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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.