on prejudice against assertive women

I'm not the biggest fan of Nicki Minaj, but I definitely agree with what she's saying here. I've always felt that the lack of women CEOs and the lack of women in leadership positions more generally has less to do with blatant/obviously hostile discrimination against women and is instead tied to more subtle, deeply-rooted sexist beliefs within our society. Essentially, qualities such as assertiveness and charisma are still seen as "masculine characteristics," whereas submissiveness and seductiveness are "feminine characteristics."

Notice how even the meaning of the word "bitch" changes depending on whether it's applied to a women or a man. If a women is called a bitch, it's because she's unfriendly, hostile, unpleasant (or possibly assertive/commanding). If a man is called a bitch, it means he's a coward or a wimp (or possibly submissive). I've always felt that a large part of the reason why there are fewer female leaders is simply because many women are not raised to be assertive, charismatic, demanding, aggressive, loud--all characteristics that are valued in a leader, and unsurprisingly, all characteristics that are considered "masculine."

J'ai tue ma mare // I Killed My Mother

I have been so obsessed with this movie the past couple days. My discovery of it is quite timely, considering how I just recently complained that most gays in fiction are flat/typified characters or their central conflict revolves around their sexuality. It's so interesting that only a few days later, I should find a movie that totally contradicts that claim!

Essentially, J'ai tué ma mère is a movie about a teenage boy and his turbulent relationship with his mother. That the main character is homosexual is just one of many elements of the story.

I think one reason this movie made such an impression in my mind is because I found much of the dialogue quite relatable--in some instances, horrifyingly so. When arguing with his mother, the main character voices the same bitchy thoughts that I often hold myself back from saying aloud IRL. For example, at one point near the beginning, the main character has an argument with his mother, and once they stop speaking to each other, the mother starts humming to herself. After a few seconds of this, the son yells, "Stop singing when you're uncomfortable!" And I couldn't help but laugh because my mother does the EXACT same thing and it honestly annoys me too!

Both the mother and son characters are equal parts sympathetic and unsympathetic. I read one review where the writer called this movie "the closest we'll probably get to seeing Catcher in the Rye onscreen." I'm not sure if I could make such a bold claim, but it IS certainly true that, though relatable to many (myself included), the main character is not the most honest or even likable of characters: he's hypocritical, rude, self-righteous, self-centered, and when expressing his thoughts and feelings, he certainly has a flair for the overdramatic. The film is certainly aware of its protagonist's flaws, but the character himself is not. (That this story is semi-autobiographical makes the honesty of the narrative even more impressive. Lord knows I couldn't portray myself this way!)

And the work as a whole is even more impressive when you realize that the director/writer/lead actor of this movie Xavier Dolan wrote & filmed this when he was only 19. I just really like this movie ok. Go watch it! :)

poor people aren't poor because they're lazy

This is going to be ranty-er than usual because I'm mostly writing off-the-cuff. It might also be angrier than usual because the above is an accusation that even members of my own family have made and it just makes me want to punch them in the face.

I was reading this post about classism and honestly, a person is NOT paid according to "how hard they work." I don't know what propaganda drilled this idea into the heads of so many Americans, but wage isn't determined by "how hard one works" so much as how valuable their work is within a given society. That's why we have terms like "manual labor" and "skilled labor"--which are misleading terms anyway, since jobs like construction work obviously require a certain skill set. But if you want proof that this whole "wage = how hard one works" idea is BS, look no further than A-list actors who are paid millions to star in a movie. They don't get paid that much because they work a bajillion times harder than the average waiter, but because the studios are confident they can use that celebrity's name to gain even more money than what they paid. It has absolutely nothing to do with how hard a person works.

To be brutally blunt, saying that "poor people are poor because they don't work as hard as I do" is just an excuse people have made to feel better about themselves and to justify why they "deserve" to be rich while poor people "deserve" to be poor. Instead of actually addressing issues such as increasing class stratification and the surprisingly low social mobility in US society, people just make false assertions like the above and ignore the problem.

girls don't count

I just read this post and it affected me very deeply. The parts I found most profound are below:

“I wouldn’t feel threatened,” he’d say. “I know they could never compete.”

He meant that a woman, no matter how attached I got, could never “steal” me away from him. He meant that he’d only care about male penetration, about “sex” in the most typical terms.


The next morning, he was angry.

“I thought girls didn’t count,” I said.

“Yeah, but you like, went on a date,” he said.

“We saw a movie,” I replied. “She has a boyfriend.”

“It was a date,” he said. He was irritated.


“How many people have you been with?,” they all ask, adding: “Girls don’t count.”


“I just think you’ll end up with a man in the end,” he says when we’re walking to a bar.

“That’s presumptuous,” I reply.

“I just feel like you will.”

“Because you’re threatened?”


“Because it threatens you to know that I could one day not need a dick. That, god forbid, a woman who could end up with either actually chooses to disregard your precious penis.”

“Hey, take it easy. I was just giving you relationship advice.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

At the bar, our friends wonder why we aren’t speaking. Even he is confused by what happened. He doesn’t know what he did wrong.


They were real. They were real and they counted. They’re not shadows among the men I saw. But I wanted them to be. I wanted to avoid the consequences, to avoid thinking, to avoid wondering what it meant. These men, they told me what it meant: it meant nothing.

I identify as heterosexual, but even so, this post worries me. It worries me because I don't want a partner who are like the men described in this post. I don't want a partner who feels the need to assert his dominance or control over our relationship. I don't want a partner who essentially sees me as inferior to him.

Why Brave Is Not A Stellar "Feminist" Movie

This is part of an email conversation I just had with a friend about Pixar's Brave. The more ranty parts of our exchange have been edited out:

Friend: ...It is just so pandering and trying to be all we-are-being-progressive but not really doing anything new at all... I suppose they are trying to get at something deep about complicated mom and daughter relationships, but they do that at the expense of a deep or multi-faceted-in-any-way father-daughter relationship (seriously, every interaction between him and her is like, "*insert something irreverent or mocking men*")

Me: ...it's funny what you said about the story being not-all-that-progressive because the trend nowadays for "strong female characters" is basically girls who reject their femininity and accept masculine traits as superior--which is an idea that many feminists do not embrace. but it's also weird because as you said, there are basically no enlightened male characters in the movie. it almost feels like they dumbed down all the males so that in the absence of compelling male characters, you're forced to relate to & like the two female characters. and as you said, it's not like the movie tread over any new ground. no one in the US thinks arranged marriages are acceptable. of course female athletes are okay and of course girls don't have to wear dresses all the time.

now that I think about it, it IS pretty frustrating because there ARE still a lot of problems with gender roles but the movie doesn't address any of them. like, if they really wanted the movie to be all pro-feminist and progressive, then why have a king character at all? why couldn't the queen be the leader of the country and have merida be the one who inherited the role of ruler? then that really WOULD be progressive because girls are rarely in a position of absolute power, neither in the real world nor in fiction. and just because the main character is female doesn't mean all her problems have to revolve around the fact that she is a girl and is forced to do girl things.

Friend: I am frustrated that clearly they were like, "we need a female hero" and that is so obvious on a surface level. Like, they had to make the whole movie about her making a point of "I don't follow tradition and I'm a girl." And the "progressive" Pixar girl-hero movie that subverts female stereotypes requires a witch, which is basically the women's "Magical Negro" character who stimulates change because old women are so mystical.


I think the opinions expressed above require a bit of explanation. This particular friend and I have had conversations in the past about how homosexual characters in fiction are almost always defined by their homosexuality. They are either a walking stereotype or most of their problems in the story either involve or revolve around the fact that they are gay. (For examples of gay characters whose homosexuality is NOT central to their portrayal, there is of course Dumbledore and less famously the main character of Torchwood.) In fact, the narratives of non-normative demographics are often ironically both in opposition to AND centered around the normative. (e.g. the problem of gay characters are essentially that they are different from straight characters, the problems of non-white characters are that they are different from white characters, etc.--to learn more about why this is harmful, see Toni Morrison)

And I think something similar happened with Brave. Merida is defined by her gender. The majority of her problems in some way involve the fact that she is female. This is VERY unusual for Pixar; for instance, aside from the arthritis jokes, the main character of Up! was not defined by his age. The story could have instead starred a 30 year-old man whose wife died young and the core of the story would remain the same. Even Ratatouille didn't necessarily have to star a rat; the core of the plotline would still work as long as it starred a person of any demographic that would face extreme difficulty & discrimination in becoming a first-class chef in Paris.

This is simply not the case in Brave. If Merida were instead a male prince, the story would largely lose its impact, even if you did something "subversive" like change his hobby from archery to knitting. To my memory, this is the first time that the problems of a Pixar lead have been so category-specific. And not so coincidentally, this is also the first time that a Pixar lead has been female.