Friday, September 28, 2012

Bitch

I'm going to come at this topic a little differently, cos although I agree that there are a shit ton of secondary character bitches in Romancelandia, there's something else that bothers me more. I can kind of accept that there are a lot of ex-girlfriend bitches and frenemies and jealous rivals, because, well...that can happen. Lots of girls I know have frenemies. There are as many bitches in life as there are good girls. I'm okay with that, to some extent.

But what I'm not okay with is how often every woman in literature and on TV and in film gets called a bitch. And not just by men, either. By women, too.

Take the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. I always take this example, because it's the one that makes me the most furious. Go to the IMDB board for that show, and you'll see thread after thread after thread about what a total evol bitch queen from hell the wife, Debra, is. Seriously - you'd think this woman had killed someone's puppy onscreen. You'd think she kept her husband, Ray, chained to a water pipe in the basement.

Whereas Ray...ah, Ray. Ray is a saint, for putting up with her. Ray is a wonderful human being, who just wants to relax and have a good time. And he could, if only it wasn't for that shrew!

I swear to God, I read this stuff and just want to kill myself. Basically, Ray is the biggest asshole on the planet. He'd rather golf than hang out with his kids. He has to be harangued into doing the most basic, simple things. But of course, we as a society see that as poor Ray being nagged - even in this day and age.

Husbands should be left alone. Wives should just put up with it and do everything little thing the husband wants. Otherwise? Bitch.

And it's so insiduous, too. I call it "pulling a dunderhead". You see it all the time in washing up liquid commercials - in fact any commercials about "women's work". Some poor man can't get the hang of something - he just doesn't know what he's doing wrong! He's hopeless and forlorn! Laugh at his attempts, in the face of the "superior" woman that knows how.

But of course, all this does is absolve men of any of that responsibility, while silmultaneously pulling a really neat trick. Now we feel sorry for the poor put upon guy, and hate the woman for being a superior bitch. And goddamn, if it doesn't work every single time.

It's worked in King of Queens, Rules of Engagement, Friends, Married With Children, Last Man Standing, Home Improvement, Two and a Half Men...you name a sitcom that has some kind of family life in it, it's been there.

And it's not just there, either. You see it in movies, in books, in all kinds of television. You see it about women who aren't wives and mothers - any kind of woman at all will get the bitch label far faster than the male characters. Look at romance novels. Men can sleep around, cheat, steal, lie, murder, be total bastards, be assholes...

But God forbid a woman does any or all of those things. She won't just get "bitch". She'll get unlikeable, hard to warm to, annoying - oh, annoying is a BIG one. The amount of times I've loved a book, come to the reviews and seen annoying annoying annoying over and over. And for such minor things, too!

She couldn't decide what to do. She decided too quickly what to do. She decided just the right amount, but made the wrong decision. All of these things will encourage the scorn of a million readers and viewers, even though the same thing from a man wouldn't blink a single eye. And it just leaves me wondering...

Why do we find the actions of a woman so hard to forgive? Because seriously, until we get over that...we're never going to get a female Iron Man, or a female James Bond. Women aren't allowed to be promiscuous, we're not allowed to be too tough, we're not allowed to be flawed. We have to be perfect, and unfortunately - perfection is just not as compelling as what some of our male counterparts get to do.

Hence the Catwoman debacle. Hence the idea that women can't carry films the way men do. Seriously, I almost cried to see Melissa McCarthy in the upcoming movie Identity Thief, because it occurred to me midway through who she was reminding me of. Not some other chick who did what she's doing. No other chick has done what she's doing. No.

She reminded me of John Candy. And my soul was filled with such triumph that I've lived long enough to see a woman who's allowed to be John Candy. I so don't want that to be taken away from me, but I know what will happen when the movie comes out. I'll go to the IMDB and see that one word over and over:

Bitch.


ETA:

Totally forgot to say! I have a new book out! It's called Deep Desires, and it's got all kinds of goodies in it. Voyeurism, dark romance, angst, emotional fings... A few people have said it's a bit like Rear Window, only with sex. I like that! And it's only a quid/a dollar fifty on Amazon, at the moment. Hooray! Here are some links:

http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Desires-Mischief-Books-ebook/dp/B009GJLY4C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348609482&sr=1-1&keywords=charlotte+stein

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Desires-Mischief-Books-ebook/dp/B009GJLY4C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348766731&sr=1-1


http://www.mischiefbooks.com/books/deep-desires/

6 comments:

  1. Oh man, those home product ads drive me crazy. Almost as much as the clothes washing detergent ads that are all, "We understand mothers are so busy, and that they have so many active, grubby males to clean up after."

    I found all the critique around Brave interesting, looking at the subtle ways it was a very subversive film. (This article in particular: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/)

    The most disturbing thing is that I can feel those reactions in myself to female characters - the aversion to women who "sleep around, cheat, steal, lie, murder".

    Damn you social conditioning!!!

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  2. You took on that word like a boss, Miss Charlotte.

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  3. Charlotte,

    You make me glad I don't watch TV.

    You want a great woman character, though - how about Gena Davis in "The Long Kiss Goodnight"? Now there's a heroine for our age!

    Congratulations on the new release, by the way. Can't wait to read it.

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  4. Wow, you've nailed this perfectly. Congrats on the new release! :)

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  5. I completely agree with you, Charlotte. I never understood the appeal of Everybody Loves Raymond, for exactly the reasons you've described. It's so sad that our society has established modes of behaviour for both genders.

    I think it's changing slowly, a little bit at a time, and it will be super awesome fun times wow when we DO have a lady Iron Man, just as we'll be able to have a gentleman wash dishes competently!

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  6. Great post, Charlotte. I feel exactly the same way about Everybody Loves Raymond.

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