Retro Roundup 6/17/07

I forgot to do this column last week, so it’ll be extra long this week. This time last year…

Ifritah found all the usual stereotypes in a series of Piers Anthony books:

Yes, certainly back to the basic stereotype. Men resolve issues through physical means, while women rely on the mental. It rather reminds me of how women often say that there should be a woman president because she would be able to find a way to end war.

Jennifer wrote about a rare representation of “fat” people as not just lazy overeaters which also featured the brutal reality of a little fat girl having not one single friend:

What impressed me about this episode was that Jessica literally had no friends.

See, in TV land, the truth must be sugar-coated. Fat or ugly children always have at least one friend, because it’s a Nice, Fair World, right?

But Chase accurately represents the opinion of most doctors and adults when it comes to overweight people. Despite growing research into disorders that cause incredibly sluggish metabolisms, people just enjoy blaming and judging overweight people. It’s the American way.

sbg was surprised to find an unwilling female victim in Cellular, even if lip service resolved it to the status quo at the end:

All in all, Jessica did all right for herself and for her family. I was impressed with her ability to cope and impressed that a movie so cheesy actually gave her the chance to be her own hero.

Everything was great until the end, when Jessica sees Ryan for the first time and she gives him a big hug of thanks for saving her life.

scarlett was mystified at body language in The Da Vinci Code that didn’t fit her impressions from the book:

I don’t know if they were aiming for paternal/filial or loverly, but it sucked. They took a perfectly good platonic, respectful relationship and turned it into a woman-needs-protection relationship. Or worse; Hanks, Tatou and Howard didn’t even know they were doing it; it was just second nature to write an older male/younger female relationships as either paternal/filial or loverly. Either way, the woman gets looked after. Because she can’t look after herself.

Jennifer reviewed Wings:

Since Wings was produced before the Great Deconstruction of Strong Women which happened in the late 90s or early 00s, there were some female characters that didn’t come out of a box.

sbg asked just what the hell’s wrong with not being tall:

1) Why is taller better?

2) Why must we damage our feet, calves and backs (extensive wear of heels will do this) to appear this way?

3) WHY are short men not told to wear higher heeled shoes and skis on their feet to make them look taller?

firebird reminisced about a pulp romance trope she found romantic years ago:

I was never one to love romances much, but I was fascinated back then with arranged marriages and mail-order brides. That’s embarrassing for a budding feminist to admit, I have to say. I think maybe the idea of choice – even in such an important situation as marriage – was just so frightening to me at that point that I liked to fantasize about it being taken away and everything turning out alright anyway.

…and Ifritah found the video game Haunting Ground had any number of excuses to sexualize the appearance of the female character the gamer plays:

What does a girl do?   Well, first off, she needs to escape and then walk around in just a sheet that has several close-ups of places where the sheet doesn’t manage to cover.   I mean, you can’t not wake up in a sheet if you’re about to be eaten for dinner, right?   Extra work for the bad guys, you know.


  1. Jess says

    I’m always a bit conflicted about romance as it relates to feminism. I mean there are some reoccurring elements in the genre that should be offensive, but I’m generally not as offended by them as I would be ordinarily.

    Romance more than any other genre serves as fantasy for women. For that reason, I think I tend to, I don’t know, be more tolerant of the chauvinism that sometimes appears in them. Additionally, since romance is usually written by women for women I see it as sort of an exploration of female desire. I can even see it as empowering to a degree, because it is an way for women to explore their own fantasies, sexual or otherwise. Then again, I do draw a distinction between the forced seduction of the 70s and the more recent rape fantasy works in erotic fiction.

    I guess that, for me at least, a lot of it depends on the intent of the author. Is the novel written as a fantasy or as an example of what a good relationship should be. The novel in question sounds like the latter.

    I read romance and I consider myself to be a feminist, so maybe this is all some sort of justification on my part. I am slightly ashamed to admit I read some of the mail order bride, woman as lamp shade with a vagina when I was younger.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t believe anyone should feel the need to square her viewing or reading preferences with her feminism. I agree with what you’re saying about romance, and even at its most problematic, it’s like a protected space in that men aren’t the majority of writers or readers.

    Rape fantasy in a Harlequin book bothers me a lot less than when I see it on some supposedly realistic gritty TV drama written by men.

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