I’m Charlie Brook and Her Me Out cause you’re listening to this podcast, which is about a her talking about things like I’m doing right now. So you might as well give it a try.
Welcome, welcome. It’s so great to have you here for this podcast that’s all about how our favorite movies have basically ruined us by perpetuating negative messaging about gender and how we perform it - otherwise known as perpeturapetion.
But fear not because - while it may sound like a downer - somehow it’s still a fun time?
Especially because this episode, we’re getting down with a movie that I’m sure a lot of mostly female identifying people were super into back in the day. And frankly, we have a lot to talk about my friends.
But before I get into that, we’re starting the episode with a brief discussion about an important feminist moment, as we are smart worldly people with thoughts about the goings-on in the world especially when it comes to empowering badass ladies to do things that they weren’t always inspired to do.
I am talking about the Women’s World Cup - yes it’s happening right now, and yes we should care about it. Why? Because whether or not you care about the game or who wins, just remember - this cup is a win for women!
Now, if you know me, you know I do a mean rant about women in sports but I’m not gonna bore you with that...who am I kidding I’m totally gonna do it.
It’s important that we support these ladies in this tournament because sports are one place that men really do feel all of the entitlement in the world to say that they are flat out better than women in this arena of life. While, of course, that has been widely demonstrated throughout history, men I’ve got a little bit of advice for you if you even listen to this podcast.
Well at the very least I know that I can be ranting this to my boyfriend who does listen to this because he edits some of it. So if you’re the only one I reach, still worth it!
Here’s my advice:
Men don’t tell women that men are better at sports than women. Here are the reasons: number one, it just makes you sound like an asshole. Only men who feel the need to assert their masculinity over women would ever need to say that sentence. So if you’re saying it, ask yourself why.
Was the conversation being had a nice lighthearted discussion about how the women’s soccer is on? If yes, then no, there was absolutely no reason for you to mention that men are better at sports than women except for that you felt a pang of animal like anger over the cultural landscape of gender changing before your eyes and you didn’t know how to understand that so it came out in you being a jerk and trust me that would have been a lot more endearing if you had just said that.
Number two: female identifying athletes, though sure okay not yet reaching the level of some men in sports if it’s so important that we say it, are still like a million times more athletic than a lot of the men who are saying that men are better at sports. You saying it doesn’t make you apart of it. So can’t we just let athletes be impressive and not undermine women’s achievements?
Number three, the big one: Women, from day one, have a lot more social challenges facing them when they choose to become athletes.
I mean where to begin. If we’re talking about the history of women in sports, women weren’t actually allowed to play them because people were worried that it would hurt their chances of fertility. Women weren’t even allowed to do yoga until 1937 (thanks to Indra Devi for that), and even then they were told they couldn’t do it while they were on their periods. (and yoga isn’t a sport but I’m making this relatable for myself)
So we have this world telling women that they can’t play sports because they have to be able to make babies. Plus, on the other hand they were told that they shouldn’t want to play sports because sports would make them appear masculine, which goes against the goal of attracting a partner and ultimately, you guessed it, making babies.
Now let’s think about how sports work.
You know how every year it seems like people are breaking new records that even only a decade ago seemed impossible to achieve? That’s because we keep getting better, we reach new limits based on the challenges that are put in front of us. That’s what competitive humans do.
But when you narrow down the pool of women to those that are A. willing to choose “not attracting a partner” (I’m back with the air quotes here) for sports or are B. willing to choose “not having children” (quotes quotes quotes) for sports, then you’ve created a much smaller grouping of women to compete against each other and push the competition to the next level to break new records. Not to mention, women’s sports and setting new precedents within it was already set back a lot of years when weren’t allowed to play, if you’ll remember.
So really, can we even compare the achievements of male sports with female sports?
And, those same struggles are still very much alive today. A lot of young girls give up on sports like track when they see that their periods are stunted, and they choose their body’s reproductive abilities over sports - something a man never has to think about or feel the social pressure of. There’s also the time in women’s careers when they may feel like they have to stop playing that sport to have a baby and it could take a long time to recover (though Serena Williams continues to be an inspiration). Finally, what about the girls who are told during their childhood and in school through our media, through the people around them etc. that it’s not cute or pretty of them to be interested in sports and so instead they just obsess over their looks or dating.
This is changing, we are seeing that switch in the media and in our own rhetoric, but if you even try to tell me that that hasn’t had an affect on the talent that we could see coming through the female side of sports and that that increase of talent wouldn’t have an affect on the development of new records I’m gonna lose my shit.
Now I have 2 more things to mention in this rant. One very important one is sponsorship. There’s not as much money for women in sports, which we could say is because women aren’t as good at sports and so they get less money, or we could follow the pattern of the rest of every other industry and see that mostly there isn’t money for women because we don’t want to give it to them. Either way: how can we say that women aren’t as good at sports when they’re not given equal opportunities to play them without having to worry about feeding families and being alive. (And I’m sure this could also be true for a lot of other underrepresented groups as well)
And finally, have we ever thought that the most popular games were designed with men’s bodies in mind, so isn’t there a world in which games are built around the bodies of women? Maybe then, in these sports, we’d actually see them excel even more.
All of this to say that it is a god damn culture people. So don’t say silly things like men are better at sports than women omg.
If you agree, support the women in the Women’s World Cup. The more we watch, the more their presiding organizations will have to pay attention and do things like pay them equally.
So why is this culture thing? To answer that question, let’s actually get down to this episode’s movie!
You already know what it is cause nothing is a mystery when you read the podcast titles and descriptions - but let’s not ruin all the fun.
We’re talking about the movie that had all the young ladies of my generation questioning if we’d managed to graduate into the very ambiguous and altogether terrifying state of not being a girl but also not yet being a woman - and had us wondering if we’d ever actually survive this state if we didn’t look like Britney Spears (spoiler alert: the answer following the movie back then was that it was not looking good for us). It was also a film that had a lot of us convinced that a cross-country road trip in a convertible would be a fun time rather than what it really is which is a horrible experience where you can’t talk to your friends because of the wind!
That’s right, this episode is all about Crossroads!
Wanna watch a feel good teen movie about very dark things? Hello! Crossroads is waiting for you.
To me, this movie feels like it wants to be a chick flick while also reflecting all of the horrible things that could possibly be flicked at chicks at the same time. Plus, they’re all like 18 and trapped in a pretty horribly written screenplay, so there’s truly no hope of them processing all of their complex experiences in a productive way. Instead, we just get a sort of an underbaked montage of girls just not yet bein women and some guy following them around love/hating every second of it.
If you don’t remember or you haven’t seen it, Crossroads is a 2002 film starring Britney bitch herself, Zoe Saldana (can you believe) and Taryn Manning (who played Pansatucky on Orange is the new black), and is written by Shonda Rimes, which is shocking.
The three girls living in Georgia are friends from childhood and the movie opens to them burying a box of wishes in the dirt and promising that they’ll go out and find it on the night of high school graduation. Sidenote: I remember everyone’s favorite thing to do was make sure everyone else knew that you knew that young Britney was played by her little sister, Jamie Lynn Spears to prove that you were the biggest Britney fan. Oh the things that mattered (and apparently still do cause here I am still giving you that information when literally who cares)
Anyways, when we flashforward to graduation night, Brittany is now the valedictorian and a super hard worker - go brit, and the girls are no longer friends, in fact they are mean girl brutal to each other, but they still somehow all end up there to open up the box. This is when Pansatucky - who do remember is pregnant at the time - invites the others to join her on a roadtrip to LA because she wants to enter a music contest. So all with different goals in mind, Pansatucky with the content and wanting to swim in the Pacific Ocean, Zoe wanting to visit her older fiance who lives there, and Brit wanting to meet her mom who lives in Tuscon, Arizona, they decide to commit. Which is substantial.
They go on this trip with a guy named Ben, who they hear has just been let of jail for what was rumored to be murder. But turned out later to be just something that was very not that. And, he’s a hunky dude who’s got the hots for Brit but she has like this whole life planned for her that really wouldn’t involve him so basically they fall in love in a hopeless place.
Also Brittany is dealing with this whole like overbearing father situation, her father is played by Dan Akoroy by the way. and he really doesn’t want her to go because the mother walked out on them when Brittany was 2 years old, and she’s played by Kim Katrall by the way. And Brittany goes anyway - scandy!
Now, I remember watching this movie in the theatres and being so excited to see it. It’s also a movie that I can recall proclaiming was “really great” when I watched it, which is very scary when watching it back today, mostly because that means it’s done a lot of personal damage in terms of perpeturapetion making this episode very real! Also because it’s like pretty horrible made, so young me didn’t have great taste.
So without further adieu, let’s talk about how this movie broke me and maybe you too.
Chapter 1: Empowerment vs not that
Okay, so the first thing that this movie really brings up is that very important and complex discussion within rape culture, some would call it a key tension within the feminist movement, on the difference between female empowerment and what some people argue is…not that.
This is a really, really tough one because within feminism we should strive to support women in their own choices, especially when it comes to how they present their body including what they wear and what they choose to do with it, etc. However, this does often come in contact with other feminist discussions about how women shouldn’t sexualize themselves or be sexualized by other people just because we’re adhering to some predefined expectation of how we should be.
This is super complex, and I am not here to provide a solution to this very difficult minefield of deciding whether or not we’re doing something because it makes us, ourselves feel empowered or if we’re doing it because we’re conditioned to seek out a very particular kind of male attention.
I think that should be up to you to decide for yourself and it’s totally normal to question your own motivations. I think that’s even the point, you should question yourself but not necessarily judge and definitely not judge other people for their own choices.
But in this movie, what I’m saying is that this complex conversation that I’m describing is not happening.
We are kind of right in that sweet spot in the early 2000s when a lot of what we saw is just oversexualized women, like sweet Brittany in this film, and most likely during production not all of the care was being put into have this sort of discussion surrounding it. So instead we just see oversexualized women, but it’s not really clear if that’s empowering for them or if it’s even part of the films argument. Which does not help us navigate this very diluted discussion.
Good example of that, the opening montage of Brittany singing that Madonna song in her underwear (BRING UP CLIP UNDERNEATH) to later put her pajama pants on to go out into the world I mean it’s a strange moment if you can recall, logistically speaking because her pajama pants were off and she puts them back on to start her day which just doesn’t make sense.
Now I’m not saying that there’s any problem with that, but if we’re talking about female representation in movies, the moments like these within the movie definitely make it a good one for dissecting this particular discussion and challenging how much care people put into their representations.
This same discussion could be applied to a lot of the off-handed comments about women being whores or easy in the film, especially because Pansatucky is pregnant. It’s almost like it’s trying to reflect that those aren’t positive female representations but it’s not doing a very good job. And instead we just sort of see that that’s how people were talking about women at the time, which is true. And goes to show why people kind of continued to think that way for so long, while many still do...let me just show you the montage…
So that’s super fun.
Okay chapter 2: why girls gotta be so mean
This is a high school movie about three ladies, so of course we gotta see them treat each other like shit because apparently girls are the worst to each other. This is definitely a tradition that has grown out of a culture of competitiveness, which is my least favorite of all of the symptoms of the patriarchy.
Not only have women been taught to aspire to finding a man, they’ve been taught to put down other women in the process. Which only just makes it harder for us to change this female negative culture that we find ourselves in. Because women don’t even like women.
And girls are so mean in 2002:
I mean what is the deal with her virginity in this movie? I know our culture is obsessed with the idea of virginity, but it’s so strange how much pressure we put on it.
So much so, that Brittany almost loses her virginity on graduation night to a young Justin Long, who is her science partner. Just so that they don’t go to university virgins. This moment also isn’t great because he has to list off reasons why she should sleep with him…
Come on dude, if you had to make the list maybs you gotta let it go.
Instead, she loses it to the Ben guy, who looks like he’s 35 - but she is 18 so I guess it’s fine. But that guy has some major issues going on, which brings us to Chapter 3, which I’ll call: what is wrong with you.
This chapter has 2 parts: so to start when they leave for their road trip, the car, that belongs to Ben, breaks down, and it turns out they hardly brought any money with them so they’re struggling to figure out what they’re going to do. They happen to have broken down in Louisiana where conveniently Pansatucky has heard of a karaoke place where the patrons of the bar pay the performers (aka karaoke singers) if they do well. I mean, Shonda, you’re so much better than that, girl. Who would pay karaoke singers? And if this place does actually exist, then I apologize for my shade but also that’s some absurd writing.
So after they go up on stage and sing I love rock’n’roll to a very pleased crowd, they unrealistically make a bunch of money, enough to pay for the car and more, and they’re at the club sort of celebrating. Brit and Ben are at high stages of flirtation at this point, so she asks him to dance with her but he’s busy counting the stacks of money so he doesn’t.
Then this rando guy kind asks Ben if Brit is “his girl” and when he says no, predators his way on over to Brit and starts to be very creepy, I’ll let you listen..
So Ben comes to the rescue…
And yes it’s very annoying that this guy is super rapey and that Ben has to rescue her blah blah but what is actually insane is his reaction after...
She’s having a fun time dancing and a guy literally tries to coerce her into sleeping with him and Ben has the audacity to say, “look i’m not mad at you for what happened back there.” Even if we’re arguing that he’s annoyed that she was dancing with another dude, that guy started dancing with her, she didn’t ask for any of this! And Ben knows that because this guy literally asked for his permission - though clearly not hers.
And furthermore, she has to thank him in this weird way that basically sounds like an apology.
C’mon people! This is rape culture. Women should not have to feel bad when a guy is being creepy to them, and this movie was basically like yeah they absolutely should. Especially because we’re meant to want her to end up with Ben. As a young person watching this, we were to made to feel like a damn brit you messed up. Ugh that one runs deep.
Okay part 2. So they keep going on the road trip and Ben has made it clear that he’s the only person that’s allowed to drive his car. But at one point in time he like falls asleep in the back. So the girls decide to steal his keys and just keep going.
When he wakes up Brittany is driving, and he freaks out and makes her stop the car.
Then he proceeds to have the biggest baby boy meltdown that you ever did see…
Okay, we get it. You’re a guy. Now can we stop pretending that this an acceptable way to express your anger over the fact that someone drove your car?
I mean sure, I understand being mad that someone went against something that you clearly asked for but dude. Your explanation for kicking dirt and yelling shouldn’t be that you’re a guy.
Again, we’re meant to want her to be with THAT guy. Upsetting. And after that whole thing he pulls, she’s just like oohhh okay. How cute that he’s so tired of being overrun by women? Look we get it Ben, it’s not often, especially in the early 2000s, that so many women would be in a movie that’s not about you so you just needed to have an outburst so that we could all know that it was hard for you.
I also hate that she’s this really smart girl, like valedictorian of her class with a bright future ahead, and she’s abandoning that for this guy.
Alright, the last thing to discuss is a big one and includes the 2 huge reveals of the film. These are major spoilers, by the way. Remember when I said this is a very dark movie? Well here it is.
So when the girls finally have a rebonding session after the years of an estranged friendship, they spend all night sharing secrets. And this is when we find out that Pansatucky was actually raped and that’s why she’s pregnant.
This was a big one to experience back in the day. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what the concept of rape was until I saw this movie, which is fascinating to pinpoint my understanding of it back to here. They never use the word, but they do make it very clear, especially in the way that friends ask if she ever reported him. I think that was a fairly accurate representation of how people feel about reporting these kinds of things in general. But yes, I remember seeing it and understanding that she has the baby and that someone did something horrible that made that happen, but I didn’t really get it.
So that’s really upsetting and oh man it gets worse. So once they arrive in LA, Zoe Saldana wants to visit her boyfriend, who doesn’t actually know that she’s there. He says he doesn’t have time to see her, but she drags a reluctant Pansatucky with her to surprise him anyway. It’s there that we all discover that well first her fiance is a horrible person not just because he’s there with another girl, but because he was actually the person that raped Pansatucky.
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the whole blue bottle reveal that was very dramatic and also I think went over a lot of our heads at age 9. Def needed someone to explain to me why she was so upset all of a sudden.
But in any case, if that wasn’t bad enough, Pansatucky runs away from the situation and then falls down the stairs and loses her baby. Which I think the movie wanted us to feel okay about because it was a rapist’s baby? But like that’s not great.
Oh but somehow they get over that GRAVE trauma in like a span of a day in order to still compete in the music competition with the song “Not a girl, not yet a woman” written in partnership by Brittany and Ben. Hearing all of these words come out of my mouth, I’m like there’s no possible way that all of the things I’m describing happened in the same movie - but oh yes they totally did and that’s because it’s written very poorly and so doesn’t really connect.
I didn’t even get to the part when Brittany goes to visit her mom, Kim Kitrall, who is just like I never wanted you, why are you here? But wow I just don’t even know how you could talk about this whole movie, it so much.
And that’s how Crossroads perpeturaped us!
I need a nap! Thanks for listening!
In terms of recommending this movie, I think it’s fun if it’s one you were super into as a kid to go back and see how you could have possibly found it so amazing. But I’d reserve it as one you only watch if it happens to be on.
As always feel free to reach out to me if you have something to share or you want to recommend a movie that has perpeturaped you. You can find me on Instagram @Charlooobrook or through my website HerMeOut.com slash shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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And if you’re like I literally have been doing just that for the past 20 minutes, and you happened to enjoy it - please rate and review the podcast it really helps in all the ways! And I’d really appreciate it. As well as tell your friends to subscribe, cause I’ll just be here doing this thing so would be nice!
And, as if I haven’t asked enough of you,, always remember, it’s a culture, people!