Maleficent Leading Ladies

Whilst the Brothers’ Grimm are undoubtedly among history’s greatest storytellers, their stories proffer traditional gender roles. Sleeping Beauty is one such story that promotes a pretty archaic view of women by today’s standards. Maleficent, the remake of Sleeping Beauty is thus a strange place to seek a feminist manifesto, but that is exactly what I found whilst watching it. The movie is far from good, but it does take the original story and inject some much needed feminist-revisionst flavour. My male movie buddy, whilst agreeing that the movie was terrible, failed to understand why I was so excited to see the fairytale flipped and a strong, multifaceted female character as the lead in a movie. This led to a ‘heated debate’, some dangerous ideas and me pondering the archetypal woman in the wee hours of the morning.

Sleeping BeautyMy aforementioned movie buddy kept insisting that many movies have strong female leads (citing Frozen, Salt and numerous rom-coms as his evidence) and generally arguing that people prefer to watch men in save-the-world-superman-type roles as males are physically the stronger sex and it’s therefore more realistic (particularly for comic-book heroes). I huffed and puffed and…went home to do some research.

Did you know there’s a thing called the Bechdel test? I didn’t. It basically tests to see if a movie has two named female characters who talk to each other at some point about anything other than a man. I initially thought this is setting the bar ridiculously low, however to my surprise (and disappointment) the majority of top-grossing films do not pass. Yes, you read that correctly, the majority do not pass. The entire Star Wars series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy (including the Hobbit), and all but one film in the Harry Potter series fail. In The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia is the only named women in the galaxy and is the love interest of both male protagonists, Han and Luke. For all of Leia’s strengths and progressive leadership dialogue, she spends an awful lot of time getting saved or kissed. Make of that what you will.

More recently, despite being nominated for best picture this year both The Wolf of Wall Street and Her fail and the only reason American Hustle passed is due to a 10 second conversation between Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Röhms characters about nail polish. You might be surprised that other hit movies such as Avatar, The AvengersThe Social Network, The Lone Ranger and Run Lola Run (despite Lola being considered one of the more well rounded female characters ever put to film) also fail. Yet, when you reverse the criteria and perform the Bechdel test on male characters, it is almost impossible to find a movie that doesn’t pass.

Possibly even more worrying however, is that in movies where females have a role (leading or not), they play to an archetype being either the innocent virgin maiden, the temptress or the evil witch. Most often, it is a male hero who drives the storyline while his female opposite has already been branded as a sinner or saint, Madonna or whore – according to her moral sins or virtues. The hero however is free to be complex and flawed whilst he navigates these archetypal women.

WonderWoman

Briefly going back to comic book movies, which my movie buddy was staunch in defending, it is interesting to note that whilst the likes of Batman, Spiderman and Superman have been rebooted numerous times, Wonderwoman and Catwoman have not. Again, the majority of these stories utilise the saving of the ‘damsel in distress’ to show the heroes worth. In many cases, a single man saves the known universe whilst all that is good and pure is symbolically embodied by the rescue of the single virgin/Princess Leia character who cannot fend for herself. Basically, a woman who is anything other than a love interest, who needs rescuing (or a sexual conquest in the case of Bond) is considered progressive, much like the ‘feline fatale’ Catwoman was when she first appeared in 1940 (she only had to wait 64 years to get her own movie). It’s interesting to note that Bob Kane, the creator of Catwoman said this:

I felt that women were feline creatures and men were more like dogs. While dogs are faithful and friendly, cats are cool, detached and unreliable…cats are hard to understand as women are…You always need to keep a women at arms length. We don’t want anyone taking over our souls, and women have a habit of doing that.

I’m not calling for existing super heroes to change genders, but is it so impossible to imagine they become involved in differing and more creative story lines? Why not have Mary Jane help Spiderman save the world rather than be the one in need of saving, or invent a new female superhero to join the Avengers? Is it really such a radical idea?

According to an analysis of 2013’s fifty most successful blockbusters, films with a better balance of women made more money overall, so there is a strong audience for such changes in film to occur.
Whilst I’d agree with my movie buddy that women’s roles in film have gradually changed, what is important here is not the exception to the rule, but the dominant rule itself. Old ideas are given weight through repetition, until over time they come to form popular notions about the essential human struggle. Yes, Maleficent was more well-intentioned than accomplished but it was at least original and went against tradition; a rare feat it should be applauded for.

Advertisements

A Smorgasbord of Sexism

It’s been the week that’s just kept on giving in Australia. Politicians, sporting stars, commentators and shock jocks all entered a competition to see who could best serve up a plate of misogyny with a side of offensive asinine comments. The winner of the competition is still being disputed, but the losers have unanimously been identified as both women and political discourse in this country.

Stop SexismFor those of you who missed out on all the fun, let me recap.

The masterclass started rather predictably with Holger Osieck, the Socceroos coach claiming that “women should shut up in public“. Thankfully Osieck cleared the matter up by saying he’s not actually sexist as he been “married to for a number years” and is “pretty happy” about it. His inspired words came from an old latin saying that Osieck often says to his wife, so really it’s okay.
When I however took initiative and put the expression ‘mulieres taceres in ecclesia’ into google translate, I found it actually meant “soccer coaches should stick to talking about soccer”. Something clearly got lost in translation here.

Moving right along and not to outdone with mere words, Mal Brough, a prominent former Liberal party member physically wrote up a menu describing how seriously the Coalition takes the issue of sexualization of women – which is to say not seriously at all. The now infamous menugate incident involved a menu at a Liberal National Party fund-raiser which offered up the Prime Minister in the form of  Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs, and a Big Red Box. Appetising don’t you think?
It has since come out that the menu was in fact the brainchild of Joe Richards, the restaurant owner and had absolutely nothing to do with Brough. If this is in fact true, Brough’s apology for the menu came before he was even supposed to know it existed. It’s fascinating that even with his magical powers of premonition; he couldn’t see that the menu was a bad idea.

Just as we all thought that Brough and menugate were sure to win gold in the weeks idiocy contest,  Howard Sattler came along and demonstrated that we were all just wildly optimistic. Sattler, a professional announcer asked the Prime Minister on air if her partner Tim Matherson was gay. Sattler then went on to justify his question by stating that Matherson was a hairdresser and “it wasn’t him saying it” therefore the question was valid. The conversation when further when Piers Akerman went on the ABC’s Insiders program and supported Sattler by again bringing up the rumours of Matherson’s sexuality.
Guys, just a heads up, the problem isn’t the question or where it came from, the problem is how you both thought it was appropriate to ask it. Now that we’ve cleared that up please take the time to step out of your retro-sexist time machine and join us back here in 2013.

Next cab off the rank this week were various sporting personailities putting in time in building their reputations as disrespectful chauvinistic pigs. Firstly we had Blake Ferguson, the NSW State of Origin player who was charged with assaulting a women in a nightclub. Then the Stephan Milne story broke whereby the St Kilda star was charged with 4 counts for rape for an incident 9 years ago. There has been much talk during the week as to whether he’ll play for the rest of the season. On The Footy Show, Nick Dal Santo, Milne’s teammate, stated that the most important factor in the decision was Milne’s welfare. Then Sam Newman weighed into the issue by labelling rape as a ‘misdemeanour’. Why the Channel 9 legal department ever let Newman open his mouth is beyond me but the comments made are endemic of the patriarchal boys club the footy world is run by.
Naturally, Milne has a right to the presumption of innocence however in the multiple articles and news reports I’ve read about the matter, not one has mentioned the victim in the situation or her potential feelings (or that of other rape victims/women) towards Milne returning to the field. If he is allowed to play before the charges are dealt with, what message does that send about the seriousness of rape? We’re quick to forget that this isn’t just about Milne’s welfare, it’s also about the welfare of the young woman involved and those like her.
The latest development in the story is that Milne is expected to be allowed to play in round 15, after Women’s Round in round 14. Because you know, the AFL is sensitive to this issue and if they let him play in Women’s Round that might cause controversy.
And as for Newman’s comments; with the threat of global warming upon us, the Amazonian basin simply cannot afford enough paper for me to explain just how hurtful and idiotic they are.

Add to all this the Australian Defence Force sexism scandal, Nigella Lawson’s strangling photographs, the continuing tragic Jill Meagher story, and Serena William’s blaming of the 16 year old victim in the Steubenville rape case and you have yourself a smorgasbord of sexism and a very sobering week when it comes to women’s issues and our progression towards equality.

Sexism

At the beginning of this week, Julia Gillard (prior to all these incidences) made a speech about misogyny and women’s rights. For her efforts, people who didn’t even bother listening to the whole speech or understanding the context it was given in went into an uproar about the mention of ‘blue ties’ and then dismissed her ideas as ‘using the gender card’. Cue the outrage and booing.
It’s no wonder sexist incidents continue to happen when that’s how we greet a speech delivered by a Prime Minister.

Everyday, ordinary women experience misogyny and sexism; yet when women raise their voices in protest they get labeled as femi-nazi, man-hating, whinging, shrill witches and bitches.
We need to remember that playing the gender card isn’t a game or a desperate measure.  Proclaiming it as such or mocking people for using it only serves to further justify the ongoing inequality we experience. If we accept the things that have transpired in the past week without discussion or reflection, then this cyclone of retro-sexism will continue to gather force.

Many excuses, apologies and explanations have been given up in the past week and many times I have read or heard people suggesting that they’re only words or single instances not a reflection of society. But how many sandwiches need to be thrown or how many cases like Jill Meagher need to come to light for us to realize that maybe they’re not just single instances and are reflective of how we view and treat women.
They may just be words. But the words hurt. The language used to depict Julia Gillard is one no other Prime Minister has ever had to endure. And the language that’s been used this week to discuss domestic violence and sexual assault seems to flourish in society where women are less valued than men. Australia simply isn’t the utopia of equality people seem to think it is. Just today the World Health Organization released a study showing that one in four women in Australia are victims of intimate partner violence whilst one in six have experienced non-partner sexual violence. On a global scale the number jumps to more than one in three women.

WonderWoman Gender Card

We have to reflect on the past weeks events and realize they form part of a continuing problem both on our shores and in the world. We have to stop pretending it’s not real and all just in women’s heads. We have to develop a basic level of respect towards all women irrespective of the power or position they hold. And we simply have to stop accepting such blatant misogyny and sexism from our politicians, commentators and sportspeople.
In response to the ADF sexism problems, Lieutenant-General David Morrison eloquently stated “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. Accuse me of using the gender card if you will; but I am not going to be one to ever accept such a low standard. Frankly, you shouldn’t be either.

Hi, I’m a girl and I can actually pay for things.

So you know that time when Prince Charming woke Snow White out of her enchanted sleep with a kiss? Well not a lot of people know this but straight after, he asked her out on a date. That night he picked her up around 7:00, they took a short horse and carriage ride to this really hip french restaurant in the woods where they ate snails and talked about rainbows and butterflies. At the end of the night the waiter (a squirrel) gave the bill to Prince Charming who paid for it with his far far away land money. Prince Charming then drove Snow White back home, walked her to her door, kissed her goodnight and reminded her that they were to be wed next week.

A lot has happened since that night.

For starters, Prince Charming and Snow White broke up, feminism – the radical notion that women are in fact human beings became a thing, women gained educations, they got the right to vote and work (almost for equal pay-we’re still working on that one), they became liberated and independent and realised that Prince Charming didn’t exist and whats more, they didn’t need him to.

No one can argue that we’ve come a long way in the last 100 years, but Prince Charming and his outdated, old fashioned ideals still haunt us. That becomes evident every time a man and a women go on a date and the man has to pay for it. It is a facet of dating that I have never understood.

5050Women have fought to be considered equal. We wanted (and still strive for) equal opportunities and equal rights. So why is it that when it comes to courtship and dating we’re so quick to revert back to tradition rather than progression? Why is it just accepted ‘common knowledge’ that a man pays for a date?

The cultural tradition of having the man pay for a date stems back to a time where women didn’t have an opportunity or right to an income and thus had no choice. It’s also a time where women were only really ever housewives and lived in their husbands shadows. I struggle to understand how today women want to rid themselves of this image, be independent and equal yet still feel ‘entitled’ and expect to be paid for?

I know southern belle’s and wannabe Snow White’s out there are losing their minds with this notion, but just because you can make a baby doesn’t entitle you to a free meal. Rather than looking for a suga-daddy; it’s easier and more rewarding to just become your own sugar-mama. We live in a time that allows us to get an education, to earn an income, to own our own things and to make it without the aid of a man. We should be celebrating our independence rather than reverting to and accepting traditional gender roles.

I’m not saying go on a crazy feminist rant next time you go on a date. That may freak the boy out and ensure you don’t go on a second date (I may know this from experience). But don’t go with the attitude that the man has to pay either. And definitely understand that ‘chivalry’ doesn’t mean the man pays for everything. There is no easier way to exercise equality than splitting the bill. It’s also an easy way to send a message about what age you live in and how you expect to be treated.

You’re equal. Be thankful for it, embrace it and act like it.

feminst

My first date opener…

Skirt length: Are you a prude or a slut?

The below image is originally from this flikr.
I don’t believe in labels and am often offended by societies constant desire to judge, label and group girls as either ‘prudes’ or ‘sluts’. Especially as these judgements arise solely from observing a women’s appearance or superficial behaviours.
That’s why the below image resounds so heavily with me and why I wanted to share it. The image is meant for social commentary and is social satire to the long standing ‘proper-arbitrary-skirt-length’ debate.

Just for the record, I wear mine matron-length but pencil-cut. You know, just to confuse people.

skirt length

A guide to being beautiful:

fem imageYou have to be thin. But not so thin that people think you have an eating disorder. Just thin enough that people become envious of your ‘fast metabolism’ and no one ever tells you that you need to eat a cheeseburger. You should be slender everywhere, except for the essential parts of you which have satisfying soft curves. For example, your arms aren’t to have even the slightest fat deposits on them but your bust should be full and your butt should be round and perky. If you inherently don’t have these attributes, then you can get implants…but they better look completely natural. Otherwise people are going to comment that you’re fake with botched boobs. And no matter how pronounced your curves are, you can’t have a single pocket of cellulite – that’s just gross.

Now speaking of skin, yours must be flawless. You can’t have acne, spots, redness or any wrinkles. You must be perpetually young even if that means getting botox injections or face lifts (although you should never look like you’ve had any work done as that would make you the subject of mockery). Your skin should be creamy and soft and not like it even needs to be said…white. You’re permitted to be another race but only if your features fall into the category of ‘caucasian’. Looking too ethnic or different is weird and undesirable. They’re are exceptions to this last rule, but unless you’re a model for a international fashion chain, you aren’t one of them.

Now you don’t wear make-up. I mean you do, but it’s so perfectly blended in and adjusted to your skin that no one can tell you’re wearing it. You should be ‘natural’ because ‘natural’ beauty by default means you’re a low maintenance and cool person.
Essentially you just need to look like you’re permanently photoshopped in real life at all times. When you wake up, your hair needs to be messy, but sexy. Your mascara can never smudge and your skin must at all times be even and perfect.

Of course you have to keep your body in perfect shape and thus you work out. But not too much. You can never been seen being sweaty or out of breadth. And you should never look like you’re actually having a hard time completing the exercise you’re doing. You also should never put on too much muscle as being too muscular is repulsive and feral. Maybe just stick to feminine exercises like yoga and let the boys have fun with real sports.
Now just a reminder, your legs need to be long and slender. If you can’t achieve this look through genetics or exercise you can try surgically breaking your legs and getting them stretched. Just don’t admit to having this operation as it smells of desperation and insane vanity. And neither of those qualities are attractive.

You should always wear clothes that are flattering and fit your body perfectly. But don’t make it look like you’ve tried too hard. Your attire should be perfectly tailored to accent every curve without clinging too tightly lest you look like a trashy whore. There is a thin line between ‘sexy’ and ‘slutty’, and a man gets to arbitrarily decide it, thus you are never to cross it.  Your clothes should also be of a high refined quality without ever stepping into the territory of being a ‘label slut’ or being perceived as high maintenance or pretentious.

After all, you are humble. You are neither an attention seeker who uses self deprecation as a means to gain approval about her obviously beautiful features nor are you self-obsessed with an ego the size of most men. You are perfectly accepting of your beauty, never mentioning it or showing it off in any way that makes you feel good about  yourself. You know that your beauty comes purely from your appearance and despite your education or intelligence, you must never get involved in mens business or unnecessarily raise your voice to say something meaningful.

If you fail to meet any of these standards, you will be considered ugly and thus worthless to society. Best to accept it now; you’re a heinous beached whale.

Vintage beauty ad...I guess the media is allowed to change it's mind over time.

Vintage beauty ad…I guess the media is allowed to change it’s mind over time.

A dose of good-old-fashioned sexism

And I’m back on the feminist post writing bandwagon. The misogynist morons of the world can’t help themselves so neither can I.

This time, it’s an amusement park in China who are offering women wearing skirts shorter than 38 centimeters half price entry. Feel free to read that sentence a few times over until it hits home. Once I grasped the situation I spent about 20 minutes doing this:

The whole scenario begs the question, if women go naked do they get to enter for free? According to the coordinators of this genius ‘love miniskirts’ plan; it’s aim is to “encourage women to showcase their beauty in summer.” Oh give me a bucket!
And the amusement park sure is taking it seriously. Female staffers are policing the entrance gate and measuring skirt lengths with rulers whilst enforcing a strict ‘no dress, no shorts’ policy.

Is this making you vomit yet?
There’s more so brace yourself.
‘Coincidentally’, the park also holds a water splashing festival during the campaign where visitors throw water on one another. Naked bodies and water: always a good G-rated mix. Not sexualized at all. You can read all about it (and more details about the campaign) here.

I honestly don’t even know where to start. The amount of harm this is doing to women’s image, self respect and value is staggering. Women are being objectified and rewarded for showing off their bodies. NOT ONLY ARE WOMEN EXPLOITED AND LEERED AT BY STRANGERS, THEY’RE NOW ENCOURAGED AND EFFECTIVELY PAID FOR IT. SMELLS LIKE PROSTITUTION DON’T YOU THINK? THERE’S NO RESPECT BEING GIVEN TO WOMEN’S THOUGHTS OR OPINIONS JUST THEIR BODIES. WE’RE BACK TO ACCEPTING WOMEN AS NOTHING OTHER THAN SEXUAL OBJECTS THIS IS OBJECTIFICATION AND SEXISM AND AN AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL EXAMPLE OF POST FEMINISM AND LOOK I JUST LOST MY TEMPER EXCUSE ME.

Ahem.

How is it that someone thought this was a good idea? How is it, that this blatant display of sexism and exploitation is allowed to even go on? Why on earth are women participating in this misogynist bullshit campaign? There should be a bloody boycott. Do these women think they’ll gain respect for showing more leg and less brain? Whatever happened to the days we burnt our bras and fought to be viewed as something other than sexual objects that are glared at and abused for a price?

Now those who argue that this is actually good for women, and that we’re ‘benefiting’ from this; I think you need to revaluate your stance. Or at least think about whether this is actually benefiting women in the long run and in the big picture not just in saving us ten bucks today. What is the lesson we’re learning from this and what kind of behaviors are we rewarding here? In defense of this campaign, Catherine Hakim argues that there is inherent power derived from our sex appeal and it is a positive thing for womenkind. She suggests that “erotic capital (a combination of physical and social attractiveness) is more important for women than a college degree.” Has your jaw just dropped as far as mine? It’s more important for a women to be sexy and appealing whilst a man needs to be smart and educated? Yes! My time machine must work because we just stepped back into the 1920s! How dare she demean women, dismiss our intelligence and belittle the need for everything women have fought so hard for!? Excuse me Catherine Hakim but I need a moment to process your ‘opinions’.

Okay I’m back.
Not only is this whole thing crass objectification of women, it’s also disadvantaging men. Equality is about being treated the same. Let’s apply the Caitlin Moran Rule of Feminism, aka the question ‘Are the men doing it?’ This is Moran’s rule of thumb with a few things, and it is aptly applied here. ‘Are the men dressing down in teeny tiny skirts and subsequently getting discounted entry?’. Mmmm no. Are they getting a discount for going shirtless? Or in short shorts? Surprise surprise the answer is no.
Well why the hell not? Doesn’t that sound unfair?

Men: No shirt, no service. Women: No shirt, no charge.
Well I’m not buying into it. Time to raise our voices and stop putting up with this shit. We need to go back to fighting for equality not voluntarily being sexualized for perks.
Equality: It’s a simple concept. Why aren’t we getting any closer to reaching it?

Seriously, just stop with the pink everything.

Ladies, I have a question. When you’re out on the town and a madman comes at you, what do you do?
It’s a tricky question so I’ll give you some options:

a. Analyze the situation and either put up a fight or run.
b. Call for help
c. Both a and b
d. Take out your pink pepper spray and your pink taser and make sure you look feminine whilst you’re fighting off the madmen.

pink-mace-gun

I’d normally choose ‘c’. But the new craze in hot pink defense products is making me think that ‘d’ might just be the right answer. After all, nothing says “get back” like a cute hot pink can of pepper spray. Yes, you read that right. A hot pink can of pepper spray. You can buy it to match your hot pink stun gun. Isn’t it just what you’ve always dreamed of?

I can barely remember life before capitalism and sexism had a baby and self-defense products became a fashion statement – you know the time, when a women’s only weapon to ward off attackers was freshly baked cupcakes. I mean, what else could she possibly use? Regular colored things? Like boys do? Like, ew, gross!
But don’t fret, not only are these new self defense products feminine in color, they’re also smaller so they can fit into our teeny tiny baby hands. Yup, that’s right, who needs weapons that actually work when you can get ones that are cute and pretty!?
I’m so sick of this infantilizing bullshit.

This seem likes an appropriate time to send a big ‘what the actual f**k?!’ to the makers of these products. Self-defense isn’t a game. It’s not a fashion statement. Releasing pink and ‘special edition’ self-defense products is demeaning women and their reasons for buying these products in the first place. Carrying weapons should make women feel safer and empowered, not dumbed down, weak and commodified. Applying these arbitrary aesthetic standards to products whose only function is to save and protect women’s lives is so fundamentally insulting it makes anger consume every cell in my body.

There is zero chance that women are genetically predisposed to wanting everything to be pink. Has anyone ever stopped to think why girls are bombarded with everything pink whilst boys are blue? Girls don’t have to be constricted to this pastel world. I’m sure, if we tried, we could survive in a world that wasn’t feminized and pinkified for us. The marketing world just needs to stop imposing their heteronormative gender roles on everyone. If we stopped selling ‘pink girly’ garbage to women, women would stop buying it and in turn stop looking like incompetent superficial fools.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like pretty things as much as the next person. But I like being taken seriously more. And by constantly prioritizing aesthetics over quality we’re only doing damage to ourselves. Personally, I’d like to know that my pepper spray provider was more concerned with providing pepper that sprays than with selling a stylish canister that suits both my day and night outfits.

If you’re buying pepper spray because of the way it looks, you’re buying it for the wrong reason. You’re also insulting millions of women in the world that legitimately need it for protection. And to top it off, you’re really not doing the sisterhood any favors.

Prince Charming, wherefore art thou Prince Charming?

Once upon a time in a far away land a baby boy was born in a shining castle. His parents, the King and Queen took a risk and named him Prince Charming. As the baby boy grew up, his parents breathed a sign of relief as the boy lived up to his name and grew into a intelligent, brave, handsome and witty young man. He also had amazing teeth and a good fashion sense. It’s incredibly lucky he turned out the way he did, as it would have been very awkward to have an ugly, mentally unstable and socially retarded son named Prince Charming.

After Charming finished high school he got a bachelors degree in ‘rescuing damsels in distress’ and a masters degree in ‘dragon slaying’. Rumor has is, he even started his PhD in ‘understanding women’ but the rumor can neither be confirmed or denied. Prince Charming however, will be most remembered for his many high profile relationships. He started dating his first girlfriend Snow White after he kissed her and she woke out of her enchanted sleep. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! Given all the magazines and TV shows were obsessed with publicizing ever detail of their relationship, women of all ages soon began to fall in love with Price Charming and started singing “someday my prince will come…” in his honor.

After Snow, Prince Charming moved onto Cinderella. We don’t know why he left Snow for Cindy but one can assume it’s because he developed an infatuation with blondes. Remarkably, despite 13 years passing between him dating the two princesses he had not aged at all. Many women began to regret not asking Charming which face cream he used. After his relationship with Cindy became public knowledge, Prince Charming became a household name and the source of many women’s fantasies. Female peasants mobbed him every time he left the castle, and he got more princess ass than he even knew what to do with.

Nine years later, Charming left Cindy to be with Sleeping Beauty Aurora (yet another blonde). But this relationship was complicated and Aurora had baggage to say the least. Prince Charming had to rescue Aurora from the highest tower of the castle. Luckily, he completed his masters degree so was qualified to slay the dragon that stood in his way. Once again Charming kissed Aurora, she awoke from her slumber (these princesses really like to sleep) and they started dating.

But unfortunately, this is where the story starts to get a little blurry. Woman began to realize they didn’t need Prince Charming and he was therefore made redundant. They started burning their bras and singing along to Aretha Franklin demanding RESPECT. Prince Charming’s status died and he became a D-grade celebrity. His legacy (somewhat) lived on with Prince Eric and Prince Naveen but they served to be just secondary characters in the princesses lives. Ariel was badass, made her own rules and saved herself. Besides, she was a redhead so it’s doubtful Charming would have even been interested. Prince Naveen on the other hand turned his princess into a frog. Counterproductive and rude if you ask me. But Tiana figured it out and saved both their arses. It’s clear the standards required to be a prince have slipped over time, and now the princesses are the ones saving the day (hallelujah!)

But despite the women’s liberation, and progress being made, Prince Charming’s lineage has been explored and today women have found his descendants. Two of his more famous cousins (twice removed) include Edward Cullen and Christian Grey. It is believed they’re from his fathers side.

Both of these descendants seem more sulky than sparkly (unless of course Edward goes into the sun – then he’s sparkly, but not in the good way). Nonetheless women around the world have fallen in love with them both. However, somewhere along the genetic line, some bad DNA got mixed in (the family tree is very complicated) and the cousins turned out quite different to Prince Charming. Unlike Charming, they’re overly protective, controlling, dangerous and downright weird. Edward is prudish, old fashioned and about as cuddly as a rock. But he’s got the saving the damsel in distress thing down pact. It’s possible he got the same university degree as Charming. And so long as you ignore his temper, his stalker tendencies and maddening urge to drink your blood he’s quite chivalrous and dependable.

What I assume Christian Grey looks like. He’s managed to elude the paparazzi so far.

Christian (who was much harder to track down, due to his adoption papers being sealed by the courts) is anything but prudish, but is still hideously old fashioned when it comes to anything outside the bedroom. And we can’t really comment on his cuddling ability, given we doubt he even knows how to cuddle. Whilst Christian has inherited his good looks, his fortune and his charm from his genetic links to Prince Charming, he’s not without his faults. Firstly, he is a stalker. As in ‘I should get a restraining order against you’ stalker. He also doesn’t like being touched. If you touch his chest he’ll have you aggressively pinned down before you can even say ‘control freak’. He’s incredibly overbearing; to the point that he controls what you wear, drive and do with your time. And he has major food issues. Think a Jewish mother and Italian grandmother rolled into one. Ow and you have to sign a contract to be in a relationship with him. Yup, these are just some of his ‘fifty shades’. And yet countless women fantasize about being his princess.

The cousins appeal to women because of their looks, strength and large bankrolls (no, that’s not a euphemism for large appendages, they’re just both ridiculously rich). But I still don’t get it. Why do even the most intelligent, independent and liberated women go weak at the knees for these control freaks? Shouldn’t we be celebrating that we can now make our own decisions and not fall for the idea of someone that controls everything we do?
Prince Charming (in the old fairy tales) gave us someone to dream about. Someone that will slay dragons, climb castle walls and stop at nothing to fulfill true-loves kiss. The more recent fairy tales had more realistic, independent and inspirational princesses. But we still dreamt about the fun loving princes who we’re their partners in crime, treated them well and celebrated true love. Yet, today women worldwide fantasize about violent, strange control freaks. Is it just me or does this not make sense? Call me old fashioned, but I’ll take Prince Naveen over Mr. Grey anytime.

As for Prince Charming, the last reports suggest he was rejected by a girl called Fiona. Evidently she chose an ogre over him. Maybe this story doesn’t end with a happily ever after, after all?

Girl with the dragon tattoo posters: you’re kidding, right?

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I just watched the Swedish version of ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’. The film both scared and disturbed me. But overall I liked it. It stayed true to the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed; mainly because of the refreshing writing and strong female character in Lisbeth Salander. But I’m not here to write a book review. I’m here because I’m pissed off. Upon googling the American version of the movie to see whether it’s worth watching I stumbled upon some of the movie posters and anger quickly consumed me. To better explain, here is a comparison of the Swedish and American movie posters:

Swedish:

And these are the American posters:

  

If you didn’t know better, you would think they were two different movies with completely different story lines. Mikael isn’t even present in the two official Swedish posters. Lisbeth is staring directly at the camera in both, she’s aggressive, powerful and in control. Not a hint of sexuality.

Now lets jump to the American posters. I didn’t pick and choose them, they are the official movie posters. And Lisbeth has magically lost her clothes and attitude in all of them. It’s pretty clear the people responsible for marketing the American movie didn’t get the memo: Lisbeth Salander doesn’t like to be touched, she doesn’t walk round naked and isn’t one to be submissive or needs to be protected.

The whole reason these books became the phenomenon they are is because of the strength of Lisbeth’s character. She’s damaged, weird and anti-social. But most of all she’s an intelligent and determined surviver. So why do the American posters have her in submissive, sexualized poses? Why is Daniel Craig in the foreground with her in the background? Why does he have a protective arm placed over her? Why is he looking down at her whilst blowing smoke into her mouth? And why the hell is she naked?

Women don’t aspire to be Salander. But they respect her. Despite her history of physical abuse and sexual violence she’s physically strong, mentally sharp and in control of her sexuality. Are we really so afraid of women like that?
I get that sex sells. But so does violence, genuine adaptations of beloved books and powerful characters. Why do we always resort to making women a commodity? If you want to add a sexualized message, why not have Daniel Craig naked? Oh that’s right, he’s not a young sexy women with a nipple piercing that will feed raunch culture it’s daily dose of sexualizing everything. The American movie posters are nothing more than an exploitation of Larsson’s iconic female character in an aim to increase profits.

There is a strong contrast in the message the Swedish and American posters are sending. And I know which one appeals to me. Give me the Lisbeth Salander holding a knife, a gun or riding a motor cycle any day. Because I’m sure as hell not identifying with the one being submissive or posing naked.

At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves: What would Larsson think?

Hey Mister, I’m a liberated sister! (Part 2)

Wow, so yesterdays post was nice and controversial. I’ve been overwhelmed at the feedback I’ve received, both positive and negative. If nothing else, I like that it’s got people thinking and talking about issues affecting (or not affecting – depending on your view) women. And unfortunately for those who disagree with me, it’s not going to stop me expressing my views. But constructive criticism, comments and debate are always welcome.
And with that, I’d like to thank everyone for reading my posts in all their random glory. The feedback and support everyone has given me has been immense and very encouraging.

To add a little humor to yesterdays post please check out this vid. It’s by Kitty Flanagan (a female comedian – shock horror) and her sister Penny. It’s their take on the ‘new’ feminism through song. And also where I got the title for the posts.
The song is absolutely brilliant, if I do say so myself.