// 28 December 2009

cedaw.jpgWe missed Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’s 30th birthday – definitely deserves more than a mention in this round-up, but for more reading see Gender Masala’s post at IPS.

Also at IPS, an interesting news story about gendered language in Spain vs Italy, in terms of how government ministers are referred to.

Bitch posts that a programme to tackle homophobia in sport has been cut.

Echidne of the Snakes reposts her useful primer on statistics.

Sokari at Black Looks remembers Busi.

A guest blogger at Sociological Images has some fun with the “gender socialisation” stereotypes on the cover of a toy catalogue.

Mexico City legalised same-sex marriage; Melissa at Shakesville posts details, plus photos.

Henrietta Spink highlights how the lack of portability of care packages for disabled people in the UK can keep people trapped in their local authority area. Via Pickled Politics.

A case in Sweden where an unconscious woman was given a gynaecological exam by medical students without her consent is just the tip of the iceburg, reports the Local.

The trailer for The Runaways, a film about fantastic Joan Jett, is out. Via Jezebel:

The Toronto Women’s Bookstore may have to close – Shameless says there are now only 21 women’s bookshops worldwide.

Nerves Strengthened By Tea reviews Tanith Lee’s revisionist fairy tales.

Annalee at io9 reviews Avatar, putting it in context of movies about white guilt.

This post about Rape Culture is a little old now, but worth revisiting.

Comments From You

earwicga // Posted 29 December 2009 at 11:08 pm

I saw Avatar yesterday and read Annalee’s review today. I have one word for the review – CRAP! Please disregard every word of the review and go see the film as it is utterly amazing and brilliant.

The review utterly misses the total essence of the film. I feel sorry for Annalee that she chose her particular take on Avatar.

Nobody who has seen the film could possibly miss what it is about and write the tripe spouted in the link above.

Jess McCabe // Posted 30 December 2009 at 11:27 am

@earwicga I don’t this Annalee’s analysis is about whether the film is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or a watchable story. I saw Avatar on Boxing Day. It’s a very watchable film, but I do basically agree with Annalee’s analysis. I’m actually pretty unclear from your comment on what points you disagree with what Annalee is saying, TBH.

Elmo // Posted 30 December 2009 at 10:01 pm

A number of children’s movies (which I am obviously way too cool to watch now, ahem) also the same theme as Avatar, in which random white male becomes cool king of simple alien/foreign/underwater people. Examples include Atlantis and The Road To El Dorado, and I always thought Tarzan was a bit of a metaphor for this as well. Then there is of course Last Of the Mahicans, and Dances with wolves like the reviewer mentions. I always used to cringe at these points in movies, it was just too embarrassing as a white person, because even when the film is about another race, it still needs to be about white people (well, white men), like the producers thought white people were too thick to understand other cultures. Even as a small child, I remember being acutely aware of this “them” and “us” situation, particularly the “clever white male stranger” and “quirky, but still in need of saving tribal girl” romance that went on-hello, they had spears! Why did they always need to be saved? Having said that, Avatar looks amazing in all other respects.

Laura // Posted 30 December 2009 at 10:30 pm

I just came back from seeing Avatar. I certainly agree with the assessment of the white guilt / white man as saviour aspect of the film: the protagonist , Jake, (and Cameron, the writer) tries to make up for the evils of colonisation by helping the colonised (the Na’vi), but instead of becoming an ally he must be the saviour, the chosen one, the outsider who can come in and become a better Na’vi than the Na’vi in just three months. The scenes where he is filmed rising up as the leader made me feel a bit nauseous.

I also recognise the accusations of disablism based on the negative portrayal of Jake’s disability and the miracle cure trope; but I did feel like a lot of the negative reaction to his disability came from others in the film and that we were not supposed to empathise with it. Other than his delight at being able to walk and run in his avatar, he seemed to just get on with things – his wheelchair and disability didn’t seem to be much of an issue to him.

However, I don’t think the film is sexist; in fact, it has a number of feminist plus points in my view. A high proportion of the main characters were female, the female lead (the Na’vi Neytiri) was the one who taught Jake how to fight and live as a Na’vi, she was charged with protecting her people when her father (the tribal leader) died, the tribe’s deity is female, their spiritual leader is female (Neytiri’s mother) and there was no clear gender role division within the tribe. Yes, Jake was told he could ‘take a woman’ when he became a warrior, but he responded by saying he’d only want to be with her if she wanted him. Best of all, Neytiri – the female love interest – actually heroically saved the male protagonists life, and we see her cradling him in her arms – how often does that happen in a Hollywood film?! The female Na’vi were no more physically exposed than the men, and when Sigorney Weaver was laid down to die and try and connect with her avatar, I saw her nakedness as a symbolism of her natural state and the connection with the Earth mother, not an attempt at sexualisation.

Jehenna // Posted 31 December 2009 at 11:12 am

I found it interesting that when Jake returns as ‘leader’ the first thing he does is ask for the leader’s permission to speak. He makes it quite clear that he cannot be leader without his permission.

I actually found his return very interesting as instead of going in gung-ho with “I am now your boss”, he defers to Tsu’tey. His attitude after returning was far more respectful and deferential than it was before, in my opinion.

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