Seriously, people, I really wanted to like this series. I like horror stuff, I like zombies and end of the world kinda themes. It’s like this series was made for me… except it is a gigantic pile of sexism and misogyny so far. I have watched all the episodes so far and let me share with you what I learned.
1. Bitches are bitchy
They are. I learned that in the very first scene, after the intro, where the two main cop dudes share their mutual doodly pain inflicted upon them by women. Rick, the future alpha male of the series, knows his marriage is collapsing and the bitch is SO cruel.
And you know why bitches are bitchy? Because, as Glenn helpfully explains to us, they have their periods. And he read somewhere that when many women get together for a long time, their cycles get in synch and they all get crazy at the same time. Because there can’t possibly be any other reason why he, lil’ virgin, no-date, Glenn can’t figure them out.
2. A collapsed world is a world where men can, finally, be men again
This is a trope I have discussed multiple times already. I was hoping this series would be different but no. In The Walking Dead, as with many collapsed world movies and series, once institutions that push men down, to the benefit of women and minorities (like education, workplace that equalize relationships), men can reclaim their “natural” leadership positions and women have to accept this leadership for their own good. The main group we follow is initially led by Shane. Once Rick finds them, he becomes the alpha male (which leads to conflicts of masculinities as the two of them compete for who gets to be the most hegemonically masculine). Of course, such leadership can only be exercises by white men (so, sorry T-Dog… because all black men have funny names like that, and sorry Glenn… or “Asian boy” as another hegemonic white male – Hershel – calls him).
And so, it is back to a natural order of things: men carry the big guns, stand guard and protect the groups while women wash clothes and cook.
BUT, there is such a thing as bad masculinity in The Walking Dead, and it is illustrated by white supremacists Daryl and Merrill and especially Ed Peletier, all of them get their comeuppance. All of them pushed hegemonic masculinity too far, through domestic violence and racism. So, when Merrill beats up on African-American T-Dog and forces Glenn (Asian American kid) and two women to submit to his authority, Rick shows up puts him back in his place and puts himself in leadership position.
3. Uppity women need to know their place
Look women are good at washing clothes but you always get one that gets all uppity. Take Andrea, for instance, college-educated Andrea (but that college education is now worth nothing, of course, as only masculine skills are useful… except cooking and washing clothes), who, after the death of her beloved younger sister, wants to learn to use a gun and to the protecting thing. Well, she cannot be allowed to even have a gun, as Dale makes a point in enforcing. But the bitch does not know her place. She gets a shotgun, uses it, and, of course, makes a terrible mistake (almost killing Daryl).
If only she had waited for one of the men to teach her, then she would have realized how great she would be once she accepted her subservience to more competent men.
4. Women’s ideas are irrelevant
Watch as almost every time a woman makes a suggestion, it is swiftly discarded. Lori does not like the idea of young Carl starting to use a gun. After all, if the men are so reluctant to let grown women use a gun, surely, they would not want a child using them either, right. WRONG! Carl is a boy, he can be taught to use guns, learning to respect the weapon. Which is opposite to Andrea who gets good with guns once she stops being emotional (cuz that’s how bitches are). So, Lori relents and later comes to see that the men were right, as they always are.
Not only are women’s ideas irrelevant, but their ideas about their lives also are. Take Andrea, for instance. After her sister’s death, she is quite despondent (which is, you know, normal). So, when the group gets to the CDC and the doctor them offers a painless suicide as opposed to a permanent race against time and walkers and ultimately a very possible painful death or becoming walkers, Andrea, decides to accept that. So does Jaqui, but she’s black, so, she does not count.
So, Dale takes it upon himself to convince Andrea to not kill herself and blackmails her into helping him get out. Jaqui, though, he is not interested in. So, her character dies in the explosion of the CDC. So long, black lady, we hardly knew you. Dale, incidentally, takes it upon himself to try to control everything about Andrea, treating her like a teenager in need of guidance and surveillance (and chastising Dale for their quickie in the woods because he’s also in charge of Andrea’s sexual life, apparently), but all in the name of caring about her.
5. Women’s trust is irrelevant
Once at Hershel’s farm, two women confide in to Glenn. Lori needs him to get her a pregnancy test (because the slut had sex with Shane when she thought Rick was dead, and, as we all know, the punishment for sluttiness is pregnancy). And Maggie Greene needs him to keep secret the presence of her relative and friends (who have now turned into walkers) in the barn. But Glenn decides, with the helpful advice from patriarch Dale, that these women’s trust is irrelevant and men can do what they want even if it involves betraying such trust.
5. Patriarchs make all the decisions, otherwise, bad things happen
It is in the order of things for alpha males and patriarchs to make all the decisions. If other group members accept it and let it happen, then, everything is fine. It is when some of them get it into their heads to do what they want that bad things happen. Which is why, throughout season 2 (so far), Rick (the alpha male of the transient group) spends quite a bit of time in negotiations with Hershel (the Bible-reading patriarch who is in absolute charge of his flock and has especially a bee in his bonnet about his stepdaughter getting it on with the “Asian boy”). All the important decisions are made between these two.
And the terrible ending of the last episode is because the other group members decide to override the decision progressively being worked out between hegemonic males and do what they want. Slaughter ensues, leaving it up to Rick to make the hard decision, because that is hegemonic man’s burden. And FSM knows that Andrew Lincoln’s (over)acting never lets you forget what a BIG and painful responsibility it is to be in charge. It’s lonely, at the top of the patriarchy.
And then, there’s Lori’s pregnancy. Sure she gets the morning after pill. And someone needs to tell the writers that the morning after pill is NOT an abortion, which is why it is so stupid when Rick, upon finding the pill box, yells at her “you’ve known for days, weeks??” Geez, If she had known for weeks, the morning after pill would have been useless, wouldn’t it. But this is the US, so, of course, Lori will go through the pregnancy. And you can bet that she will be lectured by one man after another regarding what she should and shouldn’t do. Heck, she has already been lectured by Glenn who was still a virgin until a couple of episodes ago.
I can’t wait for the rest of the series. But you gotta keep a sense of humor about the absurdity of certain scenes:
So I watched Super 8 in between grading. The movie is directed by J.J. Abrams, but Steven Spielberg has his hands all over it, especially with all the kids stuff. Not to spoil anything but Super 8 = E.T. + Stand By Me 2.0. It is a mix of scifi, disaster / scary monster /coming of age film. Therefore, it is patriarchal through and through:
1. Mothers die or leave (Joe’s and Alice’s mothers)… and Charles’s mother cooks a lot (the kind of mothers that always has food ready for the dang neighborhood) and is very, well, motherly.
2. Failing fathers (Joe’s through his inability to bond with his son, Alice’s father through his drinking and irresponsibility) will learn to become “real men” again thanks to a disaster.
3. Smart Alice is relegated to a comatose role waiting to be rescued by a boy and his boy friends.
4. Drugs and alcohol are bad (because they render men less manly… either stone or irresponsible), but pyromania is a useful skill.
5. A boy becomes a man by letting go of his mother and finding his bond with his father.
“Throughout history men have always created personal spaces where they retreat to be amongst friends. Lately, these places, called “man caves”, have become a boom industry, with often more than $50,000 (£31,772) being spent on furnishing a single “cave”.
Jeff Wilser, co-author of “The Man Cave Book”, talks to the BBC about the forces behind these hideaways, why men are so protective of them, and why the variety of such caves is so immense.
“It’s basically about finding what your one passion is, what your hobby is, and building a space that does that passion justice,” says Mr Wilser.”
Because women don’t have hobbies and passions.
Because women don’t have tough days at work.
So, a man deserves his leisure space. Every other room in the house involves women’s work (housework, childcare) whereas the man-cave belongs to the man only. There are no woman-caves because a woman’s time is not seen as exclusively hers. A woman’s time is always possible to interrupt with domestic and child stuff. It is assumed that whatever a woman is doing, she must be available to domestic demands at all times.
It makes me laugh – and by “laugh”, I mean “barf” – when these guys say that the rest of the house belongs to the woman because that is the way patriarchy wants it: the wife, in the domestic sphere, fulfilling the expressive role, and the husband, in the social sphere, fulfilling the instrumental role (thanks due to Talcott Parsons giving some sociological luster to that little piece of patriarchal BS and naturalizing so thoroughly that it won’t go away).
This goes back to the idea that men are oppressed by domesticity and should be therefore exempt from its demands and be able to retreat from it. The very fact of calling it a “cave” sounds like this is where doodz get to get in touch with their inner, natural, and oh-so repressed caveman, in all its raw, somewhat childish, and undomesticated masculinity.
And let’s not forget that the man-cave also has to do with the growth in size of the average American house, at the same time that family size shrunk. So, children have their bedrooms (and less and less do we have siblings sharing bedrooms, it is more and more individualized); fathers can get their man-cave. The only person not having an individual space is actually the wife / mother. Her space is either shared (bedroom) or a collective space (living room / kitchen) but the whole house is her space, right? So it’s all good. Because still to this day, a woman is a first and foremost a social being whose existence is not individualized and whose fulfillment is supposed to come through dedication to others whereas other members of the household are entitled to their privacy and individuality.
“A man in China has been detained on suspicion of keeping six women as sex slaves in underground rooms for two years and killing two of them, a state-owned newspaper has reported.
The Southern Metropolis Daily said that over the past two years, Li Hao allegedly kidnapped women who worked as hostesses in karaoke bars and locked them in two small rooms he had dug beneath a rented basement in Luoyang city in Henan province.
The secret rooms were located in a residential complex away from his home, where his wife and son lived unaware of the alleged kidnappings, the report said, citing unnamed police sources.
A publicity official for the city’s police department confirmed that a man named Li Hao who works for the city’s technological supervision bureau had been taken into custody. The official declined to provide further details, citing an ongoing investigation.
The newspaper reported that Li was a former firefighter and it claimed he regularly raped the women and would give them food only once every two days to keep them physically weak. It described the rooms the women ate, slept and defecated in as dank and smelly.
Over time, some of the captives started competing with one another for his attention, the report said, and two of them ended up fighting. Li allegedly killed one of them with the help of another woman, the paper said.
He also allegedly killed one of the other women who was said to have been “disobedient”, the report said, adding that he buried both bodies in the corner of one of the rooms.”
How is that for passion and hobby? See? It’s the same: he probably saw the home as the place for his wife and son and needed his own space to truly express his masculine nature away from domestic demands.
Last week, a friend and I went to the see the final Harry Potter film (quite good), but that means we had to sit through some previews, including this one:
I remember my friend and I exchanging eyerolls and snarky comments regarding the fact that some dudes had come up with that idea in the first place, and that, among all the show ideas had been rejected, this one made it.
Well, thank goodness, Melissa McEwan has written the perfect summary of misogynistic crapitude that is going to be that show:
“Conceived as a “period drama about the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly,” it looks like a cross between Mad Men and Catch Me If You Can, with all the stylized backlash goodness of implying that America’s Golden Age of pre-feminism was funsexytimes to be a lady while simultaneously recreating for entertainment purposes enough rank misogyny endemic to the era to insidiously scold modern women for not realizing how good they’ve got it. YAY!
The other awesome (where awesome = totes horrendo) thing about setting a show in the past is how you can make it all about straight white people, and respond to criticism about a lack of diversity with: THAT’S JUST HOW IT WAS BACK THEN!
See, on the one hand, we’re supposed to be all, “Hey, there’s a chick in this show who isn’t looking for a husband; she’s loves the FREEDOM,” but, the thing is, apart from the fact that she will almost DEFINITELY be the character who falls in love and/or gets raped, there is scene after scene of women being subjected to oppressive and degrading work regulations and being demeaned by objectifying men, most of which are played for laughs, to an audience still steeped in misogyny.
The most obnoxious aspect of “retro chic” entertainment like this is the aggressively insistent pretense that institutional misogyny is a thing of the past, so it’s okay to laugh at the ABSURDITY of flight attendants getting weighed, except whoops that still happens.
Anyway, there is more of this trailer—O HAI CHRISTINA RICCI SORRY ABOUT YOUR CAREER—with wedding proposals on windy runways and scenes of the Pan Am stewardesses walking in lockstep in their matching uniforms, while some dude talks about their being a “new breed of woman” in voiceover, and fucky times and giggling and a BIG PAN AM LOGO THE END.
Between this shit and the trailer for NBC’s fall “period drama” The Playboy Club (which ALSO features a Frank Sinatra song lulz of course it does), it’s gonna be a great new television season in Backlash Broadcasting.””
I’m going to be reading a lot this Fall. *Le sigh*
Needless to say, the other previews was just as horrendous.