A quote was brought up in my Sexuality, Gender & Destruction film screening class by my teacher, Nina Menkes: “Women have to be seduced into femininity.” When I first tried to take a stab at it, my first thought was, in today’s society girls are brought up to desire and believe they need this male protector, a spouse, a companion to be the “strong” one. When that doesn’t work, be it difficulty simply finding a suitable man, a failed marriage, ended & toxic relationships or bad experiences all around, I had this idea that a woman could then become “seduced into feminism” because it would then be a new, nearly opposite and alternative way of viewing the world and a way of gaining power. My thoughts didn’t come out as cohesively as I would have liked when I spoke up in class, but in retrospect I can see why that wasn’t exactly what the quote was getting at.
The real idea is, women aren’t naturally attracted to the idea of being an object. They have to be lured into it through fancy adornments and basically false advertising. Stripped to its core, like in Magdalena Viraga (1986, directed by Nina Menkes) there is nothing appealing about being the “object of desire.” The only nice thing about it is the element where you get to perhaps, for a moment, feel sexy and desirable, beautiful and wanted. But then you learn its at the price of no one really taking you seriously, at the price of men calling you “cute” and “hot” instead of listening of what you’re actually trying to say. So society has been constructed in such a way that they have taken the only “nice” thing about being objectified, which is feeling beautiful and blown it out of proportion. Cosmetics, Instagram filters to even out skin tone, new fashion, purses, nail polish colors, Barbie dolls whose activities only include makeovers and shopping rather than hardy work and adventures. Women have to be seduced into femininity because without the adornments and “fun” of being obsessed with how we look, there is nothing else. It is a distraction and I really get it now, it’s really freaking confusing.
We see movies that are perhaps trying to make an attempt to be a feminist movie, but movies like Girls Against Boys (2012), American Mary (2012) or Jennifer’s Body (2009) feature lead role women as hyper sexualized killers that are angry at men, taking murderous revenge on them or dismembering their male parts all while having erotic lesbian or bisexual sex based relationships. Before I knew anything about feminism and all the politics of what’s going on in regards to male privilege in this world, even then I felt there was something missing the mark with these kinds of films. And now I know why: perhaps these films were trying to take back or reclaim female power by having female leads, killing off men angrily and sexually as easily as killing off flies. But when the women do this while wearing mini-skirts or S&M attire, you realize it’s not a feminist film but yet another fetish for men. The women are not taking any new power, but trying to gain power by using the only route that seems to be given to us: our bodies and sexuality. And it’s never going to work. It’s a psychotic cycle that’s designed to keep us inside.
It’s confusing, isn’t it? Who doesn’t like feeling beautiful and sexy in their own skin? And yes, a lot of women do love sex and we have our own fetishes too. I myself am always tempted to write a seductive, beautiful female lead that also kicks ass- into my films.
The problem is, when a female lead can only be a lead if she’s sexy and revealing as the surface layer to anything else she is doing. If a woman in a film is also depicted as intelligent, messed-up, brave or vengeful— she shouldn’t HAVE to have half her clothes off as well.
People may argue that male leads also have the expectancy to be handsome and fit. Not the case. Think about School of Rock (2003), Elf (2003) and Youth in Revolt (2009). The guys were just funny, not exactly hot, super smart or fit. Yet you have movies like House Bunny (2009) which at first depicts nerdy, smart, conservatively dressed females …. who sex-up their wardrobe by the end of the movie to get noticed.
Now, I enjoyed all the movies just listed. But until being over-sexed in appearances just to have lead roles on screen for females is no longer the norm, I’ll be talking about it.
And by the way, what’s taking so long to make WONDER WOMAN into a film or live action T.V. series? I wonder…