Tag Archives: celebrating women

Feminism! It’s Everywhere!

So, this past weekend I found myself in Dublin city with a little time to spare. This, I have to say, doesn’t happen very often any more – even less so when I’m in the company of my husband – and we wondered what we could do to fill a few hours.

‘Why don’t we go and see a film?’ suggested The Husband.

‘What a wonderful idea,’ replied The Wife, with a sparkle in her eye.

My husband is a film fan, but not exactly a cinema – i.e. the physical movie theatre – fan. He knows, however, that I am both a film and a cinema nut. I was ridiculously pleased at his suggestion, so much so that I may actually have giggled and gambolled – just a little – at the thought of it, not only at the sheer delight of going to see a film but also at my husband’s loveliness in offering to bring me. So, off to the movies we went.

We were in the mood for a comedy, which was perfect, because the first thing to jump out at both of us from the listings screen in the cinema foyer was ‘RED 2’. We looked at each other, and immediately ran for the ticket line.

Image: totalfilm.com

Image: totalfilm.com

Some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about, so I’ll do a little ‘splainin’ here. ‘RED’ (it stands for ‘Retired and Extremely Dangerous’) came out in 2010, and was somewhat of an unlikely hit. Telling the story of several retired agents who once worked for, variously, the CIA, KGB and MI6 (sometimes an assortment of all three) who just can’t give up the old job, it was a darkly comic action movie with excellent performances from a stellar cast. I’d been vaguely aware a sequel was in the works, but I hadn’t realised it had been released. We were hoping, so much, that ‘RED 2’ would be a worthy successor to the original, and it was. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at a film in months.

But the humour, and the cast, and the story, and the concept behind the movie, are not what I want to talk about today. Instead, it’s the ‘f’ word. Yes – feminism. What else? ‘RED 2’ pleased my feminism-sensors, very much indeed.

Firstly: the movie has Helen Mirren in it. Helen Mirren.

Secondly: none of the female characters are required to get their clothes off, for any reason whatsoever. This was such a relief and utterly wonderful in every way.

Thirdly: none of the women are under forty, and the movie not only highlights this, but celebrates it. None of them look fake, or surgically enhanced, or anything less than their beautiful, natural selves. Hooray!

Fourthly: none of the women are for ‘decoration’ only; they all have skills, talents, strength, courage and chutzpah, and each of them is vital – in their own unique and interesting way – to the film and the storyline.

Fifthly: none of the women are ‘rewarded’ with a husband at the end.

Sixthly: I’m pretty sure it passes the Bechdel Test.

Awesome. Image: hitfix.com

Image: hitfix.com

Movies are an amazing art form. I adore them. Nothing thrills me more than a good film (besides a good book, of course). However, like a lot of people, the ways in which women are portrayed in films and the ways in which female characters are used in the film industry angers me, at times. Even as we sat waiting for ‘RED 2’ to start, we were bombarded with trailers for other movies, one of which (I deliberately forgot the name of it, as a form of personal protest) featured women as nothing more than bikini-clad toys; perhaps the finished movie has some redeeming features, but I intend never to find out. A recent movie I saw, which I loved, I have to admit, but which irritated me dreadfully from the point of view of its treatment of women was ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’. In this film, the men are the heroes, there is gratuitous female nudity and the women – despite the fact that they may be doctors, or capable of speaking a multitude of alien languages, or entitled to serve on the bridge of a starship – are all, primarily, beautiful distractions for the men. Objects first, people afterwards. That’s depressing.

It drives me mad when female characters aren’t treated with the same respect as male ones. It drives me mad when a film demands a woman’s nudity for no discernible narrative reason. It really drives me mad when a woman’s only role is to scream and stand around looking terrified, waiting to be rescued, and I hate films where a woman’s intelligence is ignored, or her ideas discounted for no reason besides the fact of her gender. Even good films – clever films, enjoyable and well-made films – can be guilty of treating female characters this way. Women (both on celluloid and in real life) aren’t perfect, of course – they can sometimes be shrill and annoying and silly and full of stupid ideas and they can be arrogant and unlikeable and even nasty – but so can men, because people are people. I really can’t understand why female characters are seen, so often, as ‘supporting’ characters, sidekicks to the male characters and not at all integral to the story. I wonder how many films exist which would work just as well if all the female characters were removed? More than we’d like to think, I’m sure.

Anyway. Go and see ‘RED 2’, particularly if you saw ‘RED’ and enjoyed it. There’s violence, and ‘scenes of extreme peril’, and I’m sure it won’t suit everyone’s palate. From the point of view of how it treats its women, though, I have no complaints. And, as well as that, it had me weeping with laughter at several junctures, so that can’t be bad.

Happy Monday! Let’s hope this is a good start to an even better week.

Woman Power

So, I’m alive. I’m awake. I’m functional, even. I’m a little bit late with the blog post, but what’s that between friends? I hope you’ll forgive me.

If you can't forgive me, then maybe you'll forgive this cute kitten in a bonnet. Image: fourms.catholic.com

If you can’t forgive me, then maybe you’ll forgive this cute kitten in a bonnet.
Image: fourms.catholic.com

Yesterday was a hard day. Doing a 10K walk is not necessarily difficult in itself – I’ve often done long walks before – but the extra complicating factor in yesterday’s Mini Marathon was the heat. Yesterday felt like one of the hottest days I’ve ever lived through, even though I’m sure it wasn’t. But if you take a hot, dry, bright day and add upwards of 40,000 people all in close proximity to one another, it’s going to feel ten times hotter than it really is. There was a lot of perspiration going on. So much for the old maxim that ‘horses sweat, men perspire, and women only glow’: this woman right here sweated litres yesterday. Sorry for the gross image, but it has to be done!

It feels great to have completed the Mini Marathon, and I’m very glad I did it (with a lot of encouragement from my lovely mother-in-law), but I must admit that the build-up to it was nerve-wracking. I wondered if I’d be able to do it, and I worried about letting people (and myself) down if I failed. I worried that I wouldn’t be physically or mentally able for it – walking for pleasure, which I do every day, is a different thing from walking in a sporting event like this one, despite the fact that the participants weren’t in competition with one another – and I feared I wouldn’t be up to the task.

But I was. I did it! I have a lovely shiny medal now to be proud of, and my father-in-law and brother-in-law were kind enough to take high-resolution, sharp-focus photographs of me as I came away from the finish line so I’ll have those to admire in perpetuity, too. The cameras looked big enough to be capable of taking photographs of deep space, so I’m sure they captured every open pore and strand of sweaty hair, not to mention the lobster-red of my face. Thanks, guys!

Something which struck me yesterday was the amount of women who walked and/or ran the Mini Marathon in memory of someone else, and in honour of someone they loved. People wore images on their t-shirts, lovely photographs of lost children or friends or parents, sometimes with a note of their age and what had claimed their life but sometimes not. I found myself very moved by some of these memorials, especially those in memory of babies who hadn’t managed to survive being born too prematurely. I was awed by the strength of these women, the mental and physical power it took to undertake something as strenuous as yesterday’s event while also carrying the weight of memory and loss. I’m sure they were taking part in order to raise some money for all the excellent charities and causes out there, and I hope they managed to raise as much as they wanted to. Nowadays, there’s not a lot of extra coinage sloshing around, and things like this – really worthy things like this – are suffering.


Women are amazing. So are men, of course, but today I want to celebrate women and how strong and fantastic they are. I’m very proud to be one, and I’m proud to know so many wonderful women and to have taken part in an event so full of strong and capable women yesterday. I’m glad to live where I live, and I’m glad to live at this time in human history, where my life is important and my personal sovereignty is respected and my opinion is listened to and my vote is counted. I’m proud of the women who’ve come before me, and I hope I’ll leave the world in as good a state for the women who come after me.

Image: envisionus.com

Image: envisionus.com

Happy Tuesday!