Tag Archives: women

Man Up — Postscript

There is another reason I have been struggling with writing the series on Pixar shorts in my current mood.  That reason has a lot to do with Pixar itself.

It is no great surprise if you are a Disney fan that Pixar films, both long and short, are dominated by men. Until “Brave” in 2012, there were no Pixar films that feature female characters in leading role in its 17 year history.  While there were memorable female characters Dory and Elastigirl, they were sidekicks rather than leads.  I find it interesting that they have both since gotten their own starring roles in features. Unsurprisingly, the short films have a similar bias.  There are no shorts that feature a woman until we get to the bonus feature from “Brave” narrated by the witch.  I find myself uninspired to write about men telling stories about other men right now.

As an added bonus to my apathy, John Lasseter, the main creative voice behind Pixar’s success, stepped away because of his self admitted ‘missteps’ with female employees.  Apparently is was commonly known that women would not sit next to Lasseter in meetings because of his wandering hands.  This was known by me and women both and no one said or did anything to stop it.  The men who worked with him stayed silent instead of standing up with the women they worked with.  I really don’t feel like praising the work that they created while working in a culture where women weren’t valued.  Is it any wonder that there were no films, short or long, that featured women.  It is obvious in hindsight that their voices and contributions weren’t valued.  If they were, Lasseter’s behavior would have been stopped.  Again, the ‘nice guys’ didn’t do it.  They just let it keep happening.

At some point I will return to the Pixar shorts.  They are a quality body of work.  But right now, I just can’t.

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Man Up

You may have noticed that I have once again been writing less.  I wrote the intro to a series on Pixar shorts and then fell off the internet until Halloween.  So, FYI, the series is still coming, but right now I’m having a hard time writing about much of anything and today you get to hear why.

I am angry.

Since the Kavanaugh hearings I have been on a low boil.  It takes little to nothing to set me off right now.  I watched Dr. Blasey Ford’s story play out with little surprise. I knew exactly how it would end.  This story is overdone and predictable.  It plays out every day in my life and in the life of the women I know.  We all have stories of attack, abuse, and trauma.  We all know that those stories will be diminished in order to preserve the narrative of the patriarchy.  Nothing that happens to us is more important then the overall well-being of a man, particularly a white man over a certain age.  We know that.  Surprisingly, that’s not where my anger is coming from.  My anger is rooted in the response of the ‘nice’ guys, the ‘woke’ guys, the ‘my daughter deserves better’ guys, because their reaction is no reaction at all.

I didn’t realize this was what was going on until I saw a friend post a link of Facebook.  There was a song that came out in reference to comments about how hard it is to be a ‘boy’ right now.  The song talked about some (far from all) the accommodations women make to their lives to stay safe.  His response, “I had no idea it was this bad.”  Really?  REALLY?!? Where have you been living the fifty years of your life?  Where has your head been that you have not heard the stories of sexual harassment in the work place?  What language do you speak that you’ve never heard the term ‘casting couch’? Have you never left your house to hear the derogatory comments, pick up lines, and cat calls?  Do you not watch tv and hear our politicians demean women?  Have you seen no movies that depict women as objects to be acquired no matter what they might want?  Have you never heard of date rape, dick pics, or online harassment?  Where have you been?  Because if you really don’t know about all these things, I want to live there too.  The reality is, of course, is that I can’t live there.  He lives in Dude-land where these things do exist, but they do not impact his life.  I wonder if he asked his wife, daughter, sister, and mom if they knew things were that bad.

I am angry because there is no longer any excuse for the ‘nice guys’ of the world to pretend they don’t know this stuff is happening.  It is no longer enough for guys to not behave inappropriately.  It’s great that you don’t harass women on the street or put your hands on strangers.  Good for you that you never made derogatory comments or threatened a woman’s job or safety because she wasn’t interested in you.  It’s good that you can take no for an answer.  It’s not enough.  It’s time to man up.

It’s time to call out other men on their behavior.  It’s time to have women’s backs. It’s time to listen and believe.  It’s time to let go of the femme fatale myth and the notion that women accuse men of violence and assault because there’s something in it for them.  It’s time to hear all the stories even when they make you uncomfortable.  More than that, it’s time to hold other men accountable. It’s time to come out of Dude-land.  It’s scary out here but you can do it.

You can walk with us in the anger and the fear.  You can take the backlash from the  other dudes.  You can decide that there is another narrative besides the one of male privilege.  You can let go of just a little bit of your safety so someone else can get more. Wake up!  Pay attention!  In the famous words from “Mulan”, Be a man.

be a man

Snow White: The Fairest of them all

Our first Princess was not created to break any gender norms.  She is a classic damsel in distress needing the help and protection of the men around her.  She is sweet, ‘simple’ (Walt’s word, not mine), and pretty.  That’s it for character.  She cooks, she cleans, she sings, that’s it.  She seems to have no goals other than to wait for her prince.  One wonders what they might have to talk about since she is very limited in her interested.  Of course that doesn’t matter since she’s pretty.  In fact, her good looks are her defining characteristic.  She is so pretty she must die.  She is so pretty she must be sheltered.  She is so pretty the Prince must fall in love and kiss her.  Happy ending!  I wonder what her life would have been like if she was just normal looking.  Would she have been allowed to live in the castle and do princes things?  Would she have been married off to someone she had known longer than a 3 minute musical number?  We will never know.

Snow White is not a feminist icon.  She is not the hero of her own story.  She is the object of the plot, not the actor.  She is incidental.  You might be able to argue that the same story could be told about a piece of jewelry or a work of art.  An actual real person is not necessary for story telling purposes.  There is a temptation to blame this on the time in which the movie was created.  Women were pretty and decorative, not expected to contribute in any major way to the work of society.  However in 1937, Eleanor Roosevelt was firmly ensconced in leadership at the Federal level.  The heir to the British throne was female due to the actions and influence of another woman, Mrs. Wallis Simpson.  The nation was shocked by the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, one of the most famous pilots in the world.  Mae West was so scandalous in an interview that she was banned from the radio.  Women throughout the country are working on farms, in gardens, and at their sewing machines trying to stretch their family incomes and keep everyone fed.  Sweet, naïve Snow White was a fantasy.  Perhaps something to dream about the way we now dream about winning the lottery.

snow white once

I believe Disney knows this and knows, as well, that her appeal is not what it once might have been.  In the current TV series, ‘Once Upon a Time’, the Snow White character is a fighter who rescues her Prince at least as often as he rescues her.  This contemporary Snow is a leader and a politician as is appropriate for a girl who grew up in the halls of a palace.  S
he can handle a sword and a town hall meeting.  She is devoted to her family while still needing a break from them every once and a while.  She is still a fantasy, but she is a much more impressive fantasy.

So, how does Snow White measure up?  I guess it could be worse.

Bechdel test:  Snow White is the only named female.  In fairness, however, only the eight title characters have names.  Everyone else is referred to by title only.  Even if the queen had a name, she and Snow White only converse once and then it’s only about love.  Result:  FAIL

Percent of words spoken by women: 50%.  While this doesn’t seem like much, breaking even is fairly impressive for a movie with a cast ratio of 2 women to 9 men.  While Snow and the Queen don’t really talk to each other, they definitely pull their weight in the dialog.

 

*The Bechdel Test evaluates film based on whether there are at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

** The data comes from linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer, who have been working on a project to analyze all the dialogue from the Disney princess movies.  The project was reported in The Washington Post by Jeff Guo.