10 ways to critique television from a Feminist/Queer perspective
Does anyone else ever watch movies/TV shows and think: Crikey this would be so much better if it related to me more as a woman, rather than what I am supposed to be as a woman. Well I do, so I was thinking about how to watch television from an analytical and aware perspective. I put together this list:
Please note, ‘me as a woman’ applies to women of color and/or lesser physically able women. Really all women everywhere. This top ten focuses on queer feminist issues as an example, but it is only a guideline.
Do apply these techniques to diverse intersections of women. See what happens and what would need changing – then you will see what needs to be changed regarding modern perceptions of women.
- Switch main courses - I didn’t order this! Swap the main male character with a female character: if there is a male hero/protagonist in a film, imagine her being played by a woman. Harriet Potter, anyone?
- Lady counting: Count the number of times you recall having seen women talk amongst themselves, without discussing men or themselves in relation to men. In the media there are depressingly few conversations between women for women.
- Role reverse: Switch all of the female parts to male parts, and vice versa. You can include swapping clothes in this if you want to get a different perspective on gender performance (get a bit silly).
- Queering the picture: Switch all of the heterosexual relationships with queer relationships. So many films appear wearingly hetero normative to the LGBTQIA viewer. Take a simple and enjoyable romantic film, such as the notebook, and then queerify it! Imagine instead that Allie met another girl that summer she was on vacation with her parents. When I did this I noticed that the story gives this illusion: if you try to succeed in your ambitions, you will gain the thing you most desire. This fantasy is played out by a typical straight couple living out the American dream. If you imagine a lesbian couple it is easy to see a how different the story could be, and how many holes there are in the ultra-conservative and heterosexual concept of the American dream.
- The non-skinny are not automatically gross! Imagine all of the good people are fat and all of the sleazy/irritating people who get caught masturbating in a gross way are slim.
- REAL food REAL consequences: The characters are the size they would be in everyday life if they ate what they are eating in the movie. Oh my God they live off french fries and beer? I only half live off fries and beer. Oh my God, now they are a size up from me! Everything is the way it should be.
- Omg nekkidness? Every time a woman’s body part is sexualized (this could include nude shots or erotic glimpses of her lips, thighs etc) imagine this being done to an alpha male type man. The effect this had on me was that it made a lot of visuals appear needlessly pornographic. Erotic glimpses of women are so mainstreamed we do not realize how often we are being sexualised.
- Boys make some noise: In sex scenes imagine the man moaning profusely, almost comically, and generally kicking up a fuss while the woman quietly gets on with it. Women are made to seem ridiculous when they enjoy sex. Their exaggerated sexual moans parody female pleasure, and make the lady in question seem vulnerable at the same time.
- Whose fault is it anyway? Count the number of times a woman is blamed for a situation which may be beyond her control. We are taught that it is more acceptable to feel sorry for male protagonists, whereas when a woman experiences negativity it is automatically her fault.
- Daddy’s help: Observe how often a woman is able to succeed/get herself out of a negative situation without the help of a man. Surprisingly few. Women are portrayed as helpless and incompetent, when really we are awesome.
I hope that you got something from this top 10!
I do not mean to ruin all television and film for you. I am a strong believer that we can still enjoy something, despite it being problematic. Unfortunately for women though, a film which ticks all of the above boxes is considered arty, feminist and alternate, rather than the mainstream. Happy watching and thanks for reading.