I write about how much I’m looking forward to Christmas. I then peruse my FeedDemon and the first thing I see?
This: Can you find the female in the Arthur Christmas poster? courtesy of ReelGirl.
Hint: Yes, you can; Mrs Christmas is squished in amongst 12 males, including the main character of the film, the main character of Christmas (Father himself), random guy showing off upper arm strength, miniature version of Father Christmas (Father’s father??) and numerous elves (all elves are male? are you kidding me? I remember watching Huey, Dewey and Louis Christmas cartoons which featured female elves and how long ago was that?? WHY ARE WE GOING BACKWARDS??) I suppose we’re just supposed to be grateful that there isn’t a single, solitary ‘elfette’ in a mini-skirt and false eyelashes, sigh.
And the tagline underneath this Christmas dude-fest? ‘2 billion presents delivered in 1 night…It takes a family.‘
Which immediately put me in mind of something I’d read years and years ago in the fantabulous book, ‘The Stronger Women Get, The More Men Love Football‘, by Mariah Burton Nelson, which is a delightful romp through the innate sexism and misogyny in sport, not only in how it’s played but in how it’s decided what sports are ‘exciting’ and what is ‘sporty’ and what isn’t. Really fab stuff and indispensible for any arguments you may have about women’s (lack of) sporting prowess.
Anyhoo, one part of the book relates to experiences of female sports journalists trying to cover sporting events and, specifically, dealing with the ‘tradition’ of interviewing baseball players in the locker room itself straight after a game.
These women were routinely subject to deliberate sexual aggression as the players met the journalists fully naked (making special efforts to ensure they were naked if a female was in the room) and, often, hinting at threats of sexual assault and rape. Despite this, the women kept doing their jobs and so legal efforts were made to ban them from the locker rooms on the grounds of ‘decency’. One such case went to court (forgive me a lack of details – my copy of the book is in storage), with an official from a certain club arguing that it shouldn’t be allowed, because ‘baseball is a family game’.
The beautiful judicial response? ‘The last time I looked, the family included women.’*
The last time I looked, women made up about HALF THE POPULATION OF THE FUCKING WORLD BUT YOU WOULD NEVER GET THAT LOOKING AT CHILDREN’S FUCKING FILMS!
D’you know, it makes me so sad. I mean the whole sexism crap makes me mad, of course, but you know what makes me really fucking mad? The fact I make it worse for my own daughter. Because Boogie has been raised with a level of gender awareness that – certainly in my experience – is unheard of in the general population, she sees this stuff. She, equally (and it wouldn’t be the first time), can look at a poster like Arthur Christmas and see that nowhere is she represented; for her, even Mrs Christmas wouldn’t count, because she doesn’t yet see the connection between children and adults, between her, a girl, and a grey-haired old woman. She is not there. Heart-breakingly, she very rarely is.
And I see her seeing these things and part of me wants to erase the knowledge, the awareness that girls aren’t valued enough to make films about, to write books about, to tell stories about and just make it all go away.
Jesus, I hope this’ll all be worth it in the end.
*Now don’t go thinking that this meant the women were legally allowed to ogle men in locker rooms and the men had no recourse. Post-game interviews are now generally conducted outside the locker room by reporters of both sexes, which is just far more professional, isn’t it?