I’m amazed at how often people employ the term FEMINISM where it doesn’t apply. So, in order to set the record straight, in the coming weeks, let’s explore five common examples of what feminism is not, starting with…
#1 FEMINISM ISN’T KEEPING SCORE
Last year I went to see a horror film in which two female characters expose their breasts and a male character exposes his genitals. After the screening, the director — present for Q and A — claimed he added the latter to maintain gender balance. For starters, his math appears flawed, unless two shots of female nudity are equal to one shot of male nudity. But that’s hardly the point. A FEMINIST-FRIENDLY FILM is not about keeping score; it’s about fair representation. So to effectively gauge it, said director should have instead considered the context of and motivations for each moment of nudity.
Let’s consider them now:
The first moment of nudity occurs in the first scene where we meet three friends sharing a hotel room: a heterosexual couple and a single female. Within seconds of our first seeing her, the single female removes her top in front of her two friends, qualifying her action as retaliation for their having had sex in the other bed while she was trying to sleep the previous night. Personally, I fail to see the logic. Maybe if we knew more about the characters this reasoning might make sense, but given this happens the first time we meet them, it comes across as a flimsy excuse to show a pair of naked breasts.
Shortly thereafter, another woman bares her breasts at a public book signing. She wants the author to sign them, which he does. After, the next man in line whips out his penis and balls, and when the author refuses to sign them, the man calls the author a “homophobe.”
Now bad enough, we’ve got a homophobic remark. Why should we assume a man who exposes his genitals in public is gay? Especially when current events suggest this particular predilection is far more prevalent among straight men. But that’s a whole other topic.
Equally disturbing is the fact that the film’s director congratulated himself, explaining that at his test screening, many female spectators were, at first, up in arms about the two gratuitous moments of women baring their breasts but were appeased once the man bared his penis, deeming it “acceptable” because now everything was “fair and balanced.”
Once again, any logic here eludes me.
Gratuitous nudity is not a crime. Lots of movies employ it to appeal to certain demographics, primarily teenage boys or those with the mentality of one. But let’s recognize it for what it is, shall we? We mustn’t pretend it’s acceptable to objectify women as long as we also objectify men. It’s time to stop keeping score and start being honest. If we believe it’s wrong to objectify and exploit members of our society regardless of their gender, then we need to not do it. If we have no such qualms, let’s at least have the integrity to acknowledge it for what it is and why we’re doing it.
In a similar vein, we mustn’t compare number of lines or minutes on screen to determine the value of gender representation in a film. Keeping score is a cop out. We all know the difference. So let’s just keep it real.
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