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Author Topic: Mad Max and Masculinity  (Read 1490 times)

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Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2015, 06:09:38 PM »
Why would you expect feminists to call out other feminists?  There is not a rigid system or organization to them.  There is not a central feminist organization.  Feminism is an academic discipline and a way of thought.  The actual feminist movement didn’t even hold such a cohesive organization as the sort to silence each other.  Nobody expects the LGBT community to tell extreme members to be quiet and nobody really expects Rush Limbaugh to be told to shut up by other conservatives.  Why?  Because there really isn’t any standing for them to do so and no real place for them to do so.  A feminist is allowed to voice her opinion publically and identify herself with whatever she likes.  In truth people tend to identify these opinions and people for them.  “Oh that sounds feminist, she’s one of them feminazis” when in truth she may have never read or indulged in any recognized feminist literature, writer or groups. 

If feminists spent all their time telling random women to be quiet because they had an opinion that they felt was stupid, then nothing would get done and that would be a greater undermining of feminist thought.

As for the movie situation, certainly movies are meant to be entertaining.  People are free to indulge and enjoy those movies.  Similar to the way people are allowed to simply view poems are comforting and pretty words to hear or read.  For some this is fine and I respect their desire to simply enjoy.  To others those same words speak louder and mean more, which is why you have literature courses and books.  The producer and director selected certain scenes to be expressed and shown.  If they are to be viewed as artists than we have to assume there is some meaning behind what is shown and in the selection process.  They are attempting to convey a message with that choice. 

There are various examples throughout cinema of “badass” women.  Furiousa is one of these examples now and she has struck a cord with people.  I do not think this is unintentional because the character is very well done and is portrayed by an actress known for these sorts of roles.  If I choose to dig a bit, search a bit for additional meaning then that is my decision to do so.  If people want to discuss those meanings and sort of poke around the movie then awesome as well.  I do not see how coming into that thread and saying, “this is all pointless” is supposed to contribute to a meaningful discussion.

If your opinion is that the movie was just fun and entertaining, then leave it at that.  Otherwise you are pretty much being the guy who runs into a coffee house screaming this is all pointless and storming off when everyone keeps talking.

Offline IntensePlayer

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2015, 08:05:23 PM »
"If your opinion is that the movie was just fun and entertaining, then leave it at that.  Otherwise you are pretty much being the guy who runs into a coffee house screaming this is all pointless and storming off when everyone keeps talking." 

I think that was a little uncalled for.  I'm voicing my opinion but in no way am I making anyone stop from voicing theirs.  Nor am I disrupting the board, making random threads and shoving my opinion down other people's throats.  I read the thread and had something to contribute to it, which is what I'm doing.  I haven't called anyone out, nor have I insulted anyone.  I've read points people have made, and I've tried to respond to them while voicing my own opinion.  I don't even think I've used any profanity throughout my posts.

While people have the right to say whatever they want, they also need to be responsible in what they say.  You mentioned Rush, which is a good example.  He has a right to voice his opinion, and every so often he is actually right, the problem is, most of what he says is very selective and instead of taking in all aspects of a situation/argument he tends to pick the side that suits his agenda. Rush does identify himself as a conservative and a republican, and even though he has a lot of very radical views he has a certain sized following, which is why all republican politicians who run for president generally pay him tribute.  Now from one point or view that is fine because people can do whatever they want, but on the other side of the coin those candidates that go on his show are both condoning and even contributing to his particular agenda.  I'm using Rush as an example since you mentioned him, but liberals/democrats are guilty of the same thing.  For example Bill Maher has been making a lot of very anti Muslim statements in the last few months and I haven't really heard anyone in the liberal party speak out against it.

I'll say it again, I'm not stopping others from discussing what they want, just voicing MY opinions on the matter.  Yes, I think a Men's rights group bitching about Mad Max is trivial when compared to the real issues men deal with.  Am I crusading around trying to top said group of men from criticizing Mad Max?  No, I'm not.  A thread was created, to which I contributed. Hell I'm not even typing in all caps which indicates 'text yelling'.  If you want to characterize me in a certain way because of my views go ahead I suppose.  I won't do the same to you because your opinion differs from mine however. 

Offline consortium11

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2015, 08:17:03 PM »
Why would you expect feminists to call out other feminists?  There is not a rigid system or organization to them.  There is not a central feminist organization.  Feminism is an academic discipline and a way of thought.  The actual feminist movement didn’t even hold such a cohesive organization as the sort to silence each other.  Nobody expects the LGBT community to tell extreme members to be quiet and nobody really expects Rush Limbaugh to be told to shut up by other conservatives.

People sort of do expect people of similar political positions to call out others thought... NAMBLA was used as a stick to beat the LGBT community with for a long time, when Christian conservatives appeal to the middle ground they normally have distance themselves from the more radical fringes etc etc.

But what I think makes the argument that feminists don't call out other feminists weak is that they do... pretty much all the time. TERFs (Trans-exclusionary radical feminists) get called out all the time, there's quite a lot of conflict between second and third wave feminists, there's been a bit of a blacklash against what is seen as the upper-middle class, metropolitan elite nature of some feminist positions and arguments from within what I guess we could call the movement, tied into that has been a criticism of how white feminist figures are happy to talk about intersectionality when it comes to discussing racism in general but tend to block out people of colour's voices within feminism itself. It's only been a month or so since Joss Whedon... a self-proclaimed femenist... faced a huge backlash over Black Widow and was previously called out for what was interpreted as a transphobic joke.

If anything feminism is defined as much by their willingness to "eat their own" as it is by some supposed unified front. Now, in general such "call outs" don't happen when someone says something ridiculous or extremist about men but when two feminists do end up at odds it can be as bitter and violent as any form of political "debate" (and I use that term very loosely)

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2015, 11:07:58 AM »

Hi. I'm probably going to deviate from the main start point of this topic. Also, bear with me, because this is so multi-pronged it's making my brain ache and I've been going round in circles on it even before I've tried to write it down. And there are so many rabbit tunnels.


For me, the film had everything to do with power, strength and beauty and what those things are. And that is both why it was taken as such a threatening thing by anti-feminists, and why film itself is such a strong medium for communication that it actually is very important what is being said on every level within it. How we interpret those things (power, strength, beauty) or how we are guided to interpret them might lead us to making masculine or feminine attributions. That's where the feminists have a case too.


My read on this call out about women taking up the screen time and "pretending" they can do everything men can in an action movie, is that it is a fear reaction. The fact that that reaction has been strong enough to provoke debate and discussion (the fact that this threat exists, that I am even typing this...) means that actually, this is a live topic that hasn't got a single answer. In countries or parts of countries, or families, where men experience a need to be dominant over women be that sexually, economically,  socially, or physically, a film showing women taking over every aspect that they consider men's territory is something to be afraid of. And to get angry about. This is Hollywood giving permission for everything to get out of their control and for women to claim back power over their own bodies. It's a very strong message, which for some people will be taken as a subversive call to action, or a gigantic snub.


Both Furiosa and Max showed a fairly level spread of strengths and weaknesses. They were fairly gender neutral as characters go. I think you could have swapped them over quite easily.  Although as I write that, I realise I've stumbled across the point the anti-feminists were making.


So, thought experiment time....


Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
If Furiosa was the one chained up in a cage and tied to the front of a car like the woman on the front of a pirate ship, and made an attempt to gain control over a perceived hostile party who turn out to be her rescuers, by holding them up with a gun with no bullets (animal reaction - fear provoked), and inevitably failing, we would have been looking at your standard damsel in distress with a bit more bite. That's where again, the film, and the choices the director and writer have made, become very powerful.


We as an audience, I do not believe, would credit Furiosa with the same strength we credit Max with, if the only things that changed in that film were flipping her and Max's situations around.  If he was the rescuer. So is it just that we have such embedded ideas of masculine and feminine that we overwrite our perceptions onto what is actually happening?


Did Max need rescuing? No, he got himself out of it - forced them to help him, right? And anyway, he would have got himself out of it somehow.
Would Furiosa in that same position have needed saving? Hell yes, no way could she get that face mask off unless Max took pity...Right?
 
I think I'm guilty of internalised misogyny here, but it's interesting to me to see that the circumstances make (my) perceptions skew in different ways.
 
That is, I guess, the complaint. The film casts Max, who is, according to the title, meant to be the hero, as the woman from the black and white movie tied to the rail tracks. Max is at the bottom of the power balance. But that only makes him more feminine if you think that women having power is something foreign to her gender.


The War Boys again are a really fascinating point of that power balance. They are afraid because they're going to die. Maybe this is masculine, because men aren't allowed to show fear, but mainly, I think it's very human. So they wrap it up in bravado and wilfully believe the myth of finding a good death. They want to go out in a blaze of glory, which is very historically accurate behaviour.  Young men don't want to be cowards and it is vitally important that their shows of bravery are witnessed. But it's love, not femininity that allows the letting go of that fear. Maybe there's an argument to say that "woman is love". But I don't buy into that. Anyone can be afraid. Furiosa refuses to commit as much as Max does. He's the one who tries to stop her dying. She makes no attempt to stop him from leaving. She just accepts. They both do.


But... and this is where I wander truly off topic...  I don't thing gender was the main bit of the film to get wound up about. For me, what left me distinctly uncomfortable almost from the get-go, was the way the good/bad split was demonstrated. Physical perfection was set up as the thing to achieve. The wives are young and beautiful and slender, and they glow like angels. Pure and white. The War Boys, as someone has already mentioned, were similarly in white, which shows their innocence - it's not their fault, but the evil things the truly ugly people have done, have meant that their bodies are not viable. Genetic disability was cast as synonymous with evil, over indulgence and impurity, just to maintain that helpful face of villainy that Hollywood perpetuates so well.


The film would have attracted much more outrage, I think, if they hadn't marred their heroes. But, if you note, this was with what appeared to be acquired disability through interacting with the now unnatural world. Max's madness was used like a superpower or a haunting and was entirely symbolic of what he had been through, as was Furiosa's arm. It worked very successfully as an allegory, but it still makes me uncomfortable. And there's that point about the power of film again. The women worth saving were the perfect ones, and the fatter, uglier ones were left behind.


Do we think of a female character as truly strong when she's not borrowing ideas of masculine strength (does she have to shoot people, and know how to fight - in this context, yes, but are they really masculine traits?) or do we think it's boring and weak for her to do anything but? Furiosa is tough and admirable because she's de-feminized to some degree. I like that they didn't sexualise or fetishise her Amazonian style character - she was a person first, and a woman second. But can you have a strong female character who maintains sexuality, and doesn't shave her head, or does that immediately put her back into a context where she can only be considered in relation to men?  Could she have been a woman first?


Maybe it's that issue of audience. As soon as a woman is brought away from neutral it's ingrained that she's something good to look primarily, a decent character only secondarily.  Lara Croft, case in point. Men are allowed to be more 'feminine' these days, as long as they do it with enough macho bullshit and musculature to pare it off against. Or at least with a sports car. So maybe they're stuck in the same boat.  We've already been too influenced by the other films we've seen.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2015, 11:09:00 AM by MonkeyBee »

Offline Aethereal

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2015, 01:57:49 PM »
      Thing is, *no* real person I've actually met is woman/man first and a person second. Having it the other way around in movies (or other media) just feels ... alien to me. Inhuman.

      On the note of shaving heads: I come from a culture where there were only two kinds of people who got their hair cut short/shaved - slaves and, a bit later in the history, also newly married women... Things like that aren't really inherently "feminine" or "masculine".
      Also, long hair will make men more sexually attractive to me... Feminine body structure, in return, is something I am not turned on by...

     Admittedly, if I am talking masculine/feminine, I tend to refer to physical structure, not cosmetics, not attire, not behavior or preferences.

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2015, 04:18:47 PM »
Fair points about being a person first, and also about the cultural context having an impact on masculine/feminine aesthetics.

I do question that there are no cosmetic aesthetics that you perceive to be more masculine or feminine within your culture though. That's a fantastically gender-neutral place you're living in and it's certainly a great thing to aspire to in your own thinking - I know my country's not there yet! There is a context in which the words Butch and Femme are batted about in relation to the style choices people make and I don't think that can be entirely written off, even if it isn't something we would aspire to be part of.

Does having long hair make you more of a woman? Hell no. Does it make you more feminine? Arguably, because of associations to do with fertility and health, which are things that supposedly lead to motherhood and nurturing, or simply as a sign of being someone who does not do physical work, where long hair would get in the way - of being taken care of. Does a man having long hair make you more masculine? Arguably yes, because it's a sign of virility. But dependent on culture, it's also a sign of weakness because of an implied avoidance of that same hard work. It gets complicated. Especially when you bring in rock stars and bikers and Thor, who clearly ooze testosterone.

I think in the visual context of the film, in which fertile feminine breeders have long hair, and the bald War Boys - half lives - are implied to be incapable of healthy reproduction, Furiosa's choice to have closely shaved hair might (in the visual context of the film) be a sign of her desexualisation. By choice, certainly, but desexualisation none the less.

So I guess that's what I meant with my woman first comment. Maybe I should have said 'at the same time as,' instead and added in 'being a sexually active being'.  Apparently I need to translate even to myself.

Offline Aethereal

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2015, 05:05:17 PM »
      The cutting of hair was an act of marking a person as submissive, or even (especially with slaves) even inferior. "We take away your symbol of strength and status, that which marks you as a free person."
      (Mind, not too far off was also why monks elsewhere shaved heads - to show their humility and lack of "fightery" aspects to their selves. And back then, many men typically had long hair and beards. So it is not inherent to my particular culture, either...)

      Ehh... And "I perceive" (or how I use words, as is) doesn't necessarily translate to "my entire culture perceives, latter foreign influences included." I personally just keep to what I like with my appearance, be it for looks or my personal comfort...

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #32 on: June 22, 2015, 02:23:40 AM »
I think we might be making the same point on the hair cutting,  just coming at it from different sides.  For you it's about removal of identity and strength - a kind of neutralising of personality (either voluntary in the case of the monks,  or involuntary in the case of slaves). I very much agree with this.  For me in this case it extends to the neutralising of gender. I think it could be said to do the same in the case of slaves and monks as well. She's been brought to neutral.

Also, apologies.  In your previous post you were making a point about your culture not viewing this like that as gendered which I incorrectly took to extend into other parts of what you were saying.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2015, 09:03:25 AM »
Have been avoiding speaking here, as I haven't actually seen the movie, but this strays into a more general topic, so:

Do we think of a female character as truly strong when she's not borrowing ideas of masculine strength (does she have to shoot people, and know how to fight - in this context, yes, but are they really masculine traits?) or do we think it's boring and weak for her to do anything but? Furiosa is tough and admirable because she's de-feminized to some degree. I like that they didn't sexualise or fetishise her Amazonian style character - she was a person first, and a woman second. But can you have a strong female character who maintains sexuality, and doesn't shave her head, or does that immediately put her back into a context where she can only be considered in relation to men?  Could she have been a woman first?
Is it possible to have a strong character who's female (more on this in a moment) without descending into man-with-breasts? Off the top of my head and sticking only to media I've personally seen: Buffy, Willow, Anya (Buffy), Ripley (Aliens), Merida (Brave), Monica Rambeau (Mighty Avengers), Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel), Kaylee Frye (Firefly)... I'd have to say yes. (Please note: This is far from a complete list! This is what I can come up with in two minutes of thought on too little sleep.)

I think the key point here is to break down that word "strong". (Failure to do so is exactly why "Strong Female Character" is a punchline in a number of feminist circles.) What I think of in this context boils down to two things: Is the character well-written (does she have her own personality and goals, and does she have agency (a real chance of achieving those goals on her own terms, and the ability to act on it)? If you break it down like that, you can quickly see that it has nothing to do with being more "masculine", unless only men have any real agency in your fiction.


Maybe it's that issue of audience. As soon as a woman is brought away from neutral it's ingrained that she's something good to look primarily, a decent character only secondarily.  Lara Croft, case in point. Men are allowed to be more 'feminine' these days, as long as they do it with enough macho bullshit and musculature to pare it off against. Or at least with a sports car. So maybe they're stuck in the same boat.  We've already been too influenced by the other films we've seen.
I'd argue that there's a vicious circle in effect, but one that both audiences and writers have the power to break out of: Audiences see women as eye candy, victims, or trophies because that's what they keep being given, and writers keep giving them that because audiences continue to pay for it and accept it (mostly) without question. Nobody's stuck at all, least of all in this era of public feedback and audience engagement - they either don't see the problem, don't see the solution, or don't want to put in the work.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #34 on: June 23, 2015, 10:21:44 AM »
Well the U.S. military shaved the head of soldiers as a first step to removing individuality.  I believe many Western military units did so along with clean shaving the faces of these men.  This became a masculine image as the United States among other Western nations held a romance with their military members after World War II.  Facial hair and long hair was actually feminized for a time with the hippie movements and facial hair has only recently come back as a masculine style that I have seen.  So shaving of the head did have those roots in removing the individuality of the person along with adornments, but eventually became a masculine image due to the prevalence of men in the military and those ideals being held up as inherently masculine.

As for the whole woman and person thing being one before the other, I’m not really sure that is how people form their identities.  People have various roles that are filled and put forward.  Certainly people can associate with certain roles and identities more than another, but our identity is shaped by roles we take on and roles we are given.  I am a woman regardless of what else happens, my sex at birth is a woman and unless I undergo a drastic surgery to change my body I will remain a woman.  Society has preconceived notions of what that means and what is expected of me as a woman.  I do not simply wake up one day and say; I’m a person and so want to be treated this way.  To anyone looking at me, meeting me and associating with me I am a woman.  My social identity and my role is a woman.

So the yes Furiousa is a person, but her social identity is that of a woman.  Sexual identity is rarely neutral.  I have heard of gender neutral or gender shifting societies where a person could alter their gender, but those are a rare find and I believe regulated to hunter/gatherer groups.  I could be wrong there.

Ephiral is right about the vicious circle.  People want the familiar, writers want to sell and so give people more of the familiar, reinforcing preconceived notions and continued the turning of the wheel.  People that want something different are labeled deviants or are considered weird, writers that try to provide something different can be shunned or labeled “cult” writers and have their careers defined into a niche.  Social controls set in place to keep the status quo.

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #35 on: June 23, 2015, 01:25:05 PM »
You guys are great.


Ephiral - Your definition of strong is spot on. My god you phrase things exceptionally well. I guess maybe I'm rallying against things on a purely superficial level - the man with breasts complaint. But I think I'm slow to define that (to myself) because just like it doesn't quite make horrific implications about disability, it doesn't quite cast Furiosa as that either. I guess I am bamboozled. And using discussion to work through what ifs and what ares and what might bes and whether implications are more general or specific,... and life, the universe and everything.


Absolutely there is a vicious cycle with writers and audience. Fuelled by money and figures, which makes it very difficult to break out of for either party. Because the people funding want a sure sell. And any writer who doesn't write for audience is either very wealthy, or willing to starve for his art.



Pumpkin - completely agree about preconceived notions, which probably sounds bizarre given the point I started out from. I think it feels like she's stepped outside of what a woman's preconceived role is within that society. Also, gender neutral is probably a film narrative construct rather than reality. So... Max, for example, is given active sexuality. He (we) get some good long looks at the half naked, wives hosing each other down, and he has a couple of moments over the pregnant lady. I may be way off the mark, but I think there was a sexual edge. In comparison, Furiosa doesn't present a flicker of attraction to anyone. There are definitely exceptions to this when looking at female leads more generally, certainly in amongst the characters Ephiral has named, but I found it really interesting that in this context, despite the film supposedly being about claiming back sexual power on some level, the most free character didn't own her sexual identity at all.






Offline Ephiral

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Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #36 on: June 23, 2015, 02:39:14 PM »
Thank you, MonkeyBee. *blushes* Was not sure I wasn't coming off a bit snarkier than intended toward the end there. Now watch me talk out of my ass about a movie I haven't seen.

I think that, honestly, part of the problem with Furiosa is the setting. In a world where you have to be the nastiest piece of work in sight to have any agency at all, is it possible to avoid sliding at least a little bit into what today's audiences would see as "masculine"? Being aggressive, violent, and seeing at least first meetings as a test of dominance are survival traits in that world, and a woman is going to have to wear that on her sleeve in a way a man wouldn't in order to get past the seemingly common bias of woman-as-prize. Desexualization plays directly into that too. I... have issues with the man-with-breasts trope, so I'm not sure how much I want to let the filmmakers off the hook here (esp. without seeing it for myself, something I plan to rectify likely when it comes out elsewhere), but I see a valid interpretation that this is a choice Furiosa is very consciously making - a sacrifice of her own identity that she feels compelled to make in order to survive.

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #37 on: June 24, 2015, 04:39:51 AM »
Didn't take it as snarky, but you might have to tone check against someone who doesn't agree with what you were saying.  :)

For not having watched the film you're pitching pretty perfect. You're right about it being her choice to survive.  I do get that feeling.  But interestingly,  there are other badass ladies who are arguably more explicitly violent in the film who are not defeminized or masculinized. I think this is why I'm not sure how I feel about her as a character.  She's not overly violent or aggressive - she doesn't attempt to be badder than bad to prove a point (which would really hack me off because that's totally "woman can only survive by being man") she's just done what she's had to to survive and a lot of her "grit" is implied rather than demonstrated.  Which to be fair is the same for both main characters. She is what she is and I guess the implication made is that that can't be feminine in her situation.  Which is interesting.

Offline Aethereal

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #38 on: June 24, 2015, 05:55:27 AM »
Quote
Is it possible to avoid sliding at least a little bit into what today's audiences would see as "masculine"?
     I am honestly not ever certain what to make of those kinds of questions. "Should" a woman act in a specific manner to be considered a woman? I know I don't ever *try* to be a woman; I am what I am, and one of those things, incidentally, is woman. A dominant, tech- and action-inclined woman, but nevertheless 100% woman. (Also heterosexual and will take a look at a good-looking man, I'll admit it.) Being interested in certain things or having my type of personality won't make me a "man with boobs" - why'd it apply to a movie- or other entertainment-media character?

      And what about people who aren't sexual not because they're "trying to de-sex themselves", but because they simply aren't sexual individuals in general? If a woman or man is inherently asexual - or at most demisexual - and has no or very low sex drive, then they would not flirt or otherwise show sexual interest even when given the option.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #39 on: June 24, 2015, 08:25:31 AM »
Didn't take it as snarky, but you might have to tone check against someone who doesn't agree with what you were saying.  :)

For not having watched the film you're pitching pretty perfect. You're right about it being her choice to survive.  I do get that feeling.  But interestingly,  there are other badass ladies who are arguably more explicitly violent in the film who are not defeminized or masculinized. I think this is why I'm not sure how I feel about her as a character.  She's not overly violent or aggressive - she doesn't attempt to be badder than bad to prove a point (which would really hack me off because that's totally "woman can only survive by being man") she's just done what she's had to to survive and a lot of her "grit" is implied rather than demonstrated.  Which to be fair is the same for both main characters. She is what she is and I guess the implication made is that that can't be feminine in her situation.  Which is interesting.
It's entirely possible that I'm giving the creators too much credit, but I see a tragedy of sorts there. You don't get to have any real agency in this world without giving up some of your humanity and identity.

     I am honestly not ever certain what to make of those kinds of questions. "Should" a woman act in a specific manner to be considered a woman? I know I don't ever *try* to be a woman; I am what I am, and one of those things, incidentally, is woman. A dominant, tech- and action-inclined woman, but nevertheless 100% woman. (Also heterosexual and will take a look at a good-looking man, I'll admit it.) Being interested in certain things or having my type of personality won't make me a "man with boobs" - why'd it apply to a movie- or other entertainment-media character?
Because you are not a character deliberately crafted by an author to behave in certain ways and fulfill a certain role, nor do you have to worry about being relatable to certain segments of your audience. The "man with boobs" complaint came about because, when faced with women looking for better representation, some creative types would do just that - swap the name and pronouns on a charactor or two and declare it good, with absolutely zero apparent understanding or acknowledgement that most women have a different set of life experiences and relate to different things than most men. For an example I touched on earlier: In Aliens, who would most women find more relatable, Ripley or Vasquez?

I'm not saying that all women must conform to a given set of expectations to be women - fuck that noise. I'm saying that characters are built around tropes and archetypes, and intended to be relatable or appealing to certain audience segments - and it's entirely possible for those tropes and archetypes to be tagged "masculine" by society in general, for the target audience to be male, regardless of the body they happen to be packaged in.

      And what about people who aren't sexual not because they're "trying to de-sex themselves", but because they simply aren't sexual individuals in general? If a woman or man is inherently asexual - or at most demisexual - and has no or very low sex drive, then they would not flirt or otherwise show sexual interest even when given the option.
There's a difference between "not particularly sexual" and "actively trying to remove any hint of sexuality and/or feminine gender cues" (since female, to a degree, is perceived as inherently sexual while male is not). What we're speaking of here is largely the latter.

Offline Aethereal

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #40 on: June 24, 2015, 09:12:09 AM »
Quote
The "man with boobs" complaint came about because, when faced with women looking for better representation, some creative types would do just that - swap the name and pronouns on a charactor or two and declare it good, with absolutely zero apparent understanding or acknowledgement that most women have a different set of life experiences and relate to different things than most men.
       I wouldn't say I have had that different experiences from men unless you count rarely wearing a dress or a skirt (which men of other cultures have also traditionally done) or things that amount to purely physical functions (and the physical functions part is more true with some female women than others).
        Why is it that I find myself more often relating to a character who is actually male - not because they are male, but because they act and think as I would, whereas women are often portrayed as some kind of weird inhuman aliens whom I'd just be uncomfortable around if I ever actually met someone like that? I honestly do feel that the "just swap the pronouns" characters often end up being more realistic and relatable than those which result from a person sitting down and going "OK, I am going to write a *woman* now".

Quote
In Aliens, who would most women find more relatable, Ripley or Vasquez?
      Aside of one being a side-character and the other the protagonist? Vasques gets killed halfway through and has way less screen time... I admit it has been (well) over a handful of years since I last saw Alien movies, but Vasques struck me as a fairly minor character when I first watched the movie, aside of "Oh, cool, an actual female soldier for once" ... immediately followed with the thought that she's pretty much destined to be killed. Since moviewriters won't generally allow someone like that to survive. 'Cause reasons.

Quote
There's a difference between "not particularly sexual" and "actively trying to remove any hint of sexuality and/or feminine gender cues" (since female, to a degree, is perceived as inherently sexual while male is not).
     I'd say this is more current cultural bias than anything. Which isn't necessarily a good thing in itself.

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2015, 08:42:10 AM »
Ephiral -  absolutely, but it's put across so much in the subtext that you don't get to that point until you think about it and arguably on a primary level all they're doing is saying it would not be possible for her to be such a survivor without adopting more male traits (ie as 'just' a woman).  I think she's a great character,  but at the same time I think she's been very carefully constructed to tread quite a few lines.  And yeah. .. whether the writers are off the hook or not I have no idea.  Because if you took her at face value...

Shienvien- I completely agree that portrayals of women in films and fiction very often miss the mark and I am with you 100% in that I get the feeling that I'm watching another species when I'm told my primary motivators in life should be make up,  hand bags, high heels, designer labels.  And babies. But that just points to a flaw in understanding of what feminity is on the part of the writer(s) and I don't agree that the solution is to pretend that a woman has no defining characteristics or life experiences and to allow gender to become tokenised.

You say you have no experiences that have been different from a man. Again I say you're very lucky.  I don't believe that's a very common experience. I wonder if you've seen The Killing.  Sarah Linden is  fantastically bad ass. She smokes, she doesn't cook, doesn't want to make nice with her partner,  gets obsessed with her job which she finds more interesting than her fiancé who thinks he should be the centre of her world,  and she deals with the reality of being a bad mother and losing her kid in a world that expects her to magic up maternal instincts and be supermum even while excusing absentee dad entirely.  That is something that is 100% a female issue and something a man would not have to deal with because society thinks it's alright that a father spends all his hours at work at detriment to his parenting responsibilities; it's only the mother than gets judged.  Leaving it out of the narrative would have done her character an injustice but to include it in a congruent way,  she had to be written as a woman not as a "man with boobs" even if she might share more typically masculine behaviour traits in other areas.  I love her as a character because she's a real person. Sexuality and gender included.  The second series also includes a young female cross dresser who I think is exceptionally well written and acted, who again, has a set of issues to deal with that come about from her being female.

Also,  on portrayals of asexuality and low sex drive - have at it.  I'm totally for this.  But to do those choices or experiences justice a film maker would have to acknowledge them, rather than just obliterate sex drive.  I don't think asexuality is as simple as just not finding someone attractive.  Also,  Furiosa was removed from sex in two ways.  She also was not put in a frame as a sexual object/ object of desire.  On the one hand great - she's not in there solely as a character for teenage males to fap over;  on the other - a strong woman can't be attractive?  Or is it because she's more aesthetically masculine/neutral? I don't know if there is a comment being made or even necessarily what it is but I worry that the short hand runs: men as sexual controllers,  therefore when free of men's control women hate men and don't want sex (all very heteromormative because lesbianism isn't really hinted at either).  Or even women don't actually want sex/ sex is bad. And because so much is left implied, that implication can become muddied.

Again this is only narrowly saved by the introduction of a romance.  But that interestingly is romantic, idealised love rather than sexual love.

Also I feel a little bad because it seems like we've hijacked what was meant to be a discussion on masculinity to talk about femininity!

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2015, 10:11:26 AM »
Ephiral -  absolutely, but it's put across so much in the subtext that you don't get to that point until you think about it and arguably on a primary level all they're doing is saying it would not be possible for her to be such a survivor without adopting more male traits (ie as 'just' a woman).  I think she's a great character,  but at the same time I think she's been very carefully constructed to tread quite a few lines.  And yeah. .. whether the writers are off the hook or not I have no idea.  Because if you took her at face value...
I admit, I'm not sure what an audience who doesn't think about what they've watched is going to come away with - but I do think that "badass and equally-capable woman" is still a beneficial concept to put in their heads.

Shienvien- I completely agree that portrayals of women in films and fiction very often miss the mark and I am with you 100% in that I get the feeling that I'm watching another species when I'm told my primary motivators in life should be make up,  hand bags, high heels, designer labels.  And babies. But that just points to a flaw in understanding of what feminity is on the part of the writer(s) and I don't agree that the solution is to pretend that a woman has no defining characteristics or life experiences and to allow gender to become tokenised.
Oh, there are absolutely writers who go "I'm going to write a woman now!" and immediately descend into demeaning stereotypes. (Frank Miller, I'm looking in your direction...) No argument there.

I snipped your example for length and because I didn't have much to add, but it's a perfect one.

Also,  on portrayals of asexuality and low sex drive - have at it.  I'm totally for this.  But to do those choices or experiences justice a film maker would have to acknowledge them, rather than just obliterate sex drive.  I don't think asexuality is as simple as just not finding someone attractive.  Also,  Furiosa was removed from sex in two ways.  She also was not put in a frame as a sexual object/ object of desire.  On the one hand great - she's not in there solely as a character for teenage males to fap over;  on the other - a strong woman can't be attractive?  Or is it because she's more aesthetically masculine/neutral? I don't know if there is a comment being made or even necessarily what it is but I worry that the short hand runs: men as sexual controllers,  therefore when free of men's control women hate men and don't want sex (all very heteromormative because lesbianism isn't really hinted at either).  Or even women don't actually want sex/ sex is bad. And because so much is left implied, that implication can become muddied.
Honestly, I suspect this might be a combination of the single-example problem and the specific story we're looking at here. Do any of the more traditionally-feminine women in the movie get a moment of badass, or is it all on Furiosa? I can see her avoiding sex as a thing entirely regardless of her desire because, frankly, it's an extremely dangerous area for her - the moment she looks like an object of sexuality, she becomes a target, and being a sexual actor in her own right requires a certain level of vulnerability. She'd have to have someone she could trust with her life first - and my impression is she doesn't have that.

As for heteronormativity... I won't say it's not disappointing, but really, what do you expect in a major Hollywood production?

Also I feel a little bad because it seems like we've hijacked what was meant to be a discussion on masculinity to talk about femininity!
Ehh, I think we're still on topic - discussing the film in question and what it has to say on gender roles, and examining whether Furiosa actually hijacks a masculine role. (My conclusion based on everything I've read: not unless you consider "has agency" a masculine role.)
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 10:12:58 AM by Ephiral »

Offline MonkeyBee

Re: Mad Max and Masculinity
« Reply #43 on: June 25, 2015, 10:33:19 AM »
Ah, I guess we're okay then. Just being paranoid about topic slippage.


Honestly, I suspect this might be a combination of the single-example problem and the specific story we're looking at here. Do any of the more traditionally-feminine women in the movie get a moment of badass, or is it all on Furiosa? I can see her avoiding sex as a thing entirely regardless of her desire because, frankly, it's an extremely dangerous area for her - the moment she looks like an object of sexuality, she becomes a target, and being a sexual actor in her own right requires a certain level of vulnerability. She'd have to have someone she could trust with her life first - and my impression is she doesn't have that.

I have pretty much only agreement to add to everything you've said. Other more traditionally women do get to be badass. But Furiosa and Max both present pretty major trust issues and it would be... quite something for either of them to admit vulnerability. Which makes it a very beautiful film because there aren't that many that make such an overt comment about how difficult trust is. And okay, probably it only does because post-apocalyptic kill or be killed setting, but actually that is so human.

I guess my conclusion from all of this is that picking apart what constitutes masculine or feminine is bloody complicated and it sure as hell is not black and white. And that we have some pretty epic thinkers rattling around on these forums.