177: gleason (art is about women)

when you look at movies, or, hell, when you look at the history of performance art, stretching back thousands of years, one thing becomes immediately apparent: it’s about women. it’s all about women. the ancient greek plays that we have revolve around this subject–trying to understand women. which is funny because it’s not like women didn’t exist, they were around and they could be talked to. and yet we see countless plays like medea, antigone, lysistrata, the oresteia, all of these plays have female characters who are warped concepts of women dreamed up by men. “warped” is not to be taken negatively, by the way. medea murders her own children to spite jason, antigone feverishly digs up her brother’s body to save him from a poor burial, lysistrata rallies the women of athens to deny men sex in a bold attempt to stop war, and clytemnestra murders agamemnon for a variety of reasons. these women are bold, striking counterparts to the actual women of greece at the time, whose lives are not very well known because the men did not write very much about them.

you have to realize, when you read plays, that most of the early stuff was written by men. the majority was written by men. we have a few plays by women, but they’re plays like dulcitius, written by hrotsvitha, who was a german nun. her plays were about people transcending pain because they knew their death would be a martyrdom and that they’d be in heaven with god. that’s as far away as the baseness of lysistrata as they come. men wrote plays about sex and death and war and the codified these concepts both in dramatic theory and in dramatic structure; hell, dramatic structure as defined by aristotle is basically sex from a man’s viewpoint–the build up, the tension rising, to the climax, which we literally call a climax, followed by a quick denouement. it was a structure built for men, by men, and in it, a primary theme was trying to understand the mysteries of life–one of them being women.

so now look at what we produce. think of romantic comedies. think of movies where women desperately want to fall in love. when you realize that men have written these movies, doesn’t the skew the concept entirely? at some point the question of the mysteries of women became definition. at some point men decided they had the answers. and they wrote them. they wrote what was wrong with women, they dissected women metaphorically speaking, and of course art followed this scientific and sociological pathway, creating plays, movies, TV shows, centered around women chasing after love, which really, when you really analyze it, is men writing about desiring love. this is the crux of it all. in those romantic comedies written by men, and also in general, stories written by men that feature a “love crazy” woman, this is men stating what they want: love. they want to be loved. they just use a woman’s voice to tell it. meanwhile we have all these action and war movies, where men are shown as macho beings with no need for emotions, and juxtapose that with actual households where men tell their sons never to cry, never to emote, and over years and decades and centuries you have men who are sublimating their feelings, primarily through violence and power, but also, for the more creative types, through dramatic writing.

here’s my point: the romantic comedy is a male fantasy, not a female one. women, i argue, do not pursue love like that. not in this day and age at lease. i know a lot of women, feminists!, women who know and honor their bodies and their minds, and these women run through men like a track and field course. they have sex, they don’t care, some of these women in portland lament the “sad boys” who lack the courage to walk up to them at the bar and speak to them. for decades we have been shown over and over again in movies, TV, et cetera, how a woman is supposed to feel when she is in love, but i am here to tell you that that is a male oriented fantasy. that is how a man wants a woman to feel. it is a fantastical … propaganda, even. and women more often than not know it. some don’t care and watch with pleasure, others dismiss that trope as patriarchal bullshit, but regardless of your theories, remember: if a man wrote it, it’s a man’s fantasy. period.

which is to say: men, if you want to know how a woman wants to love, if you want to understand her feelings, her desires, her needs–step back and let her write a fucking movie. you’re going to have to relinquish power for this. you have to. because love is not power and it never will be. but if you don’t do this, if you won’t let women explain to you who they are and what they want, what they need, then you will never understand them and you will never understand yourself. step back. let them write. let them create. and then, go see it.

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