Woman, life, freedom!

The Iranian government is exposing themselves as more and more ridiculous, and evidently nervous about their future. Another two executions of protesters happened Saturday, only three days after Teheran protested against “insulting” cartoons published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

So far, four people have been executed since protests erupted in September 2022, and Iran Human Rights claim that at least 476 people taking part in the protests have been killed.

By the logic of the Iranian government, publishing satirical cartoons is far more severe than their own oppression and slaughtering of their own people. Condemning people to death sentence without proper trial and lack of evidence is ok. Picturing the ayatollah in satirical cartoons is not.

The Iranian authorities has demanded action and an apology from the French government, who responded that the theocratic regime in Teheran has nothing to teach France. They have clearly not understood that the French government is never going to condemn anything written in a French newspaper, as freedom of speech is highly valued in France.

Freedom of expression is a very bad thing according to the Teheran regime, evidently, but forcing women to wear hijab because: “Covering up causes a woman to be recognised in society by her thoughts and personality, not by her body and beauty,” (…) “This is the greatest service that religions, especially Islam, have given to women, which obliges her to observe hijab so that her dignity is preserved and she is not sold or passed around like a commodity.” (Part of statement from The Supreme Court of Cultural Revolution, cited in The Guardian 9 January 2023).

According to their logic, it’s all in the interest of women’s dignity and integrity, and not observing the strict rules of dressing correctly, justifies the authorities to arrest and beat up women, which is what happened to Mahsa Amini in September, and thereby sparked the nationwide protests.

When criticized, the Iranian authorities reject the criticism by calling it “Remarks of self-styled defenders of human rights are replete with racist thoughts.” (The Guardian 9 January 2023)

This from a government that claims that western societies have destroyed the family by promoting female sexuality, and who condemns homosexuals to death penalty. A regime that tolerates no opposition and who despises freedom of speech, human rights and democracy. There’s absolutely no logic to it, except a great fear of losing their power.

I wholeheartedly support the brave Iranian people who stands up against this regime. I hope that one day in the near future, they will be able to live without fear of repression and without violent retaliation for speaking out against the authorities. That women will be allowed to dress the way they want, that homosexuals can live without fear of being thrown off a building.

Jin, jiyan, azadi!

Woman, life, freedom!

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Where are the women?

So I had it confirmed finally, that feeling that things were not quite right in flim and tv-series. Today, I came across a column addressing the topic, and it referred to a study made by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen; It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World, Even in a Pandemic Year: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top U.S. Films of 2021.

I mean, you have probably noted it yourself, without giving it too much thought (at least it you are a woman yourself), that most films and tv-series you watch, are dominated by male characters. As a mother of two boys, I have seen my share of Marvel films the past few years. Loads of mostly white, strong guys, fighting some villain or several. The character “Black Widow” being a rare, female character. As a matter of fact, I got so fed up with this male, macho universe, that I told my boys and my husband that they can watch these films without me. I can’t stand it anymore.

We have also been through the whole bunch of Star Wars movies, several times, and not surprisingly perhaps, my favourite is “Rouge One” where we are introduced to the female character Ray. Equally not surprising perhaps, is the fact that this is not the favourite film of the rest of the family…

It’s a fact that I have a weakness for a variety of police/agent series, like NCIS, Hawaii Five-0, and New York Major Squad, to mention some. In all of them men are overrepresented compared to women. They do have female detectives and agents, playing central parts, but still, it’s rarely more than one female per team of 4-6 agents.

And it’s this that has been bugging me for some time. Why is it like this? Why this gross imbalance on average?

The column I read today also pointed to another interesting fact. The author had noted that the films Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Turning Red, reviewed by males, were viewed as “overwhelmingly” female (Wakanda Forever), and “for relatively small audience” (Turning Red).

Wow! Just because they can’t, for once, identify with the leading character? I don’t know if I find it tragic or comic, that these men whine over these facts. I mean, I don’t expect a man in his 40’s to really identify with a girl growing into puberty, getting her period and experiencing all the hormones raging her body. But I do expect that he can appreciate a film that focus on something else than girls going teenage, wanting to be a perfect little woman pleasing everybody. Because that is how I often see girls portrayed in movies, glossy creatures with long, shiny hair and perfect skin. Well, mister, welcome to the real world! We are quite a few out here who appreciates new ways of presenting our gender!

Being underrepresented everywhere, I think we women are used to stretch our imagination to fit into a universe that often seems to ignore us. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. Girls growing up deserves heroes of their own, whom they can identify with, that look like them. We need more females of all ages on the screen, of all colours and all sizes. (I think our boys could need a bigger variety of shapes and colours to identify with as well). We need more multi-dimensional female characters, in all kinds of films and tv-series. We need more Dana Scullys and Rebeccas (from the 2013 movie “1000 times good night”). Rebecca is a photo journalist, travelling to war zones, while her husband is the one with local based work, taking care of their kids. I found that movie so inspiring! The roles were completely turned around, and I adored it. Because that it also how it can be. We are way too much told the story of the man with a career, and the woman sacrificing herself for the wellbeing of the rest of the family. I welcome every challenge to that image.

I do have to point out at the end, that there have been some rather fun movies presenting girls in a more interesting manner. When I grew up, it was with Pippi Longstockings, a rare female superhero at the time. Pippi really challenged the ideals of how girls should behave at the time (and still do). Recently, I watched Enola Holmes on Netflix, the two films, and I find them amusing and inspiring. And I like to present my boys with something other than the stereotype heroes they are used to from the Marvel universe. Boys, like girls, need the current stereotypes to be challenged. They need to see that there are many ways to live their lives, that humans are complex beings, not divided into “soft creatures” (women) and “tough heroes/villains” (men). Women can be tough, men are allowed to show feelings and cry. I wish we could see more of that, too. Not just in sentimental dramas, but in action movies as well. Why is it always the female characters that grab the box of Kleenex, while the men punch the wall?

Most of all, I would like to see more female, complex characters. The fact is that women makes up about half the population of this planet, but when watching movies we are reduced to a small minority. It’s time to do something about that.

Happy new year!

As a woman, you can never get it right…

It’s said that women of today, at least in the western world, has all possibilities at hand. Well, it might be right, but no matter how we twist and bend it, the way women do it is still never just right.

A woman gesticulating and shouting while giving a public speech, will most likely be branded aggressive. A man on the other hand, will be conceived as vigorous and dynamic.

A woman who plays her cards well, and who manages the feat of climbing to the top in her domain, easily risks being labelled cunning, cold and calculating. Her male counterpart will most likely be called clever, or be spoken of as a man with ambitions.

A woman who chose a professional career will be blamed for putting herself before the wellbeing of the family. Also implying she is a “bad” mother, who rather leaves her children to other people rather than caring for them herself. Or simply, she’s egoistic as she prefers a career rather than happy family life at home. I don’t think I have ever heard a man accused of the same, even if he’s hardly present at dinner table as he is working all the time.

A woman who chose to be home (at least for a longer period than the normal maternity leave), is accused by many to idolize the ideal of a housewife from the 1950’s. Feminists fought for the rights of women to work at the same terms as men, and choosing differently makes you a “traitor”. A man choosing to be taking care of the house and the children might be perceived as a bit weird, maybe even a bit weak. If so, this is the only circumstance I can think of that men really might face negative critics for their choice.

A women who shaves her legs and armpits, and puts make up is a victim of the cruel beauty tyranny which is pushed upon us from all sides.
A woman who does not shave her legs and armpits, are on the other hand said to be “disgusting”.
Men can more or less do as they like. Beard or no beard, it’s more about taste and fashion than about what’s acceptable.

This is just some examples that came to my mind. The point is of course, that no matter what women do, there are always someone at hand to give critics about our choices or our manners.

Even in 2016, the same characteristics and manners of women and men, most often give negative points for the woman, and plus points for the man (see the first three paragraphs above).

It actually amazes me that we are we still there. I would have believed that in 2016, we were no longer so obsessed with gender in this way.

What makes me most upset, is that no matter what women chose, it’s never really “right”. We are too much or too little no matter what. I do wonder, if the time will ever come, when we as well will be allowed to be just human beings. Individuals who lives our lives the way that suits us best, without having to face critics from right to left at all times.