Friday, April 17, 2009

Gender Disparity

Recently saw the movie Adventureland. It was awesome.

Here's my movie-review-styled opinion:

Kristen Stewart should stop doing films with sexy teenaged vampires and stick with quirky romantic-comedies. Jesse Eisenberg did a good job too, even though he did seem like a frizzy-haired version of Michael Cera. Lots of angsty love mixed with hijynx and alternative-rock music. Definitely worth seeing, if only for a glimpse into the madness of Bill Hader as he attacks some Jersey-looking douchebag with a baseball bat.


Something I noticed - that is the main focus for this blog-post - was that when Em (Stewart's character) fucks up the budding romance with James (Eisenberg's character) by sleeping with Connell (Ryan Reynold's character) while simultaneously dating James, who discovers the truth and confronts her. In typical cinematic female fashion she runs away to New York, leaving things a mess and giving up on any chance they may have had together. When James goes to track her down, she admits her mistakes and then tries to let them both go their separate ways. Of course, James convinces her otherwise, and the movie ends in the expected "happily ever after" way.

However, there's something I noticed as I was watching. In books, movies, and even real life, when romantic interest goes bad, the girls always give up and move on, but the guys, they nearly kill themselves trying to find a way to make things right again.

Seriously! When a guy messes up the relationship in a movie, does he just give up? No! He has an epiphany, runs back to the girl, and rekindles their love through something-or-other. But when the girl messes up, she gives up and writes the experience off as bad luck/bad timing/bad judgment. It's only after the guy has come to find her that she can get past the mistakes she made and be with him again.

The point is: girls give up. Guys do not.

Is this chauvinistic? Is it a cleverly hidden misogyny of the entertainment industry and our culture? I'm not sure... But when I thought about it, I couldn't come up with many examples in fiction or film that contradicted it.

Even in real life, I had trouble thinking of stories I'd heard where so&so got back together because the girl had the guts to go and make things right. The myriad people I've talked to always emphasized what the guy did to fix the relationship/marriage/love/whatever. And this wasn't just men, but women too, who were often the most vocal in their stories about what happened.

So, let me leave you with these thoughts. Why is it that women do not take a more active role in the relationships they cultivate with men? Why don't they fight for it like men have always been expected to do - and are often portrayed doing? Is it part of role guys and girls play towards each other? A deep-seated cultural expectation that men are the assertive, aggressive ones who must always take the initiative? Or is it something else entirely?

Curiosity compels me to ask: do women really care at all?

2 footnotes:

stephanie said...

I think it comes down to this:

When the guy goes running back to the girl and fights to keep the relationship, it's considered wildly romantic, and everyone feels warm and fuzzy. Women love to have guys chasing after them, and men love to feel like they can conquer.

But a girl goes running back to the guy? We're considered desperate, needy, and clingy. Those of us women who are well-adjusted and trying NOT to seem crazy know that social stigma says we're not allowed to go chasing too hard after a guy, because it's viewed as pathetic and we probably won't get the desired result. Guys will be disgusted by our advances. It's a pride thing on everyone's part.

It's sad. But most men I know will confirm it.

Zek J Evets said...

hmm, that's a good point. strong, assertive, proactive women have never really gotten much good press. not sure how true it is anymore though. nowadays, when guys make those kinda crazy advances towards a girl, she acts like he's creepy, pathetic - not sweet or romantic. seems like this sort of behavior is just generally discouraged, but yet men still try it, while women don't. is it then because only men are allowed to be creepy and pathetic? (especially if it works)

you think a guy would be disgusted, really? because i know quite a few guys who wouldn't mind being the pursued one for once. honestly, i think it'd be awesome to see a girl go running after a man to get him back. i'd be cheering her on just the same as if she was billy crystal.

but that's just me.

still, i can see why it'd be difficult for a girl to take the initiative like that. what examples does she have? who can she look to and think, "well, that woman did it and it worked out. maybe i can too."

she's got no precedents - and that sucks - but nonetheless, someone's gotta get the ball rolling.

that's all i'm asking.