Rantypants post ahead. You’ve been warned.
It’s been a turbulent year and more for equal rights in this country. I find myself having arguments with people who can’t hear me, and who wouldn’t listen even if they could. But here’s the main point of this whole post that I’m about to post, that I want understood LOUD and CLEAR: I’m a feminist. I’m someone who believes that women are equal human beings to men and should be treated as such, with equal rights and opportunities – which, despite constant derailing attempts from certain quarters, is what the word feminism means. If you don’t agree with that you are wrong. That’s what the word means. Look it up. It’s how definitions work. As in, “veterinarian” means a person who is trained as a doctor to give medical care and treatment to animals. You might argue about the way some people express their feminism, but you don’t get to argue about what the word means.
Furthermore in this equality vein, trans humans are humans, gay/lesbian/bi/queer humans are humans, humans who are not white humans are humans – and all should be treated as such with equal rights and opportunities. I think those ideas should be universal and obvious, but I know we have a long way to go before that’s true for all of our population. We have a big problem in this country – in the world, but let’s focus on this country, because I think we need less with the rah-rah and more with the be-better – Bigotry. Desperately denying bigotry to try to keep people seen as other within that framework from having equal rights. These are not new problems by any means; they’ve been centuries in the making. I think we (as a country) try to pretend that all of those problems are solved now, and “that sort of thing” is all in the past. But it’s not, and it’s wrong to pretend it is.
There are many recent examples of various types of bigotry that I could rail against, but I think I’ll just start with something on the small, absurd side right now. Yesterday I read with cautious enthusiasm the news that there will be a Ghostbusters reboot, which will star all women. Cautious, because I hope they write a good script (please no poop jokes), and I hope they avoid either outright or unconscious racism. And enthusiastic, because an all-woman cast is still ridiculously rare, and I really want to see more women in film having important roles. Sadly, this idea excites pathetic comments from people who seem to think that this means no one is casting men in anything anymore. Really? Have you seen any movies? Count the men in them. Compare them to the numbers of women. Go ahead. We won’t wait for you, because we are *tired* of waiting for you, but if you do actual math with actual numbers, you will see that isn’t even remotely a problem.
There are those who are worried that it will mess up their childhoods somehow: ruin this movie and everything good and true in our lives is over! Don’t be asinine. The original Ghostbusters still exists. You can watch it any time. If you don’t have access to a streaming service or all the reruns on tv, you can borrow it from the library. Really, people: the original movie won’t suddenly cease to exist if they reboot.
Or is the real issue due to the cast consisting of all women? If they cast all women this time, how does that negate the cast that was all men? Let’s take an honest look at how many women had significant speaking roles in the first movie, out of a cast with about nine or ten such: Two. Yes, that’s right, two women. Oh, and Gozer, so if you’re counting the god at the end as female (and I do, why not? But many just count it as androgynous), that’s three, but Gozer is on for all of what, five minutes? At least Dana and Janine got some sort of character arc (less so for Janine). So if the genders are reversed, we get two men. Unless we’re femslashing it all up, and I’m all for that, because hey, that’s cool. But even if THERE ARE NO MENS OMG and the thought of women having all the speaking roles in a movie makes you afraid for your life, the original movie WILL STILL EXIST. Is it really so terrible that marginalized voices might get to have a movie? Really? Because we get the mainstream voices every damn day, all day, screaming all of their mainstream screams. The occasional shout-out from another set of voices really shouldn’t threaten you. Having a reboot with a slightly less mainstream slant is fun, and exciting. We need a lot more of it, because of all the mainstream screaming. It’s hard to hear other voices, and we need them in our fiction and in our news and in our lives. We need them as a society, to be better. Without them, we are inarguably worse.
And while we’re talking about reboots, and movies, and women getting roles typically (still and historically) reserved for men, I understand there’s talk of rebooting Indiana Jones. Not that I think that franchise needs to be remade, because seriously, we just had that last one, and we really don’t need to remake *everything*. There’s also a big fat thread of racism throughout them that is pretty hard to ignore now that I’m all grown up. I still love those movies. I still watch them. But it would be nice, if there’s a reboot, if all the non-white people aren’t evil/stupid/exploited workers/barbaric tribes/desperately waiting to be saved by the white hero. Come on, now.
But anyway, since the universe is not apparently willing to give me Gina Torres as Wonder Woman (PLEASE SANTA I HAVE BEEN SO GOOD AND I WOULD STILL WATCH THE CRAP OUT OF THAT), I think the universe should really seriously give me Gina Torres as Indiana Jones. BECAUSE GINA TORRES AS INDIANA JONES. HOW CAN YOU ARGUE WITH THAT BRILLIANCE, PEOPLE? If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right. Anyone arguing she’s too old can kiss my 40+ ass. Not to mention hers – although I don’t recommend trying it, as she’d likely kick yours. Deservedly so. Anyone arguing Indiana Jones can’t be a woman or black due to historical accuracy can kiss all the womens’ asses and all the brown peoples’ asses from all of history ever. And also the ass of all of fiction. ALL OF FICTION, LOUISE.
Of course, the movie industry is not the only place sexism and racism keep rearing their ugly heads. It’s everywhere, and anyone who identifies as female, or let’s be real, not straight male, especially cishet white straight male, is liable to be attacked just for existing. The whole gamergate thing is still apparently … a thing. I read something where one of them said they refuse to stop trolling and harassing and stalking and doxxing people until no one will ever publicly identify as feminist again. Are they kidding? That’s preposterous. I personally know huge numbers of people who consider themselves feminists. An online movement of horrible people who have no idea how to behave like decent human beings is not going to stop them. It’s not going to stop me. Why would it? They’re only proving our point. They are terrible people doing terrible things, and they think that they have the right to hurt others to get what they want. But what they want is to make women lesser, and since we aren’t, they can’t have it. They might make things awful for specific people, which is criminal and they should be arrested and charged with hate crimes, but that doesn’t make women lesser. That will never happen, because human beings are all human. Treating us as lesser doesn’t make us so.
That goes for Black people, Native people, Asian people, Latinx people, LGBTQ people, people who encompass one or more of any of those and others I’m failing to list here … all the types people. Just because our society is set up to treat some people better and some people worse, doesn’t mean that those things are true. It’s wrong, that set up. We need to change it. I want to help work to change it. I’m not always perfect at it, I’m not always aware of my privilege when I should be, I’m not always even aware of my own internalized sexism, although I’m working on both of those. I’m not always good at changing myself, either. But I’m going to keep trying, and I’m going to try to call out the terrible behavior when I see it. And I’m going to exist here and call myself a feminist, out loud, in public. Because I am.
Title is from Dar Williams “As Cool As I Am.”