I happened upon some interesting ideas in my weekly reading.
BetaCandy at Hathor Legacy:
Because when a young woman watches Battlestar Galactica and realizes she doesn’t have to conform to gender roles, it’s a bit late. She may change and blossom and lead a full life outside the expectations other people put on her the instant she was identified as a baby girl, but what a revolution it would’ve been if she’d figured this out in grade school instead of adulthood.
That’s what people are so afraid of. If we teach adult women they’re people just like men, we make a dent in the system. If we teach five year old girls they’re people, we crash the system and replace it with one that’s not all about white perpetual boys in a state of arrested development. Girls would grow up expecting to be taken seriously, to be respected, but more to the point: they would grow up expecting things of themselves (at least as often as men do).
And they would expect maturity from men, which is exactly what the consumer market doesn’t want: it wants men to remain adolescents forever, so it can sell them shoddy products when they’re 60. Maybe this is the real reason why Hollywood hates women: it’s run by Peter Pans, for Peter Pans. They see women as Wendy, who can tag along if she’s willing to do the motherly duty, but must not be allowed to interfere in this unnatural extended boyhood Hollywood has made the norm.
We no longer even have matinee idols who attempt to represent the rugged American male, self-reliant and strong. Many people blame feminists for that, but they’re wrong: feminists offered a reformed vision of manhood, still strong and self-reliant, but with the addition of an emotional palette and the ability to introspect. The consumer marketplace – an extension of the status quo, not feminism – rejected that being as someone who wouldn’t mindlessly buy horse pucky marketed as gold. They instead sought to create a neurotic, navel-gazing mess and market that as the feminist ideal for men (a false premise truly feminist-produced shows like Cagney & Lacey neatly deconstructed with several male characters). This led to the widespread belief that feminists tried to make men into “sissies”, when in fact what feminists sought was a redefinition of gender roles that allowed both men and women to be strong and self-reliant, without demanding anyone stop having feelings.
Feminists want a world in which both men and women are allowed to have feelings about the world and their lives, and both are allowed to take steps to make themselves happy, and everyone can finally be held responsible for his/her own happiness because no one’s being denied the right to feeling or action.
Personally, I think what scares Hollywood – and everyone else – the most is the fear that anyone might learn that little boys don’t have to conform to gender roles. Once you decide that, everything is blown to bits. I mean, there’s a certain logic to women wanting to be like their betters, as much as we can’t have that. But boys identifying with female characters. My god, the horror! Next thing you know people won’t just be saying that women can do men’s jobs, but that men should value women(’s jobs)! And not in a condescending “as only a mother can” kind of way.
And the thought that men might someday not be trained to find female characters and stories to be irrelevant and of no interest – well, it is my fervent dream that all human stories are valued the same. Can you imagine an Oscar ceremony where all the films have primarily female characters instead of the other way around??? And more ideally, where the gender (and race for that matter) is actually balanced???
William Moulton Marston in a 1943 American Scholar article (as quoted by Trina Robbins in The Great Women Superheroes):
It’s smart to be strong. It’s big to be generous, but it’s sissified, according to exclusively male rules, to be tender, loving, affectionate, and alluring. ‘Aw, that’s girl stuff!’ snorts our young comics reader, ‘Who wants to be a girl?’ And that’s the point: not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength. . . . Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weak ones.”
All of this served to remind me that I’d never seen a Wonder Woman cartoon for little girls on Saturday mornings.