Many thanks to those of you who are sticking with me for this wild ride known as Fraud or Freud. I’m incredibly grateful to all of you who check out what my little gender punk self has to say every week, and even more grateful to those of you who are sharing my misguided words all over the internet (salve, new friends!). With that being said, I wanted to devote some space to an issue that is going to be figuring prominently in my future articles for you bros, and that issue is feminism. Stop that collective sigh right now, you disgruntled youths; remember, I promised you no women’s studies seminar stuff, and I will hold myself to that pact very carefully, but as with all novels, short stories, and other pieces of written work that involve any type of well…anything, we need a solid place of departure and I am going to give you one.
Why the sudden turn away from things like my epic sex scene countdown, you ask? I mean, why did Picasso have a blue period and a rose period? Why does Trent Reznor rotate members of Nine Inch Nails? Why do I own five pairs of headphones? Because variety is the spice of life. Plus, sex scenes don’t pay the bills around the Fraud loft; feminism does, so I wanted to start using my powers for good, because I think we’ve got the chance to do some pretty amazing things together here if we brainstorm and debate in productive ways beyond which directors have a clear commitment to the most gratuitous nudity (if you want to know my opinion on that topic, check out my last two columns). Since this is column focused on sexuality and cinema, today I’ll keep my (teeny) discussion of feminism focused on where it concerns us most: what awareness to gender and sexuality in general (as well as feminism) means for us as viewers and consumers of media.
Whether we consume that media with our eyes, ears, or any other sensory system, gender and sexuality are never far behind what we are consuming. Think about it: when we were all watching those (delicious) sex scenes I shared over the past weeks, we each brought a complex system of understanding, perspective, and affect to each clip that is unique to each of us and helps shape our experience of each cinematic moment. For example, those of us who are rockin’ some XY chromosomes and whose desires tend to land on the hetero side of things are sure as hell going to respond to the scene I posted from Hostel in a different way than those of us who remained XX in-utero. BUT, the best part about gender and sexuality is that even that distinction can’t predict exactly how we will react, and we also know that distinction in itself is extremely problematic given all that we know about gender identity and the many cool shapes it can take.
I mean, as I’ve openly stated here, my desires usually point me to all things feminine and beautiful, but I love many a straight sex scene and hetero romance plot (just not Juno). This is why I like to think of desire as a complicated web where things usually unpredictably, yet somehow perfectly fit. I believe one of the best realizations we can make as people who enjoy all types of alternative music and film is that there should be no guilt in liking anything because the realm of experience is so vast that when two of us watch a film or listen to a song together, chances are, we aren’t even hearing or seeing the same thing – and that’s totally okay with me. I’ve gone to films with people and sometimes I’m certain we must have not been in the same theater. Same goes for music. I think the key for us as awesome people is sharing those experiences and exploring why they are different. Of course, this doesn’t mean everything is a work of genius, or that there aren’t shitty bands or films, but what I’m saying is that sometimes we shouldn’t immediately be dicks to someone just because they like X, Y, or Z. Maybe that girl who digs Drake turns out to be really wild and fun. Maybe that dude whose favorite movie is Freedom Writers isn’t such a tool after all. Okay, that last one was stretching it. But I think you get the idea.
Life is about choice. The choice to listen to Dream Theater or Opeth, to watch Martyrs or Finding Nemo, to get paper or plastic at the grocery store. Fundamentally, that’s what feminism is about for me: it’s the idea that all of us deserve to make any choices we want to make regardless of our gender or sexual identity.
That’s it – and that’s what I tell my students every semester.
This is what a feminist looks like…wanna mess with me?
It doesn’t involve bra burning, man-hating, or general sorcery of any kind. It involves me being able to go to the shows I want and not be harassed for being queer (this used to happen/still happens). It involves you all, Dear Readers, being able to do whatever the fuck you want because you’re a human being and deserve some basic respect. No, smart asses, you can’t go murder someone or fire bomb a crowd of kids wearing Abercrombie, because that basic respect idea extends to others too. This is all Sesame Street level ethics, right? You would think so, but whenever a lot of Americans (I can’t speak for anyone else) hear the word “feminism,” they freak out. They shut down. They try to elect Mitt Romney.
What this means is that from now on the F word – feminism – is going to be a part of the Fraud or Freud lexicon because it matters. Because I know there are girls (and dudes) who read this site and wonder why we choose certain images (of women, and other things in general) for our articles, and that’s all directly related to this greater collective consciousness that has trained us to think it’s okay to expect certain things in our media and not expect others. The male nudity question is by far one of the easiest, especially in American mainstream cinema, as is our willingness to accept images of women in compromised and/or sexual positions. Don’t get me wrong; I am one of the biggest fans of female nudity in cinema you’ll find, BUT I think the key is to question why certain images reign supreme when others barely hit any type of radar. Why do we all want to fuck Moira the maid from American Horror Story? Why the fuck do I even think it’s acceptable to call her “Moira the Maid” and not just “Moira?’ I would argue that the answer to that is a complex one that stems from centuries of media conditioning and gaze on the female body that tells me its straight up fine to objectify her – and we all know when we splay it out like that, we see that gender and sexuality and how they function in our films and media doesn’t really seem to be making sense. That’s where feminism comes in. It helps us answer some of these questions and allows us to even ask them in a productive and safe way. So, like I told you, this is some important shit.
Remember her? why do I feel entitled to post pictures like this just because I think she’s hot?
Dear Readers, let’s start questioning what we consume (especially cinematically or tele-visually). I’m not telling you to be feminists or even asking you to be, but I’m hoping what begins to go on over here at Fraud Or Freud is that we stop just eating what is being fed to us unless we really want to eat it. I don’t want you guys snapping bandz to go to the movies to see Daniel Craig as James Bond or turning on that TV to watch The Walking Dead just because you feel like there isn’t another choice – because there always is. For example, I refuse to listen to convicted felon Chris Brown and choose to turn him off any time he shows up on the radio or TV.
So, Amici, let’s start making some choices together. You’re already reading The Monolith, so you already know that you’re a step above and more cool than the average bear; now let’s take it to the next level.
P.S. If you’d all like some homework for next week (ha, I AM a teacher), I’m probably going to be writing on American Horror Story in some way or another, so if you haven’t watched, this is your chance to check out one of the best shows on television. It’s on both amazon prime and streaming netflix too!