I haven’t updated in a long time. I was busy being depressed. So sue me.
Recently, I was watching the sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, which is often one of the most subversively feminist shows on television. It was while watching the sketch I’m So Bad — which riffs on the way many women act as if eating high-calorie food were worse than actual immoral behavior — that I started to realize something.
Over and over, Inside Amy Schumer presents a vision of interpersonal relationships among women that is written by women. And it shows. It’s only after watching it, after seeing the observational detail that women can pull from their interactions with other women, that I began to understand what is wrong with even most of the media that passes the Bechdel Test.
I hear from women a lot that they feel alienated from other women. Hell, I’ve felt alienated from other women. I wonder, though, as I watch this show, how much of that alienation is actually an alienation from media representations of women. The way “best friend” women talk in movies and television is poorly observed and poorly written, and many male comedians make ugly assumptions about women’s conversations with friends being shallow and cruel. Key & Peele, also with a standup/sketch hybrid show on Comedy Central, don drag and display massively misogynistic caricatures of women–women as envisioned by men.
I wonder how many of the women I hear who say that they don’t feel like they fit in the category “woman,” that they’re now “genderqueer” or “genderquestioning” or “agender” or “neutrois,” are really responding to the feeling that the conversations they see, the ways they see women interacting with each other, seem foreign and irrelevant to their lives. “If that’s how women talk/act, then I must not be one.”
I wonder how many of “those women” that we all profess to be like are just shadows–shadows created in the minds of men.
I’ll be back with more content, hopefully before the week is out. My next topic: language, and why I’ve changed my mind about the “pronoun issue.”
5 thoughts on ““I’m not like those other girls.””
We missed you! So good to see you back!
Yes! I’ve been thinking this myself for a long time. And of course the fact that we only see cardboard parodies of women in media is incredibly isolating; like you said, it makes you think, “Well, I’m I woman but I’m not like that. I’m not like all the other girls! I’m different, I’m deeper, I have so much more in common with men [because they are actually written as dynamic human beings].” Even as young as age 3 I was thinking like that, I remember feeling that way even in Head Start (it’s a kind of pre-school if you haven’t heard of it). I had already been told what little girls like to do – wear dresses, be pink, play house, mommy dollies – and I didn’t like any of that stuff at all. I knew what I was supposed to be like – frivolous, giggly, stupid – and what I was supposed to be when I grew up – a wife, a mother, a housekeeper – and I didn’t identify with any of it. So I thought I was special – not just because I was different from the other girls, but because I thought I had transcended that humiliating girly crap by embracing the things I was told were the natural domain of men, which of course were things to be valued and taken seriously. So not only does it affect the way you see yourself, but it actually makes you have contempt for other women, the ones you think are making YOU, as a woman, “look bad”.
Basically, it’s a genius way to divide women and prevent any kind of collective action by convincing us that the great majority of our fellow women are not only INCAPABLE, but UNWORTHY of change.
And the funny thing is, growing up I knew few if any girls who resembled the girls on tv. The truth was right in front of me, but still I believed that all my friends, all the girls at school were rare exceptions.
Glad to have you back. I never talk cruelly about women, even when I wasn’t feminist bc I wouldn’t want other women to do that about me.
So glad to hear someone say this. I have never put down other women, ignored other women because a man was present, etc. Maybe it’s because I was my mother’s special child, her baby girl, but I have never felt the need to compete with women. As far as feeling alienated, I feel alienated from my species, men as well as women.
Just some thoughts on how women are channeled and interpreted in film and on T.V. through a male filter. They are really men in women’s bodies, men speaking through women’s mouths. I remember a line from a male playwright saying, “Men communicate with each other through women’s bodies.” In that case he was referring to rape., but it could be any act of debasement of women that demonstrates a man’s power to another man.
Like most “female” characters in film and on T.V. the women in Sex and the City are not really women or the ones who are sex-obsessed, materialistic, petty, shallow, mean-spirited and self-centered. It’s the script rewriter for Sex and the City, Michael Patrick King and creator, Darren Star and their circle of friends and acquaintances, who are sex-obsessed, materialistic, petty, shallow, mean-spirited and self-centered. They write what they know. Compare them to the despicable characters in 2 Broke Girls, which Michael Patrick King also scripts. These characters are not based on women, but reflect how these male writers would act if they were women. The actresses are channeling male personas. These characters are actually like transgendered men; they portray a fraudulent, depraved, hateful caricature of women. Apparently, for purely mercenary reasons he puts his words into the mouths of female characters to appeal to a wider audience than the proportionately small audience he might get if he only wrote to gay males.
Likewise, the violent female characters in La Femme Nikita, Dragon Tattoo, Haywire, The Professional and Underworld, etc. were all written and directed by straight men (?). The male filmmakers and the men who watch are obviously appealing to their own taste for eroticized violence. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking these characters are based on real women or made primarily for women. Most women aren’t fooled by these degraded caricatures, but feel slimed by them. It’s really sad and pitiful that we are often grateful for any role assigned to women – no matter how debased or despicable. Ryan Murphy, the Golden Globe-winning creator of Nip/Tuck portrays women as looks-obsessed, materialistic and worse, while his Glee characters find the misogynistic slur “b*tch” to be a handy label for females. Murphy’s series The New Normal shows how women, as breeders (with a backward look to the historical Sparta), can provide surrogate services to men.
Now, even a women filmmaker seems to be catching on that to make the money and win awards you need to ramp up the violence to appeal to men al a Kate Bigelow with Hurt Locker. Bigelow became the first woman in history ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director by giving men the kind of violent film they prefer. While Halle Berry won her award for starring in Monster, a film so ugly and demeaning that many other actors refused the role. Still, no one can top the violence meted out to women in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or in Hostel by Eli Roth. Well, maybe Kanye West in his album Monster where women are lynched and eaten. He’s also getting Bret Ellis to write promo scenes from American Psycho for his album Yeezus.