Friday, October 17, 2008

My rant for the day...

I remember a party I once had as an undergrad, a time when I had a pretty impressive VHS collection (before I had to sell it to move to the States...a sad, sad day) of around 600 movies. It was somewhat "famous" amongst friends of friends, and when people came over, they would ask to see it. Well, at this party some guy asked to see it in a weirdly confrontational manner (a manner I have since learned to recognize in immature/insecure men - a sign that they feel threatened by my film knowledge and tastes. Strange, yes, but unfortunately true). I showed it to him, he started interrogating me about film, as though he was trying to challenge me, and finally Gladiator was the straw that broke the camel's back.

No, I did not own Gladiator, and never will - I think it's a terrible movie. This guy seemed to find this personally insulting, and so began a ridiculous argument. I merely offered my opinion, and he put my opinion down to the fact that I was (am) a woman, saying that it must have been too violent for me. In fact, my primary complaint about Gladiator was that they edited in such a way that the violence is obscured. As a whole, I found the film boring, and thought they spent too much time whispering in tents and not enough time bloodletting.

My reason for bringing this up is that I continue to find myself in "conversations" where the male participant dismisses my views on film (often in a very defensive way) offering gendered reasons for my perspective. I have had this experience very recently on the imdb message boards - my username on there does not indicate gender, and a couple of times, just from reading my comment, a user has written back referring to me as a guy. In these responses, the user will speak to me in a respectful fashion, expressing agreement or surprise either way. 

Once the user discovers I am female, the whole tone changes. One guy, talking to me about porn, was polite but went on to suggest "female-oriented" porn and seemed to have a more condescending, "explaining" tone to his message, as though he had not noticed the part in my comment about the fact that my profession (if that's what you can call it - "future profession," perhaps) is primarily writing about adult film. Nice guy - and I appreciate his suggestions - but I still recognized a difference in his approach toward me.

This didn't bother me too much, but soon after, some other guy responded to another porn-related comment by saying that at first, my disappointment in the film shocked him, but that once he realised I was a woman, it "all made sense." The film (a sequel), he explained, was darker than the first one, both in the sex scenes and the violence; that the violence was pretty graphic, and that women would prefer the first movie. I honestly didn't know how to respond, but felt I should, and offered that my gender did not mean my opinion was invalid (I didn't quite put it like that).

On the other hand, I looked up this guy's other comments and he had started a thread on the Jenna Jameson profile titled, "I like having my balls sucked." Maybe I'm expecting too much from the wrong people...

My point is not that I like "men's" film genres, or that men should get used to women liking "men's" movies. My point is that these are not "men's" genres at all - the fact that they are equated with masculinity has very little (often nothing) to do with the actual make-up of the audience, and much more to do with what we deem to be "masculine" and "feminine," usually reverting to active/passive, violent/pacifist, etc. etc. Nor am I denigrating what people consider "feminine" - I like those genres too, if they're good, and I think lots of men enjoy them also. In short, our society is so obsessed with keeping the genders distinct, and participates so readily in coding "feminine" pursuits as inferior to "masculine" ones, that men fear openly enjoying "women's" movies, while women who openly enjoy "men's" movies are dismissed, the assumption being that is not "for" them. 

DISCLAIMER: I do not think all men are like this - I have beloved male friends (best friends, in fact) who I talk to about film regularly, and have fun and involved conversations. They respect me, and I respect them too. I'm actually posting this rant with an air of sadness. I don't enjoy these responses - it makes me feel like my studies (which, in part,  attempt to show that men interact with pornography in much more complex, progressive, and non-woman-hating ways than people assume) are leading me to a big disappointment; or that I'm merely participating in some kind of feminist wishful thinking. I really, really hope I'm wrong. 


The Lightning Bug said...

This is my first time reading your blog and I found this post to be extremely interesting. All of them were really, but this one in particular stuck out for me because it wasn't about a film, but about your life experience. Great stuff and incredibly well written. You've made a believer out of me and I'll be very a steady reader from here on out.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Wow - that's awesome! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

As a female film lover myself, I was intrigued from your discussion with those fellows on the IMDB message board. I followed the link to your blog and I am even more surprised at your reaction to those guys! Your blog is very interesting, and I commend your maturity. (I would have told those guys much harsher, and most likely unacceptable, things...) But I really loved the part where you write about the one guy: "Maybe I'm expecting too much from the wrong people." Hah!

I think the thing that really bothers me is that I saw that change of tone (once your gender was revealed) as well. Once they found out you are a woman, it's either a sexy fantasy (Ooh! A woman who watches porn!) or treated stereotypically (When guy #2 said: "It all made sense") or both. I have faced similar situations. It is disheartening to be reminded of that "division" of gender or relentless female stereotyping. Though not all men are too blame, a good many of them think similarly. Your blog really makes me think... I can tell you're a strong woman and I like it! From one female film (and even porn) lover, ROCK ON!

P.S. I wish you luck in your studies about male interaction with porn. Your cause is a good one, and I think it will be appreciated by many. I hope you don't get too discouraged... You are the one who wrote, "I don't think all men are like this." And you've definitely got that part right.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Wow - what a great comment. Very heartening - and that's so cool that you noticed the imdb discussion in isolation of my rant! Glad to know there are like-minded women out there. I have to say, living where I am (I'm away from home, have been for a while) it can get pretty lonely as a feminist fan of horror, action, and porn genres. I took it for granted when I had all my girlfriends around me back at home. I have started thinking maybe they were exceptions! So, I'm thrilled to have even one fellow woman who is a fan of these genres.

And thank you for the encouragement with the studying - I need it at the moment! Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing, and then "anonymous" shows up and brightens my day! Thanks!

Phantom of Pulp said...

I think many guys have found themselves unfairly judged by women for watching or liking porn in the past.

When one (such a you) pops up in a discussion, they're not quite sure how to proceed -- fearing further judgment or recrimination.

For many men, porn is a retreat, a refuge from the world of "real women". That's not surprising considering the depth of unreality in most porn scenarios.

When a real woman enters the milieu, the first response can be to defend the fort.

I'm enjoying your porn perspectives very much. Keep up the good work.

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Thanks, I understand what you're saying. The "male world" of porn has certainly been theorized as an escape from women, indeed a misogynistic retreat from the terrifying prospect of real female power (a "backlash"). I like to think of porn (and it's viewers) as a little more complex than this, though, and am hesitant to expect particular attitudes and behaviors from the fans. Having said that, I also expect a certain different treatment as a woman.

I think this extends beyond porn, though, as evidenced by the reaction I have met with when discussing film in general. Certain genres are regarded as "masculine" or "male" in spite of woman-centered narratives and strong female followings.


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