Has this ever happened to you? You’re talking to someone and recommend a movie and the person (usually a man, sorry dudes) replies with “I’m not into chick flicks” or something equally dismissive. It’s happened to me a bunch of times. Why is it assumed when a movie has a female protagonist, that it’s going to be all “Sweet Home How to Lose a Guy in 27 Dresses” girly rom com?
It’s not only happened when recommending movies but TV shows, books, podcasts and music. Sometimes my suggestion or reference is dismissed as being a “girly” thing with no evidence insinuating that, other than it’s being recommended by a female and possibly has a female protagonist or is created by a woman.
A movie that appeals especially to women, usually having a romantic or sentimental theme and a female leading character.
Let’s throwback to the early noughties when a brigade of Hollywood films portrayed a loveable, witty, clumsy girl that owned a bakery or worked at a magazine and meets a Matthew McConaughy or dude from Grey’s Anatomy type guy. Chaos, cringe and an attempt at hilarity ensues, somebody fucks it up, there’s a sad montage where one character stares out a window all melancholy like, reminiscing about the whole 45 minutes we literally just watched and are then forced to watch again, a grand gesture resolves the whole thing, everything is rectified, a catchy song plays, occasionaly there’s a flash mob and they live happily ever after, the end. Just like real life, no?
When Hollywood finally exhausted this formula to the bitter end it was laid peacefully to rest, only to be resurrected on a Sunday evening when you’re so hungover your eyes hurt, and you don’t have the concentration or emotional stability to possibly watch anything else.
Unless it has Drew Barrymore in it. In that case, I would watch it under any circumstances. I would watch her read aloud the phone book for 3 hours (if phonebooks still exist) and she would just make me feel better about the world.
I get chick flicks have their likeable factors but generally they’re not my cup of lemon and ginger tea. Yet sometime when I recommend something to someone and I’m hit with this assumption of it being ‘a chick flick’ or ‘girly’ and I have to rationalize the thing by explaining ‘yeah it has a female protagonist but it’s not ‘girly’.
Here’s an example of the things I love that I’ve had to explain.
The conversation normally goes something like this;
Dude: What’s your favourite movie?
Me: Almost Famous
Dude: I haven’t seen it.
Me: You should watch it, it’s awesome.
Dude: Who’s in it?
Me: Kate Hudson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jimmy Fallon, a bunch of people.
Dude: At this stage stops listening after Kate Hudson. Oh, I’m not into chick flicks.
Me: It’s not.
Dude: looks unconvinced
Me: It’s about a writer for Rolling Stone going on tour with a band, it’s based off Led Zeppelin.
Dude: Oh cool.
Okay sure, Kate Hudson may be directly correlated with Chick Flicks but before that she rocked a fierce sheep skin coat, spouted airplane safety demonstrations in French as an intriguing groupie in my favourite movie which she got an Academy award nomination for best supporting actress.
When I first got acquainted with Abbi and Ilana this show was all I could talk about. I practically put out a bat signal saying ‘watch Broad City’ to all my friends and wanted to go shout “Yas Queen” from the rooftops. When I would explain it to people, I could see some peoples interest fade with the intro of ‘it’s about 2 girls in New York’. I’d quickly need to jump to “but it’s super smart and funny and has really clever social commentary.”
Dude: But is it like, super girly?
Me: No, Amy Poehler produces it and they smoke a lot of weed and go on adventures and they really like 90’s hip hop and please, please, please just watch it.
I still have that conversation a lot. My sales pitch works or people hear elsewhere that it’s dope and watch one then binge watch every episode because it’s amazing. But having to directly negate the term ‘girly’ with supporting statements to gain someone’s approval to rescue it from dismissal is hella annoying. Actually a lot of girls I know do all of the above (bar being produced by Amy Poehler) so I guess the show is girly just not in a pink dress, pigtails and tea party way.
I think it’s assumed that if a woman is the lead in a show it is aimed at women and is therefore ‘girly’. When certain folks hear that this show has many female leads and one incredibly talented actress, Tatiana Maslany, plays most of them it’s assumed it must be a woman’s thing whereas I don’t necessarily think shows with male leads are met with the same initial judgement.
2 Dope Queens
Comedians, and indeed ‘Dope Queens’, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams run a comedy show that airs as a podcast featuring a bunch of different comics, some well known and some just coming up. Sure the title, to a guy, may come across a little ra-ra-Yas Queen so it takes some convincing and clarifying by saying it includes male comedians too. Comedy shouldn’t be segregated by gender. I’m all ” I am recommending this to you, dude, because it’s funny and I think you may enjoy the content, not because it’s all Sisterhood of the Travelling Period.”
Very little of my interests or topics of discussion would be considered ‘girly’ in the stereotypical traditional sense of the word (besides the holy trinity: Barrymore, Britney and Beyonce). But alas, I AM WOMAN so I guess some people jump to the conclusion that stuff I love is obvs about braiding hair, boys, make-up, the newest diet and like, baking or whatever.
And now for some more obscure things people have assumed is just something us lassies admire:
Yup. Like 2 years ago before he blew up, blew up I was (and still am) all about Kendrick and I would often plunge the question the following questions and suffer this interaction
Me: Have you listened to Kendrick Lamar?
Dude I may or may not be hitting on: “I don’t listen to pop music” or “Is that, like, some girl band?”
Me: (Thinking to myself, why would you immediately think I’m talking about pop music or a girl band?) No he’s a rapper. He works with Dr.Dre and Drake and a bunch of people.
Dude I’m probably not going to hit on: Oh cool
A Tribe Called Quest
This mansplaining speculation is my favourite and has happened a bunch of times in the last few months, pretty recently actually. The conversation runs pretty similar to the one I have above just replace Kendrick with Tribe and add me singing a few lines of ‘Can I kick it?’ to rejog their memory and depending on time, location, and alcohol consumption, I may or may not insist on playing them to prove how fantastic they are and not ‘girly’.
A vagina is not required to like music, comedy or TV shows liked by, created by or centred around women. All of the above things aren’t your typical ‘girly’ stuff, but I am a girl, well a woman and I dig all this stuff as well as tonnes of other things that are free from cliches and a Katherine Heigl- type fall in love formula. Perhaps it’s time to think about that word ‘girly’ and not assume it’s pretty pink and frilly but something funny, clever, socially relevant and fierce be it the 2 realest broads to hit TV, 2 dopest queens podcasts, a sword wielding vampire slayer or a male hip-hop group from Queens.
Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch
About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast.
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