So, I am reading this book. I read lots of books for distraction, but not everything goes. When a book is poorly edited or a copycat of the same old…I lose interest very fast. I like quite a few different genres, and have read captivating novels, with creative variations on let’s be honest, the same theme, but it works. I am talking about entertainment, not the types of books that win the literature awards.
Mostly, I choose books written by female authors as I got literally sick (I did) and tired of the formula of the macho middle aged, straight man, who is the genius, the brave powerhouse and who always gets to have s.. with the younger, very attractive, brilliant doctor of some sort.
Movies tend to be based on books and as popular movies remain audience-pleasing, we get the same offerings for many years. It is hard to watch older adventure and thriller movies (up until the 90’s), when aware of the perpetuation of the myths to brainwashing capacities, and at the same time observing an audience seemingly in oblivious admiration.
I am very pleased to see an actual change, and I applaud the actors who have spearheaded this, and I hope the audience keeps on welcoming the depicting of females and males in more equal and therefore respectful manners. Remember, we have to do it together!
So, as for books, I am sure there must be a change as well and I will certainly be on the lookout, but what I am still seeing too often is how authors, both male and female, are frantically holding on to the “traditional” but commercially successful formula of action and sex, based on the fantasies of their long gone puberty.
Men and women reading these en-masse, must be influenced by this, as how can they not. In the end, the hero, the straight male, muscular and brave, is adored by women and men alike and gets the most beautiful and significantly younger female he rescued and will be protecting forever. Female authors writing romance, are holding on to a very similar successful mixture of a bit of danger, and a need to be rescued and the hero is no different.
S** scenes are far removed from reality, but you bet the female in the story can’t get enough of it. Yeah, fantasy galore, but the more they inhale this, the more it influences readers, and as these genres are popular (bestsellers) the impression is given that this must be what people desire.
So, here an example (a passage from one of those random books) and keep in mind that before spotting this paragraph I already had suffered through too many comments about breasts, and pear-shaped backsides, Fr. Remy, a Catholic priest, leaned close “We feel less empathy for the suffering of those we are not actively trying to sleep with, he said so only Ezra could hear.” (p.27).
Now, I really do not want to go into the role of the priest (too chewed out already), but I was just stopped by this comment made to the protagonist. WTF!
Is this based on any reality? Is being f..kable the prerequisite for being treated with some respect? Is that how men perceive women, as potential s.. partners, and when not falling into the category, these women are perceived as less of everything (interesting, attractive, smart, kind, compassionate…).
Maybe, I and other therapists are totally delusional. Maybe the straight male client looks at every female as either potentially f…able or not. Maybe we in our honourable profession are sugar-coating the vulgarities of many men’s missions. Soulmate, equality, emotional intimacy? And what about women, are their desires as simple and superficial as described in the novels as well?
So, either all these books and movies have mimicked real life, or, and I still tend to believe the following: The fantasy-driven desires…are a goldmine and the industry is feeding these false beliefs…and has therefore done an enormous amount of harm by perpetuating and legitimizing these false beliefs. Can’t call that innocent entertainment!
We cannot always blame the audience as although it is the consumers who drive the sales…it is the way this stuff is advertised and praised, that the message is elevated and the content condoned and accepted. When actors are given roles that go beyond their scope and become politicians, environmentalists, human rights defenders, but in fact are themselves the sponsored products.
Either way, we can agree on the finding that sexism, lookism and gendered ageism is a wicked problem, as it is complicated, multifaceted and therefore difficult to solve. Calling it systemic or generational and institutional is all correct but does not mean that we have to sit impotently and passively allow this to continue. It is time to support those who started making changes and ditch the old stuff and write books and make movies that are entertaining while keeping in mind that we have a responsibility to leave this world in a better place.