Green’s intimate reporting and the incredible cinematography and editing that makes the film stand out accomplish the goal of respecting, questioning, and empowering these women activists. Green, in examining those fighting against the patriarchy, exposes and dismantles the patriarch who was running the show.
“Hey we’ve come this far, haven’t we? This is just the beginning.”
“The beginning” was in 1980, when this feminist comedy classic was released. Dolly Parton belted out the title song, which features a “boss man” who is “out to get her”–it’s an uplifting song, though, that echoes the closing celebratory sentiment: this is just the beginning. Things are going to change.
Well how have we done in 34 years?
And it sinks in. We can, half a world away, celebrate Pussy Riot’s name. We can listen to their music and cheer them on. What our challenge as feminists needs to be is to take their cause as seriously as those Carriers of the Cross take it. We must hold on so tightly to our convictions–at home and abroad–that the utter fear and terror of female power that those enmeshed in the patriarchy are emboldened by is neutralized.
The women of ‘House of Cards’ are not “Strong Female Characters.” They are well-written characters with a great deal of power, which they wield alongside the men. They are integral parts of the narrative. When female complexity and power is written into the narrative, everything else–including passing the Bechdel Test–effortlessly falls into place.
The men get the most attention for their greed and corruption. However, if we look a bit closer, the films’ women are the ones who can be traced to plant bigger, fatter seeds of avarice. This wouldn’t bother me, as I’m always in favor of more complex female characters (even if they’re unsympathetic), but what strikes me is that we barely notice these scenes. The women become victims and damsels, when oftentimes the ideas were their own.
Is this some kind of 21st century version of the femme fatale? A woman who is coercive–not only sexually, but also financially–but who isn’t taken seriously as a power player? Is it just embedded in us to not notice women’s power or ignore their parts in the narrative?
The hunters write history. The hunters glorify themselves. The hunters’ history infiltrates itself into the very fabric of our cultural narrative, so we’re only comfortable with seeing the complexities of the hunters, and the simplicity of the lions.
It is what we’ve been trained for since birth.
When Jordan says to his staff, “Stratton Oakmont is America,” he wasn’t, as he typically was, full of shit. That was one of the truest statements in the film. … But even if we are adequately critical of the reality of Jordan Belfort’s story, how much can we expect from audiences who, like the audience at the end of the film, want at some level to know Jordan’s secrets?
Almost 20 years later, we need more of what My So-Called Life gave us a taste of. We need teenage girl protagonists to be sexual, not sexy. We need honest portrayals of what it is to be a teenager–not only for teenagers who need to see themselves in faithful mirrors, but also for adults who are still trying to figure themselves out.
…the beauty of riot grrrl lies in the fact that we do get to remake our girlhoods, inserting anger and rioting where before there was quiet sadness and loneliness. It’s easy to flip back and forth between Bikini Kill and The Julie Ruin (and everything in between) and be catapulted back to a moment or into a moment. This idea that we can rewrite our histories and revise our futures by pressing “play” is woven throughout The Punk Singer. Creating ourselves in our rooms, and then stepping outside of our rooms and talking to one another and listening to one another is essential.
Vedder has spent his career fighting for a modern world that accepts and promotes women–he’s fought for reproductive rights, spoken out against sexual assault, and worked for worldwide safe pregnancy/childbirth.
Spirituals and folk songs were essential in African American history–they allowed slaves to communicate and to collaborate. They were a subtle way to resist slavery and develop community (which was exactly what chattel slavery sought to demolish). White people–as the aforementioned overseer demonstrates–often co-opt these important black cultural pastimes, which is something to keep in mind as we seek to hear and see–but not take–African American stories.
I found myself wondering about the designation of sexploitation. Female nudity in itself isn’t exploitative. Women fighting and women being abused are things that happen in prison. Are representations of women in these situations inherently exploitative, or are we conditioned to see women’s bodies and women’s actions and think: object? Certainly frame after frame of powerful, complex, awful and good, sympathetic and loathsome women has some kind of effect on the viewer. Since we are conditioned to only really consider the straight white male gaze as the norm, we see these movies as highly sexualized and exploitative.