Seems like every woman you try to save ends up dead… or deeply resentful. Maybe you should retire. – Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992)
The Dark Knight, perhaps the most anticipated of 2008’s summer blockbusters, opened on July 18 and had the biggest opening weekend in movie history, earning more than $155M. The DVD is slated to be released December 9, just in time for the Christmas rush. Even if you haven’t seen the film [spoilers spoilers spoilers to come] though, its commercials set the scene: Christian Bale’s troubled and arrogant Bruce Wayne against Heath Ledger’s even more troubled and arrogant Joker. While I found myself absorbed and troubled by a complicated look at the mythology of heroes and manhood, as well as a great summer action flick, I had to ask: Where’s Catwoman? Where’s the reality check on the Gender Trope Parade of our comic book blockbusters? Continue Reading Gender, troubled (Bat vs Cat)…
(note: That the judges were three women somehow bewildered me, in much the same way that some of the Abu Ghraib torturers are women bewildered me. Is this what the pioneers of feminism envisioned? As Angela Davis points out, by now the term equal opportunity has been twisted to often simply mean equal access to the instruments of oppression.)
“Proteus (Torture and Bewilderment)”, Nick Flynn, Tin House #37
The above is taken from an essay in which the author confronts his guilt (as an American) about the use of torture as a tool by the American military. After winning a PEN award for his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, he becomes disgusted to share the winners’ circle with a dude who condones torture in his book (The End of Faith, by Sam Harris) about atheism, because Muslims are the worst of all and must be stopped– in Flynn’s presentation of the book, at least. I haven’t read either so I can’t tell you. And actually I don’t care. I’m just giving you enough context so you know who the judges mentioned in the quote are — the three women are Dorothy Gallagher, Wendy Gimbel and Amy Wilentz — and what they judged, apparently, so poorly, as to disgrace ‘the pioneers of feminism’.
I’m wondering who he means, exactly, when he references these pioneers (I won’t even pretend to ask which feminism he means). Certainly not Angela Davis herself, whose work (I’m thinking in particular here of her book of essays Women, Race and Class) debunks much of the mythology about the “First Wave” and what their feminism meant with regards to people of color or working people. So maybe he means those famous advocates of women’s suffrage, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Of course the fun part about the women’s suffrage movement is that its most prominent leaders were pissed that freedmen were allowed to vote before women. It should have been ladies first, you know, because ladies are wives and mothers and will bring their compassion and caring into the voting booth.
Are these the pioneers in question? I’m just guessing, since he’s so bewildered that some women don’t live up to our title as the fairer sex. Funny, isn’t it, that this argument (I like to call it the Victorian Hangover) is what spurred high-profile suffragettes to some of their nastiest moments — support of reactionary Jim Crow laws and rejection of the movement’s roots in abolitionist activism.
I wasn’t too surprised, though, to read this just a few paragraphs later:
After the award and the book reviews and the judges’ citation [on why they selected the Harris book] I told my friend Claudia that I was feeling a little nuts, as if I was seeing something that everyone else insisted wasn’t there.
That’s how black people feel all the time, Claudia said with a shrug.
Phew! I guess he really gets it then.