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The Week In Patriarchy

Mel Gibson was condemned for (allegedly) threatening to burn down his house and force his ex, Oksana Grigorieva, to blow him (presumably after he saved her from being raped by a group he describes with his usual Gibsonian eloquence). Unfortunately, it was not the kind of ‘condemned’ you’d have wanted it to be. Chris Brown cried like a baby. (If babies used fake tears to cry about beating up their baby girlfriends.)

Wonder Woman was given a makeover and a new backstory. Shelby Knox was unhappy with the results, noting that depriving Wonder Woman of her past glosses over the indignities of the present. Laura Tenenbaum made an excellent case for Betty Draper being left behind by history. Toy Story 3 was outed as the sexist garbage it is.

Giving more credence to the they-come-from-another-planet theory of gender, Time reported that the medical professionals of the US Veterans Affairs were unfamiliar with how to care for women. It was noted that President Obama took a break from organizing communities, piloting the United States into a sea of socialism, and firing a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool American hero to spend $190 million to pervert the minds of our impressionable children.

Perhaps justifying their fixation with sweet, fizzy drinks, Gawker claimed that women could actually taste how bad that Keystone Ice is.  An acupuncturist freed three convicted rapists from jail by… Oh, fuck it. Just shut it down for today.


  1. EM wrote:

    There are some mild, proven differences in male and female olfactory abilities, with women’s sensitivities coming out on top in a couple categories and the rest having no significant differences.

    This is, of course, science conducted in accordance with the oppressive binary system, and is significant pretty much only in circumstances where extremely low detection thresholds are important, i.e. pretty much nowhere. “Coors Light: awful or awfuller?” is really a waste of anyone’s sensory analysing capacity.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
  2. EM wrote:

    But that article, ugh. The more I re-read it, the worse it gets. Not just sexism-wise, but straight up not bothering to fact-check.

    And, seriously? I’ve had a job smell testing odors from livestock facilities (if you need to know whether that Eau d’Manure is swine or cattle-based, now you know who to call), and taste-testing Coors Light for a living sounds like hell.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  3. ADF wrote:

    Wait, did we decide that Toy Story 3 was sexist. Because outside of the throw-away gag over the credits with Woody’s over-the-top reaction to finding out Ken wrote the letter I thought it was fine. Female-light, but that’s more or less to be expected in 1) movies, 2) movie made mostly by people in a technical field that women have been socialized to stay away from.

    Anyway, was wondering what the deal with that was.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  4. Sady wrote:

    @ADF: I think that’s sarcasm.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  5. ADF wrote:

    Not to say that lacking female leads is okay, its definitely not. Its just not anything worse than every other movie Pixar has ever done (and they’re still great movies, in my estimation anyway.)

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
  6. ADF wrote:

    @Sady, gotcha. The ‘ol Sarc-o-meter has been on the fritz lately.

    As someone in the video games industry, though, I would like to take the opportunity to point out that that industry (like many software fields) shares the problem of being straight male dominated with computer animation. The reason most every game or cgi movie seems to come from a male perspective owes much to the fact that women are driven away from these fields. I would love to work with more female programmers but so few women even enter engineering programs in college and those few that do spend a lot of time around mostly maladjusted guys who constantly try to push them out with a strict boys-club policy, to say nothing of persons of color and LBGT people who are exceedingly rare.

    In any case as soon as I wrote my first comment I’ve been realizing how the issues I’ve seen at play for years probably affect the way that Pixar can be at once the most touching and artistically grounded animation studio while having exclusively male protagonists.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  7. Raemon wrote:

    (Ignoring sarcasm meter for now and just talking about my own experience)

    I spent most of the movie being unsure what I thought of Ken’s portrayal, but by the end I thought it was actually pretty good. He’s not gay (I mean, seriously, he’s in love with Barbie. This is made rather explicit). He’s just a guy who likes a lot of feminine things. And yes he gets made fun of for it (as any child in his boat would already be experiencing), but the ultimate point is that there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, it’s a fairly subtle point, surrounded by a lot of not subtle jokes.

    I was significantly more weirded out by the whole “Happy Slavery” motif that was going on the whole time. Andy sells off Woody’s girlfriend and they all just roll with it.

    I’m an aspiring storyteller in general and cg artist in particular. I often have looked at the vast array of problems facing the world and felt ashamed that I can’t or won’t do more about them. But I have vowed that any project I have creative control over will not have a white male protagonist. (I give myself maybe 10 years before the Man™ crushes my spirit and I fail at even this simple endeavor).

    Monday, July 5, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  8. Nathan wrote:


    “I was significantly more weirded out by the whole “Happy Slavery” motif that was going on the whole time. Andy sells off Woody’s girlfriend and they all just roll with it.”

    Are you serious? Annie Potts wanted too much money, so Pixar wrote her character out of the film. The easiest way to write a toy character out of a story is to have a garage sale; either that or have Bo Peep destroyed somehow, which would go over oh-so-well with the target demographic.

    Please tell me how this plot point is encouraging a “Happy Slavery” motif (and please don’t tell me that you apply this logic to all garage sales as well).

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Sady wrote:

    @Nathan: I think the commenter was fairly clear that the problem wasn’t THAT Potts was written off, but how the script dealt with it. Unless the screenwriters were all possessed by an alien super-consciousness or God and thereby FORCED to write this development the way they did, they had a choice, and their choice as to how they wrote it is what the commenter is disagreeing with. Namely, the character’s boyfriend’s perceived lack of reaction to it. Anyway, haven’t seen the movie yet (SHAME), hear it’s great, play nice, etc, etc.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
  10. Raemon wrote:

    First, I didn’t mean to imply that the story ‘encouraged’ Happy Slavery-ism. But the notion is a pretty unavoidable consequence of the society of toys that Pixar created. You have millions of sentient toys that are created with an inherent drive to be loved by their owner, AND who experience pain and loss just as a human would. If you’re lucky you get a good owner like Andy, and even then your friends and family can get sold off or thrown away, and you eventually get put in a box for 10 years while he goes off and plays videogames.

    If you get a bad owner (like Sid), you’re pretty much screwed. This doesn’t require me to read into anything. This is blatantly spelled out in the movie.

    And I think Pixar is aware of this. In the first two movies they mostly ignored the issue, but in this movie I’m pretty positive they explored it on purpose. Initially there’s the Bo Peep line, and the general fact that the boy they are conditioned to love has ultimate power over their lives. Then you finally have Lotso talking about how Toys should be able to take control of their own destiny and not be defined by their relationship to an owner. And then Barbie says outright that governing should be by the consent of the governed. I’m frankly surprised to find someone on a feminist blog who WASN’T reading into all of this, when it was clearly meant to be read into, one way or another.

    Overall I don’t think Pixar meant to send any particular message here. The toys are metaphors for a lot of different things, and you can draw many different lessons from them. It’s like a period piece about slaves, in a time period when slavery wasn’t going to end anytime soon. Yes, slavery is bad and you should fight it if you can. But for the average group of slaves, singlehandedly organizing a revolution is less important than taking care of your family and doing your best to live in the world you were born into.

    I’m trying to find a way to summarize my reaction to the movie, but honestly it’s an incredibly complex story with layers of metaphors and I don’t think I can address a piece of it without addressing the whole thing. (I’m not really happy with the preceding paragraph because it makes the ending feel terrible to me, when I really think by the time we get to the end we’re supposed to be focusing on a different layer of symbolism).

    >>((and please don’t tell me that you apply this logic to all garage sales as well).))

    In real life? No, because in real life material objects are (hopefully) not sentient. In Toy Story? Yes. Because every garage sale involves a group of friends being separated for the benefit of their owner.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  11. HB wrote:

    My sarcasm meter was also off. I loved Toy Story 3 and was upset to think that I was missing some big issues in my analysis. I even wrote a feminist review of the film.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  12. Raemon wrote:

    Just watched it a second time. It’s still an absolutely amazing movie that everyone should watch while it’s still in theaters, but this time was keeping track of a lot of stuff that did bother me a bit. I’m still not sure what I think about Ken. And the scene where Mrs Potato Head has her mouth taken off particularly squicked me.

    I think Pixar knew they were walking a fine line with how they treated most of the female characters, and probably intended to be making important points rather than exploiting sexual stereotypes. That would have been fine if there had just been one female character who had a character arc that didn’t revolve around said stereotypes. (Jesse looked like she was supposed to be that girl, but then didn’t really do anything in the second half).

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink