Archive for August, 2015

Gots Me Some Opinions

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Media Consumer

Media Consumer

Books (lots!) have been read. Movies (plenty!) have been seen. Television shows (Transparent! Is absolutely as fantastic as everyone has said!) have been watched, albeit belatedly. But here is what I want to talk about: the supposedly feminist arguments against Trainwreck*.

I keep hearing/reading people say that Trainwreck is a non-/anti-feminist copout, because instead of allowing the Amy character to live a happily single life, it pairs her with a man in a heteronormative relationship, invalidating her previous choices in the process. And . . . argh. I feel frustrated by this view.

Because Trainwreck isn’t a about a woman who wants to be single (totally valid life choice, I hope it goes without saying but will say anyway) or who wants to be partnered but doesn’t meet anyone worth partnering with. In either of those cases (great example of the latter: Whip It), sure, any film with integrity, let alone a feminist consciousness, would leave its protagonist single at the end. Trainwreck, au contraire, is about a woman who does want to be partnered but is terrified of intimacy. That’s a real thing. And it’s not feminist or anti-feminist; it’s just psychology.

At the beginning of the movie, it may seem as though Amy is living a liberated life, and to some extent, she is; she has sex casually with any number of partners without feeling bad about it. I’m glad to live in a (part of the) world where that’s possible (for some women), but it doesn’t mean that every woman wants that, or should want it to be considered a feminist. In fact, I think it’s fairly evident from the git-go that Amy is terrified of real connection—as opposed to, say, having sampled both real connection and emotion-free sex and chosen the sex.

But even if you see her character as initially having made the conscious lifestyle choice of non-attachment, that point of view is soon dismantled—and dismantled a good while before Amy spells it out for her sister by saying something along the lines of, “I made fun of your marriage because marriage is something I thought I could never have.” Because by the time Aaron (Bill Hader) comes along, the movie makes it abundantly clear that Amy likes him and wants to be with him. What’s in her way is not a desire to be single and keep sexin’ it up with people she’s too drunk to remember**; it’s a terror of being truly coupled.

It’s not anti-feminist to want authentic emotional connection with a man—especially a kind-to-the-core, egalitarian guy like Aaron, who cares about Amy’s feelings and wants to support her***. It may be feminist to prefer being single over an unhappy partnership with a man . . . but I don’t know about even that. Because isn’t feminism simply about gender equality? And doesn’t that mean that we want all the same rights and privileges that men have? And isn’t one of those privileges making our own decisions about our romantic lives, whatever those decisions are?

If you want to have random sex forever, yay! If you want to be monogamously coupled, yay! If you want to stay in a bad relationship with a woman because of the kids, yay! (I mean, ouch, painful, but yay!) You can do whatever, because those decisions are yours. Feminism does not exclude monogamous heterosexual relationships anymore than it excludes polyamorous lesbian relationships.

*I do agree that there are problems with the portrayals of people of color in the movie; here’s a good place to start for more on that.

**I may have betrayed a slight personal bias here.

***Here are my feelings about Aaron: He is perfect.