I am a literary scholar and a feminist. I study popular or “fringe” literature like comic books and science fiction, and am an avid gamer. I believe in a feminism that is pro-women instead of anti-men, and because change is made when the marginalized teach the dominant group to care about the rightness of their claim, I believe that the future of gender equality is only possible if we move from a ‘women for women’ feminism to one that wields the collective power of all people against misogyny and hypermasculinism (which are as detrimental to men as they are to women).
Based on those factors, it should make sense that I am deeply invested on both a personal and professional level in representations of women in popular media. Jezebel.com, a (debatably) “feminist” website with a somewhat eclectic publishing history, recently linked to a TED talk on how we need more movies that feature strong, smart girls. It was given by former actor Colin Stokes, and glimpses of the studio reveal a mostly male audience in attendance. By all appearances, this should be something directly in my wheelhouse, right?
One of the chief benefits of humanistic study is the fact that, somewhere in the years of school, you learn how to question everything, especially the things with which you agree. Apart from allowing you to hone a crucial skill (i.e. analytical thinking), humanistic study can give you the resources to challenge your own convictions and keep yourself from falling into an uncritical acceptance of either ‘traditional’ or ‘nontraditional’ values.
I’ll use the TED talk to illustrate what I mean. Though the general premise is one I accept as true—we do need more movies that represent real, complex women—there are several issues with Stokes’ project that prevent me from finding it a ‘good’ talk.