I think the best place to start is with the first movie I can remember re-watching and realizing that everything I love is f***ed.
I came home for winter break from University, where I was currently enrolled in my first class on feminism. This was a lot for me. And a lot more for my family, who were then pulled into my young feminist awakening.
It was an interesting time.
My father decided it would be fun to have a nice movie night.
One would think a nice popular, classic like the Princess Bride would be safe
at least they put her on their twice
- but those are the ones that hit you the hardest.
This was one of my favorite movies as a child. I used to think it was so fun and thrilling. So quotable and silly. And I think that’s why it was so incredibly disturbing to me as an adult how they narrativize women. And right under our effing noses.
Re-watching this as a grown human, I thought 'no wonder feminism needs to be a thing if this is the sh** I grew up watching and adoring.'
First of all there’s basically one woman in the film. The beloved Princess Buttercup.
Unless we’re counting that old lady who spits at her for marrying another guy in a dream. Her screaming “BOO BOOO” will haunt me until the day I day.
(And her character title is actually The Ancient Booer on IMDB - I don't know if I'm laughing or crying but either way kill me)
There's the sweet little cameo from the Queen for a few frames.
Or the troll wife of Billy Crystal, who gets to be around for an actual minute.
And I guess we don’t know that the people in the rats of unusual size costumes aren’t female.
Then there’s the whole thing that Princess Buttercup is like literally going to kill herself because she can’t be with Westley.
I mean, Westley loves her and is willing to die for her, but like he also has other cool things going on with his narrative. Like dying and then COMING BACK TO LIFE for his true love. Or saving her like 4 different times.
This is a fairly classic example of symbolic annihilation of ladies, and many people would respond that we've moved on from this. (And like yes mostly, but also Dunkirk came out last year and you can count on no fingers the female characters in that - and I don't want to hear that it's historical fiction, it's still FICTION and women existed then)
But the thing is, it does still matter to me. This is what we grew up watching. It was something that we all Ioved so much and had no idea that there was anything degrading about this narrative.
I wanted to be saved by Westley and would practice laying around with my *pretend* knife to my chest threatening my life if I didn't end up with him.
A young me, deeply affected
Such wasted time that I could have been learning cool things like sword fighting!
With Buttercup's constant mess-ups and inability to do anything of value except love Westley, no wonder a lot of people still doubt how well females will perform in action or in charge.
We had one person. And she was basically thrown about - like literally they do a lot of throwing of her - for an hour and a half. And that was everyone's favorite movie.
It was my favorite movie.
And so, in the presence of my confused father who just thought we were watching a fun movie (as did I at first, to be fair), I began my journey into re-seeing all that I've seen. Learning to question everything that I love. And discovering what it means to be perpeturaped.
My film Perpeturaped. will be screened at the Artemis Women In Action Film festival on April 28th. It will also be available to be screened online through the festival. All information can be found here.
In honor, this month is perpeturapetion reflection month. Read more on the blog or follow on Instagram @hermeout