There is a rather disturbing trend in the media that we consume where a group of people will look at something and quickly dismiss it at something that is sexist. Both genders do this, and unfortunately, it is becoming a huge problem. Michael Crichton did a number, or rather, had a great thought about this towards the end of his book, Disclosure. It is becoming far too easy for people to just dismiss something off-hand because they believe that is sexist. Unfortunately, people do this without regard for why things may or may not be this way.
A friend of mine posted an article on her Facebook page that talked about this with a book. This is a book that I had never read, but the concepts in it were very good. It discussed the idea of examining the fantasy genre. It brought up some points that I believe are pretty good. I truly believe that dismissing a work off-hand, for any reason, is wrong. When I first decided to go and see the sequel to Tron, which was absolutely terrible, I was told by a feminist friend of mine that it was apparently viewed as sexist by some members of her community. The knowledge of this had my opinion jaded. I looked for how it could be demeaning to women, and honestly, I couldn’t find it. In fact, the main female character, played by Olivia Wilde, was pretty badass, to put it bluntly. The movie may have been terrible, but her character was still interesting.
It has come up in a lot of other works that I am a fan of. I love certain elements of Japanese animation. There have been works that are completely incredible. My favorite film, in fact, is of Japanese animation. It was called The Sky Crawlers. It was a work by Mamoru Oshii, one of the best filmmakers who is alive today. But I have heard from a lot of women who are big on the feminist position that anime is totally sexist. They cite repeatedly how women in these shows are often adorned quite out of the range of possibilities, and they seem to be sexualized. I sometimes agree with that, by the way, but other times, I find it not to be in bad taste. Let me give you an example.
A favorite anime of mine, Cowboy Bebop, has the female lead named Faye Valentine. She is made to be a sexual appeal to the show, a very femme fatale character, but she is also a very dynamic character. Over the course of the series, you see her gradually evolve into one of the show’s most important characters. She may be done for looks, but I don’t think that that is something that one can blame on a genre.
Unfortunately, sex has sold in this country for a very long time. It sells everywhere. I hear a lot of feminists say that women are exploited. Well ladies, by the same logic that you say women are exploited, you would have to say that men are exploited too. I have heard people say that women who star in porn are being objectified, and give an unrealistic view of what woman are supposed to be, or rather, an very shallow view. Do you truly believe that it is different for men? Men are given this image that very few men are able to measure up to, if you know what I mean. And those who claim that women are exploited because of good looks, it also goes the other way.
Really, the idea of sexualizing in society is not a one-way street. Certain areas of both genders want to look at it that way, but nothing in life is as simple as cut and dry. The fact is that sexism in a culture that is portrayed often says something about the world that it was made in. The article linked above made a great comparison about how Jane Austen made these worlds have a great meaning in books like Pride and Prejudice, and how it was done very well in Mad Men. People who watch this don’t aspire to have this kind of world. Or at least, very few of them do.
And really, when you think about it, for anything that is meant to portray Medieval times, what exactly should women be like? If you want to be realistic, then back in the day, they were just brood-mares for the state, or for their families. They were meant to cook, clean, have sex with their husbands, and then produce lots of offspring. Fiction allows a person to make whatever kind of world and character that they want. And honestly, if all women in every single piece were some marvelous leaders who are not stupid in any way, would that seem realistic to you? When the fact is that most people are not exceptional, so why should all characters of a gender be that way? Not only is it unrealistic, it’s also boring. Overcoming weakness and character growth are essential to any work of fiction.
The fact is that it goes both ways that people dismiss something as sexist. With women, it is much more predominate, but with both genders, I view it as equally wrong. There are works where sexism is horribly used, like the Twilight series, but with good works of fiction, sexism in a culture is used to give a good perspective into that culture. That is my little rant.