It’s also an important reminder that Veronica Mars could only be a female character. It’s not a show that would work if the main character was simply reassigned to a differently-gendered actor. Veronica thrives on that underdog status. She needs people to consistently look down upon her, in the most obvious literal sense as well as the conventional metaphorical sense, in order to be so effective. – TV’s Great Women
awesome, feminism, girls, history, science, the world, women
Step 1: Comment on a woman’s attractiveness on every single occasion in every single venue no matter how irrelevant it is. Build up a dating culture entirely dependent on a female’s beauty. Teach children that only attractive women will ever get anywhere in life, will ever be praised, will ever find love and have a family, will ever have a chance at happiness, are worth knowing, are worth being.
Step 2: Mock women for caring about how they look. Call them shallow.
Because I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately, and I decided I should probably channel that thought into something.
It’s interesting that this post came across my dash today because I just rewatched The Search For Spock and I was actually going to make a post about how it portrays female characters compared to Reboot.
The Search For Spock (made in 1984, written by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Leonard Nimoy) does not pass the Bechdel Test. It is most definitely a movie about dudes, but (imo) what makes it so strikingly different from the Reboot franchise, is that while there are only a few female characters, they are not sexualized or objectified in any way. There are only two female characters of note – Uhura and Saavik – and both of them are Starfleet officers who wear uniforms identical to the male officers and both remain fully dressed at all times. (There is one female Klingon with a few minutes of screentime who wears a dress that shows quite a bit of cleavage, but the majority of her shots are framed from the neck up, so it doesn’t come across as a gratuitous male gaze thing. There is also a female Vulcan healer at the end who wears robes nearly identical to the male Vulcans, as well as a handful of female Starfleet officers here and there wearing the same uniform as the men.)
There’s a scene with McCoy in one of those shady intergalactic bars popular in space movies, which feels like the perfect opportunity for a bunch of half naked exotic lady aliens with five breasts or whatever, but there is no noticeable difference in how the female background characters are dressed compared to the male characters. The waitress is dressed in a spandex outfit, but like the Klingon in the beginning, her speaking shot is framed from the neck up, and McCoy does not flirt with her or make any comments about her appearance.
So while this film does not pass the Bechdel Test, it doesn’t give me any skeevy feelings wrt the portrayal of female characters. The film is about the lengths that Kirk (and secondarily, the rest of the Enterprise crew) will go to in order to save Spock, and that’s the focus of nearly every scene. For all his reputation as a ladies man or a playboy, Kirk does not flirt with any women or make any sexualized comments about women in the entire film. In fact, I don’t think there is a single gendered or sexualized comment made by anyone, and the only relationship that gets any significant attention is the one between Kirk and Spock.
The Search For Spock does not achieve the equal gender representation that Gene Roddenberry talked about, but the women who are in the film serve roles equal to the men and are not depicted as objects of desire. Uhura is awesome in this film and I desperately wish she had more scenes, but her supporting role is equal to that of Sulu, Scotty, and Chekhov. She gets her moment to be the hero, and it’s not sexualized in any way. Saavik intervenes when the shell-of-Spock is going through pon farr, but it’s not remotely sexual, which is actually pretty amazing when you consider what pon farr is all about. She remains fully dressed, and the scene is one of grim determination rather than sexytimes. I’m pretty sure JJ Abrams’ version of fuck-or-die would not be two fully clothed people awkwardly touching fingers while keeping as much distance as Vulcanly possible between their bodies.
So yeah, needs more ladies, but the ladies who are in this film are not sexualized and serve similar purposes to the male supporting characters. The women are not depicted as objects of desire to either the male characters or the audience, and the only character who gets (sort of) fridged is a man. This is such a perfect example of why JJ Abrams is an idiot for throwing in gratuitous scantily clad ladies in order to appeal to the “rather large male fanbase": The Search For Spock did not objectify women, and yet somehow the Star Trek franchise continued on for seven more films and four television series before the Reboot. Imagine that. It’s possible to make a film about all those dicks on the Enterprise without being a giant dick yourself.
Reblogging again for bina’s very accurate commentary, which I think goes well with the article I’ve reblogged just before this re: Pacific Rim and the Bechdel Tesh, and how the BT works really well as a REALLY BASIC test. Like, it is the lowest level of female representation/interaction that you want to be happening, but it is not always an accurate representation of how feminist a film(/tv show) is in its treatment/portrayal of women. Like, I could make a clear argument that Star Trek (even in The Search For Spock where arguably women are still under-represented) is more feminist than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m not going to because this is cutting into my knitting time and also, I am not good at laying my ideas/arguments out clearly. We’re working on that in S&L therapy, yay, so maybe that post will happen soon.
What bothers me more is the critical attitude that reads a film like Dark Knight Rises as nuanced or complex due to its moral ambiguity… rather than, you know, a film that contradicts itself on literally every conceivable thematic level, to the point where the film is a giant grimdark mess of growling and posturing, sound and fury saying nothing. The flip side of that, of course, is that a film like Pacific Rim is treated as somehow naive or insignificant because it dares, gasp!, to have not just a unified message, but a quite positive, affirmative message, spoken not in the language of Lifetime movies or this year’s crop of Oscar-bait, but in the language of Metal, the language of force and bombast and people in giant fucking robots punching Godzilla in the face.
Sam Keeper on Pacific Rim (x)
Click that link and give it a read. Super interesting dissection of the visual language of the story and how some modes of film criticism often disregard visual symbolism. I am definitely not the only person to write lengthy blogs about this film. Enjoy.
that’s how to cope
Eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano
my favorite thing today
Because I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately, and I decided I should probably channel that thought into something.
Distressing, true, and you totally want to click that link ^
all right guys here it is THE BIG GAY ANIMAL SEX POST
or in other words, “Why Nonhuman Homosexual and Asexual Behavior has both Survival and Reproductive Benefits" aka that lit review i’d like to write if i could ever be arsed to get around to it
yes reproductive benefits you heard correctly we’re gonna get there but first we better do a basic rundown of what I mean by homosexual/asexual behaviors
IRREVERENT DISCUSSION OF ANIMAL SEX BEHIND CUT YOU’VE BEEN WARNED
I feel like I need to print this out and tape it to the lamp next to my bed so I see it every goddamn day.
yeah, I need this in poster form
It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.
For the first time ever, this year’s Women Who Kick Ass panel at ComicCon was held in the convention’s largest venue, Hall H. Entertainment Weekly covers the panel here and it sounds incredible. A full transcript of the panel is here.
Unfortunately, the audience’s response to this panel was sexist and predictable.
A panel called “Women Who Kick Ass” follows Hunger Games. It’s in its fourth iteration, and the fact that it’s in Hall H on Saturday is a surprise. On the surface, it makes sense for this to follow Hunger Games, and it’s also likely the Con intended it to be something that would allow for the room to clear out a bit while shuffling in more people from the line that still snakes off across the street outside. But, all the same, there’s something gutsy about placing a frank discussion of Hollywood sexism, feminism, and the limited opportunities for women in the entertainment industry right before 20th Century Fox and Marvel come out to present superhero-heavy slates.
And “Women Who Kick Ass" is the most fascinating and enriching panel I attend at Comic-Con. In particular, its discussion of how sexism still rules far too often in Hollywood is terrific, with panelist Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica fame) discussing a time an unnamed male actor pulled her arms out of their sockets while filming a fight sequence, in what she believes was recourse for her questioning him earlier in the shoot; and fellow panelist Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black discussing how a male crew member inappropriately hit on her when she was just 18 and bound to a bed for a shot. The moderator is good, in that she knows to get out of the way when the women on the panel — particularly Michelle Rodriguez — cut loose, and the content is engaging throughout.
For the most part, the dudes I’m sitting near either pay respectful attention or check Twitter, though there are some jokes from an older guy in front of me about how stupid he finds all of this. Then Rodriguez uses the phrase “destructive male culture” — as part of a larger answer about how women need to take more agency in telling their own stories — and something in the crowd flips. A certain subset of the audience begins to get more and more vocal, and when the panel runs slightly over, as all panels have done during the day, the vocalizations begin to get easier to hear, even to someone sitting clear across a giant room in a place that tends to eat sound from specific individuals in the audience; one really has to make a ruckus to be heard.
The final question — from a young woman about what aspects the perfect kick-ass woman would have — turns into a digression about the many roles that women play in real life and the few that they are asked to play onscreen. It’s all fascinating stuff, with Sackhoff talking about wanting to see someone as kind and strong as her mother onscreen, and Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira talking about the effectiveness of female political protestors in her native Zimbabwe, the sort of story that would almost never appear in a Hollywood film — but the longer it goes on, the more restless the crowd gets. When Rodriguez grabs the microphone again to follow up on a point made by another panelist, for the first time, the audience ripples with something close to jeering anger. When the panel finally ends and the five women on it proceed off to the side for photographs, something done at the end of most Hall H panels, someone shouts something from the audience, to a mixture of supportive laughs and horrified gasps, and the women quickly leave the stage. (I was not sitting close enough to hear what was said, but I confirmed with several people sitting in the immediate vicinity that it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!” after the loudspeaker asked attendees to voice their appreciation for the participants in the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel.)
It’s an ugly moment, an unfortunate capper to a great session, to be followed by many of the guys sitting around me offering up tired lines like “I hope they feel empowered now!” and several recitations of the Twilight mantra about ruining the Con. To be sure, most people in the room were respectful. But at a certain point, there needs to be an accounting for the fact that there is an ugliness that burbles beneath the surface of too many Comic-Con events, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. That’s not a task for the Con itself. It’s a task for nerd culture, and one that will require an earnest attempt to understand why this sort of ugliness rises up so often around women, lest all the nerd culture stereotypes prove unfortunately true.
I was in Hall H for this panel and did not get the same audience vibe that the OP did. There was some definite indifference in our area (even from us) but not outright rudeness. I do think the panel subject or perhaps the panelists weren’t right for that room (would have done much better in Ballroom 20). The panel may have been more successful with the audience if it had included women who were being featured that day or in the genre of the day (Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johannson, etc) and I know that would have been difficult with the “secrecy" of who was still to come. I think the ladies did a great job (moderator may have also contributed some to the tone of the panel) but they were in a room where the audience was there for Fox and Marvel and not for a group of highly successful TV actors (primarily).
Regarding the panelists and their experience: Michelle Rodriguez is a star in one of the world’s largest film franchises and Maggie Q is an international superstar who is so famous, when you go to Nikita panels at SDCC 90% of the audience Q&A is people asking her questions about her film career. Both Katee Sackhoff and Danai Gurira were on other Hall H panels that weekend for their big franchises (Sackhoff’s new movie and Gurira’s show, the most watched cable show ever), and Tatiana Maslany’s breakout show was the belle of the convention.
I do think that any panel featuring a broad range of women performers— particularly one as diverse as this one—would necessitate the inclusion of TV actors (in this case, 2 out of 5) simply because the film industry does not provide many genre roles for women, particularly women of color. In any case, during the same weekend there was a panel of actors, all men, and all TV show stars only, in the same venue.
But I want to address this primarily because I’ve seen some other reblogs of this post saying the same thing.
I think this is super cool. But i feel like theyre at the wrong place. Most men who go to comic con arent exactly female friendly people really. Odd seeing as most the women who go are open minded thinkers. (source)
I was here and honestly, a lot of people around me were napping including myself. I tried to pay attention as long as I could but going over 2 days without sleep, it hit me and plenty of others. It sucks that they got a negative reaction but the room that they were put in was too big and not the right audience. (source)
It’s this whole “This is awesome but not right for that room" mentality. It’s probably an unconscious reflex because when something as disturbing as what happened to these panelists happens, we try and rationalize what happened, and all too often we follow our instincts in a society where we are conditioned to blame women for the sexist crap that happens to them.
In this case, it’s the idea that the women were in the wrong place, and while it’s too bad that did happen to them, if they had been in a different room and not the biggest, most important, main headlining showroom at San Diego ComicCon this wouldn’t have happened.
This response is likely instinctual, but it still (intentionally or unintentionally) communicates these troubling and sexist messages:
- A panel about women isn’t meant to be in Hall H….even though a similar panel of guy actors was held in Hall H that weekend, too.
- ComicCon and the panel organizers erred by placing the women in this room. They should have understood that ComicCon attendees are not there for women (but for male-dominated franchises such as WB’s DC Comics or Disney’s Marvel Studios.)
- Men who are interested in the Hall H programming are the “wrong audience" for a panel of all women. We can’t expect men to be interested in women’s issues, by jove!
- When you put a panel of experienced and talented women performers in front of the wrong audience, some men won’t be able to help themselves and will say rude things, so the best thing to do is for an all-women panel is to not show up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad they didn’t know to not appear in the most important venue at the convention.
It’s a form of victim-blaming. It places the responsibility on the women who were on the panel, the women who organized the panel, and ComicCon programming to find a less important space—rather than on the minority (but still significant enough to be harmful) of men in Hall H and their choices to be openly rude, disrespectful, and misogynistic.
Nobody forced is forced to attend Hall H programming. If at any point Hall H programming becomes uninteresting to you, you have a multitude of options. You could do some soul searching and wonder why it’s coincidentally the all-women panel you’ve decided to check out on. You have the ComicCon catalog to read or your phone, or you can nap like the person above did. If at any point you can’t handle a discussion about sexism or diversity, you also have the option to leave. Hall H offers 45 minute long bathroom passes for you to go take a man poop and get more nachos.
Those men made a conscious choice to stay in the room, a choice to be sexist and loudly declare things like “we need a man-power panel" and “she should shut up and take her clothes off” while the panelists talked about their experiences being patronized, sexually harassed, and physically maimed by systemic sexism and sexist men in their workplaces.
Hall H was exactly where this panel of genre actresses deserved to be.
It wasn’t the wrong room. It wasn’t the wrong audience. The audience was wrong. Not the women panelists and not the organizers.
when i was 5 years old my best friend was a boy named kyle who didn’t know how to knock on doors so he made dinosaur noises outside my window to wake me up in the summer until i demonstrated how to ball his fists and slam them against my doors. we collected caterpillars in my trailer park and built them houses while we traded pokemon cards. he wasn’t the only one. there was ben, and mitch, and noah—but kyle’s the only one who hurt me, because when he tried to kiss me and i asked him why, he told me “because you’re a boy and i’m a girl, shouldn’t we like each other?“
i missed him so much and i wondered why he couldn’t just be my friend like he always was
This should be an Industry Standard.
Some of us are going to have The Dark Is Rising flashbacks for the rest of our lives.
oddly enough, i find myself greatly respecting this simple yet effective night vale fanart.