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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

more movies with girl and woman heroes will be good for boys, too

where on earth could boys possibly get their demented ideas about masculinity?

where on earth could boys possibly get their demented ideas about masculinity?

You think the near absence of girls and women as the protagonists of their own adventures is only a problem for girls and women? Think again.

Via Metro, here’s what nine-year-olds boys said they don’t like about being a boy:

The list included ‘supposed to do all the work’, ‘supposed to play football’, ‘supposed to like violence’, and ‘not supposed to cry’, and highlight the little acknowledged pressure boys feel to conform to a rather stringent and outmoded stereotype of masculinity.

Where do you suppose these little guys got their ideas about what men are and aren’t “supposed” to do or be? Sure, some of it may have come from home… but plenty of these kids will also have mothers who work outside the home and fathers who don’t like football. They picked up these ideas from the culture at large. And once they start seeing movies about women who work, play football, fight wars, refuse to cry, and do the full range of things that women and men alike do, maybe they won’t feel so pressured to conform to an unrealistic image of what makes a man.


With my new Kickstarter, I am seeking funding for a project to detail on a very fine, nitty-gritty, film-by-film basis just how badly movies fail girls and women. (More details and links to supporting materials can be found and commented on here.)


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  • Constable

    I once knew a guy from Texas who moved to Ontario for school. He was a homosexual, Catholic, indie-film geek… I’ve never known someone more at war with themselves. He said for the longest time he thought he was going to hell for his orientation, he eventually decided that God would just have to deal with it. I don’t know how he stayed Catholic, I guess it was as much a part of him as his orientation. I didn’t know him too well, but he was close friends with a bisexual, Atheist, philosophy nut. When she found out he was gay she gave him a most enthusiastic high-five, to this day this has to be the oddest yet most charming exchange I’ve seen.

    How can fiction hope to even address the possibility of other life in the universe when it can’t even represent humanity right. I agree wholeheartedly with you, let’s not stop at women though, this is going to take awhile so we might as well keep the ball rolling.

  • Bluejay

    And so I tell the man I’m with
    About the other life I lived
    And I say now you’re top gun
    I have lost and you have won
    And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

    When I was a girl, my mom
    And I we always talked
    And I picked flowers
    Everywhere that I walked

    And I could always cry
    Now even when I’m alone I seldom do
    And I have lost some kindness
    But I was a girl too
    And you were just like me
    And I was just like you”

    — Dar Williams, “When I Was A Boy”

  • Beowulf

    Women should have equal roles in film and play all sports as well. Except for (American) football: Please, women, save your bodies and brains.

  • Sam

    When my son was little we watched X-men (TV show)…I said often…hmm…wonder why it’s X-men when all these women are in this show…Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue…
    He had the toy characters and for a while kept losing Storm. Each time we’d go back to the playground and find her.
    He lives with a woman today who is similar to Storm in many ways and they are a healthy balanced pair…
    Ours is a patriarchal culture….helps our kids to know that and know what it means. And yes, a balance would be healthy in all arenas. In some countries that is the case. Usually it involves strong solidarity of women for any change to occur and men have to want this too (or at least get out of the way.) As MaryAnn writes it benefits all. There are some countries that have figured this out. Not the one I live in … USA.

  • Shouldn’t boys save their bodies and brains?

  • No country has destroyed patriarchy. Some are better than others in trying to compensate for it. But it is far from destroyed.

  • Liz

    In my experience, based on what my nephews have watched in my presence, little boys seem to be totally fine with female protagonists. All five of them (ranging in age from 2 to 11, from three different families with no girls in them), have watched Frozen over and over. The 11-year-old really wants to see the Hunger Games movies but his mom won’t let him. I’ve seen them watch many TV shows with female protagonists (although I guess most of them are talking animals rather than human girls).

    So, if the boys I know are typical (and they seem like typical little boys to me), then there is no downside to making good movies about girls. Girls and boys will both watch them.

  • Constable

    My cousin had to stop playing on his college team due to multiple concussions, the safety measures don’t, well, measure up. Does anyone else get a gladiator vibe from these full contact sports, it’s not a question when it comes to MMA, it seems like glorifying violence is “cool” again.

  • Constable

    I was going to post something else, but this YouTuber I watch kind of summed it up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrhS513cOIQ (some strong language, in context)

  • He’s right. But he misses the solution: Hollywood needs to throw money at some filmmakers who aren’t white dudes, give them plenty of room to experiment (at least a little), and also give them room to fail. You know, just like they do with white dudes.

  • When has glorifying violence not been cool in our culture?

  • David

    You know when I was a kid I used to fantasize about being a super hero and proving my love to the hot damsel in distress by rescuing her from the evil cyborg trying to take over the galaxy. I never really fantasized about being rescued myself. Did you as a young girl fantasize about being rescued or rescuing a helpless man?

  • Constable

    I’d argue during war time, but you’re probably right.

  • I most certainly did not fantasize about being rescued. I fantasized about being the hero… though I do not recall ever having fantasies of rescuing anyone.

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