#WomanHating101: “Oh No, I’m Turning Into My Mother…”

I’ve had a few health problems of late. At present, I’m awaiting the results of a blood test which will tell me whether or not the consistent dull ache in my knees is arthiritis. Sadly, in my family, early onset arthiritis isn’t uncommon – my mother, for one, was suffering by the ripe old age of 35. At the ripe old age of 27, I found myself, last week, on the phone to my mother, talking of the pain in my knee, whilst simultaneously arguing with Mini-Dragon about whether he needed a scar, hat and gloves on to play outside. It was around then that I uttered the immortal words… “Oh my god, Mum, I sound just like you!”. Luckily, this was greeted with a laugh from her end. But it got me thinking… Why do we dread turning into our mothers?

See, my mother has never been perfect; I’ve made no secret of it. But then, is anyone? But it seems, once you reach motherhood, that fear of turning into your own mother approaches. I’ve yet to hear any male friend of mine express fear over turning into his  father. Yet it’s a fear I’ve heard expressed by many a female friend. Anyone remember our childhood fairy tales, in which mothers were someone to be feared; someone you didn’t want to become? Although the fairy tales use the guise of the Wicked Stepmother, it’s telling that initially, the Grimm’s villain in Snow White was Snow’s own mother. In various versions of Sleeping Beauty that predate the Grimm’s retelling, the villain is not the King, a rapist (Disney kinda left that point out, didn’t they?). Instead, the villain is (depending on the version of the tale you read) his Stepmother, or his wife. It’s quite clever, isn’t it? From childhood, we set our children up to fear women, and to fear becoming like those women.

But in the fear of becoming like our mothers, our mothers’ positive traits are forgotten. See, my mother shaped who I became. She’s flawed, yes, but in 20 years time, Mini-Dragon will be saying the same about me. But forget the flaws. There’s a woman who’s stood behind me every time I start a campaign. There’s a woman who taught me that there’s always a Plan B, Plan C, and one you’re done with the alphabet, you can just start numbering the plans instead. And I’ve by no means been the perfect daughter, and she hasn’t always had the right answer for my problems, but hell, she’s tried.

Perhaps it’s time we began celebrating our mothers. I don’t mean once a year, but instead, daily. Next time I find myself drawing parallels between myself and my mother, there’ll be a cheer about it. After all, she’s not perfect. But she’s close enough.

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“Mirror Mirror” On The Wall, We’ll Keep The Wicked Witch Complex, After All *Spoiler Heavy*

Tarsem Singh’s “Mirror Mirror” (2012) has been hailed as a feminist fairytale by some critics, praising it’s strong, female heroine, Snow White. However, to claim that Singh’s “Mirror Mirror” is a feminist film would be to miss a disturbing undertone throughout the tale; one that tells us giving women power is a dangerous act; one the patriarchy relies on to maintain it’s stability. Singh tells us that, when it comes to power, its “better the devil you know,” whilst spectacularly missing the oppression of the patriarchy.

Singh’s tale begins by telling us of Snow’s childhood. As a child, Snow lived under her father’s reign; one which saw singing, dancing, and general happiness that, for now, there were no ovaries in power. However, the King soon seeks out a wife, known solely throughout the 106 minute feature as “The Queen”. Even as the active narrator, we are sold a dehumanised character, void of a name, and limited to only two qualities which could be deemed anywhere near redeeming; her intelligence, and her beauty. Look, when I said anywhere near redeeming… I meant in the patriarchal sense. After the king is lost in battle, we’re told that the Queendom becomes a destitute and lifeless place; after all, according to the patriarchy, society can not flourish with a woman in power.

The Queen’s personality throughout the film hinges on several narrow factors; The Queen’s fear that one day, she’ll no longer be “the most beautiful woman in the land”, her jealousy of Snow’s beauty (something that factors in The Queen’s decision to have Snow locked in her room from the age of 8, until the age of 18), her lust for Prince Alcott, her deceptive nature, her greed, and her lust for power. In fact, the Queen’s sole traits throughout the film hinge on the seven deadly sins. Even sloth is hinted at, through her unwillingness to actively fix the country’s financial crisis. Yet again, we’re being told that women in power are dangerous, vicious, reckless, and in keeping with the Wicked Witch Complex, imprisoners of (good) women. In a rather dangerous manner, fairy tales tell us that men, on a whole, save women. In Mirror Mirror, Snow is repeatedly saved from The Queen’s clutches by men, even if, at the climax of the film, it’s by default. Men, the patriarchy would have us believe, are our liberators from the women who would otherwise oppress us. Fairy Tale Land, it seems, is an entire reversal of reality, where men routinely oppress women. Oh, and the Magic Mirror? It’s a portal. What was it I said about Wicked Witches?

What is most telling about Snow’s character is that, although, ultimately, it is her who defeats The Queen, she is only able to do so because she is enabled to, by men. When The Queen orders Snow’s death, Snow doesn’t escape due to some cunning plan, but instead, as a result of Brighton’s pity on Snow’s plight. Instead of killing her directly, he instead leaves her to The Beast. Snow manages to run to the dwarves’ hideout, although collapses at the entrance, where, I’m assuming, the dwarves pull her inside. Although Snow develops throughout the film, she only develops through the aide of men; men are consistently seen as a necessity for women’s development, and rarely a hindrance.

There are redeeming features to Singh’s feature, though. He doesn’t make the mistake of providing an inactive heroine; Snow is very much a dominant character throughout the tale, and her resolve continues throughout the film. Singh also provides an amusing commentary on women’s beauty rituals; the Queen’s routine is implied as being self torture. However. a couple of proto-feminist quips does not a feminist film make.

I’m personally waiting on a feminist fairytale. I’ll be waiting a long time, I suspect, but I’m awaiting a fairy tale which tells us of a woman in power, without a male influence, who is deemed a good character. I’m awaiting a self-rescuing, self-improving female protagonist. And I’m waiting for Hollywood to stop telling our children that “Men = Good, Women = Bad”. Preferably in this lifetime, please?