Sometimes Movies Revolve Around A Single Gender, Sometimes That Gender Is Female, And Sometimes That’s Okay

Maleficient

Even before Angelina’s portrayal, Maleficent has always been one of my favorite characters. She’s so witty and in control…so intentional. Of course, she was evil – but I had been raised on stories like Wicked and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, so it felt okay to admire certain aspects of her persona…and I was more than delighted with the perspective provided by Maleficent.

As I would imagine any logical person would assume, this movie, designed to explain the relationship between Maleficent (a female fairy) and Aurora (also a female), focused primarily on two strong female characters. This probably makes sense to most people, but, as I have recently learned, not everyone.

In a post titled “The Importance of Gender Roles and The Problem with Maleficent,” one blogger writes about how men were snubbed in the movie – how Prince Philip’s role was so small he might as well not have even been in the movie at all. Well, that opinion is interesting to me. In Disney’s original telling of Sleeping Beauty, the only really developed characters were the fairies. Prince Philip’s role was minimal and Aurora only appeared for about 18 minutes in the 75-minute movie for which she was the title character. The real difference is that, while Prince Philip’s role remained the same, two of the female roles became much more dynamic.

Now, I could understand concern if this was the case for the majority of movies. It would absolutely be harmful to pretend all stories revolve around women and that women are the only ones daring enough to do interesting things. However, this is not the case. So to those who are offended by a single movie telling the story of two women, I invite you to put your ego aside and get over it.

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Gender & Pronouns

Little Miss Mister

As feminists, we know gender is on a spectrum. We’re dynamic beings and trying to box ourselves off into male or female really isn’t helping anyone. I mean that’s a lot of pressure and who even wants to live up to those expectations anyways. It’s much more fun to just do everything you want without worrying if it makes you too masculine or too feminine.

But I must admit, as much as I believe this, it is very difficult for me to form my language around it. It’s so easy to associate pronouns with a person’s sex even though I know the meaning is closer linked to gender. So what can we do?

I’ve heard of someone who proudly identifies as an “it” – but that term feels like it sucks the life out of its subject. I don’t even refer to animals as it’s. More commonly, there’s the option of “they.” It’s grammatically incorrect, but it’s gender neutral. It tends to be my favorite for situations in which I’m trying to avoid gender…but I really just can’t get over that hankering for something that’s grammatically correct without imposing gender.

That’s where Wikipedia’s table of “Newly Invented Pronouns” comes in.

Newly invented pronouns
Elverson (1975)[45] Ey laughed I called em Eir eyes gleam That is eirs Ey likes eirself
Spivak (1983)[46][47] E laughed I called Em Eir eyes gleam That is Eirs E likes Emself
Humanist[48] Hu laughed I called hum Hus eyes gleam That is hus Hu likes humself
Peh[49][50] Peh laughed I called pehm Peh’s eyes gleam That is peh’s Peh likes pehself
Per[51] Per laughed I called per Per eyes gleam That is pers Per likes perself
Thon[52] Thon laughed I called thon Thons eyes gleam That is thons Thon likes thonself
Jee, Jeir, Jem[53] Jee laughed I called jem Jeir eyes gleam That is jeirs Jee likes jemself
Ve[54] Ve laughed I called ver Vis eyes gleam That is vis Ve likes verself
Xe[55] Xe laughed I called xem Xyr eyes gleam That is xyrs Xe likes xemself
Ze (or zie or sie) and zir (Germanic Origin)[56] Ze laughed I called zir/zem Zir/Zes eyes gleam That is zirs/zes Ze likes zirself
Ze (or zie or sie) and hir[57] Ze laughed I called hir Hir eyes gleam That is hirs Ze likes hirself
Ze and mer[58] Ze laughed I called mer Zer eyes gleam That is zers Ze likes zemself
Zhe, Zher, Zhim[59] Zhe laughed I called zhim Zher eyes gleam That is zhers Zhe likes zhimself

Any one of these words could be the solution to our problem. The only trouble is that hardly anyone would recognize them making it difficult to use them without adding an explanatory paragraph into your sentence; and by that point, is it even worth it?

To make any of these work, we’d have to limit the use to one…and probably get a celebrity on board. If one day, Ellen Degeneres started using Ze, the whole world would change. Regardless of how a person identifies, it would be much harder to impose any expectations and, on a larger scale, it would be much harder to have any stereotypes.

 

Easing the Inconvenience of #BoycottUber

If you live in a bigger city, chances are you use Uber on occasion. And if you’re on the internet, chances are you’ve heard about how misogynistic the company is. They’ve designed campaigns around female objectification, used slut-shaming to justify assaults on their passengers, and responded to the reporter who revealed it all with an intent to “prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.”

If you’re like me, this feels like a very inconvenient truth. Why couldn’t Uber just be respectful? I like the service, but I want my dollar to support a world that believes in equality. Thankfully, some very lovely people have already put together lists of alternative services to ease the inconvenience of this issue.

The two most popular of these alternatives seem to by Lyft and Sidecar. Making this switch even more attractive, Sidecar claims you can save money by switching to either service.

lyft sidecar uber

I haven’t used these particular services, so I can’t give you any testimonials, but I have a good feeling about this switch. Not only will I be able to save money and support a better world, but it will also be a heck of a lot easier to spot my driver if there’s pink mustache on the car. So instead of thinking of this change as a boycott, I’d like to think of it as rewarding the companies that deserve it and supporting the world I believe in.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s going on at Uber, check out the article that started it all: Sarah Lacy’s “The horrific trickle down of Asshole culture: Why I’ve just deleted Uber from my phone.”

Feminism is Trending – And the Music Industry’s Next

Hey there, Happy Feminists! You’ve done something really great. By giving feminism a voice and supporting others who have done the same, you’ve made feminism essential to being a power celebrity, and as a result feminism is trending more than ever.

So round of applause for you, my dear!

Yes, sexism is still very prevalent (as evident in one of the radio’s most recent and horrendous hits), but it’s certainly worth celebrating that some really important messages are being played on an almost constant basis. Taylor Swift is shrugging off all the flack she gets for her love life in “Shake It Off” and once again more comically in her “Blank Space” music video. And “All About That Bass” is taking baby steps toward more inclusive beauty standards.

But we can do better! Who cares if men like a little more booty to hold at night? You are perfect because you are – and not because the male gaze approves.

Luckily, while we wait for the music industry to get on our level, there are some really talented and intelligent people on YouTube re-imagining what our songs could be.

Real Women Don’t Call Other Women “Basic Bitches”

When I first encountered the “Basic Bitch” trend, I thought it was funny – a simple jest that reminded me of parts of myself and parts of other people I really care about. But the more I saw of the trend, the more offensive it seemed to become. Rather than simply teasing its audience, it grew into an outright dismissal of girl culture.

According to Elite Daily, you’re “basic” if you like big salads, musicals, low ponytails, posing with your boyfriend for pictures, or really anything else that would categorize you as “girly.” And unlike College Humor’s over-dramatized video above, Elite Daily‘s article is too serious to be anything but mean with quotes like “Basic b*tches are the Ikea of humans. They are mass-produced, painfully ordinary “Where’s Waldo” women whose special talent is blending in.”

Time out, Elite Daily. First off, yes, Waldo might have been hard to pick out of the crowd, but taking the time to find him has been worth it for generations of people. Being similar to other people doesn’t make you insignificant; it makes you human.

Second, there are no rules on the right way to be unique, AKA a “bad bitch.” If you genuinely like Uggs and Carrie Bradshaw, it doesn’t make you “basic;” it makes you you.

Accept everything about yourself, whether it’s girly, manly, or somewhere in between. It’s part of you, and if you can learn to accept it, maybe you can learn to accept the people standing beside you.

I Agree: Feminism Won’t Make You Happy

 

I was recently searching for my blog on WordPress, but when I typed “Happy Feminism” into the search bar, the first result was a post titled “Feminism Won’t Make You Happy.” While I was a little taken aback by it at first, I realized they were right; feminism won’t make you happy. As my mom always said, “Only you can make yourself happy.” …..Feminism is maybe just a mechanism for getting there.

While anyone who believes in gender equality could consider themselves a feminist, only if that belief leads to action will it increase a person’s happiness. If it lets you feel more comfortable with who you are or try different things that otherwise would have been “off-limits” to your gender, you will definitely be happier.

However, if all you do is acknowledge the injustices in the world, I would bet feminism would only add to your unhappiness. There’s no good in acknowledging what’s wrong if you aren’t willing to change it.

I suppose most of the critics out there are the kind of people who don’t like change, so I can understand why feminism isn’t right for them. However, for everyone else who can envision a more wonderful world and wants to fight to make it a better place, I’m proud to call you my fellow Happy Feminists.

Feminism: We’re Still Figuring It Out

Tavi Gevinson, as the founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie Magazine, allows women to be contradictions. Being a feminist, should mean the opposite of being put in a box. There are no rules on what you should like, how you should behave, or what you should do. Being a feminist, means embracing any of the opportunities of being a person that you choose. It means being dynamic, having flaws, and, most importantly, being free.

Below are just a few key points of her ideas. For the real thing, watch her TedX talk above, “Still Figuring It Out.”

  1. Strong Characters Are Dynamic, Not Perfect
  2. Women Are Crazy, Because People Are Crazy, and Women Happen To Be People
  3. Stop Underestimating Teenage Girls
  4. Feminism is a Discussion, Not a Rulebook
  5. We’re All Just a Bundle of Contradictions, Accept It