“This makes me so mad,” my cousin’s text read. Along with it was a link to an article on The Daily Dot: “The Biggest Problem with ‘Jurassic World’ Isn’t a Woman Running in High Heels.” My first thought was, “There’s something wrong with Jurassic World?” I loved the movie, just as I loved Jurassic Park before it. This article isn’t about my love for Jurassic everything, though; it’s about my hatred for feminists.
Pardon. I mean my strong dislike for pretend feminists, the ones who clearly did not get the memo about what true feminism is.
I, for one, have steered clear of a lot of debate over feminist issues. Why? Because it bores me. That’s also why I skim past headlines about gay rights. It’s not because I don’t support feminism & gay rights, it’s because I do. I’m sick of the constant battle, the never-catching-up-to-the-times, the exhausting voicing of opinions when there’s actually nothing wrong.
There are serious issues when it comes to women’s rights, LGBT rights, African American rights, sexism in movies, et al. There are also so many big mouths out there that the actual issues get buried under nonstop chatter. There are women being burned with acid for not letting themselves be sold into marriage. Burned with acid. Is Bryce Dallas Howard’s character an affront to women because her hair is impeccable and her shirt was pristine? Of course not.
But since that’s the matter at hand, let’s talk about it.
Sexism, Schmexism: Why Jurassic World Doesn’t Need Your Pseudo-Feminist Backlash
One major complaint about Howard’s character, Claire, is that she’s the prototypical rigid b-word in the workplace. I believe that a woman is allowed to be “chilly.” They can also be frigid & nagging. They can also be chilly, frigid, nagging and dynamic. They can also be chilly, frigid, nagging, dynamic and in some way charismatic. They can also be… You get it. Taking one aspect of a character out of the entire performance is flexing selective judgement. Was Claire chilly? Sure, particularly in the beginning. She was also nervous around her superiors, yet assertive around those on her own level and the workers beneath her. Is that an antiquated portrait of a woman or is that just what it’s like when you have some power in a job, but not all of it? Are we forgetting that she is a woman in charge of really important stuff? Does that not get any credit? Plus, what kind of person is put in charge of an enormous theme park? A hippie? A recent college graduate? An organized, focused professional? Guess which one.
At some point, the article goes on a tangent that makes me question if the writer even saw the movie at all. Anne Thèriault writes:
“According to [director Colin] Trevorrow, ‘the real protagonist of the movie is Claire, and we embrace her femininity in the story’s progression.’ It’s hard to know exactly what that means, unless it’s a reference to Claire’s superhuman ability to run through the jungle in high heels. Most likely it has something to do with the final scene, where Claire apparently feels her biological clock ticking for the first time as she gazes soulfully at her nephews hugging their parents; she then shoots Owen a smoldering I-want-to-have-your-babies look before the two of them ride off into the sunset together. Apparently embracing femininity means rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, while finally realizing that motherhood is your natural destiny.”
Please. Need I say how off the rails this is? Claire doesn’t make mostly bad decisions, she makes mostly good ones, especially considering she’s in an unprecedented situation where decisions are almost impossible to make. She saves her own life, plus Owen and her two nephews. She does so by taking a really huge, terrifying, crazy risk. There’s also no hint that she feels her biological clock ticking, just that she loves her nephews and her sister. She doesn’t give a glimmer of insight about wanting to have Owen’s babies, or any babies, for that matter. She’s not obviously thinking about motherhood. She’s probably thinking about breakfast and a shower. But if she were thinking about motherhood, isn’t that okay? I think it’s okay. Because I’m a feminist.
In the article, there’s a paragraph that talks about the two main control room workers, Vivian and Lowery. As the staff is being evacuated, Lowery makes a pass at Vivian. She’s attractive and he’s trying to make a bigger moment than there already is. Vivian pulls away from his attempted kiss because she has a boyfriend. “Vivian is the kind of character who ought to be steering the helm of Jurassic World, a woman who is comfortable enough with herself to know what she wants and is able to say no and mean it,” Thèriault writes. Sure, that’s the kind of character that should be – and actually is – at the helm of J.P., both the movie & the theme park. But for the sake of picking everything apart, which is what women are apparently supposed to do, let’s throw some questions out there. Why did Vivian have to say “no” just because she has a boyfriend? Couldn’t she be single and still deny Lowery? And why can’t Vivian have a girlfriend? Are we being insensitive to the LGBT community? Furthermore, why is Vivian in the control room? Can’t she be running the damn park? This could go on forever & still add up to a whole lot of nothing important.
Oh, and by the way, Lowery staying back because “somebody has to” does actually help save everyone. So maybe we shouldn’t paint every eager and somewhat-silly man as a bumbling idiot who just wants to show off and has nothing valuable to offer. That’s sexism too.
The point of feminism is to allow women to do what they want to do. For some women, that’s running a business. For others, that’s being a stay-at-home mom or a housewife. For Bryce Dallas Howard, that’s acting, and for her Claire, that’s a high-level job at Jurassic World. The women’s rights problems of the past weren’t because of women’s decisions, they were because women couldn’t make decisions. Today, we can decide. True feminists – the ones who don’t feel the need to call themselves that all the time or smack a “sexist” label on every single thing that happens – support one another for all choices, whether they fall into gender roles of the past or road paving of the future. The beauty of it being 2015 is that we don’t have to choose stereotypical careers, clothes or personality traits, but that we can if we want to. Not all stereotypes are bad, after all; sometimes they’re just common.
It seems to me that women who scream “wolf” all the time simply want the opposite of what they’re getting. I am woman, hear me roar. And roar. And freakin’ roar. It’s exhausting & it dilutes the actual point one is trying to make. Thèriault was put off by Trevorrow’s comment that, “There’s no need for a female character that does things like a male character, that’s not what makes interesting female characters in my view.” In response, Thèriault wrote, “That type of statement right there encapsulates everything that’s wrong with movies like Jurassic World – the idea that women are some kind of specialty characters that need to be handled differently than others.” This seems to be a recurring theme with “feminism” – don’t treat women differently, except that you should always treat women differently. Which is it? To Thèriault’s comment that “…instead of wondering what makes a female character interesting, why not ask what makes anyone of any gender interesting?” I say, “Instead of complaining about Claire’s female character, why not assess her character without talking about her gender?” Furthermore, aren’t men & women different in many ways? Not all men and not all women, but a lot of them? And aren’t differences what make the world a wonderful, interesting, ever-evolving place?
As for the high heels thing, that’s just ridiculous. Not the running in them, but the upset it’s caused. If you go to work at your very important job, and you choose to wear high heels because women can wear what they want to, and then dinosaurs escape and try to kill you, you’re probably not going to take the time to look for a pair of Reeboks. You’re going to run like the wind through that damn jungle in your high heels, because if you go barefoot you’ll cut your feet. Sexism? Realism, actually, or as much as can be expected from a 3D film about a dinosaur island.
For the record, Claire’s “sharp red bob” is fantastic and her “even sharper white suit” is gorgeous. If looking good is a crime, I’ve got nothing to say to you. Frankly, the fact that any article judges her on her hair & outfit choices is the most sexist thing of all.
Let me leave you with this: the creators of Jurassic World don’t understand why their movie is sexist because it’s not sexist. Calling attention to non-sexist things and turning them into something offensive is kind of sexist, though. Congratulations, you’ve made the world harder for women.