May. 11th, 2017

dmilewski: (Default)
Last year, the upside-down game with my daughter consisted of me lifting her up by her legs (where was now heavy enough that I needed her hooking her legs over my shoulders), and as I carried her along, she would take off her shirt. To her, this was hilarious. This summer, I don't see that happening again. My mostly undressed suburban primitive is now far more aware of her nakedness and not quite likely to idle about so undressed again. (At least, not while her father's around. That's a good thing.)
dmilewski: (Default)
 As I wrestle with sexism in stories, I question whether it's impossible to create a story without sexism or the appearance of sexism. There's no real answers here.

For example, let's take the standard hero tale: hero, king in trouble, offered princess, fight monsters, get princess (trophy), the end. Is it possible to convert the standard hero tale into a non-sexist narrative without losing the essence of the story? I have my doubts.

The obvious answer is to remove the woman from the story. While that works, removing all women from all such stories is sexist. You've only replaced one pattern of sexism with another.
 
We could have the woman free herself, but that's another kind of story. While it's great that the woman can escape, the whole adventure of the male rescuer is revealed as a pointless exercise. Is that what we want out of our heroes? That doesn't seem like a satisfying story.

We could have a woman who can fight just as well as a man, but that's another kind of story, and another kind of sexism.

We could have stories that alternate between female protagonist, but while females rescuing males might seem fresh, all you've done is reversed the sexism. If the male is a trophy, that's sexist.

We could have the characters talk at the end, but that kills the story. The focus of the story is on the protagonist defeating monsters, setting the kingdom right, and restoring order. 

We could have the king say, "And if my daughter likes you, you can marry her." Would you risk your neck for a maybe? The problem of marrying a symbolic and representative style story with a more literal interpretation is that the results go together like pickles and orange juice.

In my mind, the biggest issue is with the listener. They are projecting themselves into the hero. The processes romping through their head are irrational. These sorts of stories feed the irrational side of a person. These sorts of stories are popular precisely because they feed the irrational. Especially among young men, these stories represent the scary future. They promise that with strength and perseverance, they can overcome their obstacles, and that in the end, they will be found sexually worthy by women. This may be a total lie but in the moment, it's what a young man's psyche wants to hear.

Does the sexism of this story originate and amplify the listener's POV because the listener is sexed and needs stories customized to the experience of his or her sex?

It's with the audience that theory breaks down for me. The audience is sexed. This fact cannot be removed from the equation. The audience needs irrational things out of stories peculiar to each sex. While there is wide overlap, and that overlap can be purposefully be made wider, the purposeful restriction of stories only to overlapping audience denies the experiences of each gender, and therefore is sexist. Having stories that cater to one gender or the other is sexist, while not having them is just as sexist. 

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