A Girl in a Boys Club

This is a long and angry rant, so if you are not in the mood for that, please check out now.

There’s a fair amount of productive and non-productive things I should be doing. I should write notes on my screenplay. I should write notes on the stuff I have to read for my writer’s group. I should begin the arduous blind query process.

But I do not wish to do any of those things.

I could do a number of enjoyable, less productive things. I could play Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. I could finish the movie I was watching last night. I could take a bike ride.

But I do not wish to do any of those things.

No, I am filled with that vague “I want to go home” feeling, even though I’m at home. I am so full of malaise I don’t know what to do with myself. No, I do know. I will sit and stare and alt-tab long enough to squash productivity into non-existence.

It may sound stupid, why my general bad mood is compounded by more shitty shit, but it’s hard to care so much about things and see other people brush them off.

No, I am not talking about my writing.

I’m talking the f-word. Yes, feminism, but not the productive feminism that tries to bust bullshit abortion laws. I am not that useful. I am talking the intersection of feminism and media criticism and writing (yeah, not a real intersection, but whatever). I am talking caring about things like representation of women on screen or in video games. I am talking caring about woman as actual, three dimensional characters and not sex objects, plot points, or things to be rescued. I am talking about something so few people give three fucks about.

I need to get out of my circles. I am so tired of other writers, upon learning of my unapologetically feminist “brand,” apologizing to me for their lack of female characters or quoting the Bechdel test. Fuck the Bechdel test. Can we please stop pretending like this arbitrary test is some way to prove a movie cares about women? I am so tired of smart, compassionate people making lame excuses. Just this week, John August and Craig Mazin were on Scriptnotes–a  popular screenwriting podcast– talking damsels in distress. Halfway through the episode I was so fucking happy, I started penning a thank you email in my head. Finally, two writers people respect, on a super-popular podcast, are talking about women being reduced to objects and plot points. And people will listen, because John and Craig are not women and they are not feminists and they do not have “an agenda.” And, when I return to my podcast, my heart sinks, because they backpedal and make excuses for including damsels in their current projects.

There are people who care about these things, but most care only enough to pay lip service to the idea. Few take action. Few care enough to change their their writing or mention misogyny when they give notes. I am so tired of feeling like I am tearing my hair out and screaming at the top of my lungs. I am so tired of caring so much about things when no one else gives a fuck. I am so tired of all the horrible things that happen to women everywhere. And, I know a lot of people think it’s stupid to care so much about trivial things like movies and TV when there are “real problems” in the world. But, these aren’t trivial things. Movies and TV are where we learn who we are, who everyone else is. Movies and TV are where we get our ideas about love, work, and family. Movies and TV are why, until I was well into my 20s, I really believed all men want nothing but sex and that “taking advantage” of a drunk girl is totally normal. Movies and TV (and books and magazines and billboards and music and commercials) are much of why I had an eating disorder for years and why I still can’t get over this fucking split in my head that has me craving and hating the feeling of being objectified simultaneously.

So, no, I am not willing to write off movies and TV as trivial, because girls are still learning that being pretty is more important than being smart. Girls are still learning that they are the sidekicks and love interests in their own story. Girls are still learning that Prince Charming or Spiderman or Edward or whoever the fuck Liam Neeson plays in Taken is coming to save them. And when these girls become women, they hold onto these ideas. And, if they are anything like me, their thoughts and self-esteem are fucked because of it.

And, yes, the patriarchy hurts men too, and boys are taught all sorts of terrible things they still believe as men, but that’s a topic for another day.

It feels like such a small request–to want to see better female characters, better representations of women–something to watch besides bro movies about bros. And these bros are rather limited too–raunchy players, stoic heroes, loveable losers, awkward nerds–but for every cookie cutter trope, there’s a nuanced character to balance him out.

I want to tear myself away from writing this so I can actually get some shit done, but I can’t. I am so angry I can’t think. I am so angry that I will continue to see the reflection of myself as nothing more than a bunch of bullshit stereotypes. I am so angry that my friends dismiss sites like esher girls or the hawkeye initiative as something you only need to see once, or when a friend refers to my history with an eating disorder as a girl problems, or when my boyfriend makes a joke about me not being able to work at his company because I wouldn’t put up with the sexual harassment. These are my friends. These are people who are above average. These are not the asshole running pick up artist blogs or whining about the friendzone on reddit or calling me PC for any mention of feminist ideas. These are people who care.

God forbid, I read the comments on Kotaku or Gawker.

And, really, I should be working, and not wallowing in this pathos, but when I tried to read my script on the kindle I just couldn’t. And I don’t want anyone to think I’m indicting men. I wish it were only men who participated in this bullshit. Plenty of women play a part, especially in the genres I write. I’m looking at you 50 Shades of Grey and forgettably named knockoffs–with your pretty, inexperienced, educated, young, white protagonists and your handsome, educated, rich, type-A love interests. 

I know, I’m circling around my point, but it’s time to restate my thesis. I am tired of caring so much about how women are viewed in the media when no one I know cares a lick. Because it’s easy for these male individuals to write this off as someone else’s problem. After all, they can still be the hero. They can still save the day. They can still get the girl (and she’s always a girl). They can still be valuable, even if they aren’t sexy.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to shut off my internet and leave this male-dominated industry, but where would I go? I don’t have any skills, and my back up plan has always been programming. I know enough to know I could learn how to do it, and I know enough about the job market to know I need a skill employers value. But will things really be better in another male dominated industry?

I need some female friends.

I need to get out of my head.

I need to get off the fucking internet.

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3 thoughts on “A Girl in a Boys Club

  1. I’m thirteen and I feel like this every. Single. Goddamned time I open the internet. Reading a story? Five pages in, the writer ‘subtly’ hints at the inferiority of women and the superiority of men. Don’t get me started on YA female main character stories. I’m tired about hearing how ‘big’ the guy you like’s hand are, how ‘protected’ you feel. Hands, really? Don’t you have your own hands? Does big mean strong? Then, maybe all men are strong because ‘all of them are bigger’ (BS)? Why, actually, is love a main component in the story? I thought you wanted revenge? I doubt you’ll find true love during your avenger quest. True love is hard to find, don’t make it seem easy.

    Listening to music? There will always be a comment about how ‘sexy’ a girl is. If I’m listening to a straight woman’s song, it will always be about a man. Always a love song. Why? If I’m playing a video game, trust it to have:

    A) Women are vunerable. Women need help. Go save the woman, boy! Nevermind you’re not fully grown, you’re scrawny, you’ve never held a sword, and the woman we’re talking about is supposedly a princess who should be able to defend herself or die in a world where every single royal prince you meet can behead a sixty foot dragon. Surely the princess would be taught how to defend herself?

    B) Innuendo. I don’t hate it, but when the innuendo keeps on refrencing to ‘submissive women’ and ‘obedient women’ and dominance that comes with owning a dick, I can’t help but break the back button and take a moment to stare blankly at a wall, contemplating opening the computer again – is it really worh it? – eventually, I do, but now I can’t even play a Japanese game or read a Japanese manga without cringing every time I see a female.

    C) Naked ladies. I doubt male’s libido is so much, too much, they can’t handle it. I’m sure both girls and boys experience the same content of arousal, just because a guy shows physical signs of arousal does not mean we should label men as ‘sex-maniac violent monsters’. I’m a feminist, but I highly believe that should be equalist because feminist in itself is sexist to men and women.

    D) ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL. If they aren’t, they aren’t women.

    I don’t like it when people write articles and books debating feminity. I will label my own feminity, not you. Please, mind your own business and LEAVE ONE THING IN THIS WORLD UNLABELED/DESCRIBED BY YOURSELF. I am HIGHLY capable of deciding on my own feminity, and I have already decided what being a female is:

    Human.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see people refraining from giving their highly wanted opinions on everything. Unless we repeat history, except without anything called ‘gender’ and ‘sex’, I don’t think we’ll ever see total equality. Other than death, of course, but already people are giving ‘him’ a sex. Along with God. Because obviously, God is a Man. Capitalize Man.

    A Man.

    What a fucking honor. Please, may I kiss your feet? And maybe I should open the TV, where undoubtedly you will satisfy your libido by watching the nude lady in resturant ads? Don’t worry; the women on TV won’t mind you staring – they’re mute. Obedient. No worries about indigant feminazis.

    (PS, I think that was a bit sexist of me towards men. No, I know it was. But I find that the people who declared men as ‘constantly aroused’ and staring at walking women’s butts as ‘perfectly normal behavior’ are usually men. And women believe them, because they aren’t men and who else’s opinion on a gender is better than the gender itself? #irony

    Of course boys will constantly stare at butts if everybody keeps on saying its normal and nobody does anything to stop it. Cuz, you know, women go out for the sake of men’s visual entertainment.)

    Wao, this is long. Sorry. I just.

    God. God, why did you make such a thing as sex/gender?

    Poor women.

    Poor men.

    Poor people.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I wish I was this articulate at your age.

      I really hope that things will be different by the time you are my age, but it’s more likely that they will stay the same 😦

      Unfortunately, as a woman, you will often be defined by your gender. You’ll have to work twice as hard just to prove yourself.

      Don’t let go of your anger as you get older. It’s good to be pissed off! You sound very self-assured. Stay that way. Never, ever let anyone else tell you what you can do or who you can be. And that includes the media.

      Sometimes you have to unplug from movies, music, TV, and books, because most of it is sexist. I like to take solace in things that aren’t sexist, but it’s rare a piece of media is actually feminist.

      If you’re a manga/anime fan, you may want to try Fullmetal Alchemist. I’ve been rewatching it, and I am yet to be disappointed by sexism. It has quite a few female characters and none of them are defined by being female. They are all sorts of different things, and they are allowed to be vulnerable.

      I also quite like The Hunger Games trilogy. It is suspiciously lacking in sexual politics (don’t tell me the Capitol isn’t also regulating birth control (check out The Handmaid’s Tale if you want to sink your teeth into some serious feminist dystopia lit)), but it’s a story where the MC’s femaleness is mostly irrelevant to the plot. And woman are allowed to be great and terrible in lots of ways.

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