salienne: (Farscape not broken)
Rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I don't know whether to be horrified at the gender politics of the show or...

Actually, no, that's about the only option there.

Sad part is, I'm still not sure how much "better" mainstream sci-fi has really gotten. There seem to be more (and more interesting) women, but condescending man = romance and lolmisogyny still seem fairly prevalent.

In other news, I just made soup. I may have overcooked it somewhat, but eh, I am proud of Never-Cooks-Ever Me.
salienne: (Default)
In which I film blog it up one final time.

Women in Television: Lovers, Mothers, and... Oh. Take 2.

As I wrote last semester, Fox's Fringe is a sci-fi procedural following the investigations of the FBI Fringe unit. Made up of Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), a half-mad scientist named Walter Bishop (John Noble), and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), Walter’s genius son with a history of petty crime, the Fringe team look into crimes of the strange and fantastic. Essentially, picture a quirkier X-Files, with parallel universes rather than aliens. Each of the three seasons has thus far twisted the show in an intriguing new direction, but while season 2 seemed to be where the show found its rhythm and established Olivia as a complex character and independent agent, season 3 has since fallen into tired and unoriginal gendered tropes.

While by no means a feminist utopia, seasons 1 and 2 of Fringe establish Olivia as a pivotal actor. )

ngl, this season of Fringe has been so monumentally disappointing I don't even know what to do with it. I mean, there was always this undercurrent of "Olivia is a WOMAN," but the complete reduction of her character to that one trait is such lazy writing. I'm a shipper for just about every canon pairing ever, and this season lost even me. If it weren't for the straight-up-sci-fi fangirl in me, I would've abandoned ship long ago.
salienne: (Fringe Olivia 2)
Y'all remember that film blog I did last semester? Well guess what I'm doing again!

So, for your reading pleasure, here be the first installment:

Black Swan and the Hazards of Female Autonomy

In many ways, Aronfsky’s award-winning Black Swan is a film about femininity and repressed womanhood. Following the struggles of Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, to master the lead role in Swan Lake, Black Swan focuses on the pressure on women not only to reach perfection but to be perfect. In this respect the film’s message is clear. This pressure is destructive, leading to Huge spoiler ).

When it comes to more nuanced notions of gender and repression, however, Black Swan becomes much more thematically murky. For purposes of this post, I will focus on the issues of female adulthood, independence, and sexuality in our protagonist, Nina. Through its depiction of her journey to self-destruction, Black Swan delivers the clear message that a free woman is a dangerous woman, perhaps less miserable than the trapped girl but certainly more devastating.


The primary female influence on Nina is her mother, Erica Sayers, played by Barbara Hershey... )

I clearly did not cover everything there was to cover re: gender in Black Swan or even everything to do with female sexuality here, partially due to time and word constraints and partially due to focus. This essay is about what it means to grow up a woman in the world of this film, and it's neither a pleasant nor positive experience.

I definitely think there is more to be said about female homosexuality/bisexuality and motherhood, though, and I find the way Nina's mom is both this twisted figure
and the moral voice of the film a bit... odd, if not downright disturbing, though I haven't quite untangled my own thoughts there yet. I also think I could delve more into the idea of male (sexual?) ownership and its arbitrariness (see: "my little princess") and I'm sad I didn't get to explore the significance of Beth's character and Nina's quest for perfection and unhealthy self-policing more. Of course this leads us into the mental illness angle, which I just don't feel competent enough to cover.

So... yeah. It's a good movie. Obviously has its issues (still wtf'ing over Aronfsky's quote, ngl) but I'd recommend it. Definite trigger warning for mental illness, self-injury, sexual harassment/assault, and body horror though.
salienne: (Default)
Girls and boys, and the daddy who got away

(A special thanks to [ profile] wemblee for proofreading these and keeping me sane. <3)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved her father very much. One sad day, her father went away never to return, leaving behind a very sad little girl who grew up into a very brave, very smart young woman who never stopped her missing her daddy. One day she stumbles into a strange new world and, in a quest for independence, a quest chasing after her father, she discovers him only to lose him again, and only to discover herself. In the end, she returns home.

This is the story, and it is repeated over and over again. Interestingly, two recent uses of this storyline occur in the Syfy channel’s Alice miniseries and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (AiW) film, both adaptations of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Although sexuality and Alice’s father barely figure in the original novels (if at all), they become vital components of both modern works, resulting in a female adulthood that revolves around a choice between men.


Syfy's 'Alice' can be considered a sequel to and modern reimagining of the original story. )

A/N: Another recent film that followed this storyline was Repo! The Genetic Opera. In this film, mother becomes even more repressive, with Shilo's home a literal tomb for Marnie, as well as a prison for Shilo. Meanwhile, her father is the gatekeeper to the outside world, and she has to lose him to become her own person and fully enter it herself. (There's even a song about it. It's not exactly subtle.)

That said, it's actually unique and, well, feminist in that she does not end up tied to a man at the end. Rather, the men she was torn between (Rotti and Nathan, two father figures) are dead, and the closest thing we have to a love interest (GraveRobber) doesn't even play a part, except to tell the viewer the story. Shilo is now her own person, rather than her own person + 1.

Now, Repo! is in no way actually feminist (e.g. 1 deleted scene sexualizes a female addict sleeping with her dealer for drugs), so I guess this goes to show you that you can't rely on just one framework to analyze any particular work.
salienne: (Farscape not broken)
This summer, I wrote for a film blog at my school. The entries don't go up until this Fall, though, so I thought I'd cross-post them here.

So here we have it, everyone. Part 1 of
[ profile] salienne Rants About Gender in the Media:

Also, a special thanks to [ profile] wemblee for proofreading these and keeping me sane. <3

Women in Television: Lovers, Mothers, and… Oh.

The depiction of women in television tends to be problematic, to say the least. This is true from ensemble shows to one-character shows, from comedy to science-fiction. For purposes of brevity, I’m going to focus on three particular shows, each with a different format, topic, and genre: Stargate: Atlantis, House, and Fringe. These shows demonstrate not only the continued dominance of male characters but also the limits of gender presentation in television, especially as it relates to women.

For those of us who don’t frequent the SyFy Channel, Stargate: Atlantis (SGA) is a fairly good example of how science-fiction shows tend to treat women. )

So, what can we learn from these three shows, which, while certainly not representative of television as a whole, do demonstrate much of the breadth of female characters? For one, while still underrepresented, women do have a substantial presence on television. Slowly but surely, their interests and positions in structures of power seem to be increasing beyond loving, caring, and mothering.

That said, women’s characters remain anchored by “feminine” characteristics. Women remain love interests, nurturers, mothers first. And while there is nothing wrong with any particular woman having such characterization, the problem comes in when that is the extent of women’s representation. When men are always more interesting. When men have a greater breadth of things they can do, do do, are allowed to do.

Such inequality not only reinforces outdated stereotypes but it is also stale and boring. It leads to predictable plotlines, predictable television. And with the amount of television out there, who really wants to sit down and watch the same old thing over and over again?
salienne: (not broken)
Quoted from here:

Tip 6 [for women]. Don't chase your date. Never deprive a man of the thrill of the chase. Besides, it's so much fun being caught! A woman can always initiate a first tea date, but after that, it's up to a man to decide whether he wants to pursue you. Entice men, play with them, and then release them! Allow men to initiate and take the lead in moving your relationship forward.

Oh gender stereotypes, how I love ye... And by love, I mean while this may be true on some level (since dating nowadays is still defined by stereotypes and particular male and female "roles" a lot of the time), writing this stuff just perpetuates it. It's... rather disturbing and disgusting, really, how casually this stuff is thrown out and how almost-but-not-quite subtle it is.

And, yes, dating should be a give-and-take, but it should not be, "Okay, I've made the first move, which is risky enough for a gal! Now, the rest is up to him! Because I'm a woman and women who take the lead at any point are scary! Oh, but I should make sure to 'play' with him too, because women are inherently confusing and flighty and if you're ever straight with a guy, there's just something wrong with you." (And, of course, there's the opposite stereotype at work here too. Apparently, males cannot be shy or want to "be caught." You are the hunters, guys! Bend to my capricious will and go catch me a bison and carry me over the threshold now!")

I'm gonna go write some more now...

(And no, I promise I didn't go looking for this. I was bored and saw it on yahoo while procrastinating. Wheeeee....)
salienne: (not broken)
So as I was browsing around on various forums today, I came across this: “Ten is a wimpy little crying girl.”

Oh let me count the levels on which this is insulting. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

Crying is apparently a bad thing. Even when you lose the woman you love. Even when an old friend and the last of your species dies. Crying is bad. It is pathetic, a show of weakness, and it is especially so for men. When a woman cries on television, generally it’s all fine and dandy. That’s what women do. It’s expected, encouraged even. Women just can’t hold themselves together like men can. They’re not tough enough.

But far be it for a man to show his own emotions! No, he must be tough and strong and never show grief. He must suffer quietly, with his head held high. He must never be “soft.” Because that would be bad. That would be a reason to look down on him. That would be undignified and wrong.

Also, “girl” is apparently still an insult. It is, in fact, synonymous with “weak.” Only little girls (and, by extension, women) are allowed to show emotion, because they are, inherently, “weaker” than little boys or men.

Let me tell you something. Little boys cry just as much as little girls. They’re just not usually treated with equal compassion for it, and apparently, this is all right.

So now, the word “girl” continues to carry the stronger connotation of weakness. Sissy, pansy, wuss, girl, wimp—what’s the difference?

The word “girl” is “soft” and, therefore, something lesser. Girls are apparently weaker and, therefore, something lesser.

Well thank you, society. Thank you. I know I want my future children raised here.

Now I’m not saying we have the worst gender stereotypes ever in our dear little Western world. Obviously we don’t. I mean, a woman just won one of the primaries. I’m going to a university. I’m allowed to walk around outside by myself and I’m wearing pants.

But you know what?

I don’t follow politics. I hardly follow the news; I just glance at the headlines and catch thins on TV. But you know what I’ve managed to hear about Hilary Clinton?

She cried.

The media hasn’t reported on how her policies might have appealed to voters, oh no.

The media is simply discussing how she cried. They ask, was this genuine crying or did she fake it? Is she really just a cold heartless bitch? Or is she too weak? Is she too strong? Did she do it to win sympathy? Could she honestly not help it? Do people just pity her now? Do they empathize now?

No, no one asks whether the citizens of New Hampshire might like what she stands for. No one cares about her policies or how well she countered Obama’s points in debates, oh no.

What the media cares about is that she cried.

Males can’t show weakness, little girls are the epitome of silly little somethings, and all we need to know about someone who just won the New Hampshire Primary is that she cried.


The older I get, the more I feel like society is running itself into a brick wall and doesn’t even notice or care.

(P.S. The quote used as my subject line? It's Shakespeare. Circa 1700, in other words. Good to know we've made progress in 300 years, eh?)


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