RE: Those Hollywood Chauvinist Dogs

May 13, 2010 • Culture, Film

We’re all about men and women having the freedom to do what they desire with their lives and praised when they make great achievements. The field is more even today than it was fifty years ago, but there are still several issues that make our feminism come out all claws and teeth.

And then there are things that just bug us, like this piece on Ms. about gender politics on Iron Man 2. The post summarizes the gender lessons imparted by the film, which we paraphrase here:

Men don’t cry, they scream. They like power tools, technology, and weapons, not talking. Men are big wheels and lone gunmen. Men need to leave a legacy and build a better future and the best way to do this is via weapons, wealth and womanizing. Men’s sexism is funny and endearing. Men are so fabulous at business, they can successfully privatize world peace. Real men think the liberal agenda is boring. Men will always need to be in the theater of war and might as well turn their bodies into weapons.

Women are for dancing, either around poles or on stage as props. They should always be scantily clad, wear make-up well, balance on very high-heels and generally perform femininity to the delight of the male audience. Women are objects whose most important asset is their bodies, which are weak. Women are petty and jealous but also ready to be walked on.

OK, look. The movie wasn’t a shining example of girl power, but look at anything long enough and you will find something wrong with it. We here at Sex and the 405 believe that a lot more could be accomplished if people took the time to create better options instead of tearing apart those that exist. At least make mention of films that, to the author, better illustrate the message of gender equality?

It’s so easy to rip something apart. Building is a whole other thing altogether.

Image from Critical Film Condition. Commentary in response to Ms. magazine.

  • natalie wilson

    I am pleased my piece “bugged” you enough to allow me to respond to your suggestion that I should make mention of films that better illustrate gendered messages. To name a few recent films that feature powerful females and/or critique limited gender norms:
    An Education
    Nim’s Island
    Jennifer’s Body
    Avatar (though not without its problems!)
    Some older ones:
    Thelma and Louise
    The Piano
    Can’t think of any superhero ones…

    As for “taking the time to create better options,” well, guess I will add trying to make a film to my duties as professor, author, blogger… I have made some brief you tube clips critiquing Twilight entitled “Twi Kids Trio” — does that count?

    • Anaiis

      Thank you for taking the time to list some films. Surely we can think of some examples of superhero flicks that illustrate better gender messages. I will brainstorm with friends who are better versed in this particular genre and see what we think up.

      As for creation of better options — perhaps we should make a challenge and introduce it at ComicCon… Though I must say I am digging the idea of assigning students a spec that features proper gender messages.

  • Shannon

    The original Buffy the Vampire Slayer vehicle was a movie, & was all about smacking down gender stereotypes. My understanding is that the studio would not let Mr. Whedon fully realize his anti-helpless-mindless-girl-victim vision (you can see the movie he *wanted* to make in his comic book version), which is why he eventually turned to TV. Which is where we also have the awesomeness of Xena.

    My girls and I recently watched all three X-Men movies. All three contain instances of strong female characters being reduced to a single babe factor by male characters. The contemporary X-Men comics that I read don’t do this. So I have to blame the studios. Again.

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  • Synova

    The liberal agenda *is* boring.

    No, seriously, look… politics isn’t gendered. It just really isn’t.

    Men who are liberal are not girly-men, right? They aren’t.

    And women who march to their own drum, who might like to raise a ruckus, who are certainly not well-behaved, don’t get their girl-card revoked if they don’t have the right politics. (Or the left politics… whatever.)

    And really… Jennifer’s Body has a better message about women than Iron Man?

    At least young boys watching Iron Man will see a woman made CEO of a large and very important company and then have to face the unfairness of having her competence doubted making it that much harder to do her job. It wasn’t even subtle.