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Women Shouldn’t Be Alphas!

Kristen-Stewart-Snow-White-Huntsman-armour[1]I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta. Where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females.

Frank Parlato wrote that email soon after becoming editor of The Reporter.

The New York Times says it was Snow White and the Huntsman that set him off.

(It) struck Parlato as emblematic of “a Hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena-like men, cum eunuchs.”

He must not have seen the film.

Luckily, The Reporter is just a small weekly in upstate New York. But I’ve been thinking about this with the Oscars approaching.

Fortunately for Parlato, movies are mostly the way he likes them. But that’s not so fortunate for the rest of us.

Quick thought experiment: how would you experience yourself after watching popular Oscar-nominated films if gender roles were reversed?

  • What if we watched President Mary Todd Lincoln fight to abolish slavery and save the union?
  • What if CIA operative, Tonya Mendez, led the charge to liberate female diplomats from Tehran during the Iranian hostage crises in Argo?
  • In Zero Dark Thirty a male CIA agent finds Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. A highly-skilled female unit then finds and kills bin Laden.
  • Our heroine explores spirituality and survives the good part of a year stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Rachel Parker in the Life of Pi.
  • In Les Misérables ex-convict Janette Valjean undergoes redemption while pursued by police inspector, Monique Javer, who doubts the possibility of transformation.
  • In Silver Linings Playbook bipolar Patricia leaves a mental health facility where she’d ended up after nearly beating her husband’s lover to death. Next thing you know, she’s fighting thugs at a Philadelphia Eagles game. In the end she enters a dance contest and gains love.
  • Django Unchained follows Sally Django, a freed slave who crosses the United States with bounty hunter, Kate King, on a mission to rescue her husband from a cruel and charismatic plantation owner named Lenora Crawford.

If these were the movies would you experience yourself as a more powerful woman? More in control? More the main event? As a man would you feel more disempowered and marginal?

Plenty of things in our culture create the same psychology, such as “man” and “he” referring to us all. Or, “woman,” “she,” and “her” are consistently placed after “man,” “he,” and “him.” A wife takes her husband’s name. The list goes on. Living in a world where the power players in business, government, religion, the home and beyond are mostly men adds to the effect.

I grew up with a mother who’d grown up in a world where women were even more passively presented than they are today. She couldn’t change things, she thought. Others had to create a good place for her or she was out of luck. She felt powerless and depressed. That didn’t help me and that didn’t help my brother. (So yeah, males are harmed, too.)

Surely, balance would be better.

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