Is it just me, or has it suddenly become cool for people (men and women) to state dismissively, “does it always have to be about (insert social movement here)?” I see this a lot lately.
Most recently, I was talking with a colleague (male, european) about the significance of the Hunger Games films. He felt they were crap, whereas I liked them. In describing why I enjoyed them, I made the mistake of noting that I was particularly drawn to the strong female lead. My colleague interrupted me to say, “ya, I read an article all about how she’s taller than her costar and she’s strong, blah blah - I just want to watch a film to feel good and be entertained, I don’t understand the need for a big feminist message.”
First, the fact that you felt totally comfortable interrupting me, is just one of the many ways men continue to, on a daily, exhausting, frustrating basis, undermine the thoughts and opinions of women.
Second, films that feature a strong female lead are feel good films - if you are a person who regularly experiences aggression, paternalism and violence on account of your gender. Lucky you, this is not your experience in life.
These little exchanges are a constant reminder that feminism is as important as it has ever been, despite how unpopular the word itself has become. Sure, you can argue that we are starting to catch up to our male peers in terms of earning - great progress after hundreds of years of being systematically disenfranchise from economic opportunity and/or earning parity. And yes, (some) women are making huge strides in eduction - after hundreds of years of being barred from education entirely . That is, unless you are a woman outside of Europe, North American and some parts of East Asia - in that case, tough luck on both counts.
Despite of these gains, which I say with a heavy eye roll because we shouldn’t have to qualify steps toward basic equality as a gain, the reality is that I like to see a powerful woman kick some ass from time to time. Why? Because it gives me an outlet for the frustration I feel toward the leering men on the street who make me feel uncomfortable in a space I have every right to occupy because I am a human-fucking-being. Or maybe, because I think that it’s a good thing for little girls to see women fight back when someone does something they don’t feel comfortable with - god knows that response will serve them well in a world where the majority of women experience some form of sexual assault.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’m still pissed off that the dude who delivered my cooking gas a few days ago thought it was ‘ok’ to pinch my cheek, rub my shoulder and ultimately try to assault me in my bedroom in the middle of the day.
The every day experiences of my life, and more than half of the global population, are not to be belittled by your lack of empathy for them. Your wanting to simply lie back and watch another movie with bouncing tits or a shoot-em-up with an all male cast - but for the one hot foil with two speaking lines - is not a valid reason to dismiss the importance of feminist messaging in films. Schindler’s List would not count as a feel-good film in my book, but I doubt you’d be so quick to dismiss it on that account. You understand that Schindler’s List serves the purpose of reminding people that what happened was a terrible, horrifying, tragic thing that affected real people. You dislike that Hunger Games and other “feminist” films force you to confront your own internalized beliefs that women should be satisfied with their lot in life, that the status quo is acceptable and everything would be a lot easier if women would just stop bitching about it all the time.
Well, I’m glad it makes you uncomfortable, if you are unaware or have forgotten that this shit still happens, I’m glad your saturday entertainment reminded you.
This is life as a woman, pal. I don’t give a shit if you are tired of hearing about feminism. You don’t get to be tired of hearing about feminism. Until it’s no longer the case that a film with a strong female lead is considered to have a feminist agenda, until I can buy gas to cook my goddamn breakfast without getting groped - nobody gets to be tired of hearing about feminist.