Friday, October 23, 2015

Gender Me This

There has been many an article, blog, news story, and discussion regarding the treatment and perception of women as seen through the lens of men. Just about any book or movie. GamerGate. Sexual assaults on college campuses. Fewer women in positions of power. Celebrity nude photos. Doxing. Less pay for women. Imposter Syndrome. Lean in. Many of these musings have a similar point: that women are defined by men. Having grown up in a culture where women are defined by men, women have been conditioned to believe and accept this definition. The current rise in discussions about women’s treatment in relation to men is due to women no longer buying into this paradigm.

All throughout history, and even today in parts of world, women were considered the property of men. This great historical weight is not easily moved or overcome. The fight for gender equality, largely beginning in the 1960’s is still, 50 years later, in its early stages. As a society and culture we are shining a light into the dark corners of masculinity, the alpha male, macho men – the male perspective that has worked tirelessly promoting their own agenda to the determent of women. Shining this light to expose the narcissism and selfishness of men.

Almost all TV shows, movies, books, our entire culture! All of these place women into a certain light, paint women into a certain corner, defined by men. Over the decades in film and TV, who has created and controlled the image of women? Women's bodies have always been used in advertising to attract, peddle, and sell. Does a woman feel sexy based on what she thinks is sexy? Or what men think is sexy? Is a woman's behavior based on what she wants? Or is it a male ideal, a template, bombarding her since her earliest memories?

As you read the following quote consider that men have defined the reality in which women live.

"Think for yourself. Question authority. Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself. Think for yourself. Question authority."

"Forming in our minds their view of reality." In our culture and society as girls grow into women what has formed in their minds is men's view of reality. Question what has formed in your mind, and determine if that is indeed your true self.

And now a related tangent. Just for funsies. I want to talk about these things.

The first season of True Detective written by author Nic Pizzolatto. Do men hate women? Or do men hate themselves and feel better about themselves by mistreating women? It comes down to ego and status, power and control. I AM A MAN, DAMMIT!! In the first season of True Detective there is a decades long sexual subjection and serial murders of women and children. One man so emotionally neutered that he forgoes close relationships. A second man so caught up in the bravado of masculinity that he ignores his wife and daughters and commits multiple infidelities. The TV show received heavy criticism for treating women poorly, with stereotypically weak-women or women-in-peril characters, and generally being anti-feminist.

Female characters are indeed marginalized, the focus of the show being two men compartmentalized by their own machoism, who end up with only each other. True Detective, season one perpetuates the old school paradigm of women existing at best as accessories to men, and at worst to be used by men, often brutally, and then discarded. It is a male-centric story, which is fine, but it fails to include real-life female characters. It fails to treat any women in the story with respect. Is this laziness? Or is this simply another cookie-cutter, traditional crime story about men being men, and women defined by those men?

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels by Stieg Larsson. Adapted into three Swedish movies, and one Hollywood version. The original title was The Men Who Hate Women, a searing indication of the theme. There is another decades long sexual subjection and serial murders of women. Forced prostitution. A cabal of men in government who ignore the abuse of a woman, and who lead the charge in the abuse of her daughter. The lead male character, Mikael Blomkvist, while seemingly the most sympathetic towards women treats his romantic partners with indifference. Lisobeth Salander, the central character and heroin, stands in stark relief to the cookie-cutter women portrayed in popular culture.

Lisobeth has suffered her entire life at the hands of brutal and selfish men. As an adult she embraces and exudes her true identity, yet still the target of the sexual tyranny of men and their abuses. Stieg Larsson is not perpetuating the male-centric idea of female identify, he is crucifying it. Drawn and quartered with its entrails pulled out for all to see. The male view of female sexuality is not romanticized. The entitlement men believe they have over women results in at best indifference, and more likely in assault, rape and murder. Juxtaposed by the non-conforming image and behavior of Lisobeth who eventually triumphs over the selfish brutality of men.


"Think for yourself. Question authority."


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