After spending about an hour failing to convince a friend from highschool that patriarchy is a real thing, I decided to visit Jezebel. You know, to cheer myself up. Mindless entertainment as opposed to doing homework.

Nothing really caught my eye, apart from this. Which amused me.

“Let her go!”

Jeez. It really has come up in a lot of movies. From Toy Story to The Bride of Chucky, screenwriters just can’t seem to get enough of this line. And indeed, this situation.

Helpless and completely mute female. Usually held in gunpoint embrace. Man threatens to attack/offers to sacrifice himself.

Swoon. Look at this macho behaviour, the damsel-in-distress is loved.

And indeed, it is heroic. As a gesture, there is perhaps no greater token of love than self-sacrifice. However, this particular setup is also deeply problematic. The article posted alongside this video is short and I don’t think it really covers the issues underlying the trope. However, it is sufficient for me to count it as a “reading” for Journ and depart on my own investigation.

So, why does it bother me?

Well, apart from the gendered nature of this scenario that puts women in a position of inferiority, whereby they require rescue via stereotypical depictions of masculinity in order boost the egos of men, thereby effectively objectifying women to serve male goals…

They keep saying “she’s got nothing to do with it”. Like, that line came up almost as often as “let her go”.

But she very much does. The gun is being held to her head.

And yet, this is not her fight. She’s a bystander. Hapless. Just wandered in. Wrong place at the wrong time. With the wrong man. She doesn’t get to be involved in the action, she doesn’t get to take action, she is simply acted upon. Which is all very convenient for the plot, male character development and male motivation. But it means that she is not really a part of the story in her own right.

Think about it. Take out the male character. What would happen in the story? Well, the villain would have no particular interest in our damsel. Our damsel would have nothing particularly to do with the villain. And so there would be no plot. Because she doesn’t do anything but be imperilled in order to be rescued.

“She has nothing to do with this.”

This is a male fight.

“She has nothing to do with this.”

This is no place for women.

“She has nothing to do with this.”

You are interested in me, not her.

“She has nothing to do with this.”

She is of no importance, except as a vehicle for my love.

“She has nothing to do with this.”

I’m the one you want.

I’m the one you want.

I’m the one you want.

For once, can she have something to do with her own life?


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