Feminism in Three Parts: Part 1–The Problem

*Disclaimer: These are my personal views not a philosophical argument or theory. Some things can’t be grounded.*

I’ve been meaning to write something about feminism ever since the (strange to me) controversy started happening in the media about women calling themselves “feminist” or not. (Then the second wave controversy of men calling themselves feminists followed by accusations of them trying to take ownership over feminism like they do everything else.)

The Dylan O'Brien Heartthrob Factor. Source: hitfix.com

The Dylan O’Brien Heartthrob Factor. Source: hitfix.com

But then I read the following in a recap of The Maze Runner’s impressive box office figures that made me sit down and write this.

The Maze Runner, which drew a 51% female audience despite an almost all-male cast…” The fact that this was considered unusual enough to print made me pause. It’s an innocent statement on the surface, but it is also an ignorant one. It simultaneously separates women’s interests from men’s on strict binary lines (I love post-apocalyptic dystopian stories. They provide a hideous metaphor of my life.), makes a normative claim about what should entertain women (If women are supposed to be interested in only stories that have female characters, that would give women approximately zero options.), and in a backhanded way denies girls and women an innocuous expression of their sexuality (given the Dylan O’Brien heartthrob factor).

I’m female-bodied, and I largely cannot identify with the things marketed toward women, because products, films, books, etc., marketed toward women generally fall into three categories: domesticity, romance, and bodily appearance. In order to achieve this in the entertainment industry, they sometimes bank on attractive (another socially-determined category) young men (the same way attractive young women are cast in token roles in films “for men”). I have probably spent $100 over the course of my life to see Zac Efron take his shirt off on screen, and I’m not going to bother pretending otherwise.[1]

This is just smart marketing by the capitalist machine. The problem, of course, is that socially we chastise young women for having the very sexuality we exploit to make money off them. Until, of course, we want them to sleep with us–and only us. Of course.

And this is the problem. There are institutions operating around us and over us and through us and in the very way we see the world, and we don’t realize how much we internalize practices that we might not actually believe in or accept if we had any control over our social construction.[2]

But there’s the rub.

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