This past weekend was CFI’s Women in Secularism conference, a first-of-its-kind conference. I was bummed to not be able to attend, and even more so while watching the #wiscfi hashtag over the weekend.
One thing that made me even sadder was to hear that the event was largely unattended by men. I can only assume that’s because the title was “Women in Secularism”, which I kind of get… as a woman who runs a women’s organization, we often get men emailing asking if they’re even welcome at events titled “women”. (They are.)
But there still seems to be an idea that white and male is a default, neutral thing that appeals to everyone, and straying from that is somehow focusing on special demographics. For example, Disney’s Tangled is an adaptation of the Rapunzel story. But Disney had to work very hard to make sure that boys weren’t turned off by watching a movie about a girl. For one, they didn’t call the movie “Rapunzel”. The story is narrated by the male lead, despite the movie being about Rapunzel’s journey. Or if you pay attention to Pixar’s marketing of Brave, coming out this summer, you’ll notice, for example, that they advertised during the NFL draft… but that preview shows the female lead for maybe 2 of the almost 60 seconds, and gives the very distinct impression that the movie is about tough men… especially bothersome since this is the very first Pixar movie about a girl.
They’ve covered men and boys, robots, cars, monsters, toys… and now they’re finally making a movie about a bad ass girl, and they can’t even show her in the previews because a move about a girl is not something that men and boys can even begin to relate to. Meanhile girls cheered on Lightening McQueen, Mater, Woody and Buzz and loved them dearly… because those were movies for everyone. Those were characters everyone can relate to.
That’s a problem for me. But then, I also often have issues with the way that female characters are portrayed when they are featured. They’re in search of a prince. They want to live happily ever after. And when they’re good at non-girl things, everyone around them is shocked. (OMG she can KICK a real soccer ball! How is the media not all over this?) Reinforcing the idea that if you’re a girl, and not naturally spectacular, no one is going to take you seriously.
What’s a girl to do?
How do we get men to realize that women are actually interesting? Hell, how do we get women to realize that women are actually interesting? How do we people to start realizing that women’s issues are men’s issues, too? Is this something that really matters?
Featured image via Sodahead