A Feminist Viewing

The big movie blitz season is upon us. Oscar buzz is wild, studios are putting their best foot forward, Christmas hype is all around. Movies are coming out for everyone! Dramas, comedies, holiday movies, action films, family films. It’s not just that there is something for everyone, there is an abundance for everyone!

And spoiler alert: these stories are probably going to be super male focused.

Media has had an over-representation issue with men for forever. And it makes sense. Men formed our laws, built our networks, and ran all the companies. So of course the creative works are going to be about them. Representing them and glorifying them.

Luckily, there are many other angry feminists in this world who came before me and have noticed  that our media isn’t overly representative of women. And they have come up with some wonderful and simple tests to determine if a film is representing women or not (again, spoiler, a lot of them don’t). These tests don’t even demand or imply that women should be the lead, just that they are being presented as actual characters with agency and participation in the story.

The hard part about these tests is that once you are aware of them, you can’t not see it. You’ll start watching movies differently, noticing if they represent women or not. Suddenly movies you have loved your whole life, genres that were always entertaining, will leave you disappointed.

So, to ruin your viewing pleasure, I give you the Feminist Viewing Requirements!

The Bechdel Test
Two or more named women talking to each other about something other than a man.

The Bechdel Test is my personal favorite. Because it’s the simplest one. Could it really be so hard to write a story that includes two named women characters having a minimum of one conversation that isn’t about a man? Yes. Apparently. This test isn’t even about women being the lead in the film. They just need to be named, interact, and talk about something other than men.

Chick flicks often fail. While these movies tend to involve a lot of female characters, the whole story revolves around romantic relationships with men. The characters aren’t developed much beyond their romantic pursuits.

Not surprisingly, most action films fail. Action films tend to be heavily swayed towards a male cast, and the plot is motivated by the males, and the women are there as sexy props to elevate a man. Even from directors thought to be feminist, like Joss Whedon. His Avengers films, while having at least two named female characters, don’t actually interact with each other. However, Ant Man and the Wasp passes with flying colors! Marvel learned something over those six years.

Great films that pass the Bechdel Test: Incredibles 2, Oceans 8, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Karate Kid.

The Mako Mori
At least one female character with her own narrative arc that is not about supporting a man’s story.

Named after the character Mako Mori in the 2013 film Pacific Rim, this test focuses on the development of a female character. The Mako Mori is an alternative for the Bechdel, rather than a replacement. Mako Mori acknowledges that a film can have great female representation and development without the characters interacting. Mako Mori wants to expand what can constitute a “strong woman” in film.

Inspired because Pacific Rim did not pass the bechdel test, but had strong female characters and a diverse cast, fans felt that the definition of female representation in film needed to be expanded. Ironically, the sequel passes the Bechdel Test, but not the Mako Mori test. Joss Whedon’s Avengers films hold up pretty well to the Mako Mori test, despite failing the Bechdel Test.

Some great films that pass the Mako Mori Test: Mary Poppins, Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, and Pride & Prejudice.

The Sexy Lamp
A female character that cannot be removed from the plot and replaced with a sexy lamp without destroying the story.

The Sexy Lamp test is all about how relevant a female character is to the plot of a work, if the character has any agency or relevance to the story. Proposed by Kelly Sue DeConnick, if the female character can be removed from the story and replaced with a sexy lamp – if, that is, the female character does nothing and says nothing that is relevant to the story, with the possible exception of existing as a motivation factor or quest object – then the story fails the test.

Some films that totally fail this test: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Great Gatsby, and Blade Runner 2049.

 

 

Studios have been justifying their overt male representation for years. Claiming that people just don’t want to see films with female leads or people of color. It’s just not a good investment. Then someone takes a leap of faith and makes Wonder Woman and Coco and guess what, people actually showed up. A lot of them. Like a lot. And those silly studios who thought that people will only pay for a movie if it’s about a white man have a lot of work to do.

It’s getting better. It really is. It used to be that in order for me to enjoy a film I had to put my feminism up on a shelf during the viewing, but studios are becoming more aware that they are being watched and are responding to that with positive changes. There’s still a long ways to go, but it is getting better.

We’ve been critical, we’ve been opinionated, and we have made it clear: representation matters in film. And we are watching. So these studios better shape up.

 

 

-Darci

Navigating the “That’s Just How I Am” Dynamic This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. The holiday blitz. Too much sweet, too much savory, too much wine, too much cheer, and, for some, too much family.

Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s the current political climate, perhaps it’s my job, perhaps it’s nothing to do with me whatsoever. But I find as I get older I struggle with the holidays more and more. I dread meals with my family, sitting around the table listening to their religious and political beliefs, their passive aggressive comments about my life, the micro-aggressions being passed along with the potatoes. Knowing all too well that engaging in conversation will only result in conflict, and setting boundaries will only ignite tempers. And so each year I feel a little more trapped.

How many times have you heard, uttered, or thought the words “That’s just how I am”? When you’ve been confronted because of behavior another finds off-putting, have you defended yourself with, “that’s just how I am”? Behavior is a fascinating science and there are dozens of major theories on personality development. Things from genetics, to caregivers, to potty training, to behaviors reinforced or not, and a combination of everything and nothing. According to many philosophers, to understand oneself is the goal of life.

Understanding why we behave certain ways can be very helpful. But is understanding sufficient? Explanations can be comforting, certainly. Knowing you are the way you are for these particular reasons or background can lead to self-acceptance. But, is the way you are behaving how you actually want to be?

There is a lot to be said for self-acceptance. Often the goal of therapy is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is a worthy goal.

But when someone says, “this is just how I am”, what are they really saying? The preface is, “I can’t help it…”, viewing it as a cop-out. Or perhaps, more plainly, they are saying, “I don’t have the motivation to change this aspect of myself”. It communications a sincere desire to avoid change.

How many times have you wished you hadn’t said something? Or started to say something, and realized it was a bad idea? So much of what we say is triggered by our current interactions tapping into our historical interactions. Otherwise known as conditioning. We have all been conditioned in our life. Our sense of humor is conditioned, how we handle our insecurities is conditioned, how we view men and women is conditioned, our family structure and dynamic is conditioned. We may have no control of our conditioning, but we do have control of our actions. And we have responsibility in how we treat other people, regardless of conditioning, regardless of “that’s just how I am”.

Breaking this conditioning takes a great deal of effort. Understanding yourself is a big part of it, but understanding why you behave the way you do requires more digging. It requires one to be come more conscious, to act more intentionally. And that is easier said than done.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to do some self reflecting. Not just on what you believe and why you believe it. But also on how you react in your interactions and why. Find something about your own behavior and conditioning you would like to change. For example, maybe you want to be more patient. Consider how you would want that to present, and find ways to remind yourself daily of your new goals. Seek out others to help you be accountable for your changes, to encourage you in your growth.

And most importantly, the goal is progress, not perfection. Progress is a slow journey, and requires grace. It is a worthy cause.

-Darci

Ways Men Show Sexism in the Bedroom

Guys, it’s time we have a very real talk. We’ve talked a lot this year about ways that women are being treated poorly in big and small ways. We’ve even had a lot of talks about consent. But there is still one big arena that you are showing major sexism that we need to discuss: The Bedroom.

Now it’s not surprising. It is said that what happens in the bedroom reflects what happens in the real world. So if you are struggling to treat women well in your day to day life, it stands to reason you will struggle to treat women well in the bedroom as well. But you Guys have some very problematic behavior that us Ladies are getting pretty sick and tired of. Women are not sexual objects for you to masturbate with and you need to stop treating us like that’s all we are.

So let’s talk about ways you can improve your behavior – and performance – in the bedroom.

Not Bringing Your Own Condoms
It’s always best to be prepared. And Ladies, I definitely advise keeping your own stash on hand when you are single and mingling, because men are the most unreliable of people. Birth control is now available in many forms and allows us women to feel more in control of our body than ever before. Which has resulted in men assuming we will take on the responsibility of providing the goalie, and that they are off the hook. Despite the fact that condoms are still the only form of birth control that protect against STI’s, and are the only form of BC made for men, men are disturbingly unprepared when it comes to hook ups. And that is very concerning behavior! Guys, you need to be taking responsibility for your hook ups. You want to know what is crazy sexy? A guy who comes prepared. Do you know what makes a new sexual partner feel safe with you? Bringing your own condom. And take it the extra mile and wear it without being asked. Safe sex is super sexy sex.

And Guys, I get it. Sex with a condom just doesn’t feel as good as going raw. But do you know what else doesn’t feel so good? Chlamydia. You know what else sucks? Paying child support. So why aren’t you bringing your own condoms to your dates?

Step one in treating women better in the bedroom: providing your own birth control.

Receiving But Not Giving
Oral sex is wonderful. But Guys, you have gotten incredibly greedy when it comes to oral sex. Expectations for oral sex are high, pressure to get oral sex is high. But the worst of your offenses: not returning the favor.

Oral sex is a lot of fun, but if you want to get you better be giving. Everyone knows you give to get. So Guys, stop being selfish in bed and start going down.

And hey, don’t just take my advice. Lesbians know what’s up here too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1wveGujCrI&feature=youtu.be

 

Prioritizing Their Orgasm
I could write something witty and quippy here, but this Babe.net video does a much better job than I ever could. And should be required viewing for all men before engaging in sexual activity with another person.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFwG4yXLBAs

Sorry You’re on Your Period, Can you Get Me Off Though? 
Periods suck. But Guys, I promise they suck more for women than they do for you. There are few things more selfish in bed than asking for your partner to get you off when they are feeling the opposite of sexual. So suck it up for a few days and take care of yourself.

 

So Guys, try to think of your sexual partner as just that, your partner. Stop being so focused on your orgasm and your pleasure, and start focusing on your partners. Stop making sex all about you. You’re going to get your orgasm, don’t worry. Start paying more attention to whether or not your sexual partner is actually enjoying themselves too. Otherwise it’s not sex, it’s just masturbating with a body.

The rumors are true, we women do talk to each other about everything. And you have a pretty bad reputation right now.

 

 

-Darci

Ways That Well Intending Men Creep Women Out

Hello Men. Today I am addressing you. It’s been an eye opening year, and I’m sure a lot of you feel unfairly called out. Perhaps you are feeling defensive in ways you never did before. Maybe you are learning about some behaviors and actions that you were never aware of in the past. Or maybe you fear that we women have gone crazy and it’s only a matter of time before you are being lumped in with the rest of these men.

And it’s not fair, you say! You have no intentions of causing harm or danger to women. You love women! So why are you considered a creep?

First of all, thank you. I know you are well intended, I know you want to learn but you just don’t know how. And I know you don’t mean to be part of the problem. Second of all, I hate to break it to you, but you were always a creep. None of our experiences, none of our criteria, none of our behaviors have changed in the last year. We just finally started talking about them.

But you are not alone! There are many Well Intended Men out there who have no idea how their actions and behavior is really coming across. They don’t realize women cross the street when they are coming near. They don’t realize their female coworkers avoid being alone with them. They don’t realize how they make their female friends feel. Plenty of Well Intended Men are just as lost and confused as you are, and are just as hurt to be seen as a creep.

So let’s go over some examples of common behaviors of Well Intended Men that are actually creeping us women out.

Not Giving Us Space
This is not metaphorical space. This is actual literal personal space. And let me tell you, men violate my personal space on a daily basis. When I am walking down the street, men will walk just a little to close to me. When I am at the store or bar, men will stand just a little too near. When men are walking toward me they never step aside or adjust their path to give me space, I am always expected to move around them. Men who are brushing past me and literally touching me. Men who force me to alter my course. Men who just seem oblivious that I am occupying this space already and they need to give me room.

And it’s not quite threatening behavior, but it’s certainly not behavior that makes me feel safe. There’s something that happens when a stranger enters your personal space that sends off singles to protect yourself, to be on the defense. And when a man I don’t know is invading my personal space, it creeps me out.

So Well Intending Men, step one: back off. Literally. Pay more attention to the personal space you are invading, regardless of your intentions, and just stop. Because regardless as to your intentions or unawareness, you are violating our personal space and it is creepy and unsettling.

Complimenting
“Wow, you are beautiful. Has someone told you that today?”
“Thank you so much, you have been so helpful. If my wife wasn’t here I would kiss you!”
“I wish more beautiful women like you talked to me”
“That dress is really flattering on you. You should dress like that more often”

All of these are things actual men have actually said to me. At work. These were not crazy men shouting at me on the street. These were clients and coworkers. And do you know what I didn’t feel when they made comments like this to me: flattered. Do you know what I did feel: creeped out.

And here is why. All of these compliments have a very uncomfortable and sexual undertone. They all imply a conversation that I have no interest in having. They all imply actions I have no interest in participating in. They have taken a normal and professional interaction and turned it sexual. These comments devalue me down to just a sexual being here for their pleasure.

So, Well Intending Men, how can you avoid this common mistake? Stop making your compliments towards women sexual! Just because you notice a woman is attractive does not mean you have to voice that. Acknowledge, affirm, and appriciate the actual work being done, but don’t make it sexual.

Understanding Work/Personal Life Boundaries
Sorry, but yes, there are more ways to creep out your coworkers than just inappropriate compliments. Every office has one: the guy you dread being left alone with in the break room. That guy who you always have awkward one-minute conversation with that seem to last an hour; that guy who hovers at the edge of the group during happy hour; that guy who doggedly asks his female coworkers out to lunch. It’s that guy who doesn’t understand that there are social boundaries at work that need to be respected. And he only seems to struggle with this understanding when it comes to his female coworkers. He very well may be loved by his male coworkers, they may all be baffled to learn that the women of the office avoid him.

So what is socially acceptable work place talk? For example, asking someone how their weekend was or what they have planned is totally acceptable. But pressing for details that are not volunteered, or inviting yourself along to plans is unacceptable. Discussing sporting events that you share a mutual interest in, or a movie or concert, totally fine. Perhaps even organizing or attending a work social event around those shared interests, totally fine. But trying to facilitate a one-on-one outside of work outs inspired by these shared interests crosses a line. Complimenting and acknowledging someones work performance is great, but commenting on their figure is not.

Look, yes, sometimes work place friendships and romances happen. It’s purely mathematical. But you should not expect this to happen. You should not treat your work environment like your social well. If things happen naturally that is one thing. But if you are forcing things, endlessly facilitating things, friend requesting your female coworkers or clients on social media, you are making these women uncomfortable.

And you need to stop. Start viewing the women you work with as coworkers and leave it at that. The world is full of dating apps for you to find people to make weekend plans with and watch sporting events with, leave the women you work with alone.

Making Everything About Sex
So we’ve talked about ways you may be creeping out strangers, we’ve talked about multiple ways you may be creeping out your coworkers and clients. Let’s talk about how you may be creeping out your female friends.

Well Intended Man, let me ask you. Do you often find yourself discussing sex in casual conversation? Responding to casual comments with sexual innuendos? Referencing your favorite porn around the campfire? Bringing attention to the fact that you know your friends are in a sexual relationship? If you said yes to any of this, let me ask you further: how did the women in these situations respond? Did they laugh and seem engaged? Banter back? Or did they get quiet, and maybe seem unamused and perhaps uncomfortable?

Or, Well Intended Man, how about this. What are your expectations of your single female friends? When you go to social gatherings do you expect these single female friends to flirt with you? Be open and available to sexual acts with you? Do you get upset if the night doesn’t result in sexual activity with this single female friend? Do you view the night as a waste because your single female friend didn’t engaged sexually with you? When you decide to reach out to your female friends, what is the motivator? How quickly does your casual-chit-chat-catch-up turn sexual on your part? If you said yes to any of this, let me ask you further: how did the women in these situations respond? Do they continue to invite you to things? Do they continue to engage in the conversation once it turns sexual? Or do these women fade out of your life?

For me, the hardest part of maintaining my friendships with my guy friends was that they all expected more than just friendship. Suddenly every conversation turned into something sexual, and I was uncomfortable. Every hang out there was a clear expectation of physical intimacy. And when I didn’t reciprocate they would get mad at me. Accuse me of wasting their time. When I invited them to social things I would get responses like, “well but is this all we are going to do, because if nothing else is going to happen this isn’t really worth my while tonight” making me feel like our friendship was only ever seen as a means to a sexual end.

And you know what, I stopped being friends with these people. I stopped reaching out for chit-chat-catch-up, and I stopped engaging when they reached out to me. I stopped inviting them to social gatherings because I didn’t like the pressure they put on me.

So, Well Intended Man, I ask you this: do you actually have female friendships? Or do you just seem women as a source to eventual sex? What are your expectations and motivations of having female friends?

 

Basically, Well Intended Man, how do you view the women in your life? Do you seem them as active members of this community, contributing and passionate? Or do you see the women around you as opportunities?

Again, I know you are well intended. I know you want to have good interactions with women, that you want the women around you to feel safe and comfortable. You just don’t realize that your everyday behavior is creepy. You don’t realize that your view and outlook on the purpose of a woman is not to please you sexually and revolve around you.

And I know you want to be better! So here is what I advice. Start giving more space to the women of the world. If you could easily or accidentally touch a woman who is not an intimate partner, you are standing too close. Give her more space. If you are brushing against strangers as you walk past, you are too close. Pay attention and respect the personal space of women. Stop making your compliments weirdly sexual. When a woman in a professional environment helps you, just say thank you and leave it at that. Stop treating the women you work with different than you treat the men. Stop viewing the women you work with as a social opportunity beyond professional. And stop making your friends uncomfortable with all your sexual talk. Just like sex acts, sex talk requires consent. If you don’t have the consent to talk sexually with someone, then don’t talk sexually. If you think it’s weird to establish that boundary officially, then you definitely shouldn’t be talking about sex.

Basically, stop seeing women as a means purely for sex and ego boosts, and start viewing them as people.

 

-Darci

What This Administration is Teaching Our Children

The last two years in politics have been an utter shit show. It’s hard to keep up with all the shit going on. The key players change weekly. The plot twists happen so fast if you blink you miss it. And we have all had to face the harsh reality that we are a nation run by racists and sexists.

But this isn’t just about surviving these four years and hoping that we still have elections and a right to vote and that we don’t end up in a nuclear war in the meantime. There are very clear, very dangerous lessons we are passing on to the next generation right now.

The youth of our nation are watching, and we are teaching them horrible truths.

What our boys have learned from this administration:
-There are no consequences.
You can treat a woman however you want. You can violate her body and the law and openly brag about it. You can blame alcohol. You can deny. You can coerce. If you want it you can have it. And nothing bad will happen to you. You won’t go to jail. You won’t lose your job. You can even rise to the highest power of our nation. So what’s stopping you from taking it?

-Women are not credible advocates for their own story.
Look at Dr. Ford. She has advanced degrees, a prestigious career, and has multiple sources supporting her credibility and honesty. She was calm, poised, eloquent, and professional. And yet she was maliciously questioned, attacked, and told all the ways she had misunderstood her circumstances. Meanwhile Brent Kavanaugh can scream and cry and behave like a bafoon and his testimony is considered the credible one.

-If you don’t like the truth, you can just call it fake.
The new mantra any man can use now when someone is telling a story they don’t like: Fake News. And that ends the conversation. A woman accuses you of rape? Fake News. There is undeniable evidence that you payed hush money? Fake News. There is testimony from multiple sources that support claims of sexual assault? Fake News. Man can determine truth and lies based on what is most convenient for them. The reality they want they get.

What our girls have learned from this administration:
-When men yell, they are passionate and full of conviction, when women yell they are unhinged and discredited.
We all know the narrative. If a woman expresses an emotion she must be on her period. And if she is on her period we are not to take her seriously. Because being on your period means you are irrational, and more importantly incorrect. This narrative is pushed in every platform. Find me one sitcom that doesn’t push this narrative and claim it to be humor.
And we women have learned that because of this ridiculous narrative that we must remain calm, quiet, and patient when we are fighting for what we believe.
During the last two years our girls have watched countless men yell and scream because they weren’t getting exactly what they wanted how they wanted when they wanted. While a woman calmly and patiently stood her ground and told the truth. From Hilary Clinton to Sally Yates to Dr. Ford, our girls have watched powerful and intelligent women stand their ground while men yelled and screamed at them.

-What happens to you in your teenage years doesn’t matter, because what teenage boys do doesn’t matter. Boys will be boys.
Just as boys have learned there are no consequences for their actions, girls have learned there is no protection to be found when they are violated. There is no protection, no justice, and their bodies are not their own. And more girls are learning to fear coming forward.

-His future is more important than your body.
We can’t punish him for raping you because think about his future? It doesn’t matter that he was caught in the middle of the act by two sober men who will testify exactly what they witnessed. It doesn’t matter that there are multiple women coming forward with the same story. It doesn’t matter. Because his future is more important, and we must protect his future, not your body.

 

We have to change the message we are sending to our children. This isn’t about republican vs democrat. This isn’t about political parties. It’s about teaching our children to be honest, respectful, and good. Otherwise our children’s fate will be worse than our own. #MeToo won’t matter, #TimesUp won’t matter, women won’t matter.

Our girls deserve better. Our boys deserve better.

The Mid-term elections are almost here. Go vote on November 6th. And maybe we can tell a new story.

 

-Darci

 

GUEST WRITER: What Do I Tell My Female Students?

It’s been a year since #MeToo swept the nation. So this month I decided to open up my platform to allow some other amazing women in my life to share their anger as well. Want to be a guest writer for Angry Feminist as well? Let’s talk! – Darci 

“Ms. K—what does it mean now? Will Kavanaugh definitely be confirmed?” It was the end of Friday’s lunch period, just moments before class was set to begin. The sophomore girl looked at me, eyes wide, asking not just for answers, but for hope. She shared with me that her mother had cried in the car today while they were listening to the confirmation hearing on the radio. I felt like crying myself as I watched her face fall as I explained that, given this morning’s vote to continue the confirmation process, it seemed likely that Judge Kavanaugh would be confirmed. When I finished my answer, she stared at me as if the response had been in a foreign language. Her voice held a similar tone of shock and confusion: “But… really? After all of this? Why didn’t anyone care about Dr. Ford?”

Usually, teaching at an all-girls, college-preparatory school is inspiring. Usually I am in awe every time one of my students tells me about a game she coded, or about the social justice conference she went to, or about the non-profit she started. There is so much I should be hopeful for—so much promise this current generation of youth holds. Most days I swell with pride and the knowledge that these women are so talented and ready to take on the world and make a difference.

But somedays the world wins. Somedays I have to watch the confusion and pain in their eyes when they realize that the world might be more broken than they thought, that they might not be listened to or believed. The confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh caused days like that, as did the election of Donald Trump.

I remember the day after the election. The excitement had been palpable in the school the day before—the girls had been ready to celebrate America’s first female president. They were ready to hear that society had rejected the person who bragged about grabbing women—“they let you do it… you can do anything”—and instead took a brave and long overdue step toward equality. The shock and disappointment filled all the classes the next day. I remember the same confused faces, the hurt and the anger as well.

Sometimes, I see these brave, passionate, intelligent women shocked to the core that the world we’ve built for them is still so unequal—still so full of sexism, rape culture, and oppression. On those days, I feel so sad and so angry.

This isn’t the kind of world I want to send these young women into. I’m not proud of this world. So, I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to tell them, “We’ve come so far, but it’s not far enough, and some people want us to go back, to surrender our rights. We can’t do that.” I’m going to tell them, “We’re not going to forget, and we’re not going to stop.” I’m going to tell them, “This isn’t the world it could be, but we’re going to keep fighting—together—so that it can be.”

 

-Lauren