If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid

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Image for article titled If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid

That's the title of the interview with Elizabeth Gilbert in this week's Entertainment Weekly, and it's my exact perception of how Hollywood feels about women.

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And we all know it's not just movies. I think it may even be worse in the book world, which continues to perpetuate women's work as chick lit and men's work as literature. Just ask best-selling author Jennifer Weiner.

As EW says:

When women rally around something in pop culture, it isn't long before the objects of their affection are loudly trivialized or dismissed.

It's not that I totally mind the term anymore. I've come to realize that it is here to stay and that what we need to do is make people understand that just because something is painted with the "chick" brush whether it is a book a film or any other medium it does not make it "less than."

That's the part the bothers me. Why is it that things that appeal to women are made to seem trivial, stupid and less than? Is it about the fact that large groups of women are embracing something? Is it a fear that if enough women like something we'll figure out how screwed we've been on so many issues that we will all just come together and revolt? Pleeze. Newflash – we aren't that organized.

Shit, we buy more books and see more films, yet stuff that appeals to women is constantly demeaned. Aren't our dollars as green as the guys'?

I think the main point of the issue and the biggest problem is still that women go to see movies and read books that star men and men won't and don't do the reverse. This has been going on at the movies for some time and it had created a girl ghetto especially at the big studio movies that are targeted at women. So in order for the films to be successful they have to be really good (which we hope all movies are but know that many are not), or have built in audiences because only women are going to be in the theatres a la Twilight. The pressure is overwhelming.

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Elizabeth Gilbert's book has sold 8 million copies. There are many women who LOVE the book, (you don't sell 8 million copies of anything without some serious love) and lots of women who really don't like the book (I've spoken to several of them). But even though there are mixed feelings on the book, people know about it, and people are really interested in seeing Julia be Julia again.

This "things women like are stupid" mantra is something people really need to be aware of and call people on so that the narrative loses its power. I am also guilty of it. Different people like different things. Some women like different things than other women. Some women like things that are different than men. It shouldn't make it less than, it's just different, and difference is what should be embraced.

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But guys really need to fucking get over the bullshit about not seeing movies that star women. It's just crap. It's retro. The movies are not going to bite. It's just a movie. Two hours will go by and you might actually enjoy yourself.

This post originally appeared at Women And Hollywood. Republished with permission.

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DISCUSSION

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blahblahblabbity

This is because of the way, culturally, we segregate stories by women and arguably for women, and because women are still considered the "other"...stories about us are considered "girl" stories...while stories about men are often considered gender neutral. That anyone can relate to the story about man doing x, but only women can relate to a story about a woman doing x.

Boys are not taught to identify with female protagonists, but by default women are expected and taught to identify with male protagonists, since most "literature" that's revered and taught growing up is by and about men. And often times if you want a strong character with agency you have to go with a dude.

The reality is, every personal experience is individual in the details. But the emotional themes tend to be universal. So a story about a character that involves them growing up, or dealing with adolescence, or first love, or sex, or anything else...it shouldn't really matter what gender they are because we've all been there.

It's like the grown up version of cooties. Ew, girls like that! It's ridiculous. Something is crap because it's crap, not because girls like it. That's a pretty awful default to have.