Recently my feminist conscience has eased up a bit, not for lack of things to be indignant about, but rather things to get excited about. But I mean literally excited, like sexually charged excited. A few months ago I watched the abysmal but fantastic film that is ‘Magic Mike’. Sharing that room with at least a hundred other women, gasping every five minutes and spilling popcorn on themselves, I had a wondrous epiphany: THE MEDIA IS CATERING FOR FEMALE SEXUALITY. Well, heterosexual female sexuality that is. Whilst I watched Channing Tatum, and whats-his-face from those weird spy films, throw down some incredible moves in glorious nudity I realised that this is how guys must feel pretty much every time they go to the cinema. Every Hollywood blockbuster features slim, pre pubescent women with half parted lips that scream of desire. They ooze sexuality in skimpy clothing and frolic around their male counterparts until they are finally wanted. Up to the age of nineteen I was convinced that the worse a guy treats me the more he likes me, and my job is to strive for his acceptance. I also abided by the ‘if you have sex with a guy he loses interest and thinks you are a slut’ rule (thanks mum). It’s really quite exhausting to be so chaste all the time. All these things I learned from ‘Chick Flicks’ so how come I have suddenly become empowered by this same genre?
Please fellow feminists, before you gasp in shock and dismiss me as a deluded pea-brained and self-hating woman, read on! I can justify this.
Let’s begin with the ‘mistress as protagonist films’. So there are two really that come to mind, starring Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. There are many cynical (and very valid) ways to read these films, but I read them as stories about strong, career minded women, who want to enjoy sex in their own terms and then have the added bonus of falling in love. It’s a very primitive start for a female empowerment film but its a START. It’s hope that popular consciousness is suddenly accepting of what it would have, a year earlier, deemed whorish behaviour. The next film that stands out is “What’s your number” starring Anna Faris which follows a one woman journey to revisit every ex boyfriend in order to not go above the number twenty, this being the number of men she has slept with. Though a ridiculous film, it presents a female character who eats, sleeps, has insecurities and quirks and ENJOYS SEX. Half-way through the film she points out how guys have an ‘ideal’ woman in mind, a girl who is chaste and well behaved in public “and you can bring home to meet your mother”, but behind closed doors she is dirty, super hawt and “fucks you sideways”. The Anna Faris character eventually realises that she shouldn’t have to live up to these expectations, and she shouldn’t have to apologise or feel disgusting for having sex with twenty different men. In true comedic style she does find a guy who appreciates that about her, wants her to pursue her own life/dreams and is also her best friend. This, ladies, seems to be much like a silver lining in dreary clouds of pop culture misogyny.
There’s an incredibly long way to go and there are many many things wrong with films like ‘Magic Mike’ and ‘What’s Your Number’. But somehow, could it possibly be? Is the playing field being leveled?. I admit it’s a slightly skewed start, but at least it is a start.
By Emi d’Escrivan-Nott