Ever After, Feminism, & my Three Hands

Ever After

Ever After: A Cinderella Story. This might in fact be my favorite Cinderella story, because she doesn’t use magic to win the Prince’s heart, but art; and she rescues herself. I’m telling you, this is a feminist movie.
Ever After Drew BarrymoreNow, what I really want to talk about is the end. Her stepmother trades her to this creepy dude to pay their taxes, and this is where I get conflicted. On the one hand, I love that Danielle fights her way free of the creepy old bastard. She’s a strong-willed woman and she refuses to be subservient, even for a second. She is a human being, not a teapot to be traded and bartered with. I love that she rescues herself and breaks herself free. Throughout the movie, Danielle is constantly pushing back against the barriers society creates against her.

On the other hand, maybe this is just me, but I was disappointed in the end when she didn’t beat the guy up. I wanted her to kick some

serious ass, and she seemed to just throw a few things and went on her merry way. She just sort of walked out of his castle…….. Alright,Ever After fight 1 I just rewatched the end of that movie and I was wrong! That gross sonnuvabitch was all smelling her hair and saying he was going to break her like a horse when she spun around and owned his ass! But I remember why I felt disappointed. Because it didn’t show her actually gaining her freedom. I can totally see another showdown going down as she unlocks her chains, and maybe Monsieur lunges in a final desperate act to reclaim his manhood and keep this wild woman, and Danielle whips around and punches him in the face! That’s what I wanted. But it just shows her walking out of the castle like It’s no big deal. He won’t call the cops on me, even though I just slashed his face.

And on my third hand, even being a feminist, even as I bounce in my seat as I watch Danielle take back her own life, I am still somehow disappointed in the Prince. I feel like he somehow lost something when he failed to rescue her from Monsieur. Yes, he had every intention to; Yes, he just got there a few minutes too late; but I feel like he needed to redeem himself in some way. He did betray her, after all. Maybe it’s just the childhood of Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty and the Little Mermaid worming themselves into my idea of masculinity, or maybe it’s not, but I just feel like … why didn’t you do anything? Danielle is inside, being verbally, emotionally, and almost physically abused and molested, where were you? You were standing outside the castle.

Good for you.

Way to go.

One more Chandler Bing style: Could you BE any more useless?Ever After stepmother punishment

But maybe that’s just me. The Prince did in fact make her queen and threw her evil stepsister and mom into perpetual misery after that,
so maybe that’s enough.

What do Twilight and Star Wars have in Common?

So, for those of you who haven’t heard, Star Wars VII is a thing going on now. Let’s just do a quick recap of the happenings, shall we?

George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, who is making another trilogy of the series. It’s an all new plot line, I heard supposedly 200 years in the future, with new plot lines and characters and even new planets to explore. Episodes 7,8, and 9 were supposedly written when the other six movies  were written. It’s not coming out of the blue. Doesn’t sound too bad right? Well, that’s what I thought too. Until yesterday.

Now, in your general musings about the day, you might be wondering (along with how is a raven like a writing desk) what Twlight and Star Wars have in common. The quick answer is nothing. They have nothing in common.

You, sir, are wrong.

Robert Pattinson is the answer here. R-Patz, after just being released from the Twilight franchise, has signed on with Star Wars. Now, I’m no Twilight fan, but Robert isn’t that bad an actor. I’ve seen his other stuff. I think the whole constipated-high acting thing was designed specially for sparkly vampire man. But now, something’s gone too far. He’s signed onto Star Wars… to play to voice of Jar Jar Binks.

Jar Jar Binks.

What the hell?

How in the world does that make sense? We are keeping Jar Jar Binks? Damn you, Lucas for creating this monster! And now it’s continuing? Wait, wait, how can Jar Jar Binks be in the movies if they’re 200 years into the future? He wasn’t even around for 4, 5, & 6. Where is the timeline of the movie?

And that’s not all I’ve heard. Darth Vader may be coming back.

What?

Yeah.

Are you sure?

That’s what I’ve heard.

But… but he’s dead.

I know.

He died.

I know.

Luke burned his body, for Christ sake!

I know, I know, I don’t understand it either. Why, Disney, why are you doing this to us? What? Did his magical suit somehow protect him from the flames and then bring him back from the grave? Or are these new movies somehow interjected in the period between when Luke was growing up and Vader ruled? Or… Or are you just insane?? Gah!

Oh no, don’t tell me, more information? Alright, bring it on.

The movies might feature Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando. I don’t understand how that’s going to work either, unless you have a time machine. Or they’re all really old, in which case, no. No. *Flips table*

I’m just going to treat this as if it were the apocalypse and prepare for the very, very worst. I’m going to crawl into my bunker, lock the door, and watch the good Star Wars movies with my space blanket and canned food. Hold onto your butts, because this one looks like it’s going to be a doozy.

Star Wars: Episode VII. Meesa hopes we’re not all Screwed!

So, if you’re a nerd/geek like me, or you don’t live under a CGI’d rock, you’ve probably heard that there’s going to be another Star Wars movie. Episode VII. And if you haven’t heard, for shame. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?

Now, I read an article entitled something along the lines of: New Star Wars Movie, Sci-Fi Fans Everywhere Rejoice!

And perhaps the sci-fi fans are rejoicing. Perhaps they are all shaking in their boots with excitement for the new CGI effects and lightsaber battle scenes. They are probably jumping up and down, or fist-pumping the air, delighted to see what new magic Disney comes out with next galaxy far, far away.

I, on the other hand, being a Star Wars fan, am in fear.

Lucas already destroying his own legacy, my own childhood, Vader’s masculinity, and the mythology of that Universe, as one last kick
in the nads to his fandom, Lucas sold the rights to Disney. My only hope is that Lucas is really retiring and doesn’t have the authority to conjure up another Jar Jar Binks.

From what I understand, it’s not going to be shoot off movies, like they did in the Avengers, focusing on separate story lines. No, it’s going to be a whole new movie trilogy, a whole new story line, with whole new characters, on whole new planets, 200 years into a whole new future, on and on and on (which is the safest way for Disney to relaunch a series and make many moolahs ).

And sadly, Joss Whedon will not be available to direct.

So, here I must only tremble with fingers and toes crossed that Disney actually knows what it’s doing. (Or at least, knows what it’s doing more than Lucas did before he felt the need to add random rocks to the movie. Because what does that add? Honestly, Lucas. Honestly.) But behind all this sweaty-palmed trepidation is… well, more trepidation. But behind that lives a tiny part of my soul that wants to wait in line at midnight to see what new world awaits. Evidently, the movies were written out to be a nine-part series (and naturally the way to make those movies is 4,5,6,1,2,3,7,8,9), and these last ones are pretty damn good. And they were written back in the 80’s, so that’s good news. Things are looking up already.

Aim for the throat, Mickey! For the throat!

Ehem..

The best we can hope for is that, even if these movies bomb, like dark-hole-of-insanity, tricked-into-murdering-our-fathers, facing-the-Emperor-and-dropped-my-lightsaber sucks, we still have the old ones to replay until the residue of Disney Star Wars washes away into a bad memory we can block out of our minds and then burn the blue rays. No matter what these films are, they’re not going to wreck the old ones.

Hopefully.

Women are NOT allowed to wear pants. (Or belly dance.)

 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…”
—1st Timothy 2:9

Women are to dress in ‘modest apparel.’ That is what the Bible commands. It is not a matter of opinion.”

I read this on someone else’s blog, an appeal by some dude named David Stewart to all the righteous pious God-loving women out there to stop wearing pants, lest they be smote for being a lewd harlot. Yes, I realize it’s the internet, but seriously? What is up with this guy? Let me tell you more.

Women who wear pants either do not recognize, or do not care, about the spiritual dangers of lasciviousness. The clothes that women wear send a message.”

Well, here he has a point. Not about the lasciviousness, but that clothes send a message. We do use clothes to send signals to one another, such as I am a girl, or I am a goth, or sometimes I am Batman, none of these are a signal to the Devil to drag you to hell. Jesus, it’s not as if I murdered someone. 

Belly dancing is the most filthy trash on earth. Plays and theatre performances are nothing but whore shows. Get right with God America!”

Okay… what? First of all, belling dancing is not from America, it’s from Western Asia. It is a cultural dance that is not strictly performed by women. Belly dancing goes back all the way to Ancient Greece, where women wore white while dancing to emulate the Goddesses, or wore nothing at all to symbolize purity. They’re not strip teasing for you.

Second, plays and theatre? Come on. That’s just plain misogynistic. What could women dressed in costume, singing, repeating lines, acting out Shakespeare and the like, possibly have to do with this? How could they be whore shows? Don’t you find it more likely that whore shows are whore shows, and not the arts? (And how does this relate to sinning pant-wearing women?)

This guy goes on to say that Taylor Swift is a sinful whore, Katy Perry is a demon-possessed lesbian-lusting loser, and Walt Disney is a whoremonger. (Really, David? A whoremonger? What, are we pimping Snow White now or something?)

And last but not least, here is an entire paragraph, my favorite in fact, quoted from his page:

Any idiot knows that men are sexually aroused by SIGHT. This is the great danger of women wearing pants. Lest you think this a trifle matter, Jesus condemned the lusts of the heart as being equivalent to ADULTERY in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Maybe you don’t care, but God does. Immodestly dressed women cause men to lust. Sadly, many women enjoy such sensual attraction, making them feel good about themselves; but that is a very shallow and selfish attitude to have, and sinful I might add. John 12:43 tells us to seek the praise of God, not men.”

There are soooo many things wrong here. First, he’s putting the blame on women. It’s clearly not mens’ faults if they’re aroused by sight, that’s just nature, it’s clearly the woman’s doing! How dare she dress in pants. It is her fault the men are lusting and sinning.

But since these men are aroused by sight, shouldn’t we poke out their eyes, then? That way they won’t lust and commit adultery? No, condemn the women! How dare they feel good about themselves! How shallow! How selfish! Damn them to Hell! The women are clearly forcing men to ogle and fantasize about them. They bring it upon themselves, the salty she-devils!

What the fuck.

Pants are form-fitting, forcing men to stare at women’s legs…”

No, shut up.

… pants on women are OBSCENE by every definition of the—”

Seriously, shut your hole! Pants are not obscene, they’re a symbol of women’s power, strength, and equality.

During World War II was really when pants started to become popular. After the men went to war, the women had to step up and take on the jobs the men had left behind at home. They built fighter jets, made ammunition, tested machine guns, operated drill presses, volunteered as firefighters, etc, etc. And during this time, women started wearing their husband’s trousers in order to work. Then when the war was over, women lost their pants when they lost their jobs during the whole 1950’s resurgence of ” true womanhood”, and women’s God-given work was in the home… over a stove… in a dress and high heels and a pearl necklace.

I don’t have to tell you women have every right to wear pants, and it’s ridiculous to say otherwise. We’re busy as shit. We have things to do, places to go, worlds to conquer. We don’t have time to worry if the wind is going to blow up our skirts. We don’t want to worry about crossing our legs at the ankles instead of at the knee so people don’t see our panties. What if I went commando? I forgot to do the laundry, alright? I had to figure out if Rhino Tuscan had three apples and Silvia Plath had fifteen goats, how long would it take aliens to impregnate Rhi…..yeah, I didn’t do that. So I baked cupcakes instead! I’m normal, I swear.

It’s funny how everything always seems to be our fault. Don’t wear pants, because it tricks the men into lusting over you. Don’t wear sexy clothes, because you’re just teasing the guys. And don’t you dare walk home by yourself after you dressed like that, if the guy rapes you it’s your fault for wearing a short dress. The guy can’t help himself. Make sure you have birth control and condoms, if you get pregnant, you only have yourself to blame.

Guys are slutty, girls are monogamous. Guys can’t help themselves, women don’t like sex. As all dichotomies are false dichotomies, none of this is true, but we believe it’s true because everyone keeps telling us it’s true. Whether it’s abstinence-only education textbooks, or media, or Republicans, or Snooki, these sorts of ideas keep popping up, pounding these idiotic vibrations into our skulls. And if we keep hearing it enough, and saying it enough, and thinking it enough, we may just end up believing it.

So wear pants! And do your laundry. And eat cupcakes. And hell, belly dance! Why not? There’s nothing holding you back.   

Poor, Unfortunate Little Mermaid… the Good and the Bad

I’ll admit it, watching Ariel sing and swim around the sea makes me happy inside. The Little Mermaid is cute and fun and magical, and it’s a part of my childhood. What would’ve the pool been without pretending to be a mermaid? Boring, that’s what. But no amount of childhood nostalgia can remedy the fact that it’s unfeminist (At least, partly.)

I’m not talking about that whole big shlazoo with the cover art and all that. I actually couldn’t care less about that. I mean the actual story. Ariel is out in the ocean where she’s not supposed to be, doing things she is not supposed to do, and then falls in love with another species (an unattainable, highly sought after, rich and powerful other species). Ariel obsesses over Eric. I’m pretty sure that had she been on land, she would’ve been a stalker, perhaps collecting locks of his hair out of the garbage can. She fills an entire sea cave with stuff she has collected from… above. (Not unlike how people collect Alien artifacts I might add) And it becomes creepier when you think that she must have gotten all of this stuff from shipwrecks. She’s collecting dead mens’ things (but in the pursuit of education).

Anyways, when her dad finds out and says No, you can’t marry this human, you can’t leave our family, you need to stop this crazy-shit obsession with what you can’t have… she goes to a witch. Naturally. (I don’t think Ariel really realized why King Triton said no, or why she shouldn’t be hanging around ships. It’s the fear of discovery, I think. Triton’s no dummy. He fears the humans, and with good reason to. Let’s say that a human had seen Ariel, a beautiful and mysterious woman creature. What do you think would happen? They could catch her, for one. There are probably nets on board. And two, the humans are going to want to collect/find/study these strange new beings. And if they’re found to be a threat, the humans would hunt them and exterminate them. Don’t deny it, you know it’s true.)

Back to the witch. Of course, when your daddy says no, you dabble in the Occult. Like I was saying, this is basically the universal Plan B. Now, everything that has happened up to this point, merely trifles compared to what happens here. She sells her voice to the witch for a pair of legs. What she has in fact done here, however, is turned herself into a sex object. Ariel can no longer communicate any ideas, feelings, thoughts, opinions, anything. Zip. She can’t sign, nor write, nor does she have any basic knowledge of how people run things up on land. She brushes her hair with a fork, for god’s sake. She has no idea what she’s doing. Ariel goes up there dumb, deaf, and blind. All she has is “body language”. How do you make someone fall in love with you with only body language as your native tongue? Yeah, I thought so.

Let’s just play the lyrics, shall we?

URSULA:
You’ll have your looks, your pretty face.
And don’t underestimate the importance of body language, ha!

The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yet on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle pradle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man

I think the implications of this song are pretty plain, which is unfortunate because it’s one of my all-time favorite Disney songs ever. Telling young girls not to speak because guy’s don’t want to talk to them is not the greatest message in the world. In fact, it’s one of the worst. Telling a woman from an early age not to be smart, not to think, not to express herself is the devolution of society. And don’t think that because they’re children they won’t pick up on these sorts of things, because they do. I knew the words to this song when I was young. But I’ll come back to this.

Let’s not forget that not only did she give up her voice, she gave up her entire family. She has like, what, twenty sisters? Granted, we only see them in the very beginning, and it appears Ariel is the odd sheep out, but is that really enough to literally cut off all contact with them? Over a boy you’ve never even spoken to before? (Singing to his unconscious body doesn’t count.)

And let’s just consider the cultural and historical context in which we find ourselves here. The Little Mermaid must’ve been set in England sometime in the Victorian era, meaning that love was a very subtle and nuanced and serious thing. And while love probably happened relatively quickly, Ariel has no cultural clues to make her understand. Women in this time period were groomed and educated specifically for courting. And Eric finding her alone, mostly naked, in the middle of the beach would have been so very, very scandalous  Single women were not even  allowed out of the house unchaperoned. Girls weren’t allowed to talk to guys until they had been “introduced”. Guys weren’t allowed to touch women, even their hand, unless they were out walking and she was about to trip. Girls weren’t allowed to look back over their shoulder at anyone. How is Ariel supposed to catch the attention of a Prince when she checks if someone is dead by listening to their foot? But I digress.

Back to the song: Because Ursula is the one singing Poor Unfortunate Souls, and because Ursula is the head honcho of evil in this movie, the song was meant to be ironic. Even though this message was getting sung, it was coming from the “bad guy”, the voiceless plan didn’t really pan out for Ariel, therefore: don’t do it. At least, I hope that’s what was intended. (The problem with this theory is the voiceless plan kind of actually did work out for Ariel. Eric was in love with her, he was just under Ursula’s spell. It kind of seemed like she had Eric pretty early on. Flotsam and Jetsam were just getting in their way. [Interesting aside: Flotsam and Jetsam are terms to describe wreckage from a ship.]) Fairy tales, after all, were originally horror stories meant to scare children into behaving. Perhaps Ariel’s story should be read as a cautionary tale. Ariel made wrong decisions, and we should learn from them. However, she also made right ones.

This movie is not horribly deplorable. You needn’t whisk away your child’s copy of the movie or trash your precious memories of Ariel, nor do you have to feel guilty about loving Ariel. I still do! While some of the Little Mermaid can be seen as unfeminist, there is also another side to this sand dollar.

A few feminist things about Little Mermaid:

Ariel is strong. She sees what she wants, and she goes to get it, relentless in her pursuit. Even though what she wants is a boy and not graduating from Harvard, that doesn’t make the strength of her struggle across obstacles on land and sea any less valid. Wanting a boy (or a girl) is okay. Being in love and wanting a family doesn’t make you unfeminist by any means.

Although, Ariel is very much invested in her education. She searches dangerous places, shipwrecks swimming with blood-thirsty sharks, just to collect not only forks and old candlesticks, but in lucky cases books and paintings. She risks life and limb to educate herself for her own education of a culture that is not her own. When have any of us risked so much to learn about Africa or Korea? She fights against the singing career all her other sister’s have thrived in to create something new, something of her own. She pushes against her own societal norms for adventure, excitement, and individuality.
She’s brave, independent, determined, intelligent, talented, confident, honest, caring, and true. Even though she makes mistakes, she’s a good role model for women.
And I know she doesn’t actually think you can check if someone is dead by listening to their foot. That was scuttle, who also taught her a fork is a comb. Moral here: watch out for idiots, kids. And adults. Don’t stop avoiding idiots just because you’re an adult. 

Ursula could have (perhaps) just stayed a young hot brunette up on land, but she’s not the kind of woman to give into vanity. She has some make up on, yes, but she has the power and the magic to shapeshift into anything and anyone, and she chooses to be her eight-
legged self. There’s something to be respected in that. Ursula is, if nothing else, a very powerful woman, rivaling King Triton–the ruler of the entire Ocean, and at one point even overpowering him. Ursula can definitely hold her own. And while malicious and vindictive, she’s a pretty badass ruler. (A totalitarian ruler of evil.)

Eric falling in love with Ariel, considering the culture he lives in, shows men pushing against their own stereotypes, societal pressures, and expectations. He’s a strong character, a decent man. He fought for Ariel, risking his life, even when the girl of his dreams turned into a fish and the woman he was about to marry turned into an octopus. Without hesitation, even when Ariel was a little different, and there were plenty more fish in the sea, he dove into the ocean after her.

King Triton really loved his daughter. Even though he came off angry and oppressive (probably due to his raging temper), he was just trying to protect his family. And when push came to shove, he gave up the power of the entire ocean to save just one of his children. He was a fair and just ruler, uncorrupted and unseduced by the potential for totalitarian power. He is a family man with true family values, a wise leader to be respected and learned from. In the end, he understands Ariel’s love for Eric is more than just a teenage crush. He sees eye-to-eye with his daughter, and mutual understanding is what gives the movie a happy ending.  

Mulan is Badass. And also Real!

Mulan, one of my favorite all-time Disney movies and heroines, is a feminist. I don’t know how you can miss it. The entire time throughout the movie, men and women are telling her what she must do and who she must be, and a woman should ____. Get married. Bear sons. Be punctual. Poised. Graceful. Skinny, but not too skinny. Able to fricken pour tea without setting the Matchmaker on fire, for goodness sake! Mulan is not any of those things, and she struggles with her self-identity, fearful of failing and bringing shame to her family.

Then a war starts. Her father is wounded and can’t go to war, but he must. So, to protect her father, she cuts her hair, dresses as a dude, and enlists in his place, but (surprise!) struggles. All her life, she’s been a woman, delicate and fragile and lovely. Now it’s Be a Man, dammit! Finally, she’s allowed to grow, to become strong, to think, to sweat, and eventually she rises up the ranks to one of the best soldiers there. She becomes as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.

(Off topic, do we hear all the ways they are characterizing men? It’s all really violent natural disasters; the pinnacle being mysterious as the dark side of the moon. All the way into space now, huh? You’re not just the most terrifying and destructive things on Earth, but otherworldly. I see. Interesting.)

So then they go off to battle. And this is not a normal battle. This is like fifty billion-to-one massive start-praying-guys-cause-we-are-so-effed smackdown. But is Mulan terrified? Hell no. She’s all like “Chilax guys, I got this.” Mulan, single-handedly, with one cannon, takes down the swarming anthill of Huns. Then, when she tries to warn people that the head Hun dude Shan-Yu is still alive, no one listens to her! After saving all these people, no one will take her seriously just because she’s an innie instead of an outie. At this point, if it were me, I’d say screw them. Just go home, take a nap, and let Shan-Yu teach them a lesson, but Mulan is a much better person than I am.

Then, my absolute favorite part, the soldiers are trying to break into the palace after Shan-Yu kidnaps the Emperor (the same way Gaston tries to break into the Beast’s castle), and the boys leave General Li (which is technically abandonment) to follow Mulan and crossdress as: Concubines.Image

And damn, do they look fabulous!

Mulan goes on to save the Emperor herself, and General Li, then kills Shan-Yu, saving China a second time, and after all that manages to scrape together a great fireworks show to celebrate. Then she goes home. She rejects the money, the fame, the prestige she’s offered and goes home to her family with no regrets. That’s how you do it. Kick their asses to Kingdom Come, then walk away. Like Cincinnatus. 

And then all of China bows down to you. That part still gives me chills.

The coolest thing about Mulan however, is that she most likely may have probably actually existed!Image

This story if very old, like 12th century old, so some of the details may be a bit fuzzy, but basically it went down like this:

Her name was Hua Mulan. The bad guy was Tujie. Tujie decided that he wanted more land, and the best and easiest way to get more land was to take it from others. That didn’t got down so well, so the Emperor decided to wage war, and a man from every family was called. Mulan’s father had taught her how to fight, but he was old, and her little brother was too young. He wouldn’t let Mulan go in his place, and so she dressed up as a boy and confronted her father in a fight and won, proving she could handle herself. He was convinced. But he still didn’t want her to go, so she dressed as a man again and went anyways. Like all stubborn children do.

The war lasted 12 years, and Mulan was an exceptional soldier, eventually becoming a general. No one discovered her secret, not even her good friend General Li.

Finally, the enemy king was ambushed and captured. The war was over. Money was handed out to all the soldiers, but Mulan refused, wanting only a camel to get home. She wanted to get out of there as fast as possible because he commanding General thought Mulan would be a perfect husband for his daughter. So Mulan pretended to be injured and snuck away on her camel.

But this commander dude couldn’t take a hint, so he sent General Li after her with wedding gifts and instructions to go arrange the marriage. And then Li discovered General Mulan was a in fact woman! So what did he do? The only logical thing. He married her. And everyone lived happily ever after… as far as we can tell.

Feminist in cartoon and in life. Long story short: Mulan was a pretty badass woman lady person.