So Captain Marvel comes out today, and now is as good a time as ever to talk about Strong Female Characters.
I hate them.
I didn’t come to this realization right away, but Sofia McDougall helped me see the light. She hated Strong Female Characters long before I did, but she is right.
Natalie Portman also hates strong female characters as well. She is also right.
Here’s the thing with Strong Female Characters. When we say Strong Female Characters, what we mean is “Masculine Female Characters.” Strong Female Characters are characters that, to use the feminist nomenclature, “perform masculinity.” In a sense, Strong Female Characters do not validate women. They validate masculinity. And the message they give is that women will be accepted, but only if they perform masculinity.
Feminists argue about a lot of things, but one of the arguments they have is with regards to what their goals should be. Some feminists want women to get a seat at the table; other feminists want to destroy the table.
When it comes to films, I want to destroy the table. But my goal is not (only) to see more films about women. My goal is to see a wide variety of stories. And we can’t see a wide variety of stories of masculinity is the only valid perspective through which to see the world.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have Strong Female Characters. I just don’t think that we should only have Strong Female Characters.
So, a request.
I know a portion of guys are not seeing Captain Marvel to protest the film’s perceived “political agenda.” Instead, they are planning on seeing Alita: Battle Angel, because they think that’s a better kind of film about women. In a sense, they are virtue signaling this weekend.
But I have a request for the guys who are planning to do this.
Go watch an additional movie that weekend. You can rent these movies on Amazon.
Go watch Ida, a film about a Polish novice who leaves the convent to discover her Jewish heritage and the state of communist Poland.
Or Wadjda, a film about a young girl in Saudi Arabia who wants a bike.
Hey, both of those films have subtitles. I hate subtitles!
OK, how about Belle? It’s the true story of a biracial English woman living against the backdrop of the emerging abolitionist movement.
Or Suffragette, about the suffragette movement in Britain?
Ugg, period pieces!
OK, how about Volver or All About My Mother? They are films by the great Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
OK, how about Eighth Grade? It’s a film by Bo Burnham and was one of the best films of 2018.
Or I, Tonya? It’s tells the (somewhat) true story of Tonya Harding. Plus, it has Sebastian Stan!
I don’t know who Sebastian Stan is.
That’s Bucky, The Winter Soldier.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!