Denial of the necessity of feminism, the representation of women in media and the virago queen, Rose McGowan.
The past week I felt particularly disillusioned with everything, a break from the interwebs felt imminent. I joined Twitter in order to find new content, similar to my spiels but with that comes the bullshit associated. For every wonderful, powerful, thought-provoking piece comes backlash from backasses requesting the world to burn – burn women in particular and people of colour. With the constant struggles people have to combat daily in order to live safely, it makes me want to harmonise with the Black Eyed Peas and ask “Where is the Love?”
No seriously, where is it? I don’t understand how people leave all of this shit happen. I also don’t understand how people worship the agenda of their corporate jobs putting profit over people. I don’t know how people think their lives are more valuable than others based on race or religion. How people question the need for feminism and belittle it, scratching it off as women being too sensitive, or “reading too much into it”.
All this social wariness came accompanied with flashbacks to a critical analysis class I had in college. Each week we would read a play and then have a lecture on it, followed by a seminar. In this particular class, I can’t remember what play we were discussing, some restoration comedy. During the seminar, the topic of how women are portrayed in modern comedies was raised. This cultivated a conversation on the misrepresentation of women in modern TV and film, how they are only portrayed an accessory to the male, purely there as the object of males sexual gratification, the majority being much younger and better looking, there as decoration, at the labour of older men. I specifically referenced the Farrelly brothers and some Judd Apatow movies as prime examples, and was met with the rebuttal of Lena Dunham and “Girls”. Some people in the class disputed the difference between the sex scenes in Girls and the sex scenes in ones in the male orientated comedies. Some people felt like Dunham’s portrayal of sex is unnecessary, explicit and that the show has too much of a “feminist agenda”, that it strives to make too much of a statement and that the voice of the show is too keyholed on a specific area of society. Superfluous was the consensus amongst some. It led to a very interesting debate where the majority of females and gay men who had seen Girls had to defend the importance of the show and the representation of women. This spiralled into the bullshit dispute of people saying they are not feminists, that people shouldn’t be feminists, that we should all be “equalists”. It was a heated debate that was brought to a close, either by class ending or out of necessity it getting out of hand, (I say ‘it’, it was probably me) but anyway, I can’t remember. What I do remember is coming out of that class and feeling completely deflated. The kind of things that were thrown around passively in this debate, by liberal thinkers, just got me down.
How could be people be so oblivious to the necessity of feminism and diverse representation of women in the media? Yes, Girls majorly lacks diversity and those characters aren’t particularly relatable, but they’re there, and they’re women and I don’t think people understand that besides Sex and the City there was no other mainstream show depicting women’s lives and issues. SATC being another show lacking in diversity with outlandish characters – but they’re there and we clung to that because it’s a depiction of women that wasn’t available in another show. This was before shows like OINTB and Broad City had gained their deserved momentum. This was only 3 years ago.
This wasn’t the first time nor the last time I heard commentary of this nature. Sure, it’s people playing devils advocate but the only way you can do that honestly is if you’ve never been a victim of sexism, you’re too naïve to realise you’ve been subjected to sexism or you’re in fact a culprit of it. I know this website gets met with eye-rolls from some people. When I confront someone in a casual setting for saying something chauvinistic, derogatory to women or spouting rape culture language, I get met with eye-rolls in a very “Oh she’s off again way.” I am all too aware that people don’t like talking about it, and like climate change, just completely ignore it. Some women, sweep it under the rug and pretend its not there, others are steadfast in the “boys will be boys” belief and of course many more are aware and can’t oblige to pacify this behaviour.
The denial of the need of feminism with the counter claim “I’m an equalist” is so ill-founded and ignorant, comparable to the bozos that reflect “Black Lives Matter” with “All lives Matter”. Yeah, obviously dumbass, but this “all” you speak of aren’t being shot or incarcerated unjustly because of their skin colour, that’s not ‘all’. That specifically needs to be addressed right now before we sort “all lives matter’. It is also moot to deny feminism in favour of equalism. Obviously we all want to be equal but women don’t have equal rights, pay or safety so when someone disqualifies feminism in favour of this optimal ideal, they are avoiding the need to urgently address the differentiation of treatment and actively, work together to resolve it. It is not specifically supporting the cause, it brushes off feminism as an unnecessary, extreme rhapsody of hysteric women.
So yeah, Twitter. Being on Twitter this week I felt like I was back in the classroom. Disappointed and deflated. I know this shit goes on, I see it everyday and confront it – but from behind a keyboard it’s harder. I don’t want to engage with these nutters and bring the wrath of wankers upon me.
Oh Twitter, sure you have celebrities and memes galore, I was unaware of how easily you doled out cynicism of society too. It’s the denial of it that drives me crazy, we all know that some peoples moral compass is very much askew, but those who are supposed to be moving society in a new direction, for them to deny the necessity of people standing up strongly for what they believe is right is what makes me sad.
Turning for refuge in my podcasts, I am currently in the midst of a binge of The Nerdist. As I became awash with discouragement, I listened to the next podcast on my playlist, an interview with the actress, artist and activist Rose McGowan. Listening to her snapped me out of my funk, stopped my inclination to take my foot off the protesting pedal and my doubt that maybe I should just shut up. As podcasts do, it divulged, somewhat, into her life story. I followed McGowan on all social media machines for a while now and applaud her proud feminism, how she unabashedly calls out the injustices architectured within society. I was recently very impressed when I saw her as a guest on The Chelsea Show. Everything about her seemed strong, walking with intention, she didn’t bask in the applause when she entered. Her whole presence was very assertive and everything she talked about in the brief interview, encouraging people to vote, was very poignant. There to discuss the election she addressed the confinements of being a polite, quiet woman. I found myself admiring everything from her vigorous speech pattern to her posture– upright, tough and erect. As well as what she was saying, I wondered why I was so struck by her manner. It’s because she wasn’t apologetic about her own presence which a lot of the time people, women in particular, are. She was there because she had something to say and said it, without having to pretend to be embarrassed or humble. As Chelsea said “it’s pretty badassery”. I concur.
This Podcast unveiled many more components of her life, like she grew up on a commune in Rome until she 9, her experiences traveling the world, as a self-branded “itinerant gypsy” and the state of affairs for women in Hollywood. As well as completely sharing her flight instinct when faced with any sort of routine and complacency, I share a lot of her views about the world. She talks candidly about the transgressions and discriminations women face and does so frankly, brazenly, and apologetically, and it’s really refreshing. Other people talking about it publically don’t have her candour because they’re afraid to stir the pot, the backlash they would face and the consequences. It promotes the notion that it’s not that big of a deal and it’s just the way things are. I think it’s great what she’s doing.
I then searched for more and found another podcast, “Whistling In The Dark” where she elaborates more on the threats and issues. When the host asks “What concerns you the most? If you could pinpoint your biggest concern?”
She replies: “How girls and women are treated as property, and arm candy and eye candy translates to how they’re treated in the world. If in Guess Who’s coming to dinner Stanley Kramer put Sidney Poitier before the civil rights act was passed and helped move society forward, and people are still getting Meg Ryan’s haircut from 15 years ago you tell me these tropes don’t stick you tell if things in films and attitudes, which are reinforced by every stupid shlubby guy of comedy where he’s got the hot girl. It’s depressing and it’s delusional and it puts out a mass disillusion on the world and if women aren’t going along with it, men get angry. So they’re creating a real rape culture, the ownership of women in this town is what is put on screen that gets translated to the public and society and it imprints its way as a way to treat people, as a way to look at people, this is our mirror, this is our reflection.” I wish I had the quote to back me up when defending the representation of women in comedies, back in college.
In this podcast, the host compliments how Aziz Ansari’s show Master of None addresses feminism, and it deserves commendation. It rationalises the difference between the endorsement of feminism over taking shelter under the term of equalism. This isn’t about hating men. I love men, but there is misogynistic tendency imbedded within our society that needs to be addressed and erradicated. It’s not going to happen by crossing our fingers and wishing really hard, or being quiet and polite when addressing it. It takes people like McGowan openly voicing the problems, it takes people opening their eyes and seeing its there. Just because we can vote and seemingly live equally does not mean we do. Without control of our own bodies, equal pay, safety to walk around without the threat of being harmed- we’re not equal. She gave me the boost I needed to say to myself, that my opinions and voice are relevant and necessary.
This website is named after the term Virago:
I find the two definitions funny, how often the latter is often misconstrued with the first. Rose Mcgowan is the epitome of this and this post is to celebrate her badassary. Thank you Rose McGowan for being honest and a badass. I salute you!
Also watch the short film she directed called Dawn. It’s available on youtube and its awesome!
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast,living in Hong Kong.
Get me on the Gram: @Shaunnaleelynch
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