Archive | October 2013

Violence against women: It’s a Men’s Issue

“In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Jackson Katz gave a TED talk about how violence against women is a men’s issue. He starts with how our culture has turned its focus from the perpetrator to victim bashing. He goes on to say that calling these ‘gender issues’ or ‘women’s issues’ gives men an excuse to not pay attention and relieves them of any responsibility. Men have largely been removed from the conversation that is centrally about men, as we are still seeing women, and children- both male and female- continually being abused and raped. Our society produces these abusers and rapists, and the porno and sports cultures (and film, and television, and magazines, and advertising) do nothing but aggravate the problem. Katz accurately summarizes that both women and men are victims of violence, both have female friends and acquaintances they care deeply for and would protect, and for that the men must stand up and challenge sexist comments amongst peers.  Bystanders can’t afford to stay silent (“Isn’t your silence a form of consent and complacency?” -Katz). He raises the point that in peer groups, when men make sexist comments and are challenged by other males, resulting in radical decline in status in their own peer groups, that is when change will occur. In the workplace, there should be ‘leadership’ training, not ‘sensitivity’ training. You wouldn’t stand for blatant racism and bigotry, so why is sexism still tolerated in such passive, sinister ways?

“I understand that a lot of the women who have been trying to speak out about these issues… often get shouted down for their efforts. They get called nasty names like ‘male basher’ and ‘man hater’ and the disgusting and offensive ‘feminazi’. You know what all this is about? It’s called ‘kill the messenger’. It’s ‘cause the women who are standing up and speaking up for themselves and for other women as well as for men and boys- It’s a statement to them to sit down and shut up. Keep the current system in place, because we don’t like it when people rock the boat, we don’t like it when people challenge our power. And thank goodness that women haven’t done that. Thank goodness that we live in a world where there’s so much womens leadership that can counteract that. One of the powerful roles that men can play in this work is that… we can be heard saying some things that women often can’t be heard saying.”

– Jackson Katz

As the great and evil Ursula would say,

“The solution to your problem is simple”

Don’t kill the messenger, and man the fuck up.

Google autocomplete exposes worldwide sexist beliefs

“This campaign uses the world’s most popular search engine (Google) to show how gender inequality is a worldwide problem. The adverts show the results of genuine searches, highlighting popular opinions across the world wide web.”

– Campaign creator Christopher Hunt

Original post: Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope of Sexism Worldwide | Adweek (adweek.com)

How much space do you deserve to occupy?

This woman explains how sinister modeling behavior can be in assessing your body image, and by extension, your self worth and place in society.

You wanna hot body? You better photoshop bitch.

 

In perfectly normal news, Britney was photoshopped for her new video “Work Bitch”. Apparently being a mother of two and not maintaining a 15 year old body doesn’t fly in music videos. Personally, I feel like her talent (read: autotuned voice) shouldn’t slightly be affected by her body, but that’s just me.

It’s these small things that are killing body image.

‘Gravity’: A Step Forward for Women Onscreen

I finally watched Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity last week. Some of my thoughts are mirrored here, by writer Melissa Silverstein. I’ll reiterate parts of her review that I feel similarly about, and add some of my own insights. Also, *SPOILER ALERT*.

I’d like to push aside all the impossibilities of the science behind Gravity, which even I took issue with (could they destroy any more space stations? Kowalski could’ve been saved! That fire extinguisher would’ve sent her spinning again!), and focus more on some of the other aspects, including characters, story, and spectacle.

These are estimates, but the film had one lead- Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, one supporting actor- George Clooney as Matt Kowalski, and one more speaking character we see onscreen- Paul Sharma as Shariff. To get a little clinical, although the main character was a female, this film is on par with what we see on the big screen. Sandra is one of three characters onscreen in total. The other two are male, making up 66.7% of speaking characters. She alone represents all female speaking characters, which is 33.3%. If we include the other characters whose voices we hear, there is one other female in mission control. Everyone else is male. 2/7, or 28.6% of characters in this film are female. When seen in that light, no giant leaps are being made to break gender norms, in sheer number of characters.

My non-clinical analysis of the characters: they played their respective scientists well. Bullock was a little high strung, Clooney ever the joker. They were a good counterpoint to each other and served to remind the audience of the severity of the situation, punctuated with light humor. I did like the echoes of motherhood everywhere in the film. Cuaron said “it was always important to us that the central character be a woman, because we felt there was an understated but vital correlation of her being a maternal presence against the backdrop of Mother Earth.” Dr. Stone is a parent whose motivations throughout the film revolve around her daughter. I particularly enjoyed the visual of Dr. Stone when she finally enters the space station, takes off all her armor, and curls up in the fetal position. I see what you did there Alfonso.

Womb, there it is.

I appreciated that Bullock and Clooney had no make-up on for the film. It’s rare for actors to be so naked on film, particularly women. Of course, Bullock is spectacular, proving that the silkscreens and glamour of Hollywood can be a bit much, and unnecessary in the face of good acting.

The story itself was very surface level. We had just enough history to keep rooting for our hero, but the visual effects of the film was its strongest factor. The space spectacle was encompassing so that you felt stressed out with the lack of oxygen, flying debris, and thoughts of loneliness and death. If you can look past the minimal story and let yourself stress/enjoy the action in space, this movie is pretty great.

A non-movie complaint: I take great issue with the fact that Cuaron had to lobby for a female protagonist and had to ‘defend’ his choice. How many directors defend their protagonist being male? I’m pretty sure that statistic estimates around 0%. Time and time again, I hear about remarkable strides made any time one female person/character does something significant, like having been seen. I would argue for the complete opposite. When characters are written, I would question why a character couldn’t be female. Why does an action hero HAVE to be male? Why does the villain? The sidekick, the one liner, the extra?

Would Gravity, have been a less effective movie if Kowalski was a Maddie instead of a Matt? Seema instead of Sheriff? Unrealistic? Films portray unrealistic two dimensional females all the time. Maybe its time to shift the unrealistic female and make her more badass, more central, and simply just more present. After all, let’s not forget that females comprised only 28.6% of this film.

Elle’s 2013 Women in Hollywood

 “A lot of times, women have had all their tools taken away (in Hollywood comedies). It’s like you’re never inappropriate, you have the greatest job, you look great, your hair is amazing, and now go be funny. And it’s like, with what? You have to fall down for us to want to watch you get back up. And it’s like they never let you watch women fall down.”

– Melissa McCarthy, on playing nontraditional female comedic leads

“I started noticing a couple years ago that I wasn’t seeing women as the stars of movies. I’m seeing them as the guys’ girlfriends, or so-and-so’s wife. I just thought: God, if I don’t start buckling down and start producing some movies, what’s my daughter going to see in the movies?”

Reese Witherspoon, on what inspired her to begin producing movies*

Other women featured include Shailene Woodley, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Naomie Harris. You can read the full interviews in the November issue of Elle, out Oct 22.

Personally super stoked for Witherspoon’s take on Gone Girl adaptation of the book by Gillian Flynn. If you haven’t read it, invest now. The female protagonist (that’s a little generous) will be a character to remember. It’s going to be balls to the walls insane. Just Batshit.