Saturday, December 01, 2018

I'm tired of sexism ruining my enjoyment of media

As I get older I'm finding there are more and more things, usually related to how women and girls are portrayed or treated, that bother me when I encounter them in media I'm consuming and pull me out of the experience of enjoying said media. It happens with books, movies and tv, music, etc, and each time, it sucks. Some random examples include:

  • one day while driving I decide to break out a bunch of old favorites of mine from the 90s and 2000s, including Fall Out Boy, Death Cab for Cutie, and BareNaked Ladies. I felt that nostalic joy of belting out the lyrics I still remembered so well, quickly followed by the realization that a lot of the songs are actually pretty creepy and stalkerish.  
  • I won't even go into the experience of revisiting old favorites like Sixteen Candles and Grease, and the disillusionment of realizing how rapey and awful they were in this department... 
  • I recently decide to stop bothering reading classic literature by men as it's just too disappointing. I re/read books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 in the past couple years, and each time I had a hard time focusing on or enjoying the story because it is so clear that the authors have such an utter disdain for women and view all women as vapid idiots. 
  • Even in progressive shows this shit creeps up... take a show like Firefly which does have some awesome women in it and has some fun flipping stereotypes around on their heads. And then there's every interaction Mal has with Inara, where he is constantly insulting her (it's even grosser that it's supposedly in the name of being in love with her). He even almost dies "defending her honor" meanwhile he calls her a whore every 5 seconds. (And then there's this episode idea which thankfully never got made bc holy whoa) 
  • And it happens with new stuff, too... I've watched Solo several times now, most recently when I showed it to my youngest a few weeks ago. Each time I watch it I realize how much I like the male characters... and how disappointed I am by how the women were written. There's Val, who was great for the 5 minutes of screentime they gave her before they killed her off (seriously?); then L3-37, who I adored but who is also apparently viewed by many as a parody of a SJW, and whom no one takes seriously they just roll their eyes at her "antics" (oh and she also dies after way too little screen time); even Qi'ra, the best of the bunch, got sadeled with the "I'm so damaged, I've done TERRIBLE things, I'm unlovable!" trope. (part of what made this especially disappointing is that Star Wars has otherwise been kicking ass in writing good storylines for women, so it felt out of place for Solo to do so poorly, for its female characters to feel like checkboxes to be marked off and then disposed of)

Sometimes I'm able to ignore this stuff when it comes up (I won't try to rationalize why I can watch Game of Thrones), but sometimes I just can't stomach it... or at the very least, it taints the show or book, or like with Solo or Firefly it dampens down what would otherwise be unbridled enthusiasm for the work. 

Maybe that's why I'm so overjoyed when I watch shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or the new She-Ra, media that is created by women and shows such a breadth of awesome women and femme characters to enjoy and revel in. They also show that it can be done.

And I can hear people saying that I'm the problem, that people like me should just ignore this stuff and not be so sensitive and touchy ("snowflakes!!"). But why should I (and any/all women or just non-male people) have to "put up with" media that writes or treats us so badly? How hard is it to have good representation and writing of and around women characters?  

I feel like I've heard enough from old white men, and am focusing on media created by everyone else. 


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