Reflecting on the past has been and will be very beneficial to me throughout the semester of this course. Each week we are asked to complete reading analyses based on specific articles. Gender and Sexuality is a very important thing to talk about in today’s society. However, it is important to learn the history of it, especially how it is portrayed in films. Therefore, I have developed my ideas based on the readings and what I already know into the following analyses:
“Either/Or” and “Both/Neither”: Discursive Tensions in Transgender Politics by Katrina Roen
In this weeks reading, the one by Katrina Roen stood out to me the most. Many important factors came into play as I read it. For example, understanding certain definitions and comparing the difference of “gender identity” and “transsexual” by learning that “the person’s identity does not come into question in the same way, but his/her legal rights and rights to access medical services are central issues” (502). To me this statement is quite interesting, as it involves many problems with identity politics. It is stated that people tend to move steadily through a process where they will identify themselves as man or woman. Roen suggests that when they reach this developmental stage, it is assumed that they will undergo sex reassignment surgery and that they indeed deserve equal rights as any other woman or man. Those rights would include identification papers and marriage licenses. I also learned more about the fact that when people come out as transgender, they risk many things like “employment stability, personal safety, and possibly family relations” (504). Many risks are involved when someone comes out as transgender, as they will most likely be excluded and feel a sense of divide within their communities due to the fact that they will feel different among others. Not only are they going through a big change of process in their lives, they also “transition from one level of political consciousness to another” (504). Roen discusses Bornstein’s opinions involving the controversy of being transgendered and transsexual. For instance, Bornstein suggested that if the term transgendered is specified as transgressively gendered, then that means they will be more included and will represent a larger group of supporters rather than people who identify themselves as transsexuals. It is mentioned that “passing transsexuals have already been described as “nonsupporters of the revolution” (507). In conclusion to this article, learning more about the topic of transgenders, I have learned many things that are beneficial to my everyday life. I believe it is important to be educated on these types of things because it is part of the human-race. When individuals aren’t familiar with these types of discussions, many people assign negative connotations to the terms ‘transgender’ or even gender codes and it creates a pessimistic assumption relating to those individuals.
Postfeminist media culture, by Rosalind Gill
- “Possession of a sexy body is presented as women’s key if not sole source of identity”.
- The body is a women’s source of power and always requires constant monitoring/remodelling consumer spending is a big issue regarding judgements of female attractiveness.
- E.g.: breakup, Jennifer Aniston was shown as triumphant when she first appeared in public after breakup with Brad Pitt = gleaming, commodified, beautiful, dazzling, self confident even if they were hurting and vulnerable, there was no comparable focus on the men.
- Feminist discussions tend to be expressed within the media rather than being externally independent critical voices.
- Women are expected to self manage/discipline to a more greater extent than men.
- Women are required to work on and transform themselves regularly.
- Each aspect of their conduct, must present their actions as freely chosen.
- Media culture is obsessive with body types.
- After two decades, no agreement about postfeminism.
- Postfeminism= sensibility.
- A women’s body tends to be “evaluated, scrutinized and dissected by women as well as men” (149).
- Women’s bodies are always at risk of failure.
- Magazines: when aimed at straight women, men are portrayed as “complex, vulnerable human beings”. When targeted at those men, women tend to only discuss their “underwear, sexual fantasies, ‘filthiest moments’ or body parts” (Turner, 2005, 151).
- Women tend to only be portrayed as passive, mute objects.
- Women are shown as desired sexual subjects.
Damsels and heroins, by Cassandra Stover
- “Disney princesses have often come under attack for promoting harmful, unrealistic body types and the narrow ideal of marriage as the happiest of endings for young women.”
- Disney princesses tend to portray an unrealistic lifestyle to young girls all over the world who admire such ‘heroines’.
- Due to the cultural thinking after WW II, there was a desire for women to return to their family matters and let the men embody the ideals of ambition and hard work.
- The previous note comes from the creation of Cinderella (1950).
- Many princesses rely on approval by a authoritative figure, e.g. her father.
- The Little Mermaid created a character into a heroine with a voice and desire for adventure but still craving that sense of pride and approval by her father (King Triton).
- Movies that are mentioned within the article that include exemplified traditional females: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella= beautiful ‘objects’ waiting for their prince to come and save the day.
- The exact opposites include: Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Meg, Mulan and Tiana as they are focused and ambitious.
- More importantly noted in the article, Pocahontas and Mulan = heroic as they prove they can perform the traditional prince role which in the end, they save the day.
- Such adjectives: assertiveness, independent, or the “desire to explore”, all coincide with the term masculine which in result, delineates the progression of female characters.
- Female characters who try to embody those characteristics, aren’t deemed as a traditional well groomed princess.
- E.g. of the opposite of the previous point, Pocahontas and Mulan demonstrate levels of strength and leadership.
- A good message for young viewers, especially young girls, is that Mulan and Pocahontas destroy the norms of a classy princess that feel love at first sight and spending happily ever after with a “rude, conceited prince”.
- In some Disney films, Belle, Jasmine, Meg, Tiana, and Pocahontas seem to reject the idea at first to allow suitors into their lives which would conflict with their ultimate goal.
- Society tends to only view women whose ambitions were channeled towards love, or love for their father.
- In this article, it is learned that many princesses are searching for a source of approval by a fatherly figure.
- In result, it reduces her agency and independence as a young woman.
- E.g. The Little Mermaid is portrayed as a princess who chases her dreams towards ‘having legs’. She disobeys her fathers trust but in the end, she still seeks that admiration and comfort by her father.
- When Stover discusses how Tiana is portrayed in a Disney film as an African-American protagonist, she is portrayed as strong-willed and courageous. However, she dreams to own a business, which she inherits that dream from her deceased father.
- There is still that search for male approval by Tiana which not only feminizes her, but somehow reduces her to a little girl with a great love for her father.
- Disney films show that the princess or daughter always needs approval from their father no matter the circumstance.
- Dress-up dolls play a very important role in disintegrating a post-modern princess into a traditional objectified beauty.
- The look of princesses is ambiguous as it portrays an unrealistic image for young girls on how they should dress and look themselves.
- When advertisements promise ageless skin or longer hair, or high heeled shoes to help her walk/look sexy, its purpose is to empower woman.
- However, it does the exact opposite by pressuring young girls to look a certain way that they consider ‘normal’ and therefore, create an abnormality of visual appearance.
- As fun as it is to dress up as a princess and feel like royalty for a day, it tends to “internalize a notion central to post-feminist discourse: the illusion of the power of being looked at”.
- In my opinion, women must be portrayed as equally as male heroes in Disney/Pixar films as mostly every male protagonist, is culturally driven and strives for endurance.
- This article is very important in my every day life as it pertains to the way I grew up. I always aspired to be a pretty princess and wears dresses and heels and eat well and live in royalty. However, I have learned that such portrayal is a negative influence on young girls as it is very unrealistic.
- It’s important to educate young girls on the subject that their aspirations are as equally as important as males.
- They can follow their dreams and be adventurous and as courageous as their heart will allow.
- The ideals of the male being the hero and the princess always being the most vulnerable one, shows boys/men in today’s society that it’s acceptable for them to always believe that men are meant to be the strong-willed ones. This idea portrays a negative message on both genders.
- However, in a positive light, a movie which does not include dressing up, the film Brave is a step towards creating more diverse female images for young female audiences.
- Although we’ve come this far with the creation of Brave, Moana, Frozen, Tiana etc which include strong female roles and that break the norms of a princess, after reading this article, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to show young girls that being a young girl with pretty dresses and shoes and having money, isn’t the answer to everything.
- It is time for Disney to invest more in female-driven stories and let the female save the male for once.
Manhood, Masculinity, and Hyper masculinity Reflections
Identify ways the film portrays masculinity (be sure to reference the readings):
The film “Fight Club” portrays masculinity in many different ways, mostly through the two main characters. Firstly, the Narrator, Jack (Edward Norton) is a man who battles with depression, insomnia and split-personality disorder. Convinced he has no successful future he is portrayed as the opposite of a strong masculine character. Tyler (Brad Pitt) is a good-looking, aggressive man who is the Narrator’s hyper masculine alter ego. In Neale’s article “Masculinity as Spectacle”, he refers to the concept of narcissistic identification which describes manhood as “aggress[ive], power[full], and control[ling]”(5). When these two characters meet, they create a men’s only Fight Club that includes violence and ‘masculine behaviour’ which helps them and other men externalize their internal struggles of having to suppress their emotions.
Consider how the film contributes to positive or negative views of masculinity:
The film contributes positively to views of masculinity because it shows there are Support Groups available for men who are struggling with life changes and who have troubles expressing their emotions. It is a positive aspect because it shows that men can be vulnerable in front of other men and that support groups can be beneficial.
Negative associations involved with this film are that it lacks diversity involving the term of masculinity as a trait. It’s assumed that masculine traits include the ability to obtain power, be strong, and have the ability to endure pain. The Fight Club itself, involves negative connotations
because it shows that the only way men can deal with their overwhelming emotions, is by being violent and dominant.
What the Film tells us about the world in response to Gill’s “postfeminism as sensibility”:
In response to Gill’s “postfeminism as sensibility”, the film shows us the idea of emphasis upon self-surveillance. For example, Gill discusses the surveillance of women’s bodies and how their bodies are “dissected by women as well as men, and are always at risk of ‘failing’” (149). It is obvious that Gill’s article discusses women as sensible, her articles relates to the film because the characters feel pressure to look a certain way and portray themselves as ‘masculine’. There is an obsession with the male body in this film as Tyler would not be as fit and aggressive if he didn’t have an awareness of his body-type and the idea that he must portray himself as strong-willed.
Anything else you observe:
Were Marla and Tyler the narrator’s alter ego’s the entire time? Were they just two people created within the Narrator’s imagination due to his split-personality disorder?
When the Narrator shot himself, was he doing it as a metaphor to get rid of the voices of Tyler in his head?
What exactly is the moral of this story and what message is it trying to convey to the audience?