Why are all female characters in pop culture cliches?

Posted on by Pastabagel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Smurfette, the seductress, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the overweight friend as surrogate mom, the patient nurse, the frumpy friend, and the superficial high maintenance hottie. We all know the tropes, and deconstructing them is easy pickings.

And that’s precisely why it is pointless to do so without understanding why they persist in the face of such criticism.

Anita Sarkeesian has a great blog called Feminist Frequency where she runs down these tropes and others as they appeared in film, TV, comic books and elsewhere. And neither her criticism nor analysis are wrong, to the contrary it’s all very insightful. But what she is missing is the why.

These cliches and stereotypes are there because they cater to the male audience, which is sort of stupidly obvious. But you may be surprised to learn that the male audience for pop culture is not the dominant audience. In 2009, according to the MPAA, “A higher percentage of women than men are moviegoers in all categories of frequency.” Furthermore, in that year, 55% of tickets were purchased by women. So why does the content skew male if the audience doesn’t? Are the free markets broken? Is capitalism missing something?

Here’s what is happening, in a nutshell: women go to movies with cliched female characters like 500 Days of Summer and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and they roll their eyes. But they go. And to Hollywood, a dollar from an bored eye-roller and a dollar from a fanboy are both worth exactly the same.

The problem is this: women are not ruthless about expressing their preferences in the market. Men are.

The data shows clearly that women will readily participate in a market dominated by male-oriented content. If the representation of women within that content is the problem, you can argue for changing it, but that argument can’t be on the grounds that there is more money to be made in doing so.

In other words: because men and women are buying the cliched content produced now, the question is not “if you produced positive feminist content would women buy it”, the question is “if you produced positive feminist content, would men buy it?” That is the calculus the industry conducts. They have pretty much everyone now. Maybe they can change gears and collect more from women, but they may risk losing more from men. Do the gains exceed the losses? Who knows? So they stick with the status quo.

And the industry has tried. I trot this statistic out every time the issue comes up as evidence:

Disney animated films with a female lead character, consistently do significantly worse at the box office than their animated films with male leads produced in the same time frame. Not one Disney animated film with a female lead has broken the $400M mark (as of 2010 when I gathered these numbers):

f – Little Mermaid (1989) – $211 million
f – Beauty and the Beast (1991) – $337 million
m – Aladdin (1992) – $504 million
m – Lion King (1994) – $783 million
f – Pocahontas (1995) – $346 million
f – Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – $325 million
m – Hercules (1997) – $252 million
f – Mulan (1998) – $304 million
m – Tarzan (1999) – $448 million
f – Lilo and Stitch (2002) – $273 million

A final addendum: all Pixar films to date have had male leads characters, all have grossed over $360M, and most over $500M.

My selection of Disney and Pixar films is not accidental. These films are seen primarily by children accompanied by their parents, but if we assume that little boys and girls want to go to the movies equally, then something is suppressing the turnout for the movies with the female leads. My guess is that moms are happy to take their little girls to Toy Story, but as a general rule are not likely to take their sons to see Little Mermaid or Pocahontas. “Maybe the little boys don’t want to see them!” Maybe. But who is shaping the preferences of 6 year-old boys? Mothers.

Maybe it’s nature (I doubt it), maybe it’s nurture (bet on it), but the fact is that girls show up to guy flicks, but boys don’t show up for girl-flicks. This isn’t how it should be, but this is how it is.

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68 Responses to Why are all female characters in pop culture cliches?

  1. Dan Dravot says:

    Why are all female characters in pop culture are cliches?

    Null hypothesis: Presumably the same reason all male characters in pop culture (and real life) are cliches. Also animals, fish, talking plants, aliens, robots, and Canadians.

    This isn’t how it should be

    Sez who?

  2. That women roll their eyes at stereotypical clichéd female characters is not my experience. Do ‘chick-flicks’ not have as a protagonist pretty sexist stereotypes? I’ve argued against a woman that some of these characters are misogynistic, these leads me to think that the awareness of the existence and danger of these tropes is not as widespread as pastabagel seems to assume.

    On another note, I would say that much of this has to do with most female characters being secondary characters (which is a problem in itself). Pretty much all secondary characters are very very clichéd. Another thing would be to argue that the tropes related to women seem to be much more negative than the ones men characters fulfill. But they persist because we normally follow the main character and see the worlds through his(her) eyes (TLP made recently a similar point about why one may fail to perceive the creepiness of the older male interest of the lead in ‘An Education’).

    On a side note, I don’t think ‘Garden State’ is a good example of the manic pixie girl trope, since Zach Braf’s and Natalie Portman’s character seem to be both pretty fucked up on their own, and the moment of change, for both, is forced by a third character.

    • philtrum says:

      Oh, Garden State is a classic of the MPDG genre.

      That women roll their eyes at stereotypical clichéd female characters is not my experience. Do ‘chick-flicks’ not have as a protagonist pretty sexist stereotypes?

      Oh, indeed they do, which is why a substantial number of women hate chick flicks. But those women tend to congregate on sites like Jezebel, to be self-described feminists, etc.

  3. Anna says:

    Boys won’t read stories with female leads, either. Perhaps this phenomenon has to do with males figuring out male-ness from other males. If females are leads, they can’t do this.

  4. philtrum says:

    I agree with your post generally, but I have to question your selection of clichéd movies. 500 Days of Summer is about a girl who makes it clear to her boyfriend that she doesn’t want to make a commitment. He thinks he can change her mind, finds out he can’t, and mopes and complains a lot. She doesn’t have a change of heart at the last minute, either; she marries someone else, and he meets another girl named Autumn (cue groans). Not my favourite movie ever, but I don’t really think of that as a clichéd sexist plot or of her as a clichéd sexist character. Far more common is the plot in which the girl is commitment-minded and the guy is not, or the guy wins the girl at the end.

    In Scott Pilgrim, I don’t think the female characters are especially clichéd. There isn’t a lot of character development, but next to something like Bride Wars or How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days (sorry, my rom-com references are outdated) I just don’t think it qualifies.

  5. thecobrasnose says:

    I wasn’t much impressed with the analysis in the video either. To begin, it lacks history. What is the difference between the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and the creature Molly Haskell famously named “The Kook” in her (pardon) seminal book From Reverence to Rape? And are the characters played by Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, Carol Lombard in Twentieth Century, or Rita Tushingham in The Knack and How to Get It (Kooks all) really less substantial or memorable than their male counterparts in those films? Could the problem with the insubstantial and poorly written characters Anita Sarkeesian complained about in her review spring directly from their being in insubstantial and poorly written movies? Those she cites don’t seem to be exemplars of the mainstream, or much else for the most part (and I think it is fair in this case to judge the monetary success of the films in this case because her argument for the persistence of the MPDG trope seems to be largely financial):

    Elizabethtown: commercial failure bordering on catastrophe
    (500) Days of Summer: indy breakout, commercial success only compared to cost of production
    Garden State: see above

    (props to thatswhyidrink and philtrum, by the way on pointing out how the characters in Days and GS don’t entirely fit the mold of MPDGs)

    Sarkeesian does a sort of lightning round at the end, with “Meg Ryan in Joe Versus the Volcano, Charlize Theron in Sweet November, and what about Winona Ryder in Autumn in New York, Rachel Bilson in The Last Kiss and Elisha Cuthbert in My Sassy Girl among others”. Joe was a rather famous (at the time) financial disappointment, and as to the others…? Did anybody here see them? Did they have any sort of impact culturally or monetarily at all? I’m hardly imdb.com, but I’d never even heard of The Last Kiss or My Sassy Girl.

    The inclusion of Almost Famous and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind strikes me as ill considered (though those films, like those listed above, weren’t earners), as the female leading characters are substantial and complex, and furthermore joined by other well written female characters.

    And because I’m feeling peevish, I’d wager that what Disney risks in movie grosses by producing female led cartoons they make up for in princess paraphernalia, which doesn’t seem to be equaled by toys for boys spun off from the list. And citing The Hunchback of Notre Dame as having a female lead is a stretch.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      I haven’t seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a few years, so I’ll leave that one be. But the character of Penny Lane, can still be considered a MPDG, while perhaps a MPDG who is one of the best written and executed. She still uses the signifiers of that trope to tell us things that we haven’t explicitly seen. Penny has feelings, even conflicting, compelling feelings that make her a joy to watch, but her primary presence in the story is as catalyst, not catalized, and at the end I’m not sure that she’s fundamentally different from the beginning.

      At the beginning, she’s a stunning girl, prone to voicing flights of fancy and then making them happen. She takes rock stars on as projects and loves them till it’s time to go, with mutual torches carried til the next meeting.

      At the end, she’s still that girl, she’s just going to Morocco (one of her flights of fancy). It’s kind of implied that she loses some of her semi-dependence on men, but we don’t really know, and her ending of her story is the most ambiguous out of anyone in the whole movie.

      Still a flat-ish character. Or perhaps just not an entirely round character. Either way, after her suicide attempt, we don’t get to see much of how she is, which means we can’t necessarily assume that she’s changed.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      Also, I completely agree about Disney’s female-led cartoons being essentially loss-leaders for merchandise.

    • Pastabagel says:

      The top Disney merchandising property in 2011 was Toy Story, with $2.4 billion: http://www.thewrap.com/media/article/report-disney-made-286b-2010-licensed-merchandise-27526

      But regardless, if you are going to analyze merchandising success, you again have to determine which female characters are progressive, and which are cliched’ princesses-in-need-of-rescue, and determined which sells more, and who is doing the buying (i.e. moms or dads). It gets very complicated, very quickly.

  6. barrkel says:

    If we could ever get a sensible answer, I’d make a heavy bet that it’s “nature” rather than nurture. Even if it started out as nurture, at this point it would be nature.

    That’s not saying anything about is vs ought though. Not saying it’s right.

  7. AdamSaleh1987 says:

    Oh boy, feminism has reared its head here already. Where should I begin?

    A.) That’s not the way what should be? Who is deciding this, feminists? Excuse me, while the women nod their heads and men patronizingly pretend to care.

    B.) The reason why films with female leads do worse is because men are visually stimulated much more than women are. Chick flick rom-coms don’t provide much in the way of stunts and feature horse faced women passed their prime complaining about boys and how they’ve just gained 5 pounds. What little boy or big man cares about or relates to that?

    C.) The reason why male oriented films do much better is because, on average, the feature themes that beta males can relate to (Scott Pilgrim, Garden State) or alpha males can mindlessly watch (Fast and Furious). Women watch these movies too because again, they can relate to meeting men like that and are more emotionally stimulated by the leaders that are shown in these movie. Women are more biologically inclined to be attracted to confidence in a man, men could care less if a woman is confident or not.

    D.) That feminism website is a complete and utter joke, does she think she is the only person to discover tropes? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeroTropes) There are WHOLE WEBSITES dedicated to finding male/female hero tropes. Men get boiled down to stereotypes too in the movies, no one seems to care about that.

    E.) Even when women are given the lead feminists complain that it’s “too sexual or degrading.” Well, I know most men and women would rather see Angelina Jolie knock out a room full of bad guys than an actual girl physically capable of doing that. (http://geekynotes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/strongest-woman-in-the-world-irene-1.jpg)

    • cat says:

      Chick flick rom-coms don’t provide much in the way of stunts and feature horse faced women passed their prime complaining about boys and how they’ve just gained 5 pounds. What little boy or big man cares about or relates to that?

      Hell, I don’t care about that, and I’m a woman. I’d rather see Paint Dry II 3D than a chick flick.

      And yes, movies equally stereotype men in horribly sexist ways.

      What would a good, feminist movie look like? Has one ever been made?

      • philtrum says:

        His Girl Friday comes to mind, as a classic. All About Eve, another one, IMO. Personally, I love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: fine, it’s all about glamour and landing a man, but the bulk of the movie is about two female friends who genuinely love and support each other, get into scrapes together, etc.

        I’ve never seen Thelma & Louise but that one has been brought up a lot too.

        But I’m assuming by “feminist movie” you mean “movie appealing to feminists” and not “movie created to make a feminist political point”. The latter usually suck, as do most non-documentary movies intended to make political points.

  8. I’m going to slightly disagree.

    Little girls are perfectly happy to watch boy-protagonist movies, so yes, there is an advantage there.

    However, all of your female protagonists are women, but all of your boy-protagonists are not really humans, they are creatures, caricatures. Alladin is the exception,, but Jasmine is very obviously the main character of that movie, title notwithstanding.

    In fact, there are no boy protagonist Disney movies at all. Male yes, but not boy.

    As for females rolling their eyes at the other movies, I don’t know any women who rolled their eyes at 500 Days Of Summer. As for the rest, e.g. the Expendables, women will go with a guy to the movies, but a guy won’t, so you’re right about that younger demo being driven by men. But TV- the demo of the 40 year old woman- is all female, all the time, and no effort is made to create male shows.

    The real question isn’t why they put up with Storm or Resident Evil, the real question is why they put up with Grey’s Anatomy, certainly much more stereotyped and anti-feminist characters. And the answer is because it’s fantasy: sexual freedom and man taking care of her. No less fantastical than a giant robot war.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      There are a few boy-protagonist Disney films (Pinocchio, Jungle Book, Sword and the Stone), but perhaps you mean those made in the last few decades?

    • cliche says:

      As a counter point, none of the CG movies from Pixar/Dreamworks have a female protagonist.
      In fact, I don’t think any CG children’s movie has a female protagonist.

  9. eqv says:

    f – Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – $325 million

    Wut? Isn’t the protagonist of that film male?

  10. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    Did i miss the part where male lead roles were somehow NOT cliches?

    • Sfon says:

      You missed the part where how males are influenced only matters in regards to how it influences women. You aren’t going senile, it is simply assumed. To a feminist, male cliches are as relevant as ones about dogs and houses.

  11. fraula says:

    Emphasis mine, Pastabagel, you’re smart enough to know better:
    My guess is that moms are happy to take their little girls to Toy Story, but as a general rule are not likely to take their sons to see Little Mermaid or Pocahontas. “Maybe the little boys don’t want to see them!” Maybe. But who is shaping the preferences of 6 year-old boys? Mothers.

  12. inarticulateinthecity says:

    I think you and the girl in the video get it all backwards. There are few women making movies nowadays. It’s mostly a male-oriented world with a male view of the universe around them. It obviously trickles down to characters, plots, archetypes and whatnot.

    “Maybe it’s nature (I doubt it), maybe it’s nurture (bet on it), but the fact is that girls show up to guy flicks, but boys don’t show up for girl-flicks. This isn’t how it should be, but this is how it is. ”

    I’m a girl, I wear high heels, make up, I’m married, blah blah blah. I have watched some chick flicks on occasion, some are nice. Most are horrible, really awful. I prefer what they call “male-oriented movies”.

    Maybe the reason is because those men at the top HAVE NO CLUE how to please women in a general sense? Just maybe. If there were more women writing/directing movies, maybe that wouldn’t be so.

    And she’s frankly rebelling against the majority: most women I know loooooove Sex & The City, which I abhor; most women watch Gray’s Anatomy, which makes me want to slap all the characters.
    But I know I’m not exactly like most women, although there are many women like me, AND I’M FINE WITH THAT.

    Why can’t people be FINE WITH THAT more often?

    • Pastabagel says:

      Kathryn Bigelow won the best director Oscar in 2010, for the Hurt Locker, a film which to the best of my recollection had no women in it in any major or supporting roles.

      By contrast, her ex-husband who she beat out for the Oscar was James Cameron. Take a look at both of their rather short filmographies as director, and ask yourself who is the more “feminist” director, Cameron or Bigelow.

      • CubaLibre says:

        But Cameron’s obviously fetishized “badass female lead” is itself a cliche. It’s pretty clearly pure wank material for him, though that says little about the actual quality of the characters as they turn out in the films, from excellent (Sarah Connor) to eyerolly (Vasquez).

      • thecobrasnose says:

        James Cameron was a feminist director when he was married to producer Gale Anne Hurd. That’s when he made Terminator and Aliens, with their fully realized, female, empowered characters. The year they split, The Abyss was released, and the female lead was a bitch ex-wife whom the hero of the film actually kills (only temporarily and for her own good, of course). In his next movie, Terminator 2, Sarah Connor is a wild eyed zealot who alienates her son, who in turn bonds with the newly heroic cyborg. And after that, True Lies, in which the ex-cyborg plays a thoroughly dashing secret agent and his wife is a shrieking ninny. Females in Cameron’s subsequent movies have so little substance they aren’t worth serious discussion. They do have feminist signifiers (irritation at corsets, macho jobs like pilot), but aren’t really realized. In short, Cameron’s rep as any sort of natural born feminist is dubious of late.

      • BluegrassJack says:

        Bigelow took a gutsy topic (that few women want to even think about) and made the most gutsy movie of 2010.

        Movies are all about motion, and Kathryn Bigelow knows how to make movies. Cameron is all about emotion, not motion, and specializes in making feminist movies.

    • Fifi says:

      Male characters in pop culture/mainstream movies are generally cliches too, one big reason is that storytelling often isn’t about the individuality of a character but their universality – complexity of character gets in the way of a certain type of storytelling (particularly ones that have a sort of fairytale quality, characters in fairytales are also cliches in that they’re archetypes). Romcoms are fairytales, as are mainstream action movies.

  13. damonbradl says:

    1. If you define enough of them, then cliches can be used to describe *any* number of characters. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all characters that are female, male, cartoon, etc. fall into easily-definable stereotypes, and further, that writers use “templated” characters doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, or negative against any group that is templated. That said, there’s a good point in here somewhere; I just wish someone would make it with less of a resort to the “all female characters are stereotypes” argument. It is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a stereotypical attack. (btw, I do agree that Sucker Punch was just… terrible, awful, irrdeemably poor, and even for a male who is squarely in the target audience for it, uncomfortable to watch throughout. I’d love to know your take on the Twilight series, which seems to set feminism back about 50 years.)

    2. “Consistently do significantly worse”… as a trend, perhaps, but even by your own evidence, it’s neither consistent nor always significant:
    f – Pocahontas (1995) – $346 million
    m (corrected) – Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – $325 million
    m – Hercules (1997) – $252 million

  14. CubaLibre says:

    This is probably going to be (cinematically, not sociopolitically) controversial, but I think “guy movies” sell better because they are more action-oriented, and action movies are simply the best movies. The key elements of film is that it is 1. visual and 2. in motion. The best movies exploit these two elements and create visually arresting movements. Those don’t have to be action movies of course (Citizen Kane does it brilliantly), but they tend to be.

    There are a couple cool parts in Beauty & the Beast, but mostly it’s a bunch of fucking clocks and shit dancing around (poorly; dancing is one of those incredible things which, if caught competently on film, makes for a great movie – although we tend to call them music videos). Meanwhile Lion King has wildebeest stampedes, that virtuoso opening sequence filled with every kind of African wildlife, and a baboon doing kung fu. I don’t need to know the protagonists’ genders; I know which movie I’m going to see.

    In other words, I don’t think that male protagonists draw more people to those movies, but rather that the creators think that those kinds of movies need to have male protagonists. The correlation is there but the causation goes in the other direction.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      I personally hate action movies. My mind glazes over. I find no appeal what so ever in battle scenes, or big explosions, or any of that nonsense.

      Perhaps it is because I am female… I suspect a lot of females feel the same, but they may pretend to like it to spend time with their boyfriends. Girls often pretend to like/think things just to be socially agreeable. How many girls do I know who pretend to like sports, pretend to like girls, pretend to be all these things they think men want them to be, when it’s so obvious they’re faking. Yea you like sports so much even though you have no idea at all whats going on during the game, O PLZ.

      Society creates this precident where activities which are male oriented are “for everyone”; girls comply because they want to please their men , as girls arem ost interested in socialization and relationships.

      As a crazy outcast with no concern of being liked or not, I freely tell everyone I hate sports, won’t pretend to like sports, and I also hate action movies and won’t pretend to like them. I have no one to impress because I am not concerned with relationships AT. ALL. I do like girls, though, but that’s the truth, not an act I’m putting on to tantalize men.

      • Neex says:

        It sounds like you don’t like girls very much lol? Just trying to understand, what do you like about girls when you seem to dislike them so much? Personally I dislike the pressure to be anything anyone else wants. However I’m a little different in that I would LIKE to be liked just as much as any other girl, but I’m stubborn and oppositional defiant and will not give blow jobs or have anal sex willingly, or shave my legs, or wear make-up (actually these are things I only refuse to do BECAUSE people want me to do them. outside of people trying to convince me to do them I am fine with doing these things. Ugh. Self. Except anal sex I hate anal sex, have anger issues with anal sex grrr.)

        But yet in so many other ways I just want to go along with what other people like because it makes me happy when other people are happy. I don’t understand myself EGADS!!

        I also like ladies but mostly because they will snuggle me with clothes on and not have to have sex. And boobies are nice. And humping is nice. And they will play with me without stop talking to me just because we festively played together. I don’t like oral sex or having orgasms in front of people so there’s not actually that much to do with women even if I like them lol. I do tend to like doms of any gender.

        What are we talking about, now I’m too horny to think… excuse me I must have some personal time.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          To be honest I don’t like anyone. I hate men and women but in different ways. I admit many women and girl annoy the crap out of me. Girls seem to have a pathological inability to be honest or true to their wants desires and needs and I find that very … annoying. I do not respect a person who lives for others.

          I know I’m not a prize pig myself, my personality sucks so there we go.

          I’m sorry about your issues with sex …but you are not bisexual or lesbian if “you like women because they aren’t sexual” which is pretty much what you said in not so many words. YOU DO NOT LIKE GIRLS in that case.

          Another annoyance of mine is when girls who have sexual issues pretend to be gay or bisexual. SORRY BUT I HATE FAKE GAYS, IN CASE I didn’t make that clear above.
          Why do I like girls? I like girls because the feminine shape is highly sexually arousing to me. I am a queerbox. No one molested me. I was born like this. The way I feel about girls is as natural as is breathing. It requires no effort, I was this way from my earliest memories as a toddler..
          Most likely I make too many androgens (adrenal gland enzyme synthesis genetic variance) and woops my brain is partially masculinized.

          I’m totally sorry if you have had bad sexual experiences, but pretending to be gay as a response to that only makes gays look as if they have psychological problems, as if homosexuality is the result of psychopathology…. and there are SO MANY girls who do this it’s just annoying. As a real bisexual person who can’t CHOOSE to be this way, and it would really annoy me if people started to conflate females with homosexual behavior = must have been molested.

          Live your life how you want but … when you say you like girls because they aren’t sexual, because of bad sexual experiences you choose not to be with men anymore, it only sends a message that lesbians and bisexuals are fucked up.
          I assure you I like women precisely because they ARE sexual and no one ever molested me.

          I’m really sorry if this seems mean, but live your life as a genuine homosexual or bisexual and have people tell you that you’re going to hell (when you have no control what so ever over how you were born) and then you might realize why it’s so annoying when straight people who aren’t gay at all try to redefine what it means to be gay and the causes of it. There is a big difference between being gay, vs exhibiting homosexual behavior. BIG difference. A gay person may have no homosexual experiences at all… being gay is in your mind, its your orientation, just as a gay person who chooses to sleep with the opposite sex isn’t any more straight.

          • Neex says:

            I know a lot of gay people who hate bi people as much as you hate “fake” bi people. If you notice, I did not say I was bi, or gay. I don’t like labels myself. I played sex and made out with a lot of girls when I was preschool up to middle school when a playmate of mine told every one that I (but not her) was gay and I got made fun of and already didn’t have any friends. I still made out with girls some after that but I wasn’t too keen on identifying as bi.

            Quite frankly I don’t think I’m bi at all. That doesn’t mean that if I and another straight girl want to snuggle on a couch or grop each other up we can’t do it. Right? You can label it whatever you want that doesn’t get your panties in a bunch. I think it’s the same as masturbation only more fun because it’s social. And yes the fact that women don’t arouse me in the same way makes it more fun and less freaky.

            You can let your rage out on me if it makes you feel better, but I don’t think the issue is really me here.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Trust me, I know gays hate bis. Everyone does. I won’t pretend to be something I’m not, like so many other bisexuals do… I won’t go into a reverse closet by pretending to be exclusively gay and I won’t at all pretend to be straight, so here we are.
            Perhaps all the myths and biases against bisexuals might be why I am so irritated?

            You can live your life however you want… personally I don’t know what girls are snuggling with you, I would find it uber creepy if my friend wanted to make out with me when I knew she wasn’t at all interested in women, attracted to what I have to offer. It would be so inappropriate, and would weird me out.

            I just resent that you are furthering all the false stereotypes about gay and bisexual people. “yep, fucked up hetero experiences… then go gay, sure”.
            No, it doesn’t work like that. Gay or bi is how you’re born, even though lots may fake it.

            My point? Don’t say you “like girls”. You don’t like girls (sexually). You just feel safe and comforted by them. This means exactly the opposite: you dont like girls at all.

            On the other hand, some of us are capable of finding masculinity and femininity reflexively and instinctually arousing. It’s as biological and real as is your exclusive interest in masculinity.

          • Neex says:

            I can say that I like women if I like. : ) And I will. I think it’s pretty normal for kids to want to explore either gender and I don’t think you should crush people wanting to explore whatever they want to do just to fit into your box of what you think biology should determine. The other day one of my old female playmates got a flirtatious note from a guy and I was surprised that I was jealous! That she was paying attention to him! Not fair! And she got jealous when she thought I liked this italian guy more than her.

            Yes I “like women”. I’m not sure what your crusade is, but I think human beings have enough of a hard time figuring out what makes them happy sexual and how to have good relationships without people badgering them for their experiences and feelings about their own sexuality.

            Some people might not be biologically gay, or bi, but want to mess around with the other sex. Some people might be gay but mostly want to date hetero and genuinely enjoy that. Why does any of it matter? Can’t people just do what feels right to them so long is it’s mutually consenting and enjoyed by all involved?

            So what if two “hetero” girls want to make out with the same dude because they get turned on by his hightened arousal? How does that actually affect you, what people want to do with their own sex lives? How is that pretending anything?

            I get that you feel you have earned the right to use the label bi and others who use the word to mean something different than you do should be berated. I get that you’ve been hurt by people berating you for identifying as bi, but I don’t see that as giving you a right to berate others for identifying how they identify.

            I don’t think biology is the only thing that determines sexual preference. From what you are saying, you believe being gay is morally wrong, but biologically gay people can’t help it, am I right? However people who CHOOSE to participate in bi or gay activities are morally wrong. Is that how you see it?

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Exploration does not mean deliberate faking. You have already established you find nothing erotic and arousing about the female body or females. This is precisely why you like them.
            At this point in time what are you getting by inappropriate sexual behavior with non-sexual people?

            And shame on your friend for exploiting you. As a real gay person (I am assuming she is a true lesbian or bisexual) she should know better. Its like taking advantage of someone while drunk.

            You can keep saying you “like girls” but it doesn’t make it true. I like cats. I love cats. Do I want to have sex with a cat? Do I find the form and outline of my cat’s shape to be erotic? Do I find my cat’s meowing sexually provocative? God no. I love my cat, he is a companion, but there are ZERO sexual feelings. So it is with you and girls and it is NOT RIGHT for you to misrepresent yourself as having been “done turned DYKEY” because of adverse sexual experiences. It makes real queers look like we’re pathological. I can snuggle with my cat all I want, it is not sexual.

            I don’t think you’re getting that it is intrinsically offensive when you conflate sexual abuse and adverse heterosexual experiences with “going gay”.

            I know you don’t understand why I care… and that’s because you’re not really gay. If you were really gay, and grew up with conflict knowing you are this way but everyone hates you and some wish they could kill you just because of a morally neutral, benign atypical neurodevelopment process which occurred while you were a fetus… then yea, you might get a bit annoyed when COMPLETELY NOT GAY people try to further stereotypes an myths about what causes homosexuality.

          • cliche says:

            Wow, what a long winded discussion.
            AnonymousAtLarge, you obviously see consenting adults doing whatever they please as a threat to your homosexual identity.
            There’s another term for threats to one identity…it’s on the tip of my tongue….
            Oh, right.
            Narcissistic Injury.

          • sunshinefiasco says:

            Hang on, let me grab some popcorn.

          • Neex says:

            No where did I say I found nothing erotic about the female body. My sexuality is WAY different than most peoples though. I mostly gravitate to older people either men or women and have puppy dog crushes on them and if they initiate I get turned on. I’m turned on by the initiating. Since women don’t tend to do this, it usually doesn’t go that way. When I think about having sex with people my own age it doesn’t register as sex to me, it registers as play and loving someone you like! I tend to enjoy those experiences out of just enjoying another persons humanity and sharing intimacy with them and it’s not particularly based on the erotic level of their body itself.

            But I don’t play sex like normal people. If I have my way with a guy we’ll make out with clothes on ALL NIGHT! Yippee! Blue balls! wahahah. I experienced that ONCE with a guy but he eventually wound up chasing me around the room trying to masturbate and cum on my face. Which I thought was really funny.

            That’s my idea of a good time! No oral sex, no penetration! Yippee! The weirdness I have with sex isn’t really fixed with bi or gay women because they tend to want to have sex as in oral or penetration or whatever. Hetero-flexible women have been down with festively cuddling or possibly playing naughty truth or dare and not doing much else which is my favorite.

            My development is all out of wack so I’m not claiming this is normal. But you’re claiming that gay-ness is itself the fault of of faulty genetic/hormonal development so I’m not sure why you would need to put down someone for exploring what works for them sexually even if it’s the result of faulty development– whether faulty biological or emotional development.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            As I said before, my problem, issue, ranting, is you are perpetuating the myth that homosexuality or bisexuality is caused by psychological conflicts. This is simply not true at all relevant in true homosexuality (and I view bisexuality to basically be homosexuality except just slightly different; “incomplete” just as we can have intersex and hermaphroditism in primary sexual characteristics we can also have this in the brain; I consider myself not much different than a homosexual, the only difference is I have strong heterosexual feelings/thoughts/desires in addition to homosexual).

            No amount of prayer , jesus in my heart, psychology, CBT, DBT, propanolol or zoloft is going to make me capable of a “normal” christian monogamous heterosexual relationship. In your case, or others like yourself? Yea. It will.
            You’re not gay. You’re conflicted and afraid. That’s something that can be changed.
            It’s something bad that SHOULD be changed.

            My gayness, and others gayness, cannot be changed, and it is NOT bad or the result of harm so it really shouldn’t be changed, should it? It’s neutral atypical prenatal biological development. I am not traumatized or conflicted.

            Social sciences types like to say that sexuality is “very complex” but at the end of the day, it’s really not. They just want it to be because many in these colleges are queers, and many queers get so wrapped up in their queerness they try to extrapolate it to everything (e.g. “we’re all somewhere on a big rainbow” – no, not really, almost everyone is firmly heterosexual and firmly male or female, only queer people aren’t and queers are like <5% of the population .)

            Sexuality is actually very very simple. It's a low level instinctual primitive function, designed to promote sexual reproduction (when manifested typically). Of course it would be simple. Only humans complicate it because we have brains which can think too much and do strange things.

            But instinctive reflexive sexuality (Orientation) is really quite simpleee…

            Some people get turned on by muscular bodies, height, masculine musky odors, angular faces, deep basey voices, confident/assertive behavior…

            …other people get turned on by a curvy feminine shape/breasts, softness, sweet scents, soft infantile faces, higher pitch voices, feminine mannerisms/behavior.

            It's not complex at all.

            Which turns you on? That's what you are.

            If you're a man, and you like the first type of person, you're gay.
            If you're a woman, and like the latter type of person, youre lesbian.
            If you like both, consistently throughout your lifespan, you're bisexual.
            Otherwise, you're "typical", i.e. heterosexual.

            It's only "complex" when people who really like one kind of person, have inappropriate sexual behavior with other kinds of people, usually for psychological reasons. Example, a heterosexual woman who is afraid of men may limit sexual activity to women (who she is sexually apathetic about and feels safe with because there is no risk of sexual behavior or arousal she cannot control).

            But really, you are totally conflating homosexual behavior with psychological trauma… and that's just intrinsically offensive as I said before.

            HAY!!!, I'M NOT TRAUMATIZED!!, I'M JUST A BIG QUEER. I'm tired of religious old black ladies telling me I'm going to hell, I'm tired of ignorant people suggesting that people can become gay after bad heterosexual experiences, or that people decide to be gay if they can't hit it off with the right man/woman. You're sorta helping them.

          • Neex says:

            (Psst, I’ve been playing sex with girls since I was in preschool AAL. You’re extrapolating things about me from thin air.)

            I still don’t think people’s sexualities work like you think. The boxes. If you have a male-ish brain I can see why you have decided “sex is like this for everyone and it’s about bodies.” But I don’t even think sex is about bodies for a lot of women. I feel love and intimacy for people who I trust and feel open with. Sexual desire happens for me from the feeling of a person being close to me and the sensation of someone elses desire. That doesn’t really have much to do with gender or body type (for me.) women don’t usually move in close being all horny but they have, and my body has the same response as to men. But if they are really intimidating I’m just as freaked out by women as men.

            This one chick tried to turn me and she was telling me about fisting with vigerous hand motions and I’m like, “ah!!!”.

            I think males move in because they are attracted to a body and females desire happens because of male desire driving her crrrazy inside! Oh wait, that’s me. But since we’re making up how sex is for every one in the world based simply on our own experiences and ideas– it works just as well. And since you have more “male desire” in your brain, you might be geared to determine sexual attraction based on physical appearance of a body. Maybe I’m more geared to attraction to people who will take care of me. Carry me!

            My sister is gay as in married to a woman so I still think it could be a spectrum. I think it’s mainly that I have excessive intimate feelings toward humans in general— also I was on clariton and such situmulants most of my childhood and they have now done research on using clariton as a sexual stimulant in men and women!

            Very importantly— no one should be turned if they don’t want to be turned. Even if they are feminine seeming man and they want to date women, no one should force them to date people they don’t want to date to fit with external ideas being shoved on them. I think you trying to shove people into your boxes of sexual conformity can be just as harmful.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          All people are geared toward bodies. YOu are repressing your sexuality. Talking to any group of women for more than 5 minutes will dispel the myth that women don’t get turned on by men’s bodies. YOU may suppress your sexual feelings out of fear but don’t say this is how all women think and feel.

          Women are not as physical/visually sexual as are men – and no, I am not “a man” even if my brain is more masculine than most females. My sex drive is very low (surprise surprise another bisexual myth dispelled), I have no “need” for sex, and I do find it very arousing if someone desires me, etc.

          But when someone speaks of ORIENTATION they are referring to reflexive physical sexual arousal; desire and interest in sex with that person. GIrls check out guys. I know this because I speak to women (developmentally typical women who have not been molested to traumatic degrees). Girls are very attracted to men physically, and not to women. Ask any girl who is heterosexual.

          It’s not because “I’m male” I think this, but rather you should consider your inability to even allow yourself to think of sex and be aroused physically by bodies might be a problem specific to you alone. Other women do not have this problem. Other women see a hot guy and think hell yes… and it’s not because he’s a kind gentle soul, actually it’s arrogant rough guys that are typically hotter than nice ones.

          I’m sorry that aggressive masculine lesbians have threatened to fist you, I assure you I have never done this and sexually I am feminine and my gender role is rather feminine – I’m ridiculously glittery. LOL. Being threatened with fisting complete with hand motions, that’s kinda creepy actually, ew.

          NO one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to do. Actually, even though I am attracted to women, I really don’t desire relationships with them, or even sex. It’s mostly just an arrousal thing. I find relationships and sex with men much more appealing.
          I think people should be true to themselves. If the feminine man is clear cut gay and has no ounce of hetero in his body it isn’t fair to the woman he is dating, is it? She wonders why he doesn’t care for her, turns away from her advances, never looks at her, never tries to have sex with her or even become intimate at all… lying to yourself is one thing, but it’s not fair when you involve bystanders in your self delusions. I do not think gay men should be encouraged to pretend to be straight, no, and most normal women would not want to be in that relationship. Given your issues you probably can’t understand how most women would feel devastated by their boyfriend never wanting sex.

          • Neex says:

            My point with the “people should have sex with whoever they want” only applies when there IS honesty. One of my best friends in highschool was really gay but he struck me as hetero. But not quite normal hetero– he was really hard to get a read on wheras most men and women I get a lot of information from my super power sexual sensors. (What do you want me to make sense? It is way to early for that… lol)

            Anyway he left town after highschool and came back a few years later liking sex with women. And men. But now mostly women. What I mean to say is, so long as everyone is honest about how they understand themselves at that moment in time I just don’t see why anyone should choose who they like or want to have sex with based on a genetic test that tells them “who they should biologically like.”

            Also, you’ve missed an entire field of study called epigenetics— gene environment interactions? Environments actually affect the behavior of genetic behavior ad the genotype is not as important as the way it’s being used or whether it’s being used at all. And the environment and the maternal history directly affects the way the genes are used in the body.

            So during the course of life, a woman could have normal genes and yada yada, experience toxic exposure, emotional trauma, excessive stress— and have her gene functioning altered thus changing the levels of hormones in her body. If she produces a child in this altered state the child might have deep rooted hormonal alterations due to the altered hormone levels while in the womb.

            Further if a child is exposed to HPA altering experinces in early childhood that can be nearly as difficult to alter as “genetic abnormalities” you speak of. Just because hormones got altered by trauma doesn’t mean there is a fix available any more than there is for genes being altered.

            I’m pretty sure we hang in different crowds. I live in a big hippie town where everyone likes to run around naked and express sexual freedom in the form of festive social sexual activities. —–Maybe those were just my social circles lol. All the chicks were either bi-or heteroflexible and the guys were sort of, heteroflexible more than most would be. I think we were all just really horny. I can assure that I am ridiculously horny. My sex drive is different than most peoples in that it is always on so I don’t think I need a body to stimulate it? LOL

            I’m pretty sure I was made this way— in my biological family every one is really horny and premiscuous— for many generations down— so I dunno. I think I’ve been pretty tame compared to those in my family, perhaps? I didn’t meet any of them or know anything about them for 18 years so it wasn’t how they raised me either. Plus drugs in the womb– you know these things have an affect.

            I’m not sure that I’m “choosing” anything any more than you are. Also you’ve mentioned you had a crummy childhood and it’s possible that you are “choosing” not to want to love or have relationships as much because of that. Or maybe your development was altered and it’s really not much of a choice. And maybe instead of being forced to love in the way that “normal people do” it could be ok for you to just be the way you are? Do you see what I’m saying?

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            I wouldn’t argue you, it is precisely because of my adverse childhood experiences that I avoid relationships. I know that I am a defect when it comes to relationships and socialization and intimacy of any kind. By nature I am very isolated and withdrawn (just as you come form a long line of horny people, I come from a long line of shut ins and people who didn’t have any relationships with anyone). Even as a very young child before anything “bad” I wouldn’t much desire people… but after the bad experiences, I literally refuse to interact with anyone at all, ever, if I can help it.

            The difference is, I wouldn’t go on a blog and try to posit my defectiveness and my inability to have relationships as somehow representative of normal development. I was born with an abnormally low drive for socia interaction (both sides of family full of crazy hermits) plus I was experienced to adversity, probably due to innate weirdness making me an easy target (perhaps, in your case, your sexual abuse is related to your family’s horniness, making you an easier target?)

            I would never even begin to comment on relationships and normal people’s feelings about them because I have no idea at all, not even a little. If I didn’t like computers and running water I would probably live in a cave somewhere.

          • AnonymousAtLarge says:

            Regarding your friend… mmm maybe he is bi but usually when people (especially men) come out as gay and then later backpeddal and say they like women, it’s a case of running into the closet.

            Research seems to suggest that all males have an exclusive orientation (can only physically become aroused by either males or females) and this is true regardless of what they claim their orientation is. Evidence seems to suggest males cannot be bisexual.
            Women, however, are capable of sexual arousal by both men and women, and evidence suggests bisexuality therefore is more likely – if not, only possible -in women.

          • Neex says:

            “I would never even begin to comment on relationships and normal people’s feelings about them because I have no idea at all, not even a little.”

            LOL you just wrote a whole lot about normal peoples feeling in relationships!! : )

            I don’t care what’s normal or how often there are variations. My point is regardless of why a person has a variationg we might as well be respectful of people’s various states such as your weirdness with relationships rather than saying “You should be changed”

            You’re saying that I should be changed to funtioning different than what feels comfortable to me, but that you should be left alone. I’m saying, I’m not trying to change your behavior in relationships, why are you trying to say mine needs to be changed to fit your view?

  15. wisegirl says:

    “As Good as it Gets” has the ridiculous romantic pairing of Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson. Hunt was 34 and Nicholson 60, but women moviegoers were supposed to somehow relate. 10 years later, Helen Hunt starred in the mostly unseen “Then She Found Me” with Colin Firth as the love interest. Although it was just an okay movie, this is the type of realistic coupling that women prefer to see on the big screen but is rarely present.

    • AnonymousAtLarge says:

      When I was younger I always found it irritating that fat ugly guys were always paired with much better looking females in television and movies. In real life you almost never see such inequalities in appearances between couples… with the exception being if the guy is really rich, powerful, or manipulative, or something.

      • sunshinefiasco says:

        Yeah, but you do everywhere else in the world, and you did in the U.S, until maybe the 70’s or 80’s.

        • AnonymousAtLarge says:

          True but in those other societies at least the fat ugly guys are powerful or wealthy.

          In the media they will have some fat slob who is an underachiever, unmotivated, not particularly wealthy, with a far better looking spouse. Thats just ANNOYING.

          • sunshinefiasco says:

            What’s prevalent in the media is not what is prevalent in real life. The further we go back in time, the more true this is.

            Ugly people sometimes marry pretty people. Sometimes it’s a money thing, sometimes it’s a companionship thing, sometimes it’s an “I dated a bunch of pretty assholes and you’re a nice person thing”, sometimes it’s a semi-arranged coupling thing, sometimes it’s an “I’m pretty but totally nuts, you’re ugly but stable and nice” thing, sometimes it’s a “this might not be a fairy tale love story but it’s a functional marriage thing”.

            All of these things were more common in the US before the 70’s, and all of these things are more common abroad. It’s not all Hugh Hefners and Billy Joels. Especially not in cultures where marriage isn’t always about passion lasting 70 years. (I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing, either).

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  17. udimitri says:

    This reminds me of something I particularly liked about Chasing Amy. The male protagonist, while trying to grapple with the reasons behind his girlfriend’s past choices, lures himself into a narcissistic bubble in which he lays out a fragile model of her identity and potential behaviour. Thankfully Kevin Smith had the insight to allow her to burst his bubble, to reveal the idiotic short-sightedness of seeing other people as opaque props behind which lies a corroboration of one’s world view. Too often in movies, just because an ending is happy doesn’t mean that a good message was taught.

    • Pastabagel says:

      But you go too far out on a limb and you risk hanging yourself. Smith also wrote her character as having chosen to become a lesbian after not finding that one special person among men. Her choice to become a lesbian was very explicit in the dialogue, and very much a part of the character.

      The problem is that if it was a choice, then she wasn’t “born this way”. And because the issues has been framed as not a lifestyle choice but rather as an orientation (and possibly a genetic one) the film doesn’t fit comfortably into the category of pro-feminist or pro-lesbian film.

      • AnonymousAtLarge says:

        That movie was made at a time where it was totally taboo to be gay.
        They had to write it as a choice she was making, because then the possibility remains (and we expect) that she will eventually return to men and lead a normal christian heterosexual lifestyle.

        Her lesianism is always implicit with failed heterosexual relationships. Like, every time she tries a guy, and it doesn’t work out, then she goes back to women (presumed temporarily). It’s like eating cookie dough after a heartbreak – a bad habit, but eventually you’ll get over it and get back out there looking for the right man.

        Men in the audience want to hear, and believe, that the possibility remains and is pretty certain she will be with guys… and kevin smith movies are (were) mostly favored by young men.

        • sunshinefiasco says:

          It was totally taboo to be gay in 1997?

          More taboo, sure. Less understood, obviously. But it was 1997, not 1957. Shit, not even 1987.

    • eqv says:

      …While we’re on the subject of Chasing Amy, here is a brutal takedown of Smith and that film. I read it the other day and found it amusing/enlightening:

  18. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    I believe that so called “female oriented movies” are actually shitty movies, whereas “male oriented movies” are movies that aren’t truly male oriented, they are people oriented. It’s a trick of labeling.

    Is “black swan” a female oriented movie? NO. No one says that it is, even though the conflicts are specifically related to female adolescence and few males can relate to the conflicts the protagonist goes through. How many men have anorexia? Of anorexia sufferers over 90% are female. Almost all females can relate to a pressure to conform to an image of perfection. Black swan is specifically a female oriented movie (lesbian male-attention grabbing scene aside, the content of the movie is relatable to women, and women specifically… men perhaps can enjoy the movie but I doubt can truly relate to the protagonist like many women can).

    Why is it when we think of “female oriented movie” our minds fill with images of jennifer aniston in some horrible, horrible mindless rom com? There are plenty of movies which are female oriented, which describe female specific conflicts, but we never would think to describe them as specifically female.

    No one thinks of some joke movie like “transformers” or “fast and the furious” when they say “male oriented movie”. We always think of movies that were pretty awesome, like the godfather series or something.

    So, I would argue the problem isn’t so much that there are no good female movies, it’s more that shitty movies are labeled as “girl flicks” whereas the good female oriented movies are considered movies for everyone.

    The labeling is sexist, not the movies. There are just as many horrible, lobotomy inducing “guy movies” as there are rom coms.

  19. SeanM says:

    In the video she oversteps reality with this bit (I’m paraphrasing): Women are artists and musicians and so on, they aren’t just muses for men to derive inspiration from.

    Few people are decent artists, and all artists draw inspiration from what is around them and what is important to them. For men, this may often be women. For women, this may be men. But any way you cut it, most people aren’t competent artists, and the best they can hope for art-wise is to inspire a talented person. The idea is not so offensive or unrealistic.

  20. Dan Dravot says:

    Men LOVE watching women in movies. Porn movies. Hello?

  21. Francis says:

    It also seems like WISH FULFILLMENT. Who doesn’t want to be a fun and/or good and/or sexy person who helps out another in need? The cynical and the selfish (the selfish, for the help out another person in need part only, though), that’s who.

    “Holy proofreading, Batman!”
    STFU Robin.

  22. AdamSaleh1987 says:

    This woman is parading an observation made by several million people before her as indisputable fact. No one twisted Kirsten Dunst’s arm to be in that movie, and she was well compensated.

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