After Aerin brought to my attention the hornet’s nest Peter Sagal had inadvertently stirred up merely by suggesting the filmmakers added some sexist embellishment to Horton Hear a Who, I made a comment on his blog. Later I realized the topic is worthy of a whole post.
To sum up, I told him to hang in there, because nothing seems to anger people as much as pointing out sexism in children’s TV. I mentioned the Ice Age fracas we had here when, after writing some 800 articles about sexism in film and TV, we dared mention that a Disney film which does not show anyone overtly mistreating women can still include some sexist thinking.
Why do people quietly tolerate 800 articles criticize grown-up shows, but flip out when you point out the same issues in a kid’s show?
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. That’s the big feminist agenda, folks. Sorry to disappoint you with a complete lack of Communist involvement or man-hating.
But you might find some Communist plotting and definitely some man-hating if you look at the army of folks who get so angry when someone dares suggest film shouldn’t teach women they’re non-persons that they feel compelled to spew venom on every website that mentions it. Because in teaching girls that they’re only accessories, we’re also denying heterosexual men the ability to have meaningful, adult relationships with women who take full responsibility for their own happiness.