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Yet Another Lady Determined To Be Secretly A Dude, Based on Job

And here I thought there would be no Tiger Beatdown posts today!

Luckily, my friends, there is one thing that can save us all, and that is: people casually insulting (a) women, (b) people of various genders, and (c) women, again, also, but in a different way. In the name, of course, of Feminism!

Let us recap: Kathryn Bigelow, who we like very much over at the Tiger Beatdown, has made a movie. An action movie! And you know who also makes action movies: dudes. Yet this Kathryn Bigelow, she seems to be a lady. And not a dude! Is there any way that you, Martha P. Nochimson at, can sum this up in probably the most offensive way possible?

Quentin Tarantino, who should know better, having just directed a piercingly original ironic study of war and blood lust, dubbed Bigelow the “Queen of Directors” when she took the DGA award. I prefer the “Transvestite of Directors.” Looks to me like she’s masquerading as the baddest boy on the block.

Your headline, grateful reader, is as follows:

Kathryn Bigelow: Feminist pioneer or tough guy in drag?

“Hurt Locker” director masquerades as a hyper-macho bad boy to win the respect of a male-dominated industry

Pretending to be a man! Although not a man! But maybe secretly a man! In any case, somehow capable of doing man things!  Which are not woman things! Drag king, I tell you! Or possibly trans lady; it really depends on whether you go with the hed or the dek, I suppose. But in both cases with the added connotation that drag kings and/or trans ladies are totally bad! Why can’t Katherine Bigelow, if she is a lady, make films entirely about flower arranging and her own vagina and also scenes of herself gently weeping over a particularly touching Kay Jewelers commercial? WHY? WHY MUST HER GENDER BE MADE THUS UNCLEAR?????? You are scaring Martha P. Nochimson, Kathryn Bigelow. Cuddle a kitten and talk about how you wish it was a baby! Do so at once!

The fun thing is, this isn’t even the first time this headline has happened, in regard to a female director. Remember last summer?

She’s a Director Who’s Just Another Dude

This was about Lynn Shelton. Another lady who somehow, against God and biology, made a movie that was not entirely about ladies. I don’t know how these freakish directresses (directrixes?) keep managing to make movies about things outside of their own experience, I swear to you. It is a worrying trend in our society today.

You know, careful study of this article reveals there to be “points” contained therein. Points about how traditionally feminine or woman-focused modes of filmmaking are devalued, and how we shouldn’t only respect women for being able to do stuff that is traditionally manly, and this and that and hither and yon and so on and so forth. You know: these are not only points with which I agree, they are points which, I do believe, I have made in the past.

Yet I somehow managed to avoid the “that lady director is clearly a weird gender-traitor transvestite and not a real woman because she is doing boy stuff which makes her not a lady” construction. How? I have no idea, I swear. Clearly this was the direction in which to go.


  1. Orrin wrote:

    Why can’t Katherine Bigelow, if she is a lady, make films entirely about flower arranging and her own vagina and also scenes of herself gently weeping over a particularly touching Kay Jewelers commercial?

    Oooh, like that one where the guy can’t communicate with his Deaf girlfriend yet, but it’s cool ’cause he bought her a diamond necklace? Words are trivial!

    (Hi, Sady! I haven’t commented before, but I think you are awesome and impressively funny! I’ve been linked over here repeatedly from Shakesville and Shapely Prose, and it’s high time I just started reading here regularly. Hopefully this will include commenting more in future.)

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
  2. Xenu01 wrote:

    Here’s what irks me about this whole thing: Lady directors making movies about guys doing guy stuff are lauded, and their genders marveled at, because guy movies about guy stuff are GOOD!

    …and yet, a movie about a lady doing stuff would be considered a chick flick and lacking completely in substance.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
  3. anna wrote:

    This article is too well written to be done by a lady; Sady Doyle must secretly be a dude!

    [just because it’s hard to tell on the internet sometimes and I don’t want to accidentally make any enemies, that was sarcasm. go feminism!]

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  4. vertigo29 wrote:

    I truly wonder if the people who write these sort of articles are aware of the ass they are making themselves to look like. I am embarrassed for them.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  5. hn wrote:

    I think the Bigelow gender-craze only got this mad because she not only dared as a lady to make an action movie, but also succeed at making the best action movie of several years.

    You know, a girl doing boy stuff but with moderate success, so she’s only being called a total success by some feminists, that’s OK.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  6. C.L. Minou wrote:

    a) like there’s anything wrong about being a transvestite–some of my best friends, I’m a reformed one, and a couple of my lovers…well, anyway…

    b) My take on Bigelow is that she made a movie about men that superficially looks like a men’s movie. That is, she shows men not as they want to be seen, but as they actually are, which is very different indeed.

    And clearly threatening.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  7. Sady wrote:

    @C.L: Yeah. Point (a) is where this goes from standard-issue sexism to whole new realms of WHAT??? Like, she just COULDN’T find a way to be all “ladies shouldn’t make dude things” without bringing the transvestites and fear of transvestites into it. No, thank you.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  8. Adrianna wrote:

    I’m with C.L. on transvestites not being bad, but also with you Sady on the whole “Awesome Lady = Dude in disguise” thing being pretty irritating.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
  9. C.L. Minou wrote:

    Yeah, seriously Adrianna. Frankly, nowadays I find awesome ladies awesome because they are NOT dudes–I find myself reading female authors almost exclusively, listen to female musicians (today’s download: a huge passel of k.d. lang) and in general avoid even covert dudeliness wherever possible.

    Which, again, is why Bigelow is unique and threatening: she’s carved out a career on turf that is supposed to be ONLY for men (action movies) and yet always brings something a bit different to them–look at Adrian Pasdar caught between obsession, vulnerability, and hunger for power (among other things) in “Near Dark,” or the incredible drunken barracks scene in “The Hurt Locker,” which is one of the most stunningly *aware* scenes involving men interacting with each other I’ve ever seen in a movie.

    So we’re shocked that the backlash against her is that she couldn’t possibly be a woman? Because only men understand how complicated men are? But directors, even gay directors like Cukor, who made movies primarily about women were never viewed as really being women? (Indeed, I’ve only really seen them portrayed with the paternal “great with actors” line.)

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Ennu wrote:

    I saw that headline at Salon when I was over there reading Broadsheet. My first thought was “are you fucking kidding me?” My second was “I hope Sady writes about this.”
    C.L., I was thinking the same thing. I haven’t heard men get accused of not really being men for making “chick flicks.” Maybe I just haven’t been paying enough attention, though…

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink
  11. Gayle Force wrote:

    I kind of think “Sady Doyle: Feminist Pioneer or tough guy in drag?” would make an awesome t-shirt.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  12. Lauren wrote:

    YARGH! I especially hate how Tarantino and Bigelow are contrasted at the start of the article. Here is a PIERCINGLY IRONIC MANLY MAN who wrote a good story about war, and here is a VAGINA-LADY.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  13. Gnatalby wrote:

    I feel like the sliver of a point in this coverage is that it’s no coincidence that a woman finally has a chance at winning an Oscar because she made a movie in which there’s just one woman with a handful of lines.

    That said, I agree with C.L. Minou that the movie shows evidence of the female director in that critically examines masculinity in a way that most men just don’t but that women, especially those who succeed in dudely fields, have to.

    So while I don’t think that war is the province of men alone, I do look forward to the unicorn filled future when a movie with women in it, also directed by a woman, could win.

    But for now I’m more than happy for this to go to Bigelow (knock wood) because political considerations all aside, the movie fucking rocks.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  14. Maura wrote:

    The most important point, one that’s being missed here, is how Bigelow secretly being a dude affects James Cameron. We’re forgetting about teh menz!!

    I haven’t seen Hurt Locker, and I have no plans to. I don’t watch war movies that aren’t named MASH. But I did read the piece that Sady linked to, and I’m still reeling from this remark:

    It’s that I’m still coming to grips with how a woman could possibly have dreamed up this spartan American soldier in Iraq, who, while obsessively romancing death as a bomb-squad ace, outdoes the most extreme images of machismo ever produced by mainstream America.

    Ladies feel things, but not all the same things. Ladies also think things, and create things, but they’re not all the same things. As was mentioned several times in the comments, Bigelow is, after all, an artist. And it’s absurd and offensive to suggest that she should be using her talent only in ways that don’t confuse certain Salon writers.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  15. Gayle Force wrote:

    I was watching Mad Men until (way too) late last night, but it never ceases to amaze me, and the show highlights it beautifully, how much MEN were supposed to decide what women wanted (I know the show takes place in the 60’s, but it holds now). There’s one line in there where I think Draper says women want what men want; they have no desires or thoughts of their own. And all the men are trying to figure out what women want and how to sell women’s products, but NONE OF THEM ACTUALLY ASK A REAL LIVE WOMAN (and later sometimes Peggy gets a say, but not a final one). Because, what do women know about what they want? They don’t know anything!

    I feel like this is the extension, because how can women EVER know what a man thinks or feels or would want to make a movie about him? Women, historically, have never even been able to articulate for themselves their own desires and feelings and inner-worlds. So, of course, they could never do it believably for men.

    And this is because of ovaries? I don’t know.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  16. C.L. Minou wrote:

    You know, I said all that stuff above before I tried to read the article–I say tried to read, because I got more and more upset as I went along. I have no idea what movie she was watching, but it sure the frak wasn’t the one I saw.

    To actually claim, with a straight face, that the portrayal of Will is John Wayne-esque, a symbol of stoic masculinity, requires one to metaphorically (hell, maybe literally) cover one’s eyes before watching the movie. I mean, FFS, the whole *point* of the damn thing is that Will’s male-ego driven addiction to the rush of endangering his life has left him drained, incapable of loving anyone, incapable of saving the people he cares most of–he’s locked himself in a box that won’t let him feel anything but the adrenaline rush anymore, and without that he’s a shell of a person.

    I mean, sheesh, that quote from “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” wasn’t there for show–the movie goes to great lengths to illustrate just about everything Hedges covered in painstaking detail in his book (which is stunning and remarkable and a very, very important book to read.)

    And hey? Ms. Nochimson? Maybe Bigelow came up with the idea for Will by, you know, reading the book and watching the men around her? Like her uber-survivalist former husband, who built fallout shelters in his mansions?

    This is the face of the backlash: and I’m only disappointed that a woman wrote that piece. Not surprised. Not surprised at all.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  17. Dawn. wrote:

    Thank you for giving that article a beatdown, Sady. I read it yesterday and it seriously pissed me off. What a massive fail. I haven’t even seen The Hurt Locker yet, but I know enough about it to know her analysis of Will is dead wrong. I’m honestly surprised Ms. Nochimson didn’t mention James Cameron, because really, what about teh menz?? That’s how sexist that shit was.

    I love how anytime a woman transcends any kind of gender norm, whether it be making a “guy” film with “guy” themes, or freely expressing their sexuality, or being a lesbian, or a feminist, or whatever, they must be a dude. They must have a massive cock to support those talent-producing balls! They must be a dude because no woman could make that, could do that, could say that. It’s fucking infuriating.

    It reminds me of the first thing that Google suggests after typing in Lady Gaga: hermaphrodite.

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  18. westwood wrote:

    Your formatting makes my head swim. Good thing the content is tasty, tasty, tasty!

    Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  19. Brimstone wrote:

    This is probably worse then yet another ‘Battle of the Exes!’ article
    has anyone claimed Cameron is secretly a woman because he made a movie about nature and pretty blue people?

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  20. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Brimstone: No, because he did his manly duty and Blew. It. All. Up.

    Monday, March 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  21. chrisbean wrote:

    Other directors “in drag” vis a vis the 2010 Oscars:

    Lee Daniels – Precious
    Jason Reitman – In the Air
    John Lee Hancock – The Blind Side
    Michael Hoffman – The Last Station
    Rob Marshall – Nine
    Jean-Marc Vallee – The Young Victoria
    Henry Selick – Coraline
    Ron Clements & John Musker – Princess & the Frog
    Peter Jackson – The Lovely Bones

    Am I missing anyone?

    Friday, March 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

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    […] in her article on Bigelow’s win. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville points out the “Battle of the Sexes” framing of the bloody seating plan (seating Bigelow next to her ex-husband, James Cameron) in her round up at Shakesville. And Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown has pointed out the coverage that Bigelow recieved for making a film about men. […]