Has anyone ever seen that movie?
I’ve always been a really big fan of romantic comedies. That formula for traditional privileged romance has always been something I wanted to live vicariously through.
Then yesterday I saw that Sandra Bullock Hugh Grant movie, Two Weeks Notice. Lucy, played by Sandra Bullock is made to be a protesting/activist/good hearted lawyer who ends up wanting to quit working for H.G because he’s an ass, frankly. Fast forward to the end of the movie – they fall in love after he suggests that the reason she can’t stay in relationships is because she’s “too intimidating” and should “get in touch with her feminine side a bit more”. At the end, when she chases after him, she apologizes for being so stubborn and for having such strong opinions.
It was a good movie when I watched it. But 10 min. after that feeling sets in. You know the one — the one that says
wait…what just happened?
Along the same lines of being comfortable in one’s own skin, I want to add that I don’t know where to find being comfortable with my own voice. I feel like every romantic comedy that I revisit (and I do revisit them. I’m getting better at turning the feminist woman of color voice off)
is suggesting that with a bit of self silencing, I too can be chased down the city by the love of my life.
Do I know that it’s a movie? Yes. Do I understand that it’s not meant to be realistic for anybody? Yes.
But I also understand the implications of My Best Friend’s Wedding – one of my favorite movies – a movie where the strong, self sustaining, emotionally closed off woman, “loses” to a young, blonde, ‘follow my man’, amiable and loved by all wealthy female.
Where are my examples?
They are there, of course. Perhaps not in mainstream media – they are friends and family members and a few articles and a lot of feminist text.
I’m reading Listen Up – voices from the next feminist generation (I should be reading those books for my paper but whatever). All of the writings are great, though I obviously relate to some more than others. Or certain passages will stand out. But I mean, all writing is that, really. So few can really speak to me entirely.
Strong girls, remember that sensitive liberal boys are our secret enemies. They disguise themselves with the androgyny of…quiet thoughts, but underneath they are just as much BOY as the young republicans of your choice. Be careful, beautiful girl, be strong — just because he holds your hand and looks you in the eye when you talk to him doesn’t mean he respects your body or your mind. –“Bloodlove” Christina Doza
That was one of those quotes that I wanted to write off as angry and bitter but ended up tearing up over because I realized that I have fallen into this trap. I don’t cry about the fact that those things happened either. I cry because I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one.
What I want are words to define myself without the connotations of absence. –“You’re not the type” Laurel Gilbert
You know the other day on the phone my mom was relaying to an old family friend from Texas (a haughty Indian family friend, just for the record) that I was a women’s studies and English major. The friend told my mom it was good I chose a “trendy major” – as if that’s why I chose it. Then she laughed and asked if I had become “a feminist”.
My mom said no. It was really interesting – I wasn’t mad about it at all because I usually run from the term like the plague. And I think it’s because I still associate the term with a specific kind of feminist. Upper middle class, straight, white, Western feminism.
Which reminds me that this is another word I must reclaim for myself. “You lack this if you are this. You can’t have this if this. You can’t get a man if you’re a feminist. You must hate them. You want to burn your bra. You are oppressed. You are exotic.” etc. etc. I want the word feminist without the connotation. I want activist and liberal and woman of color, and South Asian American without the connotations of absence.
Where is the formula for that?