Thursday, May 19, 2011

All the Ladies

As I mentioned a few times in the last few posts, we went to see Bridesmaids on Saturday. I enjoyed it on several levels, the first being that it's crazy funny. I have had all sorts of thoughts about it the last few days that may or may not lead to a coherent blog post but here we go.

First of all, it makes me nuts to hear people call it "The Hangover" for women. Plenty of women enjoyed The Hangover AND Bridesmaids is a straight up funny movie whether or not you happen to have breasts. Even after devoting five years of my professional life to a women's footwear brand, I get really eye-rolly when I hear the words "for women" attached to something. When ESPN decided to launch ESPNW, you know, sports info "for women" my first thought was "will the Red Sox scores be cuter over there?" I'm a female but if I want to know how Rickie Fowler is holding up at the Crowne Plaza Invitational this weekend, I'm pretty sure my little girl brain can figure out how to read the leaderboard on "regular" ESPN. It's insulting and a little bit demeaning that the only way to describe something with women in it is to do it context of something male dominated. I'm sure the entertainment industry is a lot like the sports industry where I have enjoyed a career surrounded by strong, smart women and yet somehow it manages to feel like 1955 when wonder of wonder, some ladies get together and make a funny movie and they have no idea how on earth to spin it.

I read Tina Fey's "Bossypants" in one sitting last month. I consistently laugh my head off at Mindy Kaling from the Office's tweets. I watched the entire first season of Parks and Recreation today while I was home sick and found Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones to be the highlights of a pretty delightful show. And you guys know how I feel about Connie Britton's Tami Taylor character on Friday Night Lights. What thrills me to my toes about these women and these projects is that they aren't just good "for a girl". These are women who are standing toe to toe with a very male dominated industry and instead of using sexuality or crying "sexism!", they are just rocking at what they do and letting their work do the talking. One of the reasons I have such a gigantic girl crush on Tina Fey is that she strikes me as the kind of woman who would look at some jerk saying "you are just a girl" and say "suck it d-bag!". It's 2011 and even in the last year I've had men I work with call me sweetie and pat me on the head. I thank my lucky stars every single night for the opportunities I have and how wide open the world is to me compared to what it was for women just a generation before, but it's still a place where you are damned if you do damned if you don't no matter what you choose. Stay at home moms swipe at working moms but often feel restless and like they've lost a part of themselves, working moms feel enormous guilt and get their digs in at those SAHMs when they can. Ambitious single women get accused of choosing a career over a family but when husbands die or get sick or walk away, plenty of women who didn't get an education are forced into the self-improvement Mr. Right was supposed to make irrelevant. So i love seeing these funny and talented women who aren't apologizing for being women nor are they trying to make some statement for ALL women. They are just using their talents and being awesome, giving all the rest of us a big fat thumbs up to do the same.

My final two cents is that I loved this movie for being more about female friendships than it was about dudes saving the day. Hollywood gives us a lot of movies like "Bride Wars" where two women who are supposedly childhood best friends become enemies because they both want their weddings in the same venue. I read one review of that particular film that said the writers of that script either didn't actually KNOW any women or hated the ones they DID know. Female friendships are complicated for sure and girls can be bitchy and backstabbing and competitive but as I get older I see less and less Housewives of New Jersey behavior and far more taking care of each other. I've watched nearly every girl I've ever been close to get married in the last fifteen years and even though for the most part they've married great men, the need for female friendships never goes away. I've been a discreet ear during rough spots and a landing pad for weekends away. Even the healthiest marriages aren't perfect and loyal female friends fill an important role. So I appreciated that at the core of this film was a solid and realistic friendship.

Maybe that's a lot to take away from a silly movie. I've run across some fun old girlfriend photos while loading my computer. I miss these gals.


SeƱora H-B said...

As always, well said, lady. Well said.

(And yes, I laughed so hard in this delight of a movie that I embarrassed my hubs. Good times. No. Excellent times.)

Sara said...

Ok, where were we going in that picture....I am drawing a blank. But I do miss you and all my HB friends. Come visit next time you are in Logan.

Kelly said...

I love this! I'm looking forward to seeing Bridesmaids now.

It's so true that girlfriends are essential. Even though I don't have many close girlfriends nearby, I know they're only a phone call or an email away. Jason's nice and all, but there are so many things he just doesn't get.

How did you react to the head patting? I had an experience last Fall that I needed a sassy retort for. I was at a Board meeting of one of our clients at a fancy restaurant and everyone was ordering dessert. I asked if I could just have some ice cream (my favorite) since none of the desserts sounded super appealing, but some of them did come a ala mode, so I knew there was ice cream. The 50-something year-old man I work with the most for the client smiled indulgently at me and said, "You're just a little girl, aren't you?"

I'm sure he thought he meant nothing and we still work closely together and he respects my work, but I felt about 6 years old after he said that. What could I say? He's a client. Sigh.

H. Brown said...

i love these conversations with you katie, because they are so fresh and real. i have a hard time thinking outside of gender contexts, and to some extent, i think that's just the way it is; it's true i think, that some things that are "for women" are viewed as inferior or somehow simply borrowed from the male versions, but i think that women can also make things that are kick-ass and designed for or targeted toward women that are just as quality or better than the "male" versions. often "male" is just what came first, but as a creative woman, i will always be borrowing from what's come before me, whether it's male or female, and i can't deny that we have distinctive qualities that define us by gender. i love though, how you and tina fey constantly remind me to refuse to let the femininity of something reduce its validity. i like the hangover and bridesmaids for the same reasons--because they are both funny and they're both about authentic and lasting friendship and standing by one another. what i get from this is that we're often so in love with romance and male-female dynamics and how men and women play off of one another, mostly around conflict and competition, that we forget to celebrate the things that distinguish us and also those things that make us all commonly human. thanks for speaking such truth into my life, friend! you're a true gift.

CoCo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CoCo said...

@ Sara -- pretty sure Katie and I were headed to Utah for either Wasatch Back or something fun and you were headed to see the esposo (but pre-esposo).

miche said...

Katie, as always, I love reading your blog. I completely agree with the damed if you do, damned if you don't comment on our reality as women. I feel that way all the time. Why can't we just make our choices, do what we feel is right for our own lives at each season in our lives, and be supported in that? I think the bigger issue at stake is all of the wonderful things that a woman can choose in life - career, marriage, children, friends, and so many think that if they aren't doing all of the above they are somehow not doing enough or are missing out, and we compensate for that feeling of being left out of something by pointing our fingers at our friends who choose other combinations. I agree - why can't we all just develop our talents wherever and whenever we can and let the rest go? Why can't we just be awesome and be happy when someone else is being awesome too? BTW - YOU are awesome. And, of course, so am I ;) (and did someone seriously pat you on the head? seriously??!!!!!!)