Typically I’m very non-confrontational. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced the feeling of your heart thudding wildly in your chest (and ears, and finger tips) whenever you dare to speak against someone’s very strong opinion. I do. So I often choose silence over a minor heart attack every time I speak.
This has left me a fairly silent feminist. I know that word has somehow become dirty because in our binary obsessed culture two completely different acting and feeling people cannot possibly embody the same term, ever. I’m a feminist. That does not mean I hate men, I do in fact shave semi-religiously (because I like smooth legs), and at the same time I do believe a woman should be able to choose to do whatever she would like to do with her own body. Really being a feminist simply means acknowledging the fact that women exist, that they–as a gender–have been mistreated, and one would like that mistreatment to end. End of! I can’t fathom why so many people take offence at this stand.
Well, I suppose I can. In fact, that’s what I felt I needed to write about today. I’ve been home all day. I’m a post-grad looking for work. I’ve got loads of time, really. While applying for jobs and sorting things for grad school, I had the television on.
Around lunch, American Dad came on. I don’t typically watch the show, but I admit sometimes it’s inappropriate enough to be uncomfortably funny. In this episode, Stan took a pill to withstand listening to his wife without spacing out. All so he could endure her chatter enough to earn him sex. Right, so, obvious sexist humour meant to poke fun at tropes in both men and women. Whatever. My issue was after the pills turned Stan into a woman (yep, that happened), Stan’s male boss then essentially kidnaps him, gives him some drinks, and attempts to have sex with him. Stan isn’t interested being that he still has the same sexual insterests, he’s just in a different body. His boss pressures him over and over (by this time they’re in a hot tub…) before finally putting up his greatest argument which is basically that Stan has an amazing new body and he (the boss) should be the first to “rail” it. I didn’t watch after that. I moved on. Sure, it’s a tawdry cartoon designed to be so offensive it’s laughable. Whatever.
Later, there was a commercial. This commercial was literally just for dashboard wipes that protect against UV rays and therefore fading. That’s it! In the commercial, the logo on the bottle was talking. He was a lumberjack–again…dashboard wipes–and on the dash was one of those bobble-head hula girls. At the end of the commercial the logo asked her out (where are they going??). She was silent as she is clearly a dash toy. Instead of realising she was disinterested or inanimate, his response was “Oh, the silent type! I like those!” I literally felt sympathy for an inanimate hula girl. The silent type?? Could you get more rape vibes, or what? What about silence implies desire, consent, and / or interest? Commercials are 30 seconds long, so it was over before my full disgust could register.
Later still, this time on one of my favorite shows: The Big Bang Theory. These are reruns, mind. It is a Tuesday. In the beginning of the episode Howard is spewing his typical come-ons to Penny. Fed up, Penny finally tells him off; harshly this time, so he gets the message. The rest of the episode is essentially Penny attempting to apologise to Howard whose feelings were hurt while Penny attempted to DEFEND HERSELF FROM UNWANTED SEXUAL ATTENTION!!! Howard never apologises and in fact attempts to kiss her during one of her final attempts to apologise. Penny punches him. Let me just mention, none of this is good! From the female perspective, Penny should not have to apologise as she is the victim. From the male perspective, society should not be telling men that they should try to advance sexually again and again and again until they are literally physically beaten back. If that’s the message, well what if the victim can’t physically overpower her aggressor? Is that now code for “take me, I’m yours”?
What the actual hell is going on in this world?! As we all know, these examples are TAME in comparison to some of the other influences streaming in at all hours of the day. I understand entertainment value is prized in the television industry. It’s been that way for decades, but we’re the future, right? Shouldn’t we even attempt to make strides in our antiquated objectification of women and our silencing of the male empathy?
This was one day, a few programmes I happened to catch while multitasking throughout the day. It reminded me why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. Words are powerful. They create worlds and rhetoric is the catalyst for new thinking. The writers of these programmes chose to say what they said. I understand. I do. It’s easy to have ideals when you’re living at home, looking for work on Indeed. I guess I’m kind of hoping I don’t forget today though. That’s why I wrote it down. I want to remember that my characters will have depth–men and women. We don’t fit in boxes. We should stop trying to limit ourselves.