Tags: gender

Susan the Gentle

Thoughts On Pin-Ups

I have a disclaimer I feel I should make, and since it's not particularly bookish, it seems to fit better here than in the actual book blog.

See, I am not opposed to pin-ups. In fact, I actually quite like them. It takes a lot of skill on both the parts of the model and the photographer to come up with an appealing image of a woman that displays her feminine attributes to their greatest advantage. Pin-ups are their own art form, and in fact I took a workshop on How to Pose Like a Pin-Up which was both entertaining and educational. Pin-ups are awesome!

The thing is, though, pin-ups cater to a very specific idea of femininity. It's all soft lines, soft curves, pouty lips. In my posts about gendered poses in urban fantasy book covers and gendered poses in romance novel book covers, I question why some of the women are set up to look like pin-up models. This isn't intended to be a commentary on pin-ups being inherently bad. What I do think is bad is pretending this is the only way a woman can be considered appealing. There are as many different ways to be womanly as there are women in the world, and pretending soft curves is the only way to be appealing insults pretty much everyone. It seems to have become the default, though, the only way we're meant to understand this woman is attractive. And that's what I find problematic, why I question pin-up poses on book covers where it's not appropriate. Sometimes it might suit the character, and that's fine! Most of the time, though, it doesn't, and is a blatant attempt to sexualize the female character in a very specific and codeified way.

Style is a choice. Pin-ups are one style, and a lovely one. However, it becomes problematic when this is the only way we can think of to present a woman.
fairy tale

Girls are stupid and so are their movies

I'll admit, when I see a man's name attached to a review for a movie geared to women, I roll my eyes. More often than not, that's enough to get me to pass it over. I've found that more often than not, when a man is reviewing a movie aimed at a female audience, his comments essentially sum up to "this is a movie for chicks, and I am not one. Since it didn't cater to my tastes, it's not a good movie. Now let us turn our attention to the current schlocky action movie..." No, not every romantic comedy is a masterpiece, but they should be judged fairly. I often wonder why more newspapers don't have women reviewing movies, actually. It would save us from reviews like Ebert's take on Red Riding Hood, in which he says:

Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage girls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape, although I don't recall her doing any riding. It's easy to imagine a story conference in which they said: Hey! Let's switch the vampires with a werewolf and recycle the theme of a virgin attracted to a handsome but dangerous hunk, only let's get two hunks!

What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?

When I read this, I was outraged on several levels. Not only are the comments misogynistic, but he's presuming to speak for women without doing so much as a google search, so I guess we can add lazy on top of that. Red Riding Hood is full of sexual fantasies for women, as the huge number of erotic novels would tell you. And yeah, werewolves are sexy, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of contemporary fantasy can tell you. And let's not even get into the part where "no girl would want to be in the woods." Ugh, so much rage.

Yeah, this review pretty much encouraged me to see the movie just to be contrary. And you know what? I actually kind of liked it. It wasn't a perfect movie, but it wasn't as pandering as certain white male reviewers would have you believe.