Posts Tagged ‘class’
I saw It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers’ new film, a while ago (ok, maybe like a week and a half ago, but it feels like a long time). I meant to write a post about it then, but other things got in the way. Anyways, I’m getting to it now. But because the film isn’t 100% fresh in my memory, I might forget or mis-remember some things that I otherwise wouldn’t if I had written this sooner…just so you know.
I have a mixed relationship with Nancy Meyers films. I love The Holiday, What Women Want, and The Father of the Bride movies. However, I’m not really a big fan on her movies like Something’s Gotta Give. I know that a criticism of Nancy Meyers is that her movies often portray upper middle class white women, which people can’t always identify with. While this is certainly the case, it’s sometimes easier for me to identify with her characters than in other instances. I am a middle class white woman, but I am also young, which isn’t usually the demographic that Nancy Meyers’ films go after. While I can somewhat easily identify (or at least see a tiny part of myself in) her characters from movies like The Holiday and Father of the Bride, I can barely see anything in Something’s Gotta Give. And yes, I do think this has something to do with the age demographic.
(But I’m not going to talk too much about how Nancy Meyers’ films are all about upper middle class white women, it’s very obvious when you look at them, I’m just going to focus on my reaction to It’s Complicated.)
It’s Complicated fell somewhere in-between this spectrum for me. It was funny, I was laughing throughout most of it. But I found it really hard to identify with any other main characters. They are all in a very very very different stage of life that I am in. But I didn’t find it hard to see myself in the children of the main characters. Most of them are around my age and some are going through some of the same things that I am in my life — graduating college, looking for a job, etc.
Even though I didn’t identify with the main characters, I did appreciate that it was a movie that focused on middle aged people and portrayed them in a positive light. And it focused on the romantic relationships of middle aged people which is even more rare in our youth-obsessed culture. So I did appreciate that aspect of the movie from a feminist perspective.
But from my age and place in life, I really like the portrayal of the children. I know that that’s not the main point of the movie or even the most interesting, but that’s what I caught onto throughout the movie. I liked their relationships with each other and with their parents. And I especially liked John Krasinski and his character. He played the fiance of the oldest child. But that’s more of a personal preference for John Krasinski than anything else.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It had some very funny parts. And even if I didn’t identify with the main characters, I still found some characters to identify with. The plot was interesting as well, even if it wasn’t anything that I could identify with (man, I’m using that word/phrase a lot in this post). I would recommend it to people who enjoy Nancy Meyers movies, but most likely as a rental. But if you already know that you don’t like Nancy Meyers’ movies, then don’t see it. It’s pretty much textbook Nancy Meyers.
Based on the recommendations of others (particularly meloukhia), I have started watching Veronica Mars…and I love it! I am about halfway through the second season right now and I can’t wait to get the next discs from Netflix. There are of course some problematic things with the show (stereotypes, slut-shaming, etc…more later), I think that Veronica Mars is an overall feminist show.
Veronica Mars is a show about (surprise!) a teenager named Veronica Mars, played by Kristen Bell. Her dad is the ex-sheriff, now private detective in a town in Southern Califonia called Neptune. Veronica plays a large role in her dad’s private detective agency and all runs investigations through her school. Her best friend, Wallace, is usually her accomplice and she has a group of people who she turns to for information. She has run-ins with the now sheriff who pretends like he doesn’t want her help, but often takes the leads that she gives him.
The running investigation in the first season is that of the murder of her best friend, Lily, which is solved in the season finale. Lily was the daughter of a wealthy family whose son (and Lily’s brother) is Veronica’s ex-boyfriend (then boyfriend again in the second season). In the second season, the running investigation is that of a bus crash that killed 8 students. There appears to be an explosion in the bus that caused it to drive over a cliff. As I am not done with the second season yet, the investigation of the bus crash is not yet over.
So, why is this a feminist show? Veronica Mars is all about a girl taking her life into her own hands. She investigates everything from blackmail to murder to theft. She doesn’t care what people think about her and she’s not afraid to get in people’s faces.
Other than the fact that Veronica Mars is about a kick-ass woman, it tackles some really great issues. The show actually has a pretty good representation of the diversity of Southern California. Many other shows that take place in Southern California fall into the same old tv show model…an all-white cast. While a large amount of the cast of Veronica Mars is white, there are also a large amount of African American and Latino/a characters that are major players in the show. The show also tackles class issues. The high school that Veronica Mars attends is heavily populated by “09-ers” – the people who live in a certain zip code that are very wealthy. Veronica, on the other hand, is not wealthy and there is a big divide between the “09-ers” and people who don’t live in that zip code. Veronica has the uncanny ability to somewhat navigate between these two worlds. Her best friend Lily and her ex-boyfriend Duncan, as well as her other ex-boyfriend, Logan, are all “09-ers.” She kind of fit in with that world, at least with those people. But once she doesn’t associate with them anymore, she’s cast out of the “09-er” crowd. These situations really highlight class issues that happen in real life, and not just in high school. The show also handles issues of rape, exploring and developing one’s sexuality, and domestic violence.
For such a feminist show, though, there is a large amount of slut-shaming. Women who slept with their boyfriends, slept with people other than their boyfriends, or were even raped were shamed. Most of the shaming was done by high school boys — and even occassinally high school girls — but I didn’t really think that it was necessary. Not only was there slut-shaming for women who freely expressed their sexuality, there was slut-shaming for women who were raped and had not control over what was happening to them. Not cool.
There was some occassional problematic language and events, but the slut-shaming was the only ongoing, overall thing that I saw wrong with the show. What do others think? Is there something I’m missing? Or is Veronica Mars really the awesome, feminist show that I see it as?
My friend Marta is working at the YWCA this summer, which I am totally jealous of. She wrote this article for them about the feminization of poverty both in the United States and around the world. I thought it might be of interest. Marta is a rising senior majoring in Health and Society at my alma mater (weird to say that), Beloit College. She is from San Diego, CA, but is working at the YWCA of Rock County in Janesville, WI this summer as the Economic Empowerment Intern.
Women and Global Poverty
Globally, seven out of every ten people who go to bed hungry each night are women.
The feminization of poverty is the direct result of the increasing number of female-headed households world-wide. Previously a western phenomenon, women around the world are increasingly becoming solely responsible for their households. Because men have more earning power than women (30% more in the United States and even more in the developing world), households headed by women automatically lack a tremendous resource. This has resulted in women constituting more than 70% of the world’s poverty.
Poverty is a feminist issue. As the economy takes a turn for the worst, it is clear that many women are carrying twice the burden of their male counterparts. But female poverty goes well beyond the economic depression in the United States. Globally, more than 1.5 billion (yes, BILLION) people live on less than $1 per day, and the majority of them are women who are responsible for children, agriculture (food production), and earning money. Women have suffered profoundly at the hands of misguided cultural practices and norms, as well as urbanization and the emergence of cash economies in rural areas (which generally move men towards cities and away from their families and, consequently, their monetary responsibilities.) Inequalities between men and women run rampant around the world, sometimes subjugating women and girls so profoundly that their lives are literally at stake. It is not uncommon for women to lack the monetary support of a male partner, but also lack entitlement to basic human rights, access to inheritances, as well as land and property ownership. Globally, women are too often excluded from credit as well, which deeply disturbs their ability to rise out of poverty.
So, what are female-focused solutions to global poverty? Short of a global uprising against economic disparities between men and women, many have suggested that “investing in women’s access to land, water, fertilizers, [and] farm labor… is the long-term solution to preventing a hunger crisis” as well as lifting women (ever so slightly) out of the type of poverty that threatens their day to day existence. Others have suggested, and in some cases successfully implemented, microcredit programs that specifically target women, giving them access to credit and encouraging entrepreneurial activities. And still others claim that education is the way to brighter economic futures for women (in many countries women and girls are denied educational opportunities, therefore stunting their economic potential.) While these are all wonderful and decidedly practical solutions to helping women around the world make ends meet, none of them directly combat the root of the problem: a global epidemic of negative, harmful, and archaic views of women.
Poverty is a feminist issue. As feminists, how can we ignore the fact that so many of the people living in poverty are women, and many of those women are single mothers supporting their families?
I have privilege living in the middle class and growing up not being deprived of anything important (though I didn’t see it like that at the time). But I try to always be aware of this class privilege (as well as my other privileges). It’s not always easy, but it’s important to point out privilege when it is present to bring it into light and into discussion. This is the only way that the privilege will ever be addressed.
So as feminists, we have the responsibility to acknowledge that privilege that class gives some of us and the realities of women and families that live in poverty. Because of the feminization of poverty is prevalent throughout the world, feminists have to address this social reality. If feminists don’t have a say in tackling this massive problem, the women who live in poverty will not have the voices heard all of the time.