The last two minutes of Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” finale sent the internet into a frenzy as Jon Snow succumbed to an “Et tu, Brute`” ending. And yet, no one is talking about the beatings of the women in the finale, Cersei’s solo walk of shame, or the systematic abuse and rape of women throughout the show’s seasons. I address this in my latest YouTube video: youtu.be/YEx8CBo_ziY or watch it below.
When people speak of “Game of Thrones”, they marvel at the costumes, the production values, the pseudo-medieval landscape of knights, swords, and dragons. In fact, before I had ever seen GOT, I asked about it on Facebook, and the comments were all enthusiastic, with one in particular exclaiming, “You’ll love the costumes and the look of it. And the sex is GREAT!” The sex, of course, was mostly incestuous.
Fast forward past the hideous reign of the sadistic Joffrey, abuse of women is so commonplace in the show as to have lost any impact at all — in much the same way rape and domestic violence are pervasive in American culture but considered a “women’s issue”, leaving women the task and responsibility of not getting raped or beaten.
“Game of Thrones” gets its social commentary right sometimes. The storylines of religious fanaticism rising up and taking over the government to create a fascist state of oppression is a direct mirror of the Tea Party in America. The targeting and persecution of homosexuals was a realistic plotline with which many in the LGBT community can identify. But where is the episode in which all the women band together and address the battery and assault of women?
The subjugation of women in media reflects the fight women are still waging in society-at-large to live in a world that recognizes women are human beings. At the time of this writing, the Equal Rights Amendment is still in limbo. American women are not equally protected under the Constitution.
In the United States, women make up 51% of the population, 51% of small business owners, 52% of voters, 52% of the professional-level work force, and 60% of college graduates; plus, we control 80% of consumer spending. Why aren’t 51% of the television shows and films centered on women and women’s issues? Why aren’t 52% of the writers, directors, and creative artists women? Why aren’t 60% of corporate CEO’s female? Why don’t 80% of advertisements portray women as complete, healthy, fulfilled human beings instead of reducing us to the industry-standard Photoshopped, hypersexualized marketing prop?
Only 20% of the United States Congressional body is comprised of women — even Afghanistan has women in 27% of seats in its Parliament, according to the Quota Project. The Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks the United States 72nd in the world for women in national parliaments. And why hasn’t the United States had a female president yet? The United States ranks 78th in the world for having women in top positions of executive power. China, India, the Philippines, Latvia, Georgia, Ireland, Rwanda, Cuba, Indonesia, South Korea, Chile, Argentina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, the Bahamas, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Central African Republic are just some of the countries that have had a woman as a president and/or head of state.
What could possibly be holding the United States back from women’s advancement in government, business, education, and society, in general? If you guessed “patriarchy”, you are correct. The foundation of all modern civilizations is patriarchy, an institutionalized form of culture that feeds off of misogyny, intolerance, and violence and specializes in the oppression of women through sexualized violence and domestic abuse.
Cultural phenomena such as “Game of Thrones” that harken back to a dark age of brutality and violence against women reveal our culture’s deep-rooted misogyny and help keep the cultural mentality stuck in a bleak, abusive purview that ultimately harms everyone, not just women. This mentality is reflected on college campuses that require incoming female students to attend a “how not to get raped” orientation rather than teaching the incoming males not to attack female students. Over 80% of reported rapes are committed by someone the woman knows, which insinuates that some men still think they have an unwritten entitlement to sex, willing or not.
How do we fix this everyday sexism in culture and media?
Hire more women writers to create new works. This will give an authentic voice to storylines about women so that the portrayal of women is not limited to male writers’ secondary filter of how men think women are or how women should be. The Broadway League’s 2002 poll of professional theatres and venues revealed that only 20% of theatre professionals, such as creatives and designers, are women.
Hire more women directors. Women have our own aesthetic, our own rhythms, and our own ideas about how relationships — romantic or not, can be portrayed. A simple theatre exercise will prove that the same script can look and sound completely differently when directed by a woman than by a man. Difference is okay. The world will not fall off its axis because conflict was resolved without the quasi-obligatory male machismo or violence.
Put a woman at the center of the story and the action in new works. Write her to be a leader who does not spend half of her time talking about a man — or obsessing over a romantic relationship — and who does not have to endure a plotpoint of being raped — as if women can only gain personal, internal strength by being raped.
#WhereAreTheWomen was a powerful rallying cry for feminists during the 2012 election year, and it is absolutely valid in most professions. Women make up only 4.8% of Fortune 500’s list of female CEO’s, while Rutgers University’s studies on the gender gap in college settings show only 24% of full-time professors are women. The numbers are even worse in the professional, commercial arts that create the entertainment media that pervade our culture, such as “Game of Thrones”.
The 2015 Academy Awards had eight films nominated for Best Picture. Not one film had a woman as the main character. Of the five directors up for Best Director and of the 10 films nominated in the Writing categories, not one nominee was a woman. For the 2015 Tony Awards, not one of the nominees in the categories of Best Director of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, or Best Scenic Design of a Musical was a woman. But history (and herstory) was made when Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron became the first female writing team to win composer/writer Tony Awards for a show. It only took 69 years for that to happen.
The bottom line is this: our voices are not being heard. Our stories are not being told.
According to the World Economic Forum, the United States ranks #20 in the world for economic gender equality, behind Nicaragua, Rwanda, and South Africa. The United Nations has reported that 70% of women experience a sexual attack at some point in their lives. The U.N. also works for gender equality through its Development Programme to help women around the world: 60% to 70% of the world’s poor are women, over 65% of women are illiterate, and over 30% of women are subjected to some form of violence during their lifetimes.
Men cannot tell our stories for us. Only women can tell women’s stories fully and authentically.
This is not a coincidence. This is a systematic silencing of women across society. This is why popular shows such as “Game of Thrones” are able to thrive with little opposition or outrage toward the portrayal of violence against women. After all, why complain about the way women are mistreated when the sword fights and costumes are so cool?
Wake up. Speak up. Be heard.
Hillary made it official. She is running for President of the United States. While I and many other women and liberal Democrats have waited for this moment for a long time, I can tell the 2016 political races are going to have a negative effect on media, culture, social media, and America, in general. For this reason, I vow not to participate in the negativity and the drivel.
Already, Hillary has had to field questions about how she will balance being POTUS and being a grandparent — a question no man has ever been asked when running for President (or any other office, for that matter). Critics have already started in on her hair, her makeup, her “new look” for the campaign — none of which has anything to do with her capabilities of running the United States of America.
When I ran for Congress in 2014, I was open about my status as a progressive liberal, bisexual, pagan, single mom in the very Red State of Mississippi. The Tea Party and right-wing Republicans around the country criticized everything about my physical appearance, from my eyes (“creepy”), to my nose (“needs a nose job”), to my weight (“a sad, pathetic overweight woman looking for attention”). I thought my stance as a progressive liberal, LGBT woman combined with my track record as an activist would make me the perfect candidate to fight for the people of my state. To many in my state and elsewhere, I was exactly what they feared in political office — a confident, capable woman who let it be known I would not tolerate oppressive institutionalized (male) bullshit.
Hillary can expect the same treatment, but on a much, much larger scale and exponentially more vicious.
Granted, Hillary has been in the public spotlight for decades and is probably accustomed to such treatment, but the fact that a female candidate’s appearance is even considered by the media and the voters speaks volumes about how far women still have to go in attaining equality on every level of our existence. In fact, the more a female candidate’s appearance is discussed, the more likely she is to lose her campaign for office. This all undermines Hillary’s decades of work for women and girls and her ability to be the Commander-in-Chief.
While it is easy to degrade the GOP (Teahadists, Tealiban, Right Wing Nut Jobs, Stupid Party, ammosexuals, etc.), contributing to the negativity will not help. Therefore, I will NOT post any political snark. I have personal knowledge of what the female candidate is going through. I know for whom I will vote and why, and I do not need to sink to the level of the other party.
The other day I wrote a piece on Madonna and her new beau, Jonas Kaufmann, that was in response to another site’s drivel about the relationship in which the writer specifically mocked Madonna’s age and dating habits.
Apparently, I was not the only annoyed with how the media treats women, as this twitter convo from yesterday that I stumpled up on clearly illustrates. Notice the very specific points these three erudite men bring up:
- “Every” news piece about female artists mention their age — because women are judged on our looks, our bodies, and what we should be doing with our lives. How we should behave is centered around a number.
- Women over 35 are judged if we don’t act … all proper-like and momsy.
Women are judged if haven’t given up everything that matters to us because we’ve had kids or settled down. Heaven forbid a woman maintain her own dreams and her own identity rather than sacrificing her soul and her persona for someone else (i.e., husband, kids, menial job).
And sex?! Grab the fainting couch if you’re not ready to deal with the fact that women over the age of 35 have as much right to a fulfilling, raucous sex life as the 20-somethings. In fact, Mother Nature blesses middle-aged women with a libidinous power surge right around the age of 35 that can be maintained for decades if the woman stays healthy. In one of my past AskTrish posts, a man had asked if menopause is a time when women’s sex drive automatically winds down. NO!
I have experienced this age discrimination and society’s-expectations-criticism too many times to enumerate. Once a woman hits a certain age (or a certain dress size), she is supposed to act a certain way. Give her whole life over to being the caregiver for other people’s needs and whims. Her own wants and needs be damned.
Not if I have anything to say about it!
We have tripled our life expectancy — women outlive men anyway. Why should we do what is expected of us by a patriarchal society that constantly belittles us, mocks our individual journeys that stray from the path followed by the sheeple, and continues to retrofit ancient, suffocating patriarchal religious mores onto 21st century liberated, independent, rebellious women?
I’m 42, and I personally plan on doing my thing until I’m at least 95. I have 40+ years to keep speaking out for women and our issues, and I’ll be as fabulous then as I am now.
Age? Fuck it.
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