media-representation-of-women

my mom really wanted to see Wonder Woman so we went to the theatre today to watch it.

i wish i could express in words how happy she was, how over the moon and emotional she was, over seeing a movie dominated by women. with tears in her eyes, she gleefully told me how amazing it was that the movie was directed by a woman, had a woman as the hero, and showcased countless women as warriors, as powerful beings.

this is why representation matters, and not just for younger generations. we talk all the time about how girls these days are still starved for decent representation and media; don’t forget that our mothers and grandmothers were even more starved. representation matters for everyone.

I think the incredibly frustrating thing about the whole “why can’t white people be cast as leads in Hamilton?” argument is that this is the exact same point people of color have been arguing for years. In theater, in film, in television, in literature - we’ve wanted to know for decades why can’t we be cast as leads every once in awhile. And, without fail, we have been told over and over again that we should wait our turn or that it wouldn’t be accurate or that we just weren’t “right” for the part.

Now, here comes a musical that’s massively popular - because let’s face it, I really doubt we’d be having this argument if Hamilton was anything but - and which was written, not with colorblind roles, but with roles exclusively made for non-white people. And suddenly it’s not “fair” that white people don’t get this one thing. It’s not “fair” to people who have been catered to almost all the time in every platform of media to have this one musical too. One musical. One musical out of thousands of media outlets. Thousands upon thousands with “colorblind” roles that almost always mean “white, perhaps ethnically ambiguous if not”. 

There’s such a “take but never give” aspect of the argument that’s making its rounds on this site. And having to explain the nuances of white privilege and why white women and white queer people do not face the same challenges of representation in media as women of color and queer people of color every time this comes around is exhausting as hell.

Fandom and the Intersection of Feminism and Race

Intersectionality – specifically, the intersection of feminism and race as it pertains to Black women – has become a bit of a Tumblr buzzphrase that is generally applied to major social issues. But it has a real and important place in fandom as well, and while that is generally accepted on the surface, it has come to mean (to folks to don’t actually get it) simply acknowledging the existence of Black women.

Here’s the thing, though. Intersectionality isn’t white women reblogging photos of black women with the caption “omg so beautiful!” It isn’t fancasting Lupita in everything or having “poc” headcanons of white characters. It doesn’t even necessarily mean supporting existing Black women characters (though that’s a start). Those things are inclusive, but they’re not necessarily intersectional.

To understand the intersectionality of feminism and race in media (and, by extension, fandom), one must understand the fundamental differences between what is considered empowering for white women vs. what is empowering for Black women. (Hint: due to many years of dehumanization of Black women while white women have been portrayed as The Ideal, these two perceptions are almost diametrically opposite.)

Take the Strong Woman who isn’t there to be loved. White women love this trope, because white women in media are so often primarily seen as love interests. I can understand how that can be frustrating, and how it can be refreshing to see, say, Furiosa in Mad Max. But – and this is important – the Strong Woman trope, applied to a Black woman, reads entirely differently, and to ignore that ignores intersectionality altogether.

Black women have almost never been the ones who need protecting in media. Black women aren’t sick and tired of always being love interests. The Strong Independent Woman (thanks in part to fandom repeatedly using the term to try and keep women of color in their romance-free place) has become virtually a slur when it comes to Black women in media in the same way the Damsel in Distress makes white women’s skin crawl. If you care about intersectionality at all, it’s important to understand that. The experience of Black women in media is the Bizarro World version of white women’s experience.

Most “inclusive” feminists can see the disparity between Scarlett O'Hara and Mammy, and (I hope) understand that Mammy was dehumanized and otherized. The Scarlett and Mammy trope lives on today, with only the most un-PC parts of the Mammy character removed. Otherizing Black women is not yet widely considered un-PC. It still continues in the media we consume every day. And just because they’re often glorified for being so strong, so tough, and so independent it doesn’t make it OK.

Abbie Mills is a tough, independent badass – but Katrina embodied “womanhood,” precious and pure. Michonne is a tough, independent badass – but Jessie embodies “womanhood.” And on and on.

It has been said so many times, but it hardly ever seems to sink in: It is progressive and feminist for Black women to be the precious ones, the love interests, the damsels who need saving. 

So if you instinctively ask why a Black woman can’t just be strong or get upset if she is “reduced to a love interest,” allowed the kind of romantic storyline you take for granted and spit on, the answer is: Your brand of feminism doesn’t apply here.

And, you know, that doesn’t negate that brand of feminism. Intersectionality (of all kinds) asks you to look at feminism as something that is complex, not a set of one-size-fits-all rules. 

Why Aren’t There More Women Magic Players?

Finally posting my article! It’s really long and I don’t want to clutter people’s dashboards with the full thing, so please click Keep Reading to read it. Thank you to everyone who responded to my “interview” questions! It was so helpful, and it certainly gave me a good look at what’s going on in the community. 

Special thank you to @gaytog and @ally-encampment, who are most heavily featured in the piece. Your responses were phenomenal and I’m grateful for your help on this. 

Secondary shout out to @chelsea-beleren-vess and @zoe-of-the-veil, neither of whom I interviewed but who both have been outspoken about this issue and thus who I mention in the article for their public posts.

Again, thank you, and enjoy the article!

Keep reading

Media Spotlight #1: Carmilla

This is the first of a series we will be doing that will highlight media that we believe is representing LGBT women in a positive way. Please support these wonderful works!

Carmilla is a web series produced by KindaTV with 3 regular seasons and 1 prequel season 0. Based on the novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, it turns an originally homophobic cautionary tale on its head with a modern updated version of the story, centering on a bisexual vampire and a lesbian college student determined to uncover the truth about her mysterious school and Carmilla herself. With over 2 million views of the first season and hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans, Carmilla is proof that LGBTQ women can absolutely carry a successful show. 

Genres: paranormal romance, adventure, humor, drama

LGBTQ characters:

Laura Hollis (lesbian), Carmilla Karnstein (bisexual), Lafontaine (nonbinary), Danny Lawrence (queer), several other characters of unknown sexuality

Originally posted by heyitsjazmin8

Originally posted by carmillasleatherpants

Originally posted by miudadanerd

Confession. Black men don’t care about our representation in media. Black women have put black men’s liberation at the forefront. While they have neglected to hold the door for us. We can look in music videos, and movies to see. Black men aren’t fighting for our place beside them. They are actually helping to erase black women. They are just fine with blackness only being associated with being a black man or having ties to one.

I am done choosing between my womanhood and my blackness. 

Stop giving me fictional white female characters and telling me “these are the fictional women to admire, the ones that break the mold, the feminist icons, the representation you’ve been longing for.” 

Stop asking me to squint to see myself represented on screen. Stop telling me to “wait my turn”, to support shows with white female leads as though this was a rare occurrence, as though there haven’t been thousands of them through the years. As though white women haven’t been held as the pinnacle of progress and feminism on TV since Lucille Ball.

Stop telling me that a white woman playing a spy, is innovative and feminist when you’ve had Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Scarecrow & Mrs. King and Alias before Agent Carter.

Stop telling me that seeing Jessica Jones, a white female character with PTSD, on screen is a long time coming, a revolutionary feminist act, when Joss Carter, Abbie Mills, Olivia Pope, Sasha Williams and Michonne aren’t afforded the same treatment regarding theirs from writers, media and fandom alike.

Stop telling me that “romance is not part of the show” when said show is built on the loss of the White Male Lead’s love interest. Stop labeling black female characters as one half of a “brotp”, as the supportive friend, a mammy that does everything but wipe the white man’s ass or tuck him into bed, only to prop up the Random White Woman In The Background as the obvious choice for a new, better suited love interest.

Stop giving me Trojan Horses, those black female characters I’ve longed for, the ones I finally can see myself in, the ones that you’re praised for creating and writing, the ones you make money off of only to kill them later, once they’ve served their purpose.

We are not your first step towards success, we aren’t a tool to be used to avoid criticism, or appease higher ups afraid of losing money because of the lack of diversity and representation in their shows.

We are not either women or black, we are both and we deserve to be spies, the fated love interest, the damsel in distress, the selfish one, the vulnerable one, the pinnacle of feminism and progress, the one who’s turn has come, the one who was a long time coming.

Stop giving me a drop of water and calling it the sea.

anonymous asked:

Femme x femme is our main media representation bc media only shows women who men find attractive (this is also why it's hard for even straight, conventionally feminine actress to find work as they get older). They don't care what women or lesbians find attractive. Look at famous lesbians: Billie Jean King, Audre Lorde, Tracy Chapman, Jenny Shimizu, Jackie Warner, Alison Bechdel, Lea Delaria... All butch and all attractive in their own way. Lesbians appreciate butches so much, anon!

Media Spotlight #2: Glee

Glee was a show that ran for 6 seasons between 2009 and 2015 about a high school show choir and eventually the theater industry. Glee broke ground with its portrayals of various complex LGBT teenage characters and relationships. It has also received praise for bringing light to topics like LGBT bullying and suicide while also providing positive representation of LGBT people to a mainstream audience. (Currently on Netflix)

Genres: comedy, drama, musical

LGBT characters: Santana Lopez (lesbian), Brittany Pierce (bisexual), Unique Adams (trans woman), Kurt Hummel (gay), Blaine Anderson (gay), and several other minor characters of various identities

Originally posted by fiorella-nayaholic

Originally posted by ludi-lin

Originally posted by queenvictoriareigns

With regard to The Woman

I’m doing a post about this because it bugs me more than it probably should. Partly because this is one of my favourite women in fiction and partly because it shows up some rather uncomfortable things about the way women (and relationships between the sexes) are portrayed in popular media.

Because when your representation of women has gone backwards from 1891, something, somewhere, has clearly gone wrong.

This is Irene Adler. She appears in A Study in Scarlet, the first of many short stories to feature Sherlock Holmes. Her biggest claim to fame is that, in the series, she is one of the few people ever to defeat Holmes (“he was bested only five times in his career, and only once by a woman”). It was not only her intelligence, but also her graciousness in victory, only wishing to secure her safety and her marriage to her beloved husband, that earned her Holmes’s undying respect.

This is Irene Adler. She appears in the films Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, directed by Guy Ritchie. She is a criminal who has bested Holmes, and, having casually divorced her husband, was his on-and-off lover. While ostensibly competent and formidable, she repeatedly has to be rescued by Holmes (though it would be remiss not to mention that she comes to his aid in turn) and is killed off early in the second film. Her relationship with Holmes is characterised by sexual attraction rather than intellectual respect.

Are we seeing a problem here?

This is Irene Adler. She appears in the second season of the BBC series Sherlock. She is a dominatrix with whom Holmes develops a complicated relationship as she gradually secures his aid against the people hunting her, only to reveal that she has manipulated his feelings for her in an attempt to obtain state secrets. In the end, Holmes defeats her with clues based on her own affection for him, and later rescues her from her former employers. Their relationship is one of intellectual sparring partners with a great deal of sexual chemistry.

Hmm. Not as bad as the movies, but are we spotting a pattern?

This is Irene Adler. She appears in the first season of the ABC television series Elementary. She is depicted as Holmes’s former romantic partner who was murdered by the criminal mastermind Moriarty. It later transpires that Adler is not only still alive, but that she and Moriarty are one and the same. Adler/Moriarty’s plans are eventually undone by Holmes’s partner Joan Watson. Their relationship consists largely of Adler/Moriarty using sexuality to manipulate Holmes (though it should be pointed out that she remains a highly intelligent and dangerous adversary without this element).

See, this is the thing.

The last three out of these four women are pretty cool, and quite strong characters in themselves (I’m not hating on either of these. Sherlock in particular is a damn fine show and A Scandal in Belgravia was a great story), but none are Irene Adler. Indeed, the film and ABC versions have absolutely nothing in common with the original character aside from the name. Not a single character trait. But it’s okay, because if there’s a woman in a Sherlock Holmes story, and obviously that means she’s Irene Adler. It’s not like Holmes ever met any other women in those fifty-six short stories and four novels. Certainly not any that he had much more chemistry with (cough the copper beeches cough). And, of course, if she’s a woman, she’s obviously a love interest. Not like a woman can be anything else in a story, right?

The other reason this annoys me is because I love how their relationship works in the original story. Holmes isn’t attracted to her (“it was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler”), but he respects her. He admires her, and she, in one fell swoop, earns that admiration and undercuts his sexist assumptions (“He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late”). It is arguable that Holmes puts her on on a pedestal (“in his eyes, she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex”), and indeed that sexist attitude is not entirely gone, but for Adler to have proven herself, in Holmes’ scrutinizing gaze, as exceptional is no small feat. But no, apparently that kind of female character just wouldn’t fly nowadays.

Let me pause and make it clear that I’m not saying having a romantic interest means a efmale character lacks strength. But when a strong character has been changed so that she is now defined by romance and sexuality more than her intelligence, we have a problem.

The only faithful adaptation of Irene Adler I’ve ever seen was in the ITV version of Sherlock Holmes, which was basically a word-for-word adaptation of the original story.

What? A woman not being in love with the protagonist? One who is simply an intelligent, worthy opponent by her own merits and requires neither rescue nor defrosting? What kind of backwards Victorian notion is that?

TL;DR: Irene Adler was not a love interest. She was so much more awesome than that.

There’s nothing wrong with stories about women who are housewives or stories about women who struggle because they were forcibly prevented from having kids as a condition of whatever mission they chose to undertake. The problem is that with so few women in superhero movies, each of these portrayals stands not only for the choices Whedon made, but for all the choices he and many others didn’t and don’t make. The portrayals of Natasha and Laura rankle at some level, for me, not because they are stories about a woman traumatized by not having children and a woman waiting for her husband to come home, but because it’s another story about those two women rather than any of the other bazillion women who could exist in this universe and don’t. If you had five butt-kicking women in this movie, it would seem perfectly logical that one of them might have a story related to getting pregnant or not. Why wouldn’t she?

These, for me, are scarcity problems. They are problems because there are so few opportunities to show women in action blockbusters that I tend to crave something very much capable of moving discussions of what those portrayals can be like forward.

[…]Perhaps the trickiest aspect of the scarcity problem is that it enormously complicates the issue of whether you want a portrayal of a female character to specifically engage her being a woman or not. Do you want Black Widow to be exactly like the other Avengers and incidentally a woman? Because there’s an argument that parity calls for that. Or do you want the story to be about the fact that she’s a woman, as in fact it is here, and to deal with that fact and make it part of the story of her life? There’s an argument that parity calls for that, too.

The answer, of course, is yes, to both. I want there to be stories about women that aren’t specific to the fact that they’re women, and I want stories about women that acknowledge that fact and build it into the story. This is how it is with men: every story you’ve ever heard of a man who learns years later that he has a child he didn’t know about is specific to his role in baby-having, just as much as Natasha’s story is specific to hers. Those stories should be told; it’s rich subject matter. It’s not sexist to tell that story. But most stories about men in movies are just about them doing stuff, and there should be stories about women just doing stuff, too.
— 

Black Widow, Scarce Resources And High-Stakes Stories : Monkey See : NPR

There it is, my favorite article about female representation in media.

In everything i ever see on the topic of representation in media, particularly for women, nobody mentions how vital it is for young girls to see non feminine women in tv/film. Its literally fucking essential for young girls to know they’re not weird for not wanting long hair or liking dresses, that they don’t have to be self conscious of their body hair, that it doesn’t make them a boy, and that they don’t have to grow up to live in the fucking mind trap that is femininity

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5 inequalities female athletes still face — even as world champions 

Despite the U.S. women’s soccer teams’ incredible accomplishment and clear skill, these illustrious players still faced abundant inequality based on their gender alone. And they’re hardly the only ones. Aside from the wage gap and media representation, women soccer players were forced to play in worse conditions.

bisexuality is not inherently more radical than lesbianism and vice versa, and this remains true in media representations of lgbt women. i feel like far too often (like i am talking specifically about discussions of willow’s characterisation but this applies broadly) disagreements about representation come down to the idea that writing characters as gay instead of bi is boring or ~homonormative or whatever. 

and while i do think that straight writers are inclined to default to gay if they want an explicitly not-straight character (i looked really hard but couldn’t find this great post suggesting that bisexuality threatens heterosexuality because it suggests that ‘normal’ hetero attraction can exist alongside ‘deviant’ same-sex attraction and therefore straights benefit from hetero and same-sex attraction being mutually exclusive) gay people, though this may come as a shock if you’ve been living with your head up your ass, do not have an overwhelming array of well-portrayed representations in media (especially true when buffy was on the air but true today as well) and gay characters on tv are not bad and gay people are not bad for wanting or seeking out gay characters.