Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Atlantic Writer: Women's Prison Show Should Be More About Men

[Content note: Discussions of violence, threats]

This story is probably old news in Internet Time, but did you all hear that, according to The Atlantic's Noah Berlatsky, a show that's based on a woman's memoir of being incarcerated in a women's prison is "irresponsible" for not including more male prisoners:
"Orange Is the New Black [OITNB] has been justly praised for its representation of groups who are often either marginalized or completely invisible in most mainstream media. The show has prominent, complex roles for black women, Latinas, lesbian and bisexual women, and perhaps the first major role for a trans woman played by a trans woman, the wonderful Laverne Cox. There remains, however, one important group that the show barely, and inadequately, represents. 
That group is men. 
This may seem like a silly complaint. "
May seem?

Look. Can't we have one show, one. fucking. show. in the entire world, that actually has a well-rounded ensemble cast of diverse women, in which male characters are not centered and dominant?  I mean, hell, Orange still has about a half dozen regular male characters who evoke varying levels of sympathy, which is more than we can say about how most male-centric shows and movies treat women.

I mean, I see so much wrong with Berlatsky's piece, it's hard to know where to start: Should Piper Kerman have written her memoir about a men's prison, just for the sake of talking about men more?  Like, a woman can't even tell her own story without a man barging in and telling her it's not enough about men?

Should we discuss Berlatsky's selective interpretation of the characters' adorable widdle criminal backgrounds or, ironically, his Deep Concern that the show is, in his opinion, condescending to women?

Should we talk about him taking issue with the male prisoner who's presented as a sexual predator, when in fact in real life, some male prisoners actually are sexual predators?

Or, how about his simplistic, bogus claim that the show presents female inmates as "innocent victims" and men as "super-predators" even though multiple female characters act in a predatory manner. Alex Vause, for instance, threatens to rape another female inmate and Piper almost beats another woman to death in Season 1.  I could easily rattle off more examples that would burst Berlatsky's subtext that claims the show is just one more gender propaganda piece about how men are violent and women aren't.

In fact, one might think that, in some ways, OITNB would be an anti-feminist/MRA's dream as it actually does depict female violence, an issue these men really want the world to know about. Although, they probably take big time issue with the fact that, in order to do so, the show has to also be about women. Oh, such a conundrum in the life of the anti-feminist/MRA!

Reading Berlatsky's article, well.... you know how someone can just rattle off their opinions in like 10 minutes (misandry! reverse sexism! feminists say all men are rapists!), but it takes much, much longer to do a decent job of deconstructing those opinions? Seriously rebutting all of his points would be like 3 hours of my life I would never get back.

So what I mostly want to say is: OITNB is about women, fucking deal with it.

Thankfully, most people in the comments rightly took issue with Berlatsky's piece, and did so quite well (see, for instance). He did not defend his points well, either, when he did reply to people's comments.

But, because Noah Berlatsky has his own column at The Atlantic, he got to dig down and defend himself further, introducing his readers to the concept of Mens' Rights in a separate article, with the aid of a male "scholar of gender studies" who he interviewed who claims to be especially critical and skeptical of the way many variants of feminism focus on, in his words, "females."

How nice for them.

Consider my post a meta-observation of some men's apparent discomfort with women writing narratives that de-center men from any and all conversations, TV shows, movies, books, articles, and courses of scholarship.

And also, given the extraordinary women writers and thinkers that I'm aware of who are capable of writing very well about gender, I find it contemptible that so many male dipshits continue to have paid writing gigs in major media outlets where they get to amplify their opinions about gender just for clicks and giggles.


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