I’m not going to be talking about the fifth Harry Potter film as a whole, although I do have some gripes with it, but then I also like several aspects. I just want to talk about one scene, which is a scene often repeated across the spectrum of western media, long before Harry made it to the screen:
The ‘I let her win’ boy-vs-girl fight.
In this case, it’s Ron Weasley Vs. Hermione Granger in a training match (which is silly by the way, since both characters are supposed to be on different skill levels, and were such from the very first film. You don’t train your school football team against the NFL).
Anyway, back to the scene. As we often see, a boy and a girl square off, usually in some sort of sport or sparring, in this case with wands. Sometimes the male comes into it cocky and sometimes not, but in either case he will almost undoubtedly be soundly thrashed for all to see.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with showing a girl beating a boy, but as I’ve discussed before, there is something wrong with this becoming the assumed, even under the guise of positive reinforcement. Especially since the reverse would probably lead to the boy being shown as a jerk if he gloated over his victory, while the girl is never a jerk.
The real problem is what happens after the match. I many cases, especially if there were other men present, the male competitor will try to maintain his ‘misguided macho pride’, as many a feminist has put it, by claiming that he ‘let her win’. This will be met with half-sympathetic nods from the men, and ample triumphant snickering from the women.
This kind of scene builds a mindset which says “boys think they’re better, but they definitely aren’t”. And that’s not a healthy philosophy, for anyone involved.
Now, some might claim that such sequences are put in by male filmmakers who don’t like seeing boys losing to girls, but that’s a false notion. If these directors and writers were trying to be just a bit masculist, they would actually allow the male to come away with dignity intact. Instead they make fools of themselves by refusing to recognize the victory of their opponent (however unlikely).
No, this sort of scene is an attack on the media’s perception of masculinity. They are portraying these men (usually boys really) as ‘Straw Misogynists’, whose only function is to think girls can’t beat boys and then to be proved wrong. Apparently a girl’s victory isn’t good enough unless she is overcoming someone who thinks less of her. Just winning isn’t enough it seems.
Again, this isn’t inherently bad, but it is so prevalent as to become insulting. That, and it almost seems to be an attempt to maintain some sort of deranged status quo, wherein girls are equal to boys, but aren’t treated as such. This perpetuates/maintains the female’s status as victim and the male’s status as oppressor while still allowing girls to be routinely victorious.
However, this isn’t just bad for men. While sometimes it seems like feminist groups want women to remain eternal victims, that’s bad policy. This practice continues the belief of female inferiority, and even if it is constantly debunked, that base mindset will still persist, which will keep women from being respected for real.
Every time someone congratulates a woman for doing something “as good as the boys”, they are reminding everyone that women are inferior, that their bar of excellence is lower, and that they should never be expected to be able to perform.
The media needs to stop painting men as chauvinists, since most really aren’t. And they need to start show women as actual equals, not continual underdog heroines, or underdogs they will forever remain.
But then men wouldn’t go easy on them.
Women would be on real equal footing with men.
Is that what people want?
Is that what women really want?
Welcome to Part 2 of my look at Dockers’ “Wear The Pants” ad campaign. Part 1 can be read here. For reference, here is the ad again:
Now, as I said, the ad is a call for men to take back up their old ways of strength and leadership. However, it is not so much a call to arms as a challenge. It does recognize that men were stripped of their place in society, but it also saddles them with 100% of the responsibility for setting things straight. It ignores what the cause of the problem might have been, instead demanding that men just fix it by acting like real men again. In medicine it is considered bad practice to treat the symptoms without treating the cause, but that is what is happening here.
Here the cause is society, as a whole, which needs to change, but men can’t be made totally responsible for changing it. We aren’t all Hercules.
This ad’s sentiment is echoed by many public figures, like President Obama, who has given calls to men to ‘step up’ and become better fathers. That is unreasonable when you consider the world we live in. Men are being told to be more like traditional men, but those traditional men are hated by feminists everywhere.
When women were first entering the workforce, were they met with hostility for having not been working? Were they told to ‘toughen up’ and start ‘wearing the pants’? No, allowances were made, aid was given and support extended. Most of this had to come from the men who were in control of the workplace. If anything, they were given nice, clean pants. And they got to keep their skirts too.
Now let’s look at modern men:
First we have a nice guy who wants to be a better man. He decides to be more chivalrous and to take on more responsibilities of leadership. What might he get for allowances, aid and support?
- Allowances: Women might ‘allow’ him to flee before he gets torn apart (verbally and/or physically) for trying to tell them what to do.
- Aid: I am sure many women would be glad to ‘aid’ him in being chivalrous by taking every opportunity to exploit his politeness.
- Support: There would be ‘support’ for him doing all the dirty work, as long as he doesn’t try to claim any special privilege for doing so.
Now how about a more family oriented man, trying to become a better husband and father. What would he see?
- Allowances: He would probably be ‘allowed’ to take the kids to soccer when mom is tired.
- Aid: I am sure he would get plenty of ‘aid’ in the chores, like snide remarks about how he did it wrong and constant check-ups.
- Support: There are probably support groups.
The truth is this: women expanded their horizons with the assistance of supportive men. How can men be expected to do the same without the support of women? Men who wanted to see women doing more had to become feminists. Women who want to see men doing more will need to be masculists. That doesn’t mean telling men to man up, it means giving men back a position of respect and helping them to be proud of being male. Men don’t need to change to fit society, society needs to change to fit men.
It is unfair and misandristic to call on men to be ‘manly’ again without also calling on the rest of society to support them in doing so. That would be like suddenly calling on women to return to life as homemakers, without taking any action to allow them to make up the lost income from stopping work.
On the Internet, there is a word for such an idea:
And unreasonable, and impossible, and cruel, and…
Alice is the new miniseries on Syfy from the makes of Tin Man. As the name suggests, it is a ‘bold re-imagining’ of the Alice in Wonderland stories. What this means is that it does not bear much similarity to the source material beyond character and location names.
Now, I won’t be reviewing Alice over all, at least not today, but I will say this:
It was both better and worse than Tin Man, in different ways. I do think 4 hours (with commercials) was a bit excessive. Also, I am still not sure how I feel about all the male characters, so I won’t be discussing that today. However, there is one aspect of Alice which I would like to talk about. It is not something unique to Alice, but it is quite present.
What I speak of is chivalry (in the modern sense). That oh-so-cliched code of conduct which guides the behavior of gentlemanly behavior. Many of the old traditions of chivalry have fallen by the wayside with the march of feminism, which is a good thing in my opinion. However, a few of these old traditions of special treatment for women still persist. One which has always been a great annoyance to me is the concept that violence should not be used against women.
It has traditionally been the view point that men are the ones who should do the fighting, take the beating and absorb the pain. This was once due to the belief that women were weaker than men, but that concept of feminine frailty has supposedly been discarded by modern feminism. By that same theory, both men and women should be seen as able to take and dish out the same kind of beating.
No such luck, I’m afraid. Our society still seems to view men as the disposable sex, responsible for taking physical harm while women remain protected. Not that men get any special privlidge for that responsibility.
In Alice we see a fair about of hand-to-hand combat. It is primarily fought by two of the leads: Alice and the Hatter, each with respectable combat prowess. Each takes down numerous thugs with punches, flips and face slams. However, there is something of a discrepancy in regards to the about of abuse the heroes take. The hatter is kicked, thrown, punched in the face, shot and even electrocuted. On the other hand we have Alice, the extent of whose bodily harm amounts to getting grabbed by a thug (she swiftly repels him).
Despite close to three decades of full-steam feminism, we still have this cultural sense that it is wrong to harm women and that men are capable of and duty bound to take abuse for them. However, this doesn’t match up with the ‘equality’ called for by feminism. The end result is a sense that men and women can do anything, but women should be given special treatment to make sure they remain safe.
This made some sense in a world where men received extra status for taking on the duties of protecting women, but those have been stripped. This leaves a prime example of how media often portrays men and women as equal, but women being more equal, safe in the assurance that they will be protected while still demanding to do anything and everything they like, with full respect. Men are left to feel equal (at best) but also disposable.
In the past, men who did not face down danger and risk were called cowards.
What do you call someone who doesn’t face danger but still demands full respect as if they had? Besides a female soldier. That one’s easy.
Ah, talk shows!
The above images are from the Ellen DeGeneres Show. As you can guess, the woman is Ellen. The man is a stagehand by the name of Andy Zenor. In the past he just helped move things around and hand stuff out, but it seems Ellen recently took a fancy to him. For some time now it seems that he has been appearing in these short-shorts. And as you can see, Ellen appears to greatly enjoy stroking his legs, often to his apparent discomfort.
Hmm, now isn’t there a name for that?
Oh, yes! Harassment, sexual harassment.
When I was a kid, that was considered something an employer should not do to an employee. Come to think of it, I seem to recall some examples of employers getting in trouble for sleeping with their employees, supposedly promising advancement. But I guess that doesn’t apply, since Ellen is gay (and possibly female, but that is harder to judge).
By that logic, heterosexual individuals could do similar things to homosexual individuals, since they aren’t interested. Lesbians wouldn’t mind a little butt squeeze from a man, since they won’t be sleeping together, right?
No matter what anyone says, such conduct is harassment. Here are some federal guidelines as to what constitutes harassment. I think they apply. For example:
Harassment violates federal law if it involves discriminatory treatment based on race, color, sex (with or without sexual conduct), religion, national origin, age…
Looks like singling out to me.
It doesn’t matter who the employer is, nor their orientation. Harassment is harassment. But then, there seems to be something of a cultural belief that men do not mind sexual or semi-sexual advances, even if they show outward discomfort. This page on TV Tropes is about just that topic. Such tropes do not only apply to television, but real life.
I don’t watch talk shows (I only see them in passing), but if there is one with a woman employee in booty-shorts, I would love to see a picture.
As for the Ellen Show, I think Weird Al summed up my opinion for me:
Or those weird talk shows
About Transsexual Nazi Eskimos
They’re rude, crude and vile
Just for a minute let’s flip down the dial
A story of family, adventure and pirates!
And maybe a little bit more, especially in that first half-hour.
Hook is the 1991 Spielberg film re-imagining of the classic tale of Peter Pan. Or rather, the latter two hours or so are that. The first chunk is set in the modern world (of 1991, cell phones as big as toasters included). The star is Peter Banning, orphan, successful lawyer at law and Peter Pan. Besides that, he is also a hated father.
The first part of the movie focuses on what a sucky dad he is. Cell calls at school plays, missing baseball games, etc. Basically he is a workaholic. Then he finds out he is Peter Pan, and that is when the movie actually gets good. He goes to Neverland and has to re-learn everything, including flight, to face down James Hook, Captain at sea. Much mayhem and food-fighting ensues and in the end he rediscovers his sense of adventure and wins back the love of his children.
Too bad he had to become an impossible hero to do so.
Peter is the fairly typical ’90s dad. So obsessed with work that he neglects his family. As usual, this is met with contempt and anger. Now, to be fair let’s have a look at a similar example:
Circa-1950. WWII is over, the men are home. Each household has 1 happy dog and 2.4 joyful children. Fathers work hard to provide for their family while their wives tends the children and home.
Now imagine hearing this pitch for a movie:
Patrica Banning is a loving mother, but maybe too much. While her husband works long hours, Patrica is lounging at home, idling vacuuming and preparing store bought meals as she worries about what to wear to her next tea party. So caught up in her own world that she can not see how hard her husband works, Patrica can not understand why her husband would want her to have a job so she could contribute to the family economy. Her laziness puts her marriage and her own happiness at risk.
Sound about fair? If only. I will eat my beard when I hear that for real. The simple fact is this: men are hated for dedicating themselves to their work and it is they who are expected to change to make their family impossibly happy.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think it is horrible when a parent is away at work all day. What else is horrible is when men who do so are hated for it, even though they are only doing what they have to do to fit in and to give their family everything he can. People say women were victims of a society which forced them to stay in the kitchen. Well now men are the victims of a society which forces them to stay in the office.
Let’s look at an example:
Peter Banning, successful businessman realizes that his over-working is tearing his family apart. Loving nothing above his family, Peter cuts back to part-time work and begins to spend his afternoons at home. He begins to play with his children and even to help with the house work. All is well, for a while.
At first his wife appreciates Peter’s assistance, but he can never seem to get it quite right. He forgot the fabric softener, he missed a spot with the mop, he got the kids dirty playing in the yard. Naturally, she voices her complaints. Then she voices them an extra thousand times. No matter what Peter does, he can’t meet his wife’s expectations of how her house is to be run. Women are more critical than men, fact.
Maybe that office job wasn’t so bad?
But wait! There’s more!
A few months down the line, the family starts noticing the pinch from Peter’s reduced paycheck. They have to give up their timeshare in Hawaii. The kids can’t get a new computer quite so often. Those opera tickets will have to wait. I bet the wife and kids are missing those long hours now, and you can bet they will say so. Even if they hadn’t been used to the big check, I would bet they wouldn’t complain about a bigger one, especially if they know someone whose husband/dad gets paid a nice sum extra.
The fact is this: a man who works long hours to provide for his family is hated for being away. A man who does not is hated for being domestically inadequate (in the eyes of the woman) and for not bringing in enough money. Damned if he do, damned if he don’t. Everywhere in the media you see images of men failing at simple domestic chores, so why should they or their wives think they can do it? Along with that, any man who doesn’t work full time must be a bum. And he probably watches too much TV.
In the continued spirit of fairness, let’s look at a woman in similar circumstances, one we see often: the juggling mother.
A loving mother, working part-time at the local clinic and always there for her family. Everywhere we see support and encouragement for this lifestyle, even in the most common of commercials. The word Super-Mom comes to mind. Now, no one criticizes a woman for leading this lifestyle. Nor would she be criticized for being a homemaker, always caring for her family, or for working full-time to provide for her family, liberated to the role of breadwinner. In the few cases where the husband does most of the housework, I doubt he would yell at her for leaving the peanut-butter open. Even if he did, he would be sleeping on the couch for the night.
To summarize: a man who works full-time wins only contempt for never being there. A man who balances his life wins contempt for not working hard and wins no respect from his wife at home. A woman who works full-time is ‘liberated’ and would never stand for her husband complaining about her long-hours. A woman who balances her life is beloved for doing so, even though she doesn’t work as hard as she could and she remains the queen of her own home, commanding how all is done.
This kind of double-standard treatment of male-female roles is common and Hook is a good example. While a fun movie, it unfairly portrays hard-working dads as heartless. That coupled with the cultural disdain for part-time workmen and the critical treatment they get at home makes it nigh-impossible for them to find the right place to be standing when the wife gets home from yoga class.
Women are loved whether they work, keep house or strike a balance.
Men are criticized no matter what they do.
The movie should have focused more on Peter’s own unhappiness and on his journey to break out of the cultural restraints forced on him.
As for the real world, men would be a lot more willing to balance their lives if women did two things:
- Stop looking at those expensive jewelry/clothing/travel/beauty magazines. You know you can’t afford them, so don’t remind your husband of that every day. Then he might be comfortable with fewer hours and a smaller paycheck.
- Let men be men. Maybe he doesn’t fold the towels the same as you or organize the fridge the same way as you, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Be glad when he helps and don’t just point out how he did it wrong.