Many of us have been unfortunate enough to witness the vitriol and small-mindedness which accompanied the build-up and release of the gender-reversed reboot of Ghostbusters earlier this year. With it, of course, came the chorus of mostly male laments against feminism: “How dare four women take the place of four men, who do they think they are? When we say reboots, all we want is updates CGI, not feminist propaganda!”
Unsurprisingly, the malevolence didn’t end there, but included the use of intimidation and threats against the spook-filled films selection of female stars, most notably and again unsurprisingly Leslie Jones, the specter-ass-kicking squads resident black sass queen. While Jones’ stand against the intimidation tactics unfortunately involved a loss for the Twittersphere (she recently announced a much needed break from the site following the abuse) the equation which continues to divide feminism and movie media has become once more evident via Twitter trend #FeministAMovie
The hashtag reached trending proportions in early August, catching my own attention on 11 August… of the hilarious possibilities which were available. How excited I was to scroll through potential hilarious gender-reversals, queer puns, and non-heteronormative re-titles.
What I got instead proved the false consciousness which continues to surround the feminist movement. Several of which used Ghostbusters as the bone of contention:
It was only following my disappointment that I discovered the hashtag was, in fact, a response to the all-female cast announced for Oceans 8; the new installment combining the star skills of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina. The outraged reaction against the positioning of women in public spaces resulted in a reiteration of misogynistic themes, homophobic and transphobic commentary, and the general array of stereotypical sexist insults which amount to the manosphere’s armory.
Certainly, the stereotype of the “Feminazi,” the “manhater”, the angry, hairy, cajoling cartoon feminist consistently drawn into bad cartoons was redrawn again and again:
These texts reanimate negative stereotypes commonly linked with the feminist figure in popular culture, many concentrating on the negative ways feminist discourse (supposedly) affects women’s most crucial aspect: appearance. A failure to adhere to traditional and overtly-normalised femininity and the beauty standards related to this unnatural state of being is consistently related one’s success or failure in being a woman.
Related to these highly idealised beauty standards and ideals of proper womanhood is the contemporary horror related to female menstruation. Horror movies, blockbuster comedies and the following tweets alike depict this natural and widely experienced event as the abject moment:
Many others simply and in-eloquently depicted feminism and feminists as something to be despised and abused, where feminists are literally unknowable (and unloveable) and as at once undeserving of men and unable to keep them.
Thankfully, and once again in keeping with the Ghostbuster’s narratives, feminists rallied against their would-be oppressors with a selection of their own #FeministAMovie tweets which created new sexual spaces, challenged heteronormativity, repossessed female and coloured space from male and white privileges and generally educated individuals that the humourless, hairy-feminazi figure could at least, occassionally, be funny for the sake of politics:
In short, movie media continues to challenge feminist gains, but there is an undeniable movement occurring wherein women are being permitted space to narrate new experiences on screen. Comedies such as Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and the up-coming Moms are repositioning women’s traditional position on screen, while action genres are redrawing squad goals in Oceans 8, and sci-fi/comics genre is FINALLY due to welcome Wonderwoman to the big screen in the first female-lead movie, and while these narratives are being challenged by the greater masses, we’ll continue to met the challenge.
Laura Bates’ phenomenal and eye-opening Everyday Sexism Project first hit the web in 2012 as a new kind of digital-based consciousness raising project, where women were actively encouraged to discuss and analyze their own experiences with sexism and misogyny.
Starting the website, Bates’ original hope was to acquire at least 100 stories but quickly became an international forum for women’s rights, their experiences of oppression and violence and the institutions and practices which hindered them.. Bates’ project, at its inception, was a basic website which quickly developed multiple language forums, 140 character replies on Twitter, and culminated in a paperback in 2014. Bates’ project has even been actively utilized by governments, politicians and policy-makers to improve the conditions of sexism and misogyny prevalent still in our society.
Today, Bates is proving her project remains as relevant as ever with the trending hashtag #WhenIWas.
This new take on the Everyday Sexism Project actively requires women to look back on their own his(her)story, review their experiences, and question the lessons learned during their formative years and beyond. Like the Consciousness Raising sessions of our feminism forebearers, Bates’ new campaign motivates women to openly and unabashedly declare their wounds, their humiliations, their anger at the patriarchal imperatives encroached upon them; and the women are taking this up with reckless abandonment.
What’s more, many of the tweets currently dominating this hashtag honestly and courageously admit to experiences of emotional and sexual abuse, rape, and gender-based violence. At a time when the threat of rape and domestic abuse is of critical importance – specifically owing to the worryingly small rate of reporting to police and shortage of support services – this hashtag couldn’t be more timely or relevant.
For many of the women utilizing the #WhenIWas trend, this experiences are months, years, perhaps decades old – or, perhaps they are merely weeks, days, or hours old -, regardless, they are the truths which women have struggled with for years. They are the small humiliations of a neighbour staring at your legs which left you fearful – the threat of the figure following you down the road one night – the memory of hands touching you without consent – the loud voice declaring your sexual proclivity to the street – the feeling of complete and utter loneliness and inequity.
So, I implore all of you today and in the near future -if you don’t feel the desire to submit your own #WhenIWas confession – like, reblog, retweet and applaud the survivors and show them that loneliness and inequity are slowly (but, I hope, surely) becoming things of the past that we can one day include in the #WhenIWas trend.
Today marks a day of justice for Reeva Steenkamp. Murdered by her now infamous partner and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius in 2013, she and her family can finally attempt to find some sort of peace.
Pistorius was infamously charged with manslaughter, despite having fired four rounds into a locked bathroom door; he claimed to believe an intruder was in the room. Regardless, and as the judge rightly concluded, the intent could not have been different. Four rounds into a small, locked space. Reeva Steenkamp had little chance.
After being released and confined in his home following only a year of his then five year sentence, Pistorius has finally been sentenced to murder by the South African Court of Appeal’s Judge Leach.
Judge Leach argued:
As a matter of common sense at the time the fatal shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result. And in firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely.
Judge Leach stated that the identity of the person behind the door was irrelevant to Pistorius’ guilt for the crime.
But the person behind the door was Reeva Steenkamp and on Twitter the hashtag #HerNameWasReeva is once again making the rounds. But what is trending is #OscarPistorius. Many times over the past two years I have heard people debate his guilt or innocence, argue the case, know his name without pause or thought. Many people do not even know his victims first name.
Today, we need to honour Reeva Steenkamp. Today, her name should be trending. Her story should be heard. Her memory honoured.
As is the case with all gender based violence, domestic violence, all abuse: the victim often goes forgotten. It is a pattern in our society to let the victim become silent.
By speaking her name we challenge that silence. We challenge the institutions and patterns which encourage and permit the continuation of gender based violence and abuse.
Today #ReevaIsHerName and tomorrow it will be another woman’s name.
Do not forget the victims.
Who doesn’t enjoy one of President Obama’s enigmatic tweets? I, certainly, do; and especially when they involve the promise of equal pay for both men and women.
Obama’s most recent (from the 8th of April) tweet backed an equal pay program on his own site Organizing for Action and calls for people to support the cause by boasting the #FairFutureNow hashtag.
Women, on average in America, earn 77 cent for every man’s dollar despite doing the same work. This discrimination has been highlighted consistently and yet no change has actually been implemented to better the situation of women.
The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (found here http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf) recorded that:
In 2012, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $691. On
average in 2012, women made about 81 percent of the median earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers ($854)
The report also detail the wage gaps which exist between differing race and ethnic groups in the US, highlighting that Asian women ($770 per week) and men earned more than Black (599 per week), Hispanic and Latino ($521 per week), and White ($710 per week) counterparts in 2012; while White men ($879 per week) earned 83 per cent as much as Asian ($1,055 per week).
The statistics are telling, and President Obama’s support for equal pay and an end to the wage gap is inspiring in such a prominent world figure, but the questions remains; why can’t that future be now? Why, as the images suggest, must we wait for our children for the wage gap to close and equality become an actuality.
Surely, it can’t be that hard to imagine that future now. #FairPresentNowMaybe?
It’s not the first time a primetime sitcom has been called out for racist content, and it’s definitely not the first time How I Met Your Mother has been put under the spotlight for indecent and offensive content.
This weeks episode featured three of the shows protagonists – as seen in the images below, Lily, Ted and Robin – join in one of Marshall’s ongoing storylines in yellowface.
The storyline, quite frankly, is so ridiculously offensive and unwarranted that it’s repetition seems unnecessary. What is obvious is that the episode required a certain Asian stereotype to be fulfilled, and that was clearly done without any thought given to the offending nature behind the content.
The backlash since the episode’s preview has been phenomenal, with social media website Twitter once again being employed as a social activist medium with the tag #HowIMetYourRacism trending. Many have called for a boycott of the show, until a formal apology is issued, including activist Suey Park:
I certainly will not be watching the final series before an apology is issued to the Asian community and I can only hope that others will, too, will be pushing CBS for an official apology.
Miss Representation is a body which, for the last several years, have concentrated on how women are largely perceived and displayed in the media. Beginning with their self titled documentary, the organisation detailed an avalanche of sexism, misogynistic, intolerant, and offensive media and the subsequent consequences.
The documentary’s soaring popularity and the organisation’s ensuing success has led to a barrage of further attacks on such negative media, including Twitter-based campaigns #notbuyingit – encouraging majorities of people to boycott and protest companies endorsing sexism and objectifying advertising means – and #mediawelike – which does exactly what it says on the tin, to be honest, advocating and promoting promising media.
The organisations website encourages communities to join in and invites individuals to become a rep, donate, or simply “take the pledge” to support their worthy cause.
Miss Representation continues their study of contemporary media, every year producing a new, short film detailing the ups and downs of the media with regards to the female image. Find out “How the Media Failed Women in 2013” below, along with links to their other works.
A link to several of Miss Representations videos: