Pixar Gets Feminist

I love Pixar. It’s a well known fact about me amongst my friends. Pixar has always been innovated and unique in their story telling, and their new venture is no exception. SparkShorts is their new platform of short films, which the company’s website explains is a new program designed to feature “new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” adding that the shorts will be “unlike anything ever done” at Pixar. This is a platform for new artists to create freely. And it’s fabulous.

SparkShorts first short Purl is all about women in the workplace, and it’s one to pay attention to. It’s clear from this first short that they are looking to discuss a more serious subject matter than usual. I love Pixar shorts, and even find some of the more recent ones quite profound (La Luna and Piper were particularly moving). But SparkShorts is going deeper, digging into the issues facing society today.

In the short, a ball of yarn named Purl tries to get – and keep – a job at a new workplace, but has trouble fitting in because she is literally and metaphorically “soft,” represented by a ball of knitting yarn placed next to human men.

Check out the short here!

The short opens with Purl, the most qualified resume of candidates, landing an entry level job at a prestigious company. Purl has enthusiasm and hope as she decorates her desk in “soft” things, like knitted patterns, and attempts to join in on some water cooler chit chat. Then Purl tries to navigate a meeting by joining in on the conversation and being a team player, but her colleagues insist on an “aggressive” approach to “win”.

So despite being smart and capable, Purl feels out of place and ostracized because she is different from her male dominated work place. So her solution? Conform to the work environment and masculine expectations, literally re-sewing her “clothes” into a suit. There are plenty of metaphors here, but the most obvious one: to thrive at a company, Purl has to lose any semblance of her femininity.

But everything changes when Lacey, another female, joins the team. At this point, the pair seem to recognize that their femininity and unique qualities are actually an asset to the workplace, and they shouldn’t have to conform to succeed.

Kristen Lester, the director, said that the inspiration came from Lester’s experience being in the field of animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then i cam to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

Purl is very relatable for many women in the work force. In a world where masculine qualities are preferred for leadership, but only when they come from men, women are left behind constantly in the work place. As women continue to point out the atrocities in how we are treated, shorts like Purl help communicate our circumstances.

What I love most about this short is the ending.  That by women supporting each other, by women embracing their strengths, by giving women more opportunities in the work place, the experience improves for everyone.

Pixar is set to release two more SparkShorts this month, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next.

 

-Darci

Toxic Masculinity: Should Men Be Better? 

Gillette made an ad suggesting that men could be better. And then the internet exploded.

I watched the ad before diving into articles and comments and opinion pieces. You can watch it here if you haven’t seen it already.

The ad illustrates “Toxic Masculinity” through examples of young boys being bullied, sexual harassment, catcalling, a man speaking over a woman in a meeting, and the “boys will be boys” line. The second half of the ad then goes on to call men to be better, with Terry Crews suggesting, “men to hold other men accountable”. And then the men in the ad go on to break up fights, stop their friends from making women uncomfortable, all while being seemingly pleasant men. The ad implies that men should be behaving better and redefining masculinity, because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.

And oh boy, were some men angry about this ad.

It’s not surprising that this caused controversy. Despite the fact that women have been pointing to the problem of toxic masculinity long before #MeToo, I’m not surprised that in 2019 the majority of people still want to deny that there is a problem, let alone that they might be part of the problem. Self reflection is hard, conflict is hard, and change is even harder. Sure enough there were lots of “Not all men!” cries when this ad came out, lots of comments about how it’s too generalized, or that this doesn’t apply to me specifically so it’s not relevant.

So let’s break it down shall we?

What is Toxic Masculinity?  
Toxic Masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of ideas about the male gender role. Defining masculinity with exaggerated characteristics of violence, sex, status, and aggression. Toxic Masculinity is a result of cultural masculinity taking control; where strength is everything and emotions are weakness, “feminine traits” – which can range from emotional vulnerability to sexuality – can take your “man” status away, when sexual conquests are how a man establishes and reaffirms his manhood.

Here are some defining beliefs of toxic masculinity:
-Interactions between men and women must be competitive, not cooperative.
-Men can never truly understand women, and men and women cannot be just friends.
-That REAL men need to be strong and showing emotions is a sign of weakness, unless the emotion is anger.
-That men can never be victims of abuse, and talking about it is shameful.
-That REAL men always want sex and are ready for it at any time.
-That REAL men solve their problems with violence.
-The idea that any interest in things that are considered “feminine” would be emasculating for a guy.

First of all, not all men have Toxic Masculinity. No one is or has ever suggested that. However, pretty much everyone is impacted by Toxic Masculinity. Men and women alike.

A lot of socializing went into the development of Toxic Masculinity. Men don’t start out toxic, and not all men become toxic. Are these men just a product of their environment? Perhaps. But this socializing has lead to a drastic problem that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t really matter which came first, the toxic man or the toxic environment, because the problem exists in both people and environment and needs to be addressed overall. Maybe you aren’t aware of your behavior, maybe you are just doing what you were taught, but either way there is a Toxic Masculinity problem that is affecting women AND men in a very negative way.

In my mind, I would almost think that defining Toxic Masculinity and pointing out the characteristics and how it hurts MEN would be a relief for men. It’s a growing understanding that societal pressures are just as high and damaging to men as they are to women. Suicide rates are high in men, and that is not a coincidence. Basically what we are saying is Hey, #MeToo wasn’t just about women, this behavior negatively affects you too. Bullying, boys will be boys, swallow your emotions, treating women like objects, that isn’t good for men either. Toxic Masculinity isn’t a woman’s problem, it isn’t a man’s problem, it’s a human problem.

Acknowledging that there is a problem, that men need to be better, is not admission of guilty behavior. Being part of the solution doesn’t mean you need to be a drastic part of the problem. But being complacent in this issue is contributing to the problem. Standing by and watching a problem persist and doing nothing because it doesn’t directly affect you is contributing to the problem.

It’s time for all of us to reflect on how we can be part of the solution. Bullying does not need to be a normal part of society, sexual harassment does not need to be a socially acceptable thing. We could all make little changes that would completely shift the dynamic. And the biggest thing we can all do is lead by example. We need to be allies for each other now.

So what can you do to be part of the solution?

 

-Darci

4 Healthy Habits for the New Year: Feminist Edition

You know the saying: New Year New You! Your social media is probably flooded with New Years resolution articles and goal making ideas and new ways to do this and that and more! And I thought I should add my voice to the noise. But of course over here, it’s not just about dieting or financial planning or hitting your gains goals, it’s about empowering women. So here are four new habits to consider for the new year to make your life more positive AND more feminist!

Tidy Up Together
Have you watched Tidy Up on Netflix yet? Or maybe you read Marie Kondo’s book when it came out a few years ago. I’m obsessed with her. As a Type A over thinker with anxiety, she is like candy to me. I’ve watched each episode and teared up each time. What stands out to me most is how the dynamics of the relationships evolve through each episode. I’ve talked about emotional labor before and how it is drastically imbalanced in relationships. And what I love about this show is how it helps each family discover that together. By tidying up together each family member discovers they can be doing more to create a healthy dynamic. For the women of the household, they realize what a disservice they do for their families by trying to do everything for everyone. And for the men and children, they realize how stepping up and taking responsibility in their home completely transforms your environment. I love cleaning and organizing, it’s my happy place. And I love seeing her tips and tricks at work in real homes. But what I am loving most is how Marie Kondo helps each home so graciously come together. Don’t just purge your wardrobe and make a quick run to Goodwill, find ways to tidy up the emotional labor balance at home.

Stop Saying Sorry So Often
Many women apologize profusely. Society has conditioned women to remain small, quiet, and unobtrusive. And so we apologize when we ask for what we want, we apologize when we stand up for ourselves, and we apologize for what other people do. And we need to stop. Just because society wants us to be small, quiet, and unobtrusive doesn’t mean we should be. Start noting when you are apologizing for things that are beyond your control or not your fault or not actually bothersome and find new ways to respond that don’t involve apologizing. Things like, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention” or “unfortunately I will not be able to attend” or “If I may say…” are all polite ways of communicating without implying that you’ve done anything wrong.

Affirm Things Other Than Beauty
My cousin had her son just over a year ago. And he is the most adorable child I have ever met. He has a belly laugh that will make your heart skip a beat, a smile that will make you melt, and a personality that will have you swooning. It’s hard not to gush over him. But it’s very important to my cousin that she affirms things other than his looks. Every time she catches herself or others (like me) calling him cute or handsome or adorable she starts affirming him in other ways immediately. You are smart, you are kind, you are brave, you are thoughtful. And it’s so powerful. We should all be doing this, because wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your other attributes acknowledged and affirmed? I don’t think there is anything wrong with complimenting an outfit, or hair style, or what not. But it’s so easy to compliment a physical appearance. It’s time to go deeper and affirm each other’s character.

Stop Being So Polite
When you really stop to take stock of it all, women really have been socialized to be societies doormats. And quite frankly it’s not doing society any good. I know I struggle with saying No to people all the time, and I know plenty of other women who feel the same. I have several friends who struggle to turn men down for a date, and I’m constantly asking why (I know why)? You didn’t like him, you aren’t attracted to him, and he annoys you. So why do you feel obligated to continue seeing him? Just say No! But here’s the real quicker, my friend finally does say No and the guy loses his shit. Abusive text messages and bullying, until I finally convince my friend to stop responding and block the guy already, so he goes and finds her on Instagram and continues the charade. All because after one silly coffee date he can’t handle being told No. Society has conditioned girls to be nice to boys, but we never conditioned boys to be nice to girls. So we grow up into women who fear hurting strangers feelings, and men who feel entitled to everyone and everything they come in contact with. So it’s time to break the cycle. It will be ugly at first. But after a while maybe men will realize that it doesn’t kill them to be told No and life really does go on.

Resolutions can be very self involved. In fact they are mostly meant to be self involved. And self involvement can be good, until it turns into self absorption. So while you focus on New Year New You, maybe fine one way to be better to the people you interact with each day. Don’t just put effort into yourself, put effort into your community.

-Darci

Why Can’t I Say No?

I can’t say no to things. I’ve always been that way. There are lots of things I want to do. I want to go to all of my friends social events, I want to host my own, I want to help with projects, I want to take on more responsibility at work, I want to help my coworkers succeed, I want to travel near and far, I want to see movies and plays and read books and take a class. But most importantly, I just want to be there for everyone.

I used to think people that struggled with going out and doing things were introverts, and since I am an extrovert I will never struggle with keeping up with everything. I would be fueled by it. But about two years ago I started feeling, to put it simply, tired. I had been seeing my partner for several months at this point, and I was trying to see him as often as I could and go have as much fun with him as possible. I was also trying to keep up with my single girl social life and give everything I was giving before to my girl friends. I started a new job that was much more fast paced than anything I had experienced before and had a steep learning curve. I was burning out and I didn’t even realize it.

It was a weekend in Vegas that did me in. Two nights in Vegas doing the Vegas thing, and a few days later I am sitting on my partners bed crying. And I have no idea why I am crying. I just know that I am crying and I don’t know how to stop it. My partner very tenderly looked me in the eye and said, very simply, “You’re tired”. And it all just clicked.

I was trying to do everything and be everything for every one. Turns out I can do that for six months before a mental breakdown. And I have spent the last two years trying to figure out how to say no to things more often. I plan nothing weekends. Literally plan. It goes on the calendar. No plans are allowed this weekend. And I do my best to not even leave my home the whole weekend. I try to keep at least one evening during the week where I come home and do nothing. No gym, no social events, no counseling. Just come home. I do my best to keep these nothing plans, but to be honest, more often than not, I cave and say yes to something.

It’s been a hard balance to strike. One that I am still working hard to figure out. I feel very fortunate to have a very supportive partner and very supportive friends. When I start to double book myself, my partner will remind me that is our nothing evening, and encourage me to honor that plan. Others in my life haven’t been as gracious in supporting my need to say no from time to time, making that balance harder to find. I realized I tend to give soft No’s, rather than hard No’s. And there are definitely people in my life who challenge my soft No’s, and once challenged I usually end up saying an unenthusiastic yes.

For such a tiny word, No looms larger in our consciousness. We don’t like saying it, we don’t like hearing it. But it is such an important boundary we must learn to wield.

So why don’t we say no? 

We have plenty of reasons not to say No. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, we don’t like confrontation, we want to be polite and helpful, we actually want to be able to say yes. And so we say yes, and almost instantly we regret it.

So why do we keep saying Yes when we really want to say No?

-You follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others. You give and give and give, and agree to everything, because if the situation were reversed you would want them to do the same.

-You’re a person of your word. You said yes, so you’re going to do it. You’d rather put yourself out than be flaky.

-You’re a caregiver-type. People always come to you with their fires, and you want to take care of them.

-You fear the conflict it will create. You don’t want to upset the people you care about, you don’t want to face a guilt trip, you don’t want to deal with an argument.

-You fear that you will lose that person if you say No. You don’t want to face their wrath or abandonment.

Do any of these sound familiar? Do all of these sound familiar? 

When we are in a vulnerable position, put on the spot, face to face with someone else, we often fail to be straightforward about our personal boundaries. We jump into fix-it mode, we do everything we can to appease the person and smooth things over. We often don’t set boundaries and let people do things that are not okay and then we become resentful. We associate boundaries with being rude or pushy. But being compassionate doesn’t mean being a pushover or a doormat for other people.

It boils down to setting a personal policy, implementing it, and communicating it to others. Setting boundaries that uphold your values and allow you to practice self-care is a self-compassionate act. The alternative is resentment and unstable relationships. When we have poor boundaries we overextend ourselves and allow people to keep taking from us with no respect for our own well being. Poor boundaries teaches others to disrespect you. Love and respect begin with self-love and self-respect.

A big lesson I have learned is that if telling someone No creates conflict, that is not my problem but theirs. If setting a simple and reasonable boundary leads to tension and escalation, I have found all the more reason to say No. I’m realizing I have spent most of my life feeling like I couldn’t say No without conflict, and how harmful that has been to my well being for decades now.

But more so than that, I have learned that the people who value and respect me, encourage my No. If I need to change plans or say No altogether, I am met with kindness and understanding. And the more intentional I am about my relationships, the more fulfilling they are. When I focus on people who treat me the way I want to be treated, I find I am less drained and that there is a lot less conflict in my life.

My theme for 2019 is Love Better. And part of that is going to be saying No more often.

 

-Darci

When Intentions Hurt

Imagine for a moment that you are going to a coffee shop with a friend to grab a lovely caffeinated beverage to indulge in for the day. You don’t know me, but as you are walking in, I am walking out, and I end up spilling my beverage all over you.

Understandably, you are a bit shocked, and a bit upset.

As you stand there with your now wet, and most likely stained shirt, you use a few choice words to communicate your emotions. Perhaps something like an emotionally charged, “Excuse me?!

And my response? “Oh! I didn’t mean to bump into you! That was never my intent! I was just trying to leave the coffee shop!

You are still upset, you demand an apology. But I refuse. After all, it was not my intent to spill my drink on you. In fact, my day is now just as ruined as yours because now I have to either repurchase my $5 drink or go without. This is just as bad for me.

Sound a bit absurd? Of course it does. We all may understand that a clumsy mistake like this would of course be faced with embarrassment, shock, remorse, and apologies. And yet, there are so many scenarios where the response should be just as clear, and yet are just as absurd.

Intent vs Impact
From Paula Dean to Alec Baldwin to your annoying, bigoted coworker, we hear it over and over again: “I never meant any harm”, “It was never my intent”, “I am not a racist”, “I am not a homophone”, “I am not a sexist”.

People often attempt to deflect criticism about their language or actions by keeping the conversation focused on their intent. As long as the conversation is focused on their intent, they don’t have to face the reality of the impact.

But at the end of the day, what does the intent really matter if the impact only leads to hurting those around us?

If I say something that hurts my partner, it doesn’t matter whether I intended the statement to mean something else – because my partner is hurting.

If I make a joke in a meeting that offends my coworker, it doesn’t matter that my intent was meant as just a joke – because my coworker is offended.

If I am flirting with someone and they start to feel uncomfortable with my advances, it doesn’t matter that I was only intending to communicate interest – because I have made them feel unsafe.

I need to listen to how my language affects people. And I need to apologize when my intent doesn’t have the desired impact. Then I need to reflect and empathize to the best of my ability so that I don’t do that again.

It sounds simple, but our identities are so intertwined with our intent, and in turn so are our privileges and experiences. So when we start interacting with people who are different from us – gender, skin color, economic status, religious backgrounds – our negative impacts start to have an emotional charge to them.

Suddenly we aren’t just apologizing for our impact, but for our backgrounds and our identities. Sometimes when we are well intended but our impact has such a large disparity, we feel like our entire worldview is being challenged.

Think about the #MeToo Movement and how every woman has a story about being sexually harassed. There were two fairly common responses from men when they realized the full scope of the problem.

One: shock, horror, and remorse. They realized that this is actually a major problem, that women’s lives are impacted daily, and that they may even be contributing to it more than they realized. They reflected, asked questions, and changed their actions. They realized questions they thought were harmless were making women uncomfortable, that jokes they thought were hilarious were actually offensive, that there were small simple changes they could make with their intentions to completely change their impact on the women around them.

Two: dismiss and downplay. They aren’t doing anything wrong, women are just too sensitive and need to lighten up. It doesn’t matter how many women are saying it or how many ways we are saying it, some men are just going to refuse to acknowledge the impact, because they believe their intentions excuse that.

Privilege and Intent
This is why listening is so important. We all come from different backgrounds and have a different mess of life experiences influencing our intentions. And often time, the privilege of our circumstance can shield us from understanding the impact of our actions.

For example, I am white. As much as I may try, I will never fully understand the oppression that goes into being anything other than a white person. I will inevitably use language that is oppressive or dismissive or shows clear lack of understanding, even with the best of intentions. Because my background isn’t paved with the same abuse and oppression that a non-white person faces every day.

And while my intentions to be sensitive, inclusive, progressive, and kind may help me sleep at night, there will come a day when I inevitably say something that does not reflect those intentions. And when that moment comes, the impact will overshadow my intentions.

What we need to understand is that focusing conflicts on our intentions is inherently a privileged action.

Why? Because that ensures that your identity (and intent) stay at the center of the conversation, that your identity is dominant. Meanwhile the impact of your actions is dismissed. It changes the conversation from being about what you did, to making it about who you are.

Just because you did something sexist doesn’t mean that you are sexist. Just because you said something racist doesn’t mean that you are a racist.

When your actions, your impact, is called into question, it’s important to understand that that’s all that is being called into question – your actions, not your overall character. If the impact of your intentions is furthering oppression, then that is all that matters.

So Now What? 
Intention is not the same as impact. You don’t get a free pass on hurting people just because it wasn’t your intention to do harm. So we need to listen, reflect, apologize, and work to do better in the future.

What does that look like, you may be asking? Well, let’s start with an actual apology.

I think we can all agree that when someone “apologies” with something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I never intended to spill coffee on you” we feel less than satisfied. In fact, I would argue that apologies like that do nothing but escalate a conflict.

Whether it’s Paula Deen weeping on TV, Alec Baldwin asking us to simply trust that he’s not a homophone, or your coworker telling you to lighten up because he was just joking, those are not apologies.

When we are told the impact of our actions, inactions, words were hurtful, we start by apologizing without any caveats. Apologize earnestly, and take responsibility for your impact.

From there we can do our best to move forward by acting more accountably.

-Darci

A Year of Anger

It’s been one whole year of Angry Feminist. To those who have followed along since the start, thank you. To those who are just discovering me, welcome. And to all, I hope this has been as helpful to you as it has been to me.

I’ve been a feminist for a very long time. Before I even knew what a feminist was, I was a feminist. But these last few years, I’ve been an angry feminist. I think it was Brock Turner that really pushed me over the edge. Then Trump. And then #MeToo. By the end of 2017 I was raging. And I needed an outlet. My partner encouraged me to start a blog. And here we are one year later.

This blog has been a wonderful outlet for me, a form of therapy. I’ve been able to sort out my thoughts. I’ve been able to find my voice. I’ve even been able to share my platform. It’s become a place that I look forward to coming to each week. And I hope you do too.

I’ve learned a lot over this last year while writing this blog. I’ve learned that a lot of people actually like what I have to say. I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t like what I have to say. I’ve learned that a lot of women are just as full of anger as I am. I’ve learned that the more personal I get with my blog the more people read it. That one is particularly hard for me. I would much rather write about statistics and cite sources and make my cases than share my personal stories. But the problems facing us women everyday aren’t just a statistic, they are personal. So if I want to get peoples attention, if I want people to really listen, I have to get personal.

When I started this blog in January, my goal was to write once a week for one year. I was a little anxious about it. Would people read it? Would people care? Would I be able to come up with something to write each week? What would my family think? How much time would this actually end up taking?

But here we are, the last Wednesday of the year. And I managed to write something every week. I have more readers now than I started with. I’ve connected with some women in my life that I don’t think I would have engaged with otherwise. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with some very thoughtful men. I only had one commenter try and bully me all year long.

All in all, it’s been a good experience for me. As I hope it has been for you. And I am excited to say I plan on sticking with it for at least one more year. I hope you do too.

For next year, I hope to find more personal stories to share in explaining my anger. I hope to find more women to share my platform with. I hope to connect with more people through this shared discomfort in our society.

For this year, I leave you with this: thank you for following along. And for those interested in revisiting, this post was by far my most popular.

Enjoy! And I’ll have more for you next year!

-Darci

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