Posts tagged ‘Feminism’
This movie was one of the first truly independent films. John Cassavetes, the writer and director, couldn’t find a distributor that would take it on. He called individual movie theaters himself to see if they would play the movie. It was made for a shoestring budget and produced by Cassavetes and the film’s stars: his wife Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk.
A Woman Under the Influence was released in 1974 when I was 3 years old and Gena Rowlands was 44. Cassavetes couldn’t get a studio to make the film because they all said that nobody wants to watch a middle-aged dame go crazy. Well, he proved them wrong because once the movie hit The New York Film Festival plenty of people wanted to pay good money to watch a middle-aged dame go crazy.
The movie is now considered a part of classic cinema, and it’s probably part of the required coursework for many women’s studies departments. When the film was released it was adopted as a sort of anthem of the feminist movement. Audiences booed Peter Falk’s character. Ironically, Cassavetes wasn’t trying to make a statement about feminism, and he didn’t consider the title character to be crazy. Cassavetes saw Mabel as eccentric, and he thought his movie was an unlikely love story.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, and I’m sure that with the benefit of a modern perspective I’ve read much into the movie that wasn’t intended to be there. For instance, Mabel’s inappropriate affection with men, including her own father, made me uncomfortable. She’s taken advantage of sexually in a sequence near the beginning of the film. I began to wonder how much of her eccentricity might be explained by childhood sexual abuse.
Falk’s character Nick doesn’t deserve to be booed. He’s just a working stiff, caught between his mother (played by Cassavetes’ mother) and his wife. He sends Mabel mixed messages, telling her one minute just to be herself and then raging against her later when she does just that. In at least a couple different instances, he gets violent with Mabel. Rowlands’ Mabel tells Nick, across the dinner table that she will be anything he wants her to be. He only has to tell her what he wants and she will be that. It’s not hard to see why this movie resonated with second wave feminists.
Another great scene involves Mabel asking her father to stand up for her. He takes her request literally and stand up. She tells him to sit back down. No, she means she wants him to stand up for her. Again, he stands up from his chair. It’s Mabel’s mother (played by Gena Rowlands’ own mother) who finally understands her daughter’s intent.
In the end, the movie is a love story. Nick genuinely loves Mabel. No man would put up with all that shit if he didn’t. The title does beg the question: Under the influence of what? Mabel does a lot of drinking in the movie. She takes pills. But I don’t think that Cassavetes meant for this to be a tale of addiction. And I know (from a radio interview included with the DVD) that he didn’t write a tale of insanity. Something tells me that even though he didn’t write the movie specifically as a feminist statement, the influence that he was referring to was that of Mabel’s society.
Mabel is stuck in a world where no one understands her, not even her own husband. And that is part of the tragedy because Nick is attracted to what he can’t understand. It is Mabel’s uniqueness that draws Nick to her. Mabel is okay with being different. What she’s not okay with is her husband’s growing discomfort with her failure to live up to his society’s expectations.
The photo is of women from the Solomon Islands. Though I don’t agree with his contentions about feminism being merely one-sided, I do agree largely with this guy’s post. Here is evidence that a man can make intelligent comments about the gender gap. It is possible. It’s just definitely not coming from Dalrock or Solomon II. It is also coming in the form of comments from a new reader called, oddly enough, Dalrock Reader.
Take a look at this:
That’s what a moron man named Dalrock calls his offensive blog. I got a few hits from his website and three comments from one of his readers that were so stupid and insulting that I refused to approve them, but I’ll recreate them here for your benefit so that you can see that, yes, ladies, these kinds of men still exist in the world.
Denial is not just a river in Egypt!
That one’s not so bad. Let’s look at the next one.
Yeah, cougars are desirable, because they’re easy. Great for a pump-and-dump.
I guess it never occurs to him that a cougar might find an idiot easy.
It’s always amazing to see the callous disregard for the truth that women display, especially when the topic concerns them personally and they are at a disadvantage. There are 174 comments here and not a single woman will admit the stark truth: the older you get the less desirable you become, period. No need for rationalization, no need for denial, no need for exceptions that only prove the rule. Everybody knows in their soul that this is the way it is.
You didn’t want to settle in your younger days, and now time is forcing the lesson. Why should any man worth his self esteem and self respect settle for an aging left over of the dating game when there are so many younger and equally shallow but much more attractive girls around. Women these days think they can slut around while in their prime and once well used, get some hard working fool to pick them up and support them when they’re too old to play the game anymore. There are men like that – confused and desperate men – but less and less of them, and there is a day of reckoning coming.
Oh, no! Not a day of reckoning! I should have married a jerk like you while I still had the chance. Why, oh, why didn’t I settle for someone who thinks my entire self worth should fit in my pussy? I guess the part of feminism where we support ourselves instead of having to rely on men to do it for us was also lost on this guy.
Dalrock himself is a real piece of work. Sadly, he seems to have quit school in the fifth grade since he doesn’t know that who’s is a contraction for who is and whose is the word used to show possession. His description about himself describes his wife as sexy, and while I’m sure she appreciates the compliment the fact that it is the ONLY adjective he uses to describe her speaks volumes.
Just what is so threatening to men about equal rights? Well, I’ll tell you. Not all men find it threatening. Maybe not even a majority of them find it threatening. A tiny proportion of the total male population are this militant about it. What makes it threatening to these men is the fact that they are weak men. Only a weak man finds a strong woman threatening.
In our “post feminist” world, Dalrock gets away with posting a blog piece called, “Have You Ever Beat Up a Girlfriend, Cause, Uh, I Have,” in which he finds domestic violence humorous. Why is it that a man can write like this about women? Are women the only “race” that it’s acceptable to treat this shabbily? If he wrote a blog post entitled, “Have You Ever Lynched a N*%%(#, Cause, Uh, I Have,” that blog post would have been removed already. But beating up women. Good times!
If you have a hard time believing that men like this still exist in the world, then feel free to click on the available links in this article to see de-evolution at work through natural selection. For Dalrock, it’s too late, but for the rest of these jerks, please, ladies, do not allow these men to procreate.
Is this truly a “post feminist” world? Am I the only person who cares about equal rights for women because the rest of the world thinks we’ve “arrived” since men will let us vote and work and then come home to work again? Well, as long as the man who beats me still calls me sexy…
When I was in middle school my mom was in nursing school and for part of that time she had a practicum which required her to drive to another town. The other town was far enough away that she was going to stay in a dorm during most of the week and come back on the weekends. On the weekends she had a job at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide so no one could accuse my mom of not working hard.
This is how I learned to cook, if you can call it that. Up to that time, when I was probably thirteen years old, my mom would never let me in the kitchen. She didn’t want me underfoot and claimed that I made a mess and it made meal preparation take twice as long to let me help. That, and she was always afraid that I would hurt myself on a stove burner or with a knife.
My grandmother was not like that and loved taking me under her wing and letting me help her bake when I was growing up. But then that is how grandmothers are. How I miss my grandma!
So, when it became a necessity in my mother’s estimation for me to have a crash course in cooking, I learned how to cook only the stuff that was the cheapest stuff to prepare, stuff we could afford. I learned to make macaroni and cheese, with powdered milk, no less. I learned to make hamburgers and hot dogs (Yes, I had to “learn” how to boil water) and spaghetti and Hamburger Helper. I think that was my entire culinary repertoire. I taught myself how to make omelettes by that time, but I don’t think we would have had them for dinner.
One day, and I don’t remember if it was at first, when my mom was teaching me this stuff or if it was later (I suspect later, probably as I was doing dishes, because at first I would thrill to finally have kitchen privileges), it occurred to me how unfair it was that my dad, who was the other adult in the home, was not assigned kitchen duties. Why did I have to cook and clean because I was born with an extra X chromosome? Didn’t it make more sense for my dad to take on that responsibility?
My dad practically bragged about his helplessness in the kitchen. He knew how to cook exactly two things: steak and popcorn. We couldn’t afford steak, so my mom was probably concerned that we were likely to die from The Popcorn Diet. We probably would have, too. My dad’s idea of cooking even now is making Cream of Wheat in the microwave. And forget cleaning or doing dishes. I have never seen him do either of those two things. Mow the lawn, yes. Take out the trash, yes. Fix the toilet, yes. On the rare occasion, do the laundry. But forget cooking, cleaning or doing the dishes. That was woman’s work.
Now I’m not sure where that attitude came from, because my dad was actually something of a feminist and was the one who convinced my mom to go to school to become an EMT and then a nurse, because that was her dream. He encouraged her to pursue a career. He always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, well, as long as it was something he approved of. Namely, the list of occupations covered virtually anything but an actress, stripper or prostitute; somehow, they all got lumped in together. Sadly, when I was in high school I wanted to be an actress.
The thing is that my dad’s attitude was pretty much the attitude of most men at the time. I could say that it was because he was older than the dads of most of my contemporaries, but that wouldn’t be true. If you pull the covers and articles of popular women’s magazines of the time, I think you’ll find that a ton of them are about being a Supermom and having it all, work and life balance, something that’s still a topic that concerns women.
Anyway, I was already a kid that was overly preoccupied with issues of fairness and equality. Injustice bothered me so personally as a child, and I was partially raised in the time of Alan Alda and granola. When the backlash of the eighties occurred and feminism was somehow something that was now passé or the overreaction of women judged as strident harpies, bitter spinsters or butch dykes, I wondered what happened.
Why did we stop at the vote and the right to work? Why was it okay for us to have to work outside the home and then come home to a second job as a housewife, vacuuming in pearls? Why is it that the Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in 1972, and it is now the year 2010, and it still hasn’t passed? Why have we still not had a woman president? And why was I seemingly in the marginal minority that this bothered me?
No one else finds it strange that we have to give up our names to our husbands? Well, we don’t have to, of course, but you try finding a man who agrees with you that that’s unfair.
Every guy I knew would roll his eyes and say, “Well, when you’re married you become a family, you take on one name.”
And I would say, “I know. I got no problem with that. Why not my name?”
This usually got the response of rolled eyes. Sometimes, instead, they would look at me like, “What planet did you get beamed from? Can they send you back?”
I remember thinking when I was thirteen and cooking for my father and my brother, that if this was what marriage was all about that maybe I didn’t want to be married so badly. It seemed like a pretty raw deal for the woman. I thought, “What do I get out of this? Indentured servitude? No, thanks.”
This was, coincidentally, at the same time when I was in constant conflict with my mother, and so I would say the f word at every chance I got because I knew it irritated her. Her response, inevitably, was, “That’s so unladylike.”
And that infuriated me to no end. Unladylike? So, if my brother says it, that’s okay? What if I don’t want to be a lady? No, sirree. I am no lady. I’m a woman instead.