Friends and colleagues were often shocked to learn that I, a vocal feminist, enjoyed the TV series, SEX IN THE CITY. Of course, not one of them had seen it, assuming (wrongly) it centered solely around vacuous women shoe shopping and pining over men. And, while those activities do indeed occur in most every episode, more importantly, to quote Peter Travers at Rolling Stone, “Beyond the shoes, the cosmopolitans and the disloyal men, Sex and the City has always been about the bond among women.” I would argue, until recently, there were few TV programs that could boast this same claim and that there continues to be a dearth of mainstream films that can either. As such, I gladly embraced this rare depiction of female camaraderie. Frankly, it gave me hope.
Meanwhile, director JAMES CAMERON called PATTY JENKINS’ WONDER WOMAN “a step backwards” for female protagonists, dismissing thespian Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the character as an “objectified icon.” In the same interview with THE GUARDIAN, he boasted how, contrariwise, SARAH CONNOR (Linda Hamilton), from his own Terminator franchise “…was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit”—as if that is the only kind of woman who can be heralded as a feminist role model.
These misguided perspectives stem from the same bias. Director Patty Jenkins aptly addressed it: “… if women have to always be hard, tough, and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far.”
Author ESTELLE FREEDMAN, in her recommended book No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women likewise reminds us, “Diatribes against feminism often invoke images of fat, hairy, ugly women, suggesting that to become a feminist, to claim an identity as a powerful women, means losing all conventional appeal.”
FEMINISM—and first class citizenship—means having the freedom of choice to be the kind of person each of us wants to be. We need not adhere to the myopic expectations of others. We can shop and/or play sports. We can dress sexy and/or conservative. We can get married and/or have children, and/or careers and more. We can embrace conventional feminine aesthetics and/or forge all new ground in our choices. Nothing less will do. Ignore anybody who suggests otherwise. They’re dinosaurs. It’s time to move on.
Next Up From Me: What Feminism Isn’t Myth #5
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