It’s Friday afternoon and at this point, you’re probably in one of two camps:
- I know what I’m doing this weekend.
- What the *!#@ am I going to do this weekend?
Well, if you’re in group 2, then great news! I’ve figured out your fun weekend activity! If you’re in group 1, then I have found an infinitely better plan for you: go see Belle this weekend in theaters! Not convinced? Here’s a trailer: Continue reading
Content note: Non-graphic descriptions of domestic violence
My brother loves classic Disney movies. He knows and loves them all backward and forward. I always hated them growing up, because I thought those princesses needed to grow a backbone. This was a cause of constant sibling disagreement in my household.
I grew up and read some great feminist critiques of Disney. They also came out with movies like Mulan that have much better gender politics. But I still feel the need to go back and rewrite those classic Disney movies, because those cartoon women deserve better.
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
When the seven dwarfs see what the Queen has done to Snow White and why, they lock her inside the cottage and give her a long talk about patriarchal beauty standards. That mirror was probably made by a human man, they explain, because beauty is subjective, and dwarfs don’t have gendered beauty standards at all. “Not all of us identify as men, you know,” Doc explains. “Though humans usually don’t understand that.” The Queen tearfully admits that she’s cracking under the pressure of the crushingly high beauty standards her kingdom has for its queens, which isn’t fair because her father the king had never taken a bath in his life and no one ever said he was too ugly, and agrees to lift the spell on Snow White if the dwarfs will adopt her into their society. Snow White becomes Queen and takes on Doc as her advisor, and the former Queen lives in the masculine dwarf fashion that she always secretly wanted and goes into business as a freelance magician.
This post, and your life, was previously incomplete because it lacked this GIF:
I work for an organization that sprang out of the Catholic women religious tradition of social justice, and last week was National Catholic Sisters week. Continue reading
In the last few days, an article on Policy Mic has been making the rounds on my facebook newsfeed called What if People Reacted to These 10 Roles Like They Have to Michael B. Jordan? In it, Gina Luttrell responds to the fan outcry against Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four movie because the character was white in the original Marvel comic.
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape culture & misogynist language.
One of my favorite movies is the 2004 historical (but heavily fictionalized) drama film The Libertine. As a history nerd and a feminist, I know of no other movie that combines these two elements in such a provoking, satisfying manner.
This feat is particularly impressive because The Libertine does not take place in a time period we usually associate with feminism – on the contrary, the film is set in Restoration England (that means roughly 1660-1688), well before women began appropriating Enlightenment notions about the right of man to argue in defense of their own gender. Yet the film does not approach feminism through distortion, but rather faces head on the conditions women experienced in this context, all while simultaneously exploring what it might be like for an ambitious, independently spirited woman to try to carve out a space of her own from within the patriarchy.
Yet the main protagonist of the film is not a woman, but a man – John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester, a historical figure here portrayed and reimagined by Johnny Depp. Continue reading
No work of art is perfectly feminist, nor should it be. But like Miss X, I love movies! And sometimes I just want to watch one where a woman kicks ass. Or one that features meaningful relationships between women. Or contains gender-stereotype-defying characters Or simply has characters who look like my girlfriend and friends and family rather than Hollywood bots. Since those kinds of movies can seem few and far between, I’ve pulled together a list of some of my favorite feminist-leaning movies by genre, to make your next movie night a glorious celebration of the strength and versatility of good female characters.
This will contain spoilers! However, the most recent of these movies came out two years ago so I think we’ll be ok.
SRS MOVIES FOR SRS PEOPLE:
RED DRAGON, Thriller
Reasons to watch: Although she’s not the main character, Reba, the blind film processor who romances the serial killer Francis Dolorhide, makes this movie worth watching. When we first meet her, she explains to Dolorhide how to move around in her photo lab by using the step-counting method she’s developed–right away she establishes that she navigates the world just fine. Then she rejects, politely but firmly, the advances of a guy she dislikes, and decides to go out with a guy she DOES like, because he’s sexy and doesn’t pity her. She’s kind to him, and obviously attracted to him, and after he takes her on an awesome date, she seduces him. At no point is she anything but a total boss.
ALIEN, Science Fiction
Reasons to watch: Sigourney Weaver’s character is competent, complex, and intelligent. She “has no interest in the romance of finding the alien” according to Roger Ebert, but instead focuses on how to effectively eliminate the threat to her safety and the safety of her team.
This weekend I collapsed after watching The Hunger Games.
My girlfriend caught me almost immediately, but still, right in the middle of the theater lobby, my limbs went numb and my head went dizzy, and I collapsed in the throes of an anxiety attack.
I have anxiety attacks sometimes, usually a couple times a year, usually escalating to tears and trouble breathing and fully body paralysis in the span of minutes, usually in response to a specific, personal, and immediate stressor- missing the bus to a conference, or that one time I forgot to turn in a form and almost lost $5,000 of funding for my student organization. But this was different. It was a slow build; I started subtly shaking during the first few scenes of the film. More importantly, there was no specific, personal, or urgent stressor. In fact as far as I was (consciously) concerned, I was having a lovely carefree Saturday and thoroughly enjoying the movie.
So what exactly was it that triggered this peculiar experience? Did I have…. a social justice anxiety attack? As an environmentalist by activist and academic training, I’ve heard of “eco-anxiety” : overwhelming and daily-life-impairing feelings of anxiety, despair, fear, and anger about global environmental destruction. If that’s a thing, then I suppose having similar feelings around the issues central to The Hunger Games- economic and racial oppression, unfettered capitalism, state sanctioned violence, the use of power to squash dissent and keep those who might challenge the status quo silent, scared, and isolated from each other. But this is a movie. It is a fictional movie about a dystopian society that is terrifying and tragic, but shouldn’t affect me so strongly because it simply isn’t real.
Except for that it is. Continue reading
Stop shaming people who participate in Black Friday. Just stop.
Stop making jokes about the fights, the carnage, the people camped in the parking lots. Stop making comments about how you beat out “a woman with a bowl cut AND a rat tail” on your race to the boots. For the love of Cat, stop posting that fucking Onion article about how millions of people died this Black Friday – hahahahaha, yes, so amusing, except that people ARE ACTUALLY DEAD. Specifically, poor people.
All white male superheroes, in addition to whatever neat gadgets or super strength they’ve already got, have a superpower in common: invisibility.
Now, you may be thinking, “White male superheroes aren’t invisible! I see them in, well, every blockbuster superhero movie!”
You’re right. White male superheroes are everywhere. It’s their whiteness and their maleness that’s invisible.
When superheroes are not white men, their identities become part of the story. Take for example Black Widow from the Avengers. Twice in that movie, a villain underestimates her because she’s a woman, and she uses that to her advantage, playing up her supposed weakness until they reveal more than they mean to. Her femaleness is an important part of her character, to the point that if you tried to gender-flip her, her story wouldn’t make sense anymore. The only way people would underestimate a male Black Widow the same way they underestimate the real Black Widow would be if he were a feminine man – and that’s not much different.
But the same thing is true of white male superheroes. If you race- or gender-switched them, their stories would be fundamentally altered. It’s just much harder to see, because the white man is the Default Person. Their stories don’t point out the ways in which they’re defined by their identities, but it’s there. I can prove it. Continue reading