I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in the last year I turned into one of Them. The angry feminists. The ones who see you being misogynistic on your blog in the dark depths on the internet and WILL call you out on it; the ones who contradict your assertion that the Bechdel test is worthless; the ones who sit there and fume about the patriarchy.
It happened. I don’t know how.
I mean, I do know: anyone who isn’t a feminist is either an insufferable jerk, or they don’t understand what feminism is, or they have their own reason for believing that one gender is inferior to the other (and please, don’t tell me more about that, just accept that I will constantly tell you that you’re wrong). So it was fairly logical that eventually I worked out the label fitted me, once I stopped subscribing to the popular view that all feminists hate men and want a matriarchy, and realised that the opinion of misogynists meant absolutely nothing to me.
And then there’s the anger thing. Well, there’s a lot to be angry about. Firstly I became better-educated about issues, then I started reading more online news sites and keeping up with the world, and then I stopped turning a blind eye. And once I did that, it was impossible not to rage about it. I mean, if you really stop and think about it, it’s enough to make you want to punch things with your delicately manicured hands.
As for calling people out on their crap, that’s more recent, but trust me when I say you probably don’t want to be my friend on Facebook if you’re going to try and say anything sexist, because I will bring down the wrath of a writer upon you. (I know lots of very inventive threats.)
I guess when I read posts about Sweden marking DVDs with their gender-balance rating, I shouldn’t go to the comment section. I’ll only get mad when people start talking about how “adding irrelevant dialogue just to pass the Bechdel test is bad writing”, since they’ve clearly missed the point.
The Bechdel test isn’t about irrelevant dialogue. That such a thing would be NECESSARY is the sign of bad writing. It’s about having female characters who are interesting and well-rounded enough to have conversations that aren’t about dudes. Who actually have personalities and aren’t just there for the benefit of the straight white guy who is invariably playing the hero.
And yes, it’s not a perfect system, because films can still be incredibly misogynistic even if they pass the test, and can have awesome female characters even if they don’t. Though I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve heard a lot about it and I believe Pacific Rim falls into the latter category. But it’s one measure, and it’s shocking that so few films pass it. As I said to my friend, who shared the article:
Rarely is there an excuse for misogyny that’s not just dudebros trying to justify their overwhelming sense of entitlement as the only possible protagonist of a story. Women aren’t a minority. They’ve never BEEN a minority. There are actually more of them than men (52% to 48% I believe). So why do we still treat them like they are?
Note that those percentages were off the top of my head and may be entirely erroneous; the point remains valid.
The “context” argument often comes into diversity issues – “But it’s not likely there would have been POC in that situation!” “But you wouldn’t have had openly gay people in that time period!” – and I will argue for ever and ever about how those are frequently irrelevant. But the worst was when it was applied to historical movies in the case of women.
News flash, guys: women exist, And they’ve always existed. Even on battlefields, even when they were kept from fighting, women contributed as nurses. There were loads of female pilots, female spies, female pirates, female warriors, throughout history. There was no point in time when men were the only thing on this planet.
Today, I shared a quote from a book called “Celtic Women” (a great read for anyone interested in historical and literary attitudes to women, although if you’re me you’ll end up mad at the Greeks and Romans for their insufferably oppressive patriarchy, which most of the Western world ended up adopting) on Tumblr.
In other words, “everyone has a mother so stop dissing women”. Immediately, this drew attack from a deluded young man who clearly saw it as an attack on men, an attempt to blame them for all the world’s issues. He then decided to try and convince us that all murder, rape and tyranny was the fault of women … because they gave birth.
I’m not going to link to the debate because a) my language was not the best, due to my anger and b) nobody needs to read his despicable misogyny. I glanced over his blog; he’s clearly a bigoted rape apologist who leaps on anything tagged with “feminism” to further his entitled crap. Seriously. I got mad.
Fortunately, I’ve got wonderful followers who joined me on the barricades in calling this guy out on being a complete moron, but for a while, I was furious. It reminded me of the one thing I daily try and block from my mind: people genuinely believe that women are worth less than men.
Half of them don’t even realise they’re doing it. They just happen to ignore 50% of the world’s population in their books, films, TV shows – and make excuses for it.
I’ve got a few more specific examples of this, which I might go into sometime. I think I’ve made my point for today, which is this: I’m a feminist. I’m angry. I will call you out when you’re being a jerk. And I will never apologise for that.
If you don’t like it, I’ll be on my barricade.