In the history of the world sometimes changes come awfully fast, and sometimes they move at the speed of glaciers. Some people claim that change is always good, but tell that to the people of Jerusalem when the Crusaders or the Romans were outside the walls.
All through history, most men and women were not considered fully adult. They were the great unwashed, and little was expected of them. They were simply supposed to do as they were told by their betters.
Little by little, with the help of the pike and halberd, the Black Death, the firearm and the printing press, that began to change. Men became expected to be adult, and the fruition of that came during the enlightenment, when the ‘Rights of Man’ became what we would now call a meme.
It moved unevenly, of course. In the United States, at first only property owners were considered fully adult, but over the last couple of centuries the list of adults has grown longer until it encompasses all men and women of every race.
Why were women last? The answer is simple. So long as muscle-powered weapons were all that existed, women would always be at a disadvantage. A small, concealable pistol makes a 90-pound woman the match for a 300-pound muscle-man, a thing otherwise impossible. A very few women could successfully fight a man that outweighed and outmuscled them to such a degree, but the vast majority would never have a chance without lead, fulminate of mercury and gun-cotton…and the guts to use them.
Like every other venture into adulthood, progress is uneven. It remains uneven for men to this day, and there are contrary voices trying to persuade almost everyone that they aren’t adults, they’re perpetual victims, permanent children who can’t be expected to exhibit adult behavior.
There is even the so-called ‘manosphere’ today, trying to persuade white men that they are also permanent victims. The ‘oppression olympics’ are truly universal.
A lot of movies use our civilization’s inconsistent progress to essentially say to women, ‘there, there, darling. Nobody really expected you to be an actual grown up.’
Here are ten of them.
1. The Stepford Wives (1975/2004)
There are men in the world who want wives who are ‘perfect.’ However their definition of perfect leaves much to be desired. It comes from an adolescent fantasy, common among boys of their middle teens: the compliant girl who has no will of her own, but does exactly what the boy wants. Real life versions will be coming soon; sexbots are already around, if still crude…but then they’ll always be crude, no matter how technically advanced.
As a boy learns more about girls and women, this fantasy usually abates somewhat, until he finally learns that women have ideas of their own and practically all male achievements are essentially attempts at impressing the girls.
In The Stepford Wives, this fantasy carries over into putative adulthood. One could argue that any man who can’t surpass this juvenile dream never actually reaches adulthood, and a man who can’t grow up is less likely to be Peter Pan and more likely to be John Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson.
The wives in The Stepford Wives are replacements; rather than women, they are robotic companions, essentially ‘perfect’ sexbots who are completely subsumed by the wants of their owners/husbands. The real women are murdered by their replacements.
This is supposed to be a feminist warning that all men want all women to be docile, available, and mindless, but this has never been the case. A woman who pays too close heed to this kind of propaganda will not have any idea how to deal with actual men.
This is both patronizing and condescending towards women, flattering them that they are intrinsically good and anything they want is right, whereas with men it’s exactly the opposite. This might be appealing, but it’s also wrong. Men are individuals just like women, and any adult, whether they’ve accepted adulthood or not, can make stupid mistakes or do good and noble deeds, depending on how they make decisions.
2. GI Jane (1997)
This is a movie following the first successful female Navy SEAL, which has yet to happen, though the movie was made in 1997.
We are expected to believe today that women and men are essentially interchangeable, that women can do anything men can do. However, as Jane Austen wrote, “I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”
So long as we’re talking about pursuits of the mind, or talents and native abilities, men and women are quite equal. However in one area of life we are not equal, and that is in physical strength.
It is not that some women are not stronger than some men; they are. It is not that some women can do things that most men cannot, because they can. A female gymnast can do things that make a strong man cringe, and there are many physical pursuits in which women are superior.
That does not mean that even the strongest women can do whatever the strongest men can. There is a limit beyond which women simply can’t pass, unless they’re transgender, and haven’t undergone hormone therapy or anything else, so remaining physically male. Such transgendered persons spell the end of females in female sports if allowed to compete without first undergoing therapies to reduce testosterone.
Two women tried out for the SEALs earlier this year. They dropped out in one week. So did a lot of men—right now there’s no reason a woman couldn’t become a SEAL if she can hack the training. And that may be possible, but it also might not. In GI Jane, this is not really a consideration. It’s assumed that it’s not only doable, but not all that hard. It flatters women that the only reason there aren’t dozens of female SEALs is prejudice. It’s a boy’s club, and women are kept out unfairly.
A key moment in GI Jane is when Master Chief Urgayle, played by Viggo Mortenson, tells Lieutenant O’Neill, played by Demi Moore, that she simply won’t be able to pick up a wounded man and carry him out on one shoulder. Later in the movie she drags him across the beach rather than carrying him, demonstrating that he’s quite right. The idea that it just doesn’t matter is fallacious; across a beach dragging will work, but it’s only one situation of many where it won’t.
There are women around who can carry a 200-pound man on a shoulder, but that’s just one example of what’s required of a SEAL. The standards set for the SEALs weren’t designed to keep women out…they were designed to keep MEN out. Men are on average twice as strong as women in the upper body, but we’re not talking about the average. The world record deadlift for a man is 1030 pounds. The world record for women is 670 pounds. That’s best versus best, not average versus average.
Flattery is nice, but in GI Jane it’s mere condescension.
3. Tomb Raider (2001)
This wasn’t the first of them all, but Tomb Raider popularized the genre of skinny little girls beating up bigger and stronger men. We’re not talking about a Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, who looks like she’s build up a lot of muscle, or a Zoë Bell or Jessie Graf, who hopefully need no introduction.
Angelina Jolie, who plays Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, is in fine shape, but she doesn’t have either the mass or the muscle tone to beat up men who outweigh her by fifty or eighty pounds. In Kung Fu movies a woman might fight successfully against men by being quicker or cleverer, but up until recently, nobody bought the delusion that men and women are equals in a punching contest.
Are there women who can beat up a significant proportion of men? Of course. The ease with which they do it in the movies, while being teenager thin, is just silly.
Worse than that, however, is that people, especially boys, might come to believe it. Women in the movies take a punch and keep fighting, and a young man who believes that propaganda might take a swing and kill his girlfriend thinking she can take it and deserves it. Either boys shouldn’t hit girls, or they should; and having endless propaganda in one direction, at least that boys will watch, and nothing they care to watch in the other direction, is not going to help them understand which is reality.
This is a dangerous level of condescension, telling women they can mix it up with men without being terribly hurt. Emily Marshall can attest to it, as can the wimp who punched her.
4. Maleficent (2014)
Most of the new Disney live-action movies have been subpar, but Maleficent is the worst of the bunch, not least because it continues a ludicrous concept popular among media feminists (as opposed to the real ones): men are to blame for everything.
In the original Disney cartoon version of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent was the bad guy, and one who took pleasure in being bad. She is one of the best Disney villains ever.
For the live action version, she’s a victim, like all women always. Women can never actually choose to be good or bad, it’s all men who decide these things. She would never have turned bad if not for the wicked man who drove her to it, and eventually she repented and turned back toward good, while the evil man got killed, as he deserved.
This is flattering to women in an utterly foolish way. If women can’t choose between good and evil, then they’re not adults—they’re permanent victim-children. Is that feminist? Is that woman-power?
THAT is condescending. ‘Poor dears, nobody expected you to be grown ups!’
5. Double Jeopardy (1999)
In keeping with the theme of ‘men are responsible for everything, women for nothing, Double Jeopardy is a good movie about a woman wrongly convicted of murdering her husband. It’s called ‘double jeopardy’ because she can’t be convicted twice for the same crime, and he’s not actually dead.
This is a sort of corollary to ‘men are evil;’ men are tricky, manipulative AND evil, and women are helpless, innocent victims of their deceptions.
Naturally there are plenty of men who fit the bill, but the idea that women are completely oblivious is ridiculous. It’s such a common trope that it ought to be common knowledge, yet somehow the same old deceptions work over and over and women are just helpless to see past them…or are they? Can women actually be grown ups and use their minds? Some believe that they can, but not the movies. Women are just helpless forever, and can neither learn from their own nor from others’ mistakes.
It’s funny, because Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy turns herself into a not-helpless, non-victim, but the premise at the beginning was that of a total naif who had no idea that trouble was on the horizon, completely taken in by the charms and lies of her husband. The question is: are women required to be stupid so that they can be perpetual victims? Or can women rise above the foolishness that all human beings inherit in our very nature, and become wise?