There are some things that women just have to learn to accept.
The first (and perhaps the most difficult) is that we are women. The second is that we have been taught since childhood that only men have the power to define what a woman can or cannot be. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and I’m not writing of a particular person or populace, but of Western society as a whole. And, as a whole, we’ve done a good job of recognising that women are capable and should have rights…and we stopped there. Yes, we’ve come a long way since the Dark Ages, but there is still one thing we aren’t.
We are not seen. We are not heard. In a world that feeds on the entertainment industry and social media, we are the consumed and not the consumers. Hollyweird has turned us into a formula: long hair, good tits, and big doe eyes that look good on a movie poster.
Consider Megan Fox’s character in the first and second Transformers movies.
Do we remember the character’s name? Probably not. Can we name one thing she liked aside from Shia LeBoeuf and his sweet ride? No. How about her family? Does she have siblings? No? Don’t remember? Did she have any skills/talents, aside from maintaining perfect lip gloss in the middle of a alien robot/army fight in the middle of the Sahara Desert? No? So who is she and why is she in the movie? Sex appeal. She’s the part of the formula that equates danger and machinery with sex. Does she need a name? No, because in the formula, she’s long hair, good tits, and pouty lips. She doesn’t need a name, because her part in the movie doesn’t require one.
Now, do you remember the name of Shia LeBoeuf’s Transformer car?
Think about that.
Can you name one unique thing about Bumblebee?
Sure; he has to speak through songs on the radio.
We remember the name of a robot, but not a woman. We remember characteristics of the robot, but don’t notice if Megan Fox’s character has a brother or a sister. Yet, we accept it, and when people ask us what we thought of the movie, we say, “The CGI was fucking amazing.” Because it’s the formula. We expect big tits, loud explosions, and cheesy jokes.
Now, let us consider Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, a film saturated with male superheroes. Can you name a female character?
What’s she like?
Her name is Natasha Romanov; she’s an assassin; she may or may not have hooked up with Hawkeye in Budapest; and she can outsmart the demigod Loki.
Black Widow is not the main character of Whedon’s big budget superhero flick, but she is a well-rounded one. Now, I’ve praised Joss Whedon before for his portrayal of women, and I will probably continue to do so for many years to come because, hey, the guy is awesome and he knows how to write a fucking good script and not be sexist. But, as much as I love Joss Whedon, why should we leave it up to a man to redefine how women are portrayed in Hollywood?
Why don’t we do it for ourselves?
No, seriously. Why don’t we do it for ourselves?
Let’s think of the fangirl and what it means to be one. Fangirls define the fandom. Visit Tumblr and type in “BBC Sherlock” on any given day if you don’t believe me. Know what you’ll find? Fanart, fanfiction, forum discussions, and critical second-by-second analysis. Moffat gave the Sherlockians 7 hours of footage; the fangirls created decades’ worth of works sprouted out of the canon. It’s intimidating, at first, to see how committed fangirls can be to a particular fandom. I think it’s beautiful, because that kind of dedication, that kind of passion, can change the status quo if channeled in the right direction. We, the fangirls, we’re off to a good start. If a show creator (MOFFAT!) does something we don’t like, he bloody well knows it in mere seconds thanks to the Internet. If we love something, well, it goes on Tumblr.
Our fierce dedication could break the Internet if Moffat pushes us too far, I have no doubt.
Recently, I read a few articles about this year’s San Diego Comic Con that broke my fangirl heart. Girls are bulled and labelled “fake geeks” and in general, passed over. Sexism exists, even in the geek world, and even Michelle Rodriguez has something to say. Our world, our entertainment, is male dominated, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the way in which society represents women can be inaccurate, crude, and sometimes downright disgusting (see above section on the Transformers). We should be appalled every time a woman become part of the Hollywood tits-hair-doe eyes formula; we should want to change how things are done.
So why don’t we?
We are fangirls, and if there’s one thing that Tumblr shows the world, it’s that we aren’t lacking in creativity. We can take a single ten-second frame of a show and write a 150,000 word fanfiction; we can analyze the Reichenbach Fall until Moffat has no choice but to give us Series 3; we can break twitter/tumblr with a Mishapocalypse.
So I have a theory. If every fangirl wrote one original poem/short story/novel/film/play, just one, and then sent it off to an agent/journal/voodoo witch doctor, the status quo would begin to change. If we write the kind of women we want to be portrayed as on the silver screen, we can change what we see. If every single fangirl did it, the entertainment industry would change around us because of us. J.K. Rowling did it. Suzanne Collins did it. Hell, even Stephanie Meyer did it (although she apparently wants women to be as interesting as cardboard).
Together, we can change the status quo. A while ago, I wrote a short script of a breakup between a call girl and a waiter, one fangirl’s original words: “Summer Fling: A Break Up in One Scene.” I’m not sharing this for praise or recognition; in fact, if I had my way my words would remain in my head for all eternity. But, staying silent changes nothing. I’m sharing this to break the silence, to change the formula; it’s not perfect, but it’s a beginning.
We do not fit into Hollyweird’s formula. Change isn’t easy; sharing your writing isn’t easy, but we are fan
girlswarrior princesses, and we are strong. And remember, my fandom friends, that the pen is always mightier than the sword.
Let’s go forth and write for change.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe: Joss Whedon Promises More Female Heroes (splashpage.mtv.com)
- Does misogyny lie at the heart of “fake geek girl” accusations â or is it self-loathing? (newstatesman.com)
- ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent’: The new wave of strong female-led sci-fi (herocomplex.latimes.com)