Today my husband and I finally went to see the new Star Wars movie. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, not nearly as into the series as my husband has always been, but I don’t mind these new episodes too much so far. Part of it is that I like having a strong female Jedi lead (even if she does seem to be lacking a bit in backstory from my point of view). But my favorite part of the new series so far is Kylo Ren. From the first time I saw his profile, he immediately reminded me of the character Severus Snape from Harry Potter, whom I love. I’m not sure why he reminds me of Snape so much, maybe the dark hair against white skin, or the black robes, or the constantly simmering anger, or the emo vibes, or the deep monotone…
Anyhow, getting to see so much Kylo Ren in this new episode was a treat 🙂 I was really happy when he crushed his helmet, so we could see his face more. Before seeing this latest installment, I had seen all kinds of claims about it online and heard many, many complaints. Some of the complaints, about plot holes, cinematics, character flaws, etc. might actually have some credence, but the outlandish claims that this new movie is feminist or even communist propaganda seem really, really off to me. Especially the communist claims I’ve heard from some alt-righters online. Even the feminist claims seem seriously messed up though. Just because we have a female lead it is overly feminist? I don’t get that at all.
I know income inequality has become a sensitive issue somewhat with people on both sides arguing for their point of view. I don’t mind people having different feelings about the issue and what can or should be done about it. However, there are a few key things I just don’t get when it comes to the subject. I have heard many arguments that make absolutely no sense to me and would like to share my thoughts on them…
1) First off, I want to go ahead and tackle the elephant in the room when it comes to gender income inequality. I WILL NEVER understand why more women aren’t outraged at the politicians who fight against women making the same amount of money for the same exact work. The arguments I have heard from politicians who voted against this issue were weak at best. I do not see how paying women the same pay for the same exact work affects women who want more flexible schedules or who want to work part-time. You know, some men want flexible schedules and work part-time too….but that still has NOTHING to do with people getting the same pay for the same work and the same level of education, which is the real issue in the first place!
2) I have heard the argument many, many times that “people who flip burgers” shouldn’t expect to make a real living doing it. First off, let me say this argument tends to make people sound like real elitist jerks. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people making more money for harder work or work that takes more education. That is fine, within reason. However, I truly believe that ANYONE who works a full time job should at least make enough for the absolute necessities (food, clothing, housing, health care). Yeah, maybe people who work entry level jobs can’t expect a whole lot more than that, but everyone should at least be able to survive and take care of their family if they are out working a full time job. By the way, I’ve had many different jobs over the years and some of the fast food restaurants I worked at were HARDER WORK than the variety of other jobs I have held, including those that are considered more skilled.
3) Why are the people who say that the poor are that way because they choose to be and are uneducated, often the very same people who do everything in their power to refuse help to those who want to pursue education but can’t afford it? If you truly believe that education is the way out of poverty, why vote for people who constantly cut funding for education in all its many capacities? If you believe education is the way out of the income inequality issue, then fund it! Realize that those living in poverty may not have access to the same educational funds you have. Loans of any kind are hard to get (and pay back) when your family lives in poverty. Also, many people struggle with the ridiculous interest on student loans even if they do manage to graduate and find a job in their field. I know this first hand since my husband has a Master’s Degree in education, landed a good job and still struggles to pay back his student loans (and we live exceptionally simple lives, I don’t even own a cell phone!).
So today I decided to go see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Tuesdays are bargain day at our local theater so I figured it would be the best time to go if I bothered to see it. I didn’t want to drag my husband to the movie because he hated the Twilight series for having no plot…and the Fifty Shades series makes Twilight look downright complex. I skimmed through the first two books of the Fifty Shades series and made it about halfway through the last book, so I did have an idea of what I would be in for with the movie.
First off, let me say that some of the others who showed up for the movie kind of surprised me. As I expected, there were groups of women, a few couples and quite a few single women like me there (this is the first time I’ve gone to a theater all by myself and that was actually kind of liberating in a way). What surprised me were the few single men (because this is billed as such a “chick flick”) and the 70 & 80 year-old women who came, one of whom (an adorable little old lady) sat right beside me. For a moment I felt like I was seeing the movie with my grandmother and that kind of threw me off balance a bit!
Anyhow, as I watched the movie, it was pretty much what I expected, a somewhat tamed down version of the book. Although I do understand why many women don’t like this series and think it encourages stalking, unrealistic expectations and domestic abuse, I don’t feel quite that strongly about it because there is consent. Anastasia may seem stupid in many ways and definitely makes some questionable decisions, but she is a consenting adult. She has quite a few chances to walk away and doesn’t do so. I know she seems innocent (maybe too much so for living in today’s world) but she does know what she is getting into, especially once she is given that contract to study.
As for Mr. Grey, I can see some of why the character is appealing to some women. He is rich, good-looking, can be sweet at times and represents a sexual fantasy fairly common to both sexes (that of being dominated or dominating someone else). Those aren’t the things that bother me. He is undoubtedly somewhat stalkery and controlling…but again, Anastasia’s character chooses to allow that to have him in her life. What truly bothers me about Mr. Grey’s character is how he is so messed up from his own abusive history that he wants to actually hurt women. He wants to cause pain. To me, there is nothing sexy about that. I know that there are those who like the BDSM lifestyle and enjoy a certain amount of pain…but I doubt that most true BDSM practitioners would want to cause pain to someone who clearly does not enjoy it or go beyond their partner’s pain threshold. I can see why the BDSM community hates this portrayal of their sexual fetishes.
As the movie neared its end I was surprised to see women in the audience around me crying. I sat there and wondered why they were crying. Were they frustrated and annoyed like me because Anastasia wouldn’t just say the safe word or yell stop? Were some of them victims of abuse in the past and this triggered that as they saw Anastasia cry miserably in pain? Were they simply feeling sad that Grey’s character was so messed up emotionally? Did they feel for Anastasia’s character, who clearly felt humiliated and heartbroken because the man she loved carried so much pain that he had to make others feel that pain? After the credits started, I heard cries of “is that it?” and “what the heck?” from others in the theater. Guess they hadn’t read the books.
As I got in my car and drove home, the main feeling I had was that I am so THANKFUL to have a husband who is not emotionally or mentally messed up like that. I’m glad that my husband has never once wanted to hurt or humiliate me. In fact, if anything, he would do anything in his power to prevent me pain or to take it away when I am suffering. So thank you Mr. Grey. You made my husband look even more wonderful and made me deeply thankful for what I have. You made me realize how strong I am because I never would have put up with your crap in the first place (had I been Anastasia that would have been one short book!). In the end, I guess fantasies are ok and maybe fun to indulge in to an extent, but nothing beats a good reality!
*Disclaimer – I want to make sure I state that this blog post was inspired by my own experiences. Not every person with Asperger’s Syndrome or high-functioning autism may feel the same way or experience the same issues, although from what I have read, these issues are not uncommon among females with autism.*
I have had a long, complex relationship with my own femininity. Growing up, I never noticed a huge difference between myself and other girls until I hit middle school. In elementary school I was just a “normal” little girl who was into books, Barbies and ponies. I did have some sensory and social issues, but they weren’t huge red flags back then and were easy to ignore. When I got to sixth grade it seemed like the whole world suddenly changed. Girls became obsessed with makeup, hair and clothing. They also read fashion and relationship magazines so they could learn to draw attention from the guys they liked. I was still into books, Nickelodeon, Disney movies and playing outside. I really couldn’t care less about my looks or guys. I didn’t care all that much about making friends either.
It was at this age I first experienced real bullying. I was made fun of because I didn’t start shaving as soon as the other girls did. I was picked on because I didn’t dress in style, wear makeup or have a “cool” hairstyle. I was picked on because I still liked many of the same things I liked as a little kid. I was called a lesbian or ‘butch” because I was a tomboy who was socially clueless in many ways and had no interest in guys yet. Middle school was hell for me in many ways. I was lucky to have a few friends who were outsiders in their own way, but I often felt very much alone. I was constantly told that I was unfeminine, so I started to believe it and wonder what was wrong with me.
Things got a bit better when I reached about 16 or 17. By then I had learned to “fake it” to fit in better. I still didn’t wear makeup or jewelry but I did try to look enough like everyone else to fly under the radar. I started wearing jeans and cute little t-shirts like everyone else (even though I really don’t like the feel of jeans). I adopted a hairstyle that was simple but not “weird”. However, flying under the radar didn’t always work and I started having different issues. As I matured, some guys started to find me attractive and hit on me. This made me want to run & hide. I was uncomfortable being an object of physical appreciation. I didn’t want to be called names like before, but I didn’t want to be seen as a sexual object either.
During this time I actually started to find it easier to relate to guys than girls…as long as the guys didn’t see me as more than a platonic friend. I did start to develop real feelings for certain guys around 17 but was still terribly shy and uncomfortable with the whole ‘dating’ thing. I never really dated until a couple years later when I met my husband, who I got to know online before we ever met in person. Even when we met in person we were friends for a while before we started anything romantic.
As an adult I have developed a better relationship with my femininity, but I still face judgment sometimes. When I got engaged I received real disdain from some women because I didn’t wear my engagement ring all the time (sensory issues). I often feel bored or left out when women talk endlessly about shopping, parties, clothes, weight, guys or gossip. I still don’t care that much about looks. My hairstyle is wash and dry, my clothes are simple and comfy and I haven’t worn makeup since my wedding day. Occasionally I still get a comment about how much I am “like a man” or something along those lines.
Because of these experiences, I somewhat look forward to growing older even though most women seem to dread it. I have hope that as we all age, looks and other superficial things will start to matter less and less to my peers. I don’t want to be invisible anymore like I once did, but I still don’t want to be judged by appearances. When others think of me I hope they think of intelligence and kindness. I hope they think of someone who is creative and passionate. To me, those qualities are what make someone a “real” woman anyway.
This may surprise some people that know me, but I tend to tick people off. Not intentionally of course, but it still happens. I think it may be partly because I am honest and sometimes even blunt. I try to be politically correct and polite, but I am also someone who gets to the heart of the matter quickly and tends to see things with unusual or unpopular views. I try to never stoop down to personal attacks or name-calling, but I won’t hide who I am either. One thing has started bothering me though and that is the fact that sometimes I think the majority of the anger directed at me may be because I am female.
I hate to play the “sexism” card, but there are things that have happened repeatedly that make me wonder. For instance, some folks at our old church and a few extended family members have disagreed with me on different subjects, which is fine. However, they took the disagreements to a personal level that hurt. Some of them said some pretty awful things about me – some of them publicly. However, what made me think that their anger may be due to me being a woman is that my husband said the EXACT same things I said and sometimes even more controversial things but he didn’t get the same hate and anger I got. In fact, the most negative thing they would say to him is that they don’t understand why he doesn’t “control his wife”. Of course, my response to that is what do they expect my husband to do? Beat me until I shut up and agree with them? Sometimes that is how it came off.
Another thing that makes me think that my gender may be a culprit is that when I engage in an intellectual conversation with other people and a disagreement arises, I often start getting called names like “bitch”. Some have claimed that I must think I’m a queen and should quit trying to rule. Again, these are simply over differences of opinion. None of these labels or insults are thrown at my husband or other men having similar conversations (at least not that I’ve witnessed). When I passionately argue a viewpoint I am “too opinionated” and “mouthy”, however, my husband can say the exact same things and he is “smart” and “intellectual”. The kinder people just call me “naïve” or say that I “misunderstand”, but that is still a way of patronizing someone.
I’m not saying that I’m not opinionated (I am) or that I am always right (I like to think I am, but I know I’m not). All I am saying is that the double standard for intelligent thought for men and women is unfair. The personal attacks are hurtful and unnecessary for a simple difference of opinion. I will not “sit down and shut up” or “go to the kitchen where I belong”, but if you address me as an equal, I will listen and consider what you say. I only ask the same in return.