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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

what Hollywood does to women

• Sarah Jessica Parker gets shit because of her mole or lack thereof.

• Rumer Willis (Bruce’s daughter) gets shit because of her chin.

• Katie Holmes gets shit because of her height. She is all of five-nine, which causes her to call herself “a big one,” and to consider her height an “imperfection.”

Is this really what we want to be doing to half the human race? Really? I walked past a salon recently on a very chic street in Boston (I visited friends over the Fourth of July) where one of the services offered was “eye brightening,” and I thought: What the fuck, now the whites of my eyes aren’t bright enough? They found another part of our bodies that women should be ashamed of, and can pay a fortune to “fix”?

Or am I just particularly sensitive to all this because I, like poor Katie, am also five-nine, and never realized before that I was supposed to be considering myself a freak?

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  • Jan Willem

    Dear MaryAnne,

    Being a European male measuring 1.87 metres – about 6 foot 2 – I would not consider you a freak in any way.

    Best wishes, Jan Willem

  • Kate

    Yes, I saw a blog where one could vote on whether or not SJP should have kept her mole or not. Health issues aside, lordy, I don’t even care about my OWN moles, let alone someone else’s.

    Interestingly enough, at not quite 5’2″, I’ also feel like a freak for being too short. I guess any woman who isn’t, what? 5’6″ exactly? Is somehow flawed?

  • Sarah Jessica Parker gets shit because of her mole or lack thereof.

    This one killed me, only because somehow I completely missed when this became her “signature facial feature.”

    Perhaps I’m just out of the cultural mainstream.

    Perhaps that’s a good thing.

  • It’s not just Hollywood, but all of society treating women this poorly and superficially. It’s a real shame, and now I’m seeing the emphasis on surface qualities being applied toward men by society. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose one could say, but it’s not done nearly as much as it is toward women. Better yet would be if we could all appreciate each other for who we are as individuals instead of superficially insisting we all measure up to impossible standards of sameness.

    Frankly, what I find interesting in a person’s looks often are their differences or even “imperfections.” There are times when I see someone with, say, a large nose and I think it gives them a distinct look that works for them. I can only imagine how much pressure they get from society to “fix” what actually ain’t broken.

    Ah well, superficiality, thy name is humanity.

  • Katie Holmes is a freak because of being hooked up with the Church of Scientology and Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. (And now I’m sure their web crawlers will home in on this site because I criticized them.)

    Beyond that, I think she’s great. Tall women are sexy.

  • ThatTickles

    MaryAnn, you sound like a good candidate for sphincter bleaching. At least think about it.

  • JoshB

    This is somehow different from what Hollywood does to men? Have you seen 300? What do you think flabby, skinny, weak, pasty and otherwise less than ideal men thought watching that? I’ll give you a hint: it didn’t boost our self-esteem. What I’d wager it did do was give gym owners ten different kinds of orgasms.

    With regards to Sarah Jessica Parker’s mole, there’s half of the population that couldn’t possibly care less, and they have Y chromosomes.

    I’d bet Tom Cruise gets a lot more shit for being short than Katie Holmes gets for being tall.

    Making public sport of Rumer Willis’s chin is pure assholery, no doubt about that.

  • Aderack

    Yeah, 5’9″ seems a bit short to me.

    Then again, I’m 6’5-1/2″. Which is, as you must imagine, legitimately awkward at times.

    I was once on a Tokyo train at rush hour. It was just like the stereotype; the conductors with the white gloves pushing people onto the train. Can’t even stand up on my own; I’m being held up by all the people around me. We reach a popular stop; the sardines start pouring out of the can, carrying me with them, and THWONK goes my forehead against the top of the door frame. I fall back on the crowd and am carried out of the train. No one notices.

    I didn’t want to get off there.

  • Aderack

    Regarding thin, weak men: at least you can go the metrosexual route. Get some fishnets and tight pants! People will think you’re a rock star.

  • PaulW

    To Hollywood, image is everything. Tis the pity of it.

    Remember Jennifer Grey? Just off one of the biggest romance movies ever – Dirty Dancing – she gets driven to do a nose job to make herself look sexier… only to have the job botched to where no one hires her because she’s no longer recognizable as Jennifer Grey. You can’t win sometimes…

    All women have to be blond and skinny.

    All men have to be chisled and square-jawed.

    All small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri have to have 9 inches of fur and not shed.

    It’s insane.

  • MaryAnn

    This is somehow different from what Hollywood does to men? Have you seen 300? What do you think flabby, skinny, weak, pasty and otherwise less than ideal men thought watching that?

    Yes, it is different. *300* is one movie. All the less than ideal men have lots of opportunity to see men onscreen who look more like them than not. But we simply do not see women who look like, oh, Jack Black, or Will Ferrell, or John C. Reilly appearing on film *at all,* never mind in starring roles.

    If that one movie intimidated you, JoshB, imagine being inundated with imagery like that everywhere you turn, and imagine what it could do for your self-esteem.

  • MaryAnn

    All men have to be chisled and square-jawed.

    This is clearly belied by the many nonchiseled, non-square-jawed men who dominate our movie and TV screens.

  • Ibrahim

    I would say this is not what Hollywood does to women, it is what OTHER women do to celebrity women. These are “gossip rag” news. The only reason men read them is to look at pictures of scantily clad women – the articles with all their juicy contents are in there for the sole benefit of female readers.

    On the height issue, I guess 5’9″ is a bit tall when you have to be fit in frame. Most actors are surprisingly small people who look well proportioned on camera. I don’t think anyone (with the exception of smaller people) has an issue with tall women, quite the opposite. My wife is 5’10” and as a result she is always the first person in a room to be checked out.

  • MaryAnn

    I would say this is not what Hollywood does to women, it is what OTHER women do to celebrity women. These are “gossip rag” news. The only reason men read them is to look at pictures of scantily clad women

    Ah, I see: women are doing it to themselves. So the men are looking at images of scantily clad women who run the gamut of attractive womanhood, then, right? Not just impossibly skinny blondes with impossibly huge tits?

  • Shadowen

    James McAvoy recently said he thinks it’s an absolute horror to be a woman in Hollywood. He cited (I believe) the scene in Date Movie where Alyson Hanigan in a fat suit dances around singing “My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard”. As a scene, it’s not in and of itself bad–an overweight woman loving her body is fine. That it is played, in context, for a simple fat joke is what makes it repulsive.

  • Ibrahim

    I think you are greatly simplifying my response, but pretty much, yes (sorry, I don’t know how to quote). When men are asked to rate their ideal woman from a full range (not just skinny or super skinny, that’s not much of a choice!), the result is not the typical woman you see in the glossy mags or the gossip rags, but is one with a shape that is invariably more voluptuous and well padded. I’m not saying rolls and spare tires are universally attractive, I am saying that what the media tend to feed the public is NOT the full gamut of what men find “attractive” – one end of the range is over-represented, there is a middle that is largely excluded, and the other end is almost completely absent.

    The harshest and strictest critics of women are other women – whether the woman in the street (whose purchase power dictates the success of crap like Vogue) or in the editor’s room (where standards are constantly pushed, to the point that the majority of images are more CGI/retouched than they are real).

    Hollywood and acting in general are slightly different beasts. You have various limitations to deal with on film, including of course height (you have to fit in frame and make your 5’6″ male co-star look manly!) and weight (people with less body fat tend to look better on film, period). There’s a priceless scene in one of the Conan movies where a nearby female lead is as tall or taller than Schwarzenegger. She’s gorgeous, but her stature “breaks” the scene because she makes the male lead look smaller and consequently less powerful (which, you will agree, is a problem when you are playing Conan the Barbarian).

    Apart from these basic limitations (which I think are *somewhat* justified from a technical viewpoint), I would say Hollywood is sadly influenced by fashion, and not the other way round. I think the real culprit you’re looking for is the fashion world and the growing use (and glamorization) of coat rack models in the last several decades. Gossip rags are simply very low-end fashion publications and take a similar approach (with a similarly low tolerance for deviation) so it is not surprising to find them giving us similar fare.

    In fact I believe we can trace back most of these issues with women’s image and body shape in the media to fashion. Remember how Hollywood used to be populated by curvy buxom stars? Then fashion started marketing the waif look as desirable and elitist, borderline anorexic girls became image role models, and now this narrow range has become the standard in most media (thanks for nothing Twiggy…).

  • MaryAnn

    I am saying that what the media tend to feed the public is NOT the full gamut of what men find “attractive”

    I didn’t say that it was. In fact, I’ve said here many times precisely what you’re saying. And yet still Hollywood — and the culture at large — continues to feed us a line, and it’s a line that belittles women and dramatically impacts women’s and girls’ self-esteem. Why? Why do we let Hollywood get away with that?

    (people with less body fat tend to look better on film, period)

    So why are there so many pudgy, flabby, and fat men onscreen? Why are men allowed to be less than physically perfect, while women are not?

  • Ibrahim

    I don’t believe it’s Hollywood feeding us a line. It’s the Fashion world. Hollywood merely reflects what it perceives to be an elite and desirable image. Unfortunately that image is informed by the fashion industry. Change fashion and you’ll change media in general. Or reduce the status of fashion, and it will no longer be emulated across the board, as it is now.

    “Why are men allowed to be less than physically perfect, while women are not?” There are a number of answers IMO.

    1. Media images of women already exist in popular culture (thanks to fashion, as argued), and Hollywood enterprises attempt to conform to maximize market value.

    2. As pointed out earlier, the harshest critics of women are other women – whether directly or indirectly. For example, I have never heard a sane man criticize Beyonce’s looks, but I hear women complaining about her thighs and ass all the time.

    3. A lot depends on the role in question. There is also the popular perception that a man can be ugly and still attractive/fascinating, but a woman is either attractive or not attractive. I suppose you can chalk this up to women being more complex creatures.

    4. It’s a reflection of what happens normally in society. How often do you see a beautiful woman with (to steal a line from Friends) a totally “nothing” man? All the time. How often do you see the reverse? Much more rarely.

    5. If you think that Hollywood women have to be “physically perfect” I submit you are falling in the money-making trap the fashion world has been constructing for decades. As mentioned earlier Hollywood actresses tend to conform to certain expectations that exist in media, but what is physically perfect, really? Katie Holmes? Jennifer Aniston? Salma Hayek? Cynthia Ettinger? (she’s the smouldering Rita Sue in Carnivale, who is neither young nor skinny). Even in Hollywood there exists some variety – certainly more than you find in the fashion world!

    In a sense Hollywood is a victim of the fashion scam, just like media in general. Don’t rage at Hollywood – go straight for the root of the problem and take down the fashionistas!

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t think Hollywood women have to be physically perfect: Hollywood seems to think that. When even obviously beautiful women think they’re “imperfect,” something is wrong.

    I’m not blaming any one segment of our society: I am blaming all of us. Saying that it’s all “fashion’s” fault is meaningless. (So is blaming women for being critical of other women.) It’s all one big ball of bullshit. Why is there “market value” in “conforming” to images that you yourself have conceded do not reflect how most people feel?

  • MaSch

    Dear MaryAnn,

    you asked, why *we* let Hollywood get away with treating women the way they do. I agree, we shouldn’t let Hollywood get away with it, but what can we do?

    Maybe it would help if feminist film critics would only review and recommend movies which satisfies the three feminist rules for movies:

    There are at least two women in the movie, who talk to each other in at least one scene about something else than a man.

    Therefore, disrespect to movies like “In Bruges” and hail to movies like “Sex and the City”, “Mamma Mia!”, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and lesbian porn in general!

    Well, or maybe think about something more intelligent to do …

  • Ibrahim

    “I’m not blaming any one segment of our society: I am blaming all of us.”

    Keep me out of it!

    It’s not “all” fashion’s fault, because without a degree of collaboration (such as the guilty pleasure of reading fashion and gossip rags) the situation might be quite different. But if you can identify a single party that bears more responsibility for this than the fashion industry, I would love to know about it.

    “(So is blaming women for being critical of other women.) It’s all one big ball of bullshit.”

    No it’s not, it is precisely what happens, as described. As such, it is part of the equation and part of the problem. You can ignore it if you wish, but complaining about something without analyzing the root causes is not productive.

    “Why is there “market value” in “conforming” to images that you yourself have conceded do not reflect how most people feel?”

    There is enormous market value involved because fashion and gossip rags are read by a huge readership, primarily women. Now you answer this: are women in general being force-fed this fare, or is it something the market itself demands, or is it a combination of both or something else?

    We’re talking about the bizarre phenomenon of magazines that contain skinny fashionable women who, we are repeatedly told, make the average woman reader feel like crap. So why does the average woman not only read such material, but actively seeks it out?

    Hollywood has very little to do with it, and is a symptom of the problem rather than a cause. School girls have similar issues: beautiful young girls become anorexic, think they are hideous, engage in destructive behaviour motivated by self-hatred, etc., long before they even get to Hollywood. So do we blame schools? Or is there something wrong in the media-obsessed society itself? If the latter (and it certainly is the latter) then what exactly are the root causes?

    It’s not Hollywood. In terms of image models and the impact on society, Hollywood is the weakest of the graphic media triumvirate (film, pop music, fashion). Because of the long lead and production times, Hollywood tends to follow or at least lag behind other aspects of popular visual culture.

    It is undeniable that the fashion industry (and not Hollywood) made the skinny and waifish look popular. There has always been air brushing, but when an industry informally institutes digital editing of images to produce commercial photos of women with completely unrealistic (and impossible) proportions, you know there’s something seriously wrong. And it’s not even nice, if you look at these pictures closely these poor digitally manipulated women look deformed in addition to underfed. At least Jessica Rabbit had a nice rack…

    The modern wave of evil fashion influence began in the 60s as fashion segments began creeping into every television show, it intensified in the 90s with the explosion of music videos (a fusion of music and fashion with a heavy dose of sex) and the proliferation of fashion magazines, even ones targeting children and teens. So yeah, unless you have more convincing candidates the finger of blame points to the fashion industry’s decades-long emphasis on very thin women.

  • Gloria

    Oh piss. 300 is a (1) mythic tale (2) based on a comic book (a genre whose penchant for unreal bodies is well-known) and (3) told in an over-the-top way in every aspect anyway (“THIS IS SPARTA!”).

    And I think the principal characters are raised from childhood to be soldiers or something? Ridiculously chiselled bodies are quite called for.

  • MaryAnn

    Maybe it would help if feminist film critics would only review and recommend movies which satisfies the three feminist rules for movies

    That’s an interesting idea, but it would leave me with very few films to talk about. And here’s another problem:

    Therefore, disrespect to movies like “In Bruges” and hail to movies like “Sex and the City”, “Mamma Mia!”, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and lesbian porn in general!

    *Bruges* is brilliant. Those other three range from Not Very Good to Total Shit.

    So yeah, unless you have more convincing candidates the finger of blame points to the fashion industry’s decades-long emphasis on very thin women

    Ibrahim, I think you’re not quite getting me. I don’t deny that “fashion” is a problem when it comes to women and self-esteem, and our culture’s ideas about what women are “supposed” to look like. But you’re still missing my point: Why do people let themselves be sold these ideas? How can it be profitable to sell people ideas they don’t actually believe?

    I don’t have the answers.

    And please stop blaming women. Women are brainwashed into being hypercritical of themselves. It’s really hard to overcome, even when you are able to recognize, on an intellectual level, what’s going on. Women do not have to “actively seek out” images that smash our self-esteem: we are surrounded by them everywhere. And I suppose it’s fine to tell women, Hey, just ignore. Just don’t read those magazines, watch those TV shows, go to those movies. But we don’t tell men they have to withdraw from the culture in order to live a happy life.

    The culture is what is sick, not the people. Of course, the people are the culture, but starving people eat what they are given, not the imaginary meal they might prefer to eat that no one is offering.

    You talk about root causes: I’m talking about something even more root-cause than the fashion industry.

  • Kathy A

    “Women are brainwashed into being hypercritical of themselves. It’s really hard to overcome, even when you are able to recognize, on an intellectual level, what’s going on.”

    I so agree with this. I’m an overweight woman myself, fully versed in all the feminist awareness of media bias, and also educated in Golden Age of Hollywood anecdotes and biographies, yet, when I watch Judy Garland in “Summer Stock,” I think to myself, “Gee, she looks fat. When do we get to her in the tuxedo jacket, where she looks fabulous?”

    However, I know she was not fat in that film, but her body was at its natural and healthy weight, and to get her body down to that “fabulous” point, she had to starve herself and get addicted to pills yet again.

    I feel disgusted with myself for thinking this way about the female body on film.

  • JoshDM

    “They let Sarah Jessica Parker’s face on TV and she looks like a foot.” – Peter Griffin, Family Guy

  • JoshB

    Oh piss. 300 is…based on a comic book (a genre whose penchant for unreal bodies is well-known)
    And I think the principal characters are raised from childhood to be soldiers or something? Ridiculously chiselled bodies are quite called for.

    Very well Gloria, if you want to be fatuous then I can play. Look up at the top 5 box office movies as listed on this very site. Picture the male leads. Now try again.

    Didn’t I see Will Farrell in Old School running naked through the streets to laughter of the “ewwww, he’s fat and gross” sort? What man did Monique want and get in Phat Girlz?

    MaryAnn, believe me, Jack Black notwithstanding, the message I get from our culture is that I should be tall and muscular, and it ain’t just Hollywood saying it. But that’s cool with me. Being fit is a good thing. I didn’t feel intimidated by 300. Shamed maybe. Motivated certainly. Why ask Hollywood to tell me that it’s ok to be scrawny and weak when I can get my ass to the gym and do something useful about it?

    If I called you shallow every time you proclaimed George Clooney “toe-curling” you’d get annoyed with me in a big hurry, and you would be right.

  • MaryAnn

    Look up at the top 5 box office movies as listed on this very site. Picture the male leads.

    Okay, let’s!

    *Hellboy II: The Golden Army*

    The lead is an almost 60-year-old man buried under horns and other demonic gear. Hardly a realistic — even pretend realistic — image for men to follow.

    *Hancock*

    Yes, it’s true that Will Smith is handsome and fit. But he’s also black. Name a black actress who headlines big studio movies.

    *Journey to the Center of the Earth*

    I’ll spot you Brendan Fraser. He is a paragon of stereotypical physical manliness. And yet, I’d also argue that he is primarily a star because he’s funny, not because he’s good-looking.

    *Wall-E*

    The lead is a robot with no gender.

    *Wanted*

    The male lead is a skinny Scotsman. Cute as hell, sure. But hardly, you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even Gerald Butler in *300.*

    If I called you shallow every time you proclaimed George Clooney “toe-curling” you’d get annoyed with me in a big hurry, and you would be right.

    Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve called myself shallow plenty of times, so no, I probably wouldn’t be annoyed with you. I’m not ever saying that we don’t find attractive what we find attractive, or that we can even change that. But can you tell me, in all honesty, that the full range of what men find attractive in women even approaches what we see in pop culture?

  • Mo

    It’s a conspiracy by the diet industry, because low self esteem makes us diet, and diets make us fat. Which makes them a lot of money. Honest. Actually, I have no idea, but I do wonder sometimes.

    In my experience actively ignoring the messages and more importantly supporting friends in actively ignoring them seems to do wonders for the whole group. Of course I lucked out with friends who would rather talk about Lost or Star Wars than the latest diet tips, but I think our collective self esteem is much better for it. (And our guy friends like it because we all have *real* boobs because we all eat *real* food.) I don’t have a clue how to change Hollywood, but they aren’t invading my corner of the world if I can help it. *grr*

    Our real standard as a culture should be “are we healthy” not “are we thin”. If you can run for a few blocks in a pinch without wheezing or stopping, then you’re probably better off than a lot of the toothpicks with “ideal bodies” out there. And if you can’t it’s a much healthier goal to aim for than loosing ten pounds or saving up for some botox.

    Sorry for getting all preachy and long-winded, but I don’t think it’s said enough. Even during “issue” discussions like this one.

    Apparently, “eye brightening” is makeup that’s supposed to help with dark circles? *shrug*

    As for height, I’m 5’8″ and convinced it’s the perfect height. I’m short enough to wear heels without clunking my head on things, and tall enough to reach whatever is on the top shelf. That may be shorter than 5’9″, but I really don’t think one inch is enough to make a difference- Katie needs her head checked. But of course we all knew that long before this latest revelation…

  • MaryAnn

    Of course I lucked out with friends who would rather talk about Lost or Star Wars than the latest diet tips

    Me too. And I don’t read so-called women’s magazines (though I’ve worked at some of them, which were among my worst jobs ever). But it’s impossible to avoid seeing how limited a range of women we see. Certainly if you’re into movies or TV.

    Our real standard as a culture should be “are we healthy” not “are we thin”.

    Agreed. But this issue is so far beyond the “mere” one of weight. It’s about everything about women’s bodies.

  • Sara

    In our U.S. colleges/universities there is a saying espoused by a high percentage of the females (and they think this is what they are to do, seriousl)–it’s called “effortless perfection.”

    The boys might play intramurals if they want and work out at the gym (girls do too) but the boys can be slobs. The girls dress to the nines and the boys look like they just got out of bed.

    Go to any U.S. university and hang out a while. You’ll see this. It’s a problem. Also, check out the parties or bars at night. Girls, dressed up and “effortlessly perfected”–or trying to appear that way–and no, the “hot” boys aren’t the “built” ones or even good-looking ones. They are judged in other ways that aren’t so great either, but they certainly don’t have this very sad idea that they are to be “effortlessly perfect.” The boys would laugh at that and say, forget that crap. I’ll won’t comb my hair, heck, I won’t even wash it, I’ll just put my hat on backward and head out to the college bars.

  • Sara

    “Effortless perfection” doesn’t mean fashion only…really, that’s merely secondary. First and foremost it’s how a girl “looks”–perfect body (as has been described above with little variation), eating disorders to try to have that perfect body, lots of exercise to be tones and not have any flab, perfect skin, teeth, and so on. Even the “right” way to wax certain areas of the body. The intent/expectation is to achieve all of this “effortlessly.”

  • Mo

    “But it’s impossible to avoid seeing how limited a range of women we see. Certainly if you’re into movies or TV.”

    I know. They are out there if you look. I always am, so I do find some every now and again- I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters. That said, one of the main reasons I got into Doctor Who in the first place was that Rose was the first character who ever made me sit up and go “hey, that’s me!” even though she had way too much makeup and a somewhat different personality. (But she has one! Hooray!)

    Probably my biggest hero at the moment is Daisy from Spaced (even if, ironically, she was always trying to work for a women’s magazine.;)) I read an interview with Jessica Hynes recently that just broke my heart: http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment/My-space-odyssey–Jessica.4228575.jp

    ‘So, why does Hynes always seem to get wife/mother roles rather than parts more in tune with Spaced? “There aren’t any out there,” she says. “I mean, I love acting and performing, and I love the fact that I wrote and designed Spaced for myself to perform, but I did naively think that afterwards I would get offered more parts like that. Then I realised there weren’t any. I’m not complaining. But you have to get out there and write stuff yourself.”‘

    Hey, I’d gladly write something for her just for the sake of it even if there was no hope of it ever getting made. But then it dawned on me. I would need a plot. I have no blooming clue what a woman in her 30s or 40s does, apart from falling into one of the “wife and mother” vs. “career woman” ditches, neither of which interest me. Either way all I see firsthand is superwoman burnout. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what people my own age do. Since we all got out of college it’s either been settle down and get all domestic never to be heard from again or else go out and get drunk every night. Two more ditches I want nothing to do with.

    So what else is there? When writers figure that out; when people figure that out, then there will be roles. When there are roles there will be a chance we’ll start seeing a wider range of women.

    May that day come soon. *fingers crossed*

  • Mo

    “In our U.S. colleges/universities there is a saying espoused by a high percentage of the females (and they think this is what they are to do, seriousl)–it’s called “effortless perfection.”

    Wow. I can’t believe I’m saying this but thank goodness for cold weather that let us all dress like we were in primary at my school, then. Guys and girls equally were all for the rolled out of bed thing. It’s kind of hard to look nice when you need to fit long underwear under your clothes, plus there were all the layers of sweaters, mittens, hats, scarves… Freezing solid walking to class isn’t fun. Sure some people bothered with appearance (mostly first years) but one round of exams usually beat that out of them.

  • JoshB

    There are lots of flesh and blood men that are as buff as Hellboy, so red skin and horns notwithstanding, it is a realistic image. So even if I compromise and count James McAvoy as half a manly man that’s still 3 1/2 out of 5, with one being a cartoon where the question is irrelevant. I think my point stands :P

    But can you tell me, in all honesty, that the full range of what men find attractive in women even approaches what we see in pop culture?

    Well, I must admit, touché. However, pop culture does a somewhat better job of showing what men find most attractive, physically at least. After all, Hollywood is in the business of entertainment, not self-esteem.

    P.S. Maryann, I usually agree with you, but I find disagreeing with you to be great fun.

  • Hdj

    Aderack, I guess you got it all solved, with the route best suited for weak men. Just dress up like a bunch of fruit loots wearing fishnets and tight pants. Whats next tutu’s and little pink short shorts. Ha, Being a skinny guy ain’t so bad, as a matter of fact, I’ve dated many woman taller then me, 5’9, 5’10,they never had any complaints. I guess you being 6’5ish, you have your routes too right? you can dress up like Lurch.

  • Sara

    Mo,
    Yes, perhaps colder weather helps but not sure where you went to college cause much the same stuff goes on in the colder climates of the U.S. (especially the Northeastern ones.)
    I think you’ve hit on the answer to your question. Women need to write more–and in an authentic voice–and finding that voice in this culture is far from easy. It gets muffled, silenced but look what MaryAnn is doing–excellent example. We should all be writing something. Even if for just ourselves.
    Your observations of the twenties does flow from what I described in the college years… seemingly right into traditional female roles (not challenging these roles or being creative about this at all) or continuing with the partying and gettting wasted. Yeah, avoid both ditches and find another.
    Re: Supermom/woman–that’s what too many women think they’re supposed to be. Is there any reason (I can’t think of one) why a female in a household can’t negotiate with her spouse about childcare/chores, etc.? This, I truly do not get. Women who work “the double-shift” but have a spouse in the home? NO WAY! This is absurd.
    And you say re: Hynes–that you have no idea what women who are 30 or 40 do (when you consider writing about scripts, etc.) Understandable, but how would you like to see them? What would they look like if all this cultural stuff was peeled away and they were not “invisible” and “silenced?”

  • MaryAnn

    I have no blooming clue what a woman in her 30s or 40s does, apart from falling into one of the “wife and mother” vs. “career woman” ditches… So what else is there? When writers figure that out; when people figure that out, then there will be roles.

    But this is absurd! Most *men* do nothing but go to work and slave away at jobs they hate and then go home and veg out in front of the TV… and yet the movies and TV are *filled* with men doing interesting stuff! Of course we want to see movies/shows about people doing realistic things, that explore real problems that people deal with all the time (and actually *Spaced* is a great example of doing that in a very funny way), but we want fantasy, too!

    But what do we get? Selma Blair has superpowers, but is she the protagonist of her own superhero story? No! She’s just the superhero’s girlfriend. Angelina Jolie is a kickass assassin, but is she the protagonist of her own hero’s-journey story? No! She’s just one of the hero’s teachers.

    Why is it *Meet Dave* and not *Meet Mary*?

    Why do women only get to be the heroes of their own stories when those stories are about finding a man? (*Sex and the City,* *Mamma Mia*)?

    The best, most well-rounded story about a female in the theaters right now is *Kit Kittredge,* and she’s 11. But that’s kinda always the way things go for women: we’re smart and ambitious and aggressive and assertive until we hit adolescence, and then we lose it. Part of it is the body image thing we’ve been talking about here.

  • JoshB

    Why do women only get to be the heroes of their own stories when those stories are about finding a man?

    Ahem…*cough*Ellen Ripley*cough*.

    Don’t get me wrong, your point is well taken, but you still managed to get the single greatest hero of either gender in modern storytelling. And I would argue that Buffy Summers and Sarah Connor make a strong case for the two and three slots.

    Maybe it’s because they’re women that they’re so cool, but I don’t think so.

  • Maddie

    JoshB, the fact that you had to go back to the 70s to find Ellen Ripley says more than I think you know. Furthermore, the part of Ripley was originally written for a man, and gendering doesn’t weigh heavily in on the story of Alien. It’s not until Aliens that suddenly she’s playing mummy, and it’s always been okay for women to be heroic if they’re doing it for the kids.

    And actually, yes, part of what makes Ripley, Buffy Summers and Sarah Connor fantastic heroes IS their gender, because they’re playing against expectations – half the point of Buffy was that she was “the girl” from horror movies, the tiny blonde who got cornered in the alleyway and instead of being brutally murdered, turned around and kicked the crap out of the bad guy.

    What you apparently haven’t noticed so far is that these are exceptions rather than the rule – you’ve pulled one from the 70s and two from the 90s, and I could name you fifty recognisable male heroic characters from that time span. I’ll bet you couldn’t do the same for female characters. No one is saying that there are never ever any fantastic heroic female characters. They’re saying that the significant majority of women in movies are wives and girlfriends to the fantastic heroic male characters, and that these heroines are the exception rather than the rule. Even if you want to argue for women “having” the “top three”, men having, say, ninety out of the “top hundred” heroic characters doesn’t even out.

    And JoshB, I gotta tell you, you don’t win yourself any friends when you’re so unaware of your own privilege that you can’t be bothered to understand the frustrations of people who don’t have it. It’s as condescending and myopic for you to say that men have it “just as bad” as it would be for me to say that, in general, the portrayals of black people in popular culture are just as complex and heroic and interesting as they are of white people. There are always exceptions, and some of them are, arguably, more memorable than the rule, but they’re not the majority or even an equal division, and the exceptions don’t cancel out the rule.

    You get to look at your gender being depicted onscreen constantly as complex and heroic and of first importance. Women don’t. Occasionally, we’re lucky. Mostly, not so much.

  • Sara

    Thought this article might be of interest because it points to women’s status in society in general and reasons why we might see what is talked of above. Go to link if you’re interested in reading and especially pay attention to Nordic culture–something different is happening there, as in Rwanda now also.

    Rigidly Male-Dominated Societies Are Violent; The U.S. Is No Different
    http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/90859

    Until people (including progressives) stop thinking of “women’s issues”
    secondary, the U.S. will continue on its path of poverty and war. (etc.)

  • Sara

    I meant to add that the above article is written by Riane Eisler (whose work changed my life); she writes of partnership or dominator styles of operating in cultures. You won’t get partnership styles in a male-dominated culture (and we still live in one.)
    She also wrote the book, The Chalice and the Blade, for anyone who is interested. That’s the book that made me see, in large part, why things are as they are and how they are perpetuated from generation to generation.

  • JoshB

    Maddie, I suppose I didn’t make my point clear. I absolutely concede that women, by and large, get relegated to passive, boring roles where men do not, and I lament that fact. I also think that’s a separate issue from the one of body image that started the thread. For you to dismiss what men go through on that front says more about what you can’t be bothered to understand than what I can’t.

    I don’t doubt that there is a body image problem for women. I was trying to explain that I can relate, but also that I react to my own insecurities in a very different way. If you think that diminishes your own concerns then understand, that’s not my intention, but I’m not apologizing for trying to contribute a different perspective to the dialogue.

    Now, on to hopefully happier conversation: I think what made those heroines great was character complexity. Sure, it was a thrill to watch the petite Buffy thrash an overconfident attacker the first time, but that alone certainly didn’t keep people coming back for seven seasons. To maybe offend some Alien fans, I think the best moment of the series came in Alien 3 during the scene where Lance Henriksen tries to convince Ripley to come with him. Three movies worth of character development for Ripley played out on Sigourney Weaver’s face. You could feel how badly she wanted to believe him. The courage and self-sacrifice she showed in that moment is not gender specific. Best. Hero. Ever.

  • Maddie

    JoshB, since I didn’t actually mention the question of male OR female body image, I’m not sure how you can extrapolate that I don’t understand or care about it. I was responding to your comments about female heroic leads.

    That said, though, I tend to agree with MaryAnn that there is a lot more wiggle room in terms of the portrayal of attractiveness for men and that the bitchiness about women’s bodies is greater (spend two minutes on a message board in which discussing how some actress is looking on the beach in a bikini and you’ll see what I mean), but I’m well aware that body image in both sexes is increasingly appalling, and I don’t support it for anyone.

    I do think, however, that your original comment amounted, not to “I understand how you feel, here’s how I feel that relates to it”, but “yeah, well, I suffer just as much, if not more, so quit your bitchin'”, when MaryAnn is quite correct – a larger range of men than women are presented as attractive, and there are much narrower standards for female beauty in Hollywood than male. If Kate Winslet is Hollywood’s idea of the female equivalent of Jack Black…well, you see what I mean. The actual female equivalent of Jack Black would not be cast opposite the male equivalent of Kate Winslet (unless it’s Hairspray, though I think Nikki Blonski is way cute, and that was the entire point of the movie), but Jack Blacks get Kate Winslets all the time. Of course, if you are outside even those standards, it probably feels very similar, and I don’t think it’s of help to anyone for beauty standards in either sex to be so rigid that all people can’t feel attractive.

    I will agree with you that Buffy and Ripley are awesome, however.

  • JoshB

    I do think, however, that your original comment amounted, not to “I understand how you feel, here’s how I feel that relates to it”, but “yeah, well, I suffer just as much, if not more, so quit your bitchin'”

    Then I did a lousy job expressing myself, and for that I do apologize.

    I already conceded MaryAnn’s point, which is one of the joys of a good debate. I came away with a different perspective, and that is tremendously valuable.

    I will agree with you that Buffy and Ripley are awesome, however.

    Seriously.

  • Sara

    In a male-dominated culture (and we might think we don’t live in one, but we do) then men can be much more however they want to be and women will have much more narrow roles. I think it’s terrible but it’s the water we swim in and the air we breathe. I think that there are many men and women who aren’t particularly conscious of this (of course if you’re starving yourself to get to a given weight so you’ll be “attractive” then there’s not much awareness or there is a buying into the cultural thinking. Which, granted, is difficult to not do if you’re a young female.)

    Josh, I’ve had similar conversations (as are being had with you) with a good male friend of mine for a while. Interestingly, he was the one who sent the link to me above that I’d encourage you to take a look at.

    Really it boils down most dramatically (for me) to what Mary Daly said, “When God is male, the male is God.” And God is male (no amount of apologetics from feminist theologians can get away from that fact–because it’s there in the texts in print and in the liturgies in print.)

    When what we hold as the “Ultimate” is male (and female is totally unsuitable metaphor for the Ultimate) then what do we expect? I add the fact, too, that there’s not much thought that the “idea” of “God–He” (or even Goddess-She”) is a human construct to begin with. But the female part of the construct has been trappled on. Unfit. Defective. In need of perfecting for “use” by the dominant culture, not in any self-actualizing way for females. It’s messed up–out of balance. We live in a male-dominated culture and for some reason, for a lot of people, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Because “males”–especially strong males– rescue (supposedly.)

  • Hdj

    yeah well too bad Buffy is only another perfect depiction of what woman oughta look like in Hollywood land. Only time we see ugly or fat girls in movies is if its a hot actress under ugly make up or a fat suit.
    Buffy’s a character made by Joss W. , and who was to write the script for what ought to be a major female leading superhero movie, by the name of Wonder Woman. But he rather write the script for the nonchalant Firefox movie. I’m pretty sure if they ever get the Wonder Woman movie made there’d be less bitching about how theres not enough parts for woman.
    And thats why I hate Buffy. Cause shes a major C word.
    That show was like watching Tae Bo with corny costume work.

  • Anne-Kari

    Whoa there, Hdj. First off, I’m not sure if you were referring to “Firefly” and/or “Serenity” in your post, and I’m equally unsure of what you meant by ‘nonchalant’.

    And while I agree that the actress who played Buffy took a turn from reasonably physically dimensioned to painfully anorexic over the years, part of the character was that originally she was fairly superficial but rose to the challenge of a pretty daunting destiny and had to muddle through all the crap of being a teenage girl while doing it.

    I do not know the details of why Wonder Woman ended up scrapped. But back to Buffy, I take issue with the whole ‘Cause shes a major C word’ comment. Where the hell did that come from?

    OK, bottom line from my own view on all this: I loved “Buffy”, for all its flaws (and yes there were many). But having a 7-season tv program centered around a female lead who is a superhero is farily unique. I agree that Hollywood has a habit – nay, a stone-set pattern – of not casting women in leading roles, strong ones, and not casting actresses who are less than ‘perfect’ looking. It shouldn’t be about casting ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ or whatever type of actress, it OUGHT to be about creating interesting strong roles for women and letting talent be the major force in the casting process.

    And back to Firefly/Serenity. In terms of strong female characters, out of a team of 7/8 characters, we have the following:
    1) A female mechanic who quite literally keeps the ship flying
    2) A female former soldier who kicks major fucking ass whenever necessary (married to a much less ‘macho’ type, and yet the marriage works)
    3) A female sex worker who in that “verse” is given some of the highest level of honor an respect – sooo not just some kind of what many would dismiss as a ‘whore’
    4) A brilliant and singularly talented FEMALE who has been majorly screwed up by a totalitarian government and still manages to save the day. And the universe.

    There is progress, and it is small, and a lot of it is limited to unusual and off-beat venues – and a lot of that is Whedon created. By no means perfect, but it’s a decent jumping off point.

  • Hdj

    Yeah well theres a difference from watching dudes kicking ass and watching woman kick ass. I find the ass beating fighting scenes in your beloved shows to be soft, and when the big girls strut there stuff in these shows its laughable. You call Whedon a stepping stone in female appearance. Well I say thats to bad, because the fight scenes are patronizing and unbelievable. I call that 7 seasons of flattering bullshit, plus I guess it makes it all worth the time to hope that Angel will take his shirt off. yeah that sure kept waiting for the next episode, that Angel character really erected my interest Ha!

  • Sara

    Women’s roles that simply mimic traditional (and often very unhealthy) men’s roles don’t solve the issue at all. It worsens it, it seems.

  • Sara

    Women also do things like take their husband’s name (is a female’s name not HER name to keep?) You can argue it’s her father’s name, but point is, guys wouldn’t rountinely and romantically wish to change their names when they get married to that of their wife.
    Women, still today, when they get married are often “given away” by their fathers to their husbands and many women WANT this in the ceremony. It’s archaic.
    Women don’t tend to negotiate for how the household/childcare work in a home will be fairly dealt with.
    Women often don’t see their OWN work at home/with children as very worthy.
    There isn’t nearly the solidarity between females as there is among males, yet females don’t seem to care about this for some reason.
    Women often look to men to mirror themselves in our culture.
    Not blaming women but I am saying it’s our responsibility to do things differently if we want to see change. Men aren’t going to do it. In fact, most men will keep on doing the same ole, same ole, because, frankly, it’s to their advantage (they think, even when it’s really not.)

  • JoshB

    Sara, I read the article.

    I’m not sure what you wanted me to take from it. There’s nothing in it, or your post, that I sharply disagree with.

  • Sara

    JoshB,
    I suppose point being that, yes, the status of females in male-dominated cultures (and we live in one) is not good. So, there will be focus on body image issues, objectification issues, poor self-esteem problems, etc. with females in these cultures. Will men have pressures? Yeah, but not the same. The males are still seen as “dominant over” and that lowers the status of women and girls in Hollywood, in healthcare, in education, in gov’t leadership, etc. The countries that have closer parity between the sexes do better in terms of everything–females are more empowered in a healthy way. Our country doesn’t come close to this. We have only 17% female representation in high gov’t offices in our country. The Nordic countries have close to 40% and above and females (and males actually) fare better all the way around.
    So, it would be helpful if we could take this info and do something with it (but know that in the countries where this parity exists–all except Rwanda–it’s been from quotas being instituted.) And all at one time (otherwise, if it’s little by little, you’re most likely go get females who are operating under the prevailing male dominated system and they’ll adjust (or contort themselves) to fit into this. I think the article is important and also I do think it helps if males (who are aware of these issues) say, yes, the way females are down way more pegs than males–and not argue the point that males can have it bad. Sure they can, but I don’t see that as the point under discussion here. And a good question is why aren’t there better roles for women in Hollywood just as we can say, why in the world is there only 17% female representation in high gov’t office in the U.S.A.? Can we not open our eyes and do something about this absurd imbalance? And it would have to come from quotas or something like the situation in Rwanda (which I certainly wouldn’t advocate.)

  • MaryAnn

    I’m pretty sure if they ever get the Wonder Woman movie made there’d be less bitching about how theres not enough parts for woman.

    No, there won’t be any less “bitching” unless there are suddenly dozens and dozens of movies featuring strong female characters. Do you seriously believe that a single movie about a woman balances out the vast majority of movies about men?

  • Hdj

    Honestly, I really think having a Wonder Woman movie would be enough to make things equal. Lets say for an example if , all that came out this summer was movies about woman that kill vampires and robots covered up with female skin, but Batman came out. I think that would make me less agitated. Whats to say it wouldn’t do the same for woman, who at least would’ve got one super heroine in a summer of all male sups.

  • Sara

    No, I don’t think a Wonder Woman movie (one) would make a difference. Who knows how she’d be portrayed anyway. Again, at present, without major shifts, our gov’t is run by males, corporations are run mostly by males, and on and on. Why would Hollywood be any different? If movies are like our religion (and they are to a great degree) well pick up any of our religious texts and see what is done with women in those texts. (Women are secondary to the males. Usually only appear in connection with a significant male.)
    Maybe women should stop going to see a lot of these movies with their husbands and boyfriends. Stop participating in the male dominated stuff so much and writing/doing our own thing with like-minded women. You don’t overcome male-dominated thinking/living by a reversal–that’s merely the same thing, flipped around.
    Seems like a lack of vision/action by females in general. I’m a female so I’m not pointing a finger at anyone else as much as myself. But WHY would Hollywood makes movies any differently than they do at present? WHY would they have roles for women any differently than they do? What they make reflects our culture. It reflects us. If we don’t like it, we don’t buy into it. But a heck of a lot of women buy into it routinely–every single day. Hard not to, but it is possible not to do so.

  • amanohyo

    Sara, it’s true that the products of Hollywood reflect our patriarchal culture, but the reflection is severely distorted. In the world I live in, the real world, women as a whole play a role several orders of magnitude larger than their role in the average Hollywood movie. Sure, men are in charge for the most part, but that doesn’t mean that their stories are the only ones that deserve to get told.

    Asking for more representation of women’s stories and perspectives doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to reverse patriarchy and oppress men, contrary to the frightened anti-feminist ravings spewed by many a “men’s rights activist”/closet misogynist.

    It just means you’ve looked at the world around you, then looked at the world as portrayed in Hollywood and the media (and history), and you’ve come to realize that nearly half of the stories seem to get mysteriously lost in translation, and nearly half of the storytellers are silenced or marginalized.

    Why would Hollywood want to do anything different? Because 51% of the world’s population is a damn big market (more, if you count guys like me who are just bored with male-centric stuff), and a sizeable chunk of that market is starving for stories told from their perspective, or even just stories that take them seriously, as something more than fuck dolls, mothers, self-conscious needy shopaholics, or hero bait.

    Sure, it’s possible to rattle off a string of “action” movies with female leads, and it’s cool that those movies are made (usually by men). But at the current rate it’ll be years before the combined force of those movies makes even a tiny crack in the fortress that patriarchy has spent all of human history building. The only way to speed things up is to find women writers that you respect (like MaryAnn) and support them with your time and with your wallet.

  • Sara

    amanohyo,
    I agree with you 100%. Let’s all start writing or keep up with our writing; we can inspire each other perhaps. And I support MaryAnn also 100%, (especially with her experience and knowledge of the industry, etc.)–get the screenplays written and out there. The thing is, who holds the power to make those movies? Who chooses which scripts to “take”?
    In a patriarchal culture as ours, MOST males are going to want to view movies about themselves as the main characters. They are going to go to churches, synagogues and mosques and hear stories about themselves as the main actors, stories that males wrote. And women will, most likely, sit there with them (or go in their place in many cases) and support the androcentric viewpoints. As I said earlier, it’s the air we breath, the water we swim in.
    Of course Hollywood should make other movies with lots of top-rate female and male roles! Of course our government (top levels) should have more than 17% female representation. Where does this happen? We’re seeing it in countries where the people have figured out that it’s going to benefit everyone to have a balance in male/female representation. There are countries that are doing this and the way they’ve done it is by quotas. I cited an article on up above someplace about this. And, gee, it really does work. For whatever reason, when you get a critical mass number of females in power (not total power, no–a balance) then you see females cross party lines in a way that MOST male (for whatever reason) don’t tend to do. But we live in a highly militaristic, androcentric culture–and it’s not easy to change as you say. You even use the word, fortress. I agree. Iron age mentality with high tech weaponry. Our movies reflect that quite often.
    I agree that the arts can help speed things up or change things but who decides what gets selected for use, for publication, etc.? How aware of these issues are those people who are at the top of the hierarchy and how much do they want to see change? That seems to be a huge issue. That’s what I meant when I said, why would Hollywood want to do differently? If they can make androcentric movies that revolve around males and rake in unbelievable, absolutely startling amounts of money, where is the motivation to change that?

  • Hdj

    And where about might these quotas be taking place? Norway, Iceland , Cuba maybe? Maybe when Obama’s in office this will be all figured out. Right now we still got that cowboy in office, and I don’t see the woman image getting any better with him around. We got environmental problems that get worse everyday. Thats a real issue to worry about. So what if this inequality gets resolved, will it be worth it , when we have womans equal rights, but we’ve sacrificed the ozones and we’re breathing in nothing but orange air. The way I see it is, the woman image is on a exponential growth, all it needs is that 30% more then it has in America.
    That can be fixed with a couple bold speeches from a true female leader. Hilary, wasn’t that person, first of all she ” stood with her man”.Thats a sign of weakness,if you stay with a Bill Clinton type guy knowing hes going to cheat on you, thats weak. You want equality? ok, first things first, woman gotta stop acting like victims and acting more like contenders. I was watching the WNBA the other day, and its proof that woman can contend. Now its just a matter of woman taking that contendership in to other places.

  • JoshB

    If they can make androcentric movies that revolve around males and rake in…money, where is the motivation to change that?

    Take that question to the next step. How do you make interesting, female-centric movies highly profitable? Given that women are a slight majority, why is this a difficult question to answer?

    Surely you won’t deny that there are many female-targeted films out there. Where they seem to fail you is in being interesting (or strong, or complex, etc.) Movies like Sex and the City can and do rake in the bucks. If women as a group choose to see movies about finding a man then that’s what will be made.

    I don’t think that Hollywood is a part of the oppressive patriarchy. They’re just as eager for women’s dollars as men’s. If you want to see movies targeted at you then start thinking business, not philosophy.

  • Mo

    It sounds like there are two totally different desires for womens’ roles being jumbled together here… it might make for a more coherent conversation if they were untangled a bit.

    One is for roles that reflect real women’s characters and perspectives and lives (and as an extension- from the sound of it- avoid the violence). The other is for women to be taken seriously in action movies without the whole “male action hero in a woman’s body” approach.

    The former like everyone is saying isn’t going to happen until women just bother to make them. I never even hear of little no-budget indie movies like that- plenty of zombie movies, though. And seeing how three of my all-time favorite movies were made by women and really (imho) show how wonderfully different a woman’s vision can be (“Bend it Like Beckham”, “Lost in Translation”, and “Across the Universe”) we really are missing out big time. BIG TIME.

    As for the latter (and much nearer and dearer to my heart) we need a good stereotype if we’re ever going to make it to 15 movies a year instead of one or two. Because unfortunately Hollywood survives on stereotypes. Most action/scifi heroes (even the well done ones) are based on that stereotype and then modified. Make this one too much of a boy scout. Make that one slightly evil. Make this one a skinny dweeb. Give that one amnesia. And when we’re lucky, very lucky, they say “what if this one is a girl instead?” But the girl is the variation not the blueprint.

    If there was a good lead female blueprint to work from it would open up that whole range of possibilities to female characters and make it easy for the script-by-numbers crowd. I’d nominate Sydney Bristow- she was tough and girly at the same time, but then she did still have to fit in that rubber dress. How about X-men? (yes, I get the irony there) With the exception of Wolverine the women in X-men have always been way more memorable than the men. Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey, Mystique, even Jubilee from what I remember of the animated version.

    The thing is now that I think about it, almost every random fantasy book I’ve ever read had a woman as the main character. It’s like all the little girls who read “The Paperbag Princess” or who wished they were Eowyn riding into battle to slay the witch king grew up to write their own fairytales with themselves as the hero. But it’s not even that, because even most male fantasy authors seem to prefer female heroes, at least in my experience. (Wheel of Time has what? 4 or 5 men and about a million women as main characters. It can go on for chapters without a man even being mentioned.) And for the record, most of those stories are based on male dominated eras. The women just fit right into the men’s world doing their own thing. Granted, the women in those stories almost always have magical powers so they can defend themselves without the use of physical force, but my point still stands- the characters are complex women and the blueprints behind them would probably translate to screen very well in the right story.

    But considering how many women go “oh, it’s about a spaceship? Why would I want to watch that?” before running off to see Jennifer Lopez fall in love with the latest vapid boytoy, are those movies ever going to be financially viable? Will they be able to exist without catering to men (rubber dress style)?

    Wow, reading that back it’s really long. Sorry.

  • JoshB

    we need a good stereotype.

    That’s a good point Mo. Hollywood does use Joseph Campbell’s archetypes pretty religiously. A woman’s perspective on those types would be useful.

  • Sara

    Joseph Campbell was (I’d say) androcentric until closer to the end of his life when he learned of Marija Gimbutas’ work. He actually writes in a forward to one of her books that if he’d known of her work when he wrote his books (hers hadn’t been written then) that he would have “revised everything.” Google “Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Library”. Also of interest (library location)–Pacifica Graduate Institute.

  • Sara

    hdg,

    I’d posted this above, but you might be interested:

    Rigidly Male-Dominated Societies Are Violent; The U.S. Is No Different
    http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/90859

    “Until people (including progressives) stop thinking of “women’s issues”
    secondary, the U.S. will continue on its path of poverty and war.” (etc.)

  • Hdj

    Sara- I read it, I don’t know what you expect, other country’s are bound to be different, They just as well could of added to there political staff to one up America.

    Mo-Jennifer Garner Is a real good role model for woman, shes got action skills and she can also be nerdy and smart, like you said Mo. I write about how she could be the next best thing in the action world in my review for “The Kingdom”.
    The Xmen thing not so much. Might I add you forgot to mention Kitty Pryde, Shadowcat , probably one of the most important females of all Xmen females. She has the most interesting of the powers and shes the most unique . The females on the Xmen are strong characters but they are never really centerstage. And back to square 1 , I’ve been saying a center stage name like Wonder Woman would really be like a point source in expecting more “good” female superheroes rather then B rated heroes like Catwoman and Elektra . But hey if girls don’t want a sexy amazon in a skimpy outfit twirling a lasso , fuck it, they can become directors themselfs and make more Buffy movies or tv shows. The hell if I care, I hated “Lost in Translation”

  • Sara

    Hdj,
    No, those countries didn’t get women in fairly equal balance in high gov’t office positions to one up the US…they did it because they have different political systems first off, they figured out that when women are included that everyone fares better (hence the quotas and all at once, btw)–Rwanda is the different one and that was because of the genecide there. So many men were killed that women HAD to be allowed in gov’t positions (at 70% right now) and they country is coming along quite well.
    Not sure why the focus has turned to superheroes…male or female…I think the issue has to do with male dominated roles in general, regardless of the genre. A “strong” female role in a movie or a book doesn’t have to be a kickass role. Smashing things, fighting, etc.
    JoshB…why do very many women support the patriarchy? Uh…it’s what they know. It’s as I said, the air we breathe, the water we swim in. The other issue has to do with child-rearing. If more males were directly involved in that (and their mates insisted that they be) then the females would have more time to devote to other pursuits. If a man in a corporate job says, I’m working part-time because I’m doing my part with my 3 year old and 5 year old, well, that can be a problem. He might not have a job for long and he won’t get a promotion. Again, not in this country. In some others, this is figured in. Not here, though. In order for women to do the work you’re suggesting, they have to insist on males doing their part at home/with kids. And males have to be willing to do it. And the family has to be able to swing it financially. If the father works part-time and the mother works part-time, where does the health insurance come from? Supermoms already exist. They’re everywhere. They’re exhausted,frustrated and aren’t empowered. But they are Supermoms (which personally, I think is more significant than Batman,etc. as a matter of course.)

  • Ibrahim

    We’re now dwelling into various suspect feminist arguments (have you ever read ANY criticism of Marija Gimbutas’s work, or only the praise??). We’re also getting needlessly worked up over the way the world works (news flash: those ancient paradisaical matriarchal cultures Gimbutas and others like to propose so frequently are purely hypothetical. There’s zero historical evidence that actually bears them out).

    MaryAnn you said “the culture is what is sick” and also “You talk about root causes: I’m talking about something even more root-cause than the fashion industry.”

    What is that root cause then? I don’t believe it’s culture, it’s biology. I’ve argued that the major contributor to the female image problem is fashion and the fact that it is highly idealized in so many cultures – in fact every single industrialized economy with any semblance of a media machinery displays the same fascination with the world of fashion.

    Why? Because fashion has come to mean status, and humans instinctively seek and react to status. You could argue that the fashion world utilizes the promise of status to perpetuate itself (via visual cues, such as having idealized “attractive” models presenting the goods, which is essentially a suggestion to the viewer that they too can be so attractive and high status by simply buying the right goods).

    Two examples come to mind: ostentatious gold watches for men, and handbags for women. Think about it: clothes and shoes both can have a HUGE impact on how attractive someone is. A well tailored suit for a man will emphasize shoulders, narrow the waist, streamline the whole figure; it clearly does something for the person wearing it. Same deal with women’s clothing, pushup bra, high heels that make legs and butt look good, etc… there are many examples. But what does a handbag do? Or a chunky gold Rolex that exists only to be seen? Or a $499 scarf that costs that much only because it has the Fendi or Gucci logo printed on it? These are purely visual cues that communicate status – and they are extremely widespread in most of the industrialized world.

    Humans crave high status. Humans are also drawn to what they find attractive. Merging status and attractiveness for commercial purposes went wrong because there was a slide from healthy looking models to the zero-fat skinny female obsession of today. Why that has occurred I don’t know, but we know it was not always like this. There is a very real danger that most world cultures are stuck in a feedback loop: as the world gets ever fatter, the opposite, i.e. skinny women, are increasingly seen as the elite and will continue to be aggressively marketed in the selling of goods.

    There’s nothing wrong with ideals of beauty, but today there is virtually no variety in popular media (thanks, it is my argument, to the fashion world). Then you look at the world of pornography, and you find literally infinite variety. Porn is a valuable example because it is a perfect demand-supply market. In addition to the mainstream starlets (who are nonetheless a lot healthier than models!) you find sizeable markets for “real” women, overweight women, grossly obese women. Women with normal, large, huge, small, or tiny boobs. Age is not much of an issue either: in addition to the obsession with “teens” and the popular 20s range, there is no shortage of porn featuring women of all kinds in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. The only catch is you have to identify the type of woman you want to see in a porn, but the choice is there and it is abundant.

    As we know, most of this porn is targeted to straight men. That suggests that men (loosely speaking, as a group) don’t have a problem accepting variety – which is the same result we find when men are asked to rate women they find attractive. Why can’t popular media be more like porn? It may have something to do with the fact that popular media is not just targeted at men (like the majority of porn) but also at women, who in fact make up lion’s share of market spend. You suggest I am trying to “blame women” but I am just describing the problem in a different light.

  • Sara

    We’re now dwelling into various suspect feminist arguments (have you ever read ANY criticism of Marija Gimbutas’s work, or only the praise??).

    I’ve read praise and criticism of Gimbutas’ work…same with Campbell. Why the assumption that I hadn’t? Heck, I’ve taught it. If on these posts there is talk about Joseph Campbell, it’s important to note that yes, indeed, he said, he wrote, that if he had known of Gimbutas’ work when he was writing his book, that he would have “revised everthing.” That’s a significant comment coming from someone like Joseph Campbell.

  • “…various suspect feminist arguments…”

    why are there never “various suspect masculine arguments”?

  • Sara

    When talking about Gimbutas, not talking about “matriarchal” cultures either, it’s matrilineal which there is plenty evidence of.

    Also, when we talk about “how we are in terms of culture–male and female roles” it doesn’t hurt to turn to biological anthropology and look at our closest relatives in the non-human primate world. Our closest relatives being the chimps (as we’ve known for a long time) but perhaps even closer, the bonobo (not known for a long time because they’ve been difficult to get to, are in danger of extinction.) Chimps–definitely male-dominated and while, they are often altruistic, they are often warlike and rape is common. In bonobos, female-dominated, but interestingly, look eqalitarian. No warring, no rape. Altercations at times, but very different from chimps. Female bonobos choose mates, but all males do mate. It’s a matter of who is chosen first. Male chimps choose their mates and “take” them. I heard a talk by Frans De Waal not long ago and he calls humanity bi-polar primates because we are both like the chimp and the bonobo. (Yes, I am aware of critics of his work.) It is interesting to look at how each of these cultures work, though–those that are closest to us and wonder what happened has happened to the bonobo-like side of us. Why has it been ignored and continues to go ignored for the most part, to our own detriment. We have these models before us to learn from…or not.

  • Sara

    “…various suspect feminist arguments…”

    why are there never “various suspect masculine arguments”?
    ——————————-

    Yep…Because since the time of writing, males have been dominating and make the interpretations…and thus initially argued amongst themselves for most of what we call “history.” Most of what we have (history, philosophy, religion, etc.) is both written and interpreted (or vice versa)through a male lens That’s then become the standard that ANYTHING is measured by.

    That was my point of the significance of Joseph Campbell’s comment re: if he’d known of Gimbutas’ work he would have “revised everything.” No small comment.

  • JoshB

    why are there never “various suspect masculine arguments”?

    You may as well ask “Why does a bear never shit in the woods?” Same erroneous presupposition.

  • MaryAnn

    (What is it with the Joshes today?)

    What does that mean, JoshB? Please enlighten us.

    Humans crave high status.

    Yes, this is true. But it doesn’t mean we have to accord status the way we do.

  • bitchen frizzy

    [/unlurk]

    I believe he meant that the question, “why are there never ‘various suspect masculine arguments’?” was specious. It seemed that way to me, too.

    [/lurk]

  • JoshB

    Bronxbee’s question points out that the “various suspect feminist arguments” wisecrack is an ad hominem attack. This it is. But the question presupposed that the masculine viewpoint is never the subject of ad hominem. Since ad hominem is used by all sides in all debates the postulate is false and the question is unanswerable.

    Hence it is logically identical to asking why a bear never shits in the woods, since bears do.

  • Anne-Kari

    Okay, I’m going to wade into the middle of this because I’m trying to get what the actual discussion/argument is. JoshB, are you saying that ad hominem is being used by all the participants of THIS debate that’s been going on in this particular set of comments? Including or excluding yourself?

    I’m not being snarky, I just want to try to make heads or tails of what you are actually saying.

  • MaryAnn

    But the question presupposed that the masculine viewpoint is never the subject of ad hominem. Since ad hominem is used by all sides in all debates the postulate is false and the question is unanswerable.

    Hence it is logically identical to asking why a bear never shits in the woods, since bears do.

    The two are not equivalent at all. Your comment about bears suggests that you believe that there are “masculinist” (to coin a term) arguments are regularly dismissed as suspect because they are “masculinist.” Which is not the case. Bronxbee’s point is that there *are* no “masculinist” arguments. All viewpoints not specifically deemed “feminist” are automatically assumed to be “neutral,” even when they’re not. Bronxbee’s point is that there are no “masculinist” arguments… even though there are.

  • JoshB

    The word isn’t masculinist, it’s misogynist, or chauvinist, or sexist, and yes, these terms are routinely used to dismiss arguments without actually arguing.

    That is not to say that a “masculinist” argument can’t be incorrect, only that bronxbee’s assertion makes no sense.

    Anne-Kari, I’m not saying that all individuals use ad hominem. It’s enough to disprove the postulate that someone, somewhere, on any given side of any given argument has done so.

    And no, I do not exempt myself from these charges, although I’ve tried to avoid it here. Trash-talking is fun!

  • Sarah Jessica Parker had every right to take off the mole. So why is she getting hell for it when its a health issue to begin with? Rumer Willis is another issue entirely. Hollywood is not content to let women enjoy the bodies we were born with.

  • MaryAnn

    word isn’t masculinist, it’s misogynist, or chauvinist, or sexist, and yes, these terms are routinely used to dismiss arguments without actually arguing.

    You’re suggesting that all feminism is sexist. Is that what you mean to say?

  • Anne-Kari

    Wading back in, now hip-deep:

    JoshB, first of all you didn’t really answer my question about THIS thread/discussion when in came to the use of ad hominem as an argument (by any or all of the participants).

    Also, you say that “It’s enough to disprove the postulate that someone, somewhere, on any given side of any given argument has done so (used ad homimen)”. A postulate, or axiom, is not the end result of a logical debate, as in A=B, B=C, ergo A=C — a postulate is something said to be self-evident, a ‘given’, if you will, yes?

    The idea of ad hominem as an invalid argument is that ad hominem attacks the opposition’s argument based on said opposition’s character/person/etc and NOT on anything to do with the actual argument at hand.

    OK, anyone else want to join me in the water here?

  • Sara

    Agreed. It seems that JoshB would answer MaryAnn, now you, too, but perhaps he intends to distract us all from our own writing and put our attention on Him. He did say he was trash-talking, you know. Probably should take him at his word.

  • Sara

    If you haven’t seen this, might want to check it out. Yes, full of males to be sure, but note the new female (whose role is pivotal in this movie)…
    Check out the trailer…

    http://swingvote.movies.go.com/

    Sara

  • MaSch

    Regarding *suspect feminist arguments*: I tend to think there are valid feminist arguments (“Women should have equal rights”) and suspect feminist arguments (“All men are potential rapists”). Saying “If the world was ruled by women, it would be paradise” also is quite doubtful, in my book.

    And yeah, I think *some* self-appointed feminists do mark every argument that is contrary to the given “women are better than men” as sexist, misogynist, chauvinist. Certainly not you, MaryAnn (hell, you don’t even think that generosity and kindness are feminine and foreign to the male character as such), but there are strange people out there …

    PS: The already coined phrase is *masculist*.

  • Ibrahim

    Bronxbee: So many feminist arguments are suspect (as MaSch points out) not because some forms of feminism do not have merit (they certainly do) but because so many specific feminist manifestos are reactionary claptrap. It’s not OK to be a masculist, misogynist or a male chauvinist and when such behaviour arises it is usually pointed out and decried. Yet it seems perfectly fine to generalize the other way by using “feminist” arguments that are often thinly veiled ignorance or expressions of contempt against “male rulers” and all the rest of that.

    Sara: if I am not mistaken the main thesis of Gimbutas is that prior to the “kurgan” takeover of Europe, the continent got along happily in a harmonious, *matriarchal* society (not just matrilineal). Cue endless talk of mother goddesses, supreme female deities, equality of the sexes, etc. This is all complete nonsense. It is about as valid and as scholarly as The Da Vinci Code (not surprisingly, Gimbutas’s claims are the inspiration for that egregiously ignorant piece of crap novel).

    Gimbutas was famous for leaping recklessly to conclusions, specifically the conclusions she was looking for. She was immensely knowledgeable and educated, but almost entirely devoid of critical thinking skills.

    As for Joseph Campbell, please. He is the producer of one of the weakest forms of applied psychology, classic Jungian nonsense only a step above Freudian psychoanalysis. He is routinely idolized because of a few popular books in the mainstream and the publicity-seeking endorsements of George Lucas promoting his Star Wars films and other projects. Determining that human storytelling tends to exhibit similar themes, elements, and motifs is an accomplishment in the blindingly obvious, but let’s grant him that. He then went on to generate so much crap from this that it’s difficult to know where to start – his archetypes, his “transcendental truths”, his insistence that belief systems with similar qualities must share a specific geographic origin, etc.

    Citing Campbell in support of Gimbutas won’t get one anywhere. If anything I would consider Campbell the worst of the two, because Campbell interpreted and fabricated at a furious pace like some crazy mix of pop psychologist, historian, and novelist, whereas Gimbutas just inferred.

  • Sara

    Ibrahim,
    You gave a good review of your own dogmatic opinions of Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas. Not all think like you on this. Far from it. And not all who think, write or talk of prehistoric cultures think of it as a paradise if it was more equal (which is probably was in some places such as part of old Europe where there was plenty food, shelter, etc., to go around.) Yes, there is evidence of cultures where everyone is buried pretty much the same (significant) and elaborate cultures with no fortifications, etc.–all significant.

    There are also the caves with the polychrome paintings from over 20,000 plus years ago connected to sculptures (outside the caves) of females in stylistic forms and so on.

    I don’t think life was the same “everywhere” all the time throughout prehistory or otherwise…I think there were cultures where females and males were probably working together in more egalitarian ways. In others, no.

    By the time weaponry was invented, things got pretty vicious and it wasn’t females wielding the weaponry. If you think on it, it is of interest that in our scriptures (Western ones) that we have a male god with no female counterpart–a departure from earlier traditions (and we know religion, the movies, stories reflect/effects the culture and vice versa.) We also have much raging against any goddesses during this time period. And females…it’s during this time (the Iron Age) that females (and children) become “property” of males…in writing and reality.

    Eve is “born” from Adam’s side…the writers make a reversal; man can now “give birth.” But, then of course, after the “curse in the Garden of Eden” the female is told she must give birth in pain (as if she hadn’t been all along.) The snake and trees in the Garden of Eden story points back to the older stories where the serpent and trees were sacred and in this new story they are turned on the woman and she is blamed. As Pandora and other females, later are, also.

    During the 6th century in France a major Church Council (all men, of course) was held and a vote taken, regarding whether or not women had souls as men did. (What a soul is or is not, is not my point here.) Much “debate”, the result was that women were voted as, yes, having souls by only one vote. It’s been like this for the last 3,000 plus years most everywhere. I’ve made references above to our closest nonhuman primates that is very difficult to refute…the chimps and bonobos…one male-dominated and one female-dominated. Interestingly, the male-dominated group looks male-dominated, makes war and rapes its females; whereas, the female-dominated group looks more egalitarian and no, there is no war and rape among the bonobos. I personally choose not to ignore this information about our closest relatives.

    There are signs that point to the wisdom of including females in dignity and integrity into the entire human race, side by side with men, in balance. You know, it was not long ago at all that in this country women were not allowed the vote. Or to attend college, etc. When I was young, there were not sports teams to play on. That’s changed, yes, thankfully. We can vote, thankfully. But the imbalance in gov’t (as I included article) is obvious and to our culture’s detriment. But this is a country of cowboy thinking…a country that wiped out the indigenous people who lived here before.

    All of the above have had negative effect on women and women’s self-esteem. We’re trying to recover from centuries of abuse. Sometimes when the pendulum has swung way too far one way, it swings the other way (too far) until it finds a mid-point. There may be some value to things you so dogmatically put down.

    BTW, “masculinist” is a word that is used fairly often, even in university settings. “Womanist” is another word that is often used too.

  • Sara

    The Da Vinci Code is fiction. Never meant to be “scholarly.” Wasn’t it odd how many people got in an uproar over that book? The book is based on a very very old legend that is still celebrated in the South of France even today.

  • bitchen frizzy

    By the time weaponry was invented? Huh?

    Do you ACTUALLY believe there were prehistoric pastoral paradises where people had never heard of sharpened sticks?

    I don’t think it’s Ibraham’s “own dogmatic opinions,” either. More like the majority of reputable scholarship.

  • Mo

    Sara: “Not sure why the focus has turned to superheroes…male or female…I think the issue has to do with male dominated roles in general, regardless of the genre. A “strong” female role in a movie or a book doesn’t have to be a kickass role. Smashing things, fighting, etc.”

    Why?

    Because, Sara, there is an entire generation Y subculture of women in their twenties and late teens who as little girls believed that the Paper Bag Princess was an accurate representation of the way the world worked, that Princess Leia and She-ra Princess of Power were way cooler than those Disney princesses (I still have the wooden She-ra sword my mom made for me :D), and that neighbourhood water gun battles with the boys were way more fun than Barbies. And all the while teachers, parents, and children’s media in the throes of the 80s feminist movement were telling us we were equal and could do anything we set our minds to. We believed them as well.

    Fast forward to the moment we became teenagers in the mid 90s. Suddenly, according to the Spice Girls and later Britney the only way to be powerful is to be sexy. (zuh?) In an invasion of the bodysnatchers moment, all the other girls believed them. That was the first sign of trouble. Fast forward another decade and now you have to both be sexy and able to afford a $2000 dollar handbag to be powerful. Women in media have more clout than ever now, and they use it all to give us stuff like Us Weekly- written by, edited by, and read by women almost exclusively. Acceptable conversation topics include which star is wearing the latest Leboutons, Britneys latest breakdown, and as earlier mentioned, SJP’s mole. Even geek hero Jennifer Garner has been savagely attacked by certain (female) columnists for being “too bland” as in not girly and vapid enough. (Kicking butt doesn’t count in gossip world.) The infantilization of culture has spread to women who are actively dragging those horrid high-school status politics with them into the real word, because that’s who’s feeding all this, the catty girls from high school grown up in body only. (Think it will get better? Today’s thirteen-year-old girls were born in the mid 90s- the moment it all started. Unlike us they’ve never known anything else.)

    There are more geek girls out there than ever, but in part thanks to that other crowd it seems like Hollywood has forgotten about the rest of us. Like we’ve been talking about, powerful women in action movies in particular are now always girlfriends first and powerful second, and Alien was 29 years ago. In spite of more than half of the LotR audience being female (at least at conventions) it’s still seen by the suits as an exclusively male genre. Geek girls as characters generally don’t exist period. And like I said earlier, scifi has some very genre-specific challenges to face before it can meaningfully change. Even when something (supposedly) brilliant that reflects geek girl culture like “The MiddleMan” does come along (with video game obsessed Wendy Watson as the actual star- hooray!) it gets dumped on ABC Family so I can’t even watch it up here in Canada. *grr* It’s like we gen Y geek girls had all these kick ass heroes as kids, and now we don’t, even though we’re in the middle of a superhero trend. Of course we need woman superheroes, because superhero movies are making all the money.

    It’s one thing to want something. It’s another thing to have had it as a kid and then have it taken away by your peers, especially when geekdom of various sorts (the music crowd has the same issues) was a cultural refuge that let so many of us deprogram ourselves from all the crap that started this whole conversation. On one hand we were taught as kids that if we showed up expecting equality we would get it, which usually works in real life making traditional feminism very uncomfortable for women my age, like it’s dragging us backwards. On the other hand we were told by the feminists we could be superheroes if we wanted, but culturally in entertainment land things have regressed since then, and quite frankly we feel a tiny little bit lied to by all that feminist propaganda we were fed as children. So I’m very sorry I have trouble following all your rants and prefer to focus on fantasy, but

    I WANT MY HEROES BACK DAMMIT!!! >.

    (it would make dealing with the handbag zombies so much easier)
    (and wonderwoman is too cheesy :P )

  • bitchen frizzy

    —“Geek girls as characters generally don’t exist period.”

    Yep, and when they do appear in a movie, their geekiness is always a problem that they need to overcome by becoming more “beautiful” [please notice the quotes] and vapid.

    I guess there’s nothing wrong with a butt-kicking heroine, but I don’t like it when the message to the girls in the audience is that the secret to becoming empowered is to become more mannish. An action heroine who walks and talks like a man who happens to have boobs and female plumbing is not a good role model, IMO.

  • Sara

    Bitchen frizzy and Mo,
    I never said anything about a paradise. Never. The only paradise we might have had was in mom’s womb. Depending on the mom. What I said was there are differences in the archeological findings in some cultures when we look at them with a different lens(different meaning, not the typical male-oriented one.) That’s all. No one has said one thing about the bonobo/chimp issues and I think it’s probably most significant in this of all (re: culture/anthropology.) But whatever.
    Re: thinking you could have it all. No. I was in high school and college in the the ’70’s and we didn’t believe feminism meant we could “have it all.” At least I didn’t and the women I talked with didn’t. It was said, in fact, do we ever have a long way to go. A VERY long way.
    I think TV and Hollywood, for the most part, cater to the lowest common denominator. I hardly ever watch TV anymore. I select the movies I want to watch pretty carefully. I seek out friends who will encourage and support the work and vision I have. They are out there. Women and men. Not always so easy to find, but they’re there. Doing some amazing things.
    I also agree with B. Frizzy about that giving the message to young girls that the secret to becoming empowered is to become more like a man is part of the problem. It’s horrible (I think.) Yeah, they need the message re: being assertive, encouraged to speak their minds, find what they like to do and do it. Ignore the Britney Spears, etc., junk. Why would you even give a moments’ notice? There is definitely (as I mentioned somewhere above) the thinking in a lot of college females today that “liberation” means that “we are now liberated to objectify ourselves and males also.” It’s incredibly sick. That’s never what feminism said, ever.
    Perhaps also it depends tremendously on the family you’re raised in–what you see your mother doing, how she treats your father and how he treats her. What’s their negotiated contract within the family? How does she get her work done (what interesting work does she do?) How does she avoid that “double-shift” at home? Does the family go to church and do young girls here that male propaganda there? For it is male propaganda there. Do families’ talk about this? I mean, I don’t know, but my family of origin did and my immediate family does. My husband does as much work at home as I do. There a conscious division of labor outside of our own individual work. It’s not along traditional gender lines. With our children, we asked them questions as they were growing up, didn’t just give answers…helped them develop critical thinking.
    Does the dominant culture irritate them (both male and female children)…yes. Do they deal with it in creative ways? Yes. I’m actually impressed with them and have learned a lot myself from our interactions together.
    But it all takes a lot of rejection of the dominant culture and it takes individual by individual (in support of each other) for that to happen, but it can and does happen every day. Do I like most of what comes out of Hollywood? No. Do I like most of what comes out of our gov’t? No. Do I like most of what comes out of our churches? (in terms of teaching, texts, liturgy)? No. We could go on and on.
    Basically, I don’t think things are going to change a whole lot until they change in the domestic realm. And individuals, couples, have to work that out. There are too many women who hold on to the home/child-rearing roles and complain but won’t get their husbands involved. That’s nuts to me. And men who think it’s not their “place” to be involved in domesticity.
    What you’re experiencing as being told you could do all these things and then hitting the teen years and things get all sexualized for girls (ie, popularity crap which I ignored–but, sure it annoyed) has been going on for a long long time. I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
    What is it that you feel is stopping you from doing creative things now…whether, work, school, in relationships? What stops you now? You can choose the models that you reject and the ones you hold to. And there are positive female models out there. Just NOT in the dominant culture because our dominant culture is male-dominated. Which doesn’t make things easy for a girl, I know. But if you look to the dominant culture, you’ll not find what you want (is my thinking.)

  • bitchen frizzy

    Hmmm, well, you didn’t use the word “paradise,” but you did say something about a time before weaponry was invented, after which things got vicious. That certainly implies a notion that there was a “good old days,” before men became dominant and violent. And that whole thing about the “goddess” being supplanted by the “male god,” that’s pure fiction.

    OK, I’ll comment on the bonobo/chimp thing. Bonobos diffuse tension amongst themselves by frequent sexual contact totally unconstrained by age, gender, or possessiveness. In situations that create tension in other primates, such as a meeting between strangers or several individuals converging on a food source, bonobos use sex to diffuse the tension. This appears to have much more to do with their relative peacefulness than their matriarchal relationship patterns. IOW, their interrelationships are very different than human interrelationships, in a way that limits the usefulness of comparisons.

  • Sara

    Yes, bonobos use sexuality to diffuse tension in a nonaggressive way and yes, bonobos are female-dominant–whereas chimps are male dominant and tension often results in warring and rape. Really, the key with bonobos is the female solidarity that exists that doesn’t exist in chimps and not so much in humans, either (although I think it did at one when there was more communal type living.) In bio anthro there has been comparison to humans and chimps (nearest kin) for a long time and only recently was it realized that the bonobo was as close to us (DNA) as the chimp but perhaps even more so.

    I’d also add…there is plenty of evidence that at one time (it’s in writing for gosh sakes..in poems and hymns) that the female was considered adequate metaphor for the sacred. Along with the male.

    Now (and for the past 2000 years) the feminine is not considered adequate, appropriate metaphor for the sacred. Only the masculine is. Only He. Not She. I’m speaking metaphorically of both. In fact, She has been denigrated, reconfigured, demonized, you name it, especially for the past 2000 plus years (but it was beginning before then, just not completed.) And I see that as a problem. And reflecting a problem. Perhaps you all don’t. Perhaps you think the Eve, Pandora, etc., stories haven’t influenced our cultures. Maybe they haven’t at all. Hold no sway. I’m done here…

  • MaryAnn

    —“Geek girls as characters generally don’t exist period.”

    Yep, and when they do appear in a movie, their geekiness is always a problem that they need to overcome by becoming more “beautiful” [please notice the quotes] and vapid.

    I beg you all to watch *Spaced,* just out on Region 1 DVD this week. (My review is here.) It’s a British show about Gen Xers, and you will love cowriter/star Jessica Stevenson, who is a geek through and through, both onscreen and, apparently, off as well.

  • Mo

    And then the boys abandoned her to run off to America. :'(

    Although I suppose you could say they did give her the coolest minor role in Shaun of the Dead as Shaun’s mirror. But still. I know she had a family and all, but I do still wish she’d done more. She was brilliant.

  • MaryAnn

    She still is. She’s in *Son of Rambow,* and she was in *Doctor Who* last year. She’s still working.

  • Mo

    Oh yeah, I know. Learners was fun -especially seeing her married to Shaun Dingwall (Rose’s dad) and David Tennant at his absolute most painfully dorky ever. XD

    I just…you know when you get so emotionally attached to a certain character you can’t imagine them not continuing to exist somewhere, somehow. I just wish she’d done more stuff like Daisy. Re-watching 14 episodes for 3 years now; they never wear out, but it’s just not enough.

  • Ibrahim

    Sara:
    Gimbutas and her school and predecessors (I’m generalizing) have been proven wrong time and time again. That her books are still popular and in circulation and even taught (albeit universities are now MUCH more cautious when teaching this claptrap) is a problem resulting from the social sciences’ academic system and the entrenched feminist movement therein. And it is extremely harmful to women and men both.

    The only people who think of prehistoric cultures as paradise are the proponents of this feminist mother goddess nonsense, Gimbutas included. There’s very little real basis for thinking that there was equality between the sexes back then. I’m all for progress today, but not if it involves bad and revisionist scholarship.

    Let me respond to the various points you bring up, which I note are all drawn from the stream of European and Christian culture.

    – Fortifications existed all over Europe long before the arrival of the Kurgan, clearly indicating the natives were no strangers to warfare. This is contrary to what Gimbutas routinely insisted, and is sufficient to demolish her hypothesis.

    – Burial sites DO show traditional gender roles, though some do not.

    – There is no conclusive evidence from female representations that would point to any kind of female dominant or at least equal society. None. So what if a cave painting bears stylized images of women? What conclusion are you going to draw from that?

    – You say “I think there were cultures where females and males were probably working together in more egalitarian ways.“ The basis for this thinking is suspect evidence promoted by the Gimbutas camp, evidence that has been largely invalidated.

    – By the time weaponry was invented?? Humans have been using weapons for as long as they have been using tools. In fact, we had weaponry before we even became anatomically modern humans. Again, this is nonsensical revisionism.

    – “we” have a male god because of Jewish tradition and the patriarchal cultures that adopted these traditions, and the fact that those cultures became highly successful and ended up dominating the world. The fact that there is no female counterpart is of only limited interest, since we are talking about a monotheistic tradition (monotheism is an easy way to eliminate the other competing gods and thus expand the power base of the existing believers). Just as there is no female god, there is one god only and not a pantheon of them, but you don’t hear supporters of democracy getting upset about it.

    – Please explain what you mean by “much raging against any goddesses”. It sounds like you are just putting forward the Gimbutas arguments. Monotheistic religions permit only one god. The fact that it is routinely a male god – not just in Europe but almost everywhere – should provide strong clues: men are stronger, men dominate. Male gods are stronger, male gods dominate. That is the way of things. In modern society this is thankfully being reduced.

    – There is no evidence that during the Iron Age relationship dynamics between the sexes changed substantially. We’re talking roughly 1200 BCE to 600 BCE onwards (depending on where you look), and we do have some decent historical records of this time and the preceding centuries, yet nowhere is this change in attitudes apparent or commented on. Where are these changes?

    – Please try to stay away from psychoanalyzing Jewish and Christian traditions. We are talking about history and archaeology here, this is not an exercise in trying to conclude how people 3,000 or 6,000 years ago thought on the basis of a genesis myth produced by a patriarchal culture and still influencing people today, as interpreted by a modern person. Just the facts, please.

    – It’s sad that a 6th Century French council had to vote on whether women had souls, but it is completely irrelevant to the fact that Gimbutas’s work is discredited (let’s just not even mention Campbell again). You say that “It’s been like this for the last 3,000 plus years most everywhere”. The fact is that things for women have not been ideal for the entirety of history, so why limit yourself to the 6th century? The point is that today things are better because we no longer allow the physical superiority of males, and the default patriarchal society, to abuse the rights of women. Or, at least, that is the idea – I am not saying it works particularly well (there is room for improvement), but women today have it better than any of their ancestors.

    – I suggest you scrutinize bonobo and chimp behaviour in greater depth before alluding to them and forming unsupported conclusions. The fact that bonobos are peaceful and chimps are warlike has to do with level of sexual activity and bisexuality: it is an adaptation. Very basically, the more sex a species has, and (more importantly) the higher the incidence of homosexual sex, the more peaceful the species is (whether it is a bonobo, macaque, black swan, or octopus). Homosexuality has adaptive value. Also see the response from bitchen frizzy.

    – I don’t have a problem with your aspirations to equal rights for women. I fully support this agenda. I am objecting to the Gimbutas claptrap, the “idyllic past” notion, perversions of historical and archaeological evidence, and the suspect feminist elements I mentioned before.

    You conclude with “All of the above have had negative effect on women and women’s self-esteem. We’re trying to recover from centuries of abuse.” Aha! You have been abused for centuries. You’re holding up pretty well for a centuries old person! The truth is the abuse you have suffered is likely to be minimal if any. Stay away from this collective talk please, that way lies bias and pathological victimhood – the same reason why I posted my objections to MaryAnn’s rant about what Hollywood does to women.

    You also say: “Sometimes when the pendulum has swung way too far one way, it swings the other way (too far) until it finds a mid-point. There may be some value to things you so dogmatically put down.”

    No, there isn’t any value at all to the points I have attacked here. If there were, they would not require such arduous digging to demonstrate. When it comes to scholarship the propagation of falsehood is not a good idea ever, no matter the kind of falsehood being espoused. The objective is to stop the pendulum, not keep it swinging one way or the other.

    I’ve not the time to do a bibliography but the following links contain pretty much all you really need to know on the historicity of matriarchal societies and Gimbutas and her discredited school of thought.

    Cecil Adams delivering the Straight Dope on matriarchal societies:
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/080111.html

    “Idyllic Theory Of Goddesses Creates Storm”
    New York Times:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DD1631F930A25751C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

  • Ibrahim

    By the way, Sara, The Da Vinci Code is fiction, yes, but it contains a lot of bullshit, hoaxes, and nonsense carefully packaged by the author to be perceived as fact. It is not at all odd to be upset by it.

    I consider it one of the single most harmful books of the decade as concerns popular ignorance. It is based on “Holy Blood and Holy Grail” (worst history book of the last millennium) and the revisionist feminist nonsense I have attacked to date about the sacred feminine, mother goddess, etc. The approach for the novel was ripped from “Focault’s Pendulum” (an infinitely superior novel that is far more historically accurate, and where it is not accurate it pokes fun at itself).

  • Sara

    If you want to see the demise of the female divine, just check out the Gilagamesh Epic (one example is what Marduk does to Tiamat); and all throughout the Hebrew scriptures or the Old Testament you can see it further occurring (exception is the Song of Songs.) It’s all there. You can see it or not.
    Part of what you see is a male god (and it never started out monotheistic and if you know any Hebrew there are words used for God in the Hebrew scriptures now that aren’t monotheistic–in English we just read them as “God” but in Hebrew, something else)…no, much of what you see is the male divine subsuming the female divine. So that He even cares so much for his people that he cries out as in labor, and so on and so on. I’ve taught this stuff, but I know that’s irrelevant to you.
    It’s as if saying that your own personal human father is both your father AND mother. You have no mother (nor a need for one)–she’s been subsumed by your father. These works have had untold influence on Western culture for centuries.
    Father is enough. Mother is absent. In divine, or “Ultimate” terms. Check out the texts more throughly–the above is there.
    Also, in 2001, we ask why there aren’t better and more roles for women in Hollywood. I’ll add, too, …how many churches, synagogues, mosques can you stand up in the pulpit, etc., and use “She” for the Sacred? It’s He–it’s properly “He”–people become furious if “She” is used because the feminine is not adequate metaphor for the divine. Why is this? Why is there an uproar in church, synagogue and mosque if “She” is used along side “He”? (as once was done? It’s in poems and texts prior to those used today.)
    And why are the sacred symbols of the female divine remythologized and turned on the female in Genesis? For they are. If you know the stories that come before those in Genesis that surely the writers would have known because they came out of their own cultures.
    The writers wrote there stories in certain ways for specific reasons. I don’t even think the general public is aware of how many writers were involved anyway…male writers, male stories, written by males for males. Women were property. Yet the masculine alone gets held up as the Ultimate–as acceptable metaphor for the Ultimate. I see it as a problem. I understand that you don’t.
    And that many other people don’t see it as a problem either. It seems glaring to me.

  • Sara

    The Greek and Roman myths also follow along in the same style…such as Zeus swallowing Metis. Athena is then born while inside her father but then “born again” as she spring forth from her father’s forehead (yes, he had a horrible headache.) She even wears her mother’s dress but this is pretty much forgotten when the story is told. She has helmet, sword, breastplate. That’s one example.
    Also, the last temple to a goddess (Artemis) was closed in 500 A.D. by decree.

  • Sara

    Correction: above I meant to write 21st century, not 2001…

  • MaryAnn

    Okay, I think all the “history of humanity” stuff is taking us a little afield of the topic. No more dissertations, please.

  • Sara

    MaryAnn,
    It does jive though with what I read recently in your review about V for Vendetta (when I was considering what was different/or not about that movie and the Batman ones)…in your review, you do talk about the movies have become like our religion and I do see both as connected in various ways. If you talk about how Hollywood treats women, I don’t think you can avoid talking about how the dominant culture does (and has for a long time now) in terms of gov’t, religion, philosophy. It is all connected. That’s a significant part of the problem. And if our “religion” is the “movies” (as you did write in the V review) then look at our religions. Look at what/who is left out. I think it is related, but it’s your site, so as you wish.
    Sara

  • Sara

    MA, you wrote:
    Movies are religion and superheroes are our pantheon of bickering demigods who toy with us or champion us, and Vendetta is important not for its powerful political statements but because it can be powerful in its politics, because what is powerful and what is political about it is primal: it strikes us in a way that feels deep-down right.

    (Considering that our culture is embued with religion whether we want to think it is or not…really all Western culture is…our money says “In God We Trust” and we hear “God Bless America” bantered around constantly…I don’t really see how religion and gov’t, etc., can be left out of a discussion of dominant Hollywood culture. It’s the only way it makes any sense to me–as to why Hollywood is like it is and treats women as it does.)

  • Ibrahim

    Sara: the problem is you’re cherry-picking examples that fit your obviously predetermined outlook on this stuff. In Greek mythology alone I could point out several counter-examples and/or corrections. As I stated earlier, male dominance appears to be the default setting for humanity. It is thus not surprising that you get a male dominant god. You are going further, and attempting to interpret every little myth as relevant to your thesis.

    This is precisely where Gimbutas herself went so wrong, prematurely leaping to conclusions, mischaracterizing available evidence, and ignoring contrary data. I’ve already provided pretty heavyweight and current citations (see previous 2 links) that contradict many of your arguments. I will also add that your glowing recommendation of Gimbutas’s books and arguments clearly suggest an emotional attachment to this specific subject, rather than an objective assessment. I’ve seen the same thing at Ph.D or candidate level in at least 4 countries, very highly educated people who were not even aware that the whole matriarchal/mother goddess/sexual equality line is built on an incredibly flimsy house of cards that relies on a specific interpretative approach. And, because the Gimbutas line has a strong feminist following, many academics who do know better are reluctant to challenge her old, outdated, and flat out wrong theses and those of her successors (her predecessors, curiously enough, are fairly well discredited, but they also tended to be male and older).

    MaryAnn: my apologies, this is what you get when you call yourself the Flick *Filosopher*… unless the spelling refers to the light and airy pastry, I would imagine your site attracts considerable debate.

  • Sara

    Up above in the comments there was talk–not by me– about Hollywood using Joseph Campbell’s archetype’s relgiously and that it would be good to have a female perspective along with his. I read that and simply added, well, there is one that Campbell himself found compelling to the point that he said (even wrote in a foreward of a book) that if he could re-write his works that he would “revise everything” after reading Gimbutas’ work. I didn’t say anything “glowing” about either of them. And I don’t want to argue with about this. I think they both have things of interest to say, I never said how much I agree with either of them. There are other sources I would draw on ahead of theirs anyway. You dislike both Campbell and Gimbutas–put no value or credence in their work– and I have no desire to discuss this further with you as it’s a dead end, so let’s drop it OK?
    And just bring things to today. Where we are. With religion…male god in our three Western traditions (and most Americans say they believe in this God which is in texts, liturgy and regular talk, “He”) and “She” is considered inadequate metaphor for the Sacred (I’ve mentioned this several times–you either get it or you don’t and I’d think it would be concerning for those with mothers, sisters, nieces, wives, girlfriends, daughters, those who are women themselves to ask why–why is “She” not adequate metaphor for what we in this country hold most Ultimate metaphorically); our gov’t has only 17% female representation in top levels (Congress), females still more often than not get paid less than males for the exact same work (even if equally educated), those in poverty (in the country and the world) are overwhelmingly female (not all but overwhelmingly so)…given all that…my question is…why would Hollywood not reflect the same as we find in the culture? And it does. It’s frustrating, annoying, not right, and so on, but that’s how it is. I don’t like it, I’m not saying do nothing about any of the situations above that I named. I try to do as much as possible as I can to encourage change. Even with myself. In a hypermasculine culture, a culture who worships a male God, (even has In God We Trust on the money), a country that makes enormouse amounts of money in arms sales around the world and so on and so on…why would Hollywood not fall into the dominant cultural pattern, especially in terms of blockbuster movies? Where the men tend to be the heroes (where there is a lot of violence and war) and where the women are most often irrelevant except to be rescued perhaps?)
    I don’t choose to go to the movies. I go to others, but yeah, there aren’t as many. They’re there, but you have to look hard and those are the ones I choose to support with my money and my time. There are other countries (that I’ve mentioned above) that don’t have this same set-up that the U.S. does. Women are represented more equally in all facets of society (but they are there in almost equal balance in the top level of gov’t…no not, 17% or 20% but sometimes close to 50% which affords a solidarity among women that seems critical. Change then occurs that we don’t see here. But those numbers happened by quotas and our country isn’t likely going to do that…even if it would be to the benefit of most of the people in the country.
    So, yes, I think Hollywood treats women as objects or either ignores women altogether for the most part but I don’t see this as different than the dominant culture.

  • MaryAnn

    If you talk about how Hollywood treats women, I don’t think you can avoid talking about how the dominant culture does (and has for a long time now) in terms of gov’t, religion, philosophy. It is all connected.

    I agree. It’s all connected. But the discussion has gotten so far away from the topic that it’s become another topic entirely.

    Also: I don’t mind long comments, but it might be better to be selective about what you’re going to respond to and in what depth. And if a comment is going to be long, at least use paragraph break. It’s really hard to read a massive unbroken block of text.

  • Sara

    Thanks, MA. Agree…how though,if all is connected as we agree it is…gov’t, religion, philosophy, movies and when Joseph Campbell (and others–veering toward Jungian thought) are being brought up as are being brought up on The Dark Knight site–how does it not veer into other connected areas? I don’t see that you can “see” the Hollywood problem with females if you don’t look at all the other issues and why they are as they are.

    Obviously, it’s up to anyone who wants to see change to get on it themselves. That seems the major message to me (in terms of more women writing, directing, etc. but with conscious intent outside the dominant model else it will just be the same ole same ole with females acting in an androcentric way.)

    Then again, with the way our gov’t is set up, it is difficult for changes to be made in terms of females in Congress (as it has in some other countries in fast critical mass numbers. And they’ve seen whole cultural turn-arounds in those cases.)

  • MaryAnn

    how does it not veer into other connected areas?

    I didn’t say it doesn’t. I said I want to limit how far we veer here.

  • Ibrahim

    Sara: I humbly apologize, checking back it turns out I confused your praise of Riane Eisler for Marijia Gimbutas, and I was obviously wrong there. However, since Eisler suffers from the same problems of Gimbutas (in fact her work is based largely on that of Gimbutas) my objections to your arguments still stand. The idea that there was any widespread “partnership” society in neolithic Europe is a complete fantasy inferred from extremely weak (and selective) evidence.

    Not to hammer the nail in the coffin, but here is a systematic debunking of the ridiculous idea of an egalitarian neolithic society:
    http://www.debunker.com/texts/goddess_rem.html

    Note, in the conclusion, what worries me: “Camille Paglia wrote that “Our best women students are being force-fed an appalling diet of cant, drivel, and malarkey” [Sex, Art, and American Culture (Vintage, 1992) p. 243]”

    I agree with your obvious efforts to improve the lot of women, I do wish it could be done in a logical manner consistent with archaeological and historical evidence, rather than wild-eyed fabrications.

    The 3 major western religious traditions all have a male god because it is the SAME deity. Even then, women have honorific places in these mythologies – see the importance of the Marys in Christianity (Mary the mother is worshipped in a number of cultures) or consider who the very first and most honourable convert to Islam was (heck, without Khadija’s support you can argue there wouldn’t even BE Islam). Myths are created by both men and women, and it is pretty darn hard to find ANY myth that does not prominently feature women. However, since men are dominant in society, it is to be expected that they will be dominant in fiction and mythology as well.

    This extends today to films, but is not nearly as bad as it is being made out to be (just look at Angelina Jolie’s filmography).

    Let’s also take a look at typical gender roles in a situation that involves conflict situation (conflict being a hugely popular theme in all fiction). The male, being physically stronger, is the protector and the fighter. The female, physically weaker, is less formidable in a direct conflict but has her own resources in the form of guile and sexiness. Many reflexive feminist schools who advocate total equality (an idiocy) fail to embrace these differences and cannot appreciate how film has actually helped to move feminism forward. Thankfully not all think thus: here’s a quote from a nice little essay I found at
    http://www.geocities.com/albanystudent/wif.html

    “…of late, feminists have begun to have a new view of film noirs, suggesting that these films show women who are outside their standard role of femininity. Although they use their sexuality, they derive power from it and use their intellect to get what they want. They represent strong, active women…”

  • dgrhm

    Whew! You could write a book on this topic from the posts alone.

    I was reading a marketing book about how American culture is primarily adolescent in nature. It shows.

    Consider how we get all bent out of shape about how someone looks, or about who’s sleeping with whom, or other gossipy things. Adults are lining up in droves to watch movies geared for kids and adolescents.

    Listen to the conversations in the media about presidential candidates. It’s so juvenile. Is there any serious focus on where candidates stand on issues? Nope. It’s all a game of trying to one-up somebody and look better.

    Does it matter if a candidate is not wearing a lapel pin or what his religion is? The things the media are focusing on are so trivial.

    In Taoist teachings, I read a line that said beauty cannot be defined, and to do so destroys it. The whole drive for some kind of perfect beauty is an illusion.

    Advertisers create the hysteria by telling us were:

    too fat, short, tall, bald, old, wrinkly, smelly, warty, thin, smart, stupid, gay, straight, white, black, brown, have the wrong; hair color, hair style, eye color, style of glasses, wear the wrong clothes, don’t eat the right foods, don’t get enough exercise, exercise right, and the list goes on.

    Sheesh. The maddening thing is we created this reality.

    So, I’ll take an adult stand and say that a woman who is truly self-expressed, self-confident, and fun is sexy, but I won’t be too much of a stick in the mud to admire a woman’s physical traits. It’s the icing on the cake. :)

  • Sara

    Ibrahim:
    This is all I’ll say here re: our Western traditions and the male God (that you say is the same and, yes, that god comes from the Abrahamic tradition in all three)…It is significant that every male I’ve ever asked this question (including my father who is a retired–progressive–Presbyterian minister, very compassionate and well-educated man, including my husband, brothers, male friends,)…when asked…if in our culture the male was inadequate metaphor to speak of the Sacred, in fact was demonized and was connected to the body, to the earth (as instead of Mother Earth–which we are destroying) it was Father Earth (and we were destroying that too)…if maleness was absolutely wrong in terms of speaking of the Sacred, if the Deity you heard about in synagogue, or church or mosque was female ONLY and if anyone spoke of “He” there was a huge uproar, and if (say in Christianity) the savior was a female, the trinity was Mother, Daughter, Spirit, etc. (you get the point)…how would you feel about it? How would that affect you?

    The answer I’ve heard repeatedly from the above nammed, along with male students is: It would affect me in a horrible way. I wouldn’t go, I wouldn’t participate, I would feel left out, I would BE left out, and even my father whose lifework has been in this field says, no, I could not relate–would not be interested. Would not go. Would choose other work. That’s significant to me. Our metaphors are hugely important because they point to what we value the most and what we devalue. The story(to me) can be told in what I’ve written above alone. Don’t need to bring anything else into it because this is so significant and drives our culture in unconscious ways that are ultimatley terribly damaging to any balance between males and females, elevates the status of male OVER females in a damaging way. The above has had tremendous effects on the course of Western civilization for the past 3000 years and it continues.

  • Paul

    I don’t think women are united enough to challenge male dominance yet. They were for awhile, and made a lot of progress, but not so much any more. If they want to make college campuses safer, they should boycott the big sports that shelter (indeed, recruit) many rapists, and stop going to frat houses, but too many won’t. They would rather collaborate than subvert, but they want alpha males.

    I’ve spent most of my life feeling like women were the carrot (love) and men the stick (violence) when it came to pushing me into conformity. Well, sometimes men were the carrot (money) and women the stick (rejection), but you get the idea. Many of my male friends would agree, and my best women friends were usually ones which more men than women friends. They didn’t fit in either.

    So should we be surprised that more movies conform to the society than not? It gives us alpha males and pretty girls . . . that’s what we want.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Wow! Long discussion. My eyes are watering.

    This subject is very dear to me, because all my life, certain movies or trends in movies have bugged the shit out of me, but Mary Ann is the first critic to really put into words WHY and WHAT actually bugged me: the way females are portrayed in movies. Here’s a list of my top Pet Peeves:

    1) No matter how schleppy or dorky a dude is, he always gets nothing less than the hottest hottie in the bar. A lot of comedies have this dynamic, like Knocked Up. (However, 40 Year Old Virgin was refreshing because the women looked like you may be able to find them in real life.)

    2) Teen movies often portray awkward, realistic boys, but all the “teen” girls look like 25 year old models (like in Transformers, for example).

    3) They hardly ever get geek girls right. They are usually played by girls who obviously have no idea what it’s like to be a geek girl. Also, there are far fewer “coming of age” stories that realistically portray girls’ experience.

    4) Female villains: They are often sexualized. Just once I’d like to see a really creepy fem-villain that doesn’t use sex as her weapon.

    5) In the same vein, female roles, good guy or bad, are drenched with sex. Much more often, you get lurid peeks into her sex life, or maybe she’s a hooker or former hooker. (Scully from X Files is a fantastic example of a female role NOT drenched with sex.)

    That’s it. These are just my personal observations as a female.

  • Sara

    Ibrahim–might want to check out Erik Goowyn’s comments on The Dark Knight posts (on this site)…look at post on July 25, 2008, 11:44 AM and check out his point #3. I’m in total agreement with him except for his last sentence of that point. Everything else, I think is right on. Speaks to me.

    Accounting Ninja: I think you sum up women’s roles in movies in a great way above. Total agreement.

    Paul: I think you’re 100% correct re: women and solidarity. It’s lacking but we’re in a culture that divides and conquers females (or has done that already and done it well.) Solidarity therefore is critical and comes when females have a critical mass number of at least 33 and a third percent, regardless of the field. Starting in gov’t would be the most critical I think…(ie, Congress) and not little by little…it has to be all at once and that’s been via quotas in other countries that have done this. I don’t see that happening in this country. So, the solidarity issue won’t happen…bar some tragedy like Rwanda or some shift that enables quotas to occur.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Ooh! I thought of another one:

    The trend of young actresses and female musicians to become highly sexualized in order to “grow up” or “become legitimate”. It drives me nuts to hear these girls talking about being taken seriously, and they think the way to do this is to suddenly become a vamp. (Not that I have anything against female sexuality, but how often does a male actor become sexualized in order to be taken seriously as an artist?) It’s almost as though womanhood in this culture is synonomous with being a sexual object, sex not being merely a PART of their person, but the TOTALITY of it. Kit Kitteredge is safe, for now!

    “Wow! She sure can act.”
    “Yes, but have we seen her tits??”

  • Robert

    Funny, I was just hashing over a similar topic regarding a particular YouTuber called decky11 who in her latest video laments that she feels that people often pigeonhole her because she’s a pretty blond. To whatever extent this may be true, I feel confident it’s not universally true.

    I don’t know that you can blame our current mass media. I have a suspicion that people focused on and gossiped about physical appearance long before motion pictures and photography existed. I think to an extent it’s just hardwired in.

    Re: height, there’s a certain “heightism” inherent in many people’s attitudes. Guys often don’t want to date taller women and I’ve seen lots of personals ads by women specifying that they’ll only date men taller than them. I don’t know that being tall is universally regarded as some sort of “handicap” or generally undesirable for women. Seems tall models & athletes are celebrated. “Statuesque” is certainly a positive attribute in many people’s minds. And it’s not like 5’9″ is freakishly tall. Probably wouldn’t even be a center on most high school girl’s basketball teams.

    If you feel that focusing on this sort of thing represents an inherent flaw in mankind, are you never again going to make commentary over whatever movie hunk you find slobberlicious or how beautiful a particular actress is? With all the indignation you seem to be expressing, is it not correct that you wouldn’t post a pic of yourself when you were a bit heavier? I’ve seen older pics, I didn’t think you were hideous to look at, or even unattractive.

    Speaking of women having to fit a particular mold in the media, you mention SJP. I actually think she’s striking a blow for “average” looking women. Let’s face it, she’s no stereotypical Madison Avenue goddess. Short, prominent schnoz, large jaw. She’s got a decent bod due I assume to working out & pretty eyes but she’s hardly the Belle of the Ball. Who would have guessed she’d be the primary “star” of a show with Kim Cattrall in it? The thing about SJP is that she exudes a fountain of personality.

  • paul

    It is funny about heightism. My ex-wife and I were the same height, so she never wore heels because she didn’t want to be taller than I was. She also told me to grow a beard, and I think it was because she didn’t like remembering that she was five years older than I was.

    When I dated a taller woman, we’d met in martial arts and she’d seen me lifting weights (my bench press warm up was her previous boyfriend’s max) so she didn’t mind my being short, however we got a lot of stares since she was a head taller.

    I heard that Tom Cruise stands on a box when in close up shots with several of his leading ladies. I wonder what that says about Hollywood.

  • Robert

    I heard that Tom Cruise stands on a box when in close up shots with several of his leading ladies. I wonder what that says about Hollywood.

    That movies portray stuff that isn’t reality?

    On the subject of women who aren’t “10’s” appearing prominently in film, how about Maggie Gyllenhaal? I’d say she doesn’t fit the mold of the typical Hollywood leading lady ala Kim Bassinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc.

  • Robert

    Meryl Streep, Glenn Close.

  • MaryAnn

    If you feel that focusing on this sort of thing represents an inherent flaw in mankind, are you never again going to make commentary over whatever movie hunk you find slobberlicious or how beautiful a particular actress is?

    I assume all this is addressed to me, Robert.

    I think I’ve made it perfectly clear that my objection is not that we find beautiful people beautiful or like to look at them in movies and on TV, but that Hollywood’s concept of female beauty is so ridiculously narrow, not just in comparison to what real people find beautiful but also when compared to Hollywood’s concept of male attractiveness.

    I have never, ever said anything to deny that we humans should pretend that beauty is not beautiful.

    With all the indignation you seem to be expressing, is it not correct that you wouldn’t post a pic of yourself when you were a bit heavier?

    Actually, the picture of me on my Rotten Tomatoes profile long predates my weight loss. I probably should change it because it’s a decade old and I’m just not that young looking anymore.

  • amanohyo

    Robert, when Obama is president, are you going to answer any observation about the continuing struggles of African Americans by saying, “Powell, Rice, Obama?”

    1. Maggie Gyllenhaal is an attractive woman, and her father made her first film.

    2. All of the women you listed are extremely talented.

    3. Despite their talent and clout, Streep and Close often play supporting roles, rather than the main character. This is also true for actresses in general.

    4. Close, Streep, and SJP all made their start when they were young and more attractive/marketable. Most of their contemporaries have aged past marketability and have been replaced successively by “newer models.”

    5. “10” or not, the gap betweent he average “score” for female actresses and the “score” for the average woman is far greater than the corresponding gap between male actors and the average man.

    6. The point of the discussion is not to claim that every actress is a “10,” whatever that means. The point is that actresses are criticized for not being a 10 (and this mystical 10 seems to be determined exclusively by male desires and standards of beauty).

    In other words, the physical standards for women in Hollywood are far higher than those for men. This is a fact. These standards are so important, that it is considered newsworthy to discuss and critique the physical features of actresses in minute detail. This discrepancy in the importance of female physcial beauty is also seen in society in general, but not to as great a degree. Hollywood magnifies and simplifies gender stereotypes.

    I have a hunch that the recent increase in this practice is tied to the importance of selling movies to foreign markets nowadays, but Ibrahim’s ideas about the fashion industry tie into all this too.

    Regarding feminists who care about their appearance, it is possible to understand the rules of society and act so that they work in your favor while simultaneously believing that they are arbitrary and unjust. It’s silly to criticize MA for not putting the most unflattering picture she can find online for everyone to see. We all have to function; we can’t simply ignore every aspect of society that we dislike, but we can point them out and discuss them… in a blog article like this for instance.

  • Sara

    Re: Tom Cruise standing on a box to look taller (and photographers/Hollywood, I’m assuming request this)…yeah, that does say that Hollywood likes its leading males taller than any female they might stand next to. On the other hand, how many major leads has Tom Cruise had in major motion pictures?
    I wonder how many times he has been “passed over” for a role because he is too short. Same for a lot of male actors. But Cruise in particular. Cruise has been the main lead, the main story character in so many movies it would take a while to count them. His height can be “fixed” by Hollywood if Hollywood wants that. Not that I think it’s reality. It’s not.
    I think the point of this blog, though, is the meager leading roles for women in Hollywood along with the looks thing. The looks thing is ridiculous and pathetic (that females have to look like sex kitten basically) and that males can look any number of ways (but yes, Hollywood likes its males “taller” than any female in the vicinity–in a movie scene.) Cruise is a particularly poor example (to me) because he has been box office gold.

  • MaryAnn

    The point of the discussion is not to claim that every actress is a “10,” whatever that means. The point is that actresses are criticized for not being a 10 (and this mystical 10 seems to be determined exclusively by male desires and standards of beauty).

    Actually, the point is that even men’s ideas of female beauty are wider than we see from Hollywood, and that lots more kinds of women are a “10” than Hollywood seems to realize. All you have to do is watch a bit of TV or film from Canada or England or France or Germany or lots of other places that are not Hollywood to see that.

  • Sara

    MaryAnn writes:
    Actually, the point is that even men’s ideas of female beauty are wider than we see from Hollywood, and that lots more kinds of women are a “10” than Hollywood seems to realize. All you have to do is watch a bit of TV or film from Canada or England or France or Germany or lots of other places that are not Hollywood to see that.

    (I think this is a great point. Hollywood seems to dominate though (in terms of films in the world: number of films made, marketed all over, etc)…just go to any movie theatre in Paris and you’ll see as many American movies (or maybe more) than from anywhere else.
    But you’re right regarding the variation of female “beauty” and also types of roles in foreign films. Again, I’d go back to things I’ve said previously, but MaryAnn if there are other reasons that you see for this disparity please inform us!)
    Thanks.

  • amanohyo

    Oops, sorry about that. I got carried away and proclaimed more than I had a right to. So, MA, you don’t really have a problem with the expectation that actresses be physically beautiful, you just want to see a larger variety of beautiful women on display? My question is, why do you accept that expectation in the first place? Or do you consider a broader spectrum of beautiful women to be a babystep towards gender equity?

    I have consulted with my wife many times on this matter, and she assures me that the vast majority of male actors are far from beautiful, and at least half are positively unattractive. I completely understand that the average actor should be more pleasing to the eye (and ear) than the average person on the street, but should women be held to a higher standard? Must they always be beautiful at first sight? Can’t their beauty (and even sex appeal) sometimes be revealed as the movie progresses and their character develops?

  • JoshB

    …you don’t really have a problem with the expectation that actresses be physically beautiful, you just want to see a larger variety of beautiful women on display?

    Or perhaps a variety that more accurately reflects what men in the real world might find attractive?

    …why do you accept that expectation in the first place?

    Because evaluating and desiring beauty is part of the human animal, bred into us by three billion years of evolution. Asking that people suddenly disregard that is asking too much.

  • Sara

    But MaryAnn, why the greater variety in looks in other countries (as you mentioned to be the case above)and as I think you’re exactly correct about.

    Much bigger difference in foreign films and films out of Hollywood re: focus on female looks and roles.

    Re: evolution–how does that fit in with these wider roles for women in places that you mention (Canada, France, England.) In foreign films (now that you mentioned it, I have seen a lot of handsome males AND pretty females, but yes, across a wider spectrum (in both sexes.) Are these countries more highly evolved…is that what you’re saying?

    In America, though, it does seem as amanohyo’s wife says–that the screens here are often full of really unattractive males,actually, who don’t always seem to have a lot of acting talent either.

    My husband is a nice looking man and it’s often that I go to the movies and (this isn’t in the eye of the beholder thing) there are no males better looking than he is in many movies, but definitely females that are knock-outs compared to me (and I’d say I’m attractive but not what I see on the screen.) What my husband sees on the screen (re: males) is about par for how he himself looks. It’s definitely skewed toward the super sexy females and some good-looking and just average-looking male actors and some really unattractive ones that kind of make you cringe. (And these always have a knock-out on their arm or interested in them and for no really good reason other than it’s just plopped in the script it seems.)
    What is it about the foreign films that differ…why the wider variety there than here?

  • Sara

    Oops…JoshB…the evolution question for you…considering what MaryAnn wrote above about a wider variety in foreign countries in movies (than in Hollywood)…are they more “evolved” than we are?

    And MaryAnn, same question as I asked above, what do you think accounts for the differences in the foreign viewpoints you point out above and the Hollywood viewpoint?

  • JoshB

    are they more “evolved” than we are?

    Well, if you want to talk science, there is no such thing as “more evolved”. The simplest bacteria on earth today is exactly as evolved as me or you, three billion years worth, give or take.

    To answer your actual question, different people have different tastes.

    Hollywood’s evaluation of female beauty has for some reason or another has become a race where the thinnest woman wins. This is not due to my opinion of female beauty, or that of any man that I know. Ibrahim posted his reasoning for why it happened and I’m inclined to agree with him in general. Maybe I’m wrong, I dunno. It’s a tough nut to crack.

  • MaryAnn

    amanohyo wrote:

    So, MA, you don’t really have a problem with the expectation that actresses be physically beautiful, you just want to see a larger variety of beautiful women on display?

    and

    but should women be held to a higher standard? Must they always be beautiful at first sight? Can’t their beauty (and even sex appeal) sometimes be revealed as the movie progresses and their character develops?

    I think, amanohyo, that you’re the one holding women to a higher standard! I never, ever used the term “physical beauty” — but you are! Yes, of course beauty and sex appeal are about more than just looks… I never said that they weren’t! Perhaps *you’re* the one assuming that a woman who’s a “10” must be nothing more than a Barbie doll!

    Sara wrote:

    what do you think accounts for the differences in the foreign viewpoints you point out above and the Hollywood viewpoint?

    I haven’t got a clue.

  • Sara

    Perhaps there’s some connection with ideas in the article below–it’s on a site that I’d consider conservative (and I’m not in that group except on a few things) but what Campbell writes about seems right on target (at least with what I’ve learned in the last four years about young women and college campus culture, etc. It does very much seem that “feminism” is being equated (among young women) as “we are now liberated enough to objectify ourselves and males, too.” Where that came from, I’m not clear. Have some idea. Anyway, the article is worth a quick read and is true to what’s happening across this country…(As I’ve worked my butt off to get speakers at various universities in and around our area and it’s gone over exceptionally well.) Link below…

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.3299/pub_detail.asp – 37k –

  • Sara

    Well, I can only speculate re: the French. My brother worked in Paris for five years and I (along with my son) visited every June for the whole month. It seems that the nuances of beauty and talent are different there–much more open-minded than Americans.
    The women don’t seem to be look-alikes nor do they care to be. Quite the opposite. Basically, they seem much more confident and sophisticated (whether they are or not)…they put off that air and it’s not snobbish, it’s attractive and compelling. Same with the men I’d say. They also are a country of people are who are more fit in general, who tend to care about how they look (but don’t go overboard) and yes, who smoke too much. But live longer than Americans do. And they don’t put everyone in little boxes either. (Ex: the old folks aren’t carted off to retirement or nursing homes, but stay involved in the community. You see them everywhere. Not so much here.)

  • Sara

    Another good article about what’s going on…
    I’m wondering if it has to do with spoiled kids, not being held accountable, not understanding (at all) feminism (taking it for granted and turning it into something that is going to do them damage…something feminism is NOT)–children of parents who just didn’t have time for them or who were messed up in their own lives…And we know Hollywood caters (very often) to the young.

    http://media.www.nyunews.com/media/storage/paper869/news/2006/02/22/Opinionsoped/Sexy-Coeds.Only.Objectifying.Themselves-2397395.shtml

  • Ibrahim

    Contrary to the majority of feminist propaganda, it is perfectly and biologically natural for men to “objectify” women (in the sense of appreciating certain aspects of her evident at first sight, such as breasts, legs, whatever). When a man objectifies a woman he is simply being strongly receptive to her natural sexual signals (which are packed pretty densely in the female physique). It’s an integral part of human biology and the reason why we are still around after billions of years of life on this planet.

    (Note this does not cover whatever actions a specific male may choose to carry out after receipt of female sexual signals. There is a big difference between walking down the street and seeing a woman with great boobs/legs/ass and getting a good look, and seeing the same woman and deciding that she needs to be harassed/catcalled, whatever).

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the male fascination for portions of the female anatomy. Where the matter is going wrong is in the fashion world (and by extension in Hollywood, as previously argued) where the RANGE of sexual signals considered desirable and optimal is so narrow that it fails to represent an accurate picture of women, and even of what men like in women.

    I’ve addressed this problem earlier in the discussion. Basically Fashion/Hollywood peddle certain narrow standards, like 36 B or C breast size and a BMI of 17-20, and make them the measurements of the status-rich “elite”. Everyone hungers for such status, and the result is a gigantic industry with a feedback loop that ensures the standards remain, and that the industry grows.

    As a woman, every time you buy a gossip or a fashion rag that perpetuates these “elite” standards, you feed the machine. Every time you splurge on a designer item that was advertised with multi-million dollar ad campaigns featuring models who look a certain way, you feed the machine. Of course men do their part as well, but the fashion industry is driven primarily by the female market, and you would expect women to try to do something about it before men.

    Yes, there is a strong culture of willful ignorance and extended adolescence in American society, and I honestly despair at the idolization of the Frat society and sports team. But saying things like (from the NYUnews article) “For the collegiate woman, sexualization is part of an American tradition to undermine any new, empowering role she gains” is the kind of reactionary feminist argument I attacked earlier. Sexualization is part of personal growth and it is my opinion that every woman should be free to be proudly and overtly sexual if she so desires. Yes, along the way such a woman will meet no end of immature and/or insecure males who think a strong sexual woman is a threat or an aberration or a commodity, but by no means are all men like that. And if the men who are like that are to change, it will only happen through increased exposure to such women.

    In a very strong sense, Hollywood is a symptom of the problem and not the cause.

  • Ibrahim

    Let me also comment on the tendency to see a greater range of men on film than women. Yes, it is true that men can be short, fat, bald, and generally unattractive and still have a career in film.

    However, as I said earlier, this is one aspect of Hollywood that more or less reflects real life and real society. You see it ALL the time, a really hot woman with a nothing guy as they put it in “Friends”. You very very rarely see the converse. This is because what men and women consider attractive changes remarkably, and plays roles of differing importance.

    Basically immediate attractiveness in a female is very important for men, and for films in general.

    For a female audience, an actor can certainly be of the hunk variety, e.g., Hugh Jackmann (no shortage of such in Hollywood). But a male actor can also get away if he is not attractive but has a good sense of humour or other characteristics such as “likeability”, kindness, distinction, presence/command, or even maturity (remember the strange lead roles match-up in “Entrapment”?). In addition it seems that in women there is a more mysterious, ambiguous, and broader feeling of what is “sexy”.

    You will remember Patrick Stewart, a bald man on the short side (Captain Picard of Star Trek TNG), was voted “Sexiest Man on Television” by TV Guide (1992). The same poll voted Cindy Crawford sexiest woman of the year.

    I think a lot of this boils down to what qualities we are programmed to seek out in a mate. Whereas the male instinct is rather simple and straightforward (it is basically a sex drive response to female sexual signals), females tend to carry out a more in-depth review of a potential mating partner. This is obviously because sexual intercourse for the male represents a negligible investment (a few calories, some zinc, a bit of protein) whereas for women even a couple of minutes of dalliance can turn into several years of commitment and effort, not to mention a gigantic drain on energy. Females are therefore programmed to seek partners who they find attractive based on a much broader variety of criteria than those employed by males. Such criteria include not only physical fitness and attractiveness, but also (and sometimes overridingly so) suitability as a long term mate, ability to provide protection and sustenance, position in the social hierarchy, etc.

    What this means, generally, is that film is likely to mirror biology with regard to the roles played by men and women. The reason is that a film, just like a human organism, exists in a competitive landscape and must strive to survive. Film financiers are unlikely to endow their films with characteristics that will lower their competitive ability (such as a non-attractive female lead role). I don’t think this is necessarily wrong – I see it as a fact of life – but I DO wish the standards could be broadened to include other forms of female attractiveness aside from the Fashion/Hollywood standards.

  • Sara

    Ibrahim wrote:
    Contrary to the majority of feminist propaganda, it is perfectly and biologically natural for men to “objectify” women

    I write: It depends on what you mean by the term “objectify”…if you mean that objectification is to look at ANYTHING with admiration, appreciation, attraction, then we ALL do that with MANY people and with things all the time, then I agree with you.

    If you mean that it is normal for males to look at women (and not vice versa)…if you’re saying that males are more visual than women are, then I disagree completely.

    Objectification to me is the oogling of a person as if he/she is an object with absolutely no care for them as a person with her/his own thoughts, feelings, life. That that person soley (whether it is walking down the street, having sex with, looking at in a movie, looking at one a porn site or glossy, etc.) is there for the objectifiers needs. period. That’s what objectifying women means to me and I think it’s disgusting.

    Thinking someone is sexy (whether male looking at female or female looking at male)and still being able to understand and appreciate that person as a person to me is not objectification. So, I assume here that our definitions are not the same.

    Also you wrote:
    Yes, there is a strong culture of willful ignorance and extended adolescence in American society, and I honestly despair at the idolization of the Frat society and sports team. But saying things like (from the NYUnews article) “For the collegiate woman, sexualization is part of an American tradition to undermine any new, empowering role she gains” is the kind of reactionary feminist argument I attacked earlier. Sexualization is part of personal growth and it is my opinion that every woman should be free to be proudly and overtly sexual if she so desires.

    I write:
    I have no idea how old you are. I have no idea if you have kids or not. I have no idea if you are aware of what is going on on our college campuses (esp. elite college campuses, but really most of them.) That article was spot on to what our kids and their friends have seen, have in their faces all the time. The dominant campus cultures (socially) that we’ve been aware of have been atrocious with the administrations not willing to step in to make it, frankly, less dangerous.

    When 18 and 19, 20 year olds are drinking enough to be taken routinely to the ERs of the university hospitals (and this happens all the time)–when they have to resusitated on the ground (campus property) before they can even be moved into an ambulance) then there’s a problem.

    When girls (and I’ve seen this personally at several major universities in the past couple of years) dress up like high-class hookers (thinking that this is empowering them), then go out and get totally wasted, thinking they can go drink for drink with any guy, then end up (in the bars) in dark corners servicing said guys (guys they don’t know…other than that these guys MIGHT be in some popular frat or not) then, yes, I am concerned.

    There is a problem and I don’t see it as girls “experiencing” their sexuality or boys’ experiencing theirs either. It’s a FEAR of sexuality. It’s an inability to have a social life. It’s an inability for many many males and females to TALK to one another socially.

    It’s also girls saying that feminism is to act as the worst of the boys. For many high school and college girls– feminism means “we can now use our bodies in an unempowering way and do the same to guys.” This leads quickly to gray rape where rape might have occurred, but maybe not. It is a huge mess.

    It is fueled by dangerous amounts of alcohol–enough to end lives (I am not a prohibitionist by any means) mixed with sexual “acting-out.” It is beyond the realm of what is healthy OR safe.

    Perhaps you are unaware of this but it is this bad. It is after-basketball-bonfires where drunken students push each other into the fire and end up in the hospital (and then when then firemen try to put the fire out) beer bottles are thrown at them (the firemen). And the administrations DO NOTHING.

    This, to me, at least, perhaps not to you, signals a huge problem. It is not worth the assaults, the rapes, the accidents, the poor judgement, etc. And it is happening all over and it seems that adults are not very aware of it UNLESS they have a student at one of these schools who tells them what the heck is going on. The adults (whether parents, administrators, etc.) are NOT stepping up to the plate.

  • Sara

    I see the fashion part as a piece of the whole picture…not the cause. It’s fluff…it’s superficiality. And consumed quite often by those who must demonstrate their worth by “things.” This would include the top tiers of our society (because of the cost factors.)

    As mentioned above, the behaviors of girls and guys in universities appears to be the most obnoxious, narcissistic and entitled at our elite colleges (where many of America’s future leaders are as I type…or will be this fall.)And I say that as a graduate of one of these universities (and I have been very very ashamed and angry at my alma mater in past years. And at others, too, as I heard what was really going on and how the admins turn a blind eye and do not hold the acting-out students accountable to the school’s own standards that the students had to agree to in order to attend!…so they run wild, like feral cats, leaving damage in their paths and in themselves.

    And the ones who should be leading just try to stay the hell out of the way. Students cannot police other students nor should they have to.

  • JoshB

    Sara, the behavior you’re talking about does not need to be put in a feminist context. That’s general human stupidity there. It’s youth.

    If there’s a cultural failing it’s that parents and authority figures impose rules without teaching critical thinking or real empathy. Kids grow up being told that ‘sex is bad, m’kay’ but no one bothers to explain why. When you take sheltered kids and suddenly remove all the external rules they’ve been taught then this rebellion is the predictable result. Then the kids learn the hard way that the authority figures were right all along.

    It’s true that women get the worse end of this bargain, but sexism is not the root cause. Both boys and girls are brought up with a lack of the wisdom and compassion that are sorely needed in our society.

  • Sara

    JoshB,
    And why would it not be put in a feminist context if the females are SAYING that to be a feminist (and they think they ARE being feminists) is to dress like high-class whores, get wasted, go into corners of bars and give guys’ head (or in the corners of frat houses) and they are objectifying both themselves and the males. And very often the females get NOTHING for themselves for what that’s worth and they often get raped. THAT’S what they think is feminism. So how is it not related to “feminism?” Even many women’s studies departments see that as related to feminism. So how do you brush that off and say it’s just youth?

    Girls have not been educated about what feminism truly is (and those that have do NOT act like this, but they are the few)…and they ARE the ones who end up with the stellar guys (I’m not talking about the Big Men On Campus who are frequently jerks–who might be very rich and might well be the president of our country one day.)

    I’m saying we can no longer say, “it’s always been this way, blah, blah, blah” No, it’s reached a crisis stage. I’ve seen it, been involved, had meetings with university presidents, student affairs boards, Boards of Trustees, talked with groups of students, had speakers come to campuses (a positive thing which the students relate to in a tremendous way–and actually feel that SOMEONE cares about them)…

    Perhaps the problem with the Hollywood situation and the gov’t situation, etc., is that the elite and superficial and the well-connected call the shots. And the rest of us scratch our heads and wonder…hmmm…what is going on?

  • Sara

    JoshB,
    And, no, many of the students are NOT told that sex is “bad”…they are allowed to do whatever they choose, just as their parents do. You’re right regarding the acting-out, the entitlement of the adults. The fact that these adults are my contemporaries is painful to me. For I did not treat my kids (nor their friends) this way. Perhaps a reason why our house was a meeting point for lots of incredibly bright, good-looking, talented students to gather (both males and female), knowing there were boundaries here, but that they could have fun. And the stuff I heard when they returned from college broke my heart and spurred me (and my husband) and others to action. But again, the admins listen only to $$$$ and that’s the bottom line, Josh.

  • JoshB

    And, no, many of the students are NOT told that sex is “bad”…they are allowed to do whatever they choose

    I was referring to growing up, not to the college life where they indeed have no rules.

    We seem to have different definitions of feminism. I look at it as women having the right to think and act and dream as they please. If college girls choose to act this way then you or I may not like it, but according to my definition it is feminism. Imposing rules telling them they can’t act this way is unfeminist. In my opinion what they need to be taught is not feminism but critical thinking. They need to look at the options regarding their sexuality and choose what to do based on knowledge and a thorough evaluation of risk vs. reward. Again, that’s not feminist per se, it’s a universal necessity.

  • Sara

    Josh,
    I feel that you are not hearing me. I’m not talking about your definition of feminism or mine. I am talking about the girls’s definition. And I have heard it in person. Many (too many) think that “feminism” means to use themselves in a damaging way and dangerous way and to use boys in the same way. THEY call that feminism. I call it something else. The very fact that they (and some women’s studies depts. agree) call THAT feminism–abusing self and others, I see that as a problem.
    And btw, the universities DO have rules. The students have to sign them. The universities (some of them) make a HUGE deal about this. PUBLIC SIGNING of the Community Standards of the University. And then the adults in the admin turn their heads simply because they do not want to get involved which I think it inexcusable and pathetic. It is unfair for ANY of the students at any university.
    What many girls are calling “feminism” is reverse feminism, actually, but they don’t realize it. I understood that feminism meant that women were to be seen as part of the human race and treated as such. Well, this would be feminism means being seen as acting like animals (no worse)–they use it as a REASON for acting-out and they can treat themselves and others as less than human. It’s like saying the Joker is for human rights for all.

  • Sara

    Perhaps we could say that Hollywood is run in part by the wealthy and connected…that women (going by Josh’s statement above) can do whatever they want and that’s “feminism”–I disagree with this definition– and men can do whatever they want and that’s fine, too, well, because men can do whatever they want. Most often the wealthy and connected MAKE their OWN rules. Their rules are not what we would consider ours or anyone else’s. They are in a class apart. So is our gov’t right now. (And at many times in our history.)
    So why are women treated as they are in Hollywood? Because Hollywood can get by with treating women as they do. Hollywood makes the rules. They have the money. Are they acting in a patriarchal, hierarchical, way? To me, yeah.

    Whatever makes money is IT. If selling violence makes money, sell it. If selling knock-out women makes money, sell it. If selling slobby men with gorgeous women on their arms makes American men feel good about themselves, and they’ll go to the movies, then churn them out. Whatever “sells”– then have no scruples about it…just do it. Then the public has to figure how they play into this mess. For the public does.

    If there are no good movies to see (or few) go see the few good ones and skip the others. And teach your kids the same. Help them wise-up to what our consumeristic culture is all about.

  • amanohyo

    MA, I admit to being a superficial person who places a lot of value on physical beauty. I also believe that certain fundamental aspects of physical beauty exist in an objective sense. For example, people of most cultures would agree that Natalie Portman is beautiful (symmetrical features, healthy skin, youthful appearance).

    However, I do not rank women on any kind of scale or weigh them against each other, and whenever I mention “score” or “10,” I am referring to the Hollywood system of evaluation, not my own, which is context sensitive and performed on a case by case basis. I haven’t yet found someone who might be called a “Barbie Doll” to be attractive, but there’s always the possibility that I might one day.

    As a scientist, it’s very tempting for me to accept the biological explanation of beauty and gender roles that Ibrahim is outlining. However, personal experience has made it extremely clear to me that whatever behavioral inclinations humans may be genetically programmed with are easily trumped by socialization.

    In other words, if we examine our behavior throughout the day and imagine how a genetically identical prehistoric human would behave in the same situations, it’s cleat that our actions and decisions are informed by socialization to a much greater degree than biology. Humans are fundamentally social creatures. We may have emotional reactions and impulses, but we usually filter these rationally using knowledge gained from previous social experiences before we act.

    If you look beyond the basic three qualities I listed above: symmetrical features, healthy skin, youthful appearance, you can find a huge variety of standards for beauty throughout different cultures and periods of history. Look at greek and roman sculptures, Renaissance paintings, the different actresses in the European movies that MA mentioned. Examine the varying opinions about skin tone and tanning. Even neighboring countries like Japan and Korea don’t agree on standards of ideal physical beauty.

    Some claim that women with a low waist-hip ratio, full lips, and large breasts are also universally regarded as beautiful, but simply looking at the evolution of models in the fashion industry over the past century will show that these have not always been prized.

    If socialization can convince a woman that doing this makes you beautiful, then it’s very clear to me that physical beauty is socially constructed. Whatever natural impulses we might feel can be easily overwhelmed by the rituals, beliefs, and values that we are surrounded by.

    Of course, I also understand that physical beauty is merely one aspect of overall beauty, which is a comprehensive quality. I mistook MA’s use of “10” to mean a ten on Hollywood’s physical beauty scale, but now I understand that her “10” refers to overall beauty. In that case, I completely agree that there should be a wider variety of comprehensively beautiful women in movies.

    P.S. Sara, I don’t believe gray rape exists, and I can’t imagine any girl truly believing that feminism is only about being sexually promiscuous and self-consciously objectifying yourself. Five minutes online should teach them that that definition isn’t very accurate.

  • Sara

    P.S. Sara, I don’t believe gray rape exists, and I can’t imagine any girl truly
    believing that feminism is only about being sexually promiscuous and
    self-consciously objectifying yourself. Five minutes online should teach them
    that that definition isn’t very accurate.
    ——————————————–
    Well, the definition by girls that feminism is about being sexually promiscuous and CONSCIOUSLY objectifying self and others seems to be the understanding of feminism among a large number of college students today (who determine dominant campus culture.) I understand you can’t believe it…I couldn’t either until I saw it, heard it, etc. Five minutes online doesn’t mean a thing.

    There also exist guys (older–say juniors and seniors–who wait for first year girls to come to their frat parties “open to all” and some of these guys will very purposefully, very consciously NOT get drunk, but will prey on the girls that do get drunk, even putting drugs in their drinks. Yes, girls need to be saavy to this. But when administrations say, oh, all the first years are invited to the frat parties, they tend to think it’s an OK thing to go. And then they get nervous and drink too much.

    Re: gray rape. Why do you not think this exists. It’s rampant. When two people are so zoned out on alcohol or drugs, it’s kinda hard to make good judgements. One might think the other said yes, when the other in fact, clearly said no. But it’s not remembered clearly in most cases, hence the problem. But the girl can tell for gosh sakes if she had sex and she (in the cases I’m referring to) won’t recall even having had sex at all. Did she consent? Did she not? Was she raped? Sometimes, yes, she was. Sometimes not. It’s an unknown. It’s gray.

    With those responding to me, it isn’t clear if you have kids in college who have talked frankly with you about this. And in elitist colleges. If you aren’t involved in that situation perhaps what I’m writing will have no meaning and will not be believable to you. Otherwise, it will be believable because it’s what’s happening.

  • amanohyo

    Oh, and I finally understand MA’s original point that Hollywood fails even at the simple task of accurately reflecting the broad and varied male conceptions of beauty as they are currently constructed in modern society. That is, most men will tell you that there’s an enormous, delicious pie of beauty out there in the world, but Hollywood picks the same tiny slice to serve us every time. I think I finally got it… and I’m hungry.

  • amanohyo

    Sara, we’re getting way off topic here, but if two people are locked in a room drunk and/or high and one of them is found the next morning with a bullet in his head, who’s to say what really happened? Maybe he shot himself, maybe he asked her to shoot him, maybe she shot him but wasn’t aware of what she was doing, maybe they both had their hands on the trigger.

    If I have a gun and I’m high I might think you are asking me to shoot you when you really aren’t; if I go on and kill you, that’s murder in my book, not gray murder. Rape happens or it does not happen; people’s memories and mental state don’t alter what actually occured.

    The law may see things differently, and no one may know for sure what actually happened in some cases, but if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, that doesn’t mean the tree isn’t actually lying on the ground somewhere. You can debate about whether or not the tree fell or was cut down or whether it fell at all, but there is an objective truth even if no one is able to discover it.

    The term “gray rape” suggests more to me than simply an unknown. It suggests that there are situations in which an individual can believe that they were raped, and a second individual can believe that they did not rape the first, and both of their opinions can be equally valid. That’s why the term is dangerous and doesn’t make any sense to me. The rape itself is not gray, it’s the individuals’ recollections of the events that are uncertain.

  • Sara

    Ok, whatever. Students on college campuses across the U.S. know what they mean when they use the term gray rape. You don’t need to know what they mean by that unless you’re in college, which you’re not.

    Girls thinking (which many many do) feminism means being as “acting out as the worst of the boys” are correct in their thinking (not according to what I’d think feminism is but what seems to be expressed above.) And Hollywood has nothing to do with any of this as has also been expressed (not by me either)…. Or the fact that these young women at our elitist schools might end up as wives of Senators and Presidents (but unlikely to be Senators or Presidents)…Whew! Glad we settled that.Carry on!

  • JoshB

    Sara said:

    going by Josh’s statement above…:

    I look at it as women having the right to think and act and dream as they please

    …I disagree with this definition

    So let me get this straight. Feminism does not include the right of women to think, act, or dream for themselves. Rather:

    feminism meant that women were to be seen as part of the human race and treated as such. Well, this would be feminism means being seen as acting like animals

    …where what is human or animal is defined solely by you according to your standards of morality.

    Okay, if you don’t want to call my definition feminist then I’ve got another word for you.

    Freedom.

    You can strawman those girls all you want. None of them told you that they think feminism means being promiscuous. They said that feminism means having the right to choose to be promiscuous. It means men can’t dictate their sexuality, but it also means that YOU can’t.

  • Sara

    Josh, why are being hateful?
    You are totally incorrect…have you been on college campuses or at meetings with me and heard what college girls have told me? To put down what I say I have heard is obnoxiously rude.
    They have said that they think feminism is being promiscuous. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    And, Josh, you have not heard that from them yourselves. I have. So stop portraying me as liar and dismissing what I write, my experience, what I have heard and seen (and you were not present.)

  • JoshB

    I don’t hate you Sara. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

    I am, however, frustrated by you, because you’ve taken my comments out of context over and over. And despite your denial I am still convinced that you’ve taken those girls’ comments out of context as well.

    But it’s easy enough to test. Next time you attend one of these meetings ask the girls this:

    “Do you think a girl needs to be promiscuous to be feminist, or do you just think girls should have to right to be promiscuous if they so choose?”

    If you get a consensus from them that a girl needs to be promiscuous then I’ll happily eat crow.

  • paul

    Homocide has a variety of catagories, including hot headed impulses, cold blooded intent, accidents, and via negligence.

    On the lighter side, I thought the actor playing Picard was 6 feet tall and they had just hired really tall people to act around him.

    I was in an argument with a Trekkie tired of the objectification of women on Trek. Naturally she was referring to how we often see more of women’s skin than men’s on the show. I pointed out that men are judged more by power, making their uniforms sexier than their bare chests might have been.

  • Sara

    JoshB,
    I didn’t say you hated me. I asked why you were being hateful TO me.
    When I express sincere concern about what is happening on our college campuses you seem unconcerned and seem to think I’m making stuff up. I absolutely am not. I wish I were.
    I do think there are some of the same dynamics going on there that go on in Hollywood. The good ole boys network (other people have noted this), especially at our elite colleges. Both in terms of Board of Trustees, those who give the most money and what gets done with it, the way certain campuses are set up, who gets the prime real estate on campus (critical issue) and so on. It sets the boys up at an advantage from the get-go in those situations. Even a campus lay-out (who lives where, who gets to live where) can tell you a lot about who is valued most on that campus.
    There are many girls who have said they think feminism is being promiscuous (one of the “perks”) and yes, I have heard this–they think that acting as the “worst” of the boys is what feminism is about–they think that acting AS males is what feminism is about. Not acting as humans. But as males. I realize males are humans. But males and females are not the exact same. Equality doesn’t equal sameness. Equal rights. Fine (even though those are not in existence yet, in full.)
    I am not interested in your little experiment that you present to me and the fact that you “suggest” I do a little test (and then outline how I am to do it) is condescending. You don’t have to believe a word I said. That’s your right. But you don’t have to put me down in the way that you have.
    You could even take what I said to heart, and yeah, to believe that I might possibly have heard girls say these things (which I did.)And what might that mean is going on? What has gone awry and why?
    The problem is, for many females, whether you want to call it feminism, women’s rights, women’s liberation, that it means we are free to act just like males. Gosh, we can finally be males (how weird is that?) Plus it shows they’re missing the point and that’s my main point.
    And when Hollywood sets women up to either act just like males (Sex and the City is an example–“from now on, we’re having sex like men.” Well, what in the hell does that mean??…can they not figure out how to have sex like women? And what would that mean exactly? Having sex like authentic well-grounded females? It seems very few want to wrestle with those kinds of questions. And, by the way, what would women having sex like men look like anyway–when it’s meant in a derogatory manner–as in “screw male over”? That’s an offensive statement actually to males.
    Paul, sorry to get in the midst of your post here.

  • MaryAnn

    Okay, this is me putting my foot down. The discussion here is going around in circles. Unless someone has something new to add, I’m going to close down comments on this post.

  • Sara

    I agree. I think it’s going around in circles. I’m for closing it down.

  • Paul

    I’m not sure if this is quite new or not, but in China women are more likely to try to get men to quit drinking, smoking, and sleeping around than to emulate them. This might be because drinking and smoking at least is very expensive. I know men who can drink/smoke their way through 1000 RMB a month in a country where the average income is 1500 a month. If the “bar life” suddenly cost a $1000 a month to maintain, I’ll bet it would become a lot less popular over here, too. Most Chinese women would greatly prefer that men settle down and save that money for the kid’s college education; even women with good jobs feel that way. I’ll go out to dinner with college officials and the men are all getting drink while the women are drinking juice and either having fun talking to each other or looking like they wished they were home.

    I have met Chinese women who are in the bar life and they pretty much have the same joys and complaints as most American women.

  • JoshB

    Ha! MaryAnn’s patience for topic hijacking has limits after all! Good to know.

    Sara, I love to argue, probably too much for my own good. You are a decent person, and you deserve to be commended for making an effort to improve this world. Please don’t let a contentious jerk like me take any wind out of your sails.

  • Robert

    Part of what I’ve seen said here that I’m not convinced is so is that there’s some sort of intentional “victimization” going on by Hollywood. That they’re “doing” this to womanhood.

    Movies, particularly “Hollywood” movies – i.e. large budget, mass-marketed films are primarily about making money, not trying to forge an egalitarian society. I don’t think the movie industry created the fact that people tend to find certain people more appealing to look at than others.

    Shadoween said

    James McAvoy recently said he thinks it’s an absolute horror to be a woman in Hollywood.

    Presumably meaning they find that there’s a lot of competition and that for employability, there’s a tremendous emphasis is on being youthful & attractive.

    .shrug

    So, why do so many women vie to be in that industry to begin with? They could be accountants or nurses. I think that’s a topic that should be examined.

    You’ve got someone like Delta Burke who cashed in on her looks for years – beauty pageants, acting, then whines when she found herself less marketable when she became chubby, as if she were utterly clueless as to why. It wasn’t like she was known for doing Shakespeare.

    MAJ said re: the “line” that the film industry feeds society:

    and it’s a line that belittles women and dramatically impacts women’s and girls’ self-esteem.

    So, what if the movie is about athletes who perform feats that most people can’t, or people with a lot of money, or musical skills. What about disabled people watching movies that mostly portray able-bodied people?

    If you’re going to focus on something to get riled about, what about these child beauty pageants. That just strikes me as a manifestation of outright mental illness – on the part of the mothers that is and those that promote these things – dolling little girls up like bar whores with fake tans and an inch of makeup and putting them on display *as a competition* no less. That’s just messed up in so many ways. Their entire focus is seeking affirmation for physical appearance – an adult type of appearance at that. All long before the girls have a chance to make any kind of intelligent assessment of the ramifications or make decisions themselves.

    I don’t know that adult beauty pageants are any less superficial but at least they’re adults making a choice. At least actors ostensibly need to have talent besides their looks.

    Of course, I also think it’s sick to indoctrinate children into religion.

    So why are there so many pudgy, flabby, and fat men onscreen? Why are men allowed to be less than physically perfect, while women are not?

    Do you see a lot of pudgy, flabby men playing action heroes or romantic leads?

    And what’s the argument against leanness as long as it’s achieved through proper diet & exercise?

    amanhoyo said

    Robert, when Obama is president, are you going to answer any observation about the continuing struggles of African Americans by saying, “Powell, Rice, Obama?”

    The fact that I don’t believe Obama is going to be the president notwithstanding, that wouldn’t be my response but I suspect my thoughts on the subject would piss you off anyway.

    Nonetheless, the list of famous (via showbiz) though not necessarily absolutely stunning women could be a lot longer. Here’s some I’ve come up with, and I’m no showbuz buff:

    Camryn Manheim
    Patricia Arquette – (who’s done “blond hottie” roles but I understand insisted that she be allowed to remain a little chunky for her Medium role because that’s the more typical reality of a suburban mother of three)

    Roseann Barr
    Angelica Houston
    SJP
    Glenn Close
    Meryl Streep
    Tori Spelling
    Oprah Winfrey
    Whoopie Goldberg
    Ricki Lake
    Carnie Wilson

    I’m sure I could come up with more.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal is an attractive woman, and her father made her first film

    I agree she’s attractive, however given my personal visual assessment she’s not from the same mold as a lot of “screen beauties”.

    Close, Streep, and SJP all made their start when they were young and more attractive/marketable.

    None of them at any point in their lives were ever of the mold of someone like Michelle Pfeifer, Bo Derek, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, etc.

    Of course, there’s also a fact that may be getting overlooked, many showbiz women are in reality a lot more “average-looking” than is obvious from their public image.

    “10” or not, the gap betweent he average “score” for female actresses and the “score” for the average woman is far greater than the corresponding gap between male actors and the average man.

    Not sure how we’d settle this point as correct or not. I see people on the street of both genders who I feel run the gamut of “attractiveness”. I think more clarification is needed on what exactly you mean. Are you talking about all actors/actresses – which I think would dilute your point significantly – or limiting it to main characters in romance/action movies?

    Regarding feminists

    Is there a universally accepted definition of “feminist”?

    who care about their appearance, it is possible to understand the rules of society and act so that they work in your favor while simultaneously believing that they are arbitrary and unjust. It’s silly to criticize MA for not putting the most unflattering picture she can find online for everyone to see.

    You’re engaging in hyperbole. I said nothing about posting an unflattering photo. I pointed out that she didn’t post a pic of her heavier self on FF. Unless you’re implying that any photo of her with a few more pounds on her is by definition “unflattering”. I don’t know how heavy she ever was, but in the pics I’ve seen she certainly wasn’t what I’d call obese. She was a bit rounder, but not out of control. She probably wouldn’t have looked bad in a swimsuit.

    If one is going to shake their fist at something, it seems one would want to take advantage of an opportunity to take a stand. I have a hard time believing pics of her chunkier self would have done harm to her life and reputation. Maybe some idiots would have sent her insulting e-mails, but I’m sure she gets that now.

    But the fact is, she *likes* the way she looks now better, so how can she fault others for having a similar aesthetic – i.e. that a leaner human physique is more “attractive” than a heavier one? And that this is what tends to be favored in certain kinds of roles?

  • Robert

    Kathy Bates

  • Sara

    Robert,
    Above you wrote:
    MAJ said re: the “line” that the film industry feeds society:

    “and it’s a line that belittles women and dramatically impacts women’s and girls’ self-esteem.”

    Then you wrote: “Of course, I think it’s sick to indoctrinate children into religion.”

    I agree with both comments and I’d say that they have dynamics in common that are worth looking at side by side. I don’t see it as that complex. Look what much of religion does to people (children and adults) and look what Hollywood does to the same folks. Similar dynamics.

  • Robert

    From Sara

    I agree with both comments and I’d say that they have dynamics in common that are worth looking at side by side. I don’t see it as that complex. Look what much of religion does to people (children and adults) and look what Hollywood does to the same folks. Similar dynamics.

    I think one is training in irrationality, the other is the result of natural inclination.

  • Sara

    Robert,
    Women are NOT the main actors in religion; they do NOT have the main roles. Men do. Same as in Hollywood. Further both do belittle women and young girls’ self-esteem. Perhaps you could say both are irrational. I understand you are probably referring to the “belief system” in religion–that’s not what I’m getting at. It’s what the story is about. Who wrote it, and why. Similar dynamics in Hollywood. Women are put in a box similar to the ones in our religions. I see similar dynamics in that regard.

    Men wrote the stories in the scriptures, edited them…the natural inclination they had was to write stories that the men connected with, ones that starred them and the women were only secondary. I suppose the same “inclination” exists in Hollywood.

  • Sara

    I read yesterday (don’t know if it’s true) that Sarah Jessica Parker had her mole removed. And that her husband has been having an affair with a 25 year old. Again, don’t know how true this is, but it was reported. If so…same ole, same ole.
    YAWN.

  • MaryAnn

    Robert wrote:

    Part of what I’ve seen said here that I’m not convinced is so is that there’s some sort of intentional “victimization” going on by Hollywood. That they’re “doing” this to womanhood.

    This is an issue that feminism explores that is far to large to delve into here, but the gist of it is that it doesn’t have to be conscious to be worth exploring. Reflexive racism isn’t any more justifiable, for instance, than reflexive, unthinking misogyny.

    Movies, particularly “Hollywood” movies – i.e. large budget, mass-marketed films are primarily about making money, not trying to forge an egalitarian society. I don’t think the movie industry created the fact that people tend to find certain people more appealing to look at than others.

    Have you read *any* of the comments here? The point is that there is a wide range of what men find attractive — even shallow, unthinking, misogynistic men — than what Hollywood portrays. If Hollywood were really about *just* making money, it would cater to its audience. But it’s not doing that. *That* is the big mystery.

    So, why do so many women vie to be in that industry to begin with? They could be accountants or nurses. I think that’s a topic that should be examined.

    Seriously? No, really, seriously? Are you honestly suggesting that someone who wants to be an artist should also consider being a nurse or an accountant? You honestly saying that any woman who cannot find satisfaction as an actor because she doesn’t look like a Barbie doll — while men *are* afforded that luxury on a greater scale than women — should be satisfied to be an accountant or a nurse?

    The mind boggles.

    I don’t know how heavy she ever was, but in the pics I’ve seen she certainly wasn’t what I’d call obese. She was a bit rounder, but not out of control. She probably wouldn’t have looked bad in a swimsuit.

    I had not posted a picture of myself because I didn’t wish to be talked about in this manner, as men never are. Then I became convinced that added a picture of oneself to one’s Web site added a level of comraderie and intimacy that was conducive to generating the kind of community and interpersonal communication that I was trying to engender here.

    But it really is “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” when it comes to women posting pictures of themselves online, isn’t it? There’s nothing I could have done in this regards that would have been acceptable to some people.

  • JoshB

    I don’t know how heavy she ever was, but in the pics I’ve seen she certainly wasn’t what I’d call obese. She was a bit rounder, but not out of control. She probably wouldn’t have looked bad in a swimsuit.

    That was truly cringe-worthy.

    Robert, regardless of whether you agree with MaryAnn’s point about Hollywood and body image, you have to concede that she and women as a whole deserve more respect than that.

    If you want to argue with her do it on the merits of her argument. She’s earned that.

  • Sara

    Let me get this right and please correct me if I’m wrong. Are we getting into discussion of MARYANN’s WEIGHT (or once-upon-a-time weight) here? Because if so, I think the point is made about how women are treated, period. Someone please clarify for me, I feel as if I’ve missed something or have been tossed to some other world more bizarre than even this one.

    On another subject: Yes, I think that Hollywood presents a narrower slice of “female beauty/sexiness” than is the norm (say in the eyes of anyone) but Hollywood plays it safe. Perhaps that’s the answer. They go with the Barbie dolls. And we know how Barbie dolls sell.

  • Robert

    Sara said:

    Women are NOT the main actors in religion; they do NOT have the main roles. Men do. Same as in Hollywood. Further both do belittle women and young girls’ self-esteem. Perhaps you could say both are irrational. I understand you are probably referring to the “belief system” in religion–that’s not what I’m getting at. It’s what the story is about. Who wrote it, and why. Similar dynamics in Hollywood. Women are put in a box similar to the ones in our religions. I see similar dynamics in that regard.

    You’re veering off what I was talking about. I don’t think “more equal” roles for women in the Bible would be a good thing, I feel that religion is irrational and evil in its totality and that it’s wrong to expose children to religious teachings. I also feel there’s something very wrong with child beauty pageants.

    However, as far as the content of mainstream media entertainment, I don’t think anyone has to be indoctrinated to find some people more physically attractive than others. I think that’s going to happen no matter what.

    MAJ said

    Have you read *any* of the comments here?

    Yup.

    MAJ said

    The point is that there is a wide range of what men find attractive — even shallow, unthinking, misogynistic men —

    Your hot-button seems to be body mass index. One of my pet peeves is that the mass-market movie industry seems to spend so little time with logical construction of storylines. What’s the point of a “smart & independent” female character if they have her do stupid things? Untraceable is an example of a movie that could have been really good if they’d taken the time to sit back and say “okay, what’s logical/illogical about this?” Then you’d have a strong female lead who isn’t a teeny bopper in a decent movie.

    Of course, it *has* been done – as pointed out the Alien and Terminator movies are good examples, but often isn’t.

    than what Hollywood portrays. If Hollywood were really about *just* making money, it would cater to its audience.

    Dunno, seems they’ve found a helluva large audience. Can you prove that people are staying away in droves because they don’t cast more less-skinny women in roles? This would seem to be golden info for some production company looking for a new market.

    And here’s a thought. Why does the focus on the female always have to be a romantic one. Well, in part I know why – because women are the baby makers, they’re the “attractors” in the male/female dynamic. But what’s the last “Hollywood” movie made about a female jazz instrumentalist? Maybe there have been indie movies on such a topic. If anyone knows of one, seriously let me know.

    Seriously? No, really, seriously? Are you honestly suggesting that someone who wants to be an artist should also consider being a nurse or an accountant?

    You seem to assume that all women who try to break into movies are doing so because they want to be an “artist”, as opposed to simply trying to cash in on the fact that they’re pretty and that they’re attracted to the veneer of glitziness and the potential for a big payday. I honestly believe that women, more so than men tend – meaning it may not apply equally to all women – to desire to be the center of attention. They want to be the prom queen, they want to be the beautiful bride – who’s traditionally the center of attention at traditional weddings. They want to be the one with the flashbulbs going off as they walk down the red carpet. They want to be seen as glamorous, beautiful, adored – even if in this odd, superficial way that celebrities are “adored” by people who really don’t know squat about them. Even a mouthy and obnoxious ultra-liberal lesbian like Rosie O’Donnell, in an earlier life was – guess what, a high-school beauty queen, a fact that she still makes sure people know.

    Ever been in a strip club? I know damn well that money isn’t the only reason many of those girls do it. Many of them get off on putting their bodies on display. I have a female cousin who had been quite overweight for much of her young life and when she lost the weight it was revealed that she was a smokin’ hottie under it all. Guess what, she danced at a strip club for a while. (No I never saw her dance) This is a girl who’s highly intelligent, it’s not like it’s the only thing she could have done. The concept that men would actually pay to see her body was a complete rush to her.

    Something else I’ve noticed. I’ll bet that girls outnumber boys at least 3 to 1 on YouTube as far as “here’s me singing this pop song” videos.

    I had not posted a picture of myself because I didn’t wish to be talked about in this manner, as men never are.

    Right, no one has ever called Chris Farley or John Belushi fat slobs. No one has ever made commentary about Orson Welles’ or Marlon Brando’s expanded waistline. Nobody complimented the 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone for his superb physical condition in the last Rocky film. People don’t post stealth photos of screen hunks in the “off season” at the beach with their gut hanging over their swimsuit with accompanying derisive commentary. Pics of the once chiseled Arnold Schwarzenegger looking flabby in a speedo have caused quite a buzz.

    Then I became convinced that a picture of oneself added to one’s Web site added a level of comraderie and intimacy that was conducive to generating the kind of community and interpersonal communication that I was trying to engender here.

    …and wanted the world to see how good you looked.

    ;-)

    When I said

    I don’t know how heavy she ever was, but in the pics I’ve seen she certainly wasn’t what I’d call obese. She was a bit rounder, but not out of control. She probably wouldn’t have looked bad in a swimsuit.

    JoshB pronounced

    That was truly cringe-worthy.

    What makes it “cringe-worthy”? Has MAJ ever stated she was oblivious to the concept of physical attractiveness or immune to personal vanity? No, she’s stated quite the opposite. I feel that there was nothing obnoxious about the way she looked before. I used the swimsuit example since it seems to be a reasonable standard. I do believe it’s possible to be so overweight as to be unappealing to look at. If you say you don’t feel the same way, I don’t believe you.

    Robert, regardless of whether you agree with MaryAnn’s point about Hollywood and body image, you have to concede that she and women as a whole deserve more respect than that.

    She laments that the entertainment biz is shallow and wrong for only displaying images of women of a certain BMI. Yet she refused to post a pic of herself in her most prominent public forum because she felt she wasn’t skinny enough.

    Sara queried

    Let me get this right and please correct me if I’m wrong. Are we getting into discussion of MARYANN’s WEIGHT (or once-upon-a-time weight) here?

    Okay, I’ll correct you. As far as I can tell, the primary topic – as defined by MAJ – is about images of women that are presented or not presented in the media and why don’t “they” do it different. Her declining to display a pic of herself when she had a few more pounds on her is quite relevant to that topic. In this case, MAJ is *they*.

  • MaryAnn

    Robert wrote:

    Your hot-button seems to be body mass index.

    The initial posting was about facial features and height. Where does BMI come into that? I even explicitly stated in this comment here — in case it was not already clear — that this issue is about much more than weight.

    Can you prove that people are staying away in droves because they don’t cast more less-skinny women in roles?

    No one is saying that this is the case, and I’m not just talking about not-skinny women. But nice straw man.

    You seem to assume that all women who try to break into movies are doing so because they want to be an “artist”,

    Boy, you really are *excellent* at putting words into people’s mouths! I make no such assumption. The assumption I make — and it’s really not much of an assumption but an actuality — is that women who *are* interested in acting as art but who don’t look like Barbie dolls have virtually no chance of making it in American film or on American TV.

    But even if we want to take your word for what female performers want — to be the center of attention, to be glamorous, etc — are you suggesting that all women who want this would be satisfied to instead be nurses and accountants? How are these things anywhere near equivalent?

    …and wanted the world to see how good you looked.

    Ah, and now we see Robert’s true colors: *He* knows everything about women — what women want, how they want to be the center of attention, even why they post pictures of themselves online. We women clearly cannot be trusted to speak for ourselves.

    She laments that the entertainment biz is shallow and wrong for only displaying images of women of a certain BMI. Yet she refused to post a pic of herself in her most prominent public forum because she felt she wasn’t skinny enough.

    Please, Robert, tell me more about myself and what I mean when I say stuff.

    No, I’m kidding. Don’t.

  • Sara

    Robert wrote:
    You’re veering off what I was talking about. I don’t think “more equal” roles for women in the Bible would be a good thing, I feel that religion is irrational and evil in its totality and that it’s wrong to expose children to religious teachings. I also feel there’s something very wrong with child beauty pageants.

    I write:
    I understand what you’re talking about above re: indoctrination into religion. I’m on the same page.
    My point is that in both religion (and I’m not suggesting that we introduce women in “equal roles” in the scriptures. Those writings are written. It’s what they reflect that matters. The culture. Who is important and who is “chosen” for any given “important” and “interesting” roles. Even in some of the stories that don’t include anything about a “god” at all, the men are still the main players and define most everything. I see similar dynamics in Hollywood and elsewhere. But I’ve said that. You either get it or you don’t.

    Yes, beauty pageants for little girls send poor messages. Little Miss Sunshine was able to use beauty pageants, though, and a little girl’s desire to be in one to encompass something much bigger, and truly meaningful and at the same time exposed the disgusting elements of those pageants.

    I agree–as would most everyone here, I think–strong storylines are important. That’s something MaryAnn rates in her reviews.

    Robert writes:
    You seem to assume that all women who try to break into movies are doing so because they want to be an “artist”, as opposed to simply trying to cash in on the fact that they’re pretty and that they’re attracted to the veneer of glitziness and the potential for a big payday. I honestly believe that women, more so than men tend – meaning it may not apply equally to all women – to desire to be the center of attention. They want to be the prom queen, they want to be the beautiful bride – who’s traditionally the center of attention at traditional weddings.

    I write:
    If anyone knows anything about the acting profession, they know it’s incredibly difficult and I don’t think any sane person would go into this field without realizing this. IF they know about acting…if they are artists–then they know this. I have a male lst cousin who is an actor (Hollywood and other places, you’ve probably seen him in movies) and he’s exceptionally knock-out handsome and reasonably talented. He does say “do NOT get into this business unless you MUST because of dedication to the art. It’s hell.” There ARE women dedicated to the art and to assume that women just want the spotlight and “attention” is odd to me.

    And face it…if you look around at the world in general…in most every facet except those jobs that are “female” deemed (and usually pay very little) males have the spotlight right in their faces routinely. Gov’t, Hollywood, Corporations, etc., etc., etc. They are the ones (with a few women here and there) that are glorying in the spotlight, lapping up the attention, and quite often in a very grandiose manner.

  • JoshB

    Robert, I was trying to help you out by gently pointing out the inappropriateness of those comments.

    You took a serious social commentary by a woman who trades on her intelligence and reduced it to a question of whether or not she looks good in a swimsuit. If you need me to explain how cheap and offensive that is then, well, I don’t know how to answer. It seems pretty intuitive to me.

  • Sara

    Well, this whole subject has bothered me. Also bothering me is my right knee (had surgery recently and I can’t get comfortable tonight.)

    And it struck me. Why does Hollywood treat women as it does?

    Hollywood didn’t always treat women this way at all.

    What are the demographics today for box office weekends (google it)…it’s adolescent boys. They’re the ones Hollywood is catering to. And in a HUGE way. Then there are spin-off of these movies into gaming…X-box, Playstation, Nintendo, etc…also most often purchased and played by adolescent boys in tremendous numbers and with massive amounts of money made.

    And face it, what adolescent boys wants to go see movies with 40 year old females in them (that’s like going to see your mom. Gross.)

    The question is why do we as moviegoers and more importantaly as parents allow the situation and put up with it.

    It’s not a matter of roles for women or even for how women are viewed that’s the main issue. When movies are made for adolescent boys (because that’s where the money is…and it is) gues what you get. You get boys and men on the screen (even if they’re grown men–they still act, quite often like boys), you get few women, and you get women as Barbie dolls. You get a narrow view of females because you’re seeing adolescent views of females. Hey, they’re running the show.

    My son (as an adolescent) wasn’t allowed to go see any movie he choose. Sorry.

    But that’s not the case with most adolescent boys…and they are ruling the box office it seems. Take a stroll down google lane and check out the demographics and the numbers. It’s pretty astounding.

  • Ibrahim

    Although I disagree with Robert’s approach, I think he shows quite well how women’s expectations of men are out of synchrony with the no0rmal responses of men.

    Sara you argued that objectification of a woman is bad, and defined it as “the oogling of a person as if he/she is an object with absolutely no care for them as a person with her/his own thoughts, feelings, life.”

    That definition of “objectification” is precisely what men do on a regular basis (in countries like Italy they even market clothing to women by claiming that men will ogle you for longer periods than previously). We don’t really care about personality when we first check you out. We’re just doing what men are programmed to do (evaluating a potential mate on primarily physical characteristics), and it is a perfectly natural response. You think that a male, confronted with female sexual signals that he finds very compelling, is going to say to himself, “Hang on a sec there old boy, let’s ignore all this visual bounty and instead concentrate on her character, integrity, etc., about which we know nothing.”

    The vast majority of men operate on a primal and very visual basis (MUCH more so than women) and there is nothing objectionable about it. As I said earlier it is the RESPONSE to stimuli such as legs or cleavage that defines the worth of a man… an appreciative look and respectful approach, versus a loud catcall and aggressive pawing.

    Sara your long arguments about campus life (while interesting) seem off-topic. You are dwelling on an immature, reflexive, drug-fuelled temporary culture in a highly artificial environment that has very little to do with what I was talking about. I saw much of what you describe in the 1995 movie “Kidz” and I was a student myself at the time, so it isn’t a new phenomenon. My point was that there is absolutely nothing wrong with “sexualization” of a sexually mature person. You choose to focus on an extremely narrow segment of the population, which also happens to be the same segment that is always criticized by older generations.

    Nothing you can learn in a society will teach you not to appreciate an hourglass figure, red juicy lips, long legs, soft smooth skin, etc (obviously from a male point of view). The discussion about wait to hip ratios (WHR) for example, is quite interesting. Large-breasted, narrow-waisted women have high reproductive potential (and are considered attractive) because they tend to have higher levels of the reproductive hormone estradiol. No amount of socialization is going to rewire the circuits in the male brain that determine such attraction; socialization can only affect how/whether we act on those impulses.

    Interestingly, WHR has been a fairly good indicator throughout the ages. It’s been applied to renaissance paintings, photographs, real life models, music videos, stylized depictions, pencil drawings, 1930s movie stars, 1990s porn stars, Greek and Roman statuary, etc. and yields fairly consistent results in that a ratio of around 0.7 (sometimes dipping in the 0.6 range) is considered most attractive. It works on fat and thin women alike unless a woman is sufficiently fat for adiposity to impact the measurement. Kate Moss has a 0.7 WHR – even when she was younger and really waif-like. Same goes for the vast majority of models and actresses.

    However I would not put too much emphasis on WHR, as it can be confounded by many factors.

    Segueing back to film, from an evolutionary point of view there may be a partial explanation for the bias toward a skinny ideal of beauty in Hollywood: a very slim woman is likely to have a flat belly, and a flat belly signals that the woman is ready to reproduce. Plus slimmer people tend to look better on film, and as they say the camera adds ten pounds.

  • Paul

    Odd thing: when a woman comes on to me and I try to slow her down to get to know her, she usually gets annoyed with me. Am I supposed to be some dog drooling at the sound of a bell? Since I don’t get to know those girls, I can’t say why they don’t want me to get to know them, but it happens to me from time to time. I don’t mean to say these women are representative, since they are too sexually assertative for that, but it is still perplexing. Maybe they think I’m turning them down for being more assertive than the norm. Who knows?

    As for the Bible, significant portions of it may have been written by women, in particular “Gospel of Luke” (what first tipped off scholars was the description of God’s touch being like the kick of a baby inside the womb) and certain women-centered stories in the Old Testament.

    Another curiousity, in one of St. Paul’s letters he laid down rules for how women should speak in the church, and then later in the same letter told women not to speak. Scholars now believe that the latter was added later because it’s lingistic style differs from the rest of St. Paul’s writings. Maybe there was a MaryAnn in that church and a Karl Rove tried to shut her up.

  • Ibrahim

    Sara, on demographics, I note that cinema audiences have skewed towards young adults since at least the 1950s… this is not a new phenomenon. And plenty of non-kiddy movies get made. Frankly I don’t agree that Hollywood treats women “a certain” way at all. The variety that exists in terms of female roles is still considerable, and it is often HIGHLY flattering towards women. In real life, finding a woman who can kick the crap out of every guy she meets is an impossibility, but on film you have Angelina Jolie and Uma Thurman, on TV you have Alias, Xena, Buffy, that’s just for the action heroes… on film women have been presidents and high ranking politicians, space explorers, soldiers, top scientists, CEOs, and more. There is great variety.

    You single out video games as a film inspiration for example, yet the average video gamer is not a teenager or student, but a 33 year old man… Same thing with comic books and superhero films, these movies are NOT made for kids today but for adults who used to read those comic books when they were kids.

    As for the rest of your arguments, I feel you are using an exceedingly broad (and often unreasonably feminist) brush in your various indictments, and it would benefit everyone to narrow the focus a bit…

  • Sara

    Gosh Abrahim, what would a woman do without you to set her straight? And Paul, according to Ibrahim when a woman comes on to you (who is within the evolutionary hot range) why would you push her away? Your normal instinct (which he says that you have no control over, nor should you be expected to)SHOULD be to just have sex with her right there it seems. Ah, well, some men and some women are more conscious than others it seems.

    Re: the demographics…they have shifted, I think (this is not a pronouncement–it is, I think, in MY opinion, from my experience, what I’ve seen and read.) Yes, for quite a while movies have been geared to youth but not directly to male adolescents (that means teenagers for the record.) And that knocks females out of good roles (what good roles are there in movies made specifically for male teenagers?

    At this same time a terrible problem with girls in this demographic… Eating disorders. Bulimia is common as can be. Oops, ate too much, vomit it up. And so on.
    MaryAnn, I think the reason we don’t have roles like we did for women at one time (the Katherine Hepburn type ones and later) is that at the present time, Hollywood is catering to the male teenager crowd–these kids have enough money for movies and they spend it there, along with video-gaming (I’m not saying they are the only ones that play these games) but almost every teenage boy has a video gaming system or several. It’s just something that the movies can extend in terms of revenue. Females aren’t into this nearly as much.
    MaryAnn, would you please address this issue, yourself, as you might have an opinion or see it (or not) yourself.
    I have no desire to go around in circles with Ibrahim. Anything that I say is automatically discounted, even if it is within my own experience and studies. He can certainly have his opinion, that’s fine, but he’s “setting me straight.” That’s no discussion.

  • Robert

    Ibrahim:

    You think that a male, confronted with female sexual signals that he finds very compelling, is going to say to himself, “Hang on a sec there old boy, let’s ignore all this visual bounty and instead concentrate on her character, integrity, etc., about which we know nothing.”

    After a run-in with a seriously unbalanced female who you didn’t realize was, if you have any sense you will.

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