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45 Years Later Entertainment Reflects the Third Feminist Wave?

Robin Alexander

Posted on March 16, 2018 11:46

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After the Oscars nearly two weeks ago, I dug into a basket and found what I was looking for -- an old button from college that reads “Adam Is a Rough Draft.” I put it on the belt loop of my jeans and wore it to work the next morning. No one noticed, but it still felt good.

In 1963, I heard a riddle: “Jimmy was in a car accident. His father died and Jimmy was rushed to the hospital. In the operating room the doctor said, ‘I can’t operate on this boy; he’s my son.’” The question: how is this possible? The answer that nobody ever guessed: the doctor was his mother.

There were no female doctors…or female attorneys, police officers, fire fighters, news anchors, electricians, postal workers, talk show hosts, business owners, professors, soldiers, or DJs.

A woman couldn’t open a bank account or get a credit card without a husband’s co-signature. A woman couldn’t serve on a jury, attend an Ivy League school, or get an abortion. Spousal abuse didn’t exist in polite conversation. “Sexual harassment” -- the concept -- didn’t exist period. Rape victims were the ones at fault.

It was as if human = male; colorful sub-set of human = female. I felt it as a little girl and I still struggle with it. Did you ever notice that on a TV show with multiple women there was always one blonde, one brunette and one red-head, like accessories in a display case with something for everyone.

In response, we got the second wave of American feminism, and “fish without bicycles,” all reflected in Ms. Magazine. Advances were made, the underlying marginalization continued, the passion faded. Now, you might have a female nominee for president but she must have a male running-mate. Men don’t need a woman to balance the ticket. We are still a separate and colorful sub-set of humanity.

Some people may dislike the injection of politics into entertainment or athletics, but these hugely influential institutions both lead and follow what’s going on out there in the real world. One could argue that entertainers and athletes have a responsibility to speak out. They certainly have the right.

Clearly, things are brewing again and for women, this year’s Oscars reflected that - enough to make me resurrect that button. There were multiple female nominees in new categories, and lots of occasions when both presenters were women. The fashion was less sexualizing. Some women didn’t wear makeup at all. Frances McDormand was fabulous. It all helped lessen the “subset” factor.

Btw an inclusion rider is “a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film's cast and crew”.

Remember the Showtime series Weeds? In episode 11 of season 6 (we’re talking 2010 - not that long ago) Nancy says to a younger man: “Why do you do that to us? Why do you do that oppression thing? That sexist thing?” The man replies: “Because you scare us to death.”

Every time I watch that, I know in my gut it’s the truth. So, I think we have to recognize that we are the ones with the power. And use it. And be better at it than they were.

Robin Alexander

Posted on March 16, 2018 11:46

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