I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on my growth as a woman and a feminist. Like a lot of my generation and the ones before me, I grew up with a lot of internalized misogyny. As a pre-teen, I strived to be “not like other girls,” and in high school I prided myself on “getting along better with guys.” I had a great group of girl friends, so most of that was bullshit. I’m still working on dismantling some of the habits and practices from back then, and watching last night’s Oscars reminded me of how far I still have to go in that process.
The first time I started actively working against my own misogyny was in college. My first instinct when passing a woman on campus was to criticize her in my head. How fucked up is that? I’d tear down her outfit, or make up something that was wrong with her. Something was telling me it would make me feel better about my own perceived shortcomings. But it definitely wasn’t doing anything productive, and it was cutting me off from what could have been meaningful female connections. I had to consciously try to think positive things about women. It feels so gross to admit, but it’s true. I had to remind myself constantly. It’s natural now, thankfully, and I get so much more enjoyment out of complimenting women, even if it’s just to myself (though I do try to vocalize them when the situation seems appropriate, because I know how good those compliments feel coming from other women).
Last night, watching the red carpet entrances and interviews, I tried to praise the looks I enjoyed and keep the criticisms to a minimum. Not that I don’t have negative opinions, of course. I don’t love certain cuts of dresses, or certain combos of earrings/hairstyles (I don’t know why this in particularly catches my eye so frequently, but I have Opinions!) but I tried to notice more of what I did like. There were so many stunning colors, so many capes, so many plunging vees that just looked sensational. I enjoyed the red carpet coverage way more when I was actively looking for things to exclaim about.
The other benefit of this is I am discovering all sorts of things I missed because I didn’t like the women working on them, for literally no good reason.
I also got a much needed reminder that feminism MUST be intersectional. Ashley Judd said it explicitly in her part of a powerful presentation. But Twitter gave me the real butt kick after Emma Stone announced the nominees for best director by lumping the four males together and naming Greta Gerwig specifically. She meant to call out the lack of female representation in this category, but she also erased the representation of Jordan Peele and Guillermo del Toro. I didn’t even think about that in the knee-jerk moment of “yes!” that I felt for female nominees, and I’m sure a lot of others didn’t either. Which is why we need reminders to be conscious of intersectionality as often as we can.
Like I said, I have a lot of work to do. Thankfully there are plenty of people to look to as examples of how the work is done. And amidst all the dumb Hollywood politicking and the out-of-touch Academy voting and the asinine interviews, the Oscars provided me with some pretty good examples.
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