Tag Archives: feminism

A conversation about… ‘The Wedding Date’ (2005 film)

The other night after dinner I went to my room to accomplish errands I was supposed to have completed 2 days before when I heard my roommates laughing while watching television. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give myself a five-minute water break. However a five-minute break turned into the length of the film as my willpower crumbled when faced with temptation in the form of Dermot Mulroney and Debra Messing. The romantic comedy ‘The Wedding Date’ was playing on television. I suppose like any romantic comedy, once it begins one must always ride it out till the end.

Just like many others I too have personally seen this film more times than I care to admit. Thus it comes with no surprise I have formed my own opinions in regards to the content of the film. However watching the film this time however was definitely a new experience for me as my roommate and I got involved in a conversation regarding the climax scene of the film. Thus, though I was watching the film for the umpteenth time; it felt fresh and exciting for me as my views on the film was challenged and definitely broaden.

For those who have not seen the film here’s a little background information about it. It came out in 2005 and was an instantaneous success. It was so popular Bollywood did their own version of this film and not surprisingly, was also successful. This film revolves around Kat (Messing) and the hooker, Nick (Mulroney) she hires to play as her boyfriend to accompany her to her sister’s wedding. During their short but sweet time together they bond over frivolous matters and soon realise they have found their soul mates in each other. Other plots include bonding between two sisters whom before this could never see eye to eye, the bride cheating on her fiancée with his best friend and Kat’s ex fiancée being the best friend whom the sister cheated on with.

Whenever I watch this film I always have the same reaction during the climax point. I always begin with a snarky comment on how cliché their romance is and as the scene progresses my biting (or as I like to think sassy) comments turn into full-blown insults that I hurl at the television in hope that these characters are able to magically hear me. For those who haven’t seen the film the climax involves the two lead characters having sex. Messing’s character’s true feelings are shown because she is highly intoxicated and Mulroney’s character falls hopelessly in love with Messing’s character as he realises he enjoys being around her not because of her money (spoiler alert he’s a hooker) but because of her. (#Prettywomanthrowback) I suppose in the eyes of the cheesy beholders this scene is very romantic as Kat sexily seduces Nick to sleep with her on her father’s yacht (but honestly comes off as humorous as her sexy equals adorable). However, as romantic as this scene is I have so many issues with it the romance part is non-existing for me.

There are several reasons why this scene bugs me. One of them is Nick still choosing to sleep with Kat despite observing how drunk she is. Was it not obvious she was in no position to be making lucid decisions? Could he not smell the pungent alcohol aroma Kat was reeking of? Why was Mulroney’s character unable to say NO to her advances on the sole purpose he did not feel comfortable being with her while she was in such a state? In my personal opinion this scene adds to dangerous cycles that society cannot seem to break away from, rape culture. This scene only serves to emphasize the perceived idea of taking advantage of someone while the other person is intoxicated (and unable to think clearly) is not only acceptable, it can even be romantic! This really irks me because the next morning when Kat awakens she looks dazed and confused how she ended up on her father’s yacht naked and alone. She even has to ask Nick if anything happened last night and to my great annoyance he lies and says no because he is insulted she does not remember the previous night.

Adding to my discomfort is the justification of Nick’s character sleeping with Kat. In order to move the romance along and to explicitly show viewers their growing attraction and passion; the writes felt they clearly had no other choice but to make them have sex. My issue with this is; why does sex have to be the only way characters can be seen falling in love? Yes there is clear desire and physical attraction but those two characteristics does not have equate as signs to both viewers and characters they have fallen in love. Why can’t showing restraint in moments of great temptation be the height of their affections for one another? By not giving Nick’s character strength in this scene, Hollywood has only reinforced this fallacy that men don’t have the ability and shouldn’t have the ability to say no (despite the woman’s condition) because she was the one who initiated it. Thus, removing all responsibility from the men’s shoulders because the woman was saying yes.

However, interestingly enough my roommate had a completely different perspective on this scene. She felt that in many ways this scene emphasized women’s strength and rationality as films usually try to avoid. She felt that by showing Kat making the decision to say yes to Nick while she was in that state highlights women’s ability to make decisions in everyday lives. Therefore emphasizing this notion that when a woman is intoxicated and when she says No to sex with someone, she really means it. The evidence she provided was the precious scene in which it shows Kat going to an ATM to withdraw cash to pay Nick to sleep with him. She felt that Kat may not have necessarily been all there but she was still able to make lucid decisions and she chose to be intimate with Nick. Kat was also the dominant role in this scene. She initiated the intimacy with Nick dismissing the thought that first move made by women means they’re cheap and sluts. In her opinion, this is something romantic comedies should do more. Finally her views on Kat not remembering the sequence of events the previous night is questioned when she is still able to explain the money she withdrew the previous night to pay Nick for the night they spent together.

Listening to my roommate’s views on the matter provided me a different perspective on the scene. One in which I had never really considered before. Looking at that scene now I understand the perspective in which she is looking at it. However, the underlining factor to me though is still responsibility. The final reason (and possibly the biggest) why this particular scene irks me so is the lack of responsibility shown by Nick. In my opinion, the film showing Nick not acting more responsibly than Kat only serves to sadly add to this feeling that women have to always be more responsible than men. They have to take care of themselves and men simultaneously because men will never be able to say NO to sex. Apparently men are animals (they just have a different name).

I suppose if there was one thing I hope everyone takes away from this film (and piece) is both men and women have a responsibility to one another. Women should never have to feel the burden of that entirely fall on them and men should not have to be consistently described as animals with only one factor in their minds. We are all human beings with more complexity than most films give us credit for.

 #responsibilityfallsonbothparties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Scandalous Truth about Scandal

I first heard about Scandal through the countless promotional trailers played on TV. They did not give much detail about the show except to highlight Kerry Washington’s prime role as Olivia Pope, crisis fixer extraordinaire. Despite the huge media coverage, I resisted temptation and stayed away from Scandal. However in the months after my exams, I found myself faced with days filled with infinite time and no TV shows to fill it. So in the year 2013, of the month of July, I broke. Three days later, I emerged from a haze of political intrigue and scandalous affairs a true blue Gladiator. In three words, I was hooked.

I feel the need to emphasize Scandal was not perfect. It was deeply flawed from the ridiculous plots to the repetitive writing style and finally the minimal character development. However, I loved the series. Scandal effortlessly accomplished what so many TV shows fail so epically at: creating diversity without having it look like a marketing ploy. I enjoyed Scandal for many reasons, but I mainly (and admit honestly) watched the show for Fitz and Olivia or as we shippers call them, OLITZ. After my scandalous marathon I spent a lot of time obsessing over their crazy-over the top declaration of love. I spent hours Youtubing their moments together, reading Tumblr posts about this couple and re-tweeting tweets about the pairing. I was one of the millions of fans that could not get enough of their all consuming, all in, passionate love story. Like an addict, I craved for OLITZ feels.

 

Olivia: My whole life is you. I can’t breathe because I’m waiting for you. You own me. You control me. I belong to you.

Fitz: I love you. I am in love with you. You’re the love of my life. My every feeling is controlled by the look on your face. I can’t breathe without you. I can’t sleep without you. I wait for you. I watch for you. I exist for you.

 

Then something happened. I had to wait for season 3 to premier. And damn was it a long wait. During my Scandal free months, having the temptation removed from my sight, my cravings for OLITZ sadly came to a spluttering halt. So much so, by the time October rolled around, I no longer had a cloud of emotions obscuring my sight and I began to see the light. I watched the season premier of season 3 with horror as I saw my OLITZ for what it really was: an abusive, possessive, and honestly rather scary relationship.

 

Olivia: I’m done. I told you I was done. We’re over.

Fitz: We are not over. We are never going to be over. I’m never going to be over you.

 

Olivia, the strong, independent, no-bullshit woman, with a soft spot for only one man was no longer inspirational to me. In fact, I started seeing her as a woman fully controlled by a narcissistic, pathetic cheat of a man. A man unable to manage his personal life let alone a country and whose best ability is making empty promises to the woman he claims is the love of his life. Sadly, that was only not what I started noticing. Mellie Grant, the faithful and ever loyal wife of Fitz, was not the horrible political monster she was consistently referred to as. Instead I saw her as a real victim of abuse at the hand of her husband. Fitz continuously tortured and mocked her every attempt at building an emotional bond between them. He easily dismisses her deep unhappiness in their marriage and throws his affair in her face any chance he gets. It dawned on me then: this man I had once loved with a fiery passion was nothing more than a misogynistic hypocrite who treated women like they were his playthings.

The sad truth is the series had great potential to be something more than it currently is. They have a strong lead African- American woman; a ruthless Republican press secretary that happens to be gay and finally the main couple is an interracial one. However, despite this diversity the series reeks and drips with male dominance and patriarchy. Re-watching this show with my head rather than heart has made me aware of the sad truth about OLITZ. Olivia Pope is motivated only by her bizarre need to satisfy Fitz, a man who continually proves himself unworthy of such blind devotion. The writers’ refusal to expand Olivia’s motivation emphasizes this dangerous idea that even the most dominant and strongest of women will always succumb to the desire of men. In most episodes there will most likely be a scene in which Olivia desperately screams NO to Fitz but he chooses to not listen. He shrugs off her rejection and ends their dispute by violently pulling her to him (despite her protesting) and giving her a life-changing “passionate” kiss.

 

Olivia: I don’t want normal and easy and simple. I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.

 

I like many others was deluded into believing a relationship like OLITZ is not only acceptable but also desirable. It was even aspirational to me. And that is my biggest issue with Scandal. The writers have woven an abusive relationship so naturally into the series, added a tinge of sparkle to the relationship and decided to call it “love”. Their clear insistence of forcing this devastating, difficult and painful version of “love” down viewers’ throats and deceiving fans into calling it passion is honestly JUST NOT RIGHT. It demeans the very serious problem of domestic violence and only adds to the dysfunctional view that all love is worth fighting for, never mind the physical and emotional torture you suffer because of it.

Scandal needs to stop with its grand delusions of love and accept its societal obligation to educate fans.

It’s time to take a clear stance: Violence is never okay.

 

 

Girls hating on Girls

“It is cheap for a woman to text a man first. I believe a woman must have certain amount of class,”

“It’s fine for you to have sex. As long as you’re not whoring around,” 

“She’s such a whore”

“Look at that, slut alert”

“She’s so cheap and easy. Seriously,”

“Women that smoke are just disgusting”

“She’s so masculine and aggressive,”

“How do you expect to get a boyfriend if you act like that?”

“She’s a c**t” 

“She’s such a f**ktard. Like seriously; what a slut”

“She’s got such a big nose. Her neck is so thick. She doesn’t do her eyebrows”

These are phrases I have personally heard coming out from the mouths of women whom I call friends. Sadly, sometimes these phrases are directly to women whom we call friends. I have to admit; I have been both a victim and a contributor to this vicious cycle of hatred that has been around for years. It seems to have started from a time unknown to us and from the look of it now, it does not seem to end anytime soon. Therefore it is a no brainer why some girls believe being friends with other girls only creates “DRAMA!” This Slut shaming, vicious gossiping, backstabbing attitude women have developed towards one another is poisonous and it needs to end.

Another contributor to this cycle is people of the opposite gender. However, the vicious and derogatory terms women take offence on being called fall on deaf ears and are de-sensitized to men because she uses them too. Words like bitch, tramp, slut, whore gets dropped on a daily and we’ve become immune to them. In fact, these terms have gone as far as being affectionate terms to call one another. When has it become a norm to accept the term tramp in a teasing manner? Why has it become okay to be labelled a bitch?

 

“You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores”- Tina Fey in Mean Girls

 

Like most people there are a few factors about myself I identify with. Feminism is one of them. I have ALWAYS been a feminist and I ALWAYS will be one. I believe in equality and everything that comes with it. However, what I have failed to acknowledge is taking a stand on something means changing things about yourself to show you are taking a stand. This epiphany came to me while I was on the phone with my sister and she told me something she read about the wonderful Maya Angelou. Maya had decided to stop cursing at 22. Her mother told her, she was one of the greatest women she had ever met. Maya then decided if she was going to be somebody she would stop drinking, smoking and cursing. Well…she gave up the cursing!

This revelation led me to self reflect and I realised a crucial flaw in my thinking. I demand change without having to change myself. I realised my rants about inequality (especially gender inequality) to my girlfriends drip with irony. At the end of my rants the conclusion we (my girlfriends and I) conclude is simply these stereotypes they have about women needs to change now. Looking at my conversations now there is only one metaphor that I can think of, “Pot calling kettle black.” I demand change when I can’t even stop the habit of casual gossiping about another person!

The truth from what I learnt about Maya is change begins with us. We as women need to make a decision to stop hating on each other. We need to be united and emphasise it is NOT okay to use derogatory terms on us. It is NEVER okay to judge a woman based on her appearance. It is UNACCEPTABLE to judge a woman based on her sexual experience. And it is just UNCOMPREHENSIBLE to use the C word. Ever.

The fact is change- no matter how small it may be starts when we make a decision with ourselves to be better than who we were yesterday. If we succeed in that, perhaps humanity is not as far gone as we thought. Decide to be better today for a better tomorrow.

 

“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another”- Ellen Page