Today’s revelation is that stories aren’t just there to make you think.
Somebody linked this gaming trailer to me, and I watched it over breakfast this morning. As I’ve well versed in the Star Wars Universe, this trailer was, it has to be said, a fairly manipulative dig into my psyche. I suspect that wouldn’t nearly have been as relevant were the two protagonists father and son. Making it mother and daughter I imagine was very much part of the plan, considering how there’s a distinct lack of high profile material doing that. In fact, let’s be honest, when you see a woman in a gaming trailer?
Yup, all tits and exposed midriff and look guys you could pretend you’re fucking that tonight. It’s okay, I get how the ‘Industry’ works. It’s like that orange man who wants to be President in the Americas saying that it doesn’t mean any harm when you catch him on tape saying things, that’s just the way the World is. Women are here for you to fuck and they love it because you’re famous and clever and funny. If you can’t get that, we’ll make sure the mainstream media ensures your urges are satisfied regardless, because otherwise you start killing people and that’s messy. The women don’t mind either because they were made from your rib to begin with. Some days it is hard to equate the world you know with the one that is presented to you in media, either imagined or real. That’s when it becomes important to be able to break things down to their constituent parts and view with objectivity.
What makes that Star Wars trailer a lot more significant than you might think on the first viewing is understanding the main ‘story’ on which this canon is based revolves around a father betraying his son. This then leads to the new ‘series’ of adventures which, at its peak, turns that betrayal around. In the video game, having a daughter ‘betray’ her mother not only echoes the sentiments being played out in the movies, but calls to women like me who play games and understand that finally, after many years, designers are grasping that some of us never wanted to be rescued to begin with. We weren’t the princesses, or even the Marian Ravenwoods. We didn’t need male confirmation to be relevant, weren’t looking to be noticed or even objectified. Equality was what was craved more than anything else. What the Star Wars Universe is doing (with films such as Rogue One) and hopefully which will multiply as time goes on, is allowing women just to be themselves and tell stories without the desire to reduce this to ‘plucky heroines’ or ‘sassy females’ We are just women. Treat us equally.
You can still love a man whilst being his equal. This is not rocket science.
More important, women can be the Bad Guys. I just have to look at the one now running my country to understand that. Making lists of foreigners as some kind of exercise in statistics isn’t anything other than marking people as bad and wrong, just because they weren’t born in the country you’re now running. I didn’t vote for you and nobody in this country actually approved your mandate, that came from a bunch of your own party members. Of course the female sex is capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with blokes, but to do so well takes a lot more work and effort when it is them who dictate the majority of rules. I feel I ought to be grateful there’s a woman running against the Orange Man in America, but I find her no more palatable as a leader of the Free World. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I want women in charge. I’d like the best qualified people to do that, who were voted for and not placed. I don’t care if you live with cats or are bisexual or enjoy eating fishsticks in your spare time. As long as you do the job, don’t slack and make an effort to care? Everything else is just gravy.
Deciding you know me based on my chromosomes puts you on a hiding to nothing.
What I realised today was that the stories I tell could work just as well if I reversed key dynamics. The fact I choose to highlight a female PoV is, inevitably, because I write well as a woman. However, I can do a man just as comfortably, often more so. That’s got a lot to do with my own mind, and less because I know that’s required to get ahead. However, understanding what is at stake here, having both mindsets means that if you try and sell to me as a man and just make it superficial, I’m having none of it. That’s why that Star Wars trailer’s more clever on each re-run, because the smart men will grasp the duality whilst the stupid men will laugh at the woman who lost her daughter to the Dark Side. Nobody however will go ‘oh I’m not playing that, it’s got women being empowered in it’ because that’s not showing what many men would even consider as empowerment. If anything that paints one woman as a victim of her own desire to push her daughter into a career that ultimately destroys her goodness. It’s an INCREDIBLY clever piece of marketing for pixels without a breast even exposed. Well done whoever came up with the idea.
The words we choose to wield have an incredible power. If you think you can simply dismiss what you say as irrelevant? One day you might run for President, and if someone with a grudge against you decided it was time to make you look foolish? Those words would take on a whole new meaning. That’s why I warn my kids that, like it or not, the Internet remembers everything and you want to ensure that whatever you leave on it is the best indicator of your personality it can possibly be. The people who think they’re ‘good enough’ or they ‘reached out’ before dismissing others? Pick your battles carefully, my friends. Make your choices wise and sensible. Don’t be the bad person that everyone sees pushing people away. Make sure you’re ready to defend every single word you utter, in whatever space.
If women want to be treated equally, they need to be ready for the consequences that brings.