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.