Growing up I wanted to be a boy. Scratch that. I didn’t want to be a boy so much as I wanted the freedom that boys inherently had, and still have. By the authority vested in their penises, they are given inalienable rights not afforded girls in our (or most) cultures.
The right to unbridled ambition.
The right to be unapologetically confident and aggressive.
The right to be funny (vs. sassy, as this post talks about).
The right to be an asshole and still be respected and even liked.
The right to be FLAWED and still rooted for.
The right to put ourselves and our needs first.
This week, we’re talking about antiheroes in life, literature and film. Over at ABCs (Anne Chaconas) blog, she wrote today about how it’s hard being a girl. And she is NOT WRONG.
In a fun synchronicity, NYT Best Seller, Maggie Stiefvater, also talked about this in a blog post yesterday entitled “So. I See I’m A Girl. :/” And no, we didn’t even coordinate this with her! It was a happy accident of fate that all of us kickass girls are talking about this.
And what is ‘this’? ‘This’ is the double standard we as women live under daily. It is the invisible cage we are confined to because of our breasts and vaginas. It is living in a world that will talk about a man’s ideas and a woman’s wardrobe, even if they hold the exact same political office. ‘This’ is the sad truth that if you look at how we talk about men vs. women in media (people who are in the exact same jobs/roles/etc.) and you changed the pronouns used in those articles, you would laugh at how ridiculous it sounds to discuss the man in the same way we discuss the woman.
As this study points out, there are behaviors, such as succeeding–SUCCEEDING! as in NOT FAILING–“that are sometimes considered attractive in men but not in women.”
As Maggie wrote in her posts, it’s not that there aren’t strong women, it’s that there are not female equivalents of the male heroes and antiheroes around us.
[box style=”quote”]When they appeared as secondary characters, they were the rocks the tempestuous men tied themselves to. They were the helpmeets and the scholars, the ones who did their homework and the ones who appeared with solutions at the last minute. And as narrators, they were often plucky and fearless and capable. But they were never just a female version of any of the people on my list of Dudes I Wished I Was. Where was the woman I wanted to be?[/box]
Recently, a story broke about how the head Disney animator for Frozen stuck his foot in his mouth when talking about how hard it is to draw females. It’s the because that really says it all.
[box style=”quote”]Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, ’cause they have to go through these range of emotions, but they’re very, very—you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to—you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough.
Okay, I get it now. WE ARE harder to animate, IF we have to look beautiful, and by beautiful of course I mean doe-eyed, button nosed, tiny and white, every time we emote. Yeah, I can see how that would make it hard to draw the Frozen sisters side-by-side, in the same frame, looking unique and all, when they are the same person with different hair colors.
THIS is the problem of why female antiheroes are hated on while their male counterparts are idolized. THIS is the problem of why females in general are given such a narrower range of options in life and fiction.
Because we have to look beautiful above all else, and we are not allowed to step foot off this pedestal of beauty, grace, decorum and perfection and actually, you know, be a fucking human being. There’s simply no way, in this current mindset, for women to be the rogue character, or to be ambition and self-serving and funny and SUCCESSFUL, while maintaining the image of the proper wife and mother. Women are expected to be nurtures. To put others first. To be nice above all and make others comfortable around them. We are trained into these roles at an early age by everything around us.
While boys play with guns and cars, we have babies and mini kitchens and tiny brooms and grocery carts.
While ‘boys will be boys’ in high school, we are expected to keep our legs crossed and be ‘good girls.’
While boys are never for a moment judged for going after what they want, we are the default homemaker, and if we choose something different, it is with great struggle as we swim against the stream of convention.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that caring for a home and children, or being a good wife and mother are bad things. Not at all. Just as it’s not bad for a man to be a good father and husband and care for his family. I’m suggesting that we should destroy the pedestals these bizarre social contracts have placed us on and start getting dirty with the boys.
I’m suggesting a new paradigm for girls is in order. One where we don’t have to be ‘ladies’. Where we can walk with a swagger and make bold (and sometimes horribly BAD) choices and get up and dust ourselves off and try again. One where we can confidently and unapologetically grab our lives by the balls.
Because right now, unless we conform to a very narrow framework of appropriate female responses, we are the villains, EVEN WHEN we are the heroes.
And this shit, it needs to change, and fast! We need better female heroes who aren’t hated on for every goddamn thing they do or don’t do, and we need better female antiheroes who are allowed to be flawed and unattractive and human.
And the KK-ABC team are ready to rumble with some kickass women (and men) who break the mold and do shit that is morally questionable, for morally questionable reasons, sometimes.
We’re ready for some antiheroes worth rooting for. We’re ready to let women be fully human, in all facets, with all the scars and pimples and bad habits of their male counterparts.
Like this clip right here from the show Scandal. I haven’t seen this show, but after seeing this clip of Lisa Kudrow’s character, Congresswoman Josephine Marcus, dressing down a sexist reporter, you can bet I’ll be looking it up.
Who’s with us?
Let’s look at our own prejudice today. What’s a behavior that you deem okay in men but not women?
If you are fully enlightened and can’t answer this because there are none, YAY! Answer this instead, what behavior in yourself have you either held back or been criticized for because it was deemed a behavior of the opposite sex and thus not appropriate for YOU? (This is for women AND men!)
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