I write about feminism in a Monday entry because it is most often associated with products. Feminist writing, art, films. You don’t talk about feminist “behaviour” (or at least, those that do are usually stereotyping). Some people do talk about feminist attitudes and politics, but I’d say feminist politics mean actually something radically different from the feminist arts. And feminist literature is what I’m talking about today.
Some of us have been irked at one time or another by feminist arguments against books we love. They argue that books are sexist because they depict women as the ‘virgin and the whore’; ‘angel and the devil’; ‘the mother’; ‘the submissive wife and the dominant wife’; ‘the bitch’; ‘the seductress’; ‘the sex object’ (possibly as man’s prey); ‘the old maid’; ‘the bluestocking’; ‘the castrating woman’; ‘the pioneer woman’; and ‘the victim’. I don’t know about you, but this sounds to me like a pretty exhaustive list. If you think about men, are there really many archetypes to place them in either? Every one of these female archetypes has a male contemporary, but no, no one thinks much about them. Perhaps it’s because men are not seen as men, but as universal general people. So why should women get such unique treatment? Why should every one of their roles get more critically scrutinised? They can’t play the lover, or the victim, or neither the “dominant” nor “submissive” wife. There aren’t many roles left for them, are there?
On the other hand, some of the criticisms levelled against feminists are similarly tiresome. Feminists are seen as stubborn, emotional, lesbian and bossy. Some of them do have strong opinions, but then again so many Americans do, for all manner of issues, but somehow women are dismissed as being the less logical negotiators. Or when feminists attempt to write books centring around women, they get shot down for being prejudiced against men. Seriously, why can’t we just peacefully have tales that’re heavy on 1 type of hormone?
That said, I maintain that I subscribe to neither feminism nor anti-feminism. Books should be appreciated for the authors’ intent, and I’m sure most authors never thought anything of the gender ratio or portrayals (except maybe the feminist authors). Maybe I’m too much influenced by Hollywood, but I agree that I hate shows with too heavy an emphasis on women. I mean, I sorta liked Mulan, but not Brave, and flicks like UP and Wreck-It Ralph win over them anytime. And guess what, UP’s only lady was dead. But no they salvaged everything with Kevin being a female.
This of course fuels the argument that Pixar intentionally casts the gentlemen in their best shows, and that audiences wouldn’t have accepted it as much had the old man and the young Scout been female. But think about it, the dead woman in the movie was the wise, bold one. Even as a girl she was a tomboy and she was the one who understood the meaning of life long before the old man (Carl, was it? I don’t know why I can never remember their names). That makes her a Gandalf figure, which essentially nullifies any male sexism inherent in the movie. Or does it?
Maybe I’m being extremely peeved because I just came across a blog entry saying they will boycott Pixar’s upcoming movie because they took out all the females and replaced them with white males. Yeah Pixar’s really sexist! They’re like Hollywood which favours white males! Let us conveniently forget about Brave which won an Oscar despite its bad storyline but 70% female cast. I still cannot wrap my mind around why Wreck-It Ralph lost. Sure, Brave had more touching art, but it was such a generic storyline even a little girl wouldn’t have been taken in, surely. But yes, you can’t argue that Pixar is sexist. Tangled might have been a typical princess story, but don’t ignore Mulan! Don’t ignore The Princess & The Frog, with a black princess as its lead! Don’t ignore Pocahontas (okay bad example here) or Alice in Wonderland (surprisingly good example) or Lilo & Stitch!
Of course, I may have missed out a good number of male-dominated films along the way. My point is that I will watch a film regardless of the gender of the cast, especially if its creators did not deliberately intend for any sexism to take place. Sure, they may have their implicit prejudices, and yes, I’m quite sure I won’t enjoy Frozen, but I will not blame it on the institution that in itself did no wrong but cater to their target audience and the expectations of society.
I may not watch Frozen because it does not seem like a great movie to me. However, I will watch Inside Out, a movie about a girl whose 5 emotions of Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy struggle to take control of her (oh, only girls have emotions that are out of control, that’s why). I will watch Finding Dory because I liked Finding Nemo (yeah, see, Dory the absent-minded woman needed a man to guide her, despite her managing to live her life on her own all this time, with no emotional baggage like Marlin did). I will watch films as I like, and I shall not care what kind of community I am supporting. If by being feminist Pixar has got to produce flicks like Brave all the time, then I’d rather it remain sexist and give me my Wreck-It Ralph kicking, punching action.