obvious to me that both factions have absolutely correct and poignant points. Both of these hypocritical philosophies of our society (particularly American) are damaging. On their own, they’re bad enough. Combined, they are a maelstrom of harm and sexism. And that’s just for the women. It damages men, too, as does our portrayal of men in the media. So, should one aspect be focused on more than the other? Can both be fixed without a complete reset of social norms and ideals? Or is this something we will constantly be fighting against, one way or another?

I honestly have no idea what should be done about these problems, save this: We need to talk about them and realize they’re problems. While we may not agree on the solutions, as long as we agree something is wrong, we can start to work toward answers. And since the world is full of people smarter than me, maybe the answer is just waiting for someone to mention the problem to the right person.

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The Problem With Movements

I was pondering the other day on the nature of sociopolitical movements.

They’re really weird, don’t you think? But amazingly so. They happen typically from some sort of organic collective of shared emotions, often caused by some inciting incident, and they can wreak all sorts of havoc on the status quo.

Movements today seem to lack that a bit.

Based on cursory knowledge of some of the more successful movements of modern history (the Civil Rights movement, Gandhi’s drive to free India, ending apartheid), here’s what I observed (and I’ll define successful during this):

1) There is a problem some person or group of people wish to fix.

2) They stir up fervor amongst the apathetic, ignorant and disorganized.

3) A leader grows out of the movement.

4) They hammer their disdain for the problem over and over again.

5) There is a martyr of the movement, usually being the leader.

6) They succeed in fixing the initial problem.

Now, I wish I could honestly say that No. 5 was optional, but when I thought about it… Martin Luther King Jr., killed. Gandhi, killed. Nelson Mandela, imprisoned. (Not all martyrs need be killed, after all… right? …Merriam-Webster’s second definition gives me wiggle room. I’ll take it.)

As for success, that’s No. 6. They resolve the problem they set out to resolve. For example, the Civil Rights movement had an extremely specific goal within their general manifesto of “Hey, can we please be treated like equals?”: Desegregate the nation. Now, other sects within the movement had some different goals added to that, but generally, that was the movement’s main goal. Gandhi got India free from the U.K.’s rule. Apartheid ended. These are successes.

So, let’s think of the movements we’ve seen in today’s day and age. The Tea Party movement. Feminism (third wave, I suppose). The gay rights movement.

While some have been working for years (gay rights) and some for, well, a couple of years (Tea Party), none have been extremely successful. Here’s a breakdown.

The Tea Party movement had the organic growth movements need. They’ve gotten number 2 solved (depending on your definition of ignorant). We’ll pretend they’ve even had number 3 nailed. And they’re certainly hammering their disdain for their interpretations of problems over and again. But they fail in a few places. First, they don’t really have any specific problems they want to hit. They do have several they’re upset about, though, so that’s not a huge issue. They certainly have no martyrs, though, no one willing to fully give themselves to the movement and lose everything. And, quite simply, they had too many people they considered leaders, like Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann. But more on that in a bit.

Third wave feminism (I specify third wave because first wave, based on my understanding of it, was a successful movement that afforded women the right to vote.) has yet to succeed because it currently holds too general a manifesto, firstly. Instead of systematically taking out issues one by one, the modern feminist movement rails against all the issues simultaneously. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s noble, and it’s right. But it’s inefficient and ultimately accomplishes little, unfortunately. Or not much very quickly, at least. And due to the lack of specification of goals, infighting has cropped up all over the place, people dictating who is and isn’t a “true feminist,” something I attempted to talk about before and failed miserably at. Fighting from within while trying to target every injustice simultaneously makes it difficult for a movement to truly grow. It stagnates before it can really achieve the third step of gaining a visible leader.

The gay rights movement definitely has the first part: Legalize same-sex marriage. Legalize same-sex adoption. Let gays donate blood. Criminalize harassment via sexuality. A few others, I’m sure, but those are the first few specific examples I can think of. The gay rights movement even had an inciting incident: The Stonewall Riots. Not every movement gets one of those. But the gay rights movement finds itself faltering with no leader and no highly visible martyr. In actuality, Matthew Shepard is that martyr, but with a lack of organization and leadership, that martyrdom has become something only the truly passionate in the movement remember with sadness. Some people that are pro-gay rights don’t even know who Shepard is. And as for leadership, perhaps the most visible leader of the movement is Dan Savage, who is too divisive and confrontational to be a truly effective leader of a movement. As opposed to supporting the movement, he often satisfies himself with lambasting the people in opposition of it, which isn’t how the successful movements found success.

Really, though, I think the Internet might be to blame, partially. When it comes to movements, it’s both a blessing and a curse. On the internet, there is a moment, a brief momentary spark, where your movement can catch fire. For many internet-driven movements, the damage doesn’t have to be massive. A few tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures, a mere drop in the bucket of human existence, on someone’s Change.org petition can get the job done. For movements that need a bigger support system, like the ones I’ve mentioned, the internet can be a bit more of a problem. See, thanks to the internet, things can move quickly. That’s how SOPA got stopped, after all. Things are also mercilessly recorded, allowing for more pointed pettiness and vicious tearing apart. And what’s worse: Everyone can be a leader on their own.

Hell, look at me on this blog. I’m constantly talking about things that I wish would change, things that need to be fixed. And I know there are others that agree with me. But I’m not the leader of any movements. I’m barely even an active member of any. At best, I’m often and intellectual supporter. And why is that? Because on the internet, it seems like that’s all you need. You can get so many like-minded people to swarm upon your opinion and lift you up that you feel like a leader. For years, I was generally considered to be one of the leaders of the gay rights movement… on the Gaia Online forum. And by years, I think I mean two, maybe three or four. The internet moves quickly and unsustained dialogues can be forgotten. For that period of time, my posts, my literature was reposted and debated all over the internet. I had several hundred vocal supporters, and more silent ones. People asked if they could print my posts off and hand them out in real life.

And while I’m not saying that didn’t necessarily help… It’s simply not enough. With the internet, too many people can be too vocal simultaneously. Before that, though, a single person’s voice could shine above the rest of the maddening crowd with clarity and charisma.

For making Progressive or Todd Akin look terrible, or spreading the word about Kony or Trayvon Martin, or getting people to love or hate Chick-fil-A… the internet is great. It’s fabulous for all that. The problems are somewhat general and don’t require much action to fix. Just a tweet, email or share. Some would call it armchair activism, or slacktivism. It can get results, even if the result is eliminating some ignorance, but it simply doesn’t require much.

Other movements need more support, more power behind them. To see women and the GLBT community treated as equals, it takes more than a tweet, email or share. It takes feet on the streets. It takes organization. It takes leadership. It takes vigilance, seeking to destroy the problems facing them one at a time.

…Tweet, email or share if you agree, I suppose.

EDIT: To add to this, someone pointed out that Gandhi and MLK died after the main crux of their movement’s goals were met. They were both still martyrs for their movement, MLK being jailed unjustly and Gandhi going on hunger strike. What their deaths accomplished, however, was permanency of acknowledgement. Now, any movements spawning from the original, or any goals the movements want to revisit, have a permanent figurehead and reminder, a permanent leader to refer back to. Not every movement needs their leader to die, of course. But consider how much stronger and longer lasting those movements have been over the years. Movements like… Well, Christianity.

Just some additional clarification and food for thought.

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A World Of Ideals

So, I’m a bit weird.

In my mind, there are certain ideals that I live by. Such as, everyone is equal. Another ideal I imagine applies in the real world is that I can compose these grandiose treatises on some subject in my head, sit down and type them out perfectly in my first draft.

Yesterday’s post, and some of the resulting discussion from it, showed me that isn’t quite true. I love discussions, though. They’re educational, and I rarely leave a discussion thinking or knowing the exact same thing I came into it believing. For example, I wasn’t really consciously aware that there are three waves, and potentially a fourth, of feminism. I, like the standard uneducated layperson, was simply tackling the umbrella term as understood by the ignorant masses. And, apparently, I can think things in my head and have them fail to actually appear on paper. Or computer screen. So, I’m going to try to clear a few things up, point by point.

1) I don’t actually hate feminism. I hate that we need it. As I mentioned before, in my mind, everyone is equal. It’s simple. It’s true. We’re all equal. But society has a long-ingrained history sustaining a refusal to acknowledge said fact. Feminism is needed to make the slow climb toward equality. And I do consider myself feminist insofar as I am supportive of any movement attempting to bring humans toward equal status. The title, I will admit, was a bit of a ploy to get people in and discussing. It worked, just not precisely as I’d hoped.

2) We don’t actually live in a binary world. I think my evocation of Taoism and a misstep in a sentence obscured that point. Our society strongly encourages/enforces binary thought. But things are far more complicated than just “male” and “female.” Further, my mention of Taoism was to illustrate a point of the fractious nature of identification. To better explain… imagine a world where everyone actually is treated equally. Then imagine the feminist movement still going in that world. Or the term still being used to describe current events. The very word, feminism, divides people into camps. Just like the word “black” or “tall” or whatnot. In my mind, if we were to be TRULY equal, a final step would have to be a total overhaul of language.

3) Removal of feminism as a necessary movement should be the FINAL step. I would love for us all to jump straight to “equality,” but there is an order of things. I think, in my zealousness/desire to say things, I didn’t clarify the need for chronology.

4) This is something I failed to consider, actually… art does imitate life, yes. And in my mind, I don’t think a representation of a person of any gender doing any thing is sexist because people do things in life. All types of things. However, life is informed by art as well. Which does actually go to a point in the first article I wrote on the subject, as I recall… there needs to be a flood of women writers writing strong female characters that buck the standard, stereotypical cliches, ones that are truly feminist icons. That point will need hammering in until stereotypes are broken.

5) I do absolutely abhor the idea that there is a checklist for what makes a person “truly” feminist or a woman “truly” empowered. I know the feminist movement (3rd wave, I suppose?) doesn’t do this as a whole, but there are quite a few unfortunate people out there that will say stupid things like “She’s clearly not a feminist,” like Amanda Palmer went through. Or people that will judge what woman is more empowered, like when Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton were both big in 2008. I remember people legitimately discussing which woman was more of a feminist icon, a liberated woman. And my thought was, “You guys totally miss the point. As long as she’s doing what SHE chooses to do, not forced by society or man, then she’s liberated! It has nothing to do with wearing pants or being a mother or whatnot!”

…I think I’ve covered most of the points raised in discussion with me over yesterday’s article. I hope. If not, I’m fully willing to add to this list.

Idealistically, we are all equals. Realistically, we are certainly not all treated equal. And I think one of the things that has been getting on my nerves as of late is the many ways we decide to draw lines in the sand. I reeeeeeeeally wish society could gets its head out of its ass and just start treating people like people. As equals. I’m getting tired of all the many ways people decide to split up society over. It’s getting pretty awful. Not as awful as it used to be, granted, but the vitriol and superficiality seems to be magnified these days.

Ultimately, I want society to step up its game. I don’t know that yesterday’s post really made that clear, but that’s my ultimate point. Society is being one big old pile of failure on the equality front, and not just for women. Perhaps we need to think about what can be done on every possible front to get closer to the goal of equality I know in my heart should be real.

Until then, I’ll continue living in my ideal and trying to treat people as my own equals.

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I Really Hate Feminism

Edit: I encourage people that read this post to read the next day’s post, “A World of Ideals.” I was, quite simply, far from remotely clear on my actual thoughts in this post and apologize for that. I try to make things clearer in the post linked above.

Allow me to first take a moment to thank the internet for being somewhere I can say that and not get insta-crucified. It would take at least a few minutes for someone reading this to find me and hit me. Probably.

Moving on.

Feminism is a subject I’ve somewhat broached before, when attempting to determine whether art is misogynistic by nature or design. Really, it can be either. And I’m back onto this discussion, strangely enough, because of art. And not just mine, though mine is involved. But more on that in a second.

To repeat, I hate feminism. But that isn’t to say I don’t think women should be treated as equals. All people should be treated and considered equally. When I say that, I of course don’t mean that people should all be handed the exact outcomes they want simply by wanting it. People with different abilities and talents should be treated in accordance with those abilities and talents. I should not be given the same praise as a writer like Neil Gaiman (more on him in a bit). A middle school casual walker should not be treated to an Olympic gold medal in track. You’d think my saying this is unnecessary, but I’ve learned over the years that at times it’s completely necessary. Not all people are, in fact, equal in skill and ability to achieve. But we should all be treated with a baseline of respect equal to one another. No person should be considered as lesser or treated as lesser simply because of something they are. Being a woman does not make you any better or worse than a man at anything (except, perhaps, childbirth until science works that out). Same for being black, or being short or whatever. There are obvious examples of detriments, like short people are less likely to be able to reach tall things on their own, but now even I feel like I’m getting unnecessarily specific.

It’s the baseline of respect that should be the point. People should be treated based on the things they do, not the things they are.

That settled, back to why I hate feminism.

It’s true that we in the Western world live in a rather white heterosexual male oriented society. Not being a white heterosexual male can cause severe problems, be they obvious or subconscious. The world as a whole has had, in general, a problem with women especially. During the Olympics, it was unfortunately considered news that Saudi Arabia was sending women for the first time in their history. I say unfortunately because that shouldn’t have ever been a thing. Women of the appropriate skill should have been sent all along. But the world has a long history of sexism to overcome.

Here in America, we’re trying. Some a little less than others, but we’re trying. There have been strides toward equality on that front. And were it not for feminism in the early days of women’s rights, particularly around the 1920s and again in the ’60s and ’70s, we would not be as far as we are. Sad to think about, considering how far behind we are, but still. There has been progress, thank goodness.

But in my life, particularly my adult life, I’ve noticed a weird trend for feminism. It’s gotten worse the more adamant some of my friends have gotten to declare themselves as feminist. Feminism, which started with ideas and goals (people are equal, get equal treatment) has shifted into the frightening realm of having perceptions and images. It has become something where you can be judged as a “real” feminist. Like there’s a checklist of requirements beyond believing everyone is equal regardless of gender.

Take, for example, a story that Gaiman’s wife Amanda Palmer recently Tumbled upon. (I really don’t know what the verb forms of Tumbler are.) It’s pretty darn spot on. In fact, I feel like maybe I could’ve just posted that link and been done with it. But I felt the need to stir the pot in my own personal way. Because, while Palmer hits on many (like, nearly every) point I want to hit on, there are still others I’d like to discuss.

For example, recently, I do believe I was accused of being sexist by a friend of mine. Which, frankly, irked me a bit. The accusation comes from the writing of my one-act “Tantalus.” …I suppose I should say “Spoilers” if anyone cares. Anyway, in the play, there are two women. One, not even really fleshed out (I mean this pretty literally, actually), is a secretary at the workplace of the two adult male main characters. She’s a married woman who cheats on her husband with Kenneth, the work friend of the Tantalus character, Jacob. Now, none of the characters are really redeemable. That’s one of the points of the play. They’re all heinous. The secretary, Sally, is there to help the audience gauge and understand Kenneth’s depravity and sexual promiscuity early on. The other female, Maria, is the wife of Jacob. Being that every scene has Jacob in it and he’s pretty much always at work if he’s not at home, we don’t see Maria outside of the house much. Though she does, apparently, have nights out with friends. So all we see is her cooking and taking care of their child. I could slip in a line about her personal business, I suppose, but there doesn’t seem that much of a point to me. That doesn’t affect the story in any way. Ultimately, she too sleeps with Kenneth, showing off her own depravity and despicable nature.

For this, the cry of sexist was released. Or at least highly suggested. And my response is, “Huh?”

Do I think all women are like that? No. Of course not. Do I think some are? Of course. Because, in reality, some are. Some women cook dinners and raise kids. Some women go to corporate jobs. Some women start businesses. But them being women has nothing to do with that. Because some PEOPLE are like that. If I swapped the genders of every character, I’d really have the same effect because they’re all equal, even if society hasn’t quite caught up to that fact yet. The main reason I didn’t is that, as a guy, I write guys more easily. Especially guys that talk about sex and “doing chicks” all the time like Kenneth does. I’m not certain I could get the language and idioms right were Kenneth a Kenna or something. But in my mind, if I had married men cheating on their wives and that doesn’t arouse cries of sexism, then the cries of sexism are in and of themselves sexist.

Which brings me to one of my biggest problems with feminism beyond the checklist thing. The checklist thing is especially rank, as it assigns roles just as assuredly as the 1950s stereotypes did. But, on a philosophical level, I have a problem with feminism because it causes sexism, in a sense.

To explain… I’m rather fond of Taoism. The Tao Te Ching is one of the more beautiful books written, on a philosophical and lingual/musical level. Taoism has a strong focus on the duality of nature, something which I agree with. You can’t have up without down, short without tall, big without small. And when you identify things, Taoists believe you take them away from the whole, the Tao, which is ultimately a bad thing. And so it is with feminism.

We do live in a rather unfortunately binary world, when it comes to how we think. You’re either X or Y. Male or female (which is unfortunate because gender is not nearly so simple). White or colored. Et cetera. We’ve tried getting beyond some of these thoughts, but it’s a struggle to be sure. It’s very engrained in our way of thinking. The way I see it, feminism plays right into that. As a word, it clearly derives from “female.” While it started off as a women’s rights thing, looking for specific equalities women were explicitly denied (like voting), it has become, in general, a drive for equality. So, instead of using a word rooted in our binary understanding of the world, setting “female” as separate from “male,” why not call the movement “equalism” or something?

That’s what it should be. Equalism. A drive to have all people treated with that base respect. Treated as equals. Doesn’t matter who you are. “Feminism” seems, in my mind, inherently fractious. And if the ultimate goal is to combine and become one group of equal persons, then one thing we need to do is eliminate the cracks keeping us apart whenever we’re able.

So, no. I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. Because the fact of the matter is, all people are equal. Society just needs to catch up. Ah… idealism…

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The Misogyny Of Life, The Misogyny Of Art

Lately, I’ve been noticing this trend that has targeted many a person. It’s a trend to start pinning people down with terms like “racist” and “misogynist.” Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke, Trayvon Martin… all of these people and the events associated with them got those terms thrown around a lot. You’re racist if you support George Zimmerman, and racist if you support Martin. And if the term “misogynist” didn’t get thrown around a lot when Limbaugh called Fluke a slut, then it must be true that (insert hyperbolic falsehood here).

But “misogynist” has been getting thrown around more and more these days. Sure, “racist” is a classic that pops up often, what with our having a black president. But the movement of feminism has had a strange renaissance as of late… I don’t say strange as though it shouldn’t have happened or something… but I’ve seen a lot of new terminology and repetition of the themes and rallying cries in recent months. For example, the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test was actually created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985, so it’s not new. Yet I’ve only within the past year been hearing about it. A lot.

To pass the Bechdel test, a movie must have two or more named female characters. Two of those females must converse with one another, and it can’t just be about boys/men. Now, this isn’t necessarily a gauge of how “feminist” a movie is. While there are some movies that pass the test with strong female leads a girl could potentially look up to, or female leads that dare to break gender stereotypes and conventions, such as, perhaps, “The Iron Lady,” movies like “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” also pass the test. The test doesn’t judge quality or feminist potential, just whether or not it breaks the male-driven norm the years have seemingly imposed on entertainment.

Now, it’s true that women haven’t exactly had the most glamorous history in entertainment. They’ve often been portrayed as simple sex symbols, objects, et cetera. And while we are more aware of that nowadays and attempting to break out of such trends, the more some things stay the same. For example, look at most every movie Megan Fox is in and tell me what her purpose in the movie is. If it’s not to stand there and look pretty to draw in the men of the crowd for most of the movies, I’ll be surprised. (The one exception that I’ve seen is, sort of, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” where she plays the super hottie and the lead male character plays as the dumbstruck male.)

But, still, even with this trend, many people that label themselves “feminists” have taken up their own personal crusades against a lot of different media, railing against them if they ever portray a woman in any fashion that isn’t what they deem as having feminist equality, so to speak. For example, some people give Joss Whedon a lot of praise for creating somewhat strong female roles and for not caring about conventions. In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy Summers was one of the first females on TV to be seen having multiple sexual partners and not be judged for it. She is also decently independent throughout much of the series. Then, in “Firefly,” you have Zoe Washburne, the strong, no nonsense female enforcer.

Of course, others will point at Whedon’s work and call foul, saying Buffy was emotionally fragile and practically catatonic at times over her connection with a man, such as during the time Angel, her former boyfriend, went evil. And Zoe goes from enforcer to little housewife around her husband Wash several times. And don’t get them started on River Tam.

Not just with Whedon, but there have been many times where I’ve seen “feminist” people cry out against any media if it ever depicts a woman as a sexual object that draws the eyes of men, or is unintelligent, or whores herself out to men in a “non-sexually liberated fashion” (whatever that means), or is ever emotionally attached to a man, or emotionally dependent on a man, or ever cries over the loss of a man, et cetera.

It’s getting to the point where I have to say that nothing will satisfy some of these people.

Is the world, particularly the Western bits, strongly heterocentrist? Yes. Is it strongly male-focused, in regards to power? Yeah. So, should there be a strong effort to show non-heterosexual lifestyles and women in better lights, ones where they are treated as kindly as men and heterosexual relationships? Definitely.

But not all men and heterosexual relationships get the kindest treatments. Yet there seems to be a growing (at least in volume, if not number) trend to demand only the ideal in portrayals of women and alternate lifestyles. Here’s my problem: Sometimes, women are weak. Sometimes, women grow dependent on a man. Sometimes, they lose it when they break up with someone. It happens in real life all the time. And the inverse is true, too. I’m not saying our current standards are good, but I am annoyed at the people who seem to suggest it would be best to eliminate all those “negative” representations. Sometimes, it’s just representative of real life.

There are definitely measures to take. For example, I started to put my play “Camp Gethsemane” up to the Bechdel test. Theatre and film aren’t so terribly different. It passed the test, sort of/barely. I noticed then that there were a lot of big male roles and only two decent sized female ones. So I made the decision to change one of the bigger minor characters (named and has several lines/scenes, but not exactly a main character) to a girl. But out of all the major characters, James was the only character I could do that to. Because of the setting, because of the other characters, because of the story… That’s just how it worked out. A different story, different setting, I could feasibly have a mostly female cast. But you have to remember also that I’m a guy. I default to writing things I’m more comfortable with and used to, which will tend to be male characters, especially since I often put some of myself in those characters.

My suggestion? Lets get more women writing screenplays, plays, television shows and stories. Let’s make a concerted effort to not cast a blanket over an entire group and stereotype them all over the place. Let’s let art imitate life in every aspect and treat everyone equally. But by that same token, let art imitate life. Life isn’t always kind to everyone, so don’t demand art to be that way. Instead of calling everyone misogynistic, let’s work toward dialogue and actually fixing the problem.

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