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Miss Annalinde

Jun 18, 05 - 5:17 PM
Femininity in Films

We received a letter from Miss Heather, who is currently writing a project on Femininity in Films. With her permssion, I am throwing her questions open to the Club, as your responsesd may be helpful to her as well as interesting to all of us. Miss Heather writes:

I was wondering if you could help me out with my Personal Interest Project (PIP) for Society & Culture. I?m looking at femininity in films and was wondering if you could respond to the following paragraph (this is the beginning paragraph of the introduction to my study). I personally would like to see movies with female characters that can hold their own like a male character like Bruce Willis? character in Die Hard.

Why is the independent, female character in realistic like situations not believable and only successful in the fantasy and science fiction genres of film? Why do independent female characters such as Lara Croft, Jinx (from the latest James Bond), Ripley (Alien movies) or Buffy not exist outside of the fantasy and science fiction genre? Why is the alternative the uninspiring female lead characters in films like Panic Room, The Others and Thelma and Louise? Traditional femininity is dead and it is only masculine desire and masculine power and authority that keep it standing; as is often commented, "Traditional femininity solely exists to reaffirm ? traditional masculinity?s power and dominance."

In my initial response, I wrote:

The statement that "Traditional femininity is dead and it is only masculine desire and masculine power and authority that keep it standing; as is often commented, ?Traditional femininity solely exists to reaffirm ? traditional masculinity?s power and dominance?, although a commonplace, is very much contrary to Aristasian thinking. To quote from a recent interview:

Are you parodying patriarchal ideas of femininity, reclaiming them or doing something else entirely?

Traditional ideas of femininity are not in themselves patriarchal. The idea that they are is based on the most extraordinarily hyper-patriarchal and andocentric assumption: that masculinity is ?normal? and ?natural? while femininity is artificial and ?socially conditioned?.

Vast amounts of research continually confirm that the absence of testosterone, in both animals and humans, produces a female type of brain, and behaviour patterns that are precisely those ?conventionally? associated with femininity. It is also the case that the brain is originally female. Only testosterone-exposure produces masculine characteristics.

So why is masculine behaviour treated as ?normal? and feminine behaviour as ?artificial? and ?socially conditioned?? Because we live in a hyper-patriarchal, androcentric society.

This, of course, does not mean that the positive heroine -- feminine yet powerful -- is not a part of Aristasian culture, because she certainly is.

What do other members think? Obviously bongo films are not our forte here, but we may like to discuss matters in terms of up-to-date films and the general issues raised.

Jun 19th, 2005 - 11:56 AM
Re: Femininity in Films

My, what a slow weekend at the Club! Is it this gorgeous sunny weather, mayhap?

I am afraid I don't know any of the bongo films, but I wonder what Miss Heather makes of Emma Peel in The Avengers or the female Vikhelic artists in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Would both of these count as "fantasy"? Where, in any case, do we draw the line between "fantasy" and "adventure"? James Bond is primarily "adventure", I should have thought, even if it deals in improbable situations (which many adventure films do). I have not seen Die Hard, but I asked a friend who said that despite a superficially "grittier" exterior, these films occupy a place on the borderland between fantasy and adventure pretty similar to James Bond.

And then Tomb Raider. Is that fantasy or an action film? I have not seen the film, of course, but I have played the earlier games. These are about an archaeologist who investigates labyrinthine tombs armed with a pair of pistols; the games are essentially about exploration and puzzle-solving combined with a bit of sharpshooting. The shooting mostly involves wolves, bats and other dangerous creatures which attack the heroine, though later she encounters some nefarious human foes. Unless the film has re-written this substantially, surely we are in the realms of adventuire rather than fantasy.

What I am asking, I suppose, is:

a) Are we in anger of dismissing female action-heroes as "fantasy" when we do not apply the same standards to male ones? Could we even be regarding them as "fantasy" because they are female?

b) Are we asking for female action heroes in the sort of film that does not have action heroes, male or female?

Just a few thoughts.
Miss Heather

Jun 19th, 2005 - 1:29 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

Thank you for your response.
I have not seen either The Avengers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so I'll look into getting hold of each, thank you.

About Tomb Raider I always saw the movies as fantasy because as legitimate as the legends and tombs are they don't stay grounded in reality. The statue at the end of the first movie 'comes to life' as do the other gargoyals and soldier statues, which puts the movie into fantasy. And the whole aim of the 'adventure' is to obtain an object that will give the holder control of time, a concept that is fantasy. So the character may be very much realistic, but the concept and storyline isn't. (Is the the only way a strong female 'heroin' is acceptable?)

James Bond I see as beyond believable. It may have strong roots into realistic concepts, but the technology is beyond today.

And the questions you put forward are interesting, and something I hadn't really thought about yet. Thank you again. and I will be looking forward to hearing the opinions of others.

Miss Heather
Princess Mushroom

Jun 19th, 2005 - 5:10 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

You really should see Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg) in action!

As for fantasy and heroines, one problem is, I suppose that in real life a girl is not actually likely to be able to fight and defeat a heavily-built man, whereas in fantasy she may have various powers and abilities that allow her to.

An exception is the Martial Arts genre where it is an established convention that skill completely outweighs physical strength - for example a super-skilled fighter will regularly defeat whole groupse of ordinarily skilled fighters. Whether this is "fantasy" or reflects the reality of the Vikhelic art, I cannot say.

However that may be, no one who has seen it will ever forget the magnificent scene in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in which Zhang Zi Yi fights an entire inn-full of male assailants, many armed, and defeatd them all in a glorious display of triumphant skill and grace.

Ziyi Zhang is absolutely wonderful in The House of Flying Daggers. Elegant, beautiful and deadly. Unfortunately she is rather overshadowed by the chaps toward the end of the film. This tend to happen in hettie films, I fear.

Jun 21st, 2005 - 1:53 AM
Re: Femininity in Films

Much may depend on what we are actually looking for.

In Emma Peel, we find a charming, aristocratic, utterly feminine young lady skilled in martial arts, handy with a gun, clever and resourcful.

But she is more than that. Played by Diana Rigg, a classical Shakespearean actress, just before the collapse of British cultue into the foetid quagmire of the Cockney Raj, she displays not only independence, intelligence and power, but also the poise and grace of upper-class Englishness.

In an England where everyone has been reduced to pleb-level it is impossible that anyone can duplicate her wonderful achievement, certainly on public television. However "empowered" and "independent" a pit-brit heroine may be, she will still be a pleb, or a bourgeoik. The whole Yeekish populace has been disempowered to the level of a lackey-class.

All one can say is, thank Dea for Amelia Bingham!

Miss Elizabeth

Jun 23rd, 2005 - 12:30 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

I am not sure we should blame Hollywood for revealing its hand in attempting to subvert traditional femininity. We all know it does it - that is precisely why I choose not to consume its dross.

In an establishment that only understands force and violence (whilst continually claiming merely to be catering to the tastes of its audience - lying hypocrites that they are) it ought to be expected that violent and forceful male characters are portrayed with a pretense of realism. The principle that the things we see enacted on the stage (or its celluloid equivalent) ought to be viewed either as a route to catharsis or with a deliberate suspension of our own disbelief seems to have been disregarded altogether. In the same way, bongos now have such a tenuous grasp on reality that they believe that depositing a group of people in a compound and broadcasting their every word and action 24 hours a day constitutes "reality television".

Mr Churchill showed that he understood the value of feminity when he said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". In demanding that the nature and characteristics of the feminine be subsumed into the masculinist ideals of force and violence so far as to show ladies shooting and clawing their way to the top of a pile of violent men are we not asking ladies to behave in a manner contrary to the very nature of the feminine. In a proper society, ladies lead, rule and win by feminine means.

Having said all this, I wonder whether the young lady writing the paper has read, "Woman as Hero in Old English Literature" by Miss Jane Chance? Note that the title says, "Hero" and not "Heroine". It is probably some distance outside the remit of the paper but it is a very interesting exposition of the feminine ideal in a Sattwic worldview.

Jun 27th, 2005 - 7:49 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

It has been interesting to read this discussion, which has made me wonder about the role of Motherhood in Aristasia. To me, motherliness and motherhood are prime qualities of femininity. In this discussion of femininity in films, it seems to be mainly a glamorous, powerful, exciting sort of femininity, which is in view, and throughout the Aristasia website, I see this also portrayed. So I wonder about mothers, who, in their selfless service to their children, may not always have time to appear well-turned out, but to my mind become beautiful in other ways. What do you think, dear Ladies?
Sushuri Novaryana

Jun 28th, 2005 - 10:13 AM
Re: Femininity in Films

You are absolutely right, Miss Suzanna. Motherhood is one of the most important aspects of femininity, and one of the most fundamental Archetypes. God Herself is the first of all Mothers.

Up to and including the 1950s, mothers made time to be well-turned-out (not necessarily fashion plates, but neat and smart); cretainly whenever they left the house. They did this because they saw it as a fundamental aspect of motherhood.

A mother represents the most precious and fundamental Archetype we have, and embodying that Archetype properly is as vital to a child's psychic health as feeding her is to her physical health. For a child to grow up (to take an extreme example) applying the sacred word "Mother" to a creature in torn jeans with tattoos and a ring through her lip does untold damage. It is the spiritual equaivalent of malnutrition - if not of food-poisoning.

As was mentioned previously at this Club, tests in which children were shown pictures of various bongo couples with a few 1950s-style couples included, and asked to pick out "mummy and daddy" almost invariably picked the 1950s-style couples regardless of what their own parents looked like.

This tells us two things:

1. That the archetypes of real parents are alive in the hearts of small children, however starved they may be. They know what parents ought to look like, even if they have never seen an example in their own poor little lives.

2: That however untraditional the 1950s may have been they are still on the right side of that radical break known as the Eclipse. In 1950s parents (and those who are still traditional enough to look much like them) one can still recognise the fundamental and timeless reality. In bongos, one cannot.

Jun 28th, 2005 - 5:55 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

Dear Raya Novaryana,
thank you very much for your replies to my questions. It is wonderful to ask a question and get such replies. They present an enticing vision of a grave and beautiful way of life. By grave, I don't mean lacking in fun, in fact I don't quite know what I mean, but the word seems to fit!

It is heartbreaking to think how, from childhood, there is so much misery and suffering in the Pit, due to spiritual starvation, as you put it. When you were explaining the meaning of Hestia, you said that we have control over our own hestia - our homes and hearts, and can do something about them. If we try to lead our lives in a way which is pleasing to Dea, will that have an effect on the suffering of others, even if it is not directly helping them? Or is there some other way we can do this, in the way that nuns in a convent believe that their prayers will have a potent effect on the atmosphere somehow?

Yours sincerely,

Sushuri Novaryana

Jun 29th, 2005 - 7:58 AM
Re: Femininity in Films

Dear Miss Suzanna,

I believe that by living lives that are pleasing to Dea and are racinated, we do have an effect on that part of the anima mundi to which we are connected.

I also believe that ideas are much underrated. By making available ideas and ways of looking at things that are nourishing (though largely forgotten by the current world) I think we provide new possibilities for people. So much of life, after all, is in the mind, and all cultural developments, good and bad, begin there.

I understand your word "grave". It probably applies to Estrenne thinking rather than Westrenne in Aristasia. But in the end the Estrenne way of thought underlies all our thinking.

The quality you are describing, I think could also be called "measured" (remember that the term "a measure" used to be used for a dance-step as well as mensuration) or "in tune with the universal harmony". It is the quality of thame. Such terms as "stately", "formal" and "ritualised" are also associated with it. To the modern Western mind these things seem very serious and lacking the joy of spontaneity; but we hould emember that to our ancestors, these things were supremely joyful, which is why the quality of Jupiter (Thame) is called jovial Nowadays joy tends to be trivialised, so "jovial" has lost all its ritual and formal associations; but for those who first used the world, formality and fun went hand-in-hand to the point where they could be expressed by the same word.

Jun 29th, 2005 - 12:43 PM
Re: Femininity in Films

Dear Raya Novaryana,

yes, you have described exactly what I meant by grave, when I wasn't able to do so myself. How wonderful you Aristasians are! And what refuge you offer from the rotting, stinking Pit! I don't think that is putting it too strongly, is it?

May I ask what Westrenne and Estrenne refer to? I tried to find out elsewhere on your site, but couldn't. Maybe all these things are explained in your book the Feminine Universe, and I hope to order a copy soon.

I looked up the word "solemn" a little while ago, and was surprised to find that it originally meant something to do with festivals, so maybe it also belongs in the category of words you mentioned?

I am so grateful to you and joyful that you are leading me into a new (though ancient) realm of thought and life as it is meant to be lived.

Yours sincerely,