- The Bechdel Test Sets the Bar Too Low. Let’s Write a New One. – The article quotes figures showing that the movies that passed the Bechdel had much higher sales than those that didn’t. Movie execs may not possess a social conscience, but I bet money gets their attention.
I reached out to some female critics and writers to get a sense of what their revised BT might look like. What should we ask of movies in terms of depicting women creatively, responsibly, compellingly? One theme I heard repeatedly was that the current BT remains a useful diagnostic tool. “I do think that it’s such a low bar for good reason,” writer Michelle Dean emailed to me. “If movies can’t even meet that low standard, that says something. And most movies don’t meet the Bechdel test now, so I’m not sure the thing is ripe for a revision.” Yet, as film critic Karina Longworth argues, the criteria are “too easy to satisfy in a superficial way. Just because a film includes a scrap of conversation between two women about something other than a man does not necessarily mean that the film has any meaningful interest in women.” For my colleague Amanda Hess, the problem lies in trying to derive best practices from what was, originally, “a hilarious and eye-opening point about the lack of fully-realized female characters on film,” not an earnest solution. “The point of the Bechdel test has been lost in [the test’s] obsessive application,” which now “comes across as arbitrary.”
- The Ugly, Fascinating History Of The Word ‘Racism’ – Meoskop may have linked this one, and it’s a great look at the reformer who coined the term while also leading the movement for “Westernizing” American Indians via boarding schools.
“For his time, Pratt was definitely a progressive,” Snyder said. Indeed, he thought his ideas were the only thing keeping Native peoples from being entirely wiped out by disease and starvation. “That’s one of the dirty little secrets of American progressivism — that [progress] was still shaped around ideas of whiteness.”
Snyder said that Pratt replaced the popular idea that some *groups* were natively inferior to others with the idea that some *cultures* that were the problem, and needed to be corrected or destroyed. In other words, he swapped biological determinism for cultural imperialism.
- I Have a Suggestion – Melissa McEwan takes on the “How Not To Be Creep” line of posts and points to how they’re not only ineffective against changing creepy behavior, they may actually give creeps cover.
Inevitably there’s a flavor to How Not to Be Creepy advice pieces of offering help to well-intentioned but clueless dudes. And, sure, maybe some of those guys exist, but the assumption that most dudes are just creepy by accident, because they don’t know any better, is bullshit. And it serves as rape apologia. One of the most pernicious narratives about men who harm women sexually is that they just made a mistake. Hostility to consent is not a mistake.
Cultural and institutional reform to reduce “creepiness” toward women begins with acknowledging that predators are not otherwise good boys who just made a mistake. But they’re sure grateful when we think they are, and talk about “creepiness” as the misguided bumblings of a hapless dude who just didn’t know any better.
- Pregnant, and Forced to Stay on Life Support – I’m happy to report that Massachusetts is not one of the 31 states that won’t honor a woman’s end-of-life directives if she’s pregnant. Me and my functioning uterus will be staying close to home.
At least 31 states have adopted laws restricting the ability of doctors to end life support for terminally ill pregnant women, regardless of the wishes of the patient or the family, according to a 2012 report from the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington. Texas is among 12 of those states with the most restrictive such laws, which require that life-support measures continue no matter how far along the pregnancy is.
- Flawless Trans Women Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox Respond Flawlessly To Katie Couric’s Invasive Questions – Brie pointed me at this on Twitter the other day and we both wanted to glue Couric’s mouth shut. When Cox answers Couric’s wildly inappropriate question about her genitals, she answers with an account of all the violence, discrimination and bullshit transwomen endure. What does Couric respond with? “You’re so well-spoken.” /table flip
Cox was absolutely brilliant as she brought up how trans women, and specifically trans women of color, disproportionately face violence and discrimination, even compared to other LGBTQ people. She brought up the case of Islan Nettles, a black trans woman who was brutally murdered after the men who were cat-calling her realized she was trans and beat her to death. There is still no justice for Nettles, as the charges against her murderer were dropped. Cox brought up the facts that trans women face absurdly high lives of homelessness, violent crime, discrimination and poverty. Then Cox hit it out of the park when she said, “by focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”
Links: Thursday, January 9th
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.