Could ‘Wild’ be the antidote to ‘Gone Girl’?

I’m a slow reader, and I read several books simultaneously, so finishing Cheryl Strayed’s Wild in a couple days is a remarkable feat in my world.

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This memoir starts with the story of a how Strayed’s life unraveled after her mother’s death in her early 40s from lung cancer. Stayed cheated multiple times on her husband, left him, spiraled into heroin addiction, and then went cold turkey from men and drugs, hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I love this book. I can’t wait to see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

I don’t recall ever reading a book about a woman who writes of cheating on her loving husband and then chooses to be alone. Strayed’s writing style in open, honest, and raw. Here is one of my favorite passages:

What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d dome something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than it was what I wanted to do and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was also what got me here? What if was never redeemed? What if I already was?

 

I’ve read several interviews with Witherspoon where she speaks about the lack of roles for women, why she created her own production company, and her hopes for her daughter. Here’s one quote from the Columbus Dispatch:

In a series of meetings that Reese Witherspoon had with Hollywood executives in 2012, the actress grew increasingly frustrated by the answers she received to the question “What are you developing for women?”

The pickings were slim.

“I think it was literally one studio that had a project for a female lead over 30,” the actress recalls. “And I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get busy.’  ”

“My daughter was 13,” Witherspoon says, “and I wanted her to see movies with female leads and heroes and life stories.”

 

How cool is that? We desperately need powerful women, women with daughters, to put their time, energy, brains, and money into getting narratives with heroic, complex females out into the world. It does kind of bum me out that Witherspoon’s other project was “Gone Girl.” If you’ve read my blog, you know I hate what “Gone Girl” is about. Apparently, the director of “Gone Girl” insisted Witherspoon did not star in the movie. He wanted someone unknown, cold, and unapproachable. It’s interesting that being too cold is one of the criticisms Rosamund Pike is getting for her portrayal of Amy Dunne. Clearly, she is following the director’s orders.

I, for one, am thrilled Witherspoon is starring in “Wild” instead. I’m a huge fan of her work, especially “Freeway,” one of her early movies where she plays a violent, heroic Red-Riding Hood. I just read an article about Witherspoon in Vogue and there is no mention of “Freeway.” There almost never is which I don’t get. Have any of you seen it? It’s such a great movie.

“Wild” like “Gone Girl” is a best-selling book which hopefully will metamorphose into a blockbuster movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m already hoping Witherspoon wins another Oscar.

 

Parents everywhere need to thank and support Anita Sarkeesian

Do you know who Anita Sarkeesian is?

She is a freedom-fighter cyber warrior, working every day to protect your child’s imagination, and because of her courageous acts, her life is in danger.

Sarkeesian is a fan of video games. She has been since she was a child. She has always lamented the lack of female protagonists in games, the repetition of the trope of damsel in distress, and the prevalence of the sexualization and violence against women in games. Sarkeesisan has created several videos exploring these damaging tropes throughout the history of gaming. She wants more creative narratives where females get to play heroes. For pointing out this sexism and for imagining gender equality in the gaming world, Sarkeesian’s has received numerous threats of violence. Yesterday, for the first time, she cancelled a speech. The New York Times reports:

Not until Tuesday, though, did Ms. Sarkeesian feel compelled to cancel a speech, planned at Utah State University. The day before, members of the university administration received an email warning that a shooting massacre would be carried out at the event. And under Utah law, she was told, the campus police could not prevent people with weapons from entering her talk.

“This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history, and I’m giving you a chance to stop it,” said the email, which bore the moniker Marc Lépine, the name of a man who killed 14 women in a mass shooting in Montreal in 1989 before taking his own life.

Of her decision to cancel, Sarkeesian Tweets:

To be clear: I didn’t cancel my USU talk because of terrorist threats, I canceled because I didn’t feel the security measures were adequate.

 

Sarkeesian cancelled because the university and the police refused to screen for weapons.

Peggy Orenstein posts on her Facebok page:

I am absolutely sickened by what is happening to Anita Sarkeesian. Every person of conscience should speak out against this–ESPECIALLY men and gamers!

Please speak out for Sarkeesian. Share her story and state your support.

 

 

‘Penguins of Madagascar’ preview gives female one line: ‘Where’s the sound?’

Last week, my 3 daughters (ages 5, 8, and 11) and I saw the preview for Dreamworks upcoming “Penguins of Madagascar.” A female has just one line in the entire preview. Ironically, she says: “Where’s the sound?”

Even before seeing this, I had an issue with the ubiquitous frat boy penguins. In the earlier film “Madagascar 3″ (yes, three) one of the 4 brother penguins (yes, brothers) chides the others: “You pillow fight like a bunch of little girls.” Here’s that preview:

As I blogged after my kids saw that preview:

Why would kids need to hear a line making fun of how girls fight? What writer or producer or director could possibly think perpetuating that stereotype would be funny for girls to hear? Or were they, more likely, not thinking about little girls at all?…“Madagascar 3,” by the way, features the same 4 main characters as in 1 and 2. Guess how many are female? One, Gloria the Hippo.

 

Does Gloria get her a spin off movie where she is the protagonist? No, DreamWorks decided that the 4 penguin brothers should star in their own narrative., captioning their story: “When the world needs saving, heroes become legends.” I have a special sore spot for sexist spin offs. This is because, so often, when I write about the lack of females in movies like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Tintin, Superhero sagas, the list goes on, commenters invariably write me that the girls gone missing is nobody’s fault, it’s how the original story is. With a spin off, Hollywood has a clear an opportunity to create a new narrative with a female star, but what does it do? Manage to be even more sexist than the original.  After 3 Shrek movies (yes, three) did Fiona get her own trilogy? No, Puss In Boots got his spin off film. That movie had a fabulous Minority Feisty, Kitty Softpaws. I’m still waiting for her spin off movie. I’m still waiting for the Wonder Woman movie, but what do I get? Batman vs Superman, because after all, we’ve only had 8 Batman movies and 9 Superman ones.

So, please, don’t tell me anymore that movies lack females because the cast of the original story does. And please, don’t tell me movies are sexist because that’s just how it is in nature. Animals don’t talk in nature, nor do planes or cars, and that doesn’t seem to bother anyone much. Hollywood is sexist because it’s run by men along with the rest of the world. Parents need to seriously consider if they want things to stay this way, if they want yet another generation of children to be conditioned to expect and accept a world where females go missing.

We all want complex female heroes and villains, ‘Gone Girl’ doesn’t deliver

The psycho-female stereotype of “Gone Girl” has her defenders. Of course, the writer, Gillian Flynn, who posts on her web site:

“I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains – good, potent female villains . . . The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves – to the point of almost parodic encouragement – we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side.”

In spite of Flynn’s claim that the lack of representation of heroic females in narratives is a problem solved, here are some facts: In movies today just 30.8% of speaking characters are women; 28.8% of women wear sexually revealing clothing; 10.7% of movies feature a balanced cast where half of the characters are female. Want more stats on the lack of women? Go to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media.

But reality doesn’t stop Maureen Dowd from repeating Flynn’s claim that she’s just being original. In the New York Times today, Dowd writes:

Given my choice between allowing portrayals of women who are sexually manipulative, erotically aggressive, fearless in a deranged kind of way, completely true to their own temperament, desperately vital, or the alternative — wallowing in feminist propaganda and succumbing to the niceness plague — I’ll take the former.

It’s laughable that when a narrative promotes a stereotype, it gets depicted as unique. Once again, I go back to the first post I wrote on Reel Girl after reading the book:

I have absolutely no problem with women not being “likeable” characters. I want that. I was so excited when I read the comment by the excellent writer Claire Messud who, when asked about her protagonist by Publisher’s Weekly (“I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim”) responded:

“For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”

 

Get that, people? Is this character alive?

Amy Dunne is a stereotype who fakes her own rape multiple times.

When the epidemic of violence against women in the USA is finally getting some national attention from Obama to colleges to the NFL, ‘Gone Girl’ reads like a Men’s Rights handbook

I wrote on Reel Girl:

“Gone Girl” makes violence against women into a punchline, and does this so well that even I laughed at the jokes…

There are a few core beliefs women’s rights advocates have worked hard to get the culture to understand:

(1) Women don’t want to be raped

(2) A woman who is raped did not bring the violence on herself

(3) The #1 killer of pregnant women is homicide

In “Gone Girl”‘ each of these beliefs becomes a mockery, perfectly executed with comic timing, plot points, and good acting to seem ridiculous. I’m going to summarize a few instances below though its from memory, so the quotes may not be precisely accurate, and you’ve got to see it yourself to experience the reaction, I don’t think the typed words on the page will do it.

When Nick Dunne seeks out another guy that his wife, Amy, falsely accused of rape, the guy says,”That’s Amy! She’s graduated from rape to murder.” I chuckled.

When it becomes public that Amy was pregnant (a faked pregnancy by the way) media and townspeople nod and knowingly say, “The #1 way pregnant women die is murder.” The scene is so cartoonish and Nick is so clearly a victim, that when hearing the line, even I rolled my eyes.

When Amy spins the story of how she never should have let another guy she accused of rape into her house, an FBI guy steps in with a concerned face and says, “Don’t blame yourself!” When I heard that line, I snorted.

Gillian Flynn is no Claire Messud. I wish she were.

‘Gone Girl’ makes violence against women a punchline

***SPOILERS***

“Gone Girl” makes violence against women into a punchline, and does this so well that even I laughed at the jokes.

Just as the book “Gone Girl” is well written and well plotted, the movie version is well acted, directed, and produced. Watching the movie, even more than reading the book, I felt like I was having a meta experience: watching a movie about storytelling while being manipulated by the story I was being told. “Gone Girl” is the story of a woman who lies about being raped by three different men.

There are a few core beliefs women’s rights advocates have worked hard to get the culture to understand:

(1) Women don’t want to be raped

(2) A woman who is raped did not bring the violence on herself

(3) The #1 killer of pregnant women is homicide

In “Gone Girl”‘ each of these beliefs becomes a mockery, perfectly executed with comic timing, plot points, and good acting to seem ridiculous. I’m going to summarize a few instances below though its from memory, so the quotes may not be precisely accurate, and you’ve got to see it yourself to experience the reaction, I don’t think the typed words on the page will do it.

When Nick Dunne seeks out another guy that his wife, Amy, falsely accused of rape, the guy says,”That’s Amy! She’s graduated from rape to murder.” I chuckled.

When it becomes public that Amy was pregnant (a faked pregnancy by the way) media and townspeople nod and knowingly say, “The #1 way pregnant women die is murder.” The scene is so cartoonish and Nick is so clearly a victim, that when hearing the line, even I rolled my eyes.

When Amy spins the story of how she never should have let another guy she accused of rape into her house, an FBI guy steps in with a concerned face and says, “Don’t blame yourself!” When I heard that line, I snorted.

At the end of the book, Nick falls back in love with Amy and you’re left with feeling that these two deserve each other. At the end of the movie, Nick is still angry. Like all heroes, his experience led him to go through a transition, and you’re left feeling sorry for he guy who only wants to be a good dad to his son.

Describing her book, author Gillian Flynn says:

“It’s a story about storytelling, and in the 24-hour media world, no matter what the content, the media has a disproportionate voice in all our lives. I wanted it to be a third character in a way — Nick, Amy, but also the media. We all weigh in on everybody’s life no matter what. And there seems to be a constant audience monitoring our lives.”

 

No question that “Gone Girl” is a movie about story-telling. Maybe Flynn isn’t perpetuating misogyny here but being doing something quite brilliant. The joke is on us, the audience. Look how easily we’re manipulated, at this particular moment by beautiful people and great acting into, once again, believing the story that scorned women lie about about rape while its men who are the real victims.

In the USA one in five women reports experiencing a rape. The Department of Justice estimates that 60 percent of rapes go unreported. As for false accusations of rape, the FBI estimates that 1-2 percent of claims are fake. Yet, a 2002 survey of male and female college students shows that they believe a woman lies in 50 percent of reported rape cases. “ This is typical. Why do so many people believe women lie about rape? Because of a story we’ve been told again and again and again.

 

 

 

Here’s my original post on “Gone Girl:”

I haven’t seen the movie “Gone Girl,” and neither have you as it’s hitting theaters on October 3, though I did read the book this summer. I was horrified by the misogyny woven through the narrative. Perhaps I was so surprised by the sexism because the only controversy I’d heard of before I read the book was that people didn’t like the ending. I did like the ending. I’ll tell you why, and also go into the plot points of “Gone Girl” but before I do, consider yourself warned: spoilers will be in this post. If you’re going to read Gone Girl– and it is, like so many sexist books I critique, well written and well plotted, I’m talking about technique here– you may not want to proceed much further, except, perhaps, to take a look at this cover of Entertainment Weekly. There you see Amy, the protagonist of “Gone Girl,” shown as a “beautiful” female corpse, a trope Anita Sarkeesian dissects in her latest video: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games. This image of the dead, sexualized female body is, quite literally, everywhere in popular culture. After you check out this cover, I want you to know just one more thing.

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My final comment to those who don’t want spoilers: I have absolutely no problem with women not being “likeable” characters. I want that. I was so excited when I read the comment by the excellent writer Claire Messud who, when asked about her protagonist by Publisher’s Weekly (I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim”) responded:

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”

 

Get that, people? Is this character alive?

OK, moving on to spoilers, if you don’t want them, it’s time to leave.

It turns out that the protagonist of Gone Girl, Amy Dunne (played in the movie by Rosemund Pike) fakes her own rape, pregnancy, stalking, beatings, and murder. That’s right, Amy goes through a veritable list of practically every act/ crime that a wicked and conniving (are men ever conniving?) woman can manipulate. While Amy fakes her victimhood, her husband, Nick, played in the movie by Ben Affleck, is falsely accused of killing his pregnant wife. Why, you ask, is Amy motivated to be so awful? She’s a woman scorned, of course, who discovered her husband’s affair with his student.

Here’s one passage describing Amy’s fakery:

I took a wine bottle, and I abused myself with it every day, so the inside of my vagina looked…right. Right for a rape victim. Then today I let him have sex with me so I had his semen…

That particular scene, by the way, refers to another man Amy is setting up, not her husband.

Here’s the problem, and once again, it’s not that Amy is a villain or unlikeable.

In the USA 20 percent of women, 1 in 5, report experiencing rape or attempted rape. The Department of Justice estimates that 60 percent of rapes go unreported. As for false accusations of rape, the FBI estimates that 1-2 percent of claims are fake. Here’s another important fact about false accusation: A 2002 survey of male and female college students shows that they believe a woman lies in 50 percent of reported rape cases. “Gone Girl” perpetuates the popular narrative that rape isn’t real and isn’t happening, that women lie, and falsely accused men are the real victims.

But Gone Girl is fiction not fact, you say. Why am I listing stats here? Am I trying, once again, to censor artists with my PC beliefs? Surely Amy’s story can fall into the 1- 2% of women who falsely accuse men of rape. This is a free country.

This is also a country where Washington Post columnist George Will, a man known as the “most powerful journalist in America” recently wrote that being a rape survivor is “a coveted status.” When others challenged Will that rape is not, in fact, something women want, the conservative group, Women’s Independent Forum called a conference “Rape Culture and Sexual Assault,” putting out this press release:

The White House has embraced the statistic that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college…The White House has released its “first ever report” on the issue and are using it to push their policy agenda…But many question the validity of the White House’s one-in-five statistic, even as those who challenge this figure are silenced as being uncaring about women…The IWF takes any accusation of sexual assault very seriously. But we are concerned that there is a potentially harmful hysteria developing about this issue. Where does this come from? Where is it going? And who will be harmed?

Lucky for us, Gone Girl answers every single one of the IWF’s (hysterical) questions: Where does it come from? In Gone Girl, overachieving Harvard grad, Amy Dunne, was used but never truly loved by her egotistical writer parents. They penned a best-selling YA series based on their daughter. Where is it going? Female anger and, yes, hysteria, not to mention jealousy, vindictiveness, and aging, leads to violence. Who will be harmed? Nick, of course, innocent men in America who are falsely accused, lied to, manipulated, and victimized by the scorned, bitter women in their lives.

Yes, Of course Gillian Flynn can write about whatever she pleases, but I find it sadly ironic that when I argue for more diverse stories to permeate our popular culture, a culture where people believe that 50% of rape accusations are false, a culture where stories of rape remain secret to the point that the media hides names and identities of survivors, a media dominated by the same old trope ridden narrative, that I am the one who’s accused of stifling creativity. Gone Girl is a best-selling book about to be blockbuster movie that will help to perpetuate  the myth/ story that rape and violence against women is not epidemic but mostly exists in our imagination.

By the way, the end of the book, you know why people don’t like it? Because Amy ends up OK. She and Nick get back together, they’re going to have a baby. (Pregnant for real this time, she stole his sperm.) Apparently, the no punishment-for-Amy-finale is so unpopular that the director changed the ending to make it more of crowdpleaser.

I’ll leave you with some facts about domestic violence in the USA from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence):

One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.

 

85% of domestic violence victims are women.

 

Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.

 

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.

 

Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.

 

On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.

 

 Reel Girl rates Gone Girl ***SSS*** for gender stereotyping

After I read Gone Girl, I searched the internet about the book’s misogyny, here are some interesting posts

 

The Misogynistic Portrayal of Villainy in Gone Girl

Is GONE GIRL a Misogynist Novel?

Death, sex crime threats going viral are never a ‘hoax’

The internet is full of news ‘breaking’ today that the threats to Emma Watson were a ‘hoax.’ What is the news here? The Mary Sue, one of the first sites to write about the threats to Watson reported at the time:

EmmaYouAreNext is undoubtedly a hoax, but regardless, the b board members behind the site say they aren’t planning to release pictures taken consensually—4chan wants to share upskirt photos they claim were taken of Watson without her permission. Again, that’s probably all a lie created by a lonely lizard-brain asshat taking advantage of the Internet’s anonymity to run his mouth, but b board’s professed desire to allegedly spread illegally taken pictures is a perfect example of harassment begetting harassment; a trend that, as HeForShe reminds us, all genders must unite against.

So “the new news” today is that those inflicting the hoax wanted to draw as many eyeballs as possible to the site, having the ultimate intention of shutting down 4Chan for publishing stolen nude photos in the first place. At the end of the countdown, instead of nude Watson photos, a message came up. The Verge reports:

“None of these women deserve this,” the page states. “Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more pictures from being leaked.” Alongside its call to keep private pictures private, the site boasts about its social success. The organizer says emmayouarenext.com reached 48 million visitors, 7 million Facebook shares and likes, and 3 million Twitter mentions. It’s a striking set of numbers that puts a solid figure on how many people are desperate to disrobe young women for their own gratification.

What is the revelation here supposed to be? That people will flock to see nude photos of celebrities? Did we not know that already? All these ‘hoaxers’ did was steal attention from Watson’s speech by making death/ sex crimes threats against her to get eyeballs to their site. Death/ sex crime threats going viral are never ‘a hoax’ unless the barrage of misogynist harassment women get on the internet is ‘a hoax.’ The fact that these hoaxers had the intention of taking down 4Chan by getting their threats to as many eyeballs as possible doesn’t make them any better. 4Chan is exactly where they belong.

Once again, I ask men and boys to stand with Emma Watson. Join HeForShe here.

 

 

Phil Plait of Slate: ‘I stand with Emma Watson’

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer. He is a public speaker, science evangelizer, author of Death From the Skies, and he is a feminist.

Today, on Slate he writes:

I signed up to back HeForShe with my voice and with my words… Some will go to any lengths to oppress women; loathsome knuckle-dragging Men’s Rights Advocates and their ilk have already shown what they will do in order to shut women up. I’ve seen many, many media outlets make that the story, but I refuse to do so; they crave the attention, and I will not feed it to them. I know how to stand up for my friends. I know how to write, and how to make myself heard. And I can hope that other men will do this as well, because while I don’t know the whole solution, I know a part of it, a significant part of it, is just showing that we are listening, that we care, and we want to help. And that’s why I stand with Emma Watson.

 

Thank you to Plait for joining HeForShe. Who’s next?

Hey guys, time to man up and speak out for Emma Watson

After Emma Watson AKA Hermione introduced the HeForShe campaign, making a brilliant and impassioned speech to the U.N. about feminism and asking men to join the movement, she received death and sex crime threats publicly posted on 4Chan. As punishment for being a feminist, Watson was publicly warned, The Mary Sue reports:

In addition to threatening to commit a sex crime against the actress and activist, users also spread a #RIPEmma hashtag on Twitter along with pictures of a fake report on the actress’ “death.”

 

I’m only  including one comment from 4 chan’s b board here; if you can stomach it, Death and Taxes has several classically vitriolic threats in their coverage on the harassment. But here’s a statement that perfectly demonstrates the boo-hoo babyman knee-jerk rhetoric behind the abuse:

 

she makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

It is amazing to me that this website is up and ticking while Tumblr took less than 24 hours to remove a list of rapists put up by University of Chicago students who were frustrated by the systemic lack of protection for students at the school. On the internet, threatening to rape is allowed but protecting students from rapists is banned.

The victim of 4Chan’s harassment isn’t only Watson, of course, but all women and girls. We are all being warned that if we dare to speak out, to tell the truth, to demand equality, or call ourselves feminists, we will be ridiculed, targeted, shamed and humiliated if not raped and murdered. This is happening legally in the USA.

In response to the threats, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals writes a blog titled “Speak All the Louder”

The reaction of these men who use fear to promote their power is a measure meant to terrorize us to ‘stay in our place’.  To shame empathetic men and to overpower outspoken women. To stunt our thinking and growth as a society. To silence our voices.

 

I think this kind of man is an excellent reminder of why we must speak all the louder.

 

Peggy Orenstein, best-selling author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter makes another point, urging men to speak up for Watson and against violence towards women. On her Facebook page, Orenstein writes:

Women can (and should) express outrage about the death threats against our beloved Emma W, but I think that given her message about the value of feminism to both men and women, and how increasingly important we know it is that boys, especially, learn to stand up and speak out around violence against women this would be a good time for guys to step up!!

 

I could not agree more. All males including fathers, teachers, doctors, athletes, musicians, writers, artists, students, boys everywhere, now is the time to speak publicly for Watson, for feminism, and to take action to stop violence against women. If you are silent, you are part of the problem.

Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline, posted his picture on Tumblr with #HeForShe written on his palm, and captioned: “Supporting it as a feminist and as a human being…” If males worldwide publicly say yes to feminism, violence against women will stop.

Sign up for #HeForShe here. Speak out for feminism whenever and wherever you can. Join the movement. Change the world. The time is now.

Michonne of ‘Walking Dead’ joins our female action figure collection!

I made a few attempts to watch ‘Walking Dead’ with my husband but I couldn’t take the violence. (I had the same reaction to ‘Game of Thrones’ along with the rape scenes. ‘Mad Men,’ I had to give up as well,  because while I understand the show is about sexism, not sexist, I couldn’t handle Don Draper’s serial cheating. All those shows, I liked– the acting and the storylines– they’re just not for me at this time in my life.) But my husband held strong with ‘Walking Dead’ and became a true fan. He loves that show. So today, while picking up a prescription at Walgreens when I spotted Michonne grimacing at me from the toy aisle, I couldn’t resist buying her as a present.

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You probably know how rare it is to find a female action figure, not to mention a non-white female action figure, without her breasts popping out of her shirt, wearing pants even, just sitting there on a shelf in a store and not hiding out on some obscure internet site. Let’s just say she’s far rarer than the unicorn in fantasy figure world.

Here are some figures I’ve found for my kids to play with. This is my youngest daughter with Catwoman, Serafina Pekkala, Buffy, and Coraline. Coraline is my absolute favorite. I love her blue hair and droll expression. My kids are all fans of the book and movie, though I know some kids get scared of the movie.

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Here are Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman in her invisible plane, another Catwoman on a motorcycle, and team of soccer players.

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Here’s Katniss, Merida, Rue, and Coraline again.

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Though, in theory, I’d rather my kids play with Michonne than Barbie, I wasn’t sure if I planned on letting them near her, when she comes with exotic weapons and also a couple severed heads. But when my daughter heard my husband’s joyful cry after he saw the package, I thought all was lost.

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My concern turned out to be unfounded. Not only did he tell her he’s not sharing, but he’s not even taking her out of the package. He’s worse than the evil dad in “The Lego Movie,” pre-epiphany.

(If you’re looking for any of these toys, I found quite a few on the website Toward the Stars.)

Show your kids Emma Watson’s speech on feminism

Please show your children this video of Emma Watson’s excellent speech to the U.N. about feminism. Launching the “HeForShe” campaign, Watson is changing the public face of feminism and urging men to join the movement.

While watching the video, ask yourself: Why is Emma Watson one of the few actresses who dares to be a spokesperson for feminism? If Watson had not grown up playing the brave and brilliant Hermione, do you think she would have bloomed into the courageous, public feminist that she is, calling for the social, political, and economic equality of women and men? And most importantly, what would happen if more girls and women played heroes in movies and books? What would happen if more children grew up experiencing  narratives where females are celebrated for their skills instead of for their appearance? Then, how many of the next generation, girls and boys, do you think would proudly call themselves feminists?

In her speech, Emma Watson says: “No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.” But why have so few fantasy worlds achieved gender equality as well, worlds created for children, places where anything should be possible?

Even Hermione, of course, is not the star of the Harry Potter series. She, like so many other Minority Feisty, plays the essential sidekick. She is there to help the male star of his 8 eponymous movies complete his quest to vanquish the villain and save the world. J. K. Rowling was told by her publisher to conceal her gender with her initials in order to sell her book, and that incredible act of sexism happened our modern, ‘post-feminist’ world.

Here are some statistics from the Geena Davis institute on Gender and Media:

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Only 16% of protagonists in film are female
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

Please also look at Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies documenting the years from 2011 – 2014.

If we can’t even imagine gender equality, how can we create it in the “real” world?  Fantasy meets reality meets fantasy meets reality.

Once again, I ask you to show Hermione’s speech to your children.The video and transcript are below.

Today we are launching a campaign called “HeForShe.”

I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved.

This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.

When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”

When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.

Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.

These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are. And we need more of those.  And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1997, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.

But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.

I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.

I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too—reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something. English statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I’ve told myself firmly—if not me, who, if not now, when. If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.

Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.

If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier.

And for this I applaud you.

We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.

Thank you.