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8 Things That Made Me Feel Like A Terrible Feminist In 2013

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | December 18, 2013 | Comments ()


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2013 presented plenty of pop-culture excuses for us to feel like badass rage-against-the-dying-machine feminists. Somewhere between defending Skyler White against the haters, loving the stuffing out of the ending of Frozen or hailing Orange Is The New Black as one of the most important shows of the year, it was a fine time not only for ladies in the arts, but for ladies and gents who like to talk about ladies in the arts. But being a feminist doesn’t mean blindly promoting all things ovarian. You don’t defend Skyler White because you swore on a stack of The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants that you would do so. You do it because she’s an interesting and complicated character who’s getting the short shrift.

But even if you don’t ascribe to knee-jerk feminism, there is still a certain level of guilt associated with breaking from the herd. When female-centric projects come along I want to support them. I want to see them succeed. When the pack says I should be offended, I really want to be offended. But sometimes I’m not cheering for the girls and sometimes, dude, sometimes I’m not offended. Here are 8 instances where I maybe let my sisters down in 2013.

Wishing Strong Female Characters Could Be Written Off Their Own Show. I’m Looking At You Carrie Matheson, Ya Nutbar: I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I think Homeland would be better if Saul Berenson were the main character. Ditto Dr. C on The Mindy Project. Ditto any of the boys on Girls. The show is named Girls, for heaven’s sake. The boys should not be the best characters. I want to root for Carrie, Mindy and Hannah but they make it damn hard sometimes.
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Being Let Down By The Heat: I loved Bridesmaids because it was an amazingly strong comedy. That it happened to have a mostly female cast and prove something about demographics and women in Hollywood was just frosting on the exquisitely made depression cupcake. So of course I wanted The Heat to do well. In principle, I’m glad it did well. But I did not enjoy it.
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Audibly Booing The All-Girl Barden Bellas Wannabes On The Sing-Off: To some, the scrappy underdog premise of Pitch Perfect might seem far-fetched but it’s absolutely true that in the world of competitive a cappella, women are seen as unqualified. Just last week on my favorite guilty pleasure reality show The Sing-Off, my favorite judge, Ben Folds, laid it out: women just don’t have the range to cover the spread of tones you need to achieve a complete sound. I hate that. Don’t tell me what I can’t do adorable Ben Folds! So I wanted to like the show’s only all-female group. But, keeeeee-rist I hated them and couldn’t wait to see them leave.

Singing Along To “Blurred Lines” In My Car In The Shower At The DMV And Everywhere In-between: The first time I heard this song it was performed by Thicke, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. Jimmy Fallon and The Roots wouldn’t steer me wrong! I can understand and sympathize with the women who have had a negative reaction to the song and, more importantly, I appreciate the way in which it has generated a conversation on sexual harassment and the power of language. There have been a number of deeply moving and awareness-raising projects that have sprung up around the tune. That doesn’t stop me from chair dancing when it comes on. Basically, my mind’s telling me no, but my body…myyyybooooodyyyy. Wait, that’s something else.
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Hating That Lady Elf’s Guts In The New Hobbit Movie: I should be excited about Peter Jackson trying to add women to The Hobbit, I really should. There are literally only seven female characters in Tolkien’s entire saga. Oh yes, that’s counting Shelob the spider. But the book purist in me yells a little louder than the She-Woman Man Hating Club Member.
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Not Getting Pissed When It Turned Out The New Doctor Wasn’t A Lady: I’ve got a lot of problems with the way ladies have been treated on Doctor Who ever since Steven Moffat and Matt Smith took over. Unglamorous, brash Donna Noble was my favorite companion so it’s been disappointing to see that role turn back towards a series of shiny-haired chippies mooning after The Doctor. Yeah, Rory, I’m talking about you. Many were outraged (OUTRAGED I TELL YOU) when it was announced that the 12th Doctor would be another white man. I’d be delighted to have a conversation about race, but when it come to the gender issue, I’m out. Part of that has to do with my fear that Steven Moffat would bungle a lady Doctor but another part of that has to do with me not really caring. I’d settle for a competent companion.
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Wanting Brienne Of Tarth To Get Herself A Piece Of The Kingslayer In All His Beardy, Damaged Glory: I’m pretty sure that if I were a proper feminazi, I would see Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne the way that particular maid sees herself: asexual. Sure she carried a torch for Renly, but it was more about fealty than it was about lust. I tried not to squeal when Jaime fainted into her arms, I tried not to shriek “KISS HIM! KISS HIM RIGHT NOW.” But I did. I failed.
Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister in the bath.JPG

Not Really Giving A Sh*t About Miley Cyrus: I like a rousing discussion about the vagaries of slut-shaming and sex-positivity as much as the next person but I hate that somehow Miley F*cking Cyrus became the fulcrum of that debate in 2013. Just the word “twerk” makes my skin crawl. Honestly, I can’t say that I’m able to muster a single f*ck about her MTV performance. While the backlash and ensuing discussion was somewhat interesting I refuse to be pushed into defending THAT hideous performance in order to prove that I’m okay with a lady grinding her sexy bits on things. For the record, though, and in case anyone had cause to doubt it, I am VERY okay with ladies grinding their sexy bits on things.
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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Maddy

    There is nothing wrong with wanting Brienne and Jaime to just make out already. Somehow the show made me more into them than I already was, and I don't care if it's lame.

  • Ugh, Element.

    Also, as a woman who sang bass in a recent concert performance of Vivaldi's Gloria, I'd like to point out there are definitely women out there who can hit the low low notes.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Suck it, Ben Folds!

  • LwoodPDowd

    "Unglamorous, brash Donna Noble was my favorite companion so it’s been
    disappointing to see that role turn back towards a series of
    shiny-haired chippies mooning after The Doctor."

    I'm sure you have other complaints about the way women are portrayed, but their affection towards The Doctor should not be one of them. Anyone who could take you to other worlds beyond anything you imagined possible, plus adventures through time, oh and he and repeatedly saved your life? Gonna have a tough time viewing that person with indifference. In this regard, it is poor writing of men that Mickey and Rory were not more enamored of the Doctor. I'm not suggesting that anyone would change sexuality, but the bro-love for someone that could deliver the types of experiences that the Doctor delivers would more than make up for your girl going after him, Rose and Amy are hot and all, but the whole of time and space...

  • e jerry powell

    "...but I think Homeland would be better if Saul Berenson were the main character."

    My hormones say that you're right.

    Joanna: if I don't feel anything at all about every WACKADOODLE SHIT item that's come down the pike with black people this year, then you're plenty free to feel this way about each and every item you've listed here.

  • Emma

    Joanna, I love you.

  • Guest

    No GoldieBox regrets Joanna?

  • James

    Seems to me you're being a sane feminist, just because it is a woman doesn't mean it is good or right, and not an antimale feminist where everything a man does is bad.

  • I'm with you on Blurred Lines. To be honest, I never read "rape" in those lyrics - to me, it seemed more to be about blurred lines about relationships, fidelity, what being "with" someone means and what you can or can't do if you're "with" someone else - although I understood where the interpretation came from, and why it affected people. It just wasn't my gut reaction. I heard it as one more here's-another-arrogant-douchebag-who-thinks-he's-God's-gift anthem, and rolled my eyes accordingly.

    But goddamit, that hook is catchy. Satan always has the best packaging.

  • If it makes you feel any better, they ripped that hook from Marvin Gaye (with dubious credit given), so you're not terrible for enjoying that.

  • I KNEW I recognized it! Thanks ever so. I'm off to fish Marvin out of my iTunes stacks.

  • Pentadactyl

    I feel like the only person in the world that didn't get Donna. Friends I talk to IRL say they don't care for her either, but given the universal support online, I'm really feeling like they're lying to make me happy.

    I think this sort of fits in with this post because, ironically, the more competent she became, the more I hated her. It's just that her competence seemed so contrived. For example, the time she saved the day with her mad secretarial skills by noticing no one had taken sick leave. Really? Noticing that's weird, that's a specialized skill set now?

    Also, disclaimer, I like Moffat women. I love Amy, I love Clara, I love River. The episodes I liked Donna most were the Moffat episodes, The Library and Forest of the Dead. I don't think any of them are particularly outstanding feminist role models. But they seem whole and real in a way other Doctor Who companions didn't to me. Yes, they're not very useful outside of their connection to The Doctor and having him in their lives did rather severely damage their integration into our world and their existence as members of our society. But, that seemed realistic to me. Claiming that random human plucked out of nowhere could go toe to toe with the doctor, or that random adventures were enough to make them an authority on aliens, or just that their humanness made them unique in the universe, that just seems so false to me. It felt right that the only way they could make a difference was through the Doctor, through their connection to him and their ability to influence him, protect him from himself and keep him grounded. I wish there was more diversity in types of women, and perhaps reopening the possibility of Galifrey will allow for that. But failing that, I'd rather see useless but heartwarming companions than ones that are propped up on a pedestal because of skills they don't possess. And while I wish not ALL women were the same, it doesn't offend me that this prototype should exist and that some women should be this kind of woman.

  • Berry

    Two of the three people I know outside of internet who actually watch DW didn't like Donna either. So you're not completely alone. No, wait. I know four people who watch Doctor Who. I just didn't think to count my husband first, because we're like one person and stuff. How's that for being a bad feminist?

  • Andrew

    I liked Tauriel. She seemed to be the only one of the Elves who cared about other people than the Elves. Legolas was cool, but he was kinda a douche. Hopefully she'll be a part of drawing him away from his father's influence.

  • Pentadactyl

    I liked her too. And Lee Pace (*swoon*) as the racist party dad. Only part of that plot I hated was the retconing of Athelas as something that's common knowledge rather than something that'd been nearly forgotten and was a big sign in heralding the King's return. Although admittedly that part wasn't emphasized in the LotR movie trilogy, so it doesn't go against their own canon. Also the dumb line about walking in light, I hated that too.

  • Andrew

    Also, she didn't really seem to be as in love with Kíli as he was with her. She just came across as curious about other races and peoples. Sure she cared about what happened to him, but that was it.

  • laylaness

    Ben Folds? THE Ben Folds?! How did I not know this?! I guess I'll be season-passing whatever that show is.

  • MacBean

    wrt "the She-Elf": I wouldn't have had a problem with her AT ALL if she'd had a purpose other than being one leg of a love triangle.

  • Jim

    Perhaps you should forgive yourself for Cyrus - right now she's like your best friend's little sister who constantly interrupts and keeps saying "Look at me! Look at me! I don't EXIST if you don't acknowledge my presence!!!! LOOK AT ME!!!!" -- after a while it just becomes noise and your brain shuts down.

    And I know it's equally non-feminist but VIcki Voxx, Detox and Willam recorded "Blurred Bynes" on youtube. It's pretty not safe at work so I won't link here. It's pretty mean to Amanda but at least the lyrics drive out U-Know-Who's version. Cold comfort, I know.

  • foolsage

    "There are literally only seven female characters in Tolkien’s entire saga. Oh yes, that’s counting Shelob the spider."

    I'm assuming by "saga" you mean the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and not the Silmarillion or other works.

    Counting only characters that affect the plot and/or have dialogue, I count nine:

    Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
    Mrs. Maggot
    Rosie Cotton
    Goldberry
    Arwen
    Galadriel
    Eowyn
    Shelob
    Ioreth the Healer

    To be fair, neither Mrs. Maggot nor Goldberry advances the plot appreciably; both are really just extension of their husbands, as far as the story goes. So there's a good argument for the count of seven you came up with. But then you could also argue that only Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel have any real agency among the female characters, and Arwen's story is almost exclusively told in the Appendices. In terms of major female characters who are active in the books' main narratives, there are really only Eowyn and Galadriel.

    There are several liminal cases of women who are prominently mentioned, e.g. Sam's daughter Elanor, but they're passive in narrative terms and have no dialogue. One could also suppose that many of Shelob's children (the spiders of Mirkwood) are female, but that isn't part of their characterization so shouldn't count in this regard.

    So, yeah, Tolkien really didn't include many women in his stories. It goes a bit farther, actually... virtually every character in Tolkien is not only male, but an aristocrat from a privileged upbringing. That includes e.g. Bilbo, all the dwarves from the Hobbit, and every member of the Fellowship except Sam (Frodo's gardener). Oh, and Gandalf of course is essentially an angel; you don't get much more aristocratic and privileged than that. ;)

  • Basically, my mind’s telling me no, but my body…myyyybooooodyyyy. Wait, that’s something else.

    Yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh.... Using R Kelly to highlight this is ironically fitting, yet, still some bad timing on that one, considering....

    http://thedailybanter.com/2013...

    I mean, when JEZEBEL has a "maybe we should reconsider this" moment, you can feel a bit better about yourself.

  • Monica

    I *wanted* to be there to support you and accept your terrible feminist ways and let you know that your feelings were still valid despite the things I disagreed with.

    But then you included a picture of Miley Cyrus's tongue and I was like NOPE.

  • bastich

    Every time I see that image, I have to fight the urge to hold up a carrot or sugar cube to my laptop screen.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    There might not be any true female basses, but I know enough female tenors out there that you can get a decent range. And to be honest, a lot of male vocal groups don't have true basses - they are few & far between.

    I keep hearing that the "best" characters on various shows are guys. But I don't actually hear compelling reasons why they are superior to female characters. It seems that whining, moping, and being an asshole are inherently more interesting when the character doing it is a guy.

  • bastich

    If you want to feel better about yourself as a feminist, then just peruse any MRA website. The worst feminists still beat these dolts in my book.

  • idiosynchronic

    I wish, speaking as a non-custodial father, you were full of shit. You are unfortunately 100% right. MRA's are the paternalistic equivalent of the mountain west militia libertarian who takes out a loan from the bank, thinking he's pulling one over on The Man because he doesn't believe in the U.S. currency as legal tender.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I think we should celebrate their lunacy with the one true tender: alcohol. Drinks and MRA read alouds sounds like good times. We can call it Whine & Wine.

  • sjfromsj

    I have such conflicting feelings about Element. On the one hand, the lead girl is annoying as all get out. She needs to cool it big time.

    On the other hand, I was massively offended when they were only ever costumed in sparkly mini-dresses and high heels, and the first comment out of the judges' mouths would always be, "First off, you ladies look beautiful tonight!" Even more offensive is that it was a compliment meant to dampen the critique that followed. I didn't think they were as good as other groups, but they would listen to the critique and apply the notes given to their next performance like professionals, and they deserved the more diverse wardrobe that the other women performing had and definitely less sexist condescension.

  • KZoeT

    I counted 12 Pajiba headlines mentioning Miley Cyrus posted since August. Someone at Pajiba seems to give a shit about her.

    And Brienne of Tarth definitely needs to tap that Kingslayer ass.

  • BendinIntheWind

    9) Using an R. Kelly song to illustrate your conflicted feminist feels

    (To clarify: that shit is my jam, I just find the irony amusing. I shall keep bumping and grinding in the private safety outside my computer)

  • Yocean

    That is not an all women acapella group (as in representative of all women) because at one glance you can tell they are all privileged princess wannabe types. They are exactly the all beautiful and anarchronic and completely blur, if not probably prejudiced incarnation of Barden Bellas at the beginning of Pitch Perfect, before they were interesting or strong or diverse. If they had the self awareness to call themselves Skinny Bitches I woulda liked themselves better. Instead, they call themselves black female vocal group reminiscent Element (sounds like Supremes or Dream or Sapphires) which makes them come off ratchet-y

  • idiosynchronic

    Part of that has to do with my fear that Steven Moffat would bungle a lady Doctor but another part of that has to do with me not really caring. I’d settle for a competent companion.

    I'll go one further and state for the record that Moffat can't write for anyone not a straight, white male.

    The photo you chose? Never have I been so attracted to fezzes and bobby hats.

  • Berry

    I've still not forgiven Moffat for the fact that Clara/Oswin was not actually a computer genius because of her own talent and hard work, but because all that skill and knowledge was just inserted into her head by others. Boo.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Brienne of fucking Tarth could do better than Jaime "monster incest baby king is my son" Lannister. I don't see her as asexual, but I sure would like to see her happy with someone worthy of her awesome.

  • Aaron Schulz

    Jaime is seeing the error of his ways, hes trying to redeem himself. Brienne could push him the whole way

  • Pants_are_a_must

    The error of his ways? You mean, like being in love with his own sister and having several children with her? LOL.

  • Aaron Schulz

    hes realizing his sister is a total twat and that shes been boinking everything that moves near her, he helped tyrion escape, dudes gonna make up for it

  • ljridley

    I myself have chosen to ship Brienne and Bronn (based on nothing whatsoever). She'd kick his ass, he'd make her laugh. Win win.

  • I am a Sansa/Brienne shipper due solely, SOLELY on this:

    http://the-toast.net/2013/10/2...

    You are all welcome.

  • Temmere

    Well that certainly changed the way I'll view that entire series for the rest of my life.

    (Added bonus: It could take some of the sting out of Aurora/Mulan on Once Upon a Time.)

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Goddamn, this made me a shipper.

  • Kala

    I LOVE those Halloween costumes. I'm sorry I don't have anything of real value to contribute (other than wholeheartedly agreeing with not giving a shit about anything Cyrus does), but seriously, those costumes are freaking perfect.

  • narfna

    If wanting Jaime and Brienne to devour each other's faces is wrong, then I don't want to be right. I want to be very, very wrong.

  • Laura

    I personally find that a lot better than Jaime's alternative!

  • Legally Insignificant

    I feel like HBO did not pick ugly enough actresses for either Brienne or Asha. They're supposed to be rough-looking but they hold their own, looks-wise, against many of the other actresses. Plus, they are amazing actresses and absolutely crush their respective parts.

  • Maddy

    There was no way they were going to find someone ugly enough for Brienne, I'm OK with the fact that she's really tall and looks 'manly'.I don't know, there was a pretty vocal contingent of people complaining that Asha in the show isn't hot enough, I never really got that she was supposed to be particularly good looking. The only actor who is way too pretty compared to the book is Jorah, but I will never complain about that!

  • This happens a lot, probably because ugly actresses don't last all that long in the business so they aren't available in the first place.

  • BWeaves

    And all this time I thought being a feminist was about wanting equal pay for equal work.

  • Teresa Oliver

    my buddy's step-sister Μ­­­­­­а­­­­­­K­­­­­­е­­­­­­ѕ $­­­­­­­­72 an հ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ս­­­­­­r on the l­­­­­­а­­­­­­ρ­­­­­­τ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ρ. She has been fired from W­­­­­­ο­­­­­­r­­­­­­K for seven Μ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ but last Μ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ her ρ­­­­­­а­­­­У was $­­­­­­­­21321 just W­­­­­­ο­­­­­­r­­­­­­King on the l­­­­­­а­­­­­­ρ­­­­­­τ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ρ for a Ϝ­­­­­­е­­­­­­W հ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ս­­­­­­rs. check it out,...Jump85.CoM

    ➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽𐐀➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽➽wholeheartedly agreeing with not giving a shit about anything Cyrus does), but seriously, those costumes are freaking perfect.

  • Zen

    There's a tee I'd like to own that reads: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

    That about sums it up, for me.

  • emmalita

    Equal opportunity to be the person we are and not be shoved into the rolls assigned to us, equal voice in decision making at all levels of society, and equal pay for equal work.

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